Iced Coffee and Summertime fun

Iced Coffee | http://BananaBloom.com #icedcoffee #summer #vegan #coffee

It’s summertime which means ample opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, and cool beverages. For coffee lovers, that obviously means iced coffee. It’s my go-to cup of joe when I’m out and about in the heat, which I’ve been a lot this summer. Here’s a little update on some of our summer activities, and a how-to for a quick and easy jug of iced coffee.

Iced Coffee | http://BananaBloom.com #icedcoffee #summer #vegan #coffee

It was 32 degrees in Stockholm yesterday. Thirty-two! Living in a country like Sweden — where our summers are short and our winters are painfully long, cold, and dark — you come to appreciate weather like this. And if you’ve ever been to Sweden you’ll know Swedes know how to savour every last lick of summer.

Summertime fun | http://BananaBloom.com #summer

Summertime fun | http://BananaBloom.com #summer

We’ve been maxing our time outdoors going on excursions, biking around, going for walks and hopping on boats out to the Stockholm archipelago.

Summertime fun | http://BananaBloom.com #summer

A favourite of mine is going out to the little island Fjäderholmarna. Taking the boat from Nybrokajen or Slussen it’s a short 30 minute trip across the water to an island small enough to loop right around in about 5 minutes flat.

Related: Banana Nice Cream – The Perfect Summer Snack

Summertime fun | http://BananaBloom.com #summer

I’ve packed a picnic and boated out to Fjäderholmarna almost every single summer since I moved to Stockholm some 17 years ago (omg, how old am I?!) And this summer the awesome hammocks they have at the café and restaurant “Röda Villan” have lured us out to Fjäderholmarna twice already.

Summertime fun | http://BananaBloom.com #summer

Those hammocks are popular real estate though, so you’re lucky if you manage to nab one (hold on to it for dear life if you do).

Related: Strawberry & Peach Midsummer Cake

Yesterday we took a long bike ride (yes, in the aforementioned 32 degree heat) followed by an evening barbecue and swim. It was my first swim of the summer and it was wildly refreshing.

Summertime fun | http://BananaBloom.com #summer

Another thing I love in the summer is a cool jug of iced coffee. Getting a takeaway iced coffee is nice and convenient when on the go, but it’s also super easy to make yourself.

Iced Coffee | http://BananaBloom.com #icedcoffee #summer #vegan #coffee

There’s a couple of different ways in which you can make your own iced coffee, one of which includes freezing coffee in an ice cube tray, but I’ve outlined an even quicker and simpler version below.

Iced Coffee

Yield: 1 jug

1 Cup cold almond or soy milk (not the unsweetened kind)
1 Cup fresh brewed coffee, slightly cooled
10 ice cubes
1-2 tsp sweetener, optional

Method
Add the milk, ice cubes and sweetener (if using) to a mug or jug, pour over the coffee and give it a stir. Add a straw, and enjoy!

Iced Coffee | http://BananaBloom.com #icedcoffee #summer #vegan #coffee

Iced Coffee | http://BananaBloom.com #icedcoffee #summer #vegan #coffee

Iced Coffee | http://BananaBloom.com #icedcoffee #summer #vegan #coffee

What fun activities have you been up to this summer?

Chewy Caramel Cookies

Chewy Caramel Cookies | http://BananaBloom.com #chewycaramelcookies #cookies #vegan #sirapskakor #plantbased

I feel like chewy and caramel go hand in hand. Or at least they always should. Because the combination of the two is like meant to be. Add a little sprinkle of sea salt to the mix and your cookie game is strong babe. The recipe for the combo of the three is in these chewy caramel cookies.

Chewy Caramel Cookies | http://BananaBloom.com #chewycaramelcookies #cookies #vegan #sirapskakor #plantbased

We all have those sweets we remember from our childhood. My mom’s chocolate chip cookies, brownies, and peanut butter cookies will always send me straight down memory lane.

Related: Raw Chocolate Caramel Bites

Chewy Caramel Cookies | http://BananaBloom.com #chewycaramelcookies #cookies #vegan #sirapskakor #plantbased

Another one I remember from my childhood is “Sirapskakor” or “Sirapssnittar”. Now, “Sirapskakor”? You might ask. Yes, that’s me throwing in a bit of the Swedish again.

Related: Raw Caramel Strawberry Cupcakes with Cashew Cream Frosting

Sirapskakor are classic Swedish “småkakor” (small cookies) that are commonly served up with at least 3 or 4 other kinds of “småkakor” for afternoon coffee or tea.

Directly translated, Sirapskakor are “syrup cookies”. But to better describe what these taste like, I’ve decided to call them “Chewy caramel cookies”.

Chewy Caramel Cookies | http://BananaBloom.com #chewycaramelcookies #cookies #vegan #sirapskakor #plantbased

Chewy Caramel Cookies | http://BananaBloom.com #chewycaramelcookies #cookies #vegan #sirapskakor #plantbased

The fun thing about these is that caramel works well with a bunch of different flavours. In other words, these can be tweaked and varied in different ways. Heck, you could even make a plate of “småkakor” solely based around different flavours of the chewy caramel cookies.

Chewy Caramel Cookies | http://BananaBloom.com #chewycaramelcookies #cookies #vegan #sirapskakor #plantbased

I decided to make some regular, some salted, and some wth liquorice in them this time. But I totally see lemon zest, chocolate, and peanut variations. Let your imagination run wild!

Chewy Caramel Cookies

Yield: about 20-25 small cookies

100 grams (3.5 oz) butter, softened (use vegetable butter if vegan)
1 decilitre (1/3 Cup) sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup (or other light syrup)
2 1/4 decilitre (1 Cup) flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon bourbon vanilla powder

Add ins / Variations
1 teaspoon liquorice powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
lemon zest
chocolate chips
chopped peanuts / walnuts / almonds

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 175 C / 345 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, add the butter, sugar and syrup. Beat with an electric beater until combined. Set aside.
  3. In a medium sized mixing bowl combine the flour, baking soda and vanilla powder.
  4. Add the butter mixture to the flour mixture and mix until no lumps remain.
  5. Add in any extras or flavourings you would like at this point. I divided the dough into three parts and flavoured them each separately.
  6. Roll into 2-3 “logs” and place on baking tray and carefully pat them down a little bit, you can also use a fork to gently flatten each “log” a bit. If using sea salt, sprinkle the top of the cookie log with sea salt before placing in the oven.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Take out of the oven and allow to cool for 2-3 minutes before carefully slicing each length diagonally into cookies. Allow to cool completely.

Store in airtight jars for up to a week or in the freezer for several months.

Enjoy!

What sweets (home made or store bought) do you remember from your childhood?

Chewy Caramel Cookies | http://BananaBloom.com #chewycaramelcookies #cookies #vegan #sirapskakor #plantbased

How to Use a Mala – What’s your Mantra?

How to Use a Mala | http://BananaBloom.com #malabeads #yoga #mala #meditation

If you’ve ever been to a yoga class, you might have noticed colourful beaded necklaces with tassels around many yogi’s necks. These mala necklaces have become a popular accessory among yogis and hippie spirits alike. But they serve more of a purpose than just a pretty accessory. Here’s how to use a mala.

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How to use a Mala

A mala necklace is a string of 108 prayer beads, commonly used in meditation or prayer. The most basic way of using a mala is by reciting a mantra as you slide each bead of the mala through your fingers. You start at the guru bead, which is the larger bead near the tassel, and use your thumb and index fingers to work your way through the beads.

How to Use a Mala | http://BananaBloom.com #malabeads #yoga #mala #meditationTop by Electric & Rose

How to form your mantra

A mantra can be a single word, or a short sentence. As with anything, it’s highly individual and you can do your meditation or prayer in whichever way that suits you.

How to Use a Mala | http://BananaBloom.com #malabeads #yoga #mala #meditation

To find your own personal mantra for the day (or week, or month, or year!) start by considering if there is some kind of encouragement you need or something in particular you would like to focus on.

How to Use a Mala | http://BananaBloom.com #malabeads #yoga #mala #meditation

For instance, maybe you’re about to step into an important meeting and you’re feeling nervous about it. In a situation like that you’d perhaps like a mantra to strengthen your self-esteem. Try reciting “I am knowledgable and skilled” or “I am prepared” as you roll your fingers over your mala beads.

You can also use your mala and meditation to practice self love. A lot of us have issues with body image and self-worth. We’re quick to criticise and judge ourselves more than necessary. Form a mantra that is kind to yourself, that will strengthen you rather than push you down. Try one of these:

I am strong
I am beautiful
I am enough
I respect myself

Or, if you’re feeling particularly feisty:

I am a sexy beast

How to Use a Mala | http://BananaBloom.com #malabeads #yoga #mala #meditation

Of course, malas are not exclusively used in meditation or prayer. Since becoming more “mainstream”, malas are increasingly used simply as a pretty accessory. Some just carry it as a reminder to stay present in the moment. And there’s of course nothing wrong with that. Use it in whichever way that speaks to you and makes you feel good, whether that’s to add a little dazzle to an outfit, or be a friendly reminder of your positive mantra.

How to Use a Mala | http://BananaBloom.com #malabeads #yoga #mala #meditation

My mala is a gorgeous “Good Karma Mala” from Malatopia. It has Amazonite, Carnelian, and Rudraksha beads. Thank you to Rachel for hand crafting this gorgeous mala for me.

Use the code BananaBloom20 to get 20% off your order from Malatopia (valid until August 2016).

What’s your mantra?

Banana Nice Cream – The Perfect Summer Snack

Banana Nice Cream - The Perfect Summer Snack | http://BananaBloom.com #nicecream #plantbased #vegan #icecream #summer #recipe

Summer time brings on cravings for cool, refreshing, and tasty snacks. One of my absolute favourite summer snacks is a bowl of banana nice cream piled high with crunchy and yummy toppings. Here’s the quick and easy recipe for Banana Nice Cream.

Banana Nice Cream - The Perfect Summer Snack | http://BananaBloom.com #nicecream #plantbased #vegan #icecream #summer #recipe

I don’t think I’ve ever had anything that tastes so much like ice cream, without actually being ice cream. The base recipe for Banana Nice Cream is made up of a single ingredient – frozen bananas.

Related: Strawberry Swirl Ice Cream

If you’re a superbananafan like me you’re gonna love this. And if you’re a banana sceptic, you’re gonna love this. Honestly, don’t worry about the banana flavour if that’s not what tickles you. There’s something about freezing the bananas that kind of dampens the banana flavour while still tasting like sweet freaking awesomeness. So even if you think the taste of banana is a bit bleh, you’ll like Banana Nice Cream. Give it a try!

Banana Nice Cream - The Perfect Summer Snack | http://BananaBloom.com #nicecream #plantbased #vegan #icecream #summer #recipe

First things first – prep your bananans

To make your bowl of frozen yumminess, you’ll need to stock up on a couple of bunches of bananas. Make sure you let them ripen (you know they’re ripe when they have brown spots on them). Once they’re ripe, peel and chop them into pieces and place in an airtight container in the freezer for at least 6 hours.

I make sure to keep my freezer stocked full of ripe banana pieces, so I’ve always got them on hand for my banana nice cream bowls. Frozen bananas will probably last, like… forever in the freezer. Though I can’t say for sure since I’ve never stocked them longer than a couple of weeks at a time, I’m constantly using them up and stocking my freezer anew!

Related: Double Chocolate Chunk Nana Ice Cream

So, now that you’ve got your bananas prepped, time to make your nice cream!

Banana Nice Cream - The Perfect Summer Snack | http://BananaBloom.com #nicecream #plantbased #vegan #icecream #summer #recipe

Banana Nice Cream

Yield: 1 delicious bowl for one happy camper

For the nice cream
2-3 frozen bananas, chopped into pieces
1/2 cup frozen mango, optional

Topping suggestions
1 passionfruit
1/2 cup granola
handful of fresh raspberries and blueberries
peanut butter
chopped nuts
caramel sauce
chopped chocolate

Method
1. In a high speed blender, add the frozen bananas and mango. I usually let them defrost for 15-20 minutes depending on how frozen they are.
2. Pulse the frozen fruit, scraping down the sides with a spatula as you go. Have patience, it takes a couple of rounds of scraping down the sides and pulsing, but eventually you’ll get a smooth and thick ice cream-like batter.
3. Transfer the nice cream to a bowl and sprinkle with the toppings of your choice. See suggestions above.

Enjoy!

Banana Nice Cream - The Perfect Summer Snack | http://BananaBloom.com #nicecream #plantbased #vegan #icecream #summer #recipe

Banana Nice Cream - The Perfect Summer Snack | http://BananaBloom.com #nicecream #plantbased #vegan #icecream #summer #recipe

What’s your favourite banana nice cream toppings?

Vegan Guide to Barcelona

Vegan Guide to Barcelona | http://BananaBloom.com #veganguide #vegantravel #vegan #barcelona

Some places you visit instantly give you those good vibes and make you feel at home. That’s kind of how I felt during my recent visit to Barcelona. Not only is it a hip, fun and exciting, it’s also becoming one of Europe’s best vegetarian (and vegan) cities. Here’s my vegan guide to Barcelona.

Vegan Guide to Barcelona | http://BananaBloom.com #veganguide #vegantravel #vegan #barcelona

Vegetarians and vegans visiting Barcelona need not worry about finding enjoyable meals sans animal ingredients. Barcelona recently declared itself a “veggie friendly city” and during our week long stay, the efforts to both encourage and supply more vegetarian food to the city’s residents and visitors was clear. Playing “spot the signs for vegan” quickly got tiring as they were quite literally – everywhere.

These are some of the places I enjoyed the most and would love to visit again should I find myself in Barcelona in the future. Further down you’ll also find some general tips of things to do and see while you’re in this fun loving city.

Vegan Guide to Barcelona

Flax & Kaleteresacarles.com/fk

Flax & Kale was perhaps my favourite of the restaurants and cafés we visited during our stay in Barcelona. They serve a “flexitarian” menu including vegan, vegetarian and pescetarian options. We went for dinner, but they also serve breakfast, brunch, and lunch including a whole range of fresh pressed juices. Their breakfast and brunch is very popular, so much so that a lot of diners were ordering granola bowls and smoothies on the evening we were there for dinner. I would love to go back for brunch here one day!

Vegan Guide to Barcelona | http://BananaBloom.com #veganguide #vegantravel #vegan #barcelona
Above photos borrowed from Flax & Kale Instagram

Boqueria Marketboqueria.info

The Boqueria Market is a huge marketplace that is sure to tickle all your senses. Walking into this place my boyfriend and I couldn’t stop awing at the beautiful colors, magnificent smells, and tantalising goodies for sale. You won’t want to miss this! Grab a fresh squeezed juice and an empanada to snack on while you wander through the market. And be sure to stock up on dried fruits, nuts, and fresh exotic produce while you’re there, to bring along to the park.

Vegan Guide to Barcelona | http://BananaBloom.com #veganguide #vegantravel #vegan #barcelona

Cat BarCat Bar’s Facebook page

Cat Bar has been around for a while and is perhaps most famous for being a fun bar with a wide selection of beers. However, besides that, it also happens to serve some delicious vegan burgers. We stopped in for a late lunch and enjoyed crisp french fries and tasty mushroom burgers. Their menu is simple but offers several different types of veggie burgers.

Vegan Guide to Barcelona | http://BananaBloom.com #veganguide #vegantravel #vegan #barcelona

GopalGopal’s Facebook page

Gopal is a kind of deli where you walk in and order a snack to go. I’d heard rumours of vegan donuts and cakes and was happy to find some on offer when we stopped by. The display wasn’t as filled with cakes as I’d hoped for, but the chocolate covered donut I got was absolutely dreamy and reminded me of the donuts I had as a kid at the funfair.

Vegan Guide to Barcelona | http://BananaBloom.com #veganguide #vegantravel #vegan #barcelona

Vegetaliarestaurantvegetalia.com

Vegetalia have several locations around Barcelona. They offer vegetarian and vegan snacks, lunches and desserts including veggie burgers and pizzas. We stopped by for a quick lunch and I had a salad with crispy tempeh and candied walnuts. Not the best salad I’ve ever had (I make better ones myself), I’d suggest you go for something a little more exciting like the pizzas or burgers.

Vegan Guide to Barcelona | http://BananaBloom.com #veganguide #vegantravel #vegan #barcelona

Hummus BarcelonaHummus Barcelona’s Facebook page

We grabbed take away from Hummus Barcelona on two occasions during our stay. The menu revolves around – not surprisingly – the hummus, which comes in several different flavours. The hummus portions are very generous and come with several pieces of fresh and soft pita bread. We also loaded up on sides like sweet potato chips, falafel, and garlic mushrooms. Delish!

Vegan Guide to Barcelona | http://BananaBloom.com #veganguide #vegantravel #vegan #barcelona

Chökchokbarcelona.com

We stumbled upon this place and were drawn in by the eye catching donuts and cronuts on display in the window. This place has some of the most decadent and gorgeous looking donuts I’ve ever seen. Piled high with frostings and sprinkles, not to mention a couple of vegan options too. Guaranteed to be a party in your mouth.

Vegan Guide to Barcelona | http://BananaBloom.com #veganguide #vegantravel #vegan #barcelona

El Born area

The El Born area seems to be a bit of a gold mine of organic, vegan, and vegetarian shops, cafés, and restaurants. We wandered through El Born on our way to Ciutadella park and I lost count of how many signs I saw promising vegan friendly options. The area in itself is super cute and full of little passages and alleyways hiding cute bars, cosy cafés and hippie shops. Definitely worth getting lost in.

Vegan Guide to Barcelona | http://BananaBloom.com #veganguide #vegantravel #vegan #barcelona

For more vegan and vegetarian friendly spots in Barcelona make sure you check out guides like Happy Cow’s Vegan/Vegetarian guide to Barcelona. I found a lot of great places through that list.

Things to see and do in Barcelona

The Magic FountainBarcelona Tourist Site about Font Magica

The Magic Fountain (or Font Magica) is Barcelona’s beautiful ornamental fountain. Go in the evening (check dates and times on their website) to enjoy the spectacular fountain show with coloured lights and music.

Vegan Guide to Barcelona | http://BananaBloom.com #veganguide #vegantravel #vegan #barcelona

Ciutadella Park

Grab some snacks from the Boqueria Market and head to Ciutadella Park. Hang out by the beautiful fountain, wander around among the green grass and trees or rent a paddle boat and row your way through the pond where you’ll find wild turtles(!) and baby ducks. The vibe is cool and feel good, and in the summertime you’ll find all kinds of activities like acrobatics and yoga going on in the park.

Vegan Guide to Barcelona | http://BananaBloom.com #veganguide #vegantravel #vegan #barcelona

Wander around in the Gothic Quarters

Take a day to just wander in and around the gothic quarters. It’s like a big labyrinth of streets, alleys, and squares where you’re guaranteed to find interesting shops, cafés, and restaurants. I highly enjoyed letting feeling guide us down one street after another to see what we see.

Bike taxi
If you’ve made your way down to Barceloneta Beach and find your feet are getting tired, hail one of the bike taxis to take you the final stretch to the sand. A fun and very enjoyable little ride that’ll give you a nice view and support an environmentally friendly way of transport.

Sitges

Set aside a day to take the train to Sitges. Trust me on this one, it is so worth it! Sitges is located just south of Barcelona and is an absolutely breathtakingly beautiful little town with several small beaches. You’ll easily get there by train (no connections or switches necessary), the train ride takes about 35-40 minutes. Pack a good book, your swimming gear and a blanket to hang out on the beach.

Vegan Guide to Barcelona | http://BananaBloom.com #veganguide #vegantravel #vegan #barcelona

Jet Ski (in Sitges)

We rented jet skis on Barceloneta Beach on our first day there but unfortunately the experience wasn’t very enjoyable. The weather conditions were pretty brutal (stormy winds and big waves) and the guides were terrible, jetting off and leaving several participants alone far out in the middle of the ocean unable to find the rest of the group. My boyfriend rented a jet ski a second time when we visited Sitges and the setup and experience there was much better. I would definitely recommend renting jet skis in Sitges rather than Barcelona, the conditions seemed to be much better and the guides more organised and calm.

Vegan Guide to Barcelona | http://BananaBloom.com #veganguide #vegantravel #vegan #barcelona

Vegan Guide to Barcelona | http://BananaBloom.com #veganguide #vegantravel #vegan #barcelona

Have you ever been to Barcelona? What’s your best tip of where to go and what to see?