SoapJam

SoapJamIf you are one of the admirers of beautiful soaps on internet, you have certainly heard about SoapJam, soaps made by Silvia in the Philippines. When I first discovered Silvia’s soaps, I was impressed by her good looking soaps taken into account the fact that she was quite new into this hobby! Afterwards, I realized that Sivia is simply passioned and so-so talented! All her soaps look so neat and delicate, her swirls are one of the most beautiful swirls I have ever seen.  Silvia’s soaps are so easy to identify thanks to the special design-swirls which are difficult could copy. If i have to use only one word to describe her soaps it would certainly be ‘perfect’. SoapJam
What I especially admire  about Silvia is her way of combining natural and artificial colors. She does love natural ingredients, as she uses a lot of interesting colorants(some of them still unknown to some of us) like alkanet, moringa, shikon, bamboo charcoal, powdered eucalyptus leaves etc, but she is also open to use other colorants to obtain the most interesting combined swirl soaps! Besides, Silvia makes one of the most white soaps! if you are new to soaps or if you want to see some gorgeous photo’s of some stunning soaps, take a look at Silvia’s soaps.
Silvia is also known among soapers because of the tutorials she posts. Her experience and different tests are precious info. How to remove ash or how to patch up soaps are some of examples of her determination to find the way towards the best looking soaps.
When Silvia posted her moringa soap, I was so in love with the color that I knew I would like to try it also in a soap! I have tried some natural green colorants, but moringa soap made by Silvia had a different  interesting rustic nuance. Silvia was kind to propose to send me some moringa powder (a superfood, btw!), and I accepted, hoping that I could also get a piece of Soapjam soap in the pack ;). Yes, who wouldn’t?
 I had no time yet to make soaps, but I am the lucky user of the beautiful Japanese Indigo soap. I have been using it for several days and I really love this soap. I had to check on Silvia’s post to see what were the other ingredients, besides the oils and butters,  and it seems that Silvia put also yogurt and goat’s milk in it, that’s why this makes such a creamy soap. SoapJamThis precious soap – made of Japanese indigo – contains several essential oils: cypress, petitgrain, lemon, orange, cajeput, basil. The result is a refreshing, slightly spicy and woody perfume with some fruity notes.
As most of the soaps I receive, I cut this soap in 2 pieces: one piece to be used now and a 2nd one to be enjoyed later: it’s always nice to come back to special soaps.
It was a real honour to receive this gift from Silvia: after so much time admiring online her beautiful soaps, now, having one in my hands was a real dream!
Thank you, dear Silvia!

Julicu Soaps

I haven’t made soaps for some weeks, but I have been enjoying ones of the most delicate soaps on blogosphere: Julicu soaps.

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When I discovered how beautiful the soap dishes, made by Iulia and her husband are, I immediately knew that I want to have at least one of them home too! I ordered some and Iulia sent me besides the dishes also 4 soaps and 1 lip balm. It took some time to get them but it was worth waiting.IMG_1848[1]kopie (2)

Iulia makes gorgeous soaps, she is attracted by all natural ingredients, she makes beautiful photos and lately she started some courses to teach other people how to make home your own soap, lip balm, deo, parfum etc. Admiring, isn’t it?
When I received her packet, I was really amazed. I was sure she would put a piece of her work in it, but I didn’t expect to receive 4 different soaps, 1 lip balm and 3 soap dishes!!! I didn’t dare to unwrap the soaps and I admired their labels and packagings during some days: a light paper which lets soaps brief, nicely written list of ingredients( in Latin, English or Romanian), lovely chosen names for the soaps! I like so much all these little details.

IMG_1842[1]kopie (2)The lip balm is such a pure beauty: nourishing the lips with such a delicious vanilla perfume! You just can’t stop using it!
All the soaps are adorable, but the bay-alep soap is such a cutie! Made out of 30% bay leaves oil, this soap smells so so good! I have never tried this oil in soap, but I can’t wait to give it a try as the color of the soap is so lovely! The 2nd soap which drew my attention was the goat milk and oats soap: love its rustic look, its delicate stamp and melissa and ylang-ylang essential oils make such a fine perfume! The 100% olive oil soap has a lavender scent and looks so simple and beautiful as it is: love its natural yellowish-white color. The last soap is a piece of art: melt and pour combined with whipped; white and green; and some petal roses op top! It’s the frozen garden! This is such a delicate soap!
We started using the goat/oats soap. It has a small and cute shape; it makes a gentle exfoliating soap, leaving the hands skin naturally hydrated, soft and with a joyful and fresh scent and I can’t wait to try the other soaps too.

shea_salvie_03The wooden soap dishes are really too beautiful to be used! I know I will use them, but only as decoration and certainly not as soap dishes: they are so attentively and perfectly made, the drawing are original and so unique. Small portraits to be hanged out!

Thank you, Iulia, for these beauties!

Vegan Chestnut Ice Cream

Vegan Chestnut Ice Cream

No, the winter hasn’t ended. And Yes, this is an ice cream. But some recipes just can’t wait till summer. And some chocolate recipes can easily put a smile on our face like this one ;)
Before giving you the recipe (only 3 ingredients!), let me tell you how much I love chestnuts. This love for chestnuts, which has been lasting for more than 2 years already (when I first discovered them) will certainly be a long one. My favourite way of eating them is baked in oven with some salt, but they have also become one of my favourite adds in desserts. Last year, around the same period I posted some chestnut pudding recipes, this year I tried chestnut puree in an ice cream and the result was a creamy and delicious dessert for the chestnut-chocolate lovers and not only.
Serves: 6-8
425 ml unsweetened chestnut puree (1 can)
200 (raw) dark chocolate, melted
200 ml coconut milk (1/2 can)

Optional:
2TbSp carob syrup/your favorite sweetener in case you prefer it sweeter.

Mix these ingredients until you obtain a homogenous cream. Pour the base into your ice cream maker and follow the instructions of your ice-maker machine(or put it in the freezer for some hours and then mix it again using a blender).

Vegan Chestnut Ice Cream

Vegan Hot Chocolate Milk

The coffee, tea and hot chocolate departments have always been my favorite places in the supermarket. I was always attracted by the different choices, flavours and adds of these products. But then I (almost) stopped drinking coffee. Now I still use to stroll through these departments, only to get some inspiration for the homemade versions. Because we all love chocolate at home, the hot chocolate is something we make almost daily, sometimes even, during the weekends, twice per day. I could list here a lot of ingredients we add, depending on what we have available and on whom is the milk chocolate made for. Let’s be honest: someone who is used to his classical version of hot chocolate would appreciate less paprika powder or other exotic spices in it ! I am open to experiment and I do believe that the most delicious recipes start by changing the ingredients with what one has at hand.Vegan Hot Milk Chocolate

To make a summary of the best hot chocolate milk recipe one can make home, I could mention those ingredients:
– cacao mass (or cacao butter+ cacao powder/ or a nut butter like almond/peanut,tahini etc+ cacao powder)
– sweetener (dates are the best ones in my opinion, but for a glycemic index coconut sugar is best)
– oats/or millet, quinoa flour or boiled rice/amaranth/quinoa (I like it more when my milk has a flour and more consisting touch)
– hemp seeds (skip it in case you are using a nut butter)
– warm/hot water

Personalize your milk according to your taste by adding:
– superfoods (lucuma, maca, carob etc)
– spices (cinnamon, cayenne, ginger, curcuma powder, vanilla etc)

I am simply a big fan of the combination cacao-carob powder, and my daughters love it too but whatever you decide to combine, this chocolate milk will put a smile on your face on a cold winter.

Vegan hot chocolate milk

My recipe:
2 serves

2-3 TbSp cacao mass (also called cacao liquor)
1TSp rolled oats
1TS carob powder (optional)
1-2 TbSp hemp seeds
2-3 dates
500 ml hot water

+ your favourite spice/superfood

Mix everything and enjoy it!

Kombucha Soap

Kombucha Soap

If you are interested in living healthy, you have certainly already heard about kombucha tea. Kombucha is a fermented tea which can be easily brewed at home and which has a lot of health benefits, boosting your immune system and energy levels.
Kombucha contains a slippery, living mat of stuff known as a “mother” or SCOBY, a culture of bacteria and yeast, that produces various compounds including alcohol and acetic acid, the primary flavor of vinegar. Plain kombucha has an acidic, vinegar-like flavor compared to the original sweet tea flavor. But the strength of the tea flavor can be adjusted with the amount of tea bags brewed per volume of water. What I like about this tea, is that you can make so many variants. By adding some fruits or spices you can adjust it to your preferred taste.
Kombucha Soap

I have been brewing my kombucha since september. Thursday is the collecting day and even it takes a little bit of time to make it, I do enjoy these moments. While my husband would drink it because he knows that it’s healthy, my little daughter likes it and she asks for it everyday. We use to add it to our morning shakes or to drink mixed with some sweet sweet fruits. Kombucha tea has become part of our daily life.

This soap is inspired by the soap which I made last year of fermented wheat bran and by this kvas soap. Its delicacy, its foam made me want again to try another fermented product in soap. Those who already tried a soap with fermented wheat bran or kombucha know exactly what I mean.

Soap made of: coconut oil, olive oil, shea butter, cacao butter, sunflower oil, kombucha tea, litsea cubeba essential oil, citronella essential oil.

The Vibrant Table Book Review

It’s been a while that I want to write about the beautiful book, ’The vibrant table’ Recipes From My Always Vegetarian, Mostly Vegan & Sometimes Raw Kitchen written by Anya Kassoff. I bought it in July, before leaving on holiday and I took it with me as inspiration for my journey: it has been one of the most delightful books I have ever seen !

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Golubka kitchen was one of the first blogs I fell in love with when I decided to change my eating style. What impressed me was its originality and Anya’s love for food. The book shows the same love, but maybe even at a higher level.

Anya starts her books with some words about her and her relationship with food. Nothing special maybe, but when you grew up in the USSR, food had to be a part of you: queuing in the shop for a ‘block’ of butter or a kilo of sugar makes you not only realize how important food is, but it becomes also a way of living. All these memories Anya translated so well through her recipes and the warm stories around them.
Even if it is not a book about traditional food, some recipes include lighter interpretations of familiar classics (pizza, pancakes, muffins). You will be impressed by some good looking and interesting ingredients, of what you have, maybe, never heard before but which make a healthy choice and an original meal. You have the feeling that Anya is sitting next to you making her recipes and telling you how she re-discovered them. Most of them are part of her childhood, made by her maternal grandmother Nina or her mother, but which went through a lot of changes to become the ones we see now in her book. I was pleased to find the recipes my mother (who is also of Russian origin) made us when we were kids, like apple and carrot salad but which Anya gave an original touch by adding an interesting sauce or like cottage cheese cake, which made me want to try it directly the day after I received the book.

Anya has a great talent of combining ingredients and of getting the most appealing and colourful salads I have ever seen in a cooking book. Strawberries and peas, peaches and zucchini, radishes and raspberries: her combinations are original, seasonal and so fresh!
I like the way Paloma and Masha, her daughters, are present in this book: while Masha gets the role of a talented photographer, Paloma is the one who takes part in making some delightful biscuits or green vegetables shake. Before, I wouldn’t have dared to mix chocolate and green vegetable to offer the most healthy and delicious shake to my daughters. Anya’s book is more than a cooking book: her food education towards her daughters makes the mothers reading this book change something in their daily cooking way.

One of the recipes which intrigued me when I first open this book was Anya’s oat yogurt, which became part of my daily life. The chocolate cake and zucchini pancakes are the favourite of my daughters and her dessert with chickpeas has opened my eyes on how versatile chickpeas can be. I owe a lot to this book and even though I bought it some months ago, this is without any doubts, one of my favourite food related story books which I look into several times per week.
The unique recipes, the page layout, the stunning photography and the rustic touch make from this book a must in your collection you would want to read cover to cover and you will come back again and again.
Golubka's salad
All the dishes are interesting, but my favourite ones are the chocolate/buckwheat bars and the amaranth pumpkin porridge. But if I have to pick up a recipe from this book, I would definitely choose apple and carrot breakfast salad, as I have too many memories linked to this meal. This is something really easy to make, but so tasteful. This salad is a confirmation that cheap and easy to find ingredients can also make something delicious and healthy!
For the dressing:
6 TbSp almnd butter
6 TbSp water
4 TbSp honey
1/2 TSp bee polen
1 TSp ground cinnamon
Dash of freshly grated nutmeg

For the salad
3 medium firm apples, peeled, cored and shredded
3 small to medium carrots, peeled and shredded
1/2 cup raisins, soaked overnight, then drained

1. Combine all the dressing ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
2. In a large bawl, combine the salad ingredients and pour the dressing over, mixing well. Distribute the salad among bowls and serve.

Magic Poppy Seeds Bites

Raw poppy seeds bites
One of our weekend activities is making healthy bites. The girls adore these moments and they will always drop immediately other activities to come and help me. We always try to make something new, but it has always to be with chocolate.
These bites are inspired by the chocolates we received for Xmas from my native country. Back home, poppy seeds were ones of the most common seeds one could find on the market. I grew up seeing my mother using it quite a lot to garnish breads or as filling in biscuits, but the reason they are used in our diet was revealed only some years ago. They contain substantial amounts of minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium and iron and you can easily find them almost in every store. Knowing how good these seeds are for your health, you would want to eat them more often.
For 30-35 bites

1 cup(125 gr) poppy seeds, ground
1,5 cup(190 gr) sunflower seeds, ground
2 tsp vanilla powder
3 TbSp carob syrup(carob powder)
2-3 TbSp cacao powder
10 dates(soaked in some water for 1-2h)
+50 gr dates water

The carob syrop can be replaced by honey or other sweetener+carob powder.
Raw poppy seeds bites
In a blender mix all the ingredients until you get a homogenous paste. Roll into balls/bites of whatever size you like. Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.