Leaf Wild

I was in London to go to an event that I was invited to, but that was for some mysterious reason cancelled last minute. I did decide to stay in London that night as I drove for hours and I didn’t feel like driving all the way back to the country side. That afternoon on my way to my beloved Portobello Road I drove passed the cafe ‘Wild Leaf’ and I remembered that a few people told me to visit this cafe. So I decided to go there in the morning. It’s located super close to the Ladbroke Grove tube station (basically the opposite of the road). It looks super pretty from the outside and I really like the whole outlook. It looks so inviting, that it makes you want to walk inside. And when you do, you will see that it’s even prettier. I love the way it is all done. Very natural, using lots of natural materials and (light) colours. On the wall behind the counter there is a very nice painted wall decoration. This was made by the talented artist Sophie Glover. It’s a great eye catcher, but at the same time it’s not ‘in your face’. I like that.

The owner of the cafe was lovely and really took the time to tell me all about the cafe. She is an interior designer (like me! ..hence why the place looks so incredible) and used to do projects with her husband who is an architect, but now she is focusing on the cafe. She is vegan herself and her goal for the cafe is to be all vegan too. For now they do have 2 things on the menu that has egg and they serve cow’s milk in beverages. I hope they make the switch quickly, even though at first it might feel scary to do so. Let’s all show them our support and order a latte! Because talking about lattes (they do matcha, charcoal, turmeric & red velvet), they do an ah-mazing matcha latte. It was the best I’ve had. Great taste! The balance is just right, between the bitterness of the matcha and the creaminess of the oat milk (Oatly Barista!). And if you have time, please order some food, because the food is so good. She ordered me the pancakes and I could have a taste of the Mushroom Toast as well. It was good I had the pancakes first, becuase otherwise her breakfast would have been all gone too. It was hard not to eat it all! Definitely go for this option when you feel like a savoury dish. The mushrooms are cooked perfectly and the bread full of seeds (which btw you can buy as a loaf to take home!), with the cream ‘cheese’ and the rocket make a taste explosion in your mouth. Highly recommended! Next time I’m definitely ordering that for myself. Oh en about the pancakes.. they don’t only look incredible, they are incredible! I felt like the portion is exactly right and the cream, the flowers, fresh fruit and the crispiness of the buckwheat all work well together. Every bite was a true treat.

Oh and when you do not have a lot of time, don’t worry, because they do a great grab&go that they are expanding at the moment. They do chia pots and overnight oats already, but they are also going to make grab&go salads. Great news! Because in the weekdays they don’t work with a menu, but they offer a salad bar instead (also take away). I definitely have to try this too, because the veggies come from a sustainable non spray company (uhh yay!). If this isn’t enough, they specialise in juices and smoothies, that are all organic. They also do freshly made kale crisps (made with cashew, sunflower seeds and nutritional yeast) and they have a big range of all vegan cakes and treats. I tried the raspberry cake and it was divine!

I think by now you understand that I’m a big fan of this cafe! But if you aren’t convinced yet, let me tell you this. They are aiming to be zero waste and plastic free! There are some things in (recyclable) plastic now, but it will soon all go into glass jars that will be reusable (the juices are already in reusable glass jars). They use organic wherever they can. This doesn’t mean that just a handful of things are organic, but about 90% of everything they offer is organic! They are all refined sugar free, but instead are making use of coconut sugar and date syrup etc. The food comes on the prettiest bespoke plates and bowls. She designed these herself and are made by Linda Bloomfield (@lindathepotter). So pretty! I really appreciate these kind of details, because it means that there is a lot of passion and creativity involved and this really shows throughout the whole cafe. They do catering, so if you have an event and need great food, I think they are a very good an original choice. And last but definitely not least.. Something that really makes them stand out is that they are all gluten free(!!). So if you have coeliac disease, are intolerant to gluten or you want to eat less gluten, then this is your place to go, because you can order everything they offer.

Now the last thing I didn’t talk about yet, but wanted to write in a separate paragraph is: coffee! Now many of you know that I don’t drink coffee myself, but I know a lot of you do. Another special thing about Leaf Wild is that they serve coffee beans from the brand ‘BrewCoffeePlus’. The owner of this brand actually works in the cafe and has some mad barista skills (I’m sure this is one of the reasons my latte was so amazing) that he’s teaching to the rest of the staff. You can choose between 2 options: ‘PB Handege’ (Forest Fruit, Blackcurrant, Rose Water, Flora and Elderflower) from Kenya and the ‘San Pascual Natural’ (Vanilla, Strawberry Cream, Cherry, Blueberry) from Colombia. As you can see, they are both coffees with fruit notes, so if you are into that, please go an try it out.

Another thing that is handy to know:
They are cashless, so bring your card!

I want to thank Leaf Wild for their hospitality,
service and amazing food/drinks.

WHO? Leaf Wild.
WHERE? 156 Ladbroke Grove, London, W10 5NA.
CUISINE? Very diverse, healthful.
VEGAN? No! (Vegetarian, but almost vegan). 
OVERALL? 8 (Amazing food (!), great service and very lovely ex/interior).
*I would have given them a 9 if they were all vegan. 

Did you know about Leaf Wild already? What was your experience? Or are you planning to go here now? Please tell me about it! You can do this by leaving a comment below, but you can also show me by tagging me on Instagram or by using #PlanetManel. Thank you! X

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Choco Beans

I like healthy recipes, but I definitely also like naughty recipes. Even though these delicious brownies are made with a whole can of black beans, it’s also made with a cup of sugar, white flour and oil. So the black beans will definitely give you some goodness, but under no circumstance will I call this a healthy recipe. They are delicious though. They are super fudgy from the inside and not crazy sweet, but it will definitely hit the spot. Also, as long as you have a kitchen machine, they are fairly easy to make. If you like you can add some pecans (chopped up into the mixture or use 8 whole ones on top). I left them out for now, but I do love pecans and chocolate though. It’s a good combination and it looks nice.

CHOCO BEANS

Makes: 8

1 cup plain flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup cacao powder
1 can of black beans (drained)
1 cup unsweetened yogurt
1/4 cup sunflower oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 ripe banana
1 tbs flaxseed
8 pecans (optional)
icing sugar (optional)

-Preheat the oven at 180C.
-Mix the dry ingredients (except the flaxseed) in a bowl.
-Put all the wet ingredients (and the flaxseed) in the kitchen machine and blend until you have a nice smooth mixture.
-Use a wooden spoon to gently mix in the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients.
-Add the chopped up pecans if you like and mix well.
-Grease a baking tin with some oil and pour in the mixture.
-Smooth it out (put the pecans on top if you chose to use them on the top) and put the tin into the oven for about 25-30 min.
-Let it all cool down before cutting them up.
-For a little decoration, snow some icing sugar on top.

Are you going to make these brownies? Please show me your end result and let me know if you like them! You can do this on Instagram, by tagging me or by using #planetmanel. Thank you! X

Packaging Free Shopping in London

A while ago I was in London again for a few days. Even though I live fairly close to London, I’m there a lot less than I expected to be. I’ve had a great time being in my beloved city and I went back home with lots of inspiration. I stayed with my employer’s family, around Battersea, which is  a lovely area. The 2 most important things on my planning were, to visit Unity Diner (which I did, but will write a separate article about) and to visit the Whole Foods Market. I always go to the Whole Foods Market when I’m in London, because that is the shop I miss the most. They offer quite a range of products which you can buy in bulk and package free and that is exactly what I wanted to do. They have dried fruits, different types of rice, beans, seeds, nuts, oats, herbs and spices etc. I had a real purpose this time and I planned to do this on the last day, just before I’d go home.

On Saturday Portobello Road was on my to do list. This is my favourite part of London. Notting Hill is so pretty and there is so much life, inspiration and lovely things on Portobello Road. Especially on Saturday. It’s busy though, because on the weekend most of the people are tourist. I love all the market stalls, where I used to get lots of my fruit and veggies. It’s something else I miss. Where I live in the county side, weird enough, is no good farmers market, but in London there are so many. I wish I could carry it all home. I love to see new cafe’s, shops and (vegan) options everywhere and ever time I come to this lovely street, there are some. This time, the one that made me the happiest (apart from the vegan donuts) was a little shop called: Liberté Chérie.

Liberté Chérie is a zero waste, plastic and packaging free, shop! I obviously needed to go inside. There was only one other person inside and when she left, I had a lovely chat with the owner. A very enthusiastic, knowledgeable and friendly Frenchman. He told me that they just opened this morning (how lucky was I?!) and that most of the products he sold were grown in England. A few were from France and elsewhere though: things that can’t grow in England or are not available (like almonds or certain peas for example). Also some of the herbs and spices came from countries like India or Turkey, but his aim was to have as much as possible from England. Even though it was a tiny shop, they sell quite a lot of different things. Of course there are the beans, rice, oats and seeds etc, but also oils, different types of vinegar and even soap nuts. Next to the pantry products, there is a small range of waste free/plastic free products like water bottles and lunch boxes etc. you can buy. It is a lovely shop, set up with a lot of passion. There was such a lovely atmosphere and I felt like I never wanted to leave again. Haha! I could have stayed there, staring at all these lovely products, listening to the stories of inspiration behind it all. I had more things to do though, so we exchanged Instagram profiles and I said my goodbyes. Unfortunately it was only midday and I didn’t want to walk around with lots of (heavy) things for the rest of the day and so I decided not to buy anything. Next time when I’m in London with my van, I’ll definitely get some lovely things here. Did I mention that the prices were quite compatible as well? Whenever you are around there or you live nearby, please visit this lovely shop.

It was such a coincidence, because on that same morning, when I walked towards the bus stop, I had to wait at a traffic light and when I looked up I couldn’t be any happier. Right in front of me, on the other side of the road, was a zero waste/plastic free shop! It was called ‘The Source’, what I think is a perfect name for a shop like that. It was closed though and I was on my way to visit the girls I looked after before. So I couldn’t wait for it to open (even though it was gonna open in 5 min). I promised myself to come back the next day. Now you understand that it was an extra nice treat for me to discover ‘Liberté Chérie’ a few hours later. Anyway, the next morning, I had to take the same bus from that same bus stop and so it was a perfect, cuz I was able to quickly pop in. I was so excited, that I was a little early and Nola (my dog) and I had to wait a little bit. When it opened we went straight in and it was heaven!! There was soooo much! It is quite a big shop and there are so many containers with so many different things. I didn’t know where to look and what to do first. The owner told me that they normally don’t allow dogs inside, but luckily Nola is very small and I carried her whilst we had a little chat. They also have a shop in Chiswick and so, from what I know of, there are 4 options in London to shop zero waste and plastic free. That is amazing! It makes me so happy that shops like this exist and can exist. He told me that it was going well and it was busy.. YES! I asked if I could take some pictures and that was fine. It’s a good thing that I was early, so I was able to take some nice pics, without having to wait for people to finish. Haha! They sell so many things.. too many to write down. One of the nicest things, was that they did freeze-dried veggies. I really wanted to buy things and I even brought my zero waste bags with me, but I was carrying too many things (3 bags and Nola) already. I still had the whole day in front of me and so I couldn’t. I should have brought my backpack, silly me! Later I did regret not getting a little bit of those freeze-dried veggies though, cuz they would have been light and easy to carry around. So next time, I’ll definitely get those. So for those of you who live in or around Battersea, please go and visit ‘The Source’ (and tell me how good those freeze-dried veggies are!).

Please, when you live in London, try to make trips to shops like this. These are the shops we want to support. This is the future. This is the way to no more plastic, a lot less waste and lovely wholesome and healthy food. Even when you don’t live very close to one, just go once in a while and buy in bulk. It will save you money too. Try to think of a way to go and help to make these shops work!

The Whole Foods Market: 63-97 Kensington High Street, W8 5SE.
Liberté Chérie: 291 Portobello Road, W10 5TD.
The Source Battersea: 99 St John’s Rd, SW11 1QY.
The Source Chiswick: 24 Turnham Green Terrace, Chiswick, W4 1QP.

Do you already shop at shops like this? Are there any shops near you where you can shop waste free and without plastic? Or do you live in London and are you shopping at one of these amazing shops? I’d love to hear about it! You can do this in the comments below or via Instagram. Thank you! X

Happy 3rd Anniversary!! + Cookie Dreams

I can’t believe it, Planet Manel is celebrating her 3rd anniversary! When I started 3 years ago I was feeling so motivated, because I finally found something where I could combine all my interests. I love creating.. I always did. As a child I was always drawing, making mood boards, writing short stories, designing.. With this many interests it’s sometimes hard to choose something. As I also really like animals, I studied ‘Animal Care’. After that I also did ‘Interior Design’. For both I have my diploma and for both things I’ve got a huge passion. Hence why I’m vegan, live in a van and design tiny houses for a hobby. My head is always full of ideas. Anyway.. before we get off the subject, I’m super proud that I kept blogging for the last 3 years. Some months I posted a lot and some months a little less, but I always kept going. I want to tank all my readers and people who followed my journey and parts of my life. Also all the people who made my recipes and a huge thank you for all the sweet messages. I couldn’t have done it without all of you. You are the best!

At the moment I can feel that I’m more focused and that the overall quality is improved. This motivates me even more, because it’s nice to see growth. Blogging is something I could only dream about. I tried it when I was a teenager, but without a real goal, I always gave up after a while. But this time the dream is bigger! I want to inspire you, make you feel happy, show you how easy it is to eat plant-based, to live with compassion and to just make the world a little better, starting with YOURSELF! Even when it’s only a little bit and it’s only changing 1 animal’s life at a time or when it’s your life.. to make you smile, to make you feel good and to let you taste yummy recipes. Talking about recipes. For the occasion I created these delicious vanilla, chocolate chip, cookies. To create the ultimate recipe I seriously baked 50+ biscuits. I had something in my head and I didn’t give up until I found the golden combination. I was so happy when I finally succeeded and I’m excited to share them with you! I called them ‘Cookie Dreams’, because they are a celebrations of dreams coming true.

COOKIE DREAMS

Makes: 6

1 cup plain flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbs corn starch
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup sunflower oil
1 tbs plant-based  butter
3 tbs plant-based milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
20 gr dark chocolate (chopped)

-Preheat the oven at 200C.
-Mix all the dry ingredients (except the chocolate) together in a mixing bowl.
-Add the oil, butter, milk and the vanilla extract and mix well, until you have a nice sticky dough.
-Divide the dough into 6-8 pieces and flatten them (until they’re about 1/2-1 cm) on the (with baking paper covered) tray. Leave 3-4 cm between each biscuit, because they will go a little bigger.
-Divide the chocolate on top and slightly push them into the dough.
-Put them in the oven for about 12 min.
-Let them all cool down before getting them off the tray.

Make you dreams come true beautiful people! Oh and please let me know what you think of the Cookie Dreams. I’d love to see your creations.. you can do this on Instagram, by tagging me or by using #PlanetManel. Thank you! X

Dark Moon (vegan) Chocolate

Last year I was delighted to see that there would be a vegan market in Newbury. As this is the closest town for me and there are hardly any vegan things around, I of course went to check it out. It was fairly small, but I was happy to see some familiar faces. I got a hotdog and a yummy brownie and when I made another round I saw something that attracted me like magnet. Big balls of chocolate covered in nuts! I’ve never seen anything like this before and so I had a little chat with the owner to get to know the product. Even though I just bought a brownie, I couldn’t resist getting one of these (in my eyes) magic balls too. I’m so happy I did, because they are amazing!! Since then I ordered them for Xmas and my birthday, in different flavours. I can’t keep them from you and I would love you to try them and so I thought it was time to tell you about this lovely inspiring brand: Dark Moon Chocolate!

First of all I’d like to introduce you to the owner: Dan (35), who was born in Bristol, now lives in a lovely market town Frome, which has a bustling independent trader scene. He used to work as a Food Production Manager at a Farm shop. This seems a bit strange for a vegan, but he wasn’t vegan when he started working there. One day whilst he was stroking some of the cows in the barn (he always used to go and feed them with all the veg scraps from the kitchen) it made him think. He thought ‘I’d always been an animal lover and yet I was eating these beautiful creatures that deserved better’. From that moment he stopped eating animals. He’d always worked in the food industry which he fell into by pure accident and it just turns out that he really loved it. I’m happy he does, because what he does now, makes everyone happy. Time to ask him some questions!

What made you decide to start your own business and why chocolate?
I started it out of necessity, after having to leave my full-time employment because of health problems. I’ve suffered with arthritis and mechanical issues in my legs since I was 19 and had a bad flare-up in my ankle last summer. I had to leave, as it was predominantly an on your feet job. I chose chocolate because I’ve always enjoyed making chocolates and it’s always been my favourite sweet food. I can also sit down when making them, which helps me manage my bad ankle. It seems funny that about 6 months before starting Dark Moon, I made a passing comment to one of my staff members, that I’d love to just make chocolates. Strange how things turn out! I’m now fully self-employed, doing three separate part-time endeavours, the chocolate is the one that really keeps me going though. I’m also an artist and craftsman.

How did you come up with the name ‘Dark Moon Vegan’?
My star product is a sweet chocolate ‘scotch egg’. The non vegan version is a Cadburys Creme egg, wrapped in brownie. I just had to make it vegan. I make all the centres myself, so I can make loads of fabulous flavours. I wanted a name that referred to the chocolate in some way. I use dark chocolate and they also look a bit like a moon, so it kind of just made sense. When I searched for the name ‘Dark Moon Chocolate’ on instagram, someone else had already coined it, although the account looked old and was based in America. Just to be on the safe side, I chose ‘Dark Moon Vegan’. I trade under the banner of ‘Dark Moon Chocolate’ at markets though. It also means that I can have a really cool logo of a dark full moon!

How did you get yourself out there?
Despite all the hype around social media marketing and online presence, for me the best way to get myself out there was to actually physically do it. Meet my customers and spend time in the real world. It felt a bit like jumping into the unknown at first, booking markets and not knowing if I was going to sell much. I was actually astonished at how well the chocolates did. Off the back of that, my online sales are also really starting to grow.

What are the ingredients you like to use and where do you get them from?
My go to chocolate is a bitter sweet dark Belgian chocolate, it’s 54% and it’s really well balanced. Most people who aren’t fans of strong dark chocolate, usually like this one when they’ve given it a try. The company also re-invests directly back into the cocoa farmers to create a more sustainable approach to cocoa farming. I use a fair trade sugar and coconut oil, that my partner gets from her health store. I use a gluten-free buckwheat flour from a company located in the south-west. All my packaging is recyclable and I don’t use single use plastics. I have now ran out of the parcel tape I was using for online orders and will be using an eco-friendly paper tape for my online orders.

Where can people order your chocolate?
I currently do orders through social media and email, I’ll be developing a website to make things a little easier very soon. My email is darkmoon.frome@gmail.com and my Instagram and Facebook is @darkmoonvegan.

Which chocolate is your personal favourite?
My favourite dark moon at the moment has to be ‘The Monkey’s Knickers’ (I ordered 2 of these the last time and they are my favourite too, they are AMAZING!). It’s a salted caramel centre wrapped in a peanut butter brownie then coated on more chocolate and roasted peanuts. It’s inspired by a very well known chocolate bar – the clue is in the weird name! 

What are your plans for the future when it comes to ‘Dark Moon Vegan’?
I’m really just looking to keep things small scale, I’m happy doing markets and fairs and selling online. To keep things interesting there will always be new flavours to try and occasional one off products.

Is there anything else you like people to know?
I have a chocolate problem. (I’m happy he does!! Haha..)

Will there be a special for Easter by any chance?
Of course, I’m in the process of doing a regular monthly subscription box, which will contain new flavours and products. For Easter I am making Vegan Creme Eggs, Caramel Eggs and Chocolate Orange Eggs. There will also be little mini creme eggs, keep your eyes open as these kind of items will be limited edition!

Now, are you excited yet? An amazing chocolate brand, with ridiculous flavours, you can order online, without any plastic packaging! It won’t get any better than this!

Dark Moon Vegan chocolate is my favourite for sure (esp ‘The Monkey’s Knickers’ ..just Wohw!) and I hope you’ll find out for yourself soon. They also make a lovely gift btw! I’d love to hear what you think of these chocolates if you decide to try them. Please let me know in the comments below or on Instagram! Thank you! X

Pancake Yay

Tuesday it’s national pancake day. A very important day if you’d ask me, haha! Pancakes are so goodddd.. and it doesn’t matter what time of the day you eat them. It’s totally acceptable to eat them for breakfast, for lunch or dinner and even as a snack or dessert! I realised though, that there is no pancake recipe on my blog yet. I don’t know how that happened, but shame on me. So here we go, a delicious, easy to make, basic pancake recipe. This way you can easily add things, so they will turn out exactly the way you like them. Add a pinch of cinnamon or a tbs of cacao powder. Eat them with fresh fruit, raisins and/or maple syrup or simply eat them with some jam (This is my Jam). I like my ones with cinnamon, blueberries and maple syrup. Such a good combination!

PANCAKE YAY

Makes: 12 mini pancakes

1 cup flour
1 tbs (coconut) sugar
1/2 tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup oat milk
oil for baking

-Mix all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
-Add anything you like (cinnamon, cacao powder, raisins, fruit..) and mix it in as well.
-Slowly add the oat milk and mix until you have a nice smooth batter.
-Heat some oil in a frying pan on a medium-high fire.
-When the oil is hot, carefully put some batter in the pan with a big spoon (depending on your pan, you can bake 3-4 at the same time).
-When the pancakes are (almost) dry on the top, you can flip them over. They are ready when they have a nice golden colour.
-Do this until the batter is finished.

Did you know it was this easy to make pancakes vegan? And you will be surprised how nice and fluffy they will be. The perfect pancake for any time of the day! Will you make these on pancake day? Don’t forget to share it with me. You can do this by tagging me on instagram or by using #planetmanel. Thank you! X

Thirty

It is true.. I’m 30 now! I still can’t believe it. It’s not like I can’t handle it, it’s more that I just can’t believe that I’m on this earth for 30 years already. Time flies. It makes me feel grateful to have reached this beautiful age, but I’m also living in a midlife crisis for the past 10 years already, haha! I always start overthinking it all and start panicking about everything I didn’t do yet in my life. I’ve got so many plans and there is just so little time. Now and again I just need a reality check though and I do realise I’ve done so much to be grateful for: I saved a pig (very important), started a blog a few years ago, converted a van (+ living in it) and I’m almost finished my nutritionist course. These are 3 things that I really really wanted to do in my life and were all on my bucket list. I can only imagine that, because I’ve done these things, life can only get better. Anyway, I thought it definitely deserved a cake and so I made a double cake for my 30th, with a nice filling in the middle. It’s an easy recipe, but all together it takes bit of time though, because of the cooling dow process. I hope you will love it though, just as much as I do (I’m actually having a piece whilst typing this.. YUM!).

THIRTY

serves: 10-12

cake
2 cups self raising flour
1,5 cup brown sugar
6 tbs cacao powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cups yogurt
1 cup sunflower oil
4 tbs maple syrup
splash of milk
oil for greasing

filling
10 medjool dates (soaked)
10 biscoff biscuits
3 tbs coconut milk

buttercream
500 gr butter
1 cup icing sugar
3 tbs cacao powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon

decoration
-1 tbs desiccated coconut
-2 tbs freeze dried rasp/strawberries
-1 tbs Biscoff crumbs

2 cake tins (same size)

-Preheat the oven at 180 C.
-Mix all the wet ingredients in a mixing bowl: yogurt, sunflower oil, maple syrup.
-Mix all the dry ingredients together as well: flour, sugar, cacao powder, cinnamon baking powder.
-Gradually mix in the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and add a splash of milk to make it more runny.
-Grease 2 cake tins and divide the mixture in 2, before putting them in the oven for about 30-35 min.
-In the meantime make the filling: put all the ingredients in a kitchen machine and blend until smooth.
-Take the cakes out of the oven and let them cool down completely.
-In the meantime make the buttercream: put all the ingredients in a kitchen machine and blend until smooth.
-Put the filling on one of the cakes and put the other cake on top.
-Cover the whole cake with buttercream, decorate it and put the cake in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

How do you deal with your age? Do you find it hard to get older or can you also be grateful about it? I hope you will celebrate though and maybe even by making this delicious cake. If you do, please tag me on Instagram, so I can give you a shoutout. Thank you! X

Honest Heart

What is better than a caramel covered heart? Well, I guess that would be a heart that truly cares about your heart. Isn’t that where love is all about?! Caring for each other. Real, honest love. Valentine’s Day is nice and all, but it’s also quite commercial. Make sure that the day of love isn’t ending in something superficial, but show the people you love how much you really care about them. You can start with making them this caramel heart. Hehe.. A pure honest heart, because there aren’t any bad ingredients in here. All healthy and good for you. In fact, the first ingredient you will see, are chickpeas! Sending you lots of love from me to you!

HONEST HEART

serves: 6-8

Cake
1 can chickpeas (drained)
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup of maple syrup
6 soft medjool dates
Splash of milk
1/2 cup almond flour
1/4 cup desiccated coconut
4 tbs cacao powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Caramel Topping
10 medjool dates
1/4 maple syrup
1/3 cup coconut milk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Dried (or fresh) berries (optional)

-Preheat the oven to 180C.
-Mix all the wet ingredients in a food processor until a smooth paste: peanut butter, maple syrup, dates and a splash of milk.
-Add all the dry ingredients to the paste: almond flour, coconut, cacao powder, baking soda and the salt. Blend until you have a sticky dough.
-Put the the dough onto the baking tray and shape it into a heart (2-3 cm thick). Put the tray in the oven for about 20-25 min.
-Mix the ingredients for the caramel sauce in a food processor until a smooth sauce.
-Let the heart cool down and put the caramel sauce on top. Decorate with fresh or dried fruit.

Are you celebrating Valentine’s Day? Are you celebrating with your lover or with all the people you love? Whatever you do, spread the love!! I’d love to see your creations of this Honest Heart. Please show me on Instagram, by tagging me or by using #planetmanel. Thank you! X

XMAS STARS

This recipe is inspired on a treat I saw at Starbucks. Those were not vegan and a little different, but I just loved the idea of a star for Xmas. So I came up with this recipe and it’s super delicious and not that hard to make. The chocolate in the middle is also not too bad as it’s made with sweet potato. I will serve them with custard (I will use the one from Oatly). I already tried this combination with the test version and it’s super delicious. I think this recipe looks so festive. I will serve them for dessert after ‘My Xmas Dinner‘, but you can also serve them with tea/coffee in the afternoon. I hope you will like them as much as I do.

XMAS STARS

makes 12

2 sheets of pastry (I used Jus-Rol)
100 gr sweet potato
3 tbs butter
2 tbs maple syrup
1 tbs oat milk
50 gr chocolate
1/2 all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
4 tbs hazelnuts (chopped)
gold (optional)

-Preheat the oven at 220C.
-Put the sweet potato in the oven for about 45-55 min and then turn the oven down to 200C.
-Take the inside of the sweet potato and put it in a mixing bowl.
-Melt the chocolate au bain marie and mix this with the butter, maple syrup and the oat milk. Mix it well.
-Mix the flour and the baking powder together and mix this into the chocolate mixture.
-Cut each pastry sheet in 6 squares.
-Make a cut from every corner, halfway to the middle. Then fold the corners.
-Put 1 big tbs of chocolate batter in the middle of the star and sprinkle the hazelnuts on top.
-Put them into the oven for 15 min or until golden brown.
-Put little bits of gold on top.

Will you make these super festive stars? For dessert or for in the afternoon? I would love to see your creations! You can show me on IG by tagging me or by using #planetmanel. Thank you! X

Spain – Mallorca/Palma 2018

I’m back home for a while, but I was so busy with my van, that I didn’t find the time yet to write about being in Mallorca. Every year I go to the Spanish island with work. So it’s like a work holiday, but being in the lovely sunshine, surrounded by mountains and delicious food, feels a bit like a holiday for me too. We always stay in the same villa, with more family members. There are 2 cooks, that serve breakfast, lunch and a 3 course dinner every day. Breakfast is loads of yummy fruit, what is always a good start of the day. They also make sure that they cook vegan meals for me, what I so appreciate. It’s always very tasty. In the 7 days that we’re there, I always get a day off to myself. This was already the 4th year I was there, but in the previous years I’ve never made the trip to Palma. This year I was thinking about it, but I was doubting if I really wanted to go, because it’s about an hour drive. Only on the morning itself, just before I got up, I decided to go for it.

So I got ready and drove away around 10ish. I ate an apple on the way for breakfast, with the hopes I would find lots of nice vegan food in the big city. I already checked and there were several vegan places around. I was very hopeful. I parked the car in a parking garage close to the centre and walked towards one of the places I planned to visit. On the way I bumped into a lovely pair of shorts and a top and I changed into that after I payed for it. A nice, useful souvenir. It was hot, but not as hot as last year (over 37C with no breeze) and it was very doable, wandering around the little streets. Palma is a very lovely city. Not breathtaking, but very easy-going and welcoming. It has nice little streets and it’s a mixture of Spanish and modern shops.

The first place I wanted to visit was called ‘My Muy Bueno’. It was a little tricky to find at first. I walked around, but I couldn’t find it. Turned out I already walked past it twice, cuz you have to look up. It’s situated on the first level and you need to get the stairs to reach it. Once I found it, I walked inside and I was pleasantly surprised. It look so so nice! It was so stylish, with a lovely interior and great eye for detail. Delicious looking food was right in front of me and I was greeted very kindly by the girl behind the counter. I went for a mixed salad, with a piece of seeded loaf and a fresh juice. I also got a Blondie and I couldn’t resist getting a raw snicker bar too. I could choose the salads I wanted and it tasted incredible! I really enjoyed every mouthful. For dessert I had the snicker bar, as it was likely to melt if I had it take away. It was so good too.. my goodness. Something else I really like about this place it that the plastic they use, is made out of plants and so it’s 100% biodegradable. What made me think, if this is a possibility (and you can make everything out of this as the girl handed me a sheet with all the information), why is all plastic we use not made out of this right now? My Muy Bueno also organises cooking workshops and next to the little restaurant there is a big area with kitchens, where they are given. How lovely! The girl who was serving me was super friendly and after a lovely chat I left to go do a bit of sightseeing.

I walked up to the big cathedral and I know I said that Palma wasn’t per se breathtaking, but this cathedral is! It’s huge and very beautiful. I sat there in the shade for a while, admiring it. It’s definitely worth a visit. When I walked a little further I bumped into the ‘Palau March Museum’ and I love museums, so I decided to get a ticket. It was only 4,50. There were some sculptures in the little square right after entering, I didn’t particular like, but the surroundings were very nice. It just wasn’t really my style. What I did really like is that they had a statue of Rodin and I like his work, so that was really nice. Going inside I didn’t know what to expect, but I was definitely not expecting what I saw. In the museum were a lot of little figures (people and animals), creating a scenery. The human figures were about 30 cm tall I think. They were made with real precision and all of them had their own expressions. There were a lot of animals too, that were almost all used for food or entertainment, what made me a little sad though. The building had several rooms and in another room they created a scenery of the stable, right after the birth of baby Jesus. It wasn’t only the stable, but also the village surrounding it. The every day life if you will. It was very interesting. It all dated from the 18th century and is the biggest collection in the world. Up stairs there was also some antique furniture and along the way there were several paintings (I didn’t particulate like). It’s only a little museum and I didn’t spend more then 45 minutes, but it was nice.

I walked around Palma a bit, looking at the shops, the buildings and everything. I got a delicious peach from a tiny supermarket and I had it as a snack. Then I almost walked all the way back to the car, because there were 2 other vegan places I wanted to check out and they were towards the parking garage. The first one was called ‘Vegan&Raw’. They do fresh juices and several raw food options. When I arrived it turned out that they were just closing though, but the very kind lady let met buy 2 juices anyway. Lucky me! It looked really nice btw and I think it’s nice to actually have lunch there when it’s open. It was almost time to have some dinner and that’s why I walked towards a place called ‘Compost’. To be honest, I wasn’t very hungry yet, but as I was there and I wanted to check out the nicest vegan places, I went anyway and had something light. I ordered a chai tea and I went for the nori bites. Black rice and vegetables, wrapped in a nori sheet. Like sushi. It was delicious and the lady who served me was very kind. The place itself was ok, but a bit dark and dated. I’m sure if they would make it a bit lighter it would look very different already. For the food it’s definitely recommended though.

Then I went back to the car and drove to Porta Pollenca. It’s a harbour town close to where the villa is. I spend half an hour in the sea and I ate my blondie right before I headed back. The blondie was very good btw!

I had a lovely day and I would recommend you to go to Palma to check it out for yourself. They have some very good vegan cafes and restaurants and it’s a lovely day out. Out of everything I would say, definitely go to My Muy Bueno if you only have time to go to one thing. It’s so worth it!

HOTSPOT LIST:
My Muy Bueno –  Floor 1, Carrer de Tous i Maroto, 5B, 07001, Palma.
Palau March Museum – Carrer del Palau Reial, 18, 07001, Palma.
Vegan&Raw – Plaça del Bisbe Berenguer de Palou, nº2, 07003, Palma.
Compost – Carrer de Rubén Darío, 4, 07012, Palma.

Have you been to Mallorca yet? You should definitely go and check out these lovely places. Please let me know if you do! You can leave a comment or show me by tagging me or by using #PlanetManel on Instagram. Thank you! X