Xmas Dinner

img_3262It’s almost Christmas! Are you reeaaady?! I wasn’t really, as I wanted to post this recipe a little earlier, but I didn’t have enough time. Sorry guys! Are you a real Christmas fan or do you think it’s all a bit too much? I personally really like Christmas, especially buying the presents and making a nice Christmas dinner for my family. At first my dad, my sister and I always made it together. My sister and I did the starter or the dessert and my dad did the main, but lately me and my sister are doing everything, what is nice too. My sister is really good at making desserts, so I decided to do the rest. I chose to do some simple things and also we’re just going to img_3264put everything on the table, instead of making every single plate. We did this because it’ll be a lot easier with 8 people and you can just take the things you like best. Now you’re probably curious about what I’m going to make? I’ll make a dill-beetroot salad and stuffed sweet potatoes from the oven, but there will also be lots of other veggies on the table like brussel sprouts, pumpkin, green beans, corn cobs and broccoli. Yum! If you don’t know what to make for Christmas yet, then this might inspire you. It’s easy to make, it doesn’t involve hours in the kitchen and it’s quite on budget too.. oh and did I say it’s delicious?!


Serves: 2

4 Beetroots (chopped)
2 tbsp mayonaise
1/2 avocado (chopped)
1 walnut (chopped)
1/4 cup peas (frozen)
1/4 tsp fresh dill (chopped)
1 cup spinach
2 tbsp feta (crumbled)

-Get the beetroots which are already cooked, the ones that are vacuum packed.
-Defrost the peas by putting them in boiling water for 10 minutes.
-Mix everything together and crumble the feta + come extra dill on top.


Serves: 2

2 sweet potato
1/2 black beans (canned)
1/2 onion (chopped)
1 clove garlic (mashed)
4 baby corns (chopped)
1 tomato (chopped)
1 tsp fresh parsley (chopped)
2 tbsp cream cheese
pepper/salt (to taste)
2 tbsp cheese (grated)
1 tsp olive oil
pepper/salt (to taste)

-Preheat the oven ay 200C.
-Rub some olive oil and a little salt on the sweet potatoes and put them in the oven for 50-60 minutes (depends on how big your sweet potatoes are).
-In the meantime you fry the onion, the garlic and the baby corns in the wok for about 6-8 minutes.
-Add the black beans, the tomato, the parsley and some pepper/salt and keep mixing it for 2 more minutes.
-Take the wok from the stove and mix in the cream cheese.
-Cut open the sweet potatoes, stuff them with the filling and put some grated cheese on top.
-Put the potatoes back in the oven (or grill) for a few minutes, until the cheese is nicely melted.

img_3260Are you having a Christmas dinner with family and/or friends?What are you going to make (or eat) ? If you didn’t decide yet, then this is a good option, also if you’re bringing (a vegan option) something when you’ve been invited. Or maybe you can make it for New Years evening?! Or whenever you feel like it of course.. haha! Please let me know if you decided to make these recipes! You can do this by leaving a comment below or by showing me on Instagram using #PlanetManel. Thank you! X

Sint Twist

img_2682In the Netherlands, every year, we celebrate ‘Sinterklaas’. A lot of people confuse this Dutch tradition with Christmas. Some people even think we celebrate Christmas earlier in the Netherlands, but Sinterklaas is very much separate from Christmas. Though there are similarities: It’s both in December, Sinterklaas en Santa Claus do look like each other a bit, it’s important you’ve been good all year, it’s also with presents and nice food and children love it. We celebrate Sinterklaas on the 5th of December, but as we officially welcome him to the Netherlands about 2 weeks before this date, there is something else we do. You can put your shoe in front of the fireplace, sing a song, leave some treats for his horse and write him a letter if you like. The next morning it’s swapped for a present. So exciting for children!

img_2683On the day itself a lot of people have a nice meal together and after that it’s time.. The presents are waiting at the door and somebody(a family member, friend or neighbour for example) will ring or knock the door really loud. Children will run to the door and of course there is nobody there. When the presents are all inside it’s time to open them and it’s just so much fun! A typical sweet what is given by his helpers, are ‘pepernoten’. It’s like little biscuits. They’re delicious! I thought it would be nice to give you a little recipe today for a ‘pepernoten milkshake’. Very simple, very yummy!


Serves 1

200 ml oat milk
1/4 cup pepernoten
1/2 banana
1/2 tbsp palm sugar

-Put all the ingredients in the blender and mix until smooth.
-Sprinkle a crushed pepernoot on top.
tip: you can get pepernoten in the Dutch shop ‘Hema’.

Did you know what Sinterklaas was already? Have you tried pepernoten before and are you going to give this recipe a go? Please let me know in the comments below or share a picture on Instagram using #PlanetManel. Thank you! X 

Netherlands – Family and Friends

meLast week I was in the Netherlands. I always go back to the Netherlands about 3 times a year. I only went in the beginning of May this year (you can read about that time by clicking here) and though I always go with christmas it was too far away for me. Especially for my nephew, niece and the daughter of my friend Nienke, Jinan, Joëlla and Annemarie. They are 9, 2 and almost 1,5 and they grow up so fast and I already miss so much of them. I was really looking forward seeing them. Also my mum got very cheap train tickets you can use in the weekend and it was the perfect excuse to visit a cool city and to do some hotspot hunting. We decided to go to Rotterdam, but because I was going to sleep in
Eindhoven for 1 night and I was going to meet my mum the following evening at the birthday party, I decided to also go to Amsterdam. Those 2 city trip days were so busy, that I decided to write a separate post about that. In this one I would like to tell you about what I did the rest of the week.

hotelOn Thursday the 20th, very early in the morning (4:00) I woke up to get to the tube station, because I had to go to Liverpool Street. From there I take the Stansted express to the airport. At the airport it wasn’t busy at all and I could easily walk through security. No hassle, I like it! There is a Starbucks at Stansted Airport and I don’t need to tell you that I always go there, haha! The flight was a little bit delayed, but overall it went very well. I was going to sleep one night in Eindhoven for a few reasons. The next day I was going to a birthday party in Woudenberg and because my parents live all the way in Eext and we were going to Rotterdam the day after it would have been so much traveling. Also it gave me the chance to go to Amsterdam before the party, plus my best friend lives in Eindhoven and I didn’t see him for almost 2 years and it was our 5th anniversary this October! And if that wasn’t enough, I always wanted to sleep in the ‘Tulip Inn’ above the airport as it looks so cool. I was at Eindhoven airport at 11:15 and the hotel’s check-in was from 14:00. I could have asked to check in a little early, but I had so much work to do that I did that at the airport, assssss they have a Starbucks there too, haha! So I got a lot of work done in the meantime and I was rewarded with the most amazing room ever. My room was on the top floor, all the way in the corner. What meant that I had 2 windows and I was able to overlook the whole airport. It was amazing! The room itself was so perfect too. So spacious and with everything you need. A lovely bathroom, clean white sheets, a desk to work on, a lovely big sofa, a kettle with tea and so much more. I took a quick shower and then did some more work, until my friend came over. It was so nice to see him, I missed him so much. We had a lovely evening, talking about so many things and drinking tea. I love him lots!

pieThe next morning I woke up so well rested, without the airplanes waking me up. They have very good windows. I got myself ready and left the hotel to head to the train station to go to Amsterdam. I will tell you about my Amsterdam trip in my next travel post. So I will skip to the part where I met my mum at Amersfoort station that evening. When I arrived at the station my sister was there waiting for me. They wanted it to be a surprise, but ‘my mum’ was texting me whilst I knew she was driving the car and so I expected my sister to be there as my mum would never text and drive. It was so nice to see them both! I actually saw my mum the week before, because she came to London for 4 days to help me at work, but it was like I didn’t see her for so long. The party was very nice. It was the birthday of my mum’s friend Trudy, they know each other from school, so they have been friends for quite a while. I didn’t see her for very long and it turned out her sister and her parents were there too and it was all lovely to see them too. The biggest surprise was that Trudy made a vegan cake, because she knew I was coming. I couldn’t believe it! She has no idea how much I appreciate that. It was a lime-yogurt-cake and it was deliciousss!! I also really liked that everybody liked it so much, even though people were thinking at first that a vegan cake must come from a different planet. It turned out vegan cakes were not made out of grass, haha! I had some lovely conversations with people about my blog, though mostly I talked to my sister. I know.. but we didn’t see each other for so long, there were lots of things to talk about. Overall it was a lovely evening and I’m so happy I was a part of it. The next day we went to Rotterdam, but just like my Amsterdam trip, more about that in my next travel post. So lets fast forward a bit.. Sunday morning! I was so happy I didn’t plan anything that Sunday, as the last couple of days (weeks actually) were a bit crazy. It was the first day since ever that I didn’t have any plans. So I had a lovely sleep in and in the afternoon me and my mum did one of the things we love best.. grocery shopping! I got the ingredients to make an authentic Dutch apple pie. And honestly, that is the only thing I did that day and it was lovely!

pie2Monday I had another sleep in, yay! ..and then I made the apple pie. Never in my life I made it just right. My sister is very good at making them, but with me they were always too dry or not done. With that in mind and the fact that I was also going to veganize it, I was a little nervous. Especially the moment I was cutting it, but you know what.. It was perfect! I never made such a good Dutch apple pie. The fact that it’s all vegan must have made it perfect. I’ll make sure to share the recipe with you guys soon! In the evening my cousin Mandy was going to come as after being vegetarian for 10 years, she’s transitioning to being vegan. I’m so proud of her and I wanted to share and show all the products I have and use. Unfortunately she got very sad news that morning and had to cancel. I really hope to meet her next time. In the afternoon I watched ForksOver Knives and Cowspiracy with my mum. These documentaries made my dad go vegan. My mum is vegetarian for quite a while already and I would love her to go vegan too. She was very surprised by all the facts and really understands me more after watching it. The things what is stopping her to go vegan too is cheese and that other people will always think she is the difficult one. Though she is thinking about living more vegan and making an exception now and then. What is already making me so happy, as it such a big step in the right direction. I love that my family is becoming more and more conscious. Personally the hardest part of being vegan is that the people I love most are not caring about their own health, animals and environment enough to do something about it. I know I can’t force this upon them, but luckily my family and friends are nice enough to talk about it. I think I can consider myself very lucky with people like that. I could have been in the middle of big meat eaters who don’t want to listen to anything what matters. It meant a lot to me that my mum watched the documentaries with me. In the evening my brother came to visit. He lives in Groningen (for only 2 months) with friends. It was so nice to see him and because me and my mum dropped him back home I even saw where he lives at the moment. It’s an amazing location, in the middle of the centre. Though it’s 3 boys living there and I don’t think I need to say more, haha. Though I really liked what he did with his personal space and also that he really has a good time living there.

puOn Tuesday I got out of bed at a (for me) reasonable time, because I wanted to go to my mum’s work. My dad has a new car and  he let me borrow it, what was super nice. For the people who didn’t know yet, my mum works in hotel-restaurant called ‘Rikus’ as a hostess and she also does the cleaning. Rikus is also in Eext (didn’t make the drive very long, hehe..) and is not even 2 years old yet. My mum works there since the beginning and she loves it. I understand why, because it’s lovely. It only has 9 rooms and 1 apartment and you can make lovely strolls through the woods nearby. They grow their own organic fruits and vegetables which they use in their dishes. When I came there my mum made me a lovely tea and after I helped cleaning a room. I used to be a maid in a big hotel for a few months before I moved to the UK and it was funny to clean a room over there. They have lovely rooms, so if you’re looking for a room with a lot of peace and quiet, Rikus is definitely a good option. In the afternoon I went to get a few things at the shops in Gieten, a village next to Eext. I got all ingredients to make a pumpkin soup, some little presents for the kids I look after back in London and some other snacks (yum!). That evening I went to visit my friend Nicole, she lives an hour away, what I don’t mind at all as I love driving. Nicole and her boyfriend just bought a house and though they don’t have the keys yet she did take me there so I could look at it from the outside. A lovely house and I really like houses, so I really liked seeing it. Next time I come they’ll be living there and I can’t wait to see it from the inside. Then we went to get some groceries to make a big salad at home. The rest of the evening we did what we do best, chatting.. with tea, chocolate and left over apple pie I brought. Great evening!

pig-2The next day I was looking after Joëlla and planned on visiting my friend Nienke and my grandparents (they live in the same village). My mum was coming too and so we waited for her to come home from work. She had to work a little longer than expected, but it was so nice to spend some time with Joëlla. We sung songs, read the book ‘The Gruffalo’ twice, cuddled and made pumpkin soup together in the meantime, so we could bring it over for lunch. When we finally arrived Nienke was waiting for us with a set table and we were al so hungry that we immediately started to eat. The pumpkin soup was so yummy and I’ll share the recipe for sure. Nienke has a daughter Annemarie and it really feels like she’s my niece too. She’s such a cute girl! It was the first time I saw pigher walking and she changed so much, that I told myself I should visit a little bit more often. Joëlla and Annemarie played so lovely together and it was hilarious at times, we all had a good laugh. Children can be the funniest ever! Before we left we had to visit their pet pig.. of course!! They have a pet pig.. you understand I’m madly jealous! She’s called Madelief and the kids loved to feed her apples and chestnuts. Lucky piggy! It was a shame we didn’t have more time, but because I wanted to visit my grandparents too (I aways do), we had to go. It was lovely to see my grandparents and again we couldn’t stay long, but for me it’s very important to see them. On our way back we dropped Joëlla (who of course fell asleep in the last 5 minutes) of at her house and then went home frwhere I made dinner for my parents and myself. Already the last evening, but another amazing day with my lovely friends and family.

I started to pack my suitcase when I woke up and said my goodbyes to my brothers cats, Kenya and Dublin, who kept me company every night (normally they don’t because they only want to be with my brother). I’m really going to miss that. My dad looks after Jinan and Joëlla on the Thursdays and the Fridays and today I could pick up Joëlla from nursery with him. My dad and Joëlla have such a close bond, it’s lovely to see that. I made her and Jinan (who came home for lunch a bit later) lunch and then had to say goodbye to Jinan as he wouldn’t be back from school in time. Not long after I had to say goodbye to everybody as it was time to go. My mum dropped me off at the train station in Assen. Everything went very well, had some yummy fries for dinner at the train station in Eindhoven and before I knew it I was back in London.

I always have a good time whenever I’m visiting the Netherlands. I love my friends and family so much and I always try to see everybody, what makes it so special the times I’m there. For everybody who read this and who, in any way, made my visit worth it, a big  big thank you! Love you all!

Did you like reading my story? Did you visit the Netherlands too? I would love to hear about it! You can let me know in a comment below or via Instagram using #PlanetManel. Thank you! X

Netherlands – Groningen/Drenthe

 Last week I was in Holland for 10 days and I was looking forward to it a lot as I felt like I didn’t see my family and friends in ages. The last time was with new year, but it just felt a lot longer. I was also very looking forward to it as I was going to surprise my family with my visit. Which is very hard! Especially for my mum. Call it a mothers instinct, but she always knows. Within the 4 year I live in the UK I only managed to really surprise her twice. This time she also had the feeling that I was coming, so I had to come up with a lot of tricks to manage to surprise her at least a bit. I pretended to be at work(sending her pictures to make my story more believable), though I was only and hour away from her. So even though she expected me, she didn’t expect me the moment I walked into the living room! It was great! My dad and my brother walked in not long after that and they were surprised too, I love it!

IMG_0019I started my first morning at my mum’s work. She works in hotel restaurant ‘Rikus’ as a hostess. It’s a converted farm, which now has 9 rooms and an apartment. The thing I love about it most is that they grow their own vegetables. They have an amazing (!!) vegetable garden. Unfortunately there is nothing vegan on the menu, but I’m sure they can make a lovely summer salad from those crunchy leafs growing in the back. I always drink a tea, a freshly plucked one this time, and look at the paintings. The paintings are all made by Elise Klinkert and I love her work. She does a lot with horses and faces and they’re somewhat dreamy. Truly beautiful. You might have seen some of her work on my Instagram. If you ever need a place to sleep I would definitely recommend Rikus. The rooms are clean, spacious and it’s an excellent starting point for a hike through the forrest, breath in the fresh air or cycle from village to village. A perfect getaway for some peace and quiet.

IMG_0065In the mid afternoon I went to my best friends Nienke, Jeroen and their daughter Annemarie. We had a lovely time catching up and of course I cuddled their cute doggies Fleur and Roos and not to forget their gorgeous mini pig Madelief. Gosh I love pigs! We drunk tea, ate chocolate, made a yummy curry together and after even more chatting I had to go home. Lovely day!

My mum’s birthday on the 3rd of May! On the day itself we didn’t do a lot but baking cakes (which was hilarious, as baking isn’t really my mum’s thing), because the day after all my aunts, my grandma and a family friend came to have lunch at my mum’s work. It was a lovely celebration and a unique day. Very nice to see everybody.
Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 08.26.31On the 4th of May it’s also commemoration day in Holland to grieve for the people who’re killed during wars and everybody has 2 minutes of silence at 20:00. It always has an impact on me, especially now with all the refugees coming at the moment. What would it be nice if the world was in peace. Nobody should have to flee from their home country and leave their house and loved ones. It must be so hard for them. Let’s hope this nightmare is over very soon as everybody has the right to freedom!
The day after it’s liberation day, to celebrate Holland is free since world war ll. It’s also the national day for freedom and human rights. It’s a big happening as in a lot of cities there are festivals, with life music, performances and partying! My nephew had his first breakdance performance on the festival in Assen. The weather was beautiful, his performance was great and I was so proud of him. What a day!

IMG_0341I always see my best friends when I’m in the country and today I was going to meet Nicole. We had lunch at I the nicest place in Groningen, Anat. But in the morning we first went to a friend of ours we didn’t see in years. She just had a baby and so we thought it was a great reason to meet. We had such a good time.. and that 10 years later!
So about Anat.. I think it’s the best vegan hotspot of Groningen if it comes to food. What an incredible place. We were lucky as the weather was sooo good and we were able to sit outside in the warm sun, watching the thousands of students passing by on their bikes. You can choose several things, from soup to bread and salads, but there is also an option you can have little  bits of everything.. so you don’t have to ask me what I chose. And wohw.. the plate looked amazing and it tasted so good. IMG_0338Whilst eating I was already feeling sad that I couldn’t go again next week. We both drunk a Chai latte with almond milk, which was delicious too. We had to (had to!) have dessert of course and because there were two of us we could try both desserts. The chocolate cake and the lavender cake. Both yummy, but the chocolate wins.. duhh!
Anat isn’t very big, but there is a the possibility to sit up stairs. The interior in simple and light. Just what I like. Did I mention the colour of the outside? Love it! If you’d like to visit Anat, take a look at their website. I really recommend it, in case you didn’t got that yet. I’m definitely going back next time when I’m in Holland. No doubt.
13230803_1152302924813809_22750432_oAfter lunch we had some time left and decided to do some shopping. I always like to have a little wander around the shop ‘WAAR’. This is such a nice shop, all about sustainability. I bought 2 bars of Tony’s Chocolonely, a fair trade chocolate they only have in Holland (why?). I chose the almond and sea salt.. twice.. haha! Nienke already gave me the one with pecan and coconut, so with 3 massive chocolate bars I was good to go. ‘WAAR’ is definitely worth a visit when you’re in Groningen. It’s a bit hidden, in between the Vismarket and the Herestraat. Take a look at their website to see what else they have and where they stand for.
13210903_1152302891480479_1965184182_oGroningen also just got a ‘Dille&Kamille’. It’s my mum’s all time favourite shop as she used to work there as a teenager and just because it’s an amazing shop. It’s all natural things, beautiful colours and a lot of gardening stuff, wooden toys, kitchen tools and so much more. Take a look at their website to get an understanding of what I mean. The one in Groningen is quite big and a pleasure to be. My brother just gave me some nice wooden bowls and scoops for my recipes, so I didn’t buy anything, though I wanted to, I have to think of the size of my suitcase.

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 08.26.59Lucky me, the weather was amazing every day and on Saturday Nienke and Annemarie came to me this time and together we went to the lake ‘‘t Nije Hemelriekje‘, where you can swim and just chill. It’s only 5 minutes by car from my parents house and we spend there a lot of time as kids too. Good memories. ”t Nije Hemelriekje’ is in the middle of the forrest, surrounded by trees, but still with a nice breeze of fresh air. And because it’s only May, not a lot of people came up with the same idea and so it wasn’t that crowded as it can be sometimes. We brought a little picnic, splashed the cold water and had a good laugh. Life is beautiful!

IMG_0417On Sunday morning I went to another friend, Esther. She just got a new dog, an English Bulldog, and of course I had to meet her. Her name is Lucy and she is so cute and very beautiful. It was a quick visit, but so worth it. It’s always nice to catch up with her. And not to forget the amazing pink blossom trees in her garden. I’m happy I was able to take a few pics. I loved when it was raining blossoms, little moments of happiness!
In the afternoon my sister organised a picnic in the forrest to celebrate my niece Joella’s birthday. Who was going to turn 2 the next day. A picnic, surrounded by trees, nature, animals, amazing sunny weather, good company and vegan food. I could’t ask for more!

IMG_0713Monday, the last day! A day I decided to have for myself. So I packed some sandwiches in the morning and a bottle of water and jumped on a bike. I cycled for about 15 km through nature. I went to ‘Balloerveld‘, where you have amazing heathlands and flat white sand. It’s very nice to cycle there. I made a stop in the middle of the field, had my lunch and just sat(ok, at one point I laid down)on a bench, enjoying the silence and the birds singing. A bit further I bumped into the shepherd and her sheep. I loved to see the sheep, but I must admit as a vegan I don’t really agree with the whole idea. I love that the sheep can walk around there and are in their natural habitat though. In the back of the flock there IMG_0717was a mother sheep with her baby and the mum was limping and could hardly walk. But the shepherd was forcing her to walk by directing her with her stick and send the dog. It wasn’t a nice thing to look at. And if that wasn’t enough, 10 minutes later there was another mother sheep and her lam all alone, panicking, looking for her flock. I felt so sad for her. There wasn’t much I could do, but I hope she found them eventually.
Also because it was Joella’s actual birthday, we all went out for dinner that evening. It’s the kind of restaurant where you can eat as much as you want, and of course I ate until my stomach was nearly exploding. But we had a good time and there were quite some vegan options! It was a good end of my holiday.

IMG_0785Tuesday I did have some time as my flight was going in the evening. I used it to just relax a bit. I made everybody lunch and then my mum dropped me off at the train station. I went via Eindhoven Airport, what means I do have to travel for 3 hours before I’m actually at the airport. I like to do that as I can see Holland from north to south. Watching the fields, the cows and the sheep is so nice. It gives me time to reflect and to be thankful, because what a lovely holiday it was! It always goes so fast though, but I went home with a lot of nice memories!

Chai latte with almond milk at Anat,, yum!

Chai latte with almond milk at Anat,, yum!

Inside Anat

Inside Anat.

Chocolate and lavender cake at Anat.

Chocolate and lavender cake at Anat.

Books at WAAR.

Books at WAAR.

Tony's Chocolonely I bought at WAAR!

Tony’s Chocolonely I bought at WAAR!

The beautiful pink blossoms in Esther's garden.

The beautiful pink blossoms in Esther’s garden.

Picnic party!

Picnic party!

Did anybody visit any of these hotspots? Or are you going to after reading this? Please let me know or show me by using #PlanetManel on Instagram. Thank you! X