Plant-based Food Heaven with My Berry Forrest!
This week Nordique are thrilled to introduce Tiina Strandberg from Finland, who are a recipe & content creator, cookbook author and also an holistic health coach. At the wonderfully inspiring site, My Berry Forrest, she shares delicious recipes and her love of plant-based foods!
Tell us a bit more about yourself!
Tiina: “I live close to the forest in Southern Finland and I love Finnish forest berries, especially wild raspberries, lingonberries and wild blueberries (bilberries), which we have in abundance here. I’ve always thought of berries as candy, and nothing can beat the feeling of picking fresh, juicy and plump blueberries straight from the forest. It’s also an amazing way to connect with nature.
I used to go berry picking with my grandparents at our family forest in mid Finland and I still remember those trips like it was yesterday: the earthy smell of the forest, the majestic trees, the annoying mosquitoes.. and the sheer joy of getting my little bucket filled with fresh berries. It’s pretty common in Finland to pick several litres of berries in the summer to be stored in the freezer. In that way we get our dose of healthy vitamins and antioxidants also during the darkest months. Now I’m teaching the joy of berry picking also to my children. I have two daughters, 7 and 2 yr olds and a son 5 years.”
Tell us everything about My Berry Forrest!
“My Berry Forest is my own colourful and delicious playground. It all started with my Instagram page when I was on maternity leave. I began posting photos of fun snacks and plant-based foods that I ate with my baby boy, and around that time in 2014 I also started cooking more and more vegan food. My son had egg and dairy allergies and we were not heavy meat eaters anyway, so transitioning to a plant-based diet came somewhat naturally. Already after two weeks of eating plant-based I noticed how good wholesome plant food made me feel: I had more energy, my skin started glowing, and my mood swings were not as bad as before.”
“It took a while to get used to preparing vegetables, legumes and grains so that my children liked them, and I’ve learned a lot of cooking tricks and tips during these plant-based years. In addition to Instagram I wanted to share my food creations in the form of a blog where I could talk about the recipes and tricks & tips more.
So that’s when My Berry Forest really began, and nowadays I have two main channels: my Instagram page where I share vegan food about 5-6 times a week and my blog which I aim to update once a week and hopefully more often in the future. I opened a Finnish version of my blog earlier this year and will continue to write recipes in both Finnish and English.”
“My Berry Forest is also now my workplace. I have a background in marketing and business and I started my own company a year ago: I’m a foodie entrepreneur with a huge passion for creating plant-based recipes and photography. I develop recipes and food related content for clients, and I’m also a cookbook author, food stylist and food photographer. But I’m also so much more! As a dreamer and doer, I’m constantly thinking about how to pursue my passions. I would love to start focusing more on video content, so that is the next skill to master. I still have a lot to learn, but working towards my dreams makes me happy.”
What do you think are the benefits of eating more Nordic vegan food?
“I think we are very lucky to live in the Nordic region with amazing clean plant-based foods growing in abundance here. And I’m not talking about just berries and other seasonal fruits and vegetables, but for example grains like oats, which are truly a miracle ingredient. Italians have their pasta culture, and I think we have a very strong oat culture. Porridge has been a regular breakfast food in Finland for a long time, it’s inexpensive and very nourishing. But oats can be so much more than just plain old oatmeal (which is very yummy too), and the plant-based boom has brought many cool new oat-based products to the market.”
“I love to support local food production and farmers by eating as locally as I can. In the summer time a wider selection of vegetables and fruits are available in grocery stores and market places, and in winter time I eat more root vegetables, and of course berries from the freezer.
When you choose organic Nordic food, you can be sure you’re eating a clean and healthy diet. Nordic foods are very affordable every day foods, and they’re not fancy at all, but can be transformed into amazing plant-based meals.”
Favourite Nordic vegan food?
“I’ve already mentioned berries so many times but will mention them again. How amazing it is to have free food in the forest in the summer time! You’ll find berry forests almost anywhere you go in Finland! Berries are super versatile. When you’re not popping them into your mouth like candy, you can use them in baking (my favourite: classic berry pie), in porridges, overnight oats, ice creams, salads..well, only your imagination is the limit.
I also love wild foods. We have such vast wild nature areas here in Finland, even close to Helsinki, that it’s pretty easy to find a variety of different wild foods. I’m not a wild foods expert but I can recognize the basics like nettles, dandelion and wood sorrel, and I use these a lot in summer time in salads and smoothies.”
“Last but not least, I love oats in every form! We have warm oatmeal almost every morning in winter time, and overnight oats in the summer. I love to add oat protein or just plain rolled oats in my smoothies for extra nourishment. I often cook pulled oats, a delicious plant-based complete protein, which is made from oats, peas and fava beans. And my favourite: using oat flour in baking! It gives such a warm and lovely cozy flavour to baked goods. A big advantage of oats is that it’s a gluten-free grain (if you use pure oats) and oats are very nutrient rich. The overall health benefits have been studied a lot, and I consider it a Nordic super food just like berries”
Have you seen any current trends in Vegan food?
“An abundance of plant-based vegan food is available at grocery stores in Finland, and this trend is not coming to an end anytime soon. Big traditional meat and dairy companies are taking up shares of the market with their plant-based products. For example the biggest dairy producer in Finland launched an oat product range and a traditional meat producer now has a range of vegan and vegetarian products. There are also new companies coming up, like Gold & Green Foods a couple of years ago with their invention pulled oats. As more and more research is made and new ingredient combinations are discovered, I think we’re going to see more plant-based product innovations pop up in stores.”
“One of the reasons plant-based food trend is becoming bigger and bigger is because there are so many factors involved: reducing meat from your diet is not only a health-related or ethical choice, it is also a huge environmental one too. I think this environmental aspect speaks to a lot of consumers, and even having one or two meatless days a week makes a difference. This flexitarian way of eating is becoming more popular and meat and dairy free products on the market is making it easier. And I like to think my recipes are for everyone - you don’t have to be a vegan or vegetarian to enjoy good plant-based food!”