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January is the perfect time to talk about superfoods. After indulging at Christmas, all the supermarkets and companies that sell supplements and superfoods have all sort of offers. It might be trendy this month, but I’m not taking part in that trend. I say I’m not because I love trying out new foods all year round, and that applies to superfoods too.

It might sound strange, but some of the superfoods pouches you see in the next picture were given to me as a Christmas present. My husband saw things I haven’t tried before, so he got them for me. I was so happy to see them. In 2015 I’ve started a challenge in June called “Colourful Smoothie Challenge”, see here. I failed to do it. Next June, in 2016, I’ve tried it again and kept doing it after the 30 days were off, with a slight modification: smoothie or soup. Last year I’ve talked about 1 year of daily smoothies. I still go on with it, even when I go on holidays.

Because I had so many smoothies, adding superfoods is an easy way to keep them as diversified as possible. For each smoothie, I add at least two superfoods.

Superfoods. Packs and jars of superfoods

These are the ones I have at the moment. I would also use from other brands, and other types. I’m going to say a few words about each super food I’m using now or I’ve used in the past.

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Vegetarian Christmas Ideas

I’ve been a vegetarian for almost 10 years, and I know how puzzling can be for others to cater for a vegetarian. So, I’ve made a short list of Vegetarian Christmas Ideas, if you are struggling with what to do for your veggie guests. All the recipes I talk about are on my food blog CookStyle. I’ve talked about my menus for Christmas 2016 and Christmas 2015.

Vegetarian Christmas Meal Ideas. Collage of 9 dishes

There are 9 meal ideas. Some can be made as a starter or as a main. Besides all these savoury ideas, most vegetarians (if not all) like a good dessert too. Most desserts are vegetarian anyway. The ones that aren’t use red food colouring and/or gelatin. There are options when it comes to both colouring and gelatin. If you are buying have a look on the package to see if it’s suitable.

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Make Your Own Advent Calendar

Last year I had an advent calendar for the first time. It was a fun thing we got with a different type of tea each day. So, this year, I’ve decided I wanted to make my advent calendar. As I loved the idea and how it turned out, I thought it’s best to share how I’ve made it, so you can make your own advent calendar too.

Make Your Own Advent Calendar

I had a different idea to start with, but I had to change it, and made it easier too. I think even if you already have a calendar prepared, making another one, for the whole family will be worth the effort. You don’t even have to be very crafty to make your own advent calendar.

Sheets with foods, drinks, cards, clips, and string

This is what I used to make the calendar. As you can see, I made three sheets with different activities, foods, and drinks. There are 24 “tasks” on each sheet. I also used cute green paper clips and a shop bought bunting set. As I said, I planned to use some pouches, but the numbers I had would not stick to those. So, I made my life easier by getting a cheap bunting set from a local supermarket. The bunting can be made with colourful cardboard, cut in shapes, by hand or with a big puncher.

What you can’t see in the pictures are the numbers, scissors, cutting mat and cutter.

To make the tasks, I’ve used an excel worksheet. There are three types of tasks (I have no idea how to call them otherwise, so bear with me): food, drink, and activities.
For food, I picked: Chocolate, Mince pie, Biscuit, Truffles, and Cupcakes.
When it comes to drinks, I forgot mulled wine, so this might be a nudge to make when I fancy. On the sheet, I had: Christmas cocktail, Hot chocolate, and Winter tea. I made only 12 for drinks and the other 12 were Christmas music and Sing carols (more like listening, though).
The last are the activities. I picked games I had at home, like: Timeline, Staccups, Domino, Monopoly, Dobble, Scrabble, Poker, Rummy, and Jenga. I linked to the games I’ve blogged about before.

I’ve decorated the paper cards with royalty free Christmas clip art I found online. All three are reindeer because they look fun. If you don’t have a printer, you can write the paper cards by hand.

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Autumnal recipes

I thought I should make a compilation of Autumnal recipes to share with my readers and also to have as a reference when I lack inspiration. I made all these recipes myself and all the recipes are available on CookStyle.
The recipes include lots of pumpkins, squash, and other vegetables that are in season. I made four collages with ideas for starters, soups, mains, and jams. Like most of my recipes, these will not take long to make, with one exception. I’m going to talk about that exception shortly.

Autumnal recipes: Starters. Two bowls

Autumnal recipes: Starters

For starters I chose Zacusca and Carrot Houmous. It’s unlikely you’ve heard of Zacusca before. It’s a Romanian traditional dish that is prepared in September-October for winter. My version is lighter, with less oil. It’s time consuming, especially if you are making it from scratch. It involves roasting the aubergines and that takes a long time, roasting peppers, then cooking. I took a shortcut and I bought roasted peppers and aubergine pulp from the International shop. The fun part is that the aubergines are Turkish and the peppers Bulgarian… to make a very traditional Romanian dish. There are pictures of the jars in the recipe, if you fancy giving it a try and using the shortcuts.

For the second starter I picked Carrot homous. It is very easy to make. In my recipe I used dried chickpeas that I soaked and boiled. There are instruction on how to make that easier and faster, but, if you don’t want to be bothered with this, use canned chickpeas. The recipe is vegan and healthy. I served it with roasted sunflower seeds and olives in oil with herbs.

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What’s cooking

It’s been a while since I’ve made an What’s Cooking roundup. I talked in July about my weekly shopping, but I didn’t share any recipes. So, today I’m going to talk about the last things I’ve cooked. This week I’ve been invited to the Chef Challenge at Shoryu Ramen in Manchester and I made my own Japanese bun. It was so exciting that I plan to get a steamer and make my own buns.

Besides the recipes with pictures, I baked bread a few times, I’ve made pizza using the same dough as the one for the Thick Danish Pancakes and it was delicious. I made basic houmous too, lots of smoothies. A few days ago I’ve made a cottage pie with a huge marrow (it weighted 1.6 kg), I’ve used a can of baked beans and lots of spices, on top I put mash potatoes. It was almost vegan, but I’ve added leftover cream to the potatoes (so I don’t waste the unused cream). Next time I’m making it vegan.


From top left: Vegan Ramen, Carrot houmous, Orange and Strawberries Cake, Upsidedown Pear Cake with Port, Deviled Eggs and Danish Thick Pancakes.

I love Ramen, but I’m not making it as often as I want. This week I had it twice though. I tried carrot houmous after seeing the idea in a TV show with Michel Roux Jr. called Hidden Restaurants. The cake was made for a special occassion and this time I’ve used  a whole orange, boiled. The cake turned out delicious. So did the Pear cake. The last two recipes are for stuffed eggs, something both my husband and I enjoy a lot and it reminds us of our childhood, and danish pancakes. I think everybody should try those pancakes, they are so different to make, the recipe is quite unique.

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Weekly Shopping

I saw a blog post written by Dana about her weekly shopping and I’ve decided to write a similar post, as an alternative to “What’s cooking”. It was an interesting experiment for me too as we don’t usually buy everything we need for a week in one day. As we eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, we have to go shopping quite often.
I think we spent a little more this week as I bought vanilla paste, chocolate spread, snacks and honey and I don’t buy those weekly. Those would add up to a bit over £10, so we might be in the average spend category.

01 Weekly Shopping

This was our main shop with another couple of small top-ups. Some of the things in here will last for more than 1 week and some are not on our usual shopping list, more of an impulse purchase. The total for this is £54, considering the top-ups, it got to approximately £65 per week for 2 adults. I obviously didn’t include any alcohol and the dog’s food is not included either. That is higher comparing to the £52.20 an average household spends on food on a week (average household has 2.4 people, so the spend should be under £50 for 2 to get close to the average). I took the information from ONS, if you want to have a look.

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Greener Cleaner Products review and giveaway

I like Eco-friendly products, it’s better for the environment and for us too, as it means we are living in a greener world. I was excited to receive this bundle from Greener Cleaner Products for review and to host a giveaway, so one of my readers would have the chance of winning a bundle.

For me, cutting down waste is important, regardless if it’s food waste or anything else. I am washing and removing the labels of glass and plastic jars, so I can reuse them again and again, prolonging their lives with a couple of years, even more when it comes to plastic. So, I’m obviously delighted to see that more things can be done with plastic stuff after they’re no longer needed.

Greener Cleaner Products review and giveaway

These products are 100% made with wood pulp and recycled plastic using Eco-Flex, a patented technology. I think it’s wonderful, a good way to use plastic which leads to a reduction in waste and in what goes into the landfill. By using ready made plastic, there isn’t the need to use fresh raw materials. Also, according to their website, less energy and water are needed, hence there is a reduction in pollution from incineration. The products are made with sustainable wood and recycled Polypropylene.

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