Happy New Year

Around the globe, people are opening the door to 2013. For me, here in BC, New Years Eve is just around the corner and I have my own special set of traditions. I always like to spend the last day of the year with close friends and family. I like to light candles and create a space for reminiscing. I like to go within and think about the year that just passed, the good and the bad. I like to reflect and digest, to think about what has been important this year. I like to say goodbye and thank you, to the year that went and to celebrate that we have a brand new, crisp and untouched year laying ahead of us.

That is exciting – new dreams, new hopes and new plans for 2013.

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Let them know it’s Christmas …………

I love traditions and Christmas is filled with them. Traditions bring coziness and hygge, comfort and joy.This year there was something missing and I couldn’t quite put a finger on it. Then one day I came in to the kitchen and my daughter had put cloves in to the oranges and the whole kitchen was filled with an intense smell of Christmas and tradition. The smell always reminds me of how my mom stuck cloves in the oranges, put red ribbon around them and hung them in the kitchen windows .

That lead to the idea of making hot wine (Gløgg) or mulled wine. Christmas in our house means a warm glass of Gløgg with marinated raisins and slivered almonds and a handful of pepper nuts or baked œbleskiver. Gløgg and peppernuts/œbleskiver are served  everywhere in Denmark and the smell of spices fills the air and adds to the feel of Christmas.

As I prepared the gløgg and the peppernuts, the smell of freshly baked cookies, cinnamon, cloves, orange and cardamom filled the air – a smell of hygge and old tradition filled the house. I took a deep breath and realized I felt that Christmas had finally and fully arrived 🙂

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I prepared a traditional gløgg and an non-alcoholic gløgg

Both equally flavorful and delicious.

Traditional gløgg

You need to make a flavorful intense essence first – preferably allow it to work its magic by making it hours before you need to use it so the spices come out in full bloom.

You need:

One cup of red wine

1/2-1 cup of brown sugar or raw sugar (depending on how sweet you like your drink)

2  cinnamon sticks

15-20 cloves

15 – 20 cardamom seeds

1 orange

Heat it up and put it aside to work.

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Now marinate the raisins

you need 3/4 cup of raisins

1 cup of port wine

Allow them to stand next to the essence to soak up the port wine and become soft.

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Now make the almonds – don’t buy the bagged slivered almonds – they tend to be dry and have lost their flavor.

1 cup of raw almonds – pour boiling water on them and allow them to stand for 10 min to soak. Drain them and take off the skin – which just pops off and make the almonds go flying around the kitchen easily.

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When you are ready to make the gløgg

add the rest of the bottle of red wine into a pot

along with one orange

pour the essence through a strainer and into the pot.

Add the raisins along with the port and the slivered almonds – and a dash of brandy. Heat it all up.

Serve in glasses with a spoon to scoop up the goodies.

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The non-alcoholic gløgg

You can make this delicious drink with apple juice, elderberry juice, or grape juice and cranberry juice – excellent if you don’t want an alcoholic drink and the kids will love it!

I used grape juice and cranberry juice

For the essence you need:

1 cup of grape juice if you are using apple or elderberry use this to make the essence too

one orange in slices

2 cinnamon sticks

15 cloves

15 cardamom seeds

1/2 -1 cup of raw sugar or brown sugar

Heat it all up and allow it to stand to let all the spices work their magic – at least a couple of hours

Now soak 3/4 cup of raisins in some freshly squeezed orange juice

Prepare 1 cup of almonds as above for the traditional gløgg

When you are ready to make the gløgg –  strain the essence into a pot and add 1 cup of grape juice and  2 cups of cranberry juice. Heat it up, add the raisins and the almonds – see if it needs more sugar.

Serve and enjoy!

Gløgg is always served with treats – traditionally with œbleskirver ( I thought this blog with a delicious recipe for œbleskiver  was pretty cool) ( I know my friend, Somer, at Vegdedout makes amazing vegan œbleskiver)

AND, I made peppernuts another Danish tradition. Little cookies that are eaten in large quantities throughout all of December – by the end of December you sweat you will never eat another peppernut in your life! But in by the end of November the following year you cannot wait for the first peppernuts to come out of the oven!

Peppernuts –

300 g of butter

300 g of raw sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 teaspoon of ginger

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1 teaspoon of cardamom

1/2-3/4 teaspoon of white pepper – ( all depending on how strong you like them)

600g of flour

Mix it all together in a bowl- I use my fingers to make it into the perfect dough. (It takes a little while until that happens – just keep mixing it together with your fingers)

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Now roll them into little balls like this

peppernuts

Place them in a 360F hot oven and bake them for about 12-14 min

Another little treat I made – as filled dates. They are easy, delicious and healthy!

filled dates

I used Medjool dates  and filled them with a little piece of marzipan, topped them with a mix of 50 g of melted  70% dark chocolate and 1/2 cup almond butter.  So to assemble, place a half date, add a small piece of marzipan, a scoop of chocolate mix and place a whole almond on top. A perfect treat.

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Let them know it’s Christmas!

 

Cool Green Smoothie with Cinnamon and Cloves

Why not add a bit of Christmas flavor to the green smoothie?

Thinking of how to add a bit of Christmas flavour to your smoothies?  Here’s a simple idea, and it tastes truly amazing – creamy, sweet, cinnamonny and delicious!

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green smoothie

Cool Green Smoothie with Cinnamon and Cloves

What you’ll need for this….

Big handful of fresh kale

2 crisp apples

1 very ripe banana

4 -6 Medjool dates

2 small teaspoons of ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves

2 cups of filtered water

Ice cubes

Put it all in the blender and blend into a smooth cool and healthy drink – drink and enjoy!

If you leave it in the fridge for a couple of hours to allow the flavors to come out – it is a divine mouthful!

Top tips for creating Christmas coziness

Now is the time to sprinkle “HYGGE” all over the world

“Hygge” is a Danish word that commonly gets translated to the English meaning of  “Cozy”. But actually “hygge” means quite a bit more. Hygge means being surrounded by people you love, family, friends, colleagues; but it can also be with people you don’t know, with someone you meet and feel connected to. Hygge can be planned, but it can also happen simultaneously. Hygge also happens in solitude. It’s an atmosphere, a feeling that captures life’s essence.
Hygge is being present, authentic, hygge is being in the now, content in the moment, hygge is not thinking about it, it’s just being…… in the moment. Hygge is fun. Hygge is peaceful. It’s intimate, It’s homey and relaxed.

Hygge is creating a special atmosphere, logs burning in the fireplace, lighting the candles, fresh flowers, fresh fruit, nice surroundings, but it can also be on a bench in a park with a stranger, communicating, sharing the moment. Often hygge is enjoying good food with great friends and family. Hygge is sometimes, just the two of us, connecting, reconnecting. Hygge is cuddling up with a warm blanket, it’s a good book and a steeping hot pot of tea.

Hygge is not invented by the Danes – each nationality have their own form of coziness and hygge – but Danes are obsessed with hygge – as some have suggested – to escape the long dark winters.

It could be that the amount of hygge Danes practice every day, is the reason why they occasionally are picked out to be the happiest people in the world!

There is no excuse for not creating hygge – in any situation, even at work there is created space for hygge. Places to relax and connect with colleagues and recharge the batteries.

“Come let’s hygge” – is an everyday expression, it’s cultivated, at any and all possible moments. To light the candles and make everyday surroundings ‘hyggelige” – creating that space for coziness and hygge – together or alone. It is crucial for our health and well-being.

Hygge is a good reason to hurry home from work – we long for it and treasure it. There is always an excuse to hygge! Hygge is a sanctuary for the soul!

And Christmas is the ultimate high season for hygge!

That is why I want to sprinkle hygge all over the world

Read more about hygge, here and see a video about hygge, here

coziness

My best hygge/coziness tips

  • Create time every day for hygge – (even 5 min is better than no hygge)
  • Light some candles
  • make time for hygge in the morning
  • Invite the family to sit down to just be together (even if only for a few minutes – no electronics)
  • make hygge a priority
  • Create a cozy space in the midst of all
  • Give someone a hug
  • Have dinner together  – as often as possible.
  • Cook together
  • Initiate play
  • Fresh flowers
  • Take time to create hygge for yourself – a good book, candle light, a hot bath whatever it means for you
  • Put on some good music – tidy the clutter
  • Dim the lights
  • See a great movie together

Another article about Hygge here

Open faced Sandwich with Portobello, baked peppers,eggplant, freshly made hummus and rosemary

Open-faced sandwiches are so good and, being a Dane, I was raised on them. In Denmark, we have open faced sandwiches every day, in all variations and in every creation. Open-faced sandwiches rock! The perfect finger food and greatest snack you can imagine. Only your fantasy sets the limit for what you can put on them. This is served on “no knead bread” but could easily be served on freshly made rye bread, which is the traditional for Danish open sandwiches. Continue reading

Love as a daily supplement

I just thought this was wonderful………

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Love as a daily supplement!

Seriously, if we want to loose weight and keep it off,  we must look beyond what we put on the plate and how much we exercise. This parts are important, of course, but there is more to it than that.

A healthy bodily balance can only be kept if we also are aware of our emotions! Feelings are just as important, if not more so, than what we put on our plate and how much we exercise. And when it comes to the most difficult part: keeping the weight off – emotions, and how we feel about ourselves, is paramount. We are much more likely to make healthy choices when we listen to our body’s signals and it’s needs, and we need to include the emotional needs as well.

In my morning paper, the Danish Politiken, I found a great article that supports my thoughts! The title made me smile: “She recommends love as a daily supplement”  – I topped up my tea and sat down to enjoy the article.

Professor Berit Lillienthal Heitmann from Institute of Preventive Medicine in Copenhagen ( Center for Sygdom og Samfund ) and an honorable professor at University of Sidney, has been researching obesity for over 25 years. She is convinced that we will never find a solution to why we become overweight and obese, if we only look at the dinner plate and at how much we exercise.

Prof. Heitmann considers stress, lack of nurturing in childhood and bad sleep/sleep apnea, etc. as important factors affecting our ability to succeed in loosing weight and keeping it off.

She says that we can all loose weight by eating less and by exercising, the trick is to keep it off.

Her research has shown that a calorie is not just a calorie. In a study where she looked at nurses in Denmark, she found that those nurses who felt pressured and stressed, put on more weight than those colleagues who were not stressed, when eating  the same amount of calories.

She also did a study with a rare group – identical twins, where one of the twin was overweight and the other was not. What she found in this group was that the one twin, who was overweight had often felt neglected as a child and had missed contact with the mother.

Something points to the fact that nurturing and compassion plays an important role. Berit Lillienthal Heitmann keeps doing research in this field and I will be following her closely, because I think she is on to something really important.

Love as a daily supplement

I wholeheartedly recommend love as a daily supplement too and preferably high doses of it!

“Don’t forget to love yourself” Søren Kirkegaard (Danish philosopher, 1813 – 1855)

Read more:

Self-compassion