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Blueberry Dream Cake celebration

3.5.2018

Well hello, babes! Finally it’s happening, updated Vanelja.com has opened its doors and welcomes you to take a tour. Though it took quite some time to get this open, it has been heart-warming to notice how many of you regularly uses the recipes on my site, as I have got tons of messages from people asking when all the material will be returning. So sorry you’ve had to wait for them, but happy to know you’ve missed my treats!

Blueberry Dream Cake by Vanelja

And now when the new site is open I’m also beyond excited to launch my brand new grocery: Blueberry Dream Cake by Vanelja. It is a treat that I absolutely ah-dore and I’m just so super duper happy to start offering my all time favorite raw cake to people. I get asked almost weekly if I do catering or if I take orders for my dream cakes, and now I can finally say YES!

And this one is truly a raw cake of my dreams. If I should pick only one sweet treat to consume for the rest of my life, it would be my Blueberry Dream Cake, most def, no doubt about it. It has such a mouth-watering taste with the pecan based crust with a hint of cardamom and the rich blueberry filling. The texture is creamy and fluffy yet the cake is very fresh because of the white layer with some hints of lemon in it. I honestly start salivating even now when describing it to you, haha. And what’s lovely about this Blueberry Dream Cake is that there is no coconut flavor that pushes through, which I feel is a problem in many raw cakes.

Blueberry Dream Cake - Raw cake by Vanelja

I’ve made my Blueberry Dream Cake in collab with Green Street, a big-hearted Helsinki-based provider for raw cakes and other healthy food. The cake will be out very soon, at 15th of May to be exact, and you’ll be able to buy it from certain retailers, supermarkets and cafés in Helsinki and Stockholm. Gonna list down all the retailers here on my site soon! And if you want to have a whole cake, preordering is open NOW and the first deliveries start 15th of May. If you have some parties coming up this spring and summer, like graduation parties, family get-togethers, brunches for friends etc. you can preorder the cake HERE. It is a great thing to serve for a big bunch of people as it is vegan, gluten free and naturally sweetened, so it fits to most diets and most occasions. I prefer it as a weekend brekkie, as it is perfect for cozy slow mornings.

The decoration of these photos are not included in the cake, but it has a beautiful pattern on the surface (which you can see here) so it can be served as it is, or  you can finish it for example with some blueberries or edible flowers.

Blueberry dream Cake brekkie

At the moment the availability of my Blueberry Dream Cake is limited only to Helsinki, Finland and Stockholm, but hopefully we’ll get the cake to wider reach too. Again, gonna be updating the retailers here on my site. And if you have a café and you’d think my Blueberry Dream Cake could match your selection, throw me a message!

But in the meantime, let me know how you like my cake and my new site! There are still some new features on their way + one surprise gift for you coming before the summer, so stay tuned – especially on Vanelja’s Instagram, as that is the place where I holler most often about my moves.

xo

V

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Dreamy Blueberry Thyme Raw Cake

29.8.2017

Hiya Honey! Look what I’ve got for you today – A dreamy and creamy blueberry thyme raw cake –  A cake that can also be found on the cover of the latest THRIVE magazine. That’s right, babe, my cake is an actual cover girl! So sooo amazing! There’s also a four page spread & a feature of me in the magazine in where I share some of my food secrets + many many other great features and recipes of super talented recipe creators.

I first created this blueberry raw cake in the spring with a collaboration with a Finnish salad and herb producer Järvikylä when I made an adaptation of their thyme blueberry cake and during the summer the cake photo has become easily one of my most shared and liked IG posts ever and it has been so much fun to see people making their own creations of it and posting them on their pages and sharing them with me. The beauty and magic of Instagram.

To celebrate my cover photo I thought to share the recipe here on my site too – So here you go, my friend, go and enjoy these blueberry filled dream bites!

V

(gluten free, dairy-free, naturally sweetened)

Base:

½ cup pecan nuts

½ almonds

7 fresh dates, pitted (or dried organic soft apricots)

a pinch of sea salt

 

Filling:

2 cups cashew nuts (soaked for 30 minutes & rinsed)

½ ripe banana

¼ cup coconut oil, melted

5-6 tbsp raw organic honey (or maple syrup or coconut syrup)

¼ cup oat milk or almond milk

fresh lemon juice from ½ lemon

1 tsp vanilla extract

½ cup blueberries

a handful of fresh thyme leaves

 

On top:

blueberries

fresh thyme

 

Pan diameter: 18 cm / 7 inches

Place a piece of parchment paper in the bottom of a cake pan. Place the almonds and nuts into a food processor or a high-speed blender and blend until crust. Add dates or apricots and salt and blend until moldable dough. Press the dough firmly into the bottom of the cake pan. Prepare the filling.

Place all the filling ingredients (except blueberries and thyme) into the food processor / blender and blend until smooth. Add some dairy free milk, if needed, to get a smooth texture, still keeping it as thick as possible. Pour about ⅓ of the mixture into the cake pan and smooth out the surface. Add blueberries and thyme to the food processor / blender and blend with the remaining mixture. Taste and add some spices if needed. Spoon the filling into the cake pan and even the surface gently with a spoon so that you don’t mix the white and the purple filling. Top with blueberries. Place the cake pan into the freezer for about 2-3 hours or until the cake is solid. Remove the cake from the pan and place it on a serving dish. Let thaw for a moment. Sprinkle on some thyme leaves, serve and enjoy. Store in the fridge.

 

As seen on THRIVE magazine!

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It’s a Pleasure – Nut Caramel Candies

3.10.2016

Life has had quite hectic twists and turns lately. Sometimes I wonder how it is even possible for me as one human being to cope with all these projects I have managed to gather in my life. But in some weird way person kind of multiplies herself, expands time or makes other magic tricks when stuff just needs to be done. And there is no time to sit around when a revolution awaits! A food revolution, you know, in which I try to take part with my work.

A part of my revolution dream has now become reality as my very first cookbook about healthy sweet treats, that came out in Finland some time ago has now been released in the US and it goes by the name It’s a Pleasure. I’m so happy about the outcome – the book looks and feels super pretty and nice and I hope it can help to transform globally the way people feel about sweets with it’s over 80 recipes for cakes, candies, cookies, muffins, ice creams, chocolates and other sweet treats – all without guten, dairy and refined sugar. Because there is just no better way to indulge than to savor with treats that left you feeling light, healthy and satisfied!

Try for example these overwhelming pralines. I have prepared big batches of them lately and people have LOVED them. And no wonder. The best pralines combine many elements: a soft filling, a texture that snaps nicely and something crunchy. Also, a hint of saltiness is a big plus. These chocolates are all of the above and can be created with very simple and wholesome ingredients.

Please, just try them! And if you wish to have a copy of It’s a Pleasure, throw me a message here below before Oct 10th and I’ll pick two winners to whom I’ll post the book next week – in Finnish or in English, you choose!

Until then – Viva la revolucion!

V

NUT CARAMEL CHOCOLATES

Makes 15-20 pieces

Caramels:

  • 15 fresh dates
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1-2 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • 15-20 pecans
  • 4-5 tbsp unsweetened peanut butter or almond butter

Icing:

  • 4 ounces unsweetened dark or raw chocolate, or ½ cup Basic Chocolate from the It’s a Pleasure book.

On top:

  • flaky sea salt

Pit the dates. Put the dates, coconut oil, water vanilla extract and salt into the blender and purée. Caramel should be thick and smooth. Spoon the caramel in a freezer-safe container and put it in the freezer for about 15 minutes so that it thickens a bit and is easier to handle.

Line a small baking sheet with a parchment paper. When the caramel sauce has thickened, take about teaspoon-sized dollops of the caramel and place onto the prepared baking sheet and mold the caramel into balls. Press a pecan into each ball. And then add about half a teaspoon of peanut butter on each pecan nut and place the tray into a freezer. Freeze for about 30 minutes.

In the meantime melt the chocolate on the top of a double boiler / in warm water bath. Take the pralines out of the freezer and dip each of them into the chocolate icing. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt and return them to the freezer just to set. Bring out, serve and indluge. Keep in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.

Recipe from the book IT’S A PLEASURE by Virpi Mikkonen

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Vanilla N’ice cream sandwiches & Giveaway

17.5.2016

The time has come!! The N’Ice Cream book about healthy vegan ice creams by me and Tuulia has come out today in the US. And I’m over the moon excited! The Finnish version of the book got sold out in a week here in Finland and I hope the international audience will love the English version just as much.

Several people have now said to me that the N’Ice Cream book feels like the ultimate summer saver for them, and that makes me sooo happy. Because that is exactly what this book was designed to be. To enable a feel-good summer with healthy, naturally sweetened and gluten-free vegan ice creams, ice pops, sorbets, soft serves, instant ice creams, ice cream cakes & cookies, waffle cones, sauces, jams and all that jazz. And also our very best tips on how to prepare delicious ice cream easily without an ice cream maker.

You can now buy the book from:

If you like to have more n’ice cream inspiration, come and follow our Instagram: @nicecreambook where we share pics & tips and give shout-outs to peoples beautiful nice cream creations. Be sure to tag your n’ice cream photos #nicecreambook and @nicecreambook so that we can see them!

And now, ladies and gents, I'm happy to introduce these treats I have for you: Lovely lovely Vanilla Chocolate N’ice cream Sandwiches that I made inspired by a couple of recipes from the N’Ice Cream book. They just might be the perfect summer snack. And the perfect way to celebrate the launch of our book. Note that you can always just skip the cookies and make the instant ice cream base and enjoy it with this super quick chocolate sauce, if your ice cream cravings won’t wait!

And then there’s still one more thing: A giveaway! I’m giving away one copy of the N’Ice Cream book. Just write a short hello and why you would like this book to the comments below and you’re in! You’ve got time to participate until midnight Sunday the 22nd of May. And the giveaway is this time open to US, Canada & Finland. Good luck, my friends!

V

VANILLA N'ICE CREAM SANDWICHES

About 4 big or 6 small pieces

Vanilla n’ice cream:

  • 3 ripe bananas (frozen)
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk (kept in a fridge overnight)
  • ½ tsp vanilla powder

Slice bananas into smaller pieces and put into the blender. Open a coconut milk can and scoop the white thick paste (about 2/3 cup) into the blender with bananas. Add vanilla. Mix until smooth. If your blender is not very powerful prepare the ice cream in two baches. Pour the ice cream mixture in a large freezer-safe tin and freeze for about 15-30 minutes. In the meantime prepare the cookies.

Chocolate Cookies:

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 4 tbsp raw cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp flax meal
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp vanilla powder
  • 8 tbsp water
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup or coconut syrup

Preheat the oven to 175 C / 350 F degrees. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add water and melted coconut oil and syrup. Mix. The dough should be now easily moldable. Add a bit more water or flour if needed. You should be able to make a big ball out of the dough with your hands.

Place a dough ball between two pieces of parchment paper. Roll out to ½ inch thickness. Cut the dough into rectangles with a knife or use a cookie mold. Place the cookies gently on a baking tray covered with a baking sheet. Bake for 8 – 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely. The cookies can be a bit soft when you take them from the oven because they will get crispier as they cool.

Chocolate frosting:

  • ½ cup coconut oil, melted
  • 3 tbsp raw cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp coconut syrup

Mix the melted coconut oil, cocoa powder and coconut syrup in a small bowl.

Assembly:
Scoop about two spoonfuls of the ice cream and place it on the back side of one cookie. Place another cookie on top of the ice cream and press down gently. Repeat with the remaining cookies. Drip some chocolate frosting on top on the sandwiches and sprinkle some shredded coconut on. Freeze for 30-60 minutes. Enjoy!

MORE HEALTHY VEGAN ICE CREAM RECIPES FROM THE N’ICE CREAM BOOK

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The Divine Chocolate Cake & Your gift

7.4.2016

Hello, Love!

I have been waiting so eagerly to tell this to you. And now I can finally announce:
The hottest – or should I say the coolest cookbook of the summer is now available for PRE-ORDER! And – there is a magnificant pre-order gift, too!

Hooray, it is really happening, my friends! I’m so happy to launch this!

So as I mentioned in my previous post, N'Ice Cream – the healthy vegan ice cream cookbook by me and Tuulia Talvio will be out May 17 by Avery Publishing, Penguin US. There’s gonna be over 80 delicious recipes for healthy vegan ice creams without gluten, dairy and refined sugar. …Creamy ice creams, ice pops and sorbets, instant ice creams, ice cream cakes & cookies, waffles, sauces and jams, you name it. THIS BOOK covers it all when it comes to wholesome ice creams!

And as a thank you we wanted to make you something special. So when you pre-order N'Ice Cream cookbook now, you'll get this delicious gift:

GATHER e-book with over 30 recipes for your wholesome, easygoing, plant-based summer parties.

Oh yes, baby, it is true! By pre-ordering N'Ice Cream now you'll get this luxurious digital cookbook totally FREE. (Or if you’ve already pre-ordered the book – Thank you! – the offer includes you too.) Gather is not available in any other places so pre-ordering is really the only way to get your hands on this summery piece. And note also that the gift book comes as a pre-order gift only with the N'Ice Cream cookbook, so it is not included with the Finnish version, Hyvän olon jäätelökirja, which will be out in stores in Finland already in about 2 weeks.

GATHER E-BOOK OFFERS:

  • More than 30 original healthy plant based recipes for your summer get-togethers

  • All recipes are vegan, free from gluten, dairy & refined sugar

  • Recipes for savory snacks, sweet desserts and fresh drinks

  • Tips for organizing a stress-free party

  • A full-size color image for every recipe

The book includes recipes such as Falafels & Cashew Sour Cream, The Vegan Party Platter, Flaxseed chips & Creamy Dip, Sweet Potato Mini Pizzas, Nut-free Blueberry Pie, Divine Raw Chocolate Cake (presented below!), Apricot Cookies and Nut Fudge, Summer Pancake Cake, Brazilian Lemonade, Melon & Lime Aqua Fresca and many many more! And note, that all these recipes are totally new and original, not posted anywhere else before.

Check out more about Gather e-book and how to pre-order and get your gift HERE.

Oh and hey, I recommend warmly to subscribe to Vanelja’s newsletter asap, as there is coming some great weekly giveaways, bonus recipes, playlists and everything wonderful to get you in summer vibes & ice cream mood!

Come and follow also our official Insagram page of N’Ice Cream. A really nice giveaway is coming in our IG page already today, so hurry. We are waiting for you! 🙂

N’ICE CREAM HOT LIST:

And before I leave you to enjoy the Divine Raw Chocolate Cake from Gather I have to say that we are AMAZED by all the support we have been getting from people to help to spread the news about this book. From people we know and from total strangers too! We are grateful for all the help we can get to spread the word of n’ice cream and healthy ice cream revolution.

If you feel like you would want to help in any way we would be so so happy! Like by sharing this post, the N’Ice Cream preorder gift, N’Ice Cream Instagram posts or anything else. Or if you are a blogger and would want to share some ice cream tips, some photos, bonus recipes or a small feature / interview, please send us an email to nicecreambook@gmail.com and we’ll got you covered!

And now, finally. The cake. The Divine Raw Chocolate cake. It is a-bliss. Please enjoy!

V

DIVINE RAW CHOCOLATE CAKE

(Recipe from the GATHER e-book)

Crust:

  • 1 cup pecan nuts
  • 5-7 fresh dates
  • ½ tsp cardamom
  • a tiny pinch of sea salt

Filling:

  • 1 cup cashew nuts
  • ⅓ cup cacao butter
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • ½-1 cup coconut milk (room temperature)
  • ¼ cup coconut syrup (or maple syrup)
  • ½ cup raw cacao powder
  • a tiny pinch of salt

Chocolate sauce:

  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 3 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 2 tbsp coconut syrup (or maple syrup)
  • a tiny pinch of sea salt

On top:

  • pecan nuts
  • raw cacao nibs
  • coconut flakes

Tin diameter:

  • 7 inches / 18 cm

Crust:

Chop the nuts in a blender. Wash dates and remove the stones. Add dates and cardamom with nuts and puree into crumbly dough. Press the bottom of dough on the bottom of the cake tin.

Creamy Filling:

Mix all ingredients in a blender until you have a smooth creamy mixture. If needed, add more coconut milk to get smoother texture but still keeping it as thick as possible. Taste and add seasoning or sweetness if desired. Pour the dough into the cake tin over the crust and put the tin into a freezer for about 30 minutes.

Chocolate sauce:

Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine. Drizzle on top of the raw chocolate cake.

Decorate with nuts, cacao nibs and coconut flakes. Try also fresh berries and n’ice cream! Serve and enjoy!

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N'Ice Cream News

9.3.2016

Ok, wow. Do I have some BIG news for you people. Big, creamy, delicious and heavenly news. And yes, it is about ice cream, and it is about books. As I bet you guessed already from the photo.

So, remember the e-book about healthy ice creams we did last summer with my friend Tuulia, that was called Kind Ice Cream for You? Yep, the cute little pink book that became surprisingly popular during the summer. Well, we thought that the e-book would have been just a nice little summer project for us, but life had bigger plans for it.

As it happened, one brilliant book agent found our e-book through my friend Jessie’s blog post (Jessie, you girl are pure gold! I thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing that post!) and asked if me and Tuulia were interested in making an actual book out of our e-book.

And oh-my-god, OF COURSE we were!

So one thing lead to another and now I am SO PROUD and SO HAPPY to announce that our cookbook about healthy vegan ice creams is gonna be out in the US in May 17th and it goes with a name N’Ice Cream. The publisher of the book is the ever so lovely Avery, part of Penguin Random House which is one of the biggest book publishers in the world.

So there we are now with our ice creams sharing the home with Nobel prize winners and biggest best-sellers in the world.

So crazy. So so crazy amazing! N’ice cream, I scream, everybody screeeam!

There you can see the cover of N'Ice Cream on the right hand side on the first photo. That one is gonne be seen in bookstores all around North America and Canada. The cover photo on the left hand side is from the Finnish edition called Hyvän olon jäätelökirja, that will be out in the middle of May in Finland through Cozy Pyblishing.

So it’s gonna be healthy, vegan and super easy ice creams for all the people around the world soon! And we are just so overly excited here and can’t wait them to come out. We feel we have done something revolutionary with this piece and that the recipes in the book have an actual potential to make this world a little better place. Maybe we’ll too get a Nobel nomination from it. Haha!

But really, as Don Kardong put it: "Without ice cream there would be darkness and chaos." So ice cream IS plain good, and healthy ice cream is even better.

And if you wanna join this ice cream parade beforehand, you can go and pre-oreder N'Ice Cream already from these places:

I can tell you that there is going to be a super duper nice gift for people who will pre-order the book and it will be the perfect companion to N’Ice Cream. But more about it next month!

Also, be sure to sign up to my NEWSLETTER because there’s gonna come some brilliant material to subscribers during this spring.

And finally, before I wrap this up, I want to thank deeply everyone who supported us with this project in any way, purchased our e-book back in the days and shared the love – there's some good karma coming your way!

So, we are living wonderful times, my friend, and the upcoming spring is gonna be filled with possibilities for all of us. Lets keep the light up!

V

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Healthy Fast Food

9.12.2015

Baby, It is dark, rainy and cold outside but my heart is shining brightly!

The reason for this glow is that my book about healthy fast food can be now finally found in the bookstores in Finland!

And may I just say: Pheeeew.

I’m feeling SO relieved. And happy. But not at all super hyped like I was when my first book was released a year ago. Now the feeling is more trusting, confident, calm and collected. I can be proud about the outcome and I know that this book will be the most used cookbook in our household! My husband, who is quite a lazy cook, has been cooking from the book many times already. So my main mission here is accomplished: Get the guy to cook!

Small step for the humankind, big achievement for my family. Huge.

Hopefully other takeaway lovers and lazy cooks will also find the book inspiring!

The book offers over 80 recipes for healthy, easy and quick vegetarian dishes, all without gluten and refined sugars. Most of the recipes can be done totally vegan. And the best part here is that the dishes can all be done less than in 30 minutes and they come with super simple ingredient lists.

I don't mean to brag but isn't that just great?!

And because many of you have asked me about the English version, I can now say that I’m in the progress of getting the book translated into English, but it will be a project for the next year. Let’s see then in what form it will eventually come out!

But here's as a tasting, some examples from the menu of my book:

For breakfast:

  • 3 x Easy Pancakes
  • 3 x 3 Ingredient Smoothies
  • 3 x Energy Bars
  • Blueberry Ginger Porridge
  • Cinnamon Jar Porridge
  • Chocolate Oat Porridge
  • Coconut Oat Breakfast Rolls
  • Easy Dairy-free Cheeses
  • Fig Pear Crumble

For Lunch & Dinner:

  • Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Curry Peanut Butter Sauce
  • Asian Green Wraps
  • Nepalese dish with 3 ingredient Naan Bread
  • Quick Curry with Sweet Potato Noodles
  • Sunshine Pasta
  • Avocado Pasta
  • Shiitake Seed Risotto (rice-free)
  • Eggplant Pizzas
  • White Pizza
  • Beetroot Pizza
  • Sweet Potato Pizza
  • Burrito Bowl with Chili Sin Carne
  • 3 x Easy Mayo (egg-free)

For Dessert:

  • 3 Ingredient Chocolate Cake
  • 3 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cake
  • 3 Ingredient Apple Pie
  • Almond Soft Serve
  • 2 Ingredient Cookies
  • Wholesome Banana Muffins
  • 2 Ingredient Apple Donuts
  • Melon Cake for Kids

And lots and lots of more dishes and treats! A small introduction of the book can be found here.

Have a lovely week, Friend!

xxx

V

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Happy Birthday Vanelja!

16.9.2015

It was exactly one year ago when I opened the doors of Vanelja and introduced it to the world for the first time. And in my very first blog post I then wrote:

“Nothing in Vanelja is permanent, no goals has been set. That makes it possible to grow to whatever direction life takes it to. It is exciting to see what kind of flowers will Vanelja bloom in when the fertilizers are freedom, passion and pleasure!”

And wow, what beautiful blossoms have I been able to witness during this first year! I have been just amazed by all the opportunities, connections and people life has sent through my blog.

During this year I have made great new friends from different parts of the world, I have also made 3 cook books (insane, I know! do not try at home), been featured in international media, websites and blogs, been picked by Instagram to their suggested users list, been nominated in the Saveur Food blog Award and actually winning the award in the Best-designed blog category. And then there are also some huge huge things I can’t yet talk about that have started to seed during this year.

So may I just say: Phew. And thank You. Thank you life, thank you dear You, thank you universe. I promise to continue following my dreams. And as Elsie De Wolfe said:

“I am going to make everything around me beautiful – that will be my life.”

And I’m also going to make lots of these delicious banoffee-muffins, which you should try also. They too taste like a dream.

V

BANOFFEE MUFFINS

Muffins:

  • 1 ½ ripe banana
  • 3 tbsp peanut butter
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • 3 organic, free range eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees / 175 C degrees. Grease the muffin cups. Place all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour the mixture in muffin cups and bake for about 15 minutes. In the meantime prepare the caramel sauce and frosting. When muffins are ready, take them out from the oven and let cool. Spoon some frosting on top and pour on some caramel sauce. Serve and enjoy!

Peanut butter frosting:

  • 1 can full fat coconut milk (kept in a fridge)
  • 3 tbsp peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp organic honey
  • 1 ripe banana (sliced in small pieces)

Open the coconut milk can and scoop out the white thick paste in a bowl. Add peanut butter and honey. Whip until fluffy. Fold in the banana pieces.

Caramel sauce:

  • 7 tbsp coconut sugar
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • a pinch of sea salt

Place the coconut sugar and coconut milk in a pan. Stir gently on a medium heat until the mixture is well mixed. Let the sauce simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes until the sauce starts to thicken. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract and salt. Store in a glass jar in the fridge and use within two weeks.

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Cinnamon Bun Waffles from Gratitude

26.8.2015

One of the most traditional ways to celebrate something here in Finland is to make coffee and serve cinnamon buns. That old school serving suits all types of parties and in every occasion.

A baby is born – coffee and cinnamon buns, you win a lottery – coffee and cinnamon buns, someone dies – coffee and cinnamon buns, your blog is nominated in The Blog Awards Finland in the Health and Wellness category – coffee and cinn.. Wait, no. Actually then it’s not coffee nor cinnamon buns, but healthy cinnamon bun”ish” waffles! The exception proves the rule.

So here I am with my not-so-traditional but yet so-very-delicious cinnamon bun waffles as it indeed happened that my blog got nominated in the Blog Awards Finland in the Health and Wellness category. Yay!

The nomination in that specific category made me took a stroll down memory lane and look back to where I started, which was five years ago in my former Finnish health blog called Kiitos hyvää.

Kiitos hyvää was a blog mainly about well-being and “high quality life”. In that time I was very deeply into all kind of nutrition stuff, different methods of measuring health and gaining better health, raw food, superfood, super this and super that. I was truly and totally a health nerd. All that super health hype feels kind of funny to me nowadays, but it was an adventure I had to take in order to get here, into more peaceful and calmer place.

It is very relaxing when you realise that the purpose of your life is to serve only in a way that brings great joy to yourself and others. Not to battle and strive. That is the reason I nowadays post only easygoing inspiration and nice recipes and not try to convince anyone of what is the best diet or how should others live their lives. I don’t have clue, only a delicate and occasionally fading hunch on how to live my own.

But that’s how life, health and wellness are, delicate and constantly changing things that escape exact definitions and are not bound to one truth.

My truth today is happiness and gratitude for being nominated in the biggest Blog Award in my country. And from that happiness I channel these cinnamon bun waffles to you!

Thank you for being there, friend.

V

CINNAMON BUN WAFFLES

Gluten-free, paleo & dairy-free

1 cup almond flour

2 tbsp coconut flour

¼ cup tapioca flour/starch (or potato starch)

1 ½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp ceylon cinnamon

½ tsp cardamom

2 organic eggs or two flax eggs (great flax egg recipe here )

1 cup coconut milk or almond milk or oat milk

1 tbsp organic honey or coconut palm sugar

2 tbsp melted coconut oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Take another bowl and add eggs, coconut milk, coconut oil and vanilla extract and whip gently until slightly foamy. Mix with the dry ingredients. Brush coconut oil into the surfaces of the waffle iron. Pour mixture onto hot waffle iron. Cook until golden brown or prepare waffles following the instructions of the manufacture. Serve with coconut butter and cinnamon or with banana slices, peanut butter and whipped coconut cream.

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Rum & Raisin Chocolate Ice Cream

11.6.2015

I have to say my life is super full at the moment. Actually even a little bit too packed for my taste. My calendar is full with work, meetings and photoshoots, my hands are full with things to do both in home and also in work field, and my head is crowded with stuff I need to remember and take care of. Surprisingly, even though it usually never goes together with a hectic life, my heart is full also – and it is just bursting with gratitude!

One reason for that is this unforgettable incident I had last week in New York at the Saveur Food Blog Awards where Vanelja was nominated as one of the finalist. And you can’t believe this – the craziest thing happened: Editor’s Choice for Best-designed Blog! As in Vanelja was picked to be the winner by the editors from the almighty Saveur magazine!

high-fives with my graphic designer friends Leena Oravainio & Lotta Niemien who helped to build this site and with all you followers, readers and lovely friends and supporters! You guys made this happen!

It is such a huge honor and such a recognized award that I am still totally overwhelmed and it is still hard for me to understand that it actually happened. The whole event, the award, all the amazing people and fellow bloggers I met. The whole experience was like from a dream. Especially when I was totally jet-lagged and was feeling quite surreal even in the first place.

So now, we need to party. Because that's what we people do when something big comes our way – we celebrate and throw a party to mark these big happenings and changes in our lives to somehow make them feel more real, right? First we ask someone to pinch ourselves and then we party.

And because it is summer and I’m just all about ice creams at the moment, as our e-book about healthy dairy-free & refined-sugar-free ice creams, Kind Ice Cream for You just got launched last week, I decided that we celebrate with ice cream. Yay!

This one is an adaptation of one “Instant Chocolate Ice Cream” recipe from our book which can be enjoyed as a soft serve or as a more solid ice cream. I chose to flavor it with a little bit of rum and raisins just to make it more festive. And because rum & raisin is my all time favorite ice cream flavor. And well, because alcohol just gives a nice boost to certain occasions. Though here the rum is first brought to a boil so there’s no change/risk of getting tipsy. …Although, you just might do it anyways because of the intoxicating raw chocolate and the super rich flavor!

So enjoy, live life to it’s fullest and celebrate all the big and small treasures life throws to you. For example now with these luxurious party ice cream balls flying your way!

V

Remember to follow me on Instagram and tag your ice cream photos with #kindicecreamforyou or #kindicecream!

RUM & RAISIN CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM

  • 3 frozen bananas
  • 5 tbsp rum
  • 2 tbsp almond liqueur
  • 3 tbsp organic raisins
  • 1,5 tablespoon raw cacao powder
  • 1 tbsp organic honey (or coconut syrup, stevia or sweetener of your choice)
  • 2-3 tbsp almond milk (or other milk), if needed
  • 3 rkl raw cacao nibs

Peel the bananas and cut them into small coins. Put the bananas into an airtight container and freeze for at least 4 hours, or overnight. In the meantime pour the almond liqueur and rum into a small pot ja bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and add raisins to the alcohol mixture and let marinate until the bananas are frozen.

To make the ice cream, add bananas into a blender and pulse until a crumble forms. Keep on pulsing until the bananas start to form a smooth texture. You might have to scrape down the sides of the blender a few times. Add the marinated raisins, chocolate, vanilla and sweetener and keep on pulsing until you get a smooth and creamy ice cream texture. Mix in the raw cacao nibs and stir with a spoon. Scoop into a bowls, serve and enjoy! If the ice cream melts too much while you process it, you can freeze it a little bit before serving.

* More healthy, dairy free ice cream recipes in Kind Ice Cream for You e-book!

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Kind Ice Cream for You

2.6.2015

It has arrived! Our e-book about healthy ice creams is finally out! And I must say that I am deeply and utterly in LOVE with it. Hands down, it must be the loveliest cook book I have ever encountered. And that is my totally objective opinion. If me and my partner-in-crime Tuulia Talvio would have not made it I would still love it to pieces! Hahaa!

But the most amazing thing for me here is how this book took even myself by surprise. Because when we started making it this winter I would have never guessed that it would become so big, beautiful and comprehensive as it is.

First we planned to make just a nice small e-book about healthy, dairy-free, refined-sugar-free and gluten-free ice creams with few nice recipes with few nice pictures. But the project kept on growing and growing until one day we realised that we have a real book in our hands, well, on our computer screens – with 130 pages and over 60 recipes, great pictures – and last but not least, a beeeautiful layout, thanks to my dear friend, a super talented graphic designer Leena Oravainio.

So here I am now, super proud, deeply happy and a little bit teary over our kind and beautiful new-born book, Kind Ice Cream for You. And I really want you to meet her, so go ahead and
read more about it in the book’s official website: www.kindicecream.com.

You can buy the book through my SHOP or through www.kindicecream.com or by going straigh HERE. All the roads lead to the same destination. NOTE: E-BOOK IS TEMPORARILY OUT OF STOCK

So be free to share, download and spread the love! We have really poured our love and passion in this one, so we are very grateful for all the help you can give in spreading our kind ice cream message! #kindicecreamforyou #kindicecream

Take care, be Kind and have a lovely ice-cream-filled June, my friend!

V

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Spring break

20.4.2015

“I know this is what I want to do for the rest of my life, nothing compares to this feeling of freedom.”

That is a quote from a surfer Colin Moran and those words lay in a picture upon my bed in my new crib, an airbnb flat in Los Angeles to where I came for a one month work/vacation trip.

So if you´re wondering why there is not coming new material and recipe innovations as often as usual it is because I´m giving space for fresh inspiration and sparkling new ideas. Setting myself free from the old and familiar and keeping a slight break from the routines. Even my personal blender I brought with me quit its deal in the very first day I tried to test out a new recipe here. A clear sign that I need to concentrate on other things now!

Although, I do have some un-published recipes up in my sleeve that I´m gonna share with you guys, so stay tuned! In the meantime you can jump in my travelling bag and follow me on Instagram!

Flying free kisses!

V

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Pistachio Fig Smoothie

11.4.2015

I have a huge spring time crush happening here. The target of my affection is oh-so creamy and dreamy home-made pistachio milk. What a charmer. The color of this heavenly nectar is so beautiful that I could just sit and watch it´s tones through my drinking glass forever. …If I would not be so eager to gulp it down in a heartbeat.

Pistachio milk is perfect for example in making raw cakes and ice creams and it´s a loveliest base for smoothies too! In today´s smoothie recipe I connected pistachio milk with figs. And boy did it turn out delicious!

I warmly recommend you try it out on some lovely spring day. And also a bunch of other delicious and fresh smoothie recipes from my free e-book, Creamy Smoothie Guide!

And hey, while you´re here could I ask you to take a minute (or more like 30 seconds) and vote for VANELJA in Saveur Food Blog Awards in the best-designed blog category, as my blog is one of the finalists. Your vote would mean a world to me! As this whole being-in-the-finals already did. You need to registrate first but it only takes a second and you won´t get any junk mail.

So Click & Vote for VANELJA and pure pleasures! Thank you darling, I send you loads of love in return!

V

PISTACHIO FIG SMOOTHIE

  • 2 fresh figs
  • 2 cup pistachio milk (or 0,25 cup pistachios and 2 cup of water)
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 banana
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • +1 tsp rose water (optional)

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Check the taste and add some seasoning or sweetness if desired. Enjoy!

PISTACHIO MILK

  • 2 cup pistachios (salt-free)
  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 tbsp of organic honey (or one fresh date)
  • ½ tsp vanilla powder

Soak the pistachios in the water for a few hours. Drain the soaking water and rinse pistachios. Place nuts, 3 cups of water, honey and vanilla to a blender and blend until smooth. Strain the nut milk through a fine sieve, cheese cloth or nut milk bag. Store the pistachio milk in the refrigerator in a sealed bottle or a glass jar. Shake before use and enjoy! Use within a week.

More delicious smoothie recipes from VANELJA´s free e-book: Creamy Smoothe Guide!

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Silver toffee

15.1.2015

Since my childhood I have always been a sucker for candy. I must say that it is the biggest temptation for me. Even now, when I have been eating quite clean for over 6 years, it is still sometimes hard for me to pass those colorful candy shelves. All those sweets, chocolates, flavors and smells just make my head blur. Usually I can manage myself, but if you give me a bowl of candies – I will sure empty it. And not leave one tiny piece behind.

Well, we all have our addictions.

And I´m not alone with this one. Candy business is huge and especially here in Finland and also in Sweden even adults eat candies like there´s no tomorrow! It is crazy. That is why it is my passion to create better alternatives for all those common candies filled with refined sugars, colourants and artificial flavors. One of my dream is to join forces with some candy factory and to start creating healthy sweets for people. So holler if you happen to be in candy biz! I´m your girl.

And then to the real topic of this post. It is the licorice toffee that I´ve created. I got the inspiration for it from this really popular retro toffee bar that we have here in Finland called “Hopeatoffee” as in Silver toffee. I don´t know where the name comes from, because it ain´t silver. It´s black. That is because it´s made from licorice. It´s soft tasty licorice toffee and I can understand why it has been on market for over 30 years now. It is good.

But of course not as good as my new version! This updated silver toffee has only three ground ingredients: organic rice syrup (or honey), almond butter and dairy-free milk. Then you flavor it with licorice, anise, vanilla and salt, cook it for 5 – 20 minutes, depending on how sticky you want your toffee to be, pour it on molds or on board, let it cool and you´re good to go!

You´ll love it.

Have fun time cooking and munching! And stay tuned, because there´s more clean candies to come!

V

LICORICE TOFFEE

  • ½ cup rice syrup (or organic honey or coconut palm syrup)
  • ½ cup almond butter (or nut butter of your taste or 1 cup butter)
  • 3 tbsp oat milk (or other dairy-free milk)
  • 3-4 tbsp black licorice root extract powder or grated liquorice root extract stick
  • 1 tsp ground anise
  • ½ tsp vanilla powder
  • a tiny pinch of sea salt

Pour all the ingredients to a saucepan. Bring to boil. Stir constantly and turn the stove to low temperature. Heat the mixture stirring slowly for about 5-20 minutes. If you want it to be really thick and sticky, cook only for about 5-8 minutes. If you like softer toffee, cook for 10 – 20 minutes. To test if the toffee is ready, drop a tiny bit of mixture into a bowl of cold water. Toffee is ready when you can mold a soft but solid ball of it with your fingers. Pour the mixture into chocolate molds or spread to a silicon-lined or parchment-lined board or plate. Let cool in the fridge. If you spread the toffee onto a sheet, break it into bars or smaller candies. Wrap it for example in greaseproof paper or store in a jar. Serve and enjoy! Store sealed in a cool room temperature or in a fridge and use within two weeks.

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The best ingredients in life

11.12.2014

What a relief. What happiness and love and bliss! My cook book baby has finally born. When I first got the book in my arms a week ago I bursted into tears – and in laughter at the same time!

It is surprisingly strong experience to see the whole journey you´ve made, all the work, joices, experiences that happened while making the book, all condensated to one piece.

Yes, the most pure and strong happiness you get is through you´re own passion and from the result of your hard work. And when you get to share it with good people. Like I did last week in my book launch party at my home.

That could have been one of my most memorable nights ever!

Only a small bunch of people were invited so that the atmosphere stayed intimate. There were lots of cakes, candies, candles, laughter – and flowers! So much flowers. As lovely Hennamari Asunta teached us about flower binding & flower arrangements. The night truly contained the best ingredients in life. I didn´t concentrate that much on taking photos, but you can catch a glimpse in Eeva´s blog to see some pictures of that evening. (the text is in Finnish).

I so much wish that I can get my book out also in english some day for all you non-finnish-speakers out there! I bet the world needs my book of healthy treats outside of Finland too!

In the meantime you can follow this site for more recipes – or learn some finnish and order my book from HERE! I won´t promise it will be easy – but I promise it will be worth it.

V

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Vanilla stars

1.12.2014

I am sooo excited here right now. Butterfly disco in my stomach and a permanent crazy persons grin on my face. One reason is that it is the first day of December and I can finally and totally release all my christmas moves! Baking, decorating, dancing… Last night we already brought the christmas tree inside and I can see how it´s just praying for me to dance around it along with some good old Frank Sinatra tunes while munching ginger bread.

But, there is yet another and this time bigger reason for my hype and that is that my first cook book (!!!) Kiitos hyvää is gonna be released in Finland in this very week!

*more awkward dance moves here*

The book is about sweet treats with no white sugar or gluten. (or dairy or yeast or any shady stuff). The book is about pure pleasures – like this site. It´s available only in Finnish at this moment but let´s hope that we´ll get an english version of it later for all of you fellow pleasure seekers around the world!

Here´s a small sample of the sweet treasures of my book: Vanilla coconut stars with chocolate almond butter heart.

When you taste them you really feel like they´ve dropped on your tongue straight from the heaven.

V

VANILLA COCONUT DROPS WITH A CHOCOLATE HEART

15-20 pcs

Coconut drops:

  • 1 cup coconut butter (also called coconut manna)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons organic honey (or vanilla stevia drops)
  • 2 tablespoons squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla powder

 

Chocolate Filling:

  • 1/2 cup almond butter or nut butter
  • 3 tablespoons raw cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons organic honey
  • a pinch of sea salt

 

Melt the coconut butter, coconut oil and honey in a warm water bath. Add the lemon juice and vanilla. Blend in a blender until smooth. Taste and add seasoning if desired.

In another bowl melt the almond butter. Add cocoa powder, coconut oil, salt and sweetener and stir.

Pour a little bit of the white coconut mixture on the bottom of a mini cup cake tins/casseroles. Add a drop of chocolate filling. Fill the tins with the white mixture. Put the tins in the freezer for about an hour. Take out to room temperature, serve and enjoy! Store in a refrigerator in a resealable box.

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Figs, Pears and The Great Escape

24.9.2014

This year fall came suddenly. It came from the bushes, ran briskly beside me when I was on my morning jog precisely today at 8.30 am. Gave me a smile way too fresh and zesty, a smile I wasn’t at all ready for. Gave me goose pumps. Sniffling and my fingers numb, I returned home and started making some warm and comforting crumble pie. And planning my Big Escape.

No, this isn´t the kind of a post where you praise the fresh autumn days, candles and wool socks. Sometime ago, I would have tried my very best to find something good in the cold and dark season that is on it´s way, and on some level I still do it, but at the same time I’ve grown in that kind of honesty where I can admit that the upcoming winter kind of frightens me. Even though I know the season will bring me some exciting work stuff.

Honesty feels good. You don´t have to like winter. It’s ok not to be a winter person, even if you live in Finland. So, that being said, I have ordered from the universe´s mail order a second home for me and my family somewhere warm and sunny. Maybe in the West Coast of US? Maybe. We’ll wait and see for my order to be processed.

Back to that crumble pie. Its soul is made of figs and pears. I’d say it’s perfect food for this season. Warm, honest, kinda heavy, juicy, plump and sweet, still somehow easygoing. I ate the whole pie for my breakfast-lunch. Wearing wool socks. I lighted a candle, too. It was all kinda sweet, I have to admit. But the thing that warmed me the most was the thought of my big escape.

FIG PEAR CRUMBLE

Fruit Filling:

  • 4 large fresh figs
  • 1 large ripe pear
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • sweeten with vanilla stevia (or 2 tablespoons of domestic honey)
  • Cumble

  • 1 dl almond meal
  • 1 dl rolled oats
  • 0,5 dl almond flakes (or for example pumpkin seeds)
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 5 tablespoons soft butter or coconut oil
  • sweeten with vanilla stevia (or 2 tablespoons of domestic honey)
  • Preheat the oven to 175 degrees. Wash and slice the figs and pears. Put the pieces in a saucepan, add water, vanilla extract and stevia. Bring to a boil and simmer on low heat for about ten minutes. In the meantime, make the crumble.

    Apply almond flour, rolled oats and almond flakes in a bowl. Add the salt and cinnamon and mix. Pour in the melt butter and add stevia. The mixture will be chunky and crumbly.

    Pour the fruit filling into a buttered baking dish. Add then the crumble topping. Bake in center of the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the surface has a slight tint. Take out of the oven, serve and enjoy! Try for example with greek yogurt!

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    Welcome

    13.9.2014

    Wow. This is it. Vanelja is finally here. A webpage that combines all my favorite things in the world – genuine food, fresh beauty, flowers, drinks, cakes, children and movement.

    Photos, recipes and other writings in Vanelja are mainly done by me, Virpi Mikkonen. Videos and othe media content is made and produced by Vanelja Media. Maybe someday the Vanelja team will grow but for now this is mainly my playground and an webpage build on my value an taste.

    The story of Vanelja started already in September 2013, when I quit my wellness orientated Kiitos hyvää blog. It was right after then when I started to yearn for something more, dreaming of some bigger online project. Something that was not so much concerned about wellness, but more about pleasure. Then a word Vanelja popped in my head, and I knew that it had to be the name on my new webpage.

    And a year later, after planning, visualizing, some resting, long needed quiet time, after many laughters, some tears and lot of help from my dear friends came Vanelja alive. A page for pure pleasures.

    Nothing in Vanelja is permanent, no goals has been set. That makes it possible to grow to whatever direction life takes it to. It is exciting to see what kind of flowers will Vanelja bloom in when the fertilizers are freedom, passion and pleasure!

    Words can´t describe how happy and relieved I now feel. And how grateful I am to all the people who helped this came true. Thank You All. Especially Lotta Nieminen, Leena Oravainio, two graphic designers and visual geniuses behind Vanelja´s layout and Antti Takalahti, a computer mastermind who encode this page from scratch. I´m also oh-so grateful to my husband, my daughter, my friends, parents, all who helped and encouraged me with this project.

    Now I just welcome you all warmly and let you take a tour in Vanelja. I would love you also to leave a comment and let me here your thoughts.

    Welcome to create and experience Vanelja!

    V

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