2 salads

Put fruits in your salad boys and girls! Strawberry and mango is a favorite. The sweetness of them both cuts well with the peppery arugula and a tangy black pepper/lemon/cilantro dressing.
Tacos used to be a favorite back in the old times, this variety is easy and good for you: Heat olive oil, salt, pepper, cumin and a tiny amount of cayenne pepper in a pan. Throw in some properly cut raw organic walnuts. Mix around, let it all get warm and well incorporated, and serve over a salad of choice. I do like a basic lettuce-tomato-cucumber-onion bowl with this (you could pan fry thin slices of onion in the pan before you add the spices and walnuts too if you fancy.) Eat as a salad or wrap it all up in a nice little bread.

To know and love it all is what I live for

Having visitors is such a glorious treasure on so many levels. Especially since we've been confined in the dark, cold woods of the North for such a long time where hard work was top priority. But being alone again on the boat, in this climate, laying here in this couch with all hatches open, listening to the birds doing their thing on the spreaders. And the waves lapping the hull while I slowly get to read and work on my precious projects in my own good tempo yet again - that is a real treat. As well! Acknowledging well the beauty in each situation.

Being surrounded by people and having plans and missions for each day is tickling, fulfilling and so much fun. But being alone and left in quietness puts the mind back to work again. It slowly untangles from social commitments and a lazy, leisure boozy cloud to an ever more focused, motivated and inspired vision. Yearning to create. I love that feeling! It is through change and variety that new ideas are born. Such a great place: this couch, on this boat, in this climate: to be creating. It's funny and BEAUTIFUL how life turns out, don't you think!

Thank you Miami for making us feel so much at home

After sixteen months in the cold Massachusetts, a proper vacation was in order. The past six weeks has therefore been pretty much solely dedicated to enjoying the richness and warmth of this our new home city. Four months in and I still love Miami more for each day. We live around the North Miami Beach area which has the most beautiful and serene beaches, and a lovely village like ambiance, in contrast to its loud touristy counterpart slightly to the South. The mixture of people, religion, culture and colour is refreshing and every day I am grateful for the sunshine we get to wake up to. Quality of life has risen significantly since our move down South. In fact life here reminds us a tad about life in Barcelona and thus we haven't missed the Mediterranean much at all since we got here. Old readers know how much that means to us.

The last of our visitors have now gone home and we're back to the slightly more serious sides of life again. Although living in this climate surrounded by this very special energy I'm pretty sure we'll be able to maintain a good balance between work and pleasure. 

Hope your spring has started off smoothly!

summer in the city

Totally neglecting internet right now as we have a fourth round of visitors soon arriving. Feb/March is the time of catching up and enjoying vacation in this wonderful city, before we get started with work for real. Vacation naturally means hanging on the beach, eating loads of good food, late night conversations on the boat, devouring way more chocolate than usual and drinking a bit too much alcohol. All as it should iow.

Very glad that the temperature has risen a bit to never less than 22 C, and more like 25-27 daytime and 22 nighttime. If only it could stay exactly this way the rest of the year.

Follow a bit of our days on instagram if you like.

Blueberry dreams

An açaí bowl every now and then hasn't hurt anyone. Açaí is the famous Brazilian super berry that you've probably heard of. It is one of the most antioxidant-rich fruits in the world. With a sweet flavor and an intense violet color it contains an insane amount of vitamins and all the important omega fatty acids. Since açaí is very perishable, it's hard to get them fresh unless you find yourself in swamps and floodplains in the Northern parts of South America, which is where the açaí palmtrees like to grow. I often buy Sambazon's açaí juices which makes things easy, pouring a cup into my morning smoothie, though I've lately gotten around to also buying the frozen açaí pulp.

For a bowl like this, I mix a packet of frozen açaí pulp with bananas, plant milk and whatever fruit, greens and herbs I might have laying around and mix it up to a consistency thicker than smoothie. This one is topped off with some nice organic hazelnuts and kiwi.
Don't you just love eating health.... ? Doesn't hurt it's so damn beautiful either.

Whatever açaí you end up buying, look for a fair-traded one which guarantees fair pay and working conditions for local harvesters. As global demand for the fruit has expanded rapidly in recent years, so has also liberal application of pesticides and fertilizer which makes me think you might also rather choose organic than conventional.

If you can't get a hold on açaí or don't want to spend the extra money, why don't you use frozen organic blueberries? Similar taste and colour and the blueberry too is extremely high in anti-oxidants, minerals and vitamins. I love my blueberries. They always remind me of my beloved grandmother and our blueberry pickings in Swedish and Finnish forests when I was little.

Speaking of blueberries. When we arrived in the states almost two years ago, I was surprised to learn that your blueberries grow on large bushes and that they were grown commercially on blueberry farms. The blueberries we have back home in Scandinavia (you might call them billberries here) grow wild, they're much smaller, sweeter, have a complete purple/blue interior and not whitish like here in the US and they grow on small plants close to the ground. We pick them with a berry picker like this one. My grandmother used to make wonderful sweet blueberry juice, warm blueberry soup and lovely cakes out of our harvest. I still remember the warm, comforting smell that filled the kitchen as the boiling began.

Can not wait till we get to go back home and spend some time with my family in the Scandinavian forests. So many wonderful wild berries and food to find over there. Cloudberries, woodland strawberries, gooseberries, lingonberries to name a few.

music monday

Photo from Key West that we visited last week.

Planning and dealing with the building permits of the café takes pretty much all my waking hours at the moment so I'm not a fun blogger as you can tell. Why don't you listen to this playlist in the meanwhile. 
That song by Elliott Smith though... yet another seriously talented artist who ended up taking his life due to depression caused by a combination of early life family abuse and drugs. Can you feel the pain in his voice? Like so often it seems the most torn and fragile souls are prone for expressing and creating music and art with a higher level of emotional intensity. Turning pain and darkness into art is such a powerful creative tool, regardless if done as a conscious choice or an instinctive need.

Turning thoughts into reality

Opening a café now in a very near future, there are few minutes in the day that I do not ponder on all the ideas and possibilities of creating a truly wonderful place for anyone to enjoy. Great food is the one thing which I am not too worried about, the menu will be based around the food I cook the best. Good, simple, organic, healthful, plant based. Just have to find someone good that can help me out in the kitchen.

Excellent service, a foundation of any successful service business is another aspect, and I have yet to find the amazing people that will work their butts off with me. With the experience I have in hiring, and the café/restaurant industry as a whole, I know this isn't the easiest part of the equation and staff turnover is normally very high. Though I believe that you'll attract the positive by being a fair owner that pays well and give enough encouragement and training along the way. You might know this area of the world better than me, where would you look for employes in Miami? Any specific website/newspaper with good reach? 

Location, is something many would tell you is the most important part when opening a retail or restaurant operation, though I know of experience that people that really want something, they'd travel to get to it no matter how far or near. And since our place is located in the midst of Downtown Miami - in an area that is growing and expanding by the day but which hasn't yet come to full bloom - this part is challenging in the way that we won't (yet) have a constant stream of walk-bys.  

Good marketing, is therefore key and I am glad for the years of blogging and Internet use as it has taught me a trillion ways of reaching out to people. What will be interesting is marketing at low cost on the ground, in a city I am not yet too familiar with, but my faith tells me it will all grow organically as time goes by.  

Inspiring, comfortable, relaxed ambiance, the one aspect that is most on my mind these days. The one aspect I always look for in any place I visit and seeing it from the customers perspective, this truly is where we will have to put most consideration now at start. Possibilities are endless. I've been offered help to design the place, but truth is that it is the entire concept of a restaurant that has always appealed to me. I want the café to reflect my personal vision of the perfect place to kick back and enjoy good food, music and inspire to great conversation. I believe that with Alex's and my combined efforts, we can create something very personal and beautiful. I have the feeling and vision in my mind so clear, the challenge is to put it all together.

There are several colleges around the corner of the café, The New World School of the Arts, for one. Which makes me think we might have a good flow of students visiting. I don't mind students at all, but my dilemma right now is figuring out how to combine the possibility of partly using the café as a place to hook up your laptop for a meeting or study over a healthy lunch and a green juice (all those times I seek for a place to hang out with my computer I know how important this is). But at the same time you wouldn't want the place to turn into a cyber café and take up too much space from potential lunch eaters. Maybe put a minimum charge for laptop guests, or divide the area and leave only a quarter of the floor space designated for computer use, or have specific hours in which you may use your laptop. If someone has a smart idea, please share. But overall the design and interior idea is to make it feel less like a coffee shop, and more like a cozy living room in which one want to spend a lot of time. It should feel like a home that reflects the idea of my perfect place to enjoy great food, drinks, music and the company of others.

The place in the photos above is a restaurant we visited in Montauk last summer. Wonderful ambiance, though what could go wrong on a warm summer's night amidst a lush and green forest and well thought out lighting. We won't be in the nature exactly, but a small terrace with 4-6 tables out front seems a good idea. How is it with eating outdoors in the summers, here in Miami? Plenty shade where we're at, but the humidity might be very harsh a few months a year?

Golden nutrients

health benefits of turmeric ayurvedic medicine super foods
In today's heavily polluted and over-intoxicated world where GMO's, pesticides, toxic plastics and dangerous chemical elements such as lead, mercury, fluoride, chlorine, arsenic and god knows what else is part of each human beings everyday lives to some extent - it feels important to take to the small measures one can to protect our bodies.

Eating organic, drinking filtered water and avoiding processed and manipulated foods is a good start, but to add some real natural "medicine" to the equation is an added weapon in your body's fight against unnatural enemies. Super foods, as they call it, come from mother nature and they are extremely nutrient dense, meaning they provide a much higher dose of health benefits for their weight compared to other fruit, vegetables, herbs, greens and nuts. Super foods is also a successful marketing term for the health industry to sell more overpriced products (companies cashing in on people's fears and insecurities can be found on each side of the coin), but there are some natural treasures that has proven for centuries to have a positive effect on human health.

Turmeric, is one such golden star. This yellow herb/spice, indigenous to Southeast Asia and cousin to Ginger, is as you might know, widely known and appreciated for its culinary use. All those wonderful Indian curry dishes are dyed and flavored by this root. Equally, the spice mix you all know as curry (powder), has a main base of turmeric hence the warm, deep mustard colour.

This powerful root, packed with antioxidants which is of major help in protecting our cells against free radicals, has long been used in Chinese and Indian medicine as an anti-inflammatory agent to treat a wide variety of conditions including eczema, infections, liver problems, anemia, menstrual difficulties, bloody urine, hemorrhage, flatulence, toothache, bruises, chest pain, fungal infections, colic and the common flu.

As a herbal concoction it lowers cholesterol, thins the blood and fights clotting. Due to these beneficial properties, it is said about the turmeric that it helps prevent strokes and heart attacks. In its successful antioxidant fight against free radicals, it is also believed that a higher consumption of turmeric has good effect in slowing down aging, preventing and combating growth of cancer cells, and even avert Alzheimer's disease. Both the Alzheimer and the cancer medicine industries are enormous so there are as many articles speaking against natural medicine as there are ones that speak for it. Companies that make billions on us being sick does not want us to know about or rely on cheap, natural remedies. So it is like always up to each one of us to choose which side to believe in and act according to what we feel seems more legit. 

As I have seen the positive effects of healthy, natural, organic, non-manipulated foods in both myself and others, I choose to feed my body with all the good that comes from mother nature. So as part of my regular morning ritual consisting of a large green and fruity smoothie or a warming bowl of oatmeal/nuts/fruit, I also drink a cup of hot water with a teaspoon freshly grated turmeric or a teaspoon ground turmeric. 
In its pure form curcumin (the potent yellow/orange pigment of turmeric) is poorly absorbed by the human body (curcumin is insoluble in water and the human body is mostly made up of water), that is why mixing it with some sort of oil is crucial to benefit from it the most. Coconut oil is the lighter, sweeter option, but I sometimes go with olive oil too. To take it one step further, experts say that Piperine, the active ingredient in black pepper, boosts the bio-availability by 2000% so add a few turns on the peppermill to let the nutrients become better available to your body and have them work in their most effective ways. I like adding some grated ginger and a few drops of maple syrup for extra flavor. You could definitely boil up almond milk instead of water for a more creamy concoction. They say two drinks like this a day will help your immune system tremendously. Always make sure you use organic turmeric and ginger to avoid the negative effects of pesticides.
Just one of those little things one can make oneself used to and which could show dramatic positive effect on your health if made regularly. 

Sweet concoctions

So very anxious to get the new kitchen ready downtown so I can start working on the menu again. Cooking on the boat works fine but the Force 10 gimballed three burner stove and oven are not as reliable with heat distribution so it's pretty hard to get exact results. 

This is a brownie I made while still in "my" kitchen corner up in MA. There has been a long way to create a fudgy, sweet, moist, rich and well composed brownie that is free from dairy and eggs, but this particular one is a keeper in my recipe book. It is also free from processed sugars, which I do my best to avoid.

My vision and intention for the new place we're opening, is to create a varied menu that doesn't necessarily feel vegan at all. At least not the sort most people associate boring vegan meals with. It should be organic food, sweets and drinks that anyone and everyone can enjoy without missing animal products during their experience. It's been a battle many times during the test and experimentation process but I'm glad I've had people around me who love meat and can't imagine life without dairy, as their input is honest and straightforward. Nothing as rewarding as seeing a self proclaimed vegetable hater light up at the taste of your plant based concoctions. 

Not going to fight too much to convert skeptics, but I am determined to show that you do not actually need all what we have been indoctrinated since birth to feel a need for. And hopefully inspire some to choose healthier and replace old school food with more conscious options at least every once in a while.

P.S: Feel free to like my Facebook page for the new café to get all our updates! It still bears the name of the business I started in MA, and this will be changed as soon as I've found the right name. Any suggestions?

Choose wisely

Please watch this my friends. Not so much news for some of us, but nonetheless an important reminder. Knowing what exactly you're feeding yourself and your children should be the number one priority in life. It is part of the foundation of creating a healthy future. Robyn O'Brien is a former financial analyst from Texas who after her youngest child had an allergy reaction begun learning about the food supply, and slowly realizing just how manipulated it had been in favor of profit. Just like Vani Hari aka the Foodbabe, Robyn has helped to lead a food awakening among consumers, corporations and politicians here in America.

Follow her on Facebook so you get the informative stuff right into your phone. I believe that in order to get in tune with what is truly important, it is tremendously helpful to stop following or reading pages with little real substance, and instead use your precious time learning from people and movements that can help guide you towards the healthy and important things in life. Remember, your life is shaped by each choice that you make.

Read here for more of my articles on food health and how we can make better choices for ourselves.

Soon to be something wonderful

This is the place we have so slowly started to turn into a vegan café/restaurant. It still feels surreal even thinking about it. Surreal in the way that only the thought sends butterflies through my belly. This two story, 3100 sq ft location in downtown Miami, five blocks from the awesome new big Whole Foods, has been used for retail previously and never been a restaurant before. So there's a fairly large amount of job for us now to get a kitchen installed with all what it means. The process is extremely interesting. From the planning of each sq ft from an architectural aspect, to a mountain of regulations and of course the design and interior part. Not to even mention the production of a perfect menu, and hiring of the right crew, though all that comes at a later stage. 

So glad for the little knowledge and experience I gained up in Boston during the year and a half that I worked in different cafés and restaurants, most of the times very close to the owners. And also for my mentor/business adviser Michael who's built kitchens and operated food businesses up in MA for the past 50 years. He's the one I call when I need to know which brand of oven to go for, where to find good used equipment, what sort of grease traps to use, and who reminds me of the importance of keeping costs down. When I started my first small company, an online fashion store some ten years ago, I thought I could do everything myself and I seldom wanted to ask anyone for help. This time I am taking as much advice as I can in order to create a rock solid foundation. And what else does one keep those experienced and knowledgeable friends around for :)

Am currently looking at different floor types and even if my eye would want to go for an antique Southern European tile like the one below, I think we might end up going for a cheaper wood that we stain in a natural tone as a start.
If anyone of you know a good importer of a Portuguese floor tile like this, or maybe some good Mexican, Moroccan or other good, affordable earthy, impactful tiles, lemme know please!

Also, best flea markets in Miami/South Florida?