Plastic Free July 2018 – makin’ plantbased milk

It’s 20 days into plastic free July and our household isn’t entirely plastic free yet. That, I think, is still quite a journey. But we are making progress and are introducing new plastic free routines.

Such as making our own milk instead of buying Tetra packs with plastic lids , packs of oatmilk, soy- and nutmilk.

I started out with making oatmilk. And it is just too simple. Add a handful of oats to a jar of water. Soak for about 4 hours. Blend and strain. Et voila!

Easy, plastic free and so much cheaper. I store the milk in a glass jar in the fridge and make about half a liter at a time.

You can add a bit of maple syrup or a date for sweetness but it tastes just as well without.

Next step: experimenting with cashew and almond milk….

Plastic Free July 2018

Next month it’s Plastic Free July, and I’ve decided to join the challenge.  Ever since I started this blog (and perhaps even a little longer) I’ve been trying to make small steps towards a more sustainable way of living. I’ve blogged about it on and off, and have tried to bring about some changes in this household of ours.

One of the things I’ve been struggling with is the amount of plastic that enters our household; trying to find ways to reduce the amount of single use plastics in our home, and searching for practical alternatives.  For example, we all use our refillable Dopper bottles on a daily basis,  I avoid buying coffee on train stations, unless I bring my own thermos. And on the rare occasion I do buy a coffee to go, it’s in a paper cup, without the plastic lid ( which always leaves me a bit anxious of bumping into people on the platform though). But there’s still lots of improvement to be made.

Joining a world wide challenge to avoid single use plastic for a month is a great way to be inspired and to figure out new ways of avoiding plastic and reducing the amount of (plastic) waste we produce.

Plastic Free July started in 2011 as a local Australian initiative. Today, millions of participants worldwide avoid take part. Ofcourse, the intention is to not just skip single use plastics for a month and then to fall back into old habits. I hope this month will bring lots of inspiration, new ideas and good new habits. Hopefully we’ll be able to structurally reduce our plastic waste from now on.

Still, if it were that easy, avoiding single use plastics wouldn’t even be an issue. So, how to get through this challenge?

  • Take small steps and don’t be too hard on yourself
  • Be inspired by others: register on Plastic Free July and benefit from all the useful information you can find on their website
  • Be part of a (online) community. For example, start following the hashtag #plasticfreejuly on Instagram to come across lots of inspiring accounts: motivate each other

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One of the projects I’ll be working on this month, is to replace empty soap and shampoo bottles by solid, plastic free alternatives. There are quite some alternatives available, although it did take a little search, trial and error.

I found shampoo bars at Leven Zonder Afval and Lush, and still have a large piece of Aleppo soap, which I once brought along from Turkey (I remember how, in the village where I spent many months in my early twenties, we used this soap for everything, from washing our hair, to our clothes and even our dishes. See…..it can be done…why not here in an urban Dutch environment?)

It’ll be a little challenge to get the kids to work with me. 3 (almost) teenagers with their own beauty routines and outspoken opinions on what is ‘normal’ and what is not… atleast they all fell in love with the Lavender handsoap in the kitchen.

 

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Over the coming weeks I’ll try to post some updates on our plastic free adventure. Will you join in too?

Pudla……..Vegan Challenge 042018

8 days into the April 2018 Vegan Challenge, and it’s going quite smoothly.  I must say I haven’t eaten 100% vegan last week. There was a birthday cake, some snacks and left overs I didn’t want to toss. But all home cooked meals were vegan without trouble.

There are enough tasty meals to choose from, and the internet remains a rich source of inspiration. Today we tried a new recipe which I found on the Dutch website Vegetus. 

I had never eaten Pudla’s before, but I think I will again soon! These pancakes, made with chickpeaflour and  vegetables are easy to make, very tasty & a great way to use any leftovers.

The original recipe can be found here, but since it’s in Dutch and I adjusted it a little, I’ll give you a brief version in English here:

Mix your dry ingredients in a bowl:

1,5 cup of chickpeaflour – 1 tsp (teaspoon) baking powder – 1/2 tsp of salt – 1/2 tsp of garlic powder – 1/2 tsp ground white pepper – 1 tsp currypowder – 1 tsp ground cumin

Add 1,5 cups of water and 1 tsp fresh lemon juice. Stirr well.

Chop your vegetables:

You can use any leftovers you like. Today I used 1 large carrot, leek, celery, red and green peppers, and a small onion.

I used my kitchen machine to chop them very fine since tiny undefinable vegetable pieces are the easiest way of feeding the kids something new. I ended up with about 4 cups of chopped vegetables, a bit more than in the original recipe, but it worked out fine.

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Add your vegetables to your batter. Stirr well. Heat a frying pan over medium fire. Use a little sunflower oil for each batch, and bake three tiny ‘pancakes’ at once. Bake slowly so the inside can cook properly without burning the outside, turn once the top of the pancakes starts to dry up, bake on the other side for a few more minutes.

I served mine with iceberg letuce, hot and spicy chillisauce, and a home made Soy-yoghurt sauce with dried mint. Tasty!

 

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Tofu Halloumi…….Vegan Challenge 042018

The best way to get through a month of vegan eating? Discover new recipes, spend a little more time in the kitchen and try out stuff  you never thought you’d make.

And why not learn from the best?  Last week I discovered the blog One Arab Vegan, and found a treasure of recipes waiting to be tried.

The first one I tried was her vegan tofu halloumi. Why? Because I love, love, love halloumi, and – secondly – I always struggle with my tofu: how to make it so tasty I’ll be looking forward to eating it again soon?

Eating tofu never was a very tasty affair, it’s just something you do occasionally…proteins…proteins…you know….

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Well, that has changed! I tried the recipe for tofu halloumi once, ate it twice, and I’m already looking forward to making my next batch.

The idea is simple: drain your tofu, rub with a mixture of sea salt, nutritional yeast, lemon juice and olive oil, dried mint and freshly ground black pepper.  Let it rest a while. Then bake…..in your waffle grill or toaster.

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The result is simply delicious!

You can find the exact ingredients and a step by step recipe on One Arab Vegan. 

Enjoy!

You got this……vegan challenge 042018

I decided to join the upcoming vegan challenge. Over 3000 participants have signed up already, and are committed to skip every animal product from their diet for at least a month. It has been a while since last time, and I’d really like to focus more on what I do and don ‘t eat, instead of simply choosing fast and convenient. I hope to find some focus again, and to be able to make some choices on how to continue once April is over.

It’s still a few days ’till April, but it won’t hurt to start focussing a bit more, and to remind myself of some of the tips and tricks that will make this challenge work for me.

Since I travel a lot for my work, trainrides, and lunches on trains -in between meetings – are part of my daily routine.

During our early morning family rush hours it is tempting to think ‘oh I’ll just buy a sandwich/snack somewhere, later today…..’

Which isn’t just unpleasant for your budget, it’s also harder to stick to a vegan diet this way.

With a little more planning, and a stuffed fridge, it’s easy to avoid these ‘Now what will I eat?’ – moments on the road.

I like to work with what I’ve got, and these energybars are easy to make:

Mix and chop any dry ingredients you like (such as nuts, seeds and grated coconut)

Mix in spoonful after spoonful of wet ingredients, such as peanutbutter, date syrup or agave syrup

Add a little coconut oil, and mix everything together.

Spread out on a tray, carefully cut through with a knife.

Place in your freezer until firm. Then, remove from the tray and pack your energybars in small containers. Keep them in your freezer and just grab one on your way out of the house.

There you go. You got this

Growing up in Leiden #3

Sun’s shining, spring is here. Really? Finally? To stay? That is, ’till summer?

Let’s hope so!

Hardly a week ago it was so cold, we could finally go iceskating again.

This oh so lovely place is right next to out new home, aren’t we lucky?

In January we finally moved to a nice, sunny house with a garden, which I’ll tell you more about later.

For now, I enjoy the memories of our first winter in this new place.

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So, we survived the first week of school after the summer holidays, and decided to celebrate a bit.

I took my cat-loving kids to this really beautiful movie on stray cats in Istanbul, really, really lovely. Must see.

Back to Terschelling

So, last month we went back to Terschelling for a two week holiday. Just can’t get enough of this island….

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If you ever have the chance to visit, go to the Wrakkenmuseum ( shipwreckmuseum) in Formerum, a small village in the centre of the island. It’s a magical place where you can spend hours and hours, looking at all those treasures big ans small, new and old, that have been found in the sea, or that have washed up on the shore.

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In the backyard there’s a great playground for the kids that really triggers their imagination, all made of found and recycled materials.

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Indoors you can have your coffee or hot chocolate surrounded by treasures from the sea; bones, shells, ancient diving costumes, pictures and funny stories. Just keep an eye on your kids ……..no, honestly, it’s a very, very relaxed place to visit with kids. So much to explore, see and do

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We spent halve a day here and still haven’t seen and experienced everything. A good reason to go back….again…..

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Books, books, books

I’ve always loved to read, and remember reading several books at a time as a teenager. Secretly reading novels during boring economics classes, and being totally lost in a book, wherever I was.

Now, with three kids and a busy job, I don’t always find time to read. However, there’s always a point when I start missing books too much, and pick up reading a again. And well, currently I.am.reading. On the train, in bed way beyond bedtime, a book in my bag wherever I go, reading more to the kids before they go to bed, even listening to novels on Storytel while working out or washing the dishes.

But how green is reading. All that paper, all those trees? What’s better? An e-book or a paper book? I use both actually. I feel infinitely rich having a dozen unread books on my Ipad, but I do prefer the look and feel of actual paper books.

I did some research online to figure out what was better: paper books or e-books, and well, the answer isn’t always clear.

In general, it seems, reading e-books is better for the environment if you read a lot of books, if you use a device you already own and also use for other purposes ( like an Ipad), and if you use your device for a long period of time.

Paper books are increasingly printed on recycled paper or on paper with the FSC quality mark, and the wood of which paper is made is after all a renewable resource. But still.

Anyway, here’s what I do to keep my reading as green as possible:

  • When reading e-books or listening to books, I use my Ipad, and I’ve had it for several years and many more to follow I hope.
  • I look for books, for myself and the kids at thriftstores. You’d be surprised how many beautiful and new-looking books you can find.
  • I share my books with family, friends, colleagues at work. Some books go round and round from one person to the other for months.
  • There are books I’ll always keep, but those I’ve read once and don’t wish to keep, I give away or sell online. Off they go, to a second life.
  • And then of course there is the library, where one single book can be enjoyed by many.
  • We also have two ‘Little Free Libraries’ in our neighborhood, where we occasionally bring some books, and find some ‘new’ ones to take home.

And well, not all my kids love reading as much as I do……….perhaps their lack of enthousiasm compensates a bit for my ‘book hunger’, and we’re all quite balanced after all 🙂

“No fuss” Mothers day

A cup of tea, an apple and a banana, served as ‘breakfast in bed’ at 7 am.

Handmade little gifts and  a crushed chocolate heart we shared together.

Sweet notes found at random places throughout the house.

Sisterly quarrels, as usual. Today is just another day.

Sunshine, kids playing out in the park.

Two bruised knees, one torn pair of pants. Red cheeks and shiny eyes.

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Time to read a while, Dave Eggers “Heroes of the Frontier” it is.

Daydreaming a little of packing up my bunch and travelling through Alaska in a Camper too.

Early dinner, kids helped to clean up and ran off to play some more in the evening sun.

Not so bad, not so bad at all.