Sunday morning

Let's keep looking back at the time in Malmö. The Southernmost city of Sweden. No order in diary updates now and I'm probably going to keep jumping between Miami, Greece and Sweden for a while.

Either way, it was very interesting to live in Malmö for a bit. I've now lived in all the three largest cities of Sweden and it feels good when you know more in depth about things and places, don't you agree? Knowledge is wealth. In any form. And curiosity helps bring about more knowledge. I love Malmö for its relatively small size. Boring for the ones perhaps who look for more activities and more action. But for someone who looks for peace, beautiful quiet walks, friendly atmostphere and not too much stress around, it is a great city.

One sunny morning we went out in our neighbourhood Möllan (the Malmö version of Brooklyn, an eclectic hipster area with a wide mix of cultures, second hand stores and media people). This morning we were steering towards Choklad-Fabriken - the old chocolate factory that was producing chocolate between 1888-1992. The company came later to be called Mazetti AB and their most famous product is Ögon Cacao which most Swedes probably have in their kitchens. The Finnish chocolate company Fazer bought Mazetti in 1975.

Chocolate hungry pregnant person.

They still produce chocolate in Malmö, under the name of Malmö Chokladfabrik. The factory is outside of town, and this place acts as their store. All their chocolate is organic and fair trade.

And they have got some delicious licorice. Most of us born in the Northern European countries love that stuff.

After stocking up on the essential chocolate and licorice, we kept walking through the neighbourhood.

Those clever city bikes. It's a scheme you can sign up for, costs about €30 for a full year. You can then use bikes freely from any of the stations within the city limits. Such a great example of successful shared economy.

The colourful market at Möllevångstorget.

Chocolate and licorice intake should always be balanced with juicy oranges.

And four pomegranates please!

This was in January and people happily braved the chilly air to get some sunshine. Feels a bit like Copenhagen here.

Lots of good Arabic, Indian, Persian, Mongolian, Pakistani food around here.

Hi, TT! So funny that we have the same initials. Was that something you planned? Like did you change your name to an equally odd name of four letters starting with a T, and a surname that sounds just like mine, just to trap me, before you contacted me on Instagram last summer?

- Haha, no I wish I was that clever. Would it have helped? No I was luckily born with those names.

- Interesting. You claim to be British but your names doesn't sound very English at all.

- Well, what is it to be British? I'm of Celtic, Anglo and West African descent. Am named after my West African grandfather.

- I loved meeting your big eclectic family a few weeks after our first meeting. You brought me to the most beautiful British/Nigerian wedding. So how are you? How's the new life in Sweden?

- Feels like it's exactly where I'm meant to be. Our family is my home. And Sweden is a beautiful place. But wherever we are, is home.

- So a life in London compared to the quiet countryside of Sweden, that's quite a difference in lifestyle?

- Life in London for me, is often keeping pace with the environment. So people spend the majority of their time keeping up rather than living. And although yes people may be very expressive and independent, it's easy to lose yourself. For me, nature and an open space has always been important in my life. And has now become the perfect place to find solitude and plan our life. Also where we live now, allows us to build the kind of life we both believe in.

- We do our best to live sustainably and we talk much about sustainability. About living the changes we want to see in this world. What do you think the world needs most right now?

- The thing the world needs most now and always, is for individuals to take more responsibility and lead by example. Whether that's the things they eat, the things they choose to consume, and the amount of things that are wasted. Everybody's impact matters.

- You work with technology. How do you see technology being helpful in generating more positive change?

- I see a change coming in the motivation of technology businesses from profit driven to purpose driven ways of thinking. Technology is a powerful tool that is currently misused but can be used to create the kind of world we want, based on principles that better benefit people.

- What do you look forward to most this year?

- The birth of our child! Of course. Then us travelling together, showing the world to her or him.

- I agree! Guess that was all for today. Thanks TT!

Continued this culinary day to our neighbourhood burger bar, Casual Street Food, which does real good vegan and vegetarian burgers and the meat in their meat burgers comes from local small farms with grass fed cows.

A couple of obligatory bathroom selfies.

And that was probably the last shots from our time in Malmö. Thank you Malmö for a good winter!

Antioxidant rich granola

A good way to get some life boosting antioxidants/polyphenols into your every day life is to make up a batch of granola and fill it with all the good stuff. Granola gives such a good opportunity to mix up the best of seeds, spices and grains into a real powerful superfood. And it adds such wonderful texture to your porridge or yoghurt or why not top a fruit salad or ice cream with it. Of course eating a handful of it as snacks works super well too...

I used oats and crushed buckwheat as the base, blended it into a bowl. Added to that some amaranth seeds, pumpkin seeds, small chunks of hazelnut, shelled sunflower seeds, shredded coconut and a lil bit of sea salt because I think the salt always cuts the flavour nicely.

For the liquid part I used coconut oil, apple puree and tinned mango. Easiest is to just do coconut oil and apple pure but I had an opened can of mango so that went in there, + I didn't have any dates at home that day so mango had to stand in as a sweetener this time. You could replace the apple pure with honey if you like. Then the dates won't be as needed.

I started with warming these three liquids in a sauce pan. Then grated around a tbsp ginger into it. Once all nicely warm, I turn this liquid mixture into the bowl with the grains and seeds. As for flavour and for the good antioxidants, I added ground star anise, ground clove and raw cacao powder.

Once all grains and seeds are well covered in spices, cacao and the liquid stuff, I pour the mixture onto a parchment paper clad pan and roast in the oven at 180 C / 350 F for around 35-40 minutes. Tossing them around a bit every 15 minutes or so. Bake on two pans if it gets too crowded.

When the granola is done and has cooled down, you could also add in dried blueberries or chunks of raw chocolate - to give an even greater density of antioxidants.

Very delicious on your favourite yoghurt. There are good yoghurt's made with coconut or oat base if you like to do it vegan. If your body is ok with dairy from time to time, then organic Kefir is a good way to keep your gut healthy. It's such good source of probiotics. Kefir contains about 30 different strains of bacteria and yeast, which makes it a much more potent source of probiotics than other fermented dairy products, such as yoghurt. Just make sure it's organic please. It's hard to find organic kefir in Sweden I realised, so organic A-fil is another good probiotic option. Just another fermented milk product with a different name. Or try get hold on some coconut kefir, or make your own!

These are the ingredients for my granola:

2 cups of oats
1 cup of crushed or whole buckwheat
½ cup of amaranth seeds
½ cup of sunflower seeds
½ cup of pumpkin seeds
½ cup of hazelnut pieces
½ cup of shredded coconut
1 cup of pitted and chopped dates, or 1 cup of tinned mango, chop it down well into liquid
1 cup of apple puree/sauce
6 tablespoons of coconut oil
4 tablespoons of raw cacao powder
a piece of ginger
½ tsp ground star anise
1 tsp ground clove
½ tsp crushed sea salt

Follow the instructions above. Keep chilled and dried granola in an airtight container.

You could basically add in any seeds, grains, spices and sweeteners as you like. Check out this chart again to see what superfoods has got most antioxidants to make it as healthy and good for you as possible.

Granola is endlessly customizable, from the quality of the ingredients you use, to how sweet/nutritious it is, and of course how it's flavoured. The only thing you need to remember is this: use approx. 6 parts dry to 1 part wet.

Lessons of nature

Yesterday was one of those mild early spring days where you are convinced that yea! spring is finally here! (for the fifth time this year). But then you study the upcoming forecast and realise that it actually will snow again in just a few days. And night temperatures are remaining at around 0 degrees C, dipping to those below, for at least a week.

It's end of April and during most days it feels like end of January. The buds are bravely popping out from the various branches with the encouragement of the little sunshine it gets in between rain, storm and snow. But no leaves yet, not much is blooming.

It reminds me of that winter, the only winter I've ever lived on a sail boat in a northern country (Boston, USA), when it was like -20 C all the way until March. Slept with four sweaters, base layers, wool socks and hats, and woke up to see my own breath from underneath the many blankets. There was hope in that, too. Frustration would have never helped make it better.

You can't do much more with the weather than hope for the best. One of those things we can't be in control of. And isn't there beauty in that? One of the only few things we have left that we can't specifically take command over. The same way we can't control the outcomes of a childbirth. It's nature's few tricks that it still has on us. Believing and trusting more in the natural power of nature than the destructive nature of humanity, it somehow makes me happy to think that she, mother nature, has still got this. We have not yet been able to destroy her completely. I'll take a longer winter anytime for the sake of still being able to appreciate the whims and spontaneity of her power.

This majestic ash. I can't not marvel at the detail similarity it (and many other trees) has to the shape of our lungs, the organ which we need to be able to breathe. And the placenta that we all needed as a connector in between our mothers and ourselves in order to be born into this world. Just in the same manner we need the trees and the plants for our oxygen today. They keep us alive. Life on earth could not exist, if there were no trees. The same way a baby can't be born into this world without her connection to her mother through the placenta. We need each other. The trees are our lungs.

Wonder if more people accepted and truly appreciated this, would they then stop wasting time and resources, and begin to do more to help the world become more sustainable? As it is for the moment, we are collectively working in the opposite and wrong direction. If we continue this way, there won't be a world to live in for our children's children. Unless you rely on moving to another planet. It is at the disconnection people have with themselves, that the global disconnection and destruction begins. Everyone can do something. Each one of us can do more.

The estate that our landlord owns. We live in the red house to the second left and there's an old storage barn to the very left of our house. Our lovely rock shower room and sauna is in the third house from the right. It's a refreshing 1 minute walk there in the cold evenings, with only towels on. Makes you feel alive and truly appreciate the heat of warm water. And the warmth you create by the natural act of burning wood.

The big old barn on the far right, which back in the days housed cows and horses, is facing a long organic field facing South, where we are going to transplant our seedlings as soon as the weather gets a bit steadier. They're growing strong indoors for the time being.

I grew up in the countryside that looked just like this. I rode an old Push Dakota to my football (soccer) training two times a week, and rode my neighbours horses in the weekends. We had dogs, cats, aquarium fishes and Japanese dance mice and I spent lots of time in the forest building huts out of wood and branches with my friends. Somewhere somehow by never truly feeling at home in the adopted foster family situation, I lost connection to the simplicity of that sort of countryside life when I began searching for myself through the big cities of the world.

The five or so years of sailing and travelling the oceans of the world got me slowly back to it. Made me properly begin appreciating the beauty of nature again. Despite the challenges it meant to not growing up with my biological parents, I am endlessly grateful for the place and environment in which I lived during those important developing years of 8-16. The nature, the quietness and simplicity of that time have had a much stronger and more important impact on my life and being than what I previously acknowledged.

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A dream life situation would be to give my child the spaciousness and naturalness of living this connected to nature, in combination with exploring the rest of the world. Which is why a small house in the Swedish countryside infused with forest, horses, home grown food + a set of jobs that allow us to freely roam the world, is the best possible situation we can think of for the coming years.

Looking for good, inspiring people

pacific ocean moana conscious living

I watched Moana, the Disney movie the other day. Such a wonderful story of freedom, adventure and following your life's purpose despite the usual challenges. And beautiful to see a female lead character being as powerful and strong minded, and in no need of romance to fulfil her greatest dreams.

The movie also got me very inspired for our upcoming winter trip to Asia and hopefully even further out into the islands of the Pacific Ocean. Rainforests, turquoise waters, wildlife, lush green mountains and valleys, delicious tropical fruits... cannot wait to continue exploring the natural beauty of this magical planet. Get deeper into the real world. Meeting with good people living simple lives. The experiences that give richness to life.

Btw I wanted to ask you something: for a little project I'm doing, I'm looking for people and companies who do really good smart things. People who are inspiring in some ways as they are following their dreams, while at the same time being helpful/inspiring to others. Or a brand or product that is made ethically & consciously and which adds real and honest value to people's lives.

Do you know anyone or a thing/brand that match that description? Please send them this or comment here with links. Very grateful for your help! 💙

(photo from the Marquesas islands, a dream destination of mine, pic found on google)

The book of life

I will begin to share pieces and passages from books that I've enjoyed reading, hopefully giving you as much inspiration as they have done for me.

This one is from "The Book of Life" by sage, philosopher and thinker Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895-1986) whose life and teachings spanned the greater part of the 20th Century, and who is regarded by many as someone who has had the most profound impact on human consciousness in modern times.

Not connected to any organized religions and actively denying his role as a guru, he worked tirelessly on his greatest mission until his death at age 91: to set man absolutely and unconditionally free.

"We seek happiness through things, through relationship, through thoughts, ideas. So things, relationship, and ideas become all-important and not happiness. When we seek happiness through something, then the thing becomes of greater value than happiness itself. When stated in this manner, the problem sounds simple and it is simple.

We seek happiness in property, in family, in name; then property, family, idea become all-important, for then happiness is sought through a means, and then the means destroys the end. Can happiness be found through any means, through anything made by the hand or by the mind? Things, relationship, and ideas are so transparently impermanent, we are ever made unhappy by them.

Things are impermanent, they wear out and are lost; relationship is constant friction and death awaits; ideas and beliefs have no stability, no permanency. We seek happiness in them and yet do not realize their impermanence. So sorrow becomes our constant companion and overcoming it our problem.

To find out the true meaning of happiness, we must explore the river of self-knowledge. Self-knowledge is not an end in itself. Is there a source to a stream? Every drop of water from the beginning to the end makes the river. To imagine that we will find happiness at the source is to be mistaken. It is to be found where you are on the river of self-knowledge."

Krishnamurti's teachings are often very simple, some may find them too simplistic. But just like one reviewer of one of his books on amazon put it: "In the beginning it appears to be difficult to understand but it is important to realize that it is the mind that is complex, not Krishnamurti. He is extraordinarily simple so if our minds are unable to grasp these writings it is because of the deep conditioning that we are exposed to constantly throughout our lives."

Toxins and blueberries

Let me sneak in a blueberry pie recipe in between diary stories, because we all need a piece of blueberry pie from time to time.

Blueberries are some of the most nutrient rich foods you can get your hands on. Such a good source of fibre, minerals and vitamins. In addition to all that, they have one of the highest antioxidant capacities among all fruits, vegetables, spices and herbs. Let me explain a bit before we jump onto the pie...

Antioxidants are as you may know, real important molecules that help protect your body from the everyday cellular oxidation process, and the stress the body is exposed to from all the chemicals and toxins that we are surrounded by, and which many of us ingest, on a daily basis.

Chemicals and toxins come from pesticides, herbicides and fungicides that are sprayed on most of the non-organic fruit, vegetables, berries, coffee, tea, nuts that you buy and eat. It has been sprayed on the cotton that your clothes, bed sheets, your tampons and your baby's diapers are made of. Chemicals are found in the plastic of water/soda bottles and in the plastic containers that you use for food. There's a lot of it in beauty products. In air pollution. Tobacco and cigarette smoke. Alcohol. Electrical gadgets. Yes, pretty much everywhere around you, there are chemicals and toxins that create particles in our bodies known as free radicals.

To put it simply this time (will get more in depth with it in another post), our bodies generate free radicals by itself all the time. It is part of a chemical process called oxidation that happens on the cellular level, which essentially and slowly breaks our body down. We are ageing, we are not going to be forever. This is part of the biological process that unfortunately has to happen to mortal human beings (and animals).

But what we can do to slow the process down a bit, is to choose wisely what sort of foods we eat, what sort of products we buy, what kind of water we drink and what environments we choose to live in.

Toxic foods and materials speed up the oxidation process that breaks our bodies down. Food and herbs that are high in anti-oxidants, helps your body to slow the process.

So what can you do to help yourself? Not relying on your water intake to come from plastic bottles, is a given. Not splattering your face and body with creams, lotions and make-up that are made with laboratorial manufactured chemicals when there are natural options, is another. Choosing organic food before non-organic. Organically certified diapers for your baby. Whole foods instead of fast foods.

How quickly that jolly blueberry pie post turned into something depressing... sorry about that. But it's important to know what you can do to avoid as much harm as possible, by natural means. Because we can get more in charge of our health and well being. Once we realise that we have a better choice. Many choices.

So to thread back to the original star of this post, the blueberry, and why it is so good for us: So the skin of blueberries are made of polyphenols, which has a powerful anti-oxidative effect and which also is antimicrobial. Being antimicrobial means that the compound (polyphenol) has the ability to kill bacteria and effectively combat free radicals.

In 2013 there was a great study done at the University of Barcelona on polyphenols, which showed that there was a 30% reduction in mortality in older adults who had rich-polyphenol diets (>650 mg/day) in comparison to the participants who had low-polyphenol intakes (<500 mg/day). You can read more about that research here. And some more info here.

So my advice of the day to you is, stay away from harmful foods and materials and definitely eat more blueberries. Just a tip, the low-bush blueberries have higher polyphenol content than the high-bush ones.

Polyphenols can of course be found in many more foods, plant foods that is. Highest concentration just above blueberries, are in cloves, dried peppermint, star anise, raw cocoa powder, Mexican oregano, celery seeds, dark raw chocolate, flaxseed, black chokeberry, chestnut, common sage, blackcurrants, capers, black olives, dried rosemary, spearmint and thyme (hello Mediterranean diet!). If you can incorporate a little more of some or most of these into your daily life, you are doing your body a huge favour. It goes without saying that they should all be natural and organic and not covered in pesticides. The pesticides kind of defeats the purpose? Check out this chart for all the polyphneol rich foods.

I feel this biology lesson became way longer than intended. But if you've made it this far, here's a recipe for a crazy delicious blueberry pie 💜

Filling:

  • 500 grams of blueberries
  • 0,75 dl sugar (coconut sugar, date sugar or palm sugar works real good)
  • 1 tsp vanilla sugar or vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp potato flour

Batter:

  • 150 grams of butter or vegan butter
  • 0,5 dl syryp (agave works good)
  • 1 dl cream (I use oat cream from Oatly)
  • 2 dl flour of your preference, oat flour works great
  • 2,5 dl oats
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 dl sugar, again, whichever you prefer
  • 0,5 tsp salt

Serve with:

  • Vanilla ice cream, I choose Oatly's again cause I'm addicted like that

Put your oven on 175C/350F degrees. Pour the blueberries into a buttered pie pan. Pour over the sugar, vanilla and potato flour. Mix well so all the berries are covered.

Melt the butter. Add syrup and cream in here. Whisk it nicely and remove from heat. Pour into bowl together with flour, oats, baking powder, sugar and salt and mix to a nice and even batter.

Pour this mixture on top of the blueberries and place in the centre of oven for about 20-25 minutes. Should have gotten a nice brownish golden colour.

Serve warm with your preferred accompaniment and be grateful for all the good that can be found in nature.

Miami 🚚 Boston ✈️ Stockholm

Continuing reminiscing about my move from the US back to Europe in the end of 2015...

I packed up my little studio and drove up the East coast yet again. My things would have to stay in Boston at my friend Michael's place until I knew exactly where I would be soon living. Paros island in Greece was to where I was heading, but I still had no contract with a house. Needed to check things out and confirm all the details. Driving through a rainy New York City on the pic to the right.

I got to experience one more classic American Christmas with my Massachusetts family. Beautiful Scituate.

Boston was beautifully in bloom that december?

And just like that, a few days later, I was back in Europe. On the streets of a cold but colourful Stockholm. It had been a couple years since I last been home to Sweden so it was quite magical to hang out with loved ones for a few days before my new adventure.

Beautiful Stockholm. I grew up in Gothenburg on the other coast but lived in Stockholm for almost a year, ten years ago. My dark haired friend Fanny whom I consider one of my oldest (and closest) friends although we've only known each other for maybe 15 years, is writing her PhD thesis, while teaching soon to become teachers about equality, social relations in school and other life important things at Stockholm University.

Jenny, with the bubbly happy baby boy has just launched a beautiful organic baby clothes brand called Palett Stockholm. You can find amazingly cute good quality pieces for your baby here. All the clothes are made of either certified organic cotton or recycled materials and they're hand printed with environmentally friendly paint.

I stayed in Stockholm over the New Year and later dove over to Malmö for a quick visit to see my friend Amanda and her family before I flew over to Greece. Who would have thought that just a year later, I would move right here and swim in that cold bath house behind them, only pregnant this time... think I may have to blame all my baby mama friends and their adorable children for brainwashing me :D

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