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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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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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Lovers Chocolates

13.2.2015

I had made something super sweet and cool to pamper you in this Valentine´s Day but some higher forces threw so many small obstacles on my way when I tried to release the post that I realised it is just better to lift my hands, leave it and post it some other day. When the stars align, wind blows from the right direction and the time is ready.

“If you gotta force it, just leave it alone. Relationships, friendships, ponytails. Just leave it.”

Said someone somewhere in some Pinterest picture.

I think it is a good thought especially now at Valentines. When you are at ease love comes and what is meant to happen happens. No need to stress, fuss and hustle. All is good.

Here are my 3 favorite clean chocolate treats for you to prove it. They´re all pure good. Make them to your loved one or show yourself some self loving and care.

Sweet Valentine´s Day, my friend.

V

CHOCOLATE CANDIES WITH SOFT CARAMEL CENTER

(raw, nut-free)

Chocolate:

  • ⅔ cups cocoa butter, melted
  • ¼ cup cold pressed coconut oil
  • ⅔ cups raw cocoa powder
  • 4 tbsp organic honey (or coconut palm syrup)
  • a pinch of sea salt

OR Use about 2 dl of melted raw chocolate or sugar-free dark chocolate.

Soft caramel filling:

  • 10 soft dates
  • 2 tbsp cold pressed coconut oil, melted
  • 3 tbsp water
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • Caramel Stevia drops (optional)

Melt the cocoa butter and coconut oil in a warm water bath until liquid. Add cocoa powder, honey and salt. Stir. Check the taste and add more sweetness if desired. Pour a little bit of the chocolate mixture in the bottom of chocolate molds or ice cube molds. Place the mold in the freezer and prepare the caramel filling in the meantime.

Soak the dates for about 15 minutes if they are not super soft. (This recipe will not work with completely dry dates ). Remove the stones from dates. Remove the skin of the date if you want your caramel to be very soft or if your blender is not super powerful. Add the dates and melted coconut oil into a blender and mix. Add enough water to get smooth picture, soft caramel-like purée.

Take the mold from the freezer and add a dab of caramel filling in each mold with a little spoon or a piping bag. Fill the molds with the remaining chocolate. Put the molds back into the freezer for about half an hour. Take out, serve and enjoy! Store in a refrigerator.

VANILLA STARS WITH CHOCOLATE HEART

15-20 pcs

Drops:

  • 1 ¼ cup cocoa butter
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp organic honey (or vanilla stevia drops)
  • 2 tbsp squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla powder

Chocolate Filling:

  • ½ cup chocolates almond butter or nut butter
  • 2 tbsp raw cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp organic honey
  • a pinch of sea salt

Melt the cocoa 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.

Melt the almond butter in another bowl. 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.

MINT TRUFFLE BARS

  • ¼ cup cacao butter
  • ¼ cup raw cacao mass
  • 4 tbsp cold-pressed coconut oil
  • 5 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 4 tbsp organic honey (or coconut palm syrup)
  • a few drops chocolate flavored stevia (optional)
  • ½ tsp vanilla powder
  • ½ tsp peppermint extract
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • ½ cup almond meal

Chocolate coating:

  • ½ cup grated raw cacao mass
  • ¼ cup grated cacao butter
  • 2 tbsp cold-pressed coconut oil
  • 4 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 4 tbsp organic honey (or coconut palm syrup, or stevia)
  • ½ cup  tsp vanilla extract or few drops vanilla flavored stevia
  • a pinch of sea salt

Mint truffle bars:

Melt the cacao butter, cacao mass and coconut oil in a warm water bath until liquid. Add raw cacao powder, honey, stevia, vanilla and peppermint extract and sea salt. Stir. Check the taste and add more spices if needed. Measure the almond flour into a blender and add the chocolate mass. Mix until smooth. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and put it into the freezer for about 15 minutes. Prepare the chocolate coating in the meantime.

Chocolate coating:

Melt the cacao butter and coconut oil in a warm water bath until liquid. Add cacao powder, honey, and salt and mix. Check the taste and sweeten if needed.

Take the chocolate mass from the freezer and from small chocolate bars. (If the mixture is still too loose put it in the freezer for a moment.) Glaze the bars with the chocolate coating. If the frosting is too runny, keep it in a cold water bath for a little while so that it thickens a bit. When all the bars have coating, put them in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Serve and enjoy! Store in a refrigerator. Best when kept in a room temperature for a while before serving.

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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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Flowers make a weekend

4.10.2014

I just stopped by to wish all you guys a beautiful weekend! Relax, enjoy, eat well and buy flowers. Flowers make a weekend, if you ask me.

And if there´s no flower market near, you can always watch our flower video.

Love!

V

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Bomb your stress away

2.10.2014

This week has passed among the most essentials. Even though it felt at times like -everything- was left undone. You see, I have spent the week at home taking care of my daughter who was feeling a little bit sick. Very effective pull back to basics. Good move, life.

Now that the girl has gotten better, it is time for this mother to hurry back to work and take care of "everything" left undone. No, wait a minute – first it´s time for this mother to pamper herself, for a chance. Because no good will be done with a tense mind. And at this moment I don’t know a better way to relax than a hot bath. Especially when accompanied by some charmers, such as these homemade bath bombs.

BOOM – a fizzy lavender scented fella in the same tube bombs your stress away in no time.

Lavender bath bomb

  • 150 g baking soda (sodium carbonate)
  • 70 g citric acid powder
  • 25 g corn flour or potato flour
  • 1 tablespoon dried lavender flowers
  • 15 drops lavender essential oil
  • 1 tbls melted coconut oil to
  • lil bit water

Measure baking soda, citric acid and corn flour or potato flour into a bowl and stir. Add dried lavender flowers. Add essential oil and melt coconut oil, and squeeze the dough with your fingers. Add water one teaspoon at a time, and squeeze the dough with your fingers at the same time. Add water until the mixture resembles damp sand, and it retains its shape when you squeeze it in your hand. Press mixture firmly into molds as soon as possible. Allow to dry at room temperature overnight. Remove from molds.

To use, drop one or two bath bombs in a bath with warm running water.

V

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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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