Simple plastic-free swaps at home

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It can be tempting to switch out every single plastic item in your home when you see organized Instagram pics of nice pantries and bathrooms, but my first rule of sustainability: Use what you have. Don’t spend your money and time on switching out every plastic product in your home thinking it’s the most sustainable thing, because it’s not. Buying new will always require new resources and production.

The best way of transitioning to a more plastic-free lifestyle is slowly over time. Only replace your old plastic products when they are no longer fit for use or when you have found a way to mindfully dispose of it (I’m not talking recycling here, but rather gifting it to someone who loves plastic Tupperware and has no problem using it…).

Therefore, the simplest swaps are going to be those kinds of products that you need to switch every few months or so:

Dish brush

Instead of buying another plastic one, next time you need a new one, opt for a plastic-free version. I really like this kind that has detachable heads you can switch out.

Sponge

Instead of a regular sponge to wash dishes or clean around the house, you can upgrade to a loofa. There are also other alternatives made from coconut, cotton and similar fibers.

Glass containers

Switching out all your plastic containers for glass ones might seem like something of a must when you scroll through Pinterest, but there is no need for that. Just start by saving the glass jars you buy jam and stuff in. Wash them and peel off the labels and soon enough you’ll have a great selection of glass containers without having to pay anything extra for it!

Solid bars

Solid hand soap and dish soap are easy swaps. The only thing it requires is a good soap dish (I just have a thin slice of loofa) so that it dries off in between use and doesn’t go bad. Today you can find solid bars for almost anything so if you want to go full out you could also go for laundry bars, shampoo bars, and conditioner bars.

Do you have any favorite simple swaps for a more plastic-free home?

Vegan snacks for when the cravings set in

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I don’t know about you, but I am a huge snacker. In the evening I like to have a light snack to satisfy my cravings or simply because I am still a bit hungry after dinner. Sometimes I just snack because I think it’s nice, like on a Friday night in the sofa watching a movie or for having friends over for some drinks and quality time.

So for this Veganuary I am sharing some of my favourite snack idea with you!

Popcorn

I think everyone knows about this. When times is cramped or the energy low, popcorn is the way to go. It takes zero chopping, mixing och baking and is done in a matter of minutes. I usually go for the stove popping ones which reduces the use of material and contain less additives compared to microwave popcorn. If you want some “cheesy” flavour my best tip is to top off the hot popcorn with some nutritional yeast. Oh and salt!

Veggie chips

Chips are probably my biggest craving ever, in all categories, but as we all know they are usually not the most healthy option, as well as often containing dairy. So if you want a healthier option that is sure to be animal-free you should make your own! You can make chips out of many different veggies, but my best ones are kale chips, zucchini chips and of course, the classic, potato chips. Slices them up thinly, massage with some oil of choice and spice them up with your favourite flavours and then just spread out on a baking sheet and bake on a lower temperature until they start getting some colour. All ovens are different but I tend to go somewhere between 75-100°C depending on what type of vegetables I am using.

Veggies and dip

When I feel like a slightly healthier snack I turn to veggies and dip. For the dips you can either just take some vegan sourcream/fraiche and mix with spices and herbs or you can make your own (or bought) hummus, guacamole, artichoke dip, bean dip or green pea mash. For the hummus I like to switch it up with some different flavours like smoked paprika or sun-dried tomatoes. You can also make hummus with avocado in it, edamame, green peas or any other thing you like. As long as you have mixer or blender only your imagination can stop you. My best veggies to dip are carrots (A MUST!), cucumber, bell pepper, radishes, fresh broccoli and sugarsnaps.

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Nice cream

If you crave ice cream a lot, nice cream is your best bet. It’s like ice cream, but instead of making it on cream, you base it on frozen fruits. So it’s almost like a sort of sorbet. The classic base is with frozen banana that you mix up with other fruits and berries. If you like you can mix in chopped nuts or even chocolate. Whatever suits you!

Baked goods

Most of your favourite cookies and cakes are doable without dairy and eggs. Oat cookies,  raw berry pies with a nut crust, chocolate chip cookies, whatever you can imagine. When it comes to baking vegan, some recipes are fine with a 1:1 ratio of dairy – plant milk and chia eggs, but since baking is quite complex I would always try to find a recipe, there’s nothing worse than craving and baking something, only to have it fail!

So those are my best snacks for anyone feeling a slight craving but wanting to keep it vegan. Do you have any vegan snack faves?

Good sources for vegan protein

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The first concern that seems to come up when someone mentions that they are vegan (or even vegetarian) is: “are you getting enough protein?”. Protein deficiency is quite rare in the western world and as long as you eat a varied and somewhat healthy diet, you are most likely getting enough. Even if you only eat plants. Because what some people fail to understand is that veggies also contain protein.

Still, if you want to make a balanced dinner that is sure to satisfy your protein needs, there are some foods that are more suitable than others (unless you feel like eating 50+ cucumbers per meal…).

Tofu

Tofu is a soy-based protein often used in vegan cooking. For a long time I did not understand tofu, I though it was bland and had a weird consistency and could not understand why anyone would eat it out of free will. Today I cook a lot with tofu and know that the trick is to use the right type of tofu and to not eat it without marinade or spice.

Seitan

Made with wheat protein (gluten) and sometimes called mock duck/chicken in restaurants, seitan is a great substitute for chicken and poultry in dishes. It is great for marinating and spicing since it easily absorbs fluids and flavours.

Tempeh

Similar to tofu, but is made with fermented legumes. Can be marinated and flavoured just like tofu and seitan and can be cooked in several ways; fried, ovenbaked or as part of a stew.

Beans

Probably my favourite out of the vegan proteins. It’s cheap, tasty (in my opinion) and if you buy the cooked beans you can have a dinner ready in 15 minutes or less!

Lentils

Lentils are a great source of protein. In addition, they are cheap and quite easy to cook. I like them mostly in soups and casseroles but they work on their own as well.

Nuts

Most know that nuts are high in healthy fats, but they also contain a decent amount of protein. Since nuts are high in fat they are also quite caloric so I don’t build meals around them. Instead, I like them as an add-on on stews, bowl and similar, or make a pesto or sauce.

Veggies

Like mentioned above, vegetables contain protein. Some of the most protein packed ones are potatoes, spinach, broccoli, brussel sprouts, mushrooms and cauliflower. So by eating a big variety of vegetables you will get a big chance of satisfying your daily need.

Vegan “meats”

This option might not the best regarding the environment or the price, but I like to include it as an option as it is simple and fast, which makes it more accessible. For people switching over to a more plant-based diet this is often a given, since it gives the opportunity to cook similar dishes to before. However, I think it’s important to not get stuck in just cooking substitutes since they can be quite bland and expensive. My favourite brands for substitutes are the Swedish brands Anamma and Oumph!

 

My favourite staples for green eating

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Transitioning to a more plant-based diet can be challenging at times. When I stopped cooking meat I started stocking new products that were tasty and easy to cook. So for those of you that feel a bit lost with vegan or vegetarian cooking, here are some of my favourite green eating staples!

Cabbage

I love almost all types of cabbage! The greatness of the cabbage is the versatility, that they are nutrient dense, cheap and keep for long (like really long). Cabbage can be used as a filler in many dishes, it is great for stews, soups, casseroles, salads or just as a side. You can pickle it, make sauerkraut, kimchi, steam it, boil it, fry it or just eat it raw. My favourites are kale and red cabbage (preferable pickled in a bit of apple cider vinegar).

Onion

Similar to cabbage, onion is cheap and durable. I use all types of onion to cook: yellow, red, garlic, spring onion, shallots. They are anti-inflammatory and great for adding flavour to a dish. It is very rare that I eat something that does not include at least one type of onion, raw or cooked. My favourite is to add a bit of pickled red onion or fresh spring onion to top of a dish. It adds a nice touch!

Potato

Regular potato and sweet potato are my best carbs (sorry pasta, I still love you though…). They work great boiled, mashed, baked, fried or whatever way you would like them. In addition to eating them as a side (or as me the main), you can add them to curries and stews, you can make hash browns or patties by mixing them with some nice spices and herbs. I also love to make sweet potato tacos with some black beans and loads of cilantro!

Peas & beans

The great thing today about peas and beans is that you can buy them ready in tetras or cans, which is fast and accessible. But the cheapest way to to buy dried ones and cook yourself. They provide a great amount of protein and can be added to salads, soups, curries and most other dishes. If you do not like the taste or the structure, I would try to either blend them into a soup or marinate them to get some flavour. I mostly eat chickpeas, which I put in salads and curries, or black beans, that I use for tacos, bean patties and salads.

Tomatoes

I love tomatoes in any form! When I was a child I did not like fruit so my grandmother would cut up tomatoes for me to eat. Still today I tend to buy cherry tomatoes as snack for movie night! Tomatoes contain lycopene, a potent antioxidant, that has been linked to decreased risk for several diseases.
In my kitchen you can almost always find a few cans of diced or whole tomatoes. They are a great staple that keeps for long in the pantry and they can be used for soups, stews, sauces and what not. However, my favourite is to eat a perfectly ripe tomato with just a tiny bit of herb salt.

Grains

Grains are a great filler that you can put in salads, bowls or sub for when you have no rice at home. My favourites are quinoa, buckwheat and wheatberry. I tend to use then mostly for bowl base or as the side of a soup or curry, or to make breakfast porridge. They are great carbs, that fill you up, without being too “fast”, and I personally like the taste and the texture of them.

Lentils

If I am completely drained for food inspiration or seriously cramped on time, I make lentil soup. Lentils are a great source of protein and they are often very cheap. I prefer the red ones best, both for the flavour and for the fact that they are fast cooked. If I have more time I like to make chili with green lentils.

So if you are finding it hard to cultivate a vegan or vegetarian diet, you could try incorporating more of these foods into your your

My tips for making 2019 your most sustainable year yet

jazmin-quaynor-105210-unsplashAs the year comes to an end, many feel like a new beginning. If you want to make 2019 the best year yet, why not try to make some positive changes for yourself that are also beneficial for the environment?

Set realistic goals

Want to make a bigger change for the environment? I say start small. Maybe you heard that going vegan is the best choice if you want to decrease your impact and you decide to go vegan over night. For some it might work, but for most it is not realistic to change ones diet in a heartbeat. Being vegan takes some knowledge on your part and often time. To learn how to cook new ingredients and how to get proper protein etc. A more realistic goal might be to decrease the intake of meat, egg and dairy for a while, while incorporating more vegan recipes into the repertoire. The end goal can still be to eat fully vegan, but by easing into it, you lessen the risk of feeling overwhelmed and quitting.

Start small

This one connects to the previous one, but is slightly different. By focusing on doing one thing at a time you will have a bigger chance of having it stick. If you try to go vegan, start doing yoga every day and running three times a week, you will most definitely get really tired and not be motivated to stick to the rigorous routine. Decide on one or a few small things to change. When they start to become a habit, challenge yourself with a new change.

Don’t stress it

You are only human. If anyone (or society) makes you feel bad for not being perfect, remember that no one is perfect and that all movement in the right direction is good. You didn’t make it out to run three times this week like you said you would? Well, a maybe if you think back just a few weeks you hadn’t gone for a run in months! It is all about perspective. Try to see the bigger picture, without using it as an excuse to not continue striving towards your goals. Because that is what goals are. Something to strive for and work towards. If you are able to reach it within a few weeks, maybe the goal wasn’t big enough to begin with.

Educate yourself

If you want to lead a more sustainable life in 2019, both for you and the environment, take some time to educate yourself. It is hard being conscious, because there are so many people saying different things. By educating yourself, making sustainable choices will be easier. It will take less time at the store to decide what vegetable to choose since you already know which ones have lower impact.

Do you want to make 2019 your most sustainable year yet? Why not join my some of my challenges? Or create your own goals calendar for the year?

2019: monthly challenges

sarah-dorweiler-357715-unsplashNew Years resolutions have never been a big thing for me. Committing to something for an entire year takes a lot of devotion and engagement, which I tend to lack. Instead, this year I will be doing monthly “challenges” to push myself to do and learn more, and in some cases just to push myself to do stuff that I have long been meaning to do but tend to forget when life comes along.

Having a monthly goal, or challenges as I choose to call it, is more sustainable since committing to 30 days of something gives a clearer horizon and you may not feel deprived in the same way since you can just “return to normal” if it’s not for you, without feeling like you failed. So just setting up reasonable goals that you can actually do. You might have heard about SMART goals. SMART goals is all about creating motivational and tangible goals that you can actually reach. SMART was first coined by George T. Duran in 1981 stands for:

S – Specific (or Significant).
M – Measurable (or Meaningful).
A – Attainable (or Action-Oriented).
R – Relevant (or Rewarding).
T – Time-bound (or Trackable).

So by giving myself a clearer horizon by limiting the time to one month, it feels more attainable. I will also only focus on things that feel relevant to me and my journey, that are very specific for each month and that I will be able to see a result from.

Monthly challenges

January: Veganuary

This is a global challenge and yearly challenge from https://veganuary.com/ to inspire people to eat more vegan. All of January I will eat (or do my best to) eat vegan. To push myself to try something new, to try new recipes, ingredients and how to eat out.

February: Meditate daily

February is a dark month with bad weather, and if you live in the north it’s probably like four months since you saw the sun. So when the SAD (seasonal affective disorder) starts knocking on the door I will spend a month meditating daily. These past few months have been stressful for me and I have felt that my defence against stress is quite low. Hopefully with daily meditation I can improve this.

March: Digital detox 

For the month of March my focus will be on minimising my use of Internet, computers, tablets and phones. My only tech appliances that will not be on the decrease list are my e-reader and my camera. How much I will “detox” is unsure right now. Since Instagram is a big inspiration and I like to read interesting articles online I would not be able to do a full on detox, but I will be avoiding it as much as I feel is viable.

April: Shopping ban

This one is quite explanatory, I will not do any shopping for the entire month. Which of course excludes food, medications and hygiene stuff (I need to survive it!!). No new clothes, no new beauty products, no interior shopping, no unnecessary stuff I can live without.

May: 30-day yoga

I will do a 30-day yoga challenge to really feel the benefits of the practice and stretch out my body. I have done yoga on and off for almost 10 years and even though I love it during and after, I never seem to get into a routine that sticks, so this month I will challenge myself to stick to it and hopefully feel better both physically and mentally.

June: Capsule challenge

For the month of June I will commit to a capsule closet. I have yet to decide the number of items to be used but somewhere between 20-30 is where I am aiming. This years mini capsule challenge felt slightly too constricting for me, so I want to give a bigger and longer capsule a shot.

July: Plastic-free July

Plastic-free July is a quite well known challenge by now, which means that for all of July, the goal is to not consume any plastics. This means no plastic single use items like take away bowls or plastic cutlery. This feels like a tough challenge for me right now, but my hope is that it will teach me more about the low impact living.

August: Reading challenge

One of my goals this year is to read more and for this I purpose I will do a book club for myself, but I will also assign one month of the year for reading even more. When I was a teenager I would read several books a week, but when I started university and had to read large amounts of course literature, I lost the appetite for reading for fun. I want to find the fun in reading again and this is what I am hoping to achieve during this month.

September: Self care September

During September I will focus on taking better care of myself and doing stuff I enjoy. Since fall tends to be very dark and gloomy where I come from it feels like the perfect start to the darker times.

October: Slow-Fashion October

For October I will be challenging myself to be more circular when it comes to my closet. I will be mending broken clothes, tailoring bad fitting ones, upcycle that which is no longer my style or simply make new items. A personal goal for the year is to get better at sewing, so this challenge caters mostly to this. By using what we have better and not wasting fabric is good for the environment and my own economy, as I will feel less a need to buy new.

November: Food challenge

For this month the challenge will be to explore new foods. New recipes, new ingredients, new cooking techniques etc. The goal is to compile 25 new recipes to try out during the month, both breakfast, snacks and dinners.

December: Creativity challenge

When I was a child I was constantly drawing, cutting and pasting. I had subscription boxes for what we in Sweden call “pyssel” which is a somewhat broad word for doing any kind of creative hand-work. During December I want to get creative again, just like when I was a child. Maybe I won’t be gluing beads on a picture frame, but more knitting pot holders, painting, colouring and maybe practice my calligraphy.

Conscious book club 2019

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One personal goal I have this year is to read more. Another is to learn more about conscious and sustainable living. Therefore I will be doing a small reading challenge, call it a book club. Every two month I will read a book related to the sustainability topic, such as consumption, fashion, plastic etc. I will evaluate the book here on the blog and discuss the topics brought up by the book.

This changes everything – Naomi Klein

A book about climate crisis and economy. In this book Naomi Klein discusses capitalism and the connection between social, environmental and economic sustainability and equality. She means that we have to change our relationship with nature and each other in order to manage this crisis and that we have to do it now.

Overdressed – Elizabeth L. Cline

The shockingly high cost of cheap fashion. This book looks into the fashion industry to unveil why clothing is cheaper than ever and who is actually paying the price for it. What do we do with all the clothes produced, as well as what all this production does to society and the environment.

Turning the tide on plastic – Lucy Siegle

With this years word being single-use this is a very current book about plastic. Facts about the plastic industry, how much plastic there actually is in the world and what it is doing to us all. How do we change our habits to avoid seeing more whales being washed ashore with several pounds of plastic inside?

Rise and resist. How to change the world – Claire Press

Clare Press runs one of my favourite podcasts around and I have been longing to get my hands on this new book of hers. In this book she meets passionate change makers that work towards a better world and explores how we can all help change the world with activism.

Cradle to cradle – Michael Braungart & William McDonough

This well known book rethinks the way we make things. Must our production really damage the world? Or are there ways of increasing the effectiveness of our production in ways that harm the planet and the people less?

Doing good better – William MacAskill

How can we make a difference in this world? By using our time to help people? Or are we more effective letting our money do the job? In this book the author tries to understand effective altruism and how we can maximise our impact with our decisions.

Interested in learning more about sustainability? Why don’t you join me in my reading?