STOP taking the birth control pill

In this article I want to talk about the birth control pill and why you shouldn’t take it. I will tell you about my own experiences and I hope this will make you think about your choice of contraceptives. At first I will tell you about my journey taking the pill and in the second half of this article I will tell you about my journey without taking the pill. You can read everything or just the part you’re most interested in.

TAKING THE PILL
When I was 17 I started to take the birth control pill. I did this for 2 reasons. My main reason was to not get pregnant. I was in a serious relationship and not the biggest                      condom fan. Buying condoms cost money too and the birth control pill I could get for free. So it seemed to be a good choice. My mum was on it, from since I can remember and many other people I knew were too. I didn’t see any harm in it, but almost saw it as a next step in life. My hope was to also have better skin. I struggle with my skin since the start of my puberty and don’t we all want smooth skin? So that was my second reason and the main reason I went for the Diane-35. I heard good things about it, in terms of skin clearing up. I think I took the Diane-35 for about 1-2 years, but my breasts were so sensitive and painful 1-2 weeks every time before I’d get my period and that wasn’t ideal. Also my skin didn’t clear up. It maybe got a little better, but I could hardly tell the difference. So I went to the doctors to discuss a different brand. I then swapped the Diane-35 for the Yasmin. The Yasmin is a lighter pill, but apparently would still be beneficial for my skin. After a few months my breast were less painful, but my skin still looked the same. I did feel better being on this pill though and so I sticked with it. For many years..

But then more and more articles popped up, saying how bad it is. Of course in the back of my head I knew this, but I also loved the pill as it gave me security and I liked the fact that I knew exactly what day my period would start and that I could control it in that way. But when I was 27 I stopped taking it, what means I took it for 10 years straight. That is fairly long and this, together with being curious of what would happen, is why I thought it was time to stop. I wasn’t in a relationship at that time and didn’t have any interest being in one ant time soon, so perfect timing. Only you can’t plan love and half a year later I met a guy I really liked and so I started thinking about taking it again. It actually was just in the end of all the side effect symptoms going away, but being in love and really seeing a future with this guy, I thought I could just take it temporarily. I still had some pill strips left and so I started taking it again. This time I really had a proper love-hate relationship with the pill though. I loved the security, but every time I put it in my mouth I actually didn’t want to swallow it. It didn’t feel right to take hormones that will change something in my body. I like being healthy and living a healthy lifestyle. Taking the birth control pill felt like doing the opposite from where I stand for. Also, the birth control pill isn’t vegan and that really bothered me too.

It was 7 months later when my mum send me some articles about how dangerous the birth control pill can be. My mum stopped taking them a few years ago as she had horrible migraines and it turned out it was because of the pill. I actually tried to avoid the articles she send me and I consciously closed my eyes for it, but the articles my mum was talking about were about people dying from it. I know the people who died didn’t only die because of taking the pill, but it did play a big part in their death. This woke me up. Back to condoms it was, but I also started to do some research about natural birth control. About keeping track of what your body is telling you. This way you can find out on what days you’re fertile and on what days you’re not. I mostly learned this from the book: ‘Taking Charge of you Fertility’, written by Toni Weschler, MPH. I love this book, because even tough I knew quite a lot about my cycles, it really helped understanding my body even more. I recommend every woman to read it, even if you’re not interested in birth control, it still teaches you a lot about how it all works. This book is not only for preventing pregnancy btw, it is also helpful for couples who are trying to get pregnant instead. A must read for woman!

Researching natural birth control, obviously led me to the Lady Comp too. This little machine really intrigues me. In the book ‘Taking Charge of your Fertility’ you learn how to chart manually, but the Lady Comp does this for you, digitally. The only thing you need to do is put the thermometer in your mouth, every single morning at the same time. This Lady Comp does the rest and will tell you exactly what days you’re good to go and what days you need to use a condom. I would love to try this, because it seems like a great solution for all woman who do not want to put hormones in their bodies any longer. I never got really into charting my cycles properly, because unfortunately my relationship ended and not getting pregnant wasn’t a priority any more. This doesn’t mean I’m not interested anymore, because even not being intimate with somebody, I love the fact that you can learn about your cycles, learn why you’re feeling the way you’re feeling and how your body works. I think this is basic knowledge every woman should know.


STOPPING THE PILL
The last day I took the birth control pill was the 9th of July 2017. The day I decided I was not going to take them any longer, I was on my period (that started the 13th of July), so I simply didn’t start a new strip (but in case you want to stop, you can stop at any time you want). I knew from the last time that there will be side effects. I just hoped that they wouldn’t be as obvious this time. I only took them for about half a year this time. I decided to keep a little journal until I get my first pill-free period, so I can keep track of the side effects I noticed. I did this for myself, but I thought it might help you to get an idea of what can happen if you’d stop too. Just remember that everybody is different and that your body might react in a different way.

26-07
Today I experienced some heatwaves. It happens in the days before and around my ovulation and I  clearly remember this from the last time I stopped taking the pill. It used to be quite bad at times, even up to the point I felt dizzy.

31-07
I did not experience any side effects so far anymore. I did have some heatwaves, but as I’m in Mallorca this week and it’s 35 degrees every day, it’s trickier to notice. I will have my ovulation around now, so the next time I might experience something different, will probably be just before or whilst I’m on my period. I’m planning my detox now, because this will help to get rid of those nasty hormones in my body. I’m super excited for this.

08-08
In a few days or maybe the end of this week I will probably have my period. This is the first period after I stopped taking the pill. I can notice I’m near, because I was very tired yesterday and today (I always have this a few days before my period). I’m also getting lots of spots, more than I had being on the pill. When being on the pill, the week before my period my skin was actually always at its best. So this must be a reaction too. I’m confident that it will be better later on.

13-08
I still didn’t get my period, what is odd as I did experience the symptoms I normally have before my period starts. My body might just be a little confused. The last time I stopped I got my period on the exact day I’d normally het my period. This time it’s later and here are some possible reasons why: because around my ovulation I was traveling + I was more stressed because of ending my relationship and because it’s the first period without taking pills.

14-08
Today I’m super tired. I feel like staying in my bed and sleeping all day long. Also a few times I had some very painful stitches in my tummy. I have a lot of water retention, my ankles are swollen and my tummy feels tensed. A lot more than on my pill-periods. Hopefully this will all go as soon as my period is here.

15-08
Today, in the late evening, I got my first period. This means my first pill-free cycle was 36 days.

18-08
My period was quite normal the first few days. I did have a slight tummy ache on the first day, but I was almost happy to feel this. I know for some girls it can be hell, but it’s also natural. Today I can already notice it’s a little less, what is normal for a 3rd day. I can’t notice that my periods are heavier, but then this is only the first one.

So that was my first period. I didn’t want to keep a journal longer than that, because it would just be repeating myself. I can tell you that the heatwaves were a lot less around my second ovulation and gone by the 3rd. I remember from the fist time I stopped the pill that I had heatwaves really badly for a few months, in the first month I couldn’t even go to work one day. So that is interesting, because it looks like it’s a little easier this time, I can’t say for sure why that is. Logically it could be that it’s because there are less hormones now, because I stopped before, but it could also be because my body knows what to do this time or maybe it’s the things I ate that had an effect too. I can’t tell, because I’m not a doctor. I’m just happy that it’s effecting me less this time.

The following months..

Skin
Something that did get worse, is my skin. I have more outbreaks and a lot of redness. I can now slowly start to see it’s getting a bit better again though. This is also because I’m trying new things, trying to make it better. I might do a separate article about skin if you like (let me know).

Fatigue & Cravings
When I was taking the pill I was always struggling with horrible fatigue for 1 day, exactly 2 days before my period (as this was mostly a Tuesday, I named it Tired-Tuesday). Even though it was awful, as I couldn’t put my foot in front of the other one and I just wanted to lay down all day long, it was such a good indicator. I still get tired, but it lasts a few days now instead of just one day, with some ups and downs. I know I can manage it a little bit if I watch my food intake (more raw and lighter meals), but we woman all know that watching your food intake before and during your period is as hard as running a marathon on your hands! I can’t say my cravings are better or worse now. I think it’s quite the same still.

Cramps
I never had really bad cramps before starting the pill, I basically didn’t have any during and I have a little bit of cramps only the first day of my period now I stopped taking the pil. I never take any medicine, but I just take it easy that day and sometimes use a hot water bottle (this really helps). The funny thing is that I’m almost happy to feel it, because it means that my body is going back to its natural state again. I’m sure every girl gets period cramps or at least knows how they feels. Some girls have it really badly and it’s complete hell. Many doctors actually recommend the pill, because the pill can definitely make it better. But before you do this, please try different methods first though. I  know it can get really bad in it can really effect your every day life, but cramps are natural. Try to make it better (don’t focus on it going away completely, because in many cases it won’t) with natural remedies.

Water Retention 
This is really bothering me and being on the pill definitely made it worse. The week before my period my ankles were always more swollen (they’re always a little swollen since I started the pill) and my tummy was so tensed because of it, that it was hurting and I was having trouble bending over. I can now see that my ankles are less swollen in general, but just before my period the water retention is actually worse than being on the pill. Luckily it goes away as soon as I’m on my period.

Cycles
Being on the pill makes your cycles very precise. I loved this about the pill. Now my cycles are always a little different, but because I know my  body a little better and I’m learning more every time, I can now recognise some symptoms and still kind of know when my period will be. It’s very normal to have longer and shorter cycles. The length of your cycle depends on when you ovulate. Your ovulation is a ‘funny thing’, because it will never be on the same day. It’s very sensitive. Whenever you’re stressed or when you’re traveling around the time you would normally ovulate, it will wait until you’re less stressed or when you finished traveling. So it can happen that your ovulation will be a whole week later. This means your cycle is longer, because the days between your ovulation and your period are alway the same. My cycles since I stopped taking the pill: 36 days, 28 days, 39 days (I was traveling before my ovulation), 36 days, 33 days, 36 days. As you can see my cycles are mostly over 30 days. This is totally normal. Many woman think they’re overtime after 28 days, but every woman has a different cycle and it’s completely normal. Normal natural cycles can be up to 40 days.

I never want to go back taking the pill. In fact I’m so done with it, that I threw away the 4 strips that were left. I want to focus on new methods that are not harmful for your body, like the Lady Comp. Putting hormones in your body isn’t something you should consider if you’re looking for a contraceptive.

Are you taking birth control pills? Or any other form of hormone contraceptive? What is your experience? Are you thinking about stopping too? Share your experience, so we can help each other and create awareness! You can do this by leaving a comment below or via IG (tag me and I will tag your story). Thank you! X

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Fair Share

Only 5 more nights until the day of love! Do you have a Valentine (yet)? Are you going to do something special? Last year the recipe ‘Soulmates‘ was a great success, so I came up with another Valentine’s recipe for this year. What is more romantic than sharing? Because isn’t love all about sharing? Sharing your thoughts, your happiness, your pain, your smoothie bowl.. Yes! Start Valentine’s Day as romantic as can be, with this lovely pink smoothie bowl to share! You can decorate it the way you like it.. I let the kids help me with the decoration of mine and that meant an overdose on edible glitters, haha! Oh well.. is there something as too much glitter? Not according the 3 year old girl I look after! Everybody who makes one of my recipes for Valentine’s Day will get a shoutout on my Instagram! Don’t forget to tag me, so I can see your creation. Have a lovely Valentine’s Day!

FAIR SHARE

Serves: 2

-2 cups unsweetened plant-based yogurt
-1 cup frozen raspberries
-1 big ripe banana
-1 tsp chia seed
-decorations: coconut flakes, edible glitters or flowers, sugar ornaments etc.

-Put everything in the blender until smooth.
-Decorate with coconut, glitters, edible flowers or whatever you think your love will like. You can actually make it really personal this way.. be creative!
-Serve immediately.

Will you share this smoothie bowl with your love this Valentine’s day?! Please let me know when you do. You can do this in a comment below.. or you can tag me or use #PlanetManel on Instagram. Every Valentine’s recipe picture will get a shoutout! Thank you! X

Caramellos

Who doesn’t like meringues? I think a lot of people do, it’s quite popular in dessert these days as well. You make meringues from egg white though. Or is there another plant-based way? Guess what.. there is! Everything you can eat, I can eat vegan! By using the water of chickpeas you can very easily make meringues yourself, without any cruelty involved. You need a can of chickpeas, without added salt. As pure as possible. I used Biona chickpeas for mine and they worked really well. Meringues are a very yummy, light, but sweet snack. They go very well with coffee, tea or on top of some nicecream. By adding agave nectar and some palm sugar you really get like a sticky caramel flavour, which I love.. I hope you do to!

CARAMELLOS

Serves: 16-20

-1 can chickpeas (water)
-2 tbs agave nectar
-3 tbs palm sugar
-pinch of cacao powder (optional)

-Mixing bowl
-Electric mixer
-Baking paper
-Tray
-Oven

-Preheat the oven to 100C.
-Make sure you use chickpeas in water, with no salt.
-Separate the chickpeas from the water and put the chickpeas itself for another recipe.
-Put the liquid in a mixing bowl and start mixing it with an electric mixing for 3-5 min. You will slowly see the liquid turn into foam. When peaks form, it’s ready.
-Then slowly add the agave and the palm sugar whilst mixing on a low speed. Mix it in well.
-Put the baking paper on the tray.
-Drop 1 spoonful on the baking paper and form a circle.
-Put them in the oven for 1,5 hour.
-Let them cool down before sprinkling on some cacao powder.

Are you going to make these Meringues?  Please let me know when you’ve tried them. You can do this in a comment below.. or you can tag me or use #PlanetManel on Instagram. Thank you! X

Sanctuary

>> THIS RESTAURANT IS CLOSED <<

I heard about Sanctuary via Instagram and when I saw the pictures I knew I wanted to go here. The food looked so good. When I did a little research I actually couldn’t wait to go here. Not only because of the food, but also because of their mentality. Sanctuary stands for: Integrity – Knowledge – Commitment – Respect – Perseverance – Honesty – Humility – Courage – Love and Passion. This I really like, but what I like even more is their straight forwardness. They say it the way it is, what I think might come across as a little aggressive to some people, but I think it’s because of my Dutch roots that I appreciate it.

It was nice and quiet when I went. I always try to visit hotspots early or late, so it’s not crazy busy, in case I want to ask questions. I ordered a burger obviously, because I love burgers. I also ordered some sweet potato fries, obviously.. because I love sweet potato fries, haha! I guess you know that by know. The burger was honestly one of the best burgers I’ve had and I made sure they knew that before I left. The whole combination was just so so tasty and I strongly recommend it. The burger itself was I think from Linda McCartney, but when I asked they said they were not allowed to say if it was. I thought this was a little weird, but ok. The burger comes with a simple salad too and I really like the overall presentation.

Sanctuary donates to the ‘Mino Valley Farm Sanctuary’ regularly, hence the name. This is so cool! Inside there are lots of pictures of the animals from the sanctuary, vegan quotes and information. Super nice! They really are vegan for the animals, but they also really care about health and the environment too. This makes it really one of the nicest restaurants in London in my opinion. I do think they could improve when it comes to the interior. The building from the outside is quite ok, but inside it’s just too dated and cheap. In my opinion the food doesn’t match the restaurant at all. I bet if they’d make it a little bit lighter, fresh and modern they’d do even better.

WHO? Sanctuary.
WHERE? 651 Fulham Rd, Fulham, London SW6 5PU.
CUISINE? Diverse.
VEGAN? Yes!
OVERALL? 8 (Amazing food, great mentality, but dated interior.)

Did you try a burger of Sanctuary yet? 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

Personal #2 – Life these days

The last time (also the first time) I wrote a personal post was back in September. A lot has happened in the meantime, so I thought it’s really time to write an update. In my first personal post you could read about the fact that a lot of things were going to change for me. Things have changed now. Seriously changed. They even changed a lot more than I could imagine.

OLIVER
Something that I didn’t foresee was that I became a pig mum within 2 weeks of moving. You maybe already know this if you follow my blog or my Instagram, because I posted about Oliver here and a lot on Instagram too. He even has his own Instagram profile. Last Friday he turned 12 weeks, what means he’s already with me for over 10 weeks! Mid December he moved to the barn and he’s doing amazing. He is so lovely and I love him so so much! He brought me a lot, mostly good things. Actually only good things. I said mostly, because looking after him is a big responsibility and I always worry about him. He is all healthy now, what is amazing, but I worry about his future. I’m doing my best to raise him well, but he will be big and he sometimes forgets he is strong. This is why I choose to not have another pig for now. It will be nice for him to have a companion, but I’m worried that accidents will happen (mainly with the small kids I’m looking after). Two big pigs together will be maybe too much to handle when they’re both full size. So I want to see what it is like when he is bigger and in the field. By then I hope he will still accept a companion and if not, that he will be ok by himself. Especially when I’m traveling in a few years.

STRUGGLE
Lately I feel that I struggle with being vegan. Don’t get me wrong, being vegan itself is the easiest thing. Doing the right thing for the animals, my health, the environment and so many things more is the best decision I’ve ever made. My struggle is with the fact that the rest of the world isn’t vegan. In the first years of being vegan it was bothering me as well, but I can feel the feeling is getting stronger and stronger. I think this is for a few reasons. Since I have Oliver, there are a lot of people who want to make a funny comment about him, in terms of ‘bacon’ ‘bbq’ ‘spare ribs’ etc. Or people who ask me why I have him or what I am going to do with him. As in ‘will I eat him’. This bothers me so so much (and this is a very nice and polite way of expressing myself comparing to what I actually feel at moments like that). Even only writing it down now, makes me very angry. To be really honest with you, what I feel at moments like that is hate. I don’t want to feel it and I’m a very positive person and I always try to see things in a positive way or at least to not let it get to me, but I’m failing terribly. I’m really struggling with this more since I’d say 6 months and it got worse since I moved and have Oliver. In the country side there are so many meat/dairy/egg/hunting related things around me. The pigs in the fields next to the house, the cows and other animals I see in the fields, hunting the pheasants next to the house, but also the people everywhere. It’s more ‘normal’ here it seems, what makes it so hard for me. How can people be so distant from all these beautiful animals? They must be so lost in society and tradition, that I should actually feel sorry for them. This all is so hard and definitely the hardest things about being vegan. Why do people not get it? Why don’t they see what I see? Where is their compassion? I feel like it bothers me more and more and sometimes I don’t know what to do with myself. I always have an answer for everything, but for this one it seems I’m stuck.

VANLIFE
Something super exciting is that I bought my van. Last year, in November. It’s a white Citroën Relay from 2014. So far I stripped and cleaned it. I wanted to fit in the skylight ventilator and the window before Xmas, but it was too cold. I have the insulation ready to fit in, but there is so much condensation (because of the cold as well) that I have to wait with that too. I will wait until there is a weekend with temperatures above 15C. Hopefully this will come soon, because in March my dad is coming to help me and the insulation needs to be done by then. Overall, I just need to be patient, what is super hard, because I want to work on it. I’m so excited for it to be finished and me moving in.

HEALTHWISE
Last year I didn’t work out much, I made less time for yoga/mediation and mindfulness and I ate too much junk food. This year I want to change that and it’s going super well so far. I’m eating clean and I’m seriously working out almost every day. I’m trying to make sure I live in the now and I start my mornings with yoga and meditation. One of the things I also started doing since the first of January, is writing down what I did every day, like a little journal. I bought a day-a-page diary for this and I do this every evening before I go to sleep. It’s not so much for writing down my feelings etc. but more to remember what I did that day. This works great for living more mindful. I also started to read more, what was one of my new years resolutions. I love reading.

Do you recognise some things? Do you have questions? Or do you have something you’d like to share after reading my more personal stuff? Please let me know in the comments below or show me by using #PlanetManel on Instagram. Thank you! X

New Beginnings

Is it a little pathetic that I’m super excited about the fact that the first of January is on a Monday? Because I totally am! I’m a big sucker for New Years Resolutions and I always make a list of a few things. Every year (like basically all people) you can find ‘eat healthy and exercise more’ on this list. You might think, why would you put it on the list every year? It’s not there because I feel like I failed last year, but I think it’s an important thing to put on the list and I think that is why it’s such a popular one. Every year again you have to look after your body. It’s always better to put it on the list and give it some attention. Going into the new year with the idea to be better for your body is the first step to a good year. I always make small lists with quite general things. When I was a teenager I used to make a huge list and those never worked. It didn’t work because I used to always write down every little detail and felt like a failure whenever I couldn’t or didn’t do something. It was just too long and I was too obsessive to do everything from the whole list perfectly. It’s a classic mistake and I won’t be surprised if this sounds familiar. Nowadays I write down a few things I want to improve or pay more attention to. I write them down on the top of my daily to do list, so I’m reminded every time I look at that list (which is a lot). I also write down why I want to do it better and why it’s important to me, together with a little suggestion routine. I used to make tight schedules, but that of course didn’t work. Now I try my best, I motivate myself by reading why and I just try to make better decisions every day. It’s also important that you reflect a few times a year. You can do that every month (like me), but if that sounds a like a little too much, you could also do it every time a new season starts for example.

Here are the things that are important to me personally, what and why I want to improve and how I will do it. Maybe it will inspire you.

Eat Healthy.
Everybody always thinks I eat super healthy. But I do have my weaknesses and I do not always eat healthy. There are actually 2 things I have to pay more attention to. The most important one is to eat on normal times. This has always been a thing for me. Where other people eat breakfast lunch and dinner on set times, I eat all over the place. On the days I work, breakfast and lunch are mostly ok. It’s on the days I’m off and basically all dinner times where it goes wrong. I sometimes eat ridiculously early. This is most of the time not a proper meal and it also makes me hungry later in the evening (what ends in snacking). Sometimes I eat very late (and then I eat way too much, because I’m so hungry + it’s never good to sleep with a very full stomach) and sometimes I skip it all together. The best way for me to be better at this, is to be well prepared. Cooking different dishes in advance and prep meals in a way that I only have to heat it up or mix it together. This doesn’t only help for eating on set times, but I also tend to eat a lot healthier this way. It just saves so much time.
The second thing is to stop eating too much chocolate. I love chocolate! And after meal times I often crave some. Chocolate is actually the only thing I eat that contains sugar. I do think it’s fine to eat a bit now and then, but I just find it almost impossible to only eat a little piece. This takes a lot of willpower and discipline. That is a shame, because that is exactly what you need to solve this big problem. Haha!

Exercise More.
Ok, I have to admit that last year I wasn’t very good with exercising regularly. I hardly did any yoga, because I like to do that in the morning, but my ex and I had different work times and it wasn’t possible living in a studio. There were some weeks I was doing very well, doing at least something. I did little work outs before lunch for example and that felt very good, but it never lasted. This was because of my relationship, holidays and also later this year because I moved and rescued Lucky Oliver (a piglet). This shouldn’t be excuses, but I find it difficult to fit it all in one day with a lot going on. I do have to let go and just do it though and doing some is better than none. So I will focus more on that.

Read more. 
I actually only read when I’m on the train or aeroplane by myself, what is almost never. I love reading. It’s relaxing, educational and it inspires me so much. I always say I don’t have time, but actually it’s because I do not make it a priority. I could easily spend a little less time on social media and spend that time reading instead. So that is what I’m going to do. At the moment I’m still reading ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ by Marie Kondo. I love this book. Even though I already did a lot of the things she talks about, based on my own experience. I love reading it, mostly because I recognise myself and her journey to tidy up. I love learning new tricks and it gives me a good perspective of how we treat everything around us. I have a long list of books I still want to read and I’m determined to do so this year. Reading is so important and it’s definitely something I want to increase even more once I’m traveling around Europe with my van one day.

More mindfulness.
I’m a very mindful person, but the last few months I wasn’t sure where I was in my own story, if you know what I mean. With the move, ‘new’ work and rescuing Lucky Oliver I lived in the past and the future a lot more than I wanted. Weeks flew by, time went so fast, I forgot things, mixed things up didn’t know what day it was and I was living in my head, rather than in the moment. Now I had a break from it all and rested a lot over the Xmas break, I think I’m more likely to live more in the now again. I will train myself to be more conscious and to create more space and peace in my head this way.

Are these things you also find important? Or does your list look very different? I would love to hear the things that are important to you and how you try to actually stick to it. Do you have a certain tactic or do you have something to say or add to this? Please let me know in the comments below. Thank you! X

 

Minimalism #2 – Presents

Did everybody have a nice Xmas?! For a child, waking up on Xmas morning is probably one of the most exciting things and I’m sure that over the years most of you still feel some of that excitement. Waking up to unwrap your presents is just something really exciting. What did you get this Xmas? Did it make you happy? But most important: Did it spark joy when you were holding it? Because what if it didn’t? What if you don’t like your gifts or it’s something you won’t use (because it’s not vegan for example)? It’s always a thing, isn’t it? Especially when you are (or when you’re trying to be) a minimalist or have a very specific taste (like me..). You do not want to come across as ungrateful and disappoint the person who got out of his/her way to get you something. But Xmas without presents also sounds a little boring. It’s just so tricky! Do these situations sound rather familiar on this Christmas day? If it does, then I can hopefully help you to not experience this again. This will not only be helpful at Christmas time of course, but in any situation where people normally like to give you a present. Birthdays, anniversaries, graduations..

I love getting people presents. I honestly love it a lot more than receiving a present myself. Looking or finding something you know somebody will really enjoy is such a nice feeling. Then when they open it and they really like it.. that makes me so happy! I like to spoil and get out of my way to get people something they (hopefully) really like. I’m sure I’m not the only one. This means that people who are giving you a present will be sad if you do not like what they got you. This makes me sad too. Not only because of their disappointment and effort, but also the money they’ve spent. Presents should make you happy, not sad. So here are some tips to save everybody from all this hassle:

*Tell people exactly what will make you happy. 
You can tell people exactly what you want. You can either write down the exact specifications, send them a picture or even a (Amazon) link. This way you’re very sure you get what you like or need. The whole surprise will be gone though, so it’s a little less fun I think.

*Make a list of general things that will make you happy. 
This is what I did. It’s all things you can eat and use anyway, things that will finish, make a memory or a favour. This way people can still kind of choose what to get you and it’ll be much more of a surprise for yourself. Most of the things are sustainable already, because they can be consumed. Try to think of more sustainable choices when you make your list. To give you some ideas:
-Soy toxin free candles.
-Your favourite Lush products or any other cruelty free brand you like.
-You favourite chocolate.
-Chia seed.
-Bag of nuts (cashews, almonds, macadamia).
-Bag of spirulina, matcha powder or any other powder you use.
-Essential oils.
-Incense.
-iBooks / iTunes / Movies.
-Going vegan for a week.
-Theatre/Cinema tickets.
-Donation to animal charity.
-Going out for dinner and pay for themselves as their gift to you.
-Donation towards your dream.
-Gift cards for the Whole Foods Market or any of your favourite stores.

You have to make sure that everybody knows about your wishes and/or list, otherwise you will still get things that you might not like. If you tell people about your wishes, make sure you tell them exactly why you have a list. Obviously, do this in the nicest possible way. I’m sure a lot of people are also happy, because this makes it a lot easier for them to get you something you actually like. Though, what if people still get you something you don’t like or you will not use? If that person knew about your wishes, then it’s their own risk. What I do is, I ask if they want to keep it themselves or I give it to somebody else. It maybe takes a while before people understand that it’s a lot better to get you something you’re actually happy with. In general, everybody likes to get you something you actually enjoy, so it should be alright in the end. It’s important to be honest though, because if you react all happy and excited for something that you do not like, people will do it again and you can’t blame them.

I hope this will help you. Oh and this actually will not only help you, but it is also better for the environment, especially if you ask for more sustainable presents. Good luck!

Do you have more ideas I could add to the list? Or anything else you’d like to share after reading this post? Please let me know in the comments below or show me by using #PlanetManel on Instagram. Thank you! X

Turkcauli

It’s nearly Christmas! In exactly one week it’s Xmas eve.. How exciting!! At least, I think it’s exciting, because I love Xmas. Cooking for my family, being with loved ones, visiting friends, family and making memories. Last Xmas I’ve had such a good time, that I’m overly excited about this one. In fact, I’m flying to the Netherlands in 5 days, woohoo! Did you plan out your Xmas dinner yet? Do you remember my last Xmas Dinner? This year I also have a lovely recipe for you, called ‘Turkcauli’. Many turkeys and chickens are eaten with Xmas and that makes me overly sad. That is why I kind of tried to make a statement with this recipe’s name, because no animal needs to die for a nice Xmas dinner. In fact, how can you be all about peace and joy during these festive times, whilst chewing on the flesh of a dead animal that suffered? Do you agree? Then this oven roasted cauliflower recipe will definitely look nice on your Xmas table!

TURKCAULI

Serves: 4

1 medium cauliflower
4 tbs chopped tomatoes
1 tbs olive oil
4 cloves of garlic
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp thyme
salt/pepper (to taste)
2 tbs olive oil (optional)

-Preheat the oven to 170C.
-Optional, but extra tasty: Massage the cauliflower with 2 tbs of olive oil.
-Take the leaves off the cauliflower and cut off the bottom, so it will nicely stand up.
-Mix all the ingredients in a blender or with a pastel and mortar.
-Cover (it’s easiest to just use your hands) the whole cauliflower with the paste nice and evenly.
-Put the cauliflower on a tray in the middle of the oven, for about 70-80 min (or until tender).

Are you having a Christmas dinner with family and/or friends and are you still looking for a nice recipe? If you didn’t decide yet, then I think this is a good option. It’ also a great recipe to bring over if you’ve been invited to somebody else. Or maybe you can make it for New Years evening?! Or whenever you feel like it of course.. Please let me know if you decided to make this recipe! You can do this by leaving a comment below, by showing me on Instagram using #PlanetManel or by tagging me. Thank you! X

Nori Nori

I love nori sheets. You can make so many fun and yummy things with them. Of course you can make sushi, but that is quite time-consuming I always think. One of my favourite things to make and to eat are the nori rolls. They are easy to make and super super healthy too. You can easily make a whole bunch of them. They are also nice to serve on parties, for on the way, as a snack and of course just for lunch or dinner. And if your kids like them, they are great for lunch boxes (you might want to leave the sesame oil out as many schools don’t allow sesame products, due allergies). Also it’s best to eat them the same day you make them. Otherwise they can get a little soggy. Just in case: this will be a great creative addition to your Xmas dinner.

NORI NORI

Serves: 2 (10 rolls)

-10 nori sheets (half cut)
-10 long bits of tempeh (I used Tofurky bacon)
-150 gr fresh spinach
-8 big mushrooms (sliced)
-1 red bell pepper (sliced)
-60 gr alfalfa
-1/4 tsp coriander (optional)
-1/4 tsp ground cumin (optional)
-1 tsp sesame oil
-1/2 tsp soy sauce
-salt/pepper (to taste)

-Fry the mushrooms (no oil) in a frying pan for just 2 minutes on a medium/high fire.
-Add the spinach for just a minute.
-Let it cool down, before you squeeze out all the water.
-Add the coriander, ground cumin, sesame oil and soy sauce + salt and pepper to taste. Mix it well. The best is to use your hand for this.
-Fry the bell pepper just until you see brown/black bits appear.
-Fry the tempeh both sides until gold brown.
-Put 1/10 of the mushrooms and spinach (about 2 tbs) on a nori sheet.
-Then add 3 bits of bell pepper, 1 bit of tempeh and 2 tbs of the alfalfa.
-Roll it all op. Use a little bit of water on the end of the nori sheet to make it stick.
-Do this 10 times.

Are you a fan of nori sheets, just like me? And are you gong to make these? Please let me know when you’ve tried it. You can do this in a comment below.. or you can tag me or use #PlanetManel on Instagram. Thank you! X

 

Lentil Love

img_8312Who likes Indian food? Me! Filling food, with lovely spices.. it smell amazing and it tastes even better. I really like Indian food, also because a lot is already vegan or vegetarian and it’s easy to veganise. This dish has lots of lentils, what means lots of protein! It’s perfect as a post work out meal. Another benefit, as this recipe serves 6, you can easily divide it in smaller meals and freeze them separately. This way you always have a nice nutritious meal ready. Or if you have a lot of people coming over?! Double the recipe, cook a lot of rice and toast some pita breads. I’m sure people will love this. And also, the main ingredient in this dish are lentils and they are super cheap (buy in bulk). You can eat this on its own, with rice or with pita bread. Oh and it’s perfect now it’s getting colder. What a super dish!

img_8314LENTIL LOVE

Serves: 6

-2 cups red lentils
-4 cups water
-1 small onion (chopped)
-2/3 cup chopped tomatoes
-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (ground)
-1 tsp cumin (ground)
-1 tsp coriander (ground)
-1 tsp turmeric (ground)
-1/2 tsp cumin seeds
-1 tsp mustard seeds
-1/2 small red onion (finely chopped)
-1 tbs coconut oil
-1 cup coconut milk
-salt/pepper (to taste)

img_8313-Put the lentils, the small onion, the cayenne pepper, the cumin (ground), the coriander, the turmeric, the chopped tomatoes and the water in a big pan. Let it boil for 2 minutes and then let it simmer for 30 minutes.
-Fry the mustard and the cumin seeds in the coconut oil on a medium heat. Cover the pan with a lid and wait until the mustard seeds are starting to pop.
-Add the onion (finely chopped) and keep stirring it while frying it for about 3-5 minutes.
-Then add this mixture to the lentils and add the coconut milk.
-Add salt/pepper to taste.
-Mix it well and let it simmer for 15 minutes.
-Serve with rice and/or pita bread.

Are you a fan of Indian food? Are you going to make this for yourself or for a big party? Please let me know or show me by using #PlanetManel on Instagram. Thanks you! X