How to get your healthy greens?
Mix spirulina into your smoothie once in a while – for some awesome health benefits! Spirulina is nowadays hyped as THE superfood – but why?
So, let´s take a closer look at the research
Spirulina is a microalgae, mostly sold as a powder.
Per gram it has the most variety of nutrients than any other food in the world. Research shows that
- Spirulina has 3900% more beta carotene than carrots
- Spirulina has 2300% more iron than spinach
- Spirulina has 375% more protein than tofu
- Three grams of Spirulina have more antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity than five servings of vegetables
- Comparing phytonutrient levels, Spirulina is 31 times more potent than blueberries, 60 times more potent than spinach and 700 times more potent than apples*
So, with these benefits in mind, let´s get into our healthy smoothie, shall we?
Ingredients (for 2 big smoothie bowls)
- 2 Bananas
- ½ Pineapple
- 1 apple
- 6 leaves of spinach
- ½ cucumber
- ½ avocado
- 200 ml soy milk
- 2 teaspoons of spirulina powder (find more info where to get it from at the end of my post!)
- 1 Tablespoon of hemp seeds
- 1 Tablespoon of chia seeds
- 1 Tablespoon of flax seeds
- A handful of raisins
- Soy yoghurt
- ½ banana
- Hemp seeds
I love spirulina as it has so many health benefits and gets me to develop new awesome smoothie recipes nearly every day. I love to drink this one after my work out to get a real energy boost after sweating in the gym for 2 hours. This spirulina smoothie gets you a lot of your healthy greens as well as some sweetness with the soy yoghurt and the bananas on top.
The smoothie is pretty self-explanatory. Put all the ingredients listed above in your blender. I would suggest blending the bananas, pineapple, apple and cucumber first as they usually take some time to process. Add the soymilk to blend everything smoothly together. Then add all your other ingredients and blend them up one more time! Soon you´ll have your delicious green spirulina smoothie you can then transfer into a bowl now.
For the toppings, slice up some dates up and mix them into your soy yoghurt. Dates are an awesome alternative to sugar when it comes to adding a bit of sweetness to your food. In this case, the sweet yoghurt was the perfect combination to my green smoothie bowl. Add some cinnamon to taste into your yoghurt as well to round it all up. Then you can assemble the bowl the way you see it below! Top it with your yoghurt, the banana, walnuts and a sprinkle of hemp seeds.
Now you´re ready to go! Enjoy, after a work-out, as breakfast or just in between – this smoothie will keep you energized for a long time!
*Sources: The Medical Research of Spirulina: http://www.cyanotech.com/pdfs/spirulina/Spirulina_Abstracts.pdf
**I bought my spirulina at Ecocentre Supermercado Vegano in Barcelona https://www.ecocentre.cat/
***My spirulina was from el Granero integral https://www.elgranero.com/mejorar/propiedades-del-alga-spirulina/7
Interview with Britney from the USA
Which country would you consider to be your country?
My country is definitely the United States of America. I was born and raised there and even though I have travelled to many countries now I still feel unfairly the sense of nationality there, because it was just what I was brought up with and what I find to be normal. So, I would still choose the United States.
Was there a particular country you were impressed with along your travels?
I was impressed by man many countries. I found things impressive of everywhere I went almost. And I even wrote a cook book about it. So I wrote a cook book with kind of food cultures from all the different places. I love the food culture in Italy for example and I love the food culture in Denmark also. And in Spain as well. So I am very impressed by other countries and I think the one that stands out the most would probably be Denmark. My boyfriend is from Denmark and I really like the values they have and the way they take care of their people. That´s something that I can´t say is true in my own country. So that´s disappointing.
How do you feel about people taking care of each other in America?
I feel like this is something that we need a lot of progress with. We don´t take care of each other we´re more interested in taking care of ourselves – and we don´t even do that well, so in that sense it´s very problematic. There is a huge separation between rich and poor. And unfortunately a lot of people are suffering from this. But on the contrary there is just this really overwhelming feeling of aspiring for success that I don´t find in a lot of other countries – and when I do find it they are often inspired by Americans. So I like that desire to dream and to hope for more. Versus in Denmark they don´t hope for more they are happy about what they have. So there´s something beautiful about both of those things.
Could you tell me a general misconception people have about the United States?
Yeah, there´s many. We´re all fat, we all have guns and…let´s see. Fat and guns, those are my favorite ones I guess.
So, why is it not true?
It probably is true in some parts in the United States. What´s funny is that – the United States are really big. Almost as big as Europe. There´s so many States and every State has their own culture. I´m from California and our own culture I really strong. We actually have a very healthy culture so I don´t think we are the fattest state, not even close. We´re the state that like salad and avocado and oranges. And we´re the state that doesn´t do a lot of guns. I have never seen a gun in my life. So as an American that says something right.
Which would be the State where these prejudices fit better would you say?
Probably Texas, I think, is top of both of these things. I´ve never really spent time in Texas I guess I´ve been there but I was very young. But I hear in Texas they have a lot of fat people and a lot of guns and a lot of this old mentality this old cowboy masculinity mentality. And fortunately I think it´s dying out. There are even parts of Texas now that are seen being healthy as California. These major cities. Austin is having lots of Yoga studios and you wouldn’t think of Texas being like this but I think the new generation is bringing a lot of mindful things into the culture.
What´s the general reaction of people when you say “Hey, I´m from America”?
Well, my Danish boyfriend has thought me not to say that I´m from America and to say that I´m from Las Angeles, because their minds goes to something more positive like movies and the beach versus America which could be anywhere. But no, when I say my name and I say I´m from America they usually make some joke about Britney Spears. My name´s Britney so – oh Britney Spears from America. And I did live in Hollywood and I did work in cinema so there´s some truth to it. And I´m proud of that. But yeah when I say I´ve never seen a gun or I´ve never been to Texas or I´ve actually never been to most of the States it obviously shows that there isn´t one culture. There´s a lot of cultures.
Do you think people travel a lot in the United States?
I think they don´t travel a lot and I think it´s not a choice. I think that I mean I know that even growing up in California in a very liberal State, in school they teach you America is the best country, America is the biggest, America is the best and they never say you don´t need to travel or one thing. But some people would go to travel assuming that America is the best and then if they found out that America wasn’t the best that would shatter their world view a little bit. So maybe they don´t want to travel subconsciously. I know that Americans don´t travel enough because most of them don´t have their passport. That is very odd, I know, to a lot of European people. Yeah, my dad doesn´t have his passport. My family got their passport when I started travelling so they could visit me. But I was the first in my family, besides my grandmother, to have a passport. And people don´t even know how to get their passport. It´s actually quite difficult. You have to go to many many different offices. And it´s quite expensive the first time you do it. Of course it lasts ten years – but if you only going to use it once then maybe people don´t find the value in it. You can even go to Mexico without a passport. So if you´re just going there then you don´t need it either. You can go on a lot of cruise ships without a passport. Anyways, no, Americans don´t travel that often. And maybe they find travel within the States themselves. Which I don´t think is the right thing to do.
So do you think Americans don´t get their passport because they don´t want to travel?
There´s also this thing in the culture where you´re supposed to go to school and work really hard and get a good job so that some day later in life you can travel. And they don´t embrace this culture of travelling before university or after university. They don´t have this gap year. It´s becoming more and more popular and studying abroad is also becoming more popular, but when I started travelling my parents were really concerned. They were like “You don´t have money to travel, you need to focus on school, you need to focus on work.” And I thought no, I have it backwards, I´m travelling because I can now and when I do focus on work then I won´t be able to travel anymore. And then I kind of never stopped travelling.
Do you want to keep on travelling or do you want to settle down in the United States eventually?
That´s a difficult question for me now. Because, right now I´m 24 and I think I would like to keep travelling for the next few years and I will think about settling down maybe when I have some children. But really, until my children start school I don´t think I want to settle down, I think I want to keep moving around and keep experiencing new places, because I can. When they get to school then it´s a little bit more difficult. My boyfriend is not so fond of the United States for living. He´s lived there with me for a few months at a time and he brought to my attention how much time we spend in our cars. So, when I became aware of then I realized I don´t want to spend years of my life like that either. And it´s years of your life when you add it up.
So, Americans really spend a lot of times in their cars?
Yeah, well let´s say as much time as you spend in your car you spend on a bike. But on a bike it more healthy and more happy and a different kind of attitude. Maybe it´s even more time than you spend on a bike because of traffic. But living in Las Angeles, yeah easily two hours per day in a car and some overtime.
What would you say would be the biggest difference between the United States and Europe?
It probably is this car thing. I mean the cities in America are not built for walking, they are built for cars. I don´t know a city, besides Manhattan, New York, where you can go straight from your house to a restaurant without thinking how am I going to get there? What taxi or uber do I have to call? In California it´s like this: even if you want to walk somewhere it´s still seen as a negative thing. Even if you can it would be better to take an uber five minutes down the street. It´s just a weird culture thing. The public transport system is not very efficient, the cities just aren´t built for walking, they are built for cars. There´s also a consumerist agenda there to get everybody to buy a car and it´s worked very well. Everybody I know has a car and some have more than one. So that´s true.
So, can you go for a walk in the United States for example, or do people don´t like to do that?
People also don´t typically go for walks. Even if they could run to the gym they would drive there to run on a treadmill. That´s a funny thing. If they want to go for a hike they won´t hike to the mountain to hike the mountain. And it saves you time of course. And it´s just they way the cities are built and the way people think. I would love to see a city in the United States being built not to deal with cars. To be built to deal with bikes or electric scooters. And I think it would be a lot more efficient. You could get so much more in such small space.
Can you think about any prejudices you would still like to clarify?
Yeah, I just feel like when I watch TV about things that are going on in my country, I don´t feel that´s me they are talking about. I don´t feel it´s my country or my people. I feel that the average American person is completely disconnected from everything you see on TV about America. Even Hollywood. I´m from Hollywood, but most people from America of course have nothing to do with America, most people from America have nothing to do with Washington DC and Trump and the president. And the views that you see reflected on the news about America do not reflect the people and that would definitely mean we are not a real democracy. We are trying to be, but we are not. It´s the one percent taking over everything.
Would you have some last thoughts you would like to add?
Yeah, Americans are trying to change things. They are trying to change themselves they are trying to change the word. There´s a lot of good things going on in America even energy wise like electrical cars and Tesla. They talk about more bad things on the news and these things.
This interview with Britney was really interesting. Even though you may think: “Oh, the United States, don´t we know so much about them already?” I guess you were surprised. There´s still a lot of things we don´t know about the United States. I, for example, do not know much about the different cultures in all the different states. And I bet few people do. But we still make up an image of the fat, gun obsessed white American who´s loud and proud and cheers to Trump. As we dept a bit further into it, I saw how diverse America is. I have friends from America, I already met a lot of people from there. But I never interviewed them, I never got to know their culture in such dept. So, even if we think we know a culture we can never rely on images presented on TV. We can never trust an image of a country when we have never taken a step into it. It´s quite hard to step into every single country of this earth, but there´s an easier way of getting to know each other. Talking, exchanging, broadening your mind. Never think you know it all. Like this interview showed me, you can never know it all for real.
Interested in more? Here´s a link two my latest two blog posts about Tunisia and Russia!
Sources: Images: Google Search
Ingredients (for 2 hungry people)
- 150g Seitan
- 1 Onions
- 150g Chickpeas
- 4 leaves Kale
- 1 Avocado
- 1 piece of red bets
- 2 Sweet potatoes
- BBQ Spice
- Hemp seeds
- 2 Table spoons of Soy Sauce
- 2 Table spoons of Soy milk
- 2 Table spoons Salsa
- 3 Table spoons of Chili sauce
I love Buddha Bowl, they taste sooo good and you can add as many different foods as you like. You can be creative you can create your own favorite version. I made a very protein rich buddha bowl with chickpeas and seitan, but also included some healthy greens with our kale. So, without further explanation, let´s get into cooking.
First of all, we are going to soak our chickpeas overnight. You can used canned ones if you like to skip this step, but I like to cook them as it gives them a fresher flavor. On the next day, put your chickpeas in a pot and cover them with water. Then boil them until they are nice and soft. Make a taste test every once in a while to get to your perfect softness.
Then, cut up your sweet potatoes. Don’t cut them all through, cut thin, vertical stripes into them, but leave the end untouched to hold it together – as you can see in the picture. Pop them into the oven at 200°C and bake them 35-40 minutes.
Now we can focus on the seitan. Slice up an onion into thin slices and let it roast in a pan for a few minutes. Once the onions are golden brown, you can add in your seitan. Slice it up into as tiny pieces as you like and add it to the onions. Then mix everything together and let the mixture roast for about 10 minutes. Add a table spoon of BBQ spice to it to enhance that nice grilled flavor, then remove it from the heat.
Next, we can go on with our kale. Slice the leaves into thin pieces, then put them into a pan. Cover them in a bit of water and steam the kale until it is soft. Add a pinch of salt and cilantro as well to spice it up, then take it away from the heat.
After that we can slice up our red bets. I like to buy fresh red bets as well as it is, again, healthier. However, you can used caned ones as well if you want to skip the next steps. Peal the skin of your red bets, slice them into small pieces. I like to cut them vertically first and then horizontally. Then add some water to a pot to cover your red bets. Boil them until they are nice and soft to add them to the bowl.
Last but not least we are going to peal our avocado. Cut it into small stripes and add it to the bowl as well!
For our bowl, we are done so far. But what would be a Buddha Bowl without sauce?
For the sauce, mix all of our ingredients listed above in a pot and bring it to a simmer. This helps the mixture to thicken and get a nice saucy texture.
Then we are ready to assemble! Line your food up on the side of your Buddha bowl and drizzle the sauce onto it. While eating you can mix everything together as well. Enjoy!
Interview with a girl from Tunisia
Which country do you consider to be your country?
Actually, I can´t respond to that directly because I consider both, Tunisia and Turkey, to be my countries. I was born in Tunisia, but I lived in Turkey for two years and I know their culture very well. People would even consider me Turkish. I know all their jokes, all their problems, everything. I really like the Turkish culture and I could consider it my own. If I can get a nationality one day I would really love to get the Turkish one. But I can´t deny that Tunisia is also my country because I was born there, because Tunisians are the people I understand the most. So, I would say that I´m half half.
Do you feel more at home in Turkey or in Tunisia?
Right now in Turkey, because I live there. I know the places where I can have fun at, a lot of my friends are in Turkey – even though I have a lot of friends in Tunisia. But when I go to Tunisia it feels a bit more touristic, because I go there just once a year and it´s for fun and going to the beach. I don´t really feel at home there even though I have my own room and that. So Turkey is definitely my new home now.
Would Turkey also be the country you choose to live in for good?
Yes. I really want to work there. Every day when I wake up in the morning I would just smile and say I´m really happy to be there, you know? Right now, I´m living in Barcelona and when I wake up in the morning I´m like shit I´m still here.
What do you especially like about Turkey?
So – everything actually. The thing I like most is the language, because the language is a very rich one. There are a lot of things I didn´t find in any other language. I speak almost five languages and in all those languages there is nothing as warm and as close to the heart as in the Turkish language. And everything is easy there. Transportation, living there, communication with people – I mean, I´m in love with the country, so I would only say good things about it, even though one euro right now is 70 Turkish lira, so – we´re poor here in Europe.
Where do you live in Turkey?
I live in Istanbul.
Have you already travelled around there?
Yes, every time I can, I try to travel around. I already visited 16 out to 81 cities. Which is not bad, but not even half of it. But Turkey is a really big country and 16 is already a big achievement for me, since I´ve lived there for 2 years and I´m studying at the same time. So, travelling is not really an option. But I try my best.
Could you tell me some general misconceptions people have about Turkey and Tunisia?
So first, I would start with Tunisia, because it´s the most obvious one. If I tell people I´m from Tunisia, they would think that we live in the desert and we don´t have any computers. When I went to Turkey people would look at me and ask “You have a computer? How did you get it?” And one day I was in the cafeteria of my university and people would ask me “Where did you learn how to use a fork and a knife?” And people sometimes ask, “Do you know how to ride a camel?” No – I don’t know how to ride a camel, we have cars and everything. It´s a normal country. But people always think that Africa is just about people riding camels and eating with their hands.
For Turkey, the thing I hear the most is that people always think that Turkish is the same as Arabic. So, as I am coming from an Arabic country they would think directly that I speak Turkish because it´s the same language. It´s not. Turkish is coming from Persian, Latin and Arabic, but it´s a mix of all the languages, so it´s a very rich one. If you only know Arabic, you wouldn´t understand anything in Turkish. What people also tend to think about Turkish people is that they are all Arabs. That´s not true. They are all mostly Muslims, but they are not Arabs, definitely not.
Where you also already confronted with prejudices about religion?
Yeah, of course. If you´re coming from Tunisia or from Turkey they would directly assume that you´re Muslim. No not necessarily, there is a lot of Jewish and Christian people in Tunisia, we even have an Island full of Jewish people, where there is no other religion. People from Jewish countries would come and visit it. It´s a very sacred place. And in Turkey everyone would consider that you are Muslim too. But there are a lot of atheist people as well that don´t really believe in good.
Do you think people would treat you differently if you would say you´re from Turkey or you´re from Tunisia?
It depends on which county I am in. If I’m in Turkey and if I say I´m Turkish in a shop they would be happier and the prices would be very different. But still, when I´m at university people know that I´m Tunisian. Here, it would be different because people would say: “Oh there´s a foreigner with us, but she speaks Turkish as a Turkish.” So they would be happier to have me there. Sometimes, being Tunisian has its advantages, sometimes being Turkish has it´s advantages. It always depends on the place. But there is one thing: When I´m in Turkey and I say I´m Turkish, everyone would believe it. But if I say I´m Turkish in Tunisia, no one would believe it. They know that I’m Tunisian from my face.
You´ve been living in Spain for a while now – what would you say is the biggest difference between Spain and Turkey and Spain and Tunisia?
The biggest difference is the value of entertainment here. Turkey is definitely a fun country, but no one would every pay 4 euros for a beer in Turkey – which would be 4 multiplied with 7 – so no one would ever pay that. But here people are like: “Ok, so let´s have fun, let´s pay all our money on beer.” Barcelona (since I´m living in Barcelona) is also really diverse city. We were sitting on the table before and everyone was from a different country. In Turkey that doesn’t happen that much. So I think in Spain, the biggest difference would be the diversity of people and how people just can have fun going to the beach. That doesn´t happen neither in Turkey nor in Tunisia. We would go to the beach once a month or twice a month. Here, it´s fun every day.
Before you said Turkey doesn´t attract that many foreigners – why do you think that is that way?
Actually it does. We have tourists everywhere. Only the Asian side of Istanbul – we don´t have that many tourists, because it´s more the Turkish people living there. But on the European side you have a lot of tourists. If you go there, everybody speaks Arabic or some other language. So, it attracts a lot of people, but most people are also afraid to go to Turkey, because they think there are a lot of terrorists, bombs and that. So they would be like: maybe let´s look for a safer destination.
What could you tell those people who are afraid of going to Turkey?
I think everywhere it´s dangerous. If you´re afraid of terror or whatever, it can happen to your country, it can happen basically everywhere. So, just visit the world. Its not about Turkey or about Tunisia, it´s not about any specific country. Just travelling around, discovering new cultures is amazing, so just travel.
As a last statement, would you like to clarify some prejudices you were already confronted with?
I really want people to go more to Africa. To go to Europe as the most wanted destination shouldn´t be a thing. Most countries look alike here. In Africa, most countries don´t look alike. If you want to compare Tunisia to Senegal or South Africa, it doesn´t have to do anything with those countries. So Africa is really a diverse continent. Each country is different. Ok let´s say north Africa pretty much looks alike, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco are pretty much the same, but the other ones are really different. And I really want people to discover different destinations. I mean people would like to go to France, but they would not go to Africa. But come on, in Tunisia we even speak English, we speak French we speak a lot of languages. So just travel, try to know different cultures except the popular ones. That would be my eternal thoughts and my advice to people.
This interview was particular interesting, as I had the amazing opportunity to interview this girl about two different cultures at the same time. It showed me once again that your nationality, your passport doesn´t entirely define who you are. You can choose your culture on your own. Your culture will be the one you feel at home. For me, that´s an amazing shift to people becoming citizens of the world, not only citizens of one single country. We can start getting to know different nationalities on a different level, embrace them until they become our own. Of course, it is hard to completely forget about nationality as we are brought up in a certain environment that has undeniable influence on us. But having a broader sense of what nationality means for you is a really beautiful message.
Sources of Images: Google
Ingredients (one hungry person)
- Whole wheat bread
- 1 Zucchini
- 1 Paprika
- 7 Champignons
This recipe is super easy, but so satisfying! If you crave a real sandwich with bread and lots of stuff inside, try out this one. It´s also a perfect lunch or little snack in between – depending on how big your bread will be.
Cut one zucchini in the middle, then cut off stripes of the lengths. The stripes should be around 3mm thick, so they get a nice roasted flavour afterwards. Then add some oil or vegan butter to a pan and roast your zucchini on both sides. Add salt and pepper on top before you flip them, then take them out and put them aside. Repeat the same thing with your paprika. Cut it in stripes and let it roast on both sides, adding salt and pepper. Then chop up your champignons, adding them to the pan. Here you don´t even need to add oil as mushrooms usually produce a lot of liquid themselves. Roast them until the liquid has evaporated, then add salt and pepper again.
Once you have roasted your veggies, you can start out toasting your bread gently on both sides. This is optional, but I really love my bread when it´s toasted. Then add a generous amount of hummus on both sides of the bread. You can also make your own hummus (recipe on how to do so is linked below). Then we´re ready to assemble! Put the zucchini on top of your hummus, then the paprika. Then close it up with the second half of your sandwich! And you´re good to go! Wrap it up and eat it on the go or as a really ,really satisfying lunch in your break at work everybody is going to be envious of.
Interview with a Russian Girl
Which country would you consider to be your country?
Well, I haven´t been to too many countries to define it, but I was born in Russia, yes. And I like my country, I like the culture, I like the people and many things that I remember from my childhood. But, to start with, I was born in Kazan which is situated in the middle of Russia, 800 kilometers away from Moscow. There we´ve got like all four seasons. And for example for me, it´s hard to bear the cold. I get brochities all the time, I start to cough and so on. So I´m not a huge fan of cold temperatures and frost. But my family, for example, they like it. For my mum it´s easier to do stuff in winter. She´s completely fine with winter. But she hates summer, because she can´t stand heat. Most of the summertime she spends in shade and in places that work with AC. For me it´s vice versa. So I would change four seasons for one. Summer by the beach with palms. But in Russia, we have places like this actually, we have beaches like in Krasnodar Region. But still they are not the center of Russia, not the capital. It´s just a few cities. But still, a lot of money should be put there to develop the region, especially after Crimea. After the Olympic games, the Sochi Games, a lot of people from Russia started to move there, so the prices also went up. But, coming back to the question about my country, I´m not sure yet. I still want to travel. I like to see different countries. I think I will probably be living in a place which is also quite international. With sea and palms and beach all year long and I could visit my family in winter. Here, in Barcelona I think people are lucky because it´s nice all year around. I´m impressed by Barcelona. But as for my country, I´m not sure yet.
So you think once you travel more that feeling of belonging to a country could change?
Maybe. It also depends on the people I meet. I mean I don´t know who will be my husband and stuff. So yeah, I mean I`ll still have to make a decision. For example, it was my dream to live in Cuba. Because I saw a picture of it and it was just so beautiful, the island and the sea. After that I wanted to go to Brazil. Like oh, yes, I will live in Brazil. Especially when I saw all these Carnival movies. Now I got to know Barcelona. But well, I definitely want to live somewhere with comfortable weather and nature. I really like sea and mountains. So probably something like this. But I´m not sure yet.
Coming back to Russia for a bit. Could you tell some general misconceptions people have about Russia you would like to clarify?
First, it definitely comes to drinking. Like Vodka. All people in the world have heard that before. And secondly, that it´s really cold. So, why is that not true? First, yes there is Vodka in Russia. But that doesn´t mean we drink it every Friday and Saturday. For example, me, my family and friends we don´t drink at all or we prefer wine. So I can´t say that Vodka is that popular just as a clear thing. Usually we do cocktails and a lot of people also keep fit, they do sports, they stick to their diet and don´t really drink at all. So it doesn´t mean that a lot of people, that all people in Russia drink. Although, according to the statistics yes. We are one of the most drinking countries in the world unfortunately. Yeah, but my family, my friends and my accountancies, they don´t drink at all or just for holidays. And secondly it´s very very cold. Yes, I already said it. But it depends on which region in Russia you mean, because Russia is quite big and for example in south regions it´s really really warm. And for example, in the middle of Russia it can get cold, especially around Christmastime. Christmas, but in the orthodox church which is around the 7th January. So, sometimes it is cold, but unless you go really far to the north it´s not unbearable. I myself am more exposed to cold probably. It was really hot in summer though. In Kazan we had 38 degrees in summer. And I remember that here in December it was raining and we got our snow closer to January. In winter it was -4°C and there were a few days with -25°C, but then it was – 4°C again. So pretty comfortable weather. Drizzling sometimes.
When it comes to Russia people have a lot of different opinions, especially about politics. Were you already confronted with some prejudices about Russian policy as well?
Yes, yes, oh politics, our society in Russia doesn´t love to talk about politics at all. I was born in 1996 and since that time I´ve just seen one president. It was Mr. Putin. He was just keeping his place for like 4 years and in Russia it´s also a really debatable thing, a lot of people are annoyed about it. It´s obvious that it´s not normal. And yes, a lot of people don´t support him. I don´t know which western views you have. But in Russia it´s split in half. Maybe 50% support him and 50% don´t. So, in this sense the political situation is sad.
Is it also hard to explain the situation to people from outside who have a different view than people in Russia?
Yes, yes it is, exactly. Every politician wants to show himself in a better light. But for sure in Russia they wouldn´t show something that would hurt his (Putins) reputation. I can understand a lot of people, because they were brought up by parents who were born after world war 2nd and they went through all the terrible things that happened in the Sovjet Union. And for sure if we compare the 90`s when you didn´t get your salary but you got food as your salary to afterwards, when Mr. Putin came to power and it all changed, for sure some things got better. I can´t deny that. But from that time, 18 years have already passed and we didn´t go that far from there. We made the relationship in our country even worse. So, it definitely should be changed, in my mind.
Do you think if there would be another president, the situation would change?
Well, the president is just one person. I don´t think one person can change everything. Even if you take Putin form the pole and another guy would take the office and that doesn’t mean the country would change. It´s the system, the approach, in general, how it goes in the country. Some laws should be changed, the whole structure. But it´s a big process that will take a long time.
Do you see yourself living in Russia in the future?
I think I could, because, for example, I’ve been to Moscow, I’ve been to Sant Petersburg, and in this two cities, they are really big. So there is a lot of possibilities for work and to have a career. But as I said I want to live somewhere warmer. And unfortunately these places are in the north. But St Petersburg is really nice. It was the cultural center of Russia, because it was the capital for many years, for several centuries. I´ve ben to the city and I know there are possibilities for people there.
Would there be anything else you would like people to know about Russia?
Well, I know most people know just know the two main cities like Moscow and St Petersburg. But there are a lot of places in Russia to get to know to see, to get to know the country further than just Moscow. If you really want to get an image of how it goes in Russia, if you want to see something apart from famous museums and fashionable places you should probably go somewhere further in Russia and visit cities what we call the gold ring. They also contain historical centers. You should go to the south of Russia to see how life is there. And go to Siberia, see the nature. I also want to see that myself one day. I also want to get out of the mega cites. In Russia there are living a lot of different nationalities in a lot of different parts in Russia. Russia is very big and a lot of people live there in different places, they have their own culture, their own language. Including my region. So, it´s much more diverse than just Moscow.
In this interview, I was talking to a girl from Kazan (situation stated in the map below) who wants to discover a lot of places before she settles down for her county. I, again learned a lot in this interview. It is fascinating, which imagine people who were brought up in a certain country, can provide of this country to an outsider. You can learn so much in just asking, talking, listening. That´s why I started this series which will go on for a while. We all need to listen and let someone talk sometimes.
Ingredients (for 2 hungry people)
- 3 cups of flour
- 1 cup of warm water
- BBQ spice
First I want to say this recipe is not meant to be a real Samosa. It was just the best translation I could find as I don’t know what to call it yet. Anyways, this stuffed dough rounds are delicious and the seitan inside gives them a nice, strong flavor. Filled with zucchini and paprika, this combination gets even better! You can also grab them as lunch and eat them on the go! So, let´s get into it!
To start out, mix your flour with 3 pinches of salt. Then add in one tablespoon of oil and one tablespoon of vinegar to it.Pour in your warm water. Be aware that it really needs to be warm, as the dough will not be sticking together that well and won´t be as easy to form using cold water. Mix everything together, then work the dough until you have a nice little dough ball. Transfer the ball onto a surface and work it with a rolling pin. Use some more flour underneath, to prevent the it from sticking to the surface. Then cut the dough in 10 x 10 cm pieces and fill them with our filling!
Chop up an onion and let it roast in a pan. Then chop up a block of seitan and add it to the onions. Afterwards, you can already add our BBQ spice as we want the seitan to absorb as much flavor as possible. Now we can cut our zucchini and paprika into tiny pieces and add them to the pan as well. Roast all of our ingredients together then add two gloves of garlic, chopped into small pieces. Spice everything up with a pinch of salt, pepper and maybe some more BBQ spice. Then you can already transfer the filling onto the dough.
Don´t overfill the samosas, otherwise you won´t be able to close them. Just add a little bit of filling in the middle of your dough and close them up pressing the ends together. Once you have repeated the process with all of them and you don´t have any dough left, you can transfer them onto a backing tray. Bake them in the oven at 250°C for about 25 minutes. Just take a look every once in a while to make sure they don´t get burned.
And there you have them! Nice and crispy and delicious. I usually serve them with patatas bravas on the side, which makes the combination even more awesome.
Interview with a Spaniard
Which country do you consider to be your country?
Well, I was born in Spain, but I don´t like to say I´m from here and only from here. I think we are all part of the world. Our DNI is all the same. Of course, on our passports, there is a name of a country. But I’m not married to one country. If I would have to choose though, of course I would choose Spain. Because I was born in Spain and also I´m in love with Barcelona. It´s my favorite city in Spain. So I would choose this city. If people from all over the world ask me: “Where are you from?” I would always say Spain. And If I needed to be precise I would say Barcelona.
With the independency movement* now, a lot of people are really proud of being from Catalunya. Would you say you´re proud to be Catalan as well?
No, now no. I`m sorry to say that but I´m not an independentist. And I hate how it has generally been. The situation. I think the situation has broken the society of Catalunya. And I don´t like how the independence people have treated the other part of Catalonian people. I think we can live in one Spain together. But nowadays the Catalan society for me is broken. Because there are two sides. The Catalan people who don´t want independence and the ones who do. This independency movement has broken some friendships, some families.. and that´s what I don´t like about the idea. I´m not against the people but I hate the ideas, I hate the radical ideas of the politicians that could break a country, a city and also a family. For me, what has happened in the past month is not what I like to see in my country. So I would always say I´m from Barcelona, but I wouln´t say Catalunya that is very obvious. Because I´m not proud of just being form Catalunya. I´m from Spain and for me, Catalunya is part of Spain.
Do you feel at home living in Barcelona?
Well yeah, I want to tell you something. Until now yes, and I still want to live here because I have lived here for a long time. But after the Catalonian process and what happened with the independence, with the legal referendum that was completely illegal for me it´s getting hard. I think I´m a little afraid and uncomfortable if I´m thinking about not living in Barcelona. But with the politicians who just want to put their opinion on us it´s not that easy. They want to tell us what to think and what is mandatory. We are living in a new republic now. To be honest I want to live here. But just imagine the situation would get worse. Just imagine there would be some fights in the streets or shops would be broken. I don´t want to leave the city I love and the city I grew up in, but the situation of the independent people is getting worse. And I think they are making the situation of Catalunya worse. So, if it would get worse then I´m sorry, but I would have to leave Barcelona. I don´t know where. Maybe some other part of Spain, but not Barcelona. It would be a pity, but I´m sure this won´t happen. But the situation now is not good for me and for people who think like me. I don´t feel comfortable with that. And for me the unique situation would be to leave Barcelona.
Do you think a lot of people would leave Barcelona like you would?
I think it´s not a good decision. Leaving the city we have been living in for the last 30 years or more. It would not be easy for a lot of people. But I can imagine that some people will do it. However, I really keep my fingers crossed that we can come to some kind of agreement. I want an agreement. And I want a legal referendum. But I am going to vote no. Some people might say “Oh that´s contradictory.” No, this is not contradictory. I don´t want Catalunya to become this country. But I think Catalan people deserve a referendum. Talking with the government and having an agreement. But I will vote no. I know now that my vote will be no. I think that Catalan people like me, my parents, my sister, my neighbors, we deserve a referendum. But unfortunately I don´t know if this will happen. But the government now is not good for me.
Another topic: You are in contact with a lot of tourists and foreigners here. Can you tell me a general misconception people have about Spanish people?
Yeah, I have heard some prejudices about Spanish people – a common one is that we don´t work. That people from the south, Andalusia, don´t work and are lazy in general. There are also some prejudices about Catalan people. Some people think that we are “avaro” (parsimonious). Which means that we don´t like to spend a cent with anyone. I want to break that myth, because when I have money I spend it as soon as possible. With my friends, for myself, with my family, so in my case it is not true. Maybe for a few percent of people it could be true, but you cannot say it in general.
What kind of image do you think foreigners have about Spain which is not true and you would like to clarify?
Well especially people from Europe think is that when you come to Spain you just come for party, for drinks, sex and alcohol and that´s what I think what I want to say to European people. Of course they are right, alcohol here is a bit cheaper. I can agree with that. But Spain is more than just sex, alcohol drugs and drink, drink, drink until you die. So that´s what I want to clarify. When a lot of people or tourists come here to party. I love tourists and I like tourism. I sometimes work with tourists and have seen that a lot. So I think they need to change their prejudices that Spain is not only for party, sex, drugs, alcohol.
I think that is really true for Barcelona, right?
Yes. On one side here we have a lot of discos, a lot of pubs. In Spain in general we have many thousands of bars, discos and pubs. Here we also like to dance. But having the idea that Spain and Barcelona are only for partying and so on is a little bit wrong. You can come here to have fun and to do what you want. Well, not completely do what you want, but to enjoy your summer holidays. But we need to be honest, Barcelona is made for tourists. Most of the taxes that go to the city hall are coming from tourists. So we need to understand that Barcelona is a touristic city. But we cannot think this is a city for only party and do what you want. I already have seen it with my own eyes. People come here and pee on the streets and so on. This is not the jungle – I mean in every city we have rules.
Would there be anything else you would people to know about Catalunya, about Spain?
Yeah, a lot of people know at least something about Spain. Maybe they know Flamenco, Paella and toros. This is a topic I also want to add. I don’t like bullfights. Paella is not my favorite meal. I don´t like to dance Flamenco. Of course, this is typically Spanish, that´s what we have created. But Barcelona and Spain are much more. What I want to say is that I´m really glad to live in a cosmopolitan city. I recommence everyone to visit it. I will be here. I can be a guide, I can give you some tips and I want to repeat that we have many different things to see. More than just party. And also please reconsider the prejudice that we are stupid. Because sometimes I feel that especially people form the US think that Spanish people are stupid and don´t know English. So, come here, visit and enjoy your stay. Forget your prejudices be happy here.
In this interview, I was talking to a guy who was born and raised in Barcelona, Spain. He had a lot of interesting things to say, a lot of prejudices to clarify. During this interview I learned a lot about the independency movement and about how someone who lives in the city feels about it. Of course, there are a lot of different opinions, but I think we need to listen to every single one of them. Only like that we can get to know each othe better and get a better understanding of each and every person on this planet.
*Catalan independency: A political movement of Catalan people who want Catalunya to become independent from the rest of Spain.
Ingredients (for about 6 sausages)
- 3 cups of white beans
- Soy sauce
- Paprika powder
- Aluminum foil
- Parchment paper
- BBQ spice
- Hemp seeds (optional)
- Cashew nuts (optional)
Since if tried them the first time, I love these vegan sausages. They are easy to make and come out so delicious. They are perfect for a little BBQ – and with all the other veggies combined it´s the most awesome plate! Want to make your friends jealous at the next BBQ? Here´s how:
First, you need to soak your beans overnight. You can also used canned ones, but I prefer the normal ones as they are even healthier. Cook the beans until they get soft. Poke into them with a fork to test the texture. You want them to be really soft in the end in order to mash them. Once they are cooked, put them into your blender or food processor. If you don´t have either of them, mashing them by hand with a fork is also an option. Either way, blend/mash the beans until they form a nice and even mixture. Then add salt, pepper, paprika powder and a little bit of soy sauce to it. Mix that all together and add in your flour. We just need the flour to give the mixture a bit of a ticker texture, so that we can form sausages out of it. Add enough flour that the mixture forms a dough not sticky anymore. Next we need to cut up some parchment paper into little quarters to form the sausages. Put a bit of your dough onto the paper, roll it up so that it looks like sausage and put aluminum foil around it to get hold of this form. Do this with all your dough until there is nothing left anymore. Then you can pop your sausages into the oven and bake them at 200°C for about 30 minutes.
For the grill plate, we are going to start out with our fries. Cut up 4 big potatoes into stipes. I usually do that by cutting them in half, then cutting that half again vertically. Then I´m cutting my fries into long stripes. After you chopped them, lay them out on parchment paper and sprinkle your spices on top. I usually use salt, paper and BBQ spice. I would really recommend the BBQ spice as it adds a really awesome flavor to the potatoes. Then pop them into the oven at 200°C and also bake them for about 30 minutes.
Then we can already chop up our zucchini and paprika. Chop the zucchini into thin stripes, the paprika can be a bit larger. Then add some oil or vegan butter to a pan and roast them on each side. Before you flip them, add your spices. After both sides are roasted, transfer them onto a separate plate. Repeat the process until there you have no veggies left anymore.
Last but not least we will chop up our avocado to go with the plate. I chopped it into stripes and topped it with a bit of salt and some hemp seeds.
And now we are ready to assemble! Put your vegan sausage out of the aluminum foil and assemble your veggies around. I topped my plate with some roasted cashew nuts for some extra crunch and some vegan mayonnaise to go with my fries.
Interview with a Brazilian
Which country do you consider to be your country?
I would still consider Brazil to be my country as I lived pretty much 95% of my life there. I grew up there and the way I act, the things I eat, the way I think is very related to Brazil still.
You live in Spain now. Do you think this feeling of which country you consider to be your country could change in the future?
Maybe a bit. But you have to consider that I spent the first years of my life there. Pretty much 23 years. So everything about Brazil is already attached to me. If it changes it would be in a few decades – and not everything would change. I was born and raised in Brazil so it stuck to me. My roots are Brazilian. The first 23 years of my life I spent in Brazil. It’s not like I spent 23 years in Spain.
What is a general misconception about Brazil for you?
I can list you a few that are actually very basic and should have been made clear years ago especially with the easy access to information we have now. Let me see.
About the country itself first. The thing with the language. It’s not clear to everyone that we speak Portuguese, that Portuguese is not Brazilian and that Portuguese is not Spanish. Some people think that.
Also, the rainforest doesn’t cover the whole national territory, just a part of it. We don’t live with monkeys. We don’t have tigers in our gardens. We do have a very wide fauna and flora, but in very specific places. We don’t walk around with monkey riding on lions. This example is a bit extreme now, but you’d be surprised what people thought only a few years ago.
Secondly about Brazilian people, a lot of people think we only party all year long. We do like parties a lot, we’re very open to parties. We have big parties like carnival and one of the biggest new years’ eve celebrations in the world.
But we work a lot as well. In fact, from what I’ve seen in Europe so far, Brazilians work way more than them although Europeans themselves claim to be hard workers. I’ve seen this in a lot of countries in Europe, but now that I live in Spain I would say Spain is a very good example of a not as hard-working country. People think they work hard, but they have basically two or three hours of siesta in the middle of the day and work four, five times a week.
Additional information: For example, general working hours where up to 48 hours in Brazil in the 20th century, and reduced to 46 hours per week in 2005. In 2002, for example, the general working hours in Brazil ranged from 35h in the education sector to 49h in the hotel business.*
Some of the stereotypes about Brazil are true though. We are very famous for football, for samba, for all the parties themselves, for the beaches, for everything that’s of related to that openness and to how welcome we are. But if you are a tourist, make no mistake, some people might just take advantage of you. Yes, we are very open and welcoming, but especially street vendors and people selling something might as well take advantage of you playing that nice and welcoming card.
Overall we Brazilians are really warm, happy and that’s true although it doesn’t fit to everyone. The same way samba and football and parties don’t fit to everyone there. Just like to myself. I like sports a lot, I especially football, but I’m not a big fan of samba nor Carnival. So these stereotypes are true, we have big parties all year, but they are not for everyone, even though we are always around them.
There are also some misconceptions about the women. People think Brazilian women are very sensual and easy, but from my experience and from the countries I’ve been to, it doesn’t seem to be much different somewhere else. It just depends on where you are coming from and whether you fit their standards of beauty.
Going back to Brazilian openness for a bit – people usually see Brazilians way more open than they really are. Yes we are open to tourists and stuff, but a lot of people are still really close-minded. Brazil is a very racist country even though we have one of the most mixed population in the world. Most people live with their racism, because they deny it. They think it’s okay. We are not gay friendly, even though we have a big LGTBI community and huge parades. People are also very racist towards immigrants as long as you don’t come from Europe – because then, it’s fine and nobody complains. People with darker skin or indigenous have a hard time there. But not all people from Brazil are dark skinned, we have a lot of white people as well. Blond hair, blue eyes, green eyes – it’s really a big mix.
The Brazilian attitude against gay people and darker skinned people shows in crimes rates, mortality and opportunities, either with jobs or others. It’s all percentage-based. Crime rates, university access, poverty. Where people live, where they work. Usually, you will find more darker skinned people in a Favela and you’ll rarely see a white person there. Considering your ethnicity it will also be easier or harder to get a job or access university. For example, when I went to university I had two black guys and one black girl in my class, and well, those where the numbers for all my classes. So, I would say that maybe 10 to 15% of the people in university where black. Primary school is a bit different – but also easier accessible for everyone. The higher you go up in the education, the less it gets. We do have certain percentages of how many people in university have to be black, but they do not nearly reflect the actual composition of our population.
Even though people with dark skin are the majority in Brazil, we only see white people on television, on the news, in soap-operas and in most of the movies. That’s also true for CEOs and people in a higher position in a company. If you walk around Rio, for example, you see a lot of less fortunate people selling stuff on the streets – and very rarely they are white. That’s just a reflex of how Brazilian mentality is in general.
This interview was an open, personal interview with a person that was born and raised in Brazil. I am re-writing everything as said with a bit of additional information. This blog should be a platform for people to express their opinion freely and openly. I’m also focusing on own experiences and opinions to raise awareness that a lot of countries are not like we might have them pictured in mind. Especially some downsides we usually tend to overlook. Although I knew a lot about Brazil before, I still learned something new during this interview. Brazil is not exactly like the image that first pops into our head when we talk about this beautiful country. That’s why it’s so important to get to know each other, that’s why it’s so important to talk with people about their culture and where they come from. A lot of misunderstandings and misconceptions could be easily evaded. We just have to talk to each other and develop a greater understanding for all the diversity and the beautiful difference we can find on our planet.
Ingredients (For 2 hungry people)
- 2 Cups of chickpeas
- One cup of brown lentils
- 1 Sweet potato
- ½ Butternut squash
- ½ Onion
- 2 Carrots
- Curry powder
- 2 cups of rice
- 3 cups of flour
- 1 cup of water
- Garlic powder
Curry is one of my favorite foods and I already experimented a lot with it. Recently I tried adding some sweet potatoes – which made it even more awesome and added a touch of nice sweetness to it. So, here’s the new recipe:
Soak your chickpeas overnight. This will make them softer and they won´t need as much time to cook. When you’re ready to start with your Curry, transfer the chickpeas into a big pot. Put them onto the stove and start out with cooking them as they take the longest. Then begin copping your butternut squash into small pieces and add it to the pot. Chop the onion, carrots and the sweet potato into small pieces as well and add everything to the pot. Then add some water to it until almost all the veggies are covered. Now we can add in our lentils as well. Then you can spice it up with half a teaspoon of salt, a pinch of pepper (or more if you like it spicy), half a teaspoon of curcuma and two teaspoons of curry powder. Again, you can vary with your spices here and add them up to taste. Let the mixture cook on medium heat for a while and stir it regularly to prevent it from getting sticky at the bottom of the pot. Let it cook down until most of the water is gone and the mixture has thickened. Once that happened you know your Curry is ready. Meanwhile it is simmering on the stove you can start cooking the rice in a separate pot. Boil 2 cups of rice with 3 ½ cups of water until the water is all gone – and your rice is good to go.
Put 2 cups of flour into a bowl then add all your spices: 3 pinches of salt, 2 pinches of pepper, 1 ½ teaspoons of garlic powder and 2 tablespoons of oregano. Mix all your dry ingredients together, then add the water. The dough should not be too thick, it should be easy to pour it into a pan. If it is too thick, add a bit more water to it until the mixture becomes nice and even. Next we are going to bake it in a pan with some oil. Pour a bit of the mixture into it and let the dough harden, then flip it and cook it on the other side. Once that’s done you’re going to repeat the process with all the dough you have. Usually you should have enough for 2 – 3 breads.
And now, we’re ready to assemble! I usually use my Naan-Bread to eat a bit of my curry as you can break it into tiny pieces, spoon the curry out of your bowl and eat the rice on the side. But no matter how you eat it – this curry is super easy to make – and even more satisfying to eat.