A Bali C

I managed to make it to Saigon, despite having problems with entry both in Singapore and in Ho Chi Minh; I was ready to buy a ticket back to Bali and skip Vietnam altogether! Some reminiscing of the Island of Gods follows (pictures still lacking due to probably the worst internet connection so far!)

Atmosphere: Smiles, flowers and offerings for Gods, everything is in harmony, even the chaotic traffic. No matter where you are, the Balinese are going about their daily rituals with a smile on their face.

Bikinis: No need to explain. You could probably survive only with bikinis, shorts and flip-flops. Yeah okay Buddhism too.

Canggu: Not a surprise, this one. I spent over a month in this upcoming hipster village, where life seems to stand still and days float by even if you just lied by the pool and listened to music in between surfs.

Diving: I overcome my doubts regarding breathing underwater. Bali hosts some amazing diving spots, and I will definitely return for more!

Environment: aka nature. Various yet always beautiful.

Fruits: Fruits are aplenty in Bali. Now in season are bananas, papaya, different sorts of mangos, mangosteen, snakefruit and jackfruit, just to name a few. You can also find guava, oranges and imported apples at the supermarket. My favorites are definitely papaya and mango, but I also like mangosteen and jackfruit a lot. I did have durian once, but I was a bit disappointed with the small amount I got for my money.

Gado Gado: Both hot and cold, sweet and savory, gado gado is one of my favorite Indonesian dishes. “Mix Mix” is often variable, but includes different steamed or blanched veggies like spinach, cabbage, carrots and beans. The mix also always has fried tempeh and/or fried tofu, and sometimes a boiled egg. It is served with rice and krupuk crackers if you’re lucky. What makes gado gado special is the peanut sauce that identifies the dish. I found instructions to make the sauce, maybe I’ll give it a go at home, since it is just so fulfilling with the light veggies.

Gado gado sauce, easy to make raw version too! 1 cup of peanut butter (or crushed peanuts), 1 tbsp grated ginger, 1 tbsp minced garlic, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 3 tbsp soy sauce. Add crushed red pepper and salt to taste. Mix with 1 1/2 cups hot water and devour!

Heat: Yep, it is hot. I notice it the most when going into a shop/car that has AC and then coming out. Phew! Some days the heat really hits, but when combined with a mild breeze, it is lovely. I have not needed my long sleeved shirts at all. It most definitely doesn’t feel like Christmas is coming.

Islands: Bali is the island of gods, and it is surrounded by lots of other islands. The most popular tourist destinations are Nusa Lembongan, Lombok and the Gili’s that belong to Lombok: Meno, Trawangan and Air.

Jalan: Street. Most of them not pedestrian-friendly, and are definitely not designed for handicapped. Watch where you step and you’ll be fine.

Kuta: Party hell. You can find most tourist stuff here, and some enjoy it. I preferred a quick visit once or twice just to realize how well off I was at the tranquil hoods.

Light: The sun comes up around 5.30 and and goes down around 6.30. Solid amount of sunlight every day works like magic for me. Even if I haven’t had enough sleep, I wake up with more energy.

Massages: Everywhere. Cheap. I wanted to get pampered at least once a week, but ended up getting only like 4 massages in 2 months. I’ll regret that later! From foot reflexology to Balinese and Tai massage, you can easily get your stress washed away or just get a deep relax for 1.5 hrs.

Names: I recently discovered why everyone is called Wayan, Nyoman, Ketut or Made. People are named by their order of birth, so kid #1 is Wayan, kid #2 Nyoman etc. Kid #5 id again Wayan. There are some extra names too, and the 1st girl is called “Ilo”, coincidentally “joy” in Finnish!

Other travellers: Though I did meet some lovely local people, I spent most of my time with fellow backpackers. And what a wonderful group of people did I meet and share experiences with! Mostly from Australia, but other countries too, some surfers, some not. Great talks, great trips, great surfs and lots of good new music for me.

Paradise: May it be a beach, a mountaintop, the rice fields, a jungle or a village, unless your idea of paradise includes snow, changes are Bali has it.

Quality of life: Simple things matter. People wake up at 5 am to cook, make offerings, and to go about their day. No one complains, they enjoy the simple things and take the day as it comes.

Raw food: The raw food/organic restaurants put emphasis on local, organic ingredients that have grown in rich soil. Of course in this climate and environment it is easier to grow produce than, say, in Finland, but I wish we had more of this kinds of places back home! Week or a month is nearly not enough to taste all that just Ubud has to offer.

Sun, sea, surf: All of it. Loving it.

Traffic/taxi: Crazy. Both of em. There is a logic of driving the left side of the road, but then again you can do whatever maneuvers you want as long as you don’t hit anybody. Not nearly all death-defying scooter drivers wear helmets, and some scooters have as many as 4 or 5 people on them. Insane.

The “taxi” refers to the lack of public transportation. If you’re brave enough to drive a scooter, you’re fine. If not, you’ll hear “taxi, taxi” yells at least every 2 minutes in Ubud. I do prefer walking, but sometimes the distances are just too long. Then it’s the matter or bartering the right price. Oh, my.

Ubud: Inland village/town in the center of Bali, Ubud has become the hotspot for tourists looking for the ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ experience. Surrounded by rice fields, filled with raw foods cafes and yoga centers, Ubud is truly to place to seek for enlightenment and to relax. The town is very western, so don’t expect to see the “real Bali” here. Lots of massages and other pampering  available besides superb food.

Warung: Local food, cheap. Pick and mix your favorites. Delightful amount of veggies.

Yoga: Pretty much Finland-prices, I was a bit shocked how big thing yoga is. I went to a few classes, but could’v done way more if it had been more reasonably priced. Yoga retreats are aplenty with wealthy wallets.

Missing a few but that’s life.

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Keep calm and eat pie.

Autumn aka cold and creeping darkness…wait, I already told you this. Happy things: baking and pie. I’ve felt seriously under the weather (despite the sunshine) lately, not having been able to work out due to flu has been challenging for me. So, I bake. And this is something rather randomly put together that turned out to be the best apple pie I’ve made (and maybe had?). No gluten, of course. No nuts, either, if you don’t want to use them. It is easily vegan, has no added sugar or fat. And it tastes amazing. Try it if you don’t believe me.

 

Cupcake form. Portion control, you know.
Cupcake form. Portion control, you know.

Base/crust:

5 dl dried figs (approx 20, you can also use dates but figs are yummy!) – soak in water
5 dl soaked sunflower seeds (approx. 3.5dl dry)
1.5 dl coconut flour
2 dl (whey) protein powder (or just use 3.5 dl coconut flour, whatever floats your boat)
Pinch of salt

Blend the seeds and figs into paste. Add flour(s) and salt, form to a dough. Use more flour if needed. Depending on the size of your pie pan, you can save some of the dough to crumble on top of the filling. Coat the pie pan with some coconut flakes or coconut flour, then pat the dough evenly to the pan. It is sticky, that’s okay. Don’t eat all of the dough at this point.

Goodies.
Goodies.

Filling:

5 dl chopped apples (or apple puree)
1 tbsp cinnamon (also vanilla if you like)
4 dl black currants (and/or lingonberries)

Boil the apples in a bit of water until soft. Drain, mix in cinnamon and berries.

Nom. Unbaked.
Nom. Unbaked.

Topping:

Leftover pie crust, chopped hazel nuts, sunflower seeds and oat flakes, coconut flakes…whatever you fancy and happen to have around. Top it off and in to the oven! I baked my pie for 45 mins in 200 Celcius, and put a foil to cover the goodness from burning the crust. Half-baked is definitely also good with this one. No stomach upsets awaiting for munching the dough and licking the blender.

A tad messy but still classy.
A tad messy but still classy.

To be enjoyed with:
1) Tea or coffee
2) Preferred ice cream or milk alternative
3) Vanilla sauce (easy cashew vanilla sauce: blend 1/3 nuts with water, add vanilla and desired sweetener)
4) Just as is.

Cashew cardamom butter is the boss.
Cashew cardamom butter is the boss.

 

Crackerin’ up

I got re-united with my beloved donutrator ( I don’t dehydrate donuts, the shape of my dehydrator is like a donut) last Sunday, and since I have been hydrating my obsessive needs to dehydrate stuff. The toilet has been smelling of delicious food for the past 3 days, because that is the only place where I am allowed to use the donutrator, since there the constant humming is the least disturbing. It’s no Excalibur, but my dear Rommersbacher which I bought for a fair price from the flea market few years ago, definitely can get stuff dry, crispy and tasty!

 

Dry basics: apples, bananas and rutabaga chips
Dried basics: apples, bananas and rutabaga chips

Besides fruits, I have been experimenting with different crackers. Sadly enough, I am rather bad at taking measurements for recipes. Whats even more sad, is that my appetite is like of an obese weight watcher’s on a cheat day; therefore I often forget to take pictures of the fruits of my labour and the loving care of the donutrator (sounds like a weird diet, right?). However, I do have one or few recipe-ish for you.

Making crackers is fairly simple: just blend some nuts/seed combo, maybe add some vegetables and definitely spices, put the dough in your dehydrator or donutrator or even conventional oven, smell the nice smells and be patient. I prefer making the crackers in the evening, so I’ll have more to look forward to when waking up the next day!

 

O-mega! Chia, hemp, pea protein, veggies - good for more than your bones
O-mega! Chia, hemp, pea protein, veggies – good for more than your bones

Few notes on making crackers:

– Flax and chia seeds (grind to flour) work well as binding agent.
– If you blend for example sunflower/pumpkin seeds, leave some whole ones for extra texture. Chopped sun dried tomatoes give nice crunch, too.
– Vegetable pulp/grated veggies i.e carrots bring lightness to the dough. Remember to squeeze excess liquid out (in a nutbag, for example).
– Use nut pulp from making nut milk! Also sprouted quinoa and/or buckwheat are great for crackers, they make it more like hard bread.

Sweet!

Easy apple chocolate carob cookies:
– 1 dl nut pulp
– 1 medium peeled apple, blended / 0,5 dl applesauce
– few drops of vanilla/toffee stevia and some honey for sweetness
– 2-4 tsp each of cacao and carob powder or as much as you like (or be athletic and use chocolate protein powder!)
– cacao nibs and other nibbles (pieces of nuts, mulberries, gojis) for crunch,
– cinnamon, nutmeg and such for extra flavor

Mix everything together and form a dough that sticks enough (some coconut oil can help with this), and get creative with forming whatever shapes you want and your dehydrator allows. Leave overnight, but do turn them around if you happen to go pee (or snack) during the night. Depending on how moist you want your cookies, keep and eye on them for the perfect consistency.

I will have a picture of these babies tomorrow morning unless I eat them before remembering that I could be an almost proper food blogger if I was a bit more patient. But they smell so good, you’ll understand how hard it is!

 

Vegetables. Shrunk in size yet not in flavor!
Vegetables. Shrunk in size yet not in flavor!

There’s more! If you want to swap your Doritos, Lays (or Taffel here in Finland) or whatever other chips you munch, to something way more interesting, enter the root veggies!

Vegetable chips
– Big carrot (if it is small, it will become tiny. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s less fancy and visual treat)
– Rutabaga
– Sweet potato
– Any other veggies (except for beets. I am traumatized from beets and just cannot handle them, except for the dumplings in Restaurant Day, krhm.)

sauce:
– a nice splash of (apple) cider vinegar
– salt
– cayenne pepper/chili
– powdered onion/garlic
– any other spices you fancy, take your pick
– for possibly desired sweetness, some honey, agave or other sweetener (really not necessary)
– for possibly desired fatness, some coconut oil (chips without fat? Ooooooh, diet food!)

Yep, you guessed it: mix ’em all together, lay on the donutrator (nope, I can’t get enough of that word) and be patient. This stuff crispens out and shrinks pretty fast compared to the crackers, so you might want to watch out for these babies and snack a few samples every few hours. They will keep in airtight container for fairly long, unless you have a good movie to watch. They can also be used in soups or other dishes, for example in salads.

 

Kale chips and friends
Kale chips and friends

 

Who said raw food is just about slurping wheatgrass shots and green smoothies?

Upgrade Your Day: Chocolate cereal

Many people swear by starting their day with oatmeal, if not for its’ divine taste, then because of the various nutritional benefits it provides. I have got my share of porridge/oatmeal already in my childhood, where although not every day, I ate a lot of it. Always made with water and never with milk, eaten with a blop of butter in the middle and sugar sprinkled all over, or then with frozen berries, berry soup or cinnamon and apple. I could consider eating overnight oats or porridge made with other grains than oats, but I’d rather start my engines with something else.

Elovena, the image of Finland
Elovena, the image of Finland

Enter the fast, easy and cheap savior of all moms, common enemy of health freaks, the industry with plastic by-gifts and endless, more or less ridiculous and misleading health-claims: cereals, muesli, granolas and all the other sugar, fat and other additive-ladden grain products! I have to admit, I was once a junkie of the Coco Pops, Frosties and Honey O’s (the last eaten plain, without milk), then “upgraded” to the “whole grain family” of Special K, Fitness and mueslis. After realizing what crap I was eating, how un-nourishing and addictive it was, I started feeding my cravings with better stuff, i.e self-made granola. Success! The only downside with making my own batch of granola, no matter how healthy it may be, is that I have never been really good at portion control. Uh-oh.

With all this interesting history to my habits (listen to the coco pops pop, drink the chocolate milk and complain to my brother for wasting his milk), I present you an alternative to your morning routines and everyday-oats, in case you ever get sick of it. I am sure there are thousands of variations how to eat it, but stepping out of the box and into another bowl is sometimes in place. So, here goes:

Ultimate (raw) Choco Pop Cereal

– Cacao mass
– Raw honey, agave syrup, coconut nectar or other liquid sweetener
– Coconut oil
– Quinoa/amaranth/buckwheat pops or sprouted and dehydrated “buckwheaties”, if you’re super DIY
– Milk of choice (optional)
– Spices if desired, i.e vanilla
– Cocoa nibs, if you’re feeling indulgent or it’s the weekend!

IMG_9086

Melt the cacao mass in a water bath, and add desired amount of sweetener and a tad of coconut oil. Adjust the sweetness according to taste. If you want honey cereal, just skip the cacao! Stir in the cereal. If you want to make “rice krispie treats”, increase the amount of coconut oil, and add so much pops that the mixture becomes sticky. For regular cereal, you’ll know the right amounts when it looks like something you’ve seen in your childhood, yet less processed. Put to your breakfast bowl, top it off with desired milk (or eat plain), and go down the memory lane. It may not come with a toy and pop like rice krispies, but it’s still way better!

If you are a coffee drinker, I suggest swapping your regular bulk brew to at least an organic variety. You’ll taste -and know- the difference. If I ever get addicted to coffee and start drinking it at home, I will definitely get an aeropress.

Quality coffee at Johan&Nyström
Quality coffee at Johan&Nyström

If you are wondering where to get the amazing substitute cereal for rice pops and nutrition-stripped (GMO) cornflakes, you should be able to find amaranth/quinoa pops in health stores. In Finland, Stockmann Helsinki has a variety of different supergrain pops in the bulk section, and they’re way cheaper than anywhere else! I made a mixture of different pseudograins, and it definitely does the trick. Gluten-free, protein-packed and delicious!

How do you start your day? Do you have any childhood favorites?

Buddha-approved Yum-stuffed Papaya

Last Friday was Buddha’s birthday, and I was lucky to enjoy this public holiday almost completely without work. Since I haven’t posted any recipes lately, I though this sweetie would definitely be worth it – I’m sure even Buddha himself would have approved and appreciated this!

Quinoa and Mango Stuffed Papaya

– 1 ripe mango
– 1 papaya
– (cooked or sprouted) quinoa, amount depending on the size of your papaya
– coconut cream
– vanilla, cinnamon, salt according to taste

This is not quite what you are aiming for, but close
This is not quite what you are aiming for, but close

Cut the end of your papaya off, and scoop the insides out: first the seeds, then flesh (or then cut the fruit half lengthwise, and carve the flesh). Cut your mango into small pieces, and mix it with some of the papaya flesh. Combine fruits with cooked quinoa, and season according to your taste. Fill the carved papaya with the mixture, and pour some coconut cream in.

In case it’s a special occasion, i.e Buddha’s birthday, garnish your Papaya stuff with cocoa nibs, bee pollen or whatever goodies you have in hand and prefer. Another good option is to boil your quinoa in tea, it gives some extra flavor. Other fruit than mango would work too, but I like the mushy, soft textures and intense flavor of mango together with papaya. Pictured is my this morning’s breakfast with watermelon and apple – a bit more crunch, no cool stuffing involved. My papaya creation didn’t make it to picture before it was all gone. Wonder why…

Education of the day: Quinoa is super good in so many ways – complete amino acid profile, whole source of vegan protein, it’s gluten-free and hella versatile to use! If I will start posting more recipes as soon as I land back to the dear Motherland and have loads of free time (10 days, FYI), you are sure to see some quinoa stuff coming up. Try it instead of rice. Way, way better, in all possible ways. Paleo-friendly and possibly suitable for all other cool diets lifestyles you can come up with. Some more education: Buddha died supposedly due to overdosing on magical mushrooms. You gotta take which and how much shrooms to take, man!

Oooooommmm and namaste.