Netherlands – Haarlem

949321F5-BE94-494B-8711-7961B39AB69BLast Xmas, my mum, sister, niece and I went to Haarlem. It’s the city my family is from and where almost everyone from my family is born. Once a year we try to visit one city in the Netherlands together. To spend some quality time, do a bit of shopping and to try lots of yummy food. I really wanted to see what kind of vegan places Haarlem has to offer. There are not a lot of all vegan places, but I did find some nice ones that are worth going to. We went by train, so we did not have to worry about parking the car. We left Assen midmorning and around noon we arrived in Haarlem. We needed lunch!

IMG_4652People recommended some places via Instagram and one of them was Chickpea. It was recommended by a girl who works there. So nice! And because another place I really wanted to go, Freaking Vegan, was still closed and we were all really hungry, we decided to have lunch at Chickpea. Chickpea offers very delicious falafel. Served in/with pita bread or as a salad, with lots of salad options you can choose from. They are all vegan and it was very delicious. Beforehand my mum said that she didn’t like falafel as it’s always so dry. Now she knows what good falafel tastes like and she loved it! I definitely recommend this place. It’s great for lunch, but you can also have a lighter bite for a snack. And it was so nice to meet one of my followers at the same time.

C97157FB-5889-499C-B2BD-FF2606BFDEBCWe walked around Haarlem, through big shopping streets and some really nice cosy alleys and I loved it. When we were in a sports store, suddenly there was a lovely smell.. there was a lady walking around with fresh Turkish bread. I asked where she got it from, because the smell was irrisistable. She told me where to get it and that they were still warm. Oh my!! I rushed there and was lucky, because there were only 3 left. It was sooooo tasty. The shops closed early as it was Xmas evening, but luckily I managed to find some nice big golden hoops for in my ears, just in time. I was looking for these already for a while. We wanted to visit a place called Mica Coffeebar, to have a little break, but it 7E5E8920-F6CF-475B-AFE4-95AA262B0D74turned out that a lot of cafes and little restaurants closed at 16:00, because of Xmas evening. We didn’t know this and by the time we got there we only had 10 min. So we tried to look for something else, because my mum asked an old school friend to meet us for coffee. We ended up in a really chic place, that was open until late, but didn’t have any plant based milk. So I just ordered a water. I mean, what is the point of drinking tea without milk? We met my mum’s friend, had a nice chat. We then tried to look for a place to have some dinner.

IMG_4655We were able to use the train tickets we had from 18:30 again, but everything was closed at 16:00 already. I tried calling several places, including the place Freaking Vegan, that I really wanted to go to, but I got their voice mail and I assumed that they were closed too. So we tried to see if there maybe was a pizza place somewhere that was going to be open until longer. When we looked for that, we happened to walk passed Freaking Vegan and it looked like it was open! When I asked inside, the very friendly guy said they were open until 21:00! Woohoo!! It’s a IMG_4654small place and obviously no one was there on Xmas evening, so we had the whole place for ourselves. It’s all vegan junkfood and we ordered a ‘kapsalon’ (chips, a meat substitute that looks like shawarma and salad), a burger, onion rings and chicken style nuggets. We were so happy to find a place that was open. I was so happy I got to go here and best of all, the food was soooo nice! The onion rings were the best I ever tasted, the portions were big and everyone enjoyed it a lot. We got a hot chocolate to share in the end and without rushing or getting bored, we left perfectly in time for the train.

The train was on time and everything seemed to go well. But when we needed to change to our second train, all trains were cancelled, because of a defect somewhere. So we had to get a bus to Lelystad and from there we were able to continue our journey. The bus journey took long, but was hilarious as we made friend, who we had so much fun with. I really enjoyed it! All together, everything took an hour longer though and my niece really started to get tired, she is only 5. She fell asleep in the last 5 min (isn’t it always like that?), but we did all get home safely.

ACAF9AF2-BBE4-45F1-AD77-0DE2E5631A22Haarlem is a beautiful city, especially around Xmas time. There are so many lights everywhere, a big Xmas tree and of course the beautiful and impressive St. Bavo Church in the central market square. I had great fun taking some nice pictures of this beautiful city. I wish we had more time and I had 2 stomachs to try more good vegan food. But I will definitely go back to add to the hotspot list. For now, these are definitely nice places to check out when you visit Haarlem:

HOTSPOT LIST:
– Chickpea: Kleine Houtstraat 2A.
– Mica Coffeebar: Kleine Houtstraat 103.
– Freaking Vegan: Botermarkt 29.

Have you been to Haarlem yet? Or would you like to visit this beautiful city? Please let me know! I would love to hear about your experience and what nice places you discover. You can do this down below or let me know on Instagram via @freedomevermore. Thank you! X

Complete Xmas Dinner 2019

IMG_6514_polarrI already start thinking about my Xmas dinner in the summer or even earlier. When I see something that inspires me, I write it down and then it might end up in my Xmas dinner that year. I always like to create several recipes, that make a full Xmas dinner all together. There is something that I always include though and that is brussels sprouts. Cuz I just LOVE them. I often prepare some extra veggies as well, like green beans and broccoli. Just to get your greens in, even at Xmas time. If you are curious what I made last year, please CLICK HERE. Or to see what I made 3 years ago, CLICK HERE. I really like this year’s desert though. It looks so festive and it’s super easy to make. I also like that you can put it in the middle of the table and everyone can share, instead of everyone having their own portion. This whole Xmas dinner is enough for about 4-6 people. You can double the recipes when you need it to be more or add more dishes. Whatever you are gong to make, I want to wish you a very Happy Xmas!! I hope you will have a lovely time, with lots of love, laughter and happy moments!


STARTER

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IMG_3876_polarrPea Spirulina Soup with Smoked Tempeh

Makes: 4-6 bowls. 

soup
2,5 L vegetable stock (4 cubes)
400 gram split peas
1 leek (chopped)
1 onion (chopped)
2 carrots (finely chopped)
4 ribs of celery (chopped)
2 tsp spirulina

tempeh
100 gr tempeh (chopped)
1 tbs nutritional yeast
1 tbs sesame seed oil
1 tbs soy sauce
1/2 lime (juice)
1/2 tbs liquid smoke
1/8 tsp smoked garlic
1/8 tsp garlic powder
pinch of salt 

extra
4-6 tbs cream (cashew, alpro or oatly)

-Marinate the tempeh: put all the ingredients (including the tempeh) in a container with lid and shake!
-Put the stock and the split peas in a pan and let it come to boil.
-Turn the heat to a medium and let it simmer for about 30 min (keep stirring it once in a while).
-In the meantime: fry the onion, leek, carrot and celery (in water or oil) for about 8-10 minutes on a medium fire.
-Take 2 cups of the soup and use it to blend the just fried veggies and the spirulina. Blend until smooth, before putting it all (back) in the pan.
-Let it simmer for another 5 min.
-In the meantime: fry the tempeh (in 1/2-1 tsp of oil if necessary).
-Serve the split pea soup with some cream and the tempeh on top. 


MAIN & SIDES

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IMG_6097_polarrLeek Bacon Quiche.

Serves: 6-8

1 pastry sheet

1 onion (chopped)
2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
1 broccoli (finely chopped)
1 small courgette (chopped)
100 gr mushrooms (chopped)
1/2 leek (chopped)
100 gr bacon (Vivera)

filling
1,5 cup chickpea flour
1,5 cup oat milk
1 cup water
1 stock cube
4 tbs nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt 

topping
2 tomatoes (thinly sliced)
150 gr Sheese

-Preheat the oven at 200C.
-Fry the onion, garlic and broccoli all together for about 5 min.
-Add the courgette and the mushrooms and fry all together for 3-4 min.
-Add the leek and the bacon and fry all together for about 2 min. Let it cool down.
-In the meantime make the filling: put all the ingredients for the filling in the blender and blend until smooth.
-Line a baking tin with the pastry sheet and use a fork to prick some holes in the bottom.
-Put the vegetable mix in the baking tin and make sure everything is divided evenly.
-Pour the filling over the vegetables and make sure everything is covered.
-Divide the toppings over the top and put it in the oven for about 30-35 min.

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IMG_0212_polarrGarlic Hasselback Potatoes 

Makes: 6

6 medium-big potatoes
3 small cloves of garlic (minced)
6 tbs butter (melted)
1-2 tbs fresh parsley (finely chopped)
1 tsp salt
pepper (to taste)

extra
2 wooden spoons of the same thickness

-Preheat the oven at 220C.
-Put 2 wooden spoons on a chopping board, with a potato in the middle.
-Very carefully slice the potato in thin slices. The spoons help you to not cut all the way thorough.
-To make the seasoning: put the melted butter, the garlic, the salt/pepper and the parsley.
-Divide half the seasoning over the potatoes, using a brush.
-Put the potatoes in the oven for about 25-30 min or whenever the slices are coming apart.
-Take them out of the oven and brush the rest of the oil over the potatoes. Make sure to spread the oil in between the slices. Gently! The potato is softer and its more delicate now.
-Put them back in the oven for another 5-8 min (or until golden/crispy).

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IMG_2445_polarrCourgette, Steak and Blue Cheese Pastries

Makes: 6

1 sheets of pastry (I used jus rol)
1 small courgette
1 steaks (Vivera)
50 gr (vegan) blue cheese (I used Sainsbury’s)

-Preheat the oven at 200C.
-Cut the steacks into 6 sticks. 
-Cut the courgette in half. Then cut cut those chunks in half through the length and through the length again.
-Also cut the cheese into 6 sticks.
-Fry the courgette in a pan for about 5 min. In the last 2 minutes, also add the steak. Let it cool down.
-Cut the pastry sheet in 6 squares.
-Roll 1 piece of courgette, 1 piece of steack and 1 piece of cheese in 1 square. Close the sides and close properly with a fork (push the fork gently on the pastry edges).
-Put them on a baking tray with baking paper and put the tray in the oven for 15-18 min (or until golden).

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IMG_9273_polarrPotato, Cauliflower mash with Peppery Mushroom Gravy

Serves: 4-6

4 big potatoes (chopped)
1 cauliflower (chopped)
1/4 cup oat milk
1 tbs butter
3 tbs nutritional yeast
1/2-1 tsp salt 

gravy
1/4 onion (finely chopped)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
300gr mushrooms (sliced)
1 tsp bouillon powder
1 cup water
2 tbs flour
2 tbs nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp ground black pepper (or to taste)
salt (to taste)

-Cook the potato and the cauliflower for about 10 min, or until soft.
-In the meantime: Fry the onion and the garlic in a little bit of water for about 3 min.
-Add the mushrooms and fry it all together until the mushrooms begin to get soft (about 2-3 min).
-Add the water and the bouillon powder and let it come to boil. Add the black pepper and the salt (to taste) and let it simmer for about 3 min.
-On a very low heat, add he flour and the nutritional yeast. Keep mixing it until it becomes tick (about 1-2 min). Keep stirring!
-Add 1 or a few tbs of water if you want it a bit more runny, until you have the consistency you prefer.
-When the potatoes and cauliflower are soft enough, use a colander to get rid of the water.
-Add the milk, butter, nutritional yeast and salt and mash it up.
-Serve together.

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IMG_0269_polarrRoasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic 

Serves: 4-6

500 gr brussels sprouts
1/2 tbs (avocado) oil
2 cloves of garlic (minced)
1/2 tsp salt
pepper (to taste)

-Preheat the oven at 220C.
-Mix the oil, garlic, salt and pepper together and divide this over the brussels sprouts.
-Put them in an oven dish and put them in the oven for about 10-12 min.
-Shake or mix the brussels sprouts and put them in the oven for another 10-12 min (or until they start to turn slightly brown).

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IMG_4687_polarrCamembert Cheese with Baguette
(inspired by the BOSH recipe)

Serves: 6-8

2 cups soaked cashews
2 cloves of  garlic
4 tbs tapioca flour
4 tsp salt
5 tbs nutritional yeast
4 tsp apple cider vinegar
1,5 cup warm water

topping
1 tsp ground black pepper (or to taste)
1/2-1 tsp avocado oil
-Preheat the oven at 180C.

-Blend all the ingredients (except the toppings) in the blender until smooth.
-Put everything from the blender in a sauce pan and heat it for a few minutes, until it gets a bit thicker and stretchy. Keep stirring!
-Pour it in an oven dish (lined with baking paper) and put it in the oven for 20-22 min.
-Brush the avocado oil on top and divide the pepper. Put it back in the oven for another 5 min.


DESSERT

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IMG_8657_polarrApple Pastry Xmas Tree with Ice Cream 

Serves: 4-6

1 pastry sheet
1 small apple
1 tbs brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
ice cream (as much as you like!)

-Preheat the oven at 200C.
-Cut the apple in quarters and then slice them up in length.
-Put the apple in a bowl and mix in the sugar and cinnamon.
-Put the pastry sheet on a baking tray (lined with baking paper) and cut as showed in the picture here >>
-Fold one slice of apple per branch. You’ll have to cut the apple smaller moving upwards.
-Put the tray in the oven for about 18-20 min, or until golden brown.
-Let it cool down and decorate the tree with ice cream Christmas balls. 

Do you already know what you are going to make for Christmas? Will you make any of these Xmas recipes? If you do, please let me know. You can do this by commenting down below or even better, by showing me on Instagram by tagging me with @freedomevermore. Thank you! X 

Mango Poke

IMG_1702_polarrA few months ago I was in the Netherlands for the birthday party of my grandparents. It’s always a busy time when I’m in the Netherlands, because I visit so many people and I like to catch up with everyone. One of the things that was on my list of things to go to was my bother’s new workplace. He started working in a really nice place called Pokespot in Groningen. I went with my sister in law and we had lunch here. You can custom make your own bowl by ticking ingredients on a little menu. This is what I did. I chose all the things I love. Funny enough, when I turned over menu, there was a ready made bowl available with almost exactly all the things I just ticked. The food was so good, I definitely recommend going there when you are in Groningen! I loved it soooo much though, that I decided to recreate the bowl at home. I finally did and I want to share this with you, because I think it’s so delicious, you should try it.

5345773A-EA3E-4BF5-B8C1-5AB3395360EBMANGO POKE 

Makes: 2 bowls 

200gr sushi rice (uncooked)
1 small avocado (chopped)
1/2 mango (chopped)
8 cherry tomatoes (halved)
1 cup edamame beans (frozen)
1/3 cup coconut shreds
1 spring onion (chopped)
2 nori sheets (chopped/cut)
1 tsp sesame seeds (optional)

100 gr tempeh (sliced)
marinade

1 tbs sesame seed oil
1 tbs soy sauce
1/2 tbs maple syrup
1/2 lime (juice)
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/8 tsp garlic powder
pinch of salt 

sauce
4 tbs sesame seed oil
2 tbs soy sauce
1 lime (juice)
1/4 tsp garlic powder 

-Cook the sushi rice as described on the package.
-Mix all the ingredients for the marinade together and pour it over the tempeh. Make sure all the tempeh is covered. Set aside (you can also do this the day before, so the tempeh really absorbs the flavours even better).
-In the meantime: Put the coconut shreds in a frying pan (without the oil) on a medium/high fire and roast them for 1-2 minutes, until they turn slightly brown. Keep stirring it at all times, because it easily burns.
-Put the edamame beans in a bowl with boiling water. Make sure that all the beans are under the water. Set aside.
-In the meantime, make the sauce: Mix all the ingredients together.
-Fry the tempeh (with a little bit of oil) on a medium/high fire until they turn a little brown. About 1-2 minutes each side.
-Take the edamame beans out of the water.
-Divide the rice over 2 bowls and also divide everything else over the 2 bowls.
-Divide the sauce over the bowls just before serving.

Did you eat a pokebowl before or have you ever try to make one yourself? It’s so easy and super satisfying. I hope you will try to make this and that you will enjoy it of course. Please let me know when you do. You can let me know by commenting down below or you can tag me on Instagram with @freedomevermore. Thank you! X

Be a better Instagrammer

IMG_3268As many of you noticed, I started a new Instagram account (@FreedomEvermore) a few weeks ago. Even though I have 10K+ followers on my Planet Manel account, I decided that Freedom Evermore is my main account from now on. Now you might think, why would you do that? Many Instagrammers would love to have 10K+ followers and starting over, means that I will lose all these followers (and losing the SwipeUp, which I admit.. I do miss!). This is true. But I have a very good reason. Instagram was not giving me any joy anymore and I will tell you why.

7F43EF8F-0865-4F8B-83D6-4FC65E6E67DEWhy did I start a new Instagram account? 
I started Planet Manel to stay in touch with like minded people and to promote my blog. In the beginning it grew very slowly, then it grew very quickly for a while and then it slowed down a bit more again. Which was fine, because I kept the same group of people I was interacting with and it was fun. But then from about April/May this year my interaction went down down down. I didn’t know why, because I wasn’t doing anything different. Because of this I was less and less active. I didn’t post as much anymore and I didn’t really comment on anything anymore. Less people were seeing my posts, I lost followers and I went from 250-500 likes a post to 30-40 likes. I maybe got 1-2 comments on every post and only a few DM’s a IMG_3270week. The fun was gone and for months I was not motivated enough to be active. When I saw that more people had this problem, I started to research it a little and found out that this is becuase of the algorithm that Instagram changed, around spring time. For a while I tried really hard to beat it and to get back to where I was. A lot of my followers stopped following me over the summer and I felt like it was an impossible job to get back in touch. So I started to play with the idea of starting something new, but I wasn’t sure for a long time. However, bit by bit I started to see benefits if I would. I was also able to start fresh, create a new style and to grow a super strong community from the start. So about a month ago I decided that I was going to give it a try. Great decision!

IMG_6230_polarrConfession time!
When my Planet Manel account really started to grow (a few years ago), I was spending a lot of time on my phone and I wanted to reduce this. I thought by buying likes (that were given automatically on the hashtags I provided), I was still able to give likes, whilst spending less time on my phone. And this worked for a while. I actually met lovely people through this, but I also noticed that I got more distant from my followers this way. So I maybe did this for about a year and then stopped it again. I think, because I did this, my account was seen as dodgy and the algorithm hit me hard in the beginning of this year. Even though I stopped paying for likes ages ago. So please learn from this.. and never do this. It doesn’t work long term and eventually it takes away all the fun. There is no winning.

IMG_3269Let’s beat the algorithm!
When starting my new account I researched and learned more about the algorithm. I don’t want this to happen again, so I prepared myself from the start. I also really want to build a strong community. I do not only want to focus on the relationship I have with my followers, but I want my followers to be a real group of like minded people, with lots of interaction. This way we can use Instagram to help each other, to inspire each other and to motivate each other. I want to make it fun again! Many of you told me that you suffer from the algorithm and this is why I decided to write  down everything I know and this way we can help each other. I divided it into 2 simple sections ‘What to do’ and ‘What not to do’. There are tips to work with the algorithm, but also tips to make your account more attractive to people. Let’s make Instagram fun again and use it the way we want to; let’s spread positive energy! Are you with me?!

WHAT TO DO: 
-Post every day: Try to at least post once a day. This will make sure that the algorithm (and your followers) knows your account is ‘active’.
-Post videos: Instagram really is upping their video share. They want you to spend as much time on their app as possible. Pictures make someone stay for a few seconds and videos can makes people stay minutes.
-Swap your personal account to a business account: this way you can keep track of the analytics and, for example, make better choices of what and when to post.
-Post when people are most active: Check where most of your followers are from and makes sure your post when they are awake and active (popular times: early morning after waking up, lunch time and around dinner time).
-Use hashtags: use popular hashtags that are resonating with the picture you are posting and with what your account is about.
-Use Instagram Stories: Post a few stories a day, throughout the day. This will keep your followers see you a few times a day and they are more likely to connect with you.
-Encourage your followers to turn on notifications: By turning on notifications, the person makes sure they will not miss anything you post.  This way your posts will not get ‘lost’.
-Go live from time to time and save it: this way you automatically move to the beginning of everyone’s stories.
-Tag locations: This makes it easy to find things for your followers. This doesn’t only make your post more interesting, but it also will show your picture to everyone who looks at that particular location.
-Pre write and plan: Plan your posts. This way you will be more consistent. Write your posts (a week or weeks) in advance and make sure you have enough content to go with it. There are even certain apps that will help you with this. They will help you showing what your account will look like and you can also schedule your posts. This will help you with timing, but also with spending less time thinking and writing during the day. This way you can focus on interacting a lot more.
-High quality pictures: A high quality picture will attract more people to your post/account than a poor quality picture. Simple as that. Bright pictures often do better than dark pictures, but you can mix it up as well.
-House style: Before posting anything, create a house style. Use the same: filters, colours, fonts etc. Make sure that your followers will recognise your style. People are also naturally attracted to things that look pretty and in harmony.
-Overall look: More people will be attracted to your account when the overall look is better. This is also part of your house style actually. Choose a few colours and stick with it. Show harmony and just make it look attractive.
-Meaningful posts: Make sure that your posts mean something and add something to someone’s life.
-Ask away: Ask questions in your posts, this way it will make your followers think about what you wrote and it is more likely they will write a comment.
-Comment: Many people don’t know, but comments are more important than likes. I personally think they are more fun too! Comments make you more visible and visible for longer.
-Be personal and real: I like it when I can see the real person behind the account and so this is the same for your followers. Make sure that people can see you and you being real.  Post pictures and videos of you, your life and of what you are all about. You can make it as personal as you want of course, that is all up to you.
-Shoutouts/tagging: Show your love, appreciation and support by tagging people and giving them shoutouts. I really like this and I also discovered a lot of really inspiring people on Instagram through this.
-Run contests, challenges and giveaways: This is fun and makes your followers more engaged, also with each other! It also makes you visible for the followers of your followers and this way you can meet more awesome people.

WHAT NOT TO DO:
-Pay for followers or likes: Never buy followers or likes. When the algorithm picks up on this, your account will be listed as spam and this is no good. You will be less visible for everyone.
-Edit your post: You can edit your post, but wait 2 hours after posting. So please wait with adding/taking away things or with correcting any spelling mistakes. The algorithm finds this suspicious and it results in you moving down, what makes you less visible.
-Comment with just emoticons: Instagram do not recognise an emoticon as a comment, so always make sure you add text.

IMG_3271Conclusion 
After reading all this, I hope you can see that the most important thing on Instagram is to be real and interactive. And if you think about it, and what you will notice when you apply all this, is that Instagram will be so much more fun this way. So in a way I think that the algorithm helps you. I hated it at first, but it also showed me that the way to enjoy it and to get more out of it, is to be more active and real. I now get more likes, comments and DM’s with 150+ followers than I got with 10K+ followers. My followers can see me again and I can see them. I met so much beautiful people through this within a month. It also challenges me to actually read things and to actually be inspired and be motivated. So, instead of trying to fight it, go with it!

Did you know all this and are you already applying some of these things? If yes, great job and let’s connect. If not, try it out and let’s connect! Let us all connect! See you on Instagram! I want to thank you for reading this and I hope it will help you. X

Gut Treat

C0BDED65-F9AA-4809-9A38-2C9C4461768EI always eat my sauerkraut with my salads, but something I also really like for once in a while is this delicious sandwich. I don’t eat bread very often, so this is a real treat. Last Friday I published a recipe on how to make your own sauerkraut. It will go perfectly with this recipe, but if you do not have any on hand (it will take 2 weeks for the sauerkraut to be finished), you can perfectly fine use sauerkraut you bought in the supermarket. The nice thing about this recipe isn’t only that it contains a good dose of protein, a good amount of healthy fats, but also the perfect combination of probiotics (the sauerkraut) and prebiotics (garlic, onion and mushrooms), which makes this a real treat for your gut!

IMG_3397_polarrGUT TREAT

Makes: 2

2 slices (spelt) bread
1 avocado (smashed)
1 clove of garlic (minced)
1 tsp lemon juice
salt/pepper (to taste)
1/2 cup black beans (cooked, smashed))
6 mushrooms (sliced)
1/4 onion (sliced)
1/2 cup sauerkraut

-Toast the slices of bread if you prefer that.
-Mix the avocado, garlic, lemon juice, salt/pepper to taste and the black beans.
-Fry the onion and the mushrooms without any oil (use a good pan and a little water if necessary).
-Divide the avocado/bean mash over the 2 slices of bread.
-Put the mushrooms and onions on top of that and lastly top it with sauerkraut.

Would you ever think of this combination? I would love you to try this delicious sandwich and please tell me if you liked it (or not). Let’s make your gut a happy gut! You can show me your sandwich by tagging me on Instagram with @freedomeverymore or let me know down below. Thank you! X

Sauerkraut for the win

113441C5-51A3-4A0E-9F74-E00490623CDDWhen I was a child I basically liked all food, except for a very few things. One of those few things was, sauerkraut. In the Netherlands people make a potato dish with is, called ‘stamppot’. I did not like this at all. The sour taste, I just really didn’t enjoy it. Nowadays it’s the food I eat on daily basis. I didn’t eat it for years and years as I knew I didn’t like it, but about half a year ago I tried it again for the beneficial probiotics and I actually really liked it. Especially in a salad or as a topping on a nice sandwich. I now eat it almost every day. Which is super good for my gut. I always buy a big jar in the supermarket, but when I started to brew my own kombucha (for the same probiotic reasons), I wanted to also try making my own sauerkraut. This turned out to be super simple!! You only need 3 things actually: cabbage, salt and patience. If you would like to treat your gut as well. Here is how I make my own basic sauerkraut!

95864B15-DCBB-4216-92E6-FD1F4EEB37E9SAUERKRAUT

ingredients:
2 white/green cabbages
2-3 tbs sea salt

extra:
mixing bowl
big jar
cloth + rubber band

-Remove the first 2-3 leaves of the cabbage.
-Shred the cabbage. I used a simple grater for this, but you can also use a sharp kitchen knife or even carefully pulse it in a kitchen machine. (Don’t make it too small though, because you will end up with a cabbage smoothie. Not sure about that..)
-Mix the cabbage and the salt in a big mixing bowl, using your hand (clean hands obviously). It’s like kneading bread dough. Make sure that all the juices from the cabbage are released. Knead it for a full 5 minutes and then let it rest for 30-60 min.
-Knead it again for a full 5 minutes. The juices should be all released by now.
8EBFAAAF-D077-42E1-91FF-F54EA05544AD-Put it in a clean jar and push it down as much as you can, so all the cabbage is underneath the juice.
-Use a cloth and a rubber band as a lid or let a lid rest on the jar (don’t close it!).
-Put it away for 2 weeks, in about 18-21C, out of direct sunlight.
-Every other day push the cabbage underneath the juice again, as it tend to go up again throughout the process.
-After 2 weeks, put it in the fridge and enjoy!

It’s so fun to make your own fermented foods. It gives this amazing satisfying feeling. Have you ever tried it before? I would love to hear and see your experiences. You can do this by tagging me on Instragam with @freedomevermore. Thank you! X

Brew your own Kombucha

What is kombucha?
Kombucha is fermented tea. It contains a lot of beneficial bacterias that are super good for your gut. It’s an excellent source of probiotics. It tastes a little sweet and you can brew it in a lot of natural flavours.

IMG_7882_polarrWhat is the best kombucha?
There are many different brands and not one brand tastes the same. One of my favourite brands is definitely the Mighty Brew. Available in some health stores and cafes. They have amazing flavours and I really prefer their kombucha over other brands. I also sometimes get LoBros (as it’s available in the supermarket; Sainsbury’s) and Remedy (lots of cafes sell this brand). I find them quite similar in taste. They’re both tasty, but quite sweet. They are a very good alternative when I can’t get my hands on MightyBrew though. But what is even more fun.. is to brew your own kombucha! The taste doesn’t compare to anything, it’s amazing. If you’d like to get into that, here is how I did it. I will tell you how I successfully brewed my own kombucha and what can go wrong.

IMG_4310_polarrBrewing your own kombucha:
To brew your own kombucha, before you can start, you first need to get some essentials. Some are super easy to get, for others you need to do a little research. As soon as you have everything, you can start the process. The first process is called the First Fermentation. This is when the good bacterias start to grow/multiply and it takes 7-10 days, depending on how acidic you want your kombucha. I recommend making it quite acidic, but still drinkable of course. As soon as this process is finished, you can start the Second Fermentation and this is where you add the flavour (fruits that work very well and I recommend for first time brewers: mango (my fave!!) and pineapple) and in this process it will become naturally fizzy. When this process (that takes only a few days) is finished, you can drink it! I will talk you through the whole process.

IMG_4746_polarrWhat do you need to brew your own kombucha?
-Big jar (I recommend 4L).
-Scoby + starter tea. *
-Organic black tea leaves.
-Organic cane sugar.
-(cheese) Cloth + rubber band.
-Funnel.
-Airtight bottles. **
-Fruit for flavouring.

*You can buy scobies and starter tea via the internet, but maybe you know someone who brews kombucha already. For every batch you make, you grow a new scoby. So people who brew kombucha, mostly have a spare one to give away. By brewing your own batch, you grow a new scoby yourself, that you can use for your next batch and so on. 

**I recommend airtight swing-top bottles. 

IMG_2654First Fermentation
(7-10 days):
3,5L of filtered water
3 tbs of tea 
1 cup sugar
2 cups of starter tea
1 scoby

-Boil 4 cups of the water and add the tea and the sugar. Let it steep for about 15 min. Stir it once in a while, to make sure all the sugar has melted. You now made a tea concentrate.
-Put the rest of the water in the big jar and add the tea concentrate.
-Add the starter tea and the scoby.
-Put the cloth over the top of the jar and use a rubber band to keep it into place.
-Put the jar in a warm place (24-29C), out of direct sunlight.
-Try not to move it once you put it away, because this will affect the new scoby that is growing on the surface. 

IMG_9787_polarrSecond Fermentation
(3-4 days):
400 ml blended fruit

-Take the scoby out and put it aside.
-Take 2 cups of starter tea (for next batch).
Stir the kombucha.
-Add about 1/3 cup to every 500 ml bottle.
-Fill up the bottles with the First Fermentation tea.
Wipe to bottles dry and seal them.
-Put the bottles away in room temperature for about 3-4 days.
-Put them in the fridge and as soon as they’re cold they are ready for drinking.

You can technically drink it before putting it in the fridge. But cooling them helps a little bit with the fizz, as that process slows down a lot at colder temperatures. Always beware when opening a bottle though, it can get quite messy and I recommend opening it very carefully and gradually. I learned the hard way!

IMG_6938_polarrWhat is a Scoby hotel?
Because with every batch there is a new scoby formed and you can’t make a new batch for every scoby (unless you have a lot of space maybe!), you end up with scobies you won’t use directly. You can give them away or use them for lots of other things (google for all the things you can do with left over scobies), but it’s very useful to keep them as well. For when you want to spontaneously make a new batch or for when one of your brews goes wrong for whatever reason. It’s helpful to always have some on hand. So having an extra jar with several scobies is super handy. This jar with extra scobies, is called a scoby hotel. If you make sure the scobies are in enough tea, you also always have some very acidic starter tea on hand. Win win!

IMG_4820_polarrWhat can go wrong?
So what happened a few times to me and the reason why I’m currently not brewing any, is that my scoby in my first fermentation got mouldy. This mostly happens when the temperature where the jar is stored isn’t warm enough. I brewed my kombucha at work (as brewing in a van is kinda impossible with no stable temperatures and a lot of movement) and the warmest place at work wasn’t warm enough. So every time I tried brewing with my own scoby and starter tea, it wasn’t strong enough and it failed every time. It made me quite sad actually as I find brewing kombucha so so exciting! I did manage to brew about 6 amazing tasting litres though and it was the best kombucha I ever tasted. I will give it another go in the summer, when the outside temperature is high as well. This will be helpful.

Did you ever try brewing your own kombucha? I would love to hear and see your experiences! You can let me know down below or tag me on Instagram with @freedomevermore. Thank you! X

PoZu Shoes

02682379-89CC-4DB7-A00F-146379CA2551Shoes.. I think we all like shoes. From the stereotype shoe addict to the person who likes practicality and comfortability. As a teenager I thought it was cool to have as much shoes as I could possibly have. I started a collection and it actually didn’t matter if I liked them or not. Nowadays I am super picky! I actually don’t like any shoes, apart from a few of the same types. But then still, whenever there is a stitch in the wrong place or in the wrong colour or any little detail I don’t like, I find them a no no. Mostly I like basic things, cuz I find something ‘too much’, quite quickly. Since I’m vegan, I also want my shoes to be vegan. And lately, I also want them to be sustainable, meaning, made of 100% sustainable materials, ethically sourced.. and of good quality. You can imagine that I didn’t buy shoes for quite a while, because this was impossible to find.

IMG_6539_polarrA while ago, via a friend on Instagram I discovered PoZu shoes. PoZu shoes are vegan. At first I saw they do a StarWars theme. I liked the look of most of the shoes, but I am not a StarWars fan myself and it felt weird walking around in something that is linked to something I don’t like. Then I scrolled a little further down and I discovered that they also do non StarWars themed shoes and.. I loved them! They are like the Converse style, but with their own shape. I got so so excited! And on top of that I discovered that they are sustainable, made with natural rubber and organic cotton (and guess what.. ethically sourced!). I was so happy that I instantly ordered a pair. Black ones, cuz I like black shoes the best. They came very quickly and IMG_9879_polarrI was so nervous to try them on, because I really wanted them to fit. They did! They didn’t only fit, but they were super comfortable too. Because they feel so different and comfortable I wanted to know why this is and I discovered that they have a footbed made out of coconut fibre. How original! I loved them so much, that I ordered another 2 pair on that same day. I almost wanted to just get 2 pair of the exact same shoes, but eventually I went for a white variety (nice for the summer) and a blue one (in the lower model). They arrived very quickly again and I love them so much.

IMG_7432_polarrI got them in the summer and I especially wore the black ones a lot. If I now turn them around, the soles still look exactly the same from when I bought them. They are such good quality. This and all the other reasons why I am so excited, is why I wanted to share this with you, because I think shoes like this should be out there more. I often get questions, about where to get sustainable fashion. Well.. these are the shoes of the future, made of all natural materials.

The name ‘PoZu’ (ポーズ) comes from Japan, meaning ‘to pause’. They chose this name with the mission to create ultimate footwear, that is good for your feet and for the planet. They do man and woman shoes, StarWars themed, high boots, low cuts and even wellies. As part of their ethical promise, they pledge 10% of their profit to charity. You can learn more about the type of charities via the website (below). Can they be any more cool?

>> CLICK HERE to check out all PoZu shoes! 

FD33EBD4-5AA6-4665-B5D2-7C2CF61A8DFFTheir new collection looks amazing as well! They now have shoes made out of apples and I had to keep myself from buying another pair. I mean, it would define the fact of sustainable shoes if I’d buy new shoes every month. Though, their newest shoes (the VIM) are revolutionary I’d say. They are water proof! I might get a pair of those, because they come in super handy on my vanlife travels. Especially in the UK, where it is so wet. They will be perfect to use as light hiking shoes.

Are you struggling to find a pair of good vegan shoes that are also made with all natural materials? I can’t recommend PoZu more! They are my number one shoe brand at the moment. I’d love to hear your experience with them and see what pair you picked! Or if you have any questions about the shoes, feel free to ask me. You can do this down below or you can tag me on Instagram via my brand new (!!) account @freedomevermore or via @planetmanel. Thank you! X

Clever Pumpkin

IMG_6993_polarrI almost didn’t want to do anything for Halloween, because I’m not the biggest fan. But than I made a 2 layered pumpkin birthday cake for my lovely pig Oliver (it was his 2nd birthday!) and it was so delicious, that I had to make it into a recipe. Around this time of the year pumpkins are everywhere! Go into any supermarket and you will see big boxes with huge pumpkins everywhere and because I love pumpkins so much, I’m always tempted to buy one (or 2..), every time I step into a supermarket. Most people buy them to carve them and make them into pieces of art. Sometimes they don’t even realise what tasty things you can make with them and how delicious they are. So that is why I thought I will buy 1 of those pumpkins and I will show you 3 recipes you can make out of that 1 pumpkin. If you want to carve your pumpkin, you can still make 2 out of 3 recipes. As I said before, there will be the pumpkin cake (and only this recipe is worth buying a pumpkin), but I will also tell you how to roast the pumpkin seeds (sooo addictive) and how to make a big batch of the creamiest pumpkin soup ever (unless you carve your pumpkin, then you won’t have enough for soup). You can also follow my pumpkin soup recipe Pumpi if you don’t like it too creamy. So there we go..

You will need:
1 big Pumpkin (about 4kg)

IMG_2448_polarrPUMPKIN CAKE 

Serves: 8

Dry Ingredients:
2 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
pinch of salt 

Wet Ingredients:
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups scraped pumpkin *
1/2 cup oat milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tbs lemon (juice)

Extra:
1 cup scraped pumpkin*
2 tbs brown sugar
3 tbs pumpkin seeds
3/4 cup raisins

-Preheat the oven at 180C.
-Slice 1/4 off the pumpkin, remove the seeds (keep them for later) and the pulp. Scrape 3 cups of pumpkin.*
-Put 2 cups of the scraped pumpkin + the rest of the wet ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
-Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix it up.
-Gently pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Preferably use an electric mixer to make it a smooth cake batter.
-Add the pumpkin seeds and the raisins to the batter and gently mix them in.
-Grease a baking tin and pour the cake batter in the tin.
-Squeeze as much juice as you can from the last cup of scraped pumpkin (put the pumpkin in kitchen roll, fold both hands around it and squeeze). Then mix in 2 tbs brown sugar and divide this over the top of the cake batter. Use your fingers to push it down a little bit.
-Put the tin in the oven for about 45-50 min.

*See picture: After taking the seeds out, use a spoon to scrape the inside of the pumpkin. It basically looks like grated pumpkin. You can also actually use a grater or pulse it in the kitchen machine until you’ve got the same.


B49DB55B-D947-41D3-BCC6-F41B163D826DROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS

Makes: 1 cup 

all the seeds
1/2 tbs coconut oil (soft)
1 tbs nutritional yeast
1 tsp bouillon powder
salt/pepper (to taste)

-Preheat the oven at 220C.
-Try to take out as much pulp as you can.
-Rinse the seeds to get rid of more pulp.
-Cook the seeds in boiling water for 5 min.
-Rinse the seeds to get rid of the last pulp and dry them with some kitchen roll.
-Mix in the coconut oil, nutritional yeast, the bouillon powder and the salt/pepper.
-Put some baking paper on a flat baking tray and divide the seeds. Spread them out as much as you can.
-Put the tray in the oven for 5 min. Then mix it all up and put it in the oven for another 5-7 min. Keep checking, because you don’t want hem to burn. They are perfect when they just start to change colour a little bit.
-Let them cool down and enjoy the crispiness.


1F683E99-C901-4548-B074-91F2AC8AB112PUMPKIN SOUP 

Serves: 6-8 

the rest of the pumpkin (you can also add the pulp, chopped)
3 medium red onions (chopped)
10 big carrots (chopped)
4-5 cloves of garlic
1 L water 
1/3 cup bouillon powder
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp turmeric
salt/pepper (to taste) 

Cream:
200 gram tofu
1 cup cashew nuts
1 can coconut milk
1 cup almond milk 

Serving:
-1-2 tbs (tofu-coconut) cream
-1-2 tbs roasted pumpkin seeds

-Preheat the oven at 220C.
-Put all the pumpkin, the onion, the carrots and the garlic in a big oven tray (you might need 2!), sprinkle some salt on top and put the trays in the oven for 30-40 min.
-In the meantime make the cream: put the tofu, cashew nuts, coconut milk and the almond milk in the bender and blend until completely smooth (0 crumbs!). Keep a little bit separate, to use as a topping.
-Take the vegetables out of the oven and blend them with some water, the bouillon, nutritional yeast and the turmeric until smooth.
-Put it all in a big pan and mix in the cream.
-Add salt/pepper to taste.
-Serve with some extra cream and some roasted pumpkin seeds.

Are you excited to get a pumpkin now? Which recipe are you most excited about? Please show me your results on Instagram. You can do this by tagging me or by using #planetmanel. Thank you! X