European Treats

Dear all,

images (7)My husband just got back from a business trip to Munich, Germany, and brought home loads of goodies for the kids and me!! Yay! And he got to spend some time at the famous Oktoberfest.

I still love to know that you can buy certain things only in a specific country and not everywhere in the world. It makes them so much more special. What we always get overseas are German story books, german maths books for the kids (I still love the way maths is being taught in Europe, where not every task is made up as an online game- sometimes the old fashioned way of doing lots of equations in a textbook is a good way to learn it), perfumes and make-up (super expensive in Australia) and I get as many plant-based and vegan magazines as my husband can possibly take along. I love to browse European health food magazines and always find new inspiration. In one of the vegan magazines I saw a delicious looking blueberry lemon cake and because blueberries are in season at the moment, decided on the spot to make it the same day. Unfortunately, the ingredients in this recipe were not what I had hoped for- tons of oil and refined sugar.

The thing with vegan recipes is that although they are free of animal products, they are not necessarily healthy. Often times, lots of sugar, oil, refined flours or other refined products find their way into the recipes. Here are just a few of the highly processed products…

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It is very easy though to tweak vegan recipes and convert them into healthy ones; except for the ones which call for vegan sausage :).

That’s what I did with the blueberry lemon cake. I substituted white flour with whole wheat flour, swapped the quite high amount of vegetable oil with unsweetened apple sauce (I recommend using half the amount of applesauce), exchanged the recommended baking powder with baking soda (I you are not clear what the difference between baking soda and baking powder is read one of my latest posts on it …) and used date paste and a bit of honey instead of the cup of sugar (just imagine one full cup of refined sugar when you can easily use a natural sweetener that has a ton of nutrients in it!


Here is the link to the recipe

download (5)Dates are wonderfully sweet and chewy with an amazing caramel-like flavor, which makes them the best candy replacement for snacking and the best sugar replacement for cooking. Medjool dates are the best as they’re much sweeter and stickier than regular dates. Because they are also more expensive, I use regular dates to make date paste and Medjool dates for eating as a whole.

The fruit is grown on a date palm tree, and it should be no surprise that they thrive only in hot dry climates.


Dates have actually powerful health benefits. These delicious fruits contain large amounts of calcium, phosphorus, iron, potassium, sulfur, manganese, copper and magnesium which are all vital for good health. Some health specialists even state that eating one date per day is necessary for a balanced and healthy diet.

I have a very special relationship with dates- I never go on a bike ride without stuffing a few dates into the pocket of my jersey. I want to be prepared for the day, when I will run completely out of energy during a long ride. Dates will then be the key to ride back home. Most likely, this slightly exaggerated fear dates back to an event that happened many many years ago, in California, LA to be specific: My husband and I had just started dating. He was super fit, doing triathlons, I was the opposite (and back then even eating unhealthy foods). He raved about the beautiful views and single trails up in Topanga canyon and suggested to go on a mountain bike ride.

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It was truly stunning, but after what seemed an hour I was getting tired. Stefan motivated me by telling me how very close we were at our final destination. A few minutes later, he announced that we had reached the end. I looked around, no car, no street. I looked somewhat confused and asked him where exactly our car was. To my utter horror he replied that this was actually just the end of the ride and now we had to ride all the way back. I couldn’t believe it. There was no other way then to ride back the same way we had come. I was devastated!! Stefan had a few dates with him and fed me all of them, one after the other and somehow, finally, we made it back. When I spotted the car, I simply collapsed on the street. I could not get up anymore, I couldn’t walk anymore, but at least, I had made it back. Ever since, I have taken dates along on my rides and hikes… you never know what might happen.



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