25 Things I Learned in 25 Years

So, 25 things I learned in 25 years. It’s my birthday, and as I’ve now completed a quarter of a century, I’m closer to thirty than to twenty and I’m halfway to fifty, I thought it would be appropriate to write something about it. The points listed below are things I’m aware of, but I’m not, you know, practicing what I’m preaching all the time and in all aspects of life yet. So, I’m telling this to myself as much as I’m telling it to you, hoping some of these 25 things might inspire you.

25-year-old girl
My cake, myself and my doggo.

1. Spend time with your family

I often feel like I’m too busy to visit my grandma, take a walk with my mum or do some other family-related activity. The thing is, though, that when I do it, I never regret it. They appreciate it, I enjoy it, and in the end it’s one of the most important and valuable things in life. For my mum and me it’s quite easy as we like similar music and we’re both into travelling, so concerts and trips are something we can do together.

2. Meet friends regularly

What social media did to us, or at least to me, is the fake illusion that we see people and know what’s going on in their lives, when in reality we only know what they choose to show. We’re all busy, of course, but it’s important to find time for the people we really care about and actually meet them in person from time to time.

3. Accept that some friendships end

As we grow up, we lose contact with some people. Busy schedules might have a lot to do with it, but often it’s simply about having different interests. Sometimes we must accept that certain friendships worked perfectly when we were kids or teenagers but ceased to exist in our twenties.

4. There’s no perfect relationship or friendship

Whether it’s a friendship or a romantic relationship, there will always be times when one will annoy the other, or there will be brief periods of bad mood. As long as they are brief, the two people are capable of sorting it out with respect and humour, there’s nothing abnormal or wrong with that; we’re all human and nobody can be perfect all the time.

5. When he/she’s the right one, you’ll know

I don’t believe that there’s only one soulmate out there for each person. I think it’s all a result of a lot of coincidence and being in the right place at the right time. But when it clicks, you know it. You can understand that with this person you get along as you never got along with anyone before. And you understand why it has never worked with anyone before.

6. Long distance relationships are possible

I always thought they were some phenomenon from Hollywood films that would never work in real life. How can you be with someone you never see? Well, you can’t; you got to see each other. You have to be prepared to spend time skyping and visiting each other, and money on plane tickets. It works as long as both want it badly enough to work for it.

7. Long distance friendships work too

During my exchange in London I didn’t only meet my boyfriend; I also met some of my best friends. Of course, it’s easier to be friends with someone who lives close to you, but it’s by no mean impossible to keep in touch with someone who’s far, at least not in this century. I still talk to my ex flatmates regularly via WhatsApp and Facebook, we skype occasionally, and we meet when time and money allow us. It’s not perfect, but it works.

8. Buying lots of things won’t make you happy

Going to shopping centres and shopping streets, and buying things I mostly didn’t need was something I used to enjoy. I bought many items of clothing that I then gave away without wearing them once. In time, I simply stopped doing that; I now buy clothes when I really need them, or really like them, and even then I try not to buy from big chain stores, but from local boutiques or second-hand shops instead.

9. Less is more when it comes to makeup

In high school I wouldn’t leave the house without eye liner. Man, are those days gone. It’s not that I don’t wear makeup now, I do. There’s just a lot less of it, it’s a lot simpler and from ethical brands. Plus, there are many days when I simply don’t wear it at all because I just can’t be bothered to put it on.

10. Money spent on travel is never wasted

I’ve never regretted a trip; even when I disliked the accommodation, the exact location or an organized trip, I still didn’t regret spending money on visiting the actual place. Travelling creates some of the best memories and opens your eyes to things you could never learn just from books, the TV or the internet.

11. Living abroad is the shit

Living abroad is completely different from travelling, and you never get to know a place that well if you simply spend a week there as a tourist. Getting to know what it feels like to use the public transport daily, to buy food in local shops weekly, and to hang out with the locals, gives you a unique experience that a short time visit never could.

12. Learning languages is one of the best things you can do

I study languages, so of course I’m going to say that, but I really think it’s enjoyable in general. Being able to understand and speak a foreign language can give you an understanding of a culture you couldn’t have otherwise, not to mention how useful it is when you travel, or how cool it is to talk to locals in their mother tongue.

13. Going to concerts is always worth it

I love music even if I don’t play any instruments anymore; I used to play the flute when I was a child but I gradually lost interest. Live music, especially if there’s a band I know and like performing, makes me feel all the feelings. I’ve spent quite a lot of money on concerts tickets and have been to quite a few countries just to see a band, but I regret nothing. Absolutely nothing.

14. Reading books is one of the best past time activities

Books allow you to live another life, to learn languages and vocabulary, to engage your mind in the most enjoyable way, to boost your imagination. I’m determined to work hard on giving myself more time for reading books; the pile next to my bed is getting too big.

 15. Use an agenda

Planning, writing things down in my agenda and sticking to it makes a big difference, even if I don’t manage to do everything I had planned for the day. I’m lost, and I forget things if I don’t write them down, plus this sort of gives me motivation, not to mention the satisfaction when I cross things out once they’re done. I usually spend a couple of minutes checking what I have to do every morning, and I also plan the week every Sunday evening.

16. Limit the amount of time for every activity

I try to make myself stop doing a particular thing even if it’s not finished: this gives me the opportunity to do other things, and to do more of different things daily. I’m bad at this, though; I often find it hard to stop myself from doing something that’s unfinished.

17. Have a sleeping routine

If I’m completely honest, I still have a lot to learn in this department, but I noticed that when I do manage to go to bed and drag myself out of it at approximately the same time for a few days in a row, I’m more productive. For me it would be ideal to go to bed at 10, read until 11, and then sleep until 7.

18. Limit phone use

Checking Instagram or Facebook before bed is the worst idea, at least in my case; it makes me not even touch the book that’s lying next to me, and it makes me stay up too late. I try to check emails and read some news in the morning before I start working and browse The Gram after lunch. I’m sort of out of the habit of checking Facebook daily, anyway. I think that’s now my mother’s and her generation’s thing.

19. Watching lots of TV series is a waste of time

And the same goes for shitty films. I used to do both on an almost daily basis a couple of years ago. Now I barely watch anything; I mostly only do if there’s someone else with me. Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with watching good films or TV series. On the contrary; I think it’s beneficial as it can teach you a great deal of language and culture. It’s just that it’s often hard to find enough time for it. When I do watch something, I try to make sure it’s beneficial for me in some way (languages), or it’s something I really want to see.

20. Quality over quantity when it comes to going out

I used to party and drink much more than I do now, and I think I sort of got it out of my system. I still enjoy going out and having a few drinks occasionally, and especially when I’m abroad and with I haven’t seen in a long time or with new people (maybe these are just excuses for my partying in Spain this summer). But generally, when I’m home, I prefer to just hang out without drinking, and I do less of that than I used to. I drink for special occasions like my birthday, New Year’s Eve or some other party that feels special to me. A good night’s sleep and no hangover are much more important than they’re used to be (getting old, I guess).

21. Doing sport daily is beneficial

But if, and only if, I don’t feel too tired; there are days like this too, and when they come, I rest. Most of the time, though, moving my body from 40 minutes up to an hour, or sometimes an hour and a half, makes my day so much better, whether I go for a run, for a bike ride, for a long walk or even if I just exercise in my room with the help of YouTube.

22. Healthy in general with occasional treats when it comes to food

My friends say I’m a food wanker, but I do like my occasional chocolate. Otherwise, they’re right; eating whole foods, mostly lots of veggies and fruit, makes me feel good. I also find it easier not to have junk food at home; if it’s not there, I won’t eat it.

23. The taste isn’t worth the harm animal products cause

Oh, come on, I mentioned 22 things before getting to veganism. Once I got over the fact that most of the people in my life don’t understand my way of eating or agree with it, and once I stopped missing certain foods I loved before going vegan, this lifestyle became one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It makes me feel good in relation to so many things: animal welfare, the environment, my own body. If you’re interested in why I’m vegan, you can read about it here.

24. Accept yourself as you are

I used to hate certain things about my body and my personality that I’m slowly learning to accept. That doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement, it’s just about not feeling less worthy because you don’t look like or behave like someone else. Loving yourself and your life and wanting to be exactly who you are is one of the most valuable things you can learn to do.

25. Dream big but be practical

I’m sort of doing that, and I’d like to think it’s a good plan. I want to publish a book one day, but that doesn’t mean I’m closed inside my room focusing on that only. I’m working on my writing, but I’m also studying languages because I know I have to keep my options open, and a translation-related job might come before a writing-related one or anything even remotely close to a best-seller.

The end

And I thought I was going to have trouble coming up with 25 things I learned in 25 years. I could come up with another 25. Anyway, congrats if you got this far, I know it’s a lengthy post. Thanks for reading and I hope some of the points were useful to you in some way. 🙂

5 Vegan Dinners

Here’s a selection of 5 vegan dinners anyone can make! Three are savoury, and two are sweet (I have a sweet tooth, and I often honour it), but still healthy-ish. The most common ingredients in these recipes are avocados, tofu and, surprise, bananas.

Avo pasta

To be honest, I never have this for dinner as I usually don’t eat cooked dinner; for me it’s either salad/oats/bread or rice cakes with something, or some random thing I find in the kitchen. I never, ever, cook rice or pasta or something similarly normal in the evening; it’s just never been a tradition in my family as lunch is the main meal for us. But I know some people do it, so here’s a recipe for a proper dinner (which is also very quick and simple).

Ingredients

  • pasta
  • a small avocado or half a large one
  • spices: salt, pepper, garlic powder (or fresh chopped garlic)
  • lemon juice
  • optional: nutritional yeast/nooch (vegan parmesan, they say)
  • optional: any cooked veggies or some fresh chopped tomatoes

Instructions

Cook the pasta and meanwhile make the “guacamole” (I don’t even know what comes in the original one, hence the quotation marks). Peal the avocado (just cut it in half and scoop out the edible part with a spoon), mash it with a fork, adding some lemon juice (less than half a lemon), a pinch of salt, black pepper to taste, and some garlic powder (depends on how much of a garlic person you are). When the pasta’s done, drain it, throw it back into the pot, add the avo sauce and stir thoroughly (you don’t need to heat it up). At this point you can add the nutritional yeast and the veggies of choice or sprinkle some sunflower seeds or nuts on top. That’s it!

Avo pasta (had it with a side salad: llettuce with mustard, as weird as that sounds).

Tofu scramble

As vegans don’t eat eggs, there are many alternatives, and that’s one of them (I wouldn’t say it tastes anything like eggs, but it looks a bit like scrambled eggs, and it’s good).

Ingredients:

  • a quarter of a block of original firm tofu
  • a spoon of mustard
  • spices: salt, black pepper, turmeric, paprika, powdered garlic, powdered onion (the last two can also be fresh, just being lazy here)
  • a splash of water
  • a bit of soy sauce (optional, and I’d leave the salt out in this case)
  • a spoon of nooch (optional)
  • some mushrooms (optional)

Instructions

Throw everything in a pan, don’t forget to add a splash of water, and fry it! I like having it with some “guacamole”, the recipe for which you can find above.

Tofu scramble, “guacamole”, broccoli and corn cakes.

Bean hummus dip

That’s a very lazy one.

Ingredients:

  • a can of any beans (I used cannellini)
  • lemon juice to taste
  • spices: salt and pepper
  • a teaspoon of tahini (sesame paste)
  • a splash of water
  • any veggies you can eat raw
  • rice/corn cakes or crackers or bread

Instructions

Blend everything except the veggies and the crackers. Dip the veggies and the crackers in the bean hummus or spread it on a slice of bread.

Bean hummus dip, carrot, chayote and corn cakes.

Banana and tofu spread

I used to love mashing a ripe banana with some quark and cinnamon, spreading it on toasted bread and topping it with a drizzle of honey (which, I’d say, is proof that veganism didn’t make me weird; I’ve just always been this way, haha). So, as always, I veganized it. This also makes a good breakfast!

Ingredients

  • toasted bread
  • one ripe banana
  • a quarter of a block of firm original tofu
  • cinnamon
  • syrup (I used rice syrup)

Instructions

Mash the banana together with the tofu (you should get a lot of the spread, perhaps too much for two slices of bread, but you can always eat it as it is because it’s delicious). Spread it on toasted bread and, if you want, drizzle with syrup and add some cinnamon. It will be messy but worth it, and you can even sprinkle some chopped toasted nuts on top.

No, I didn’t eat the flower.

Sweet potato and banana disaster

And finally the last out of the 5 vegan dinners. It’s not something I usually make unless I have leftover baked sweet potatoes, because it sort of takes a while longer to prepare (just because you have to bake the potato; I don’t like it boiled or microwaved as much). It’s special, though, and yum. This could also be breakfast or, well, dessert.

Ingredients

  • one whole small baked sweet potato
  • one ripe banana
  • some cinnamon if desired
  • a spoon of cocoa powder
  • a spoon of liquid sweetener
  • a splash of soy milk

Instructions

Pill the potato (the pill is tasty btw), put it in a bowl, add the banana and blend it with a stick hand blender (or in a smoothie maker). Then prepare the sauce: mix cocoa powder, syrup and a splash of milk in a small cup, then microwave for thirty seconds and stir well once it’s hot. Pour over the potato-banana thingy and sprinkle some nuts on top if you feel like it. That’s it, enjoy!

It really does look like dessert (and tastes like it too).

I realise that these 5 vegan dinners are very random, but that’s what dinner is to me: random. My breakfasts are always fruity, oaty and sweet, and my lunches are always loaded with vegetables, and often with some sort of legumes. But my dinners? They are whatever I feel like eating, have time for preparing, and is lying in the kitchen.  Also, if you’ve checked my posts about vegan breakfasts and dinners, you now have an idea of what I, as a vegan, usually eat in a day (plus some fruit for snacks and minus the pasta for dinner). That’s just me, though, I bet that other vegans eat differently as every person has diverse needs and preferences.

In case you’re interested in more recipes, I also have a post with vegan breakfasts and one with dinners.

5 Vegan Lunches

5 simple and quick vegan recipes for lunch or dinner; I wrote lunches because I usually have an even simpler dinner, but of course they can be prepared for dinner as well. They are quite cheap; the only expensive ingredients are tahini and nutritional yeast, and you don’t necessarily have to use them. They do make food tastier, though, and once you buy them you can use them for a couple of months.

Note: apparently chickpeas for lunch are what bananas are to me for breakfast – a necessity (and that’s why 4 out of 5 of these recipes contain them).

Some sort of pad thai

It’s not real pad thai; I, as usually, didn’t follow any recipe and didn’t use any oil (you can, of course, use oil if you’re a normal person and you’re not experimenting like me).

Ingredients

  • rice noodles for one person (if it’s for more than one, just use more of the rest of the ingredients)
  • veggies, for example: one onion, one pepper, some broccoli
  • half a can of mushrooms
  • half a block of tofu
  • soy sauce to taste
  • a splash of soy milk (I didn’t have any other sauce)
  • spices of choice (I used paprika, turmeric and black pepper)
  • crushed peanuts or other nuts (I used pistachios)

Instructions

Fry the onion for about a minute, then add pieces of broccoli, red pepper and mushrooms and fry some more, adding soy sauce and spices of choice. Fry until the veggies are not completely raw anymore but not soft either; they should still be crunchy. Cook the noodles according to the instructions. Cut the tofu into small cubes and »fry« them in soy sauce. Throw the veggies and the noodles on it and mix well. I added a splash of soy milk here because it was too dry; real cooks and people who care more mix up a special sauce at this point. I didn’t mind the dish being a bit drier because the noodles were super soft and good (overcooked according to my boyfriend, but I seem to like overdone food for some reason). Sprinkle some roasted nuts on top and eat!

My version of pad thai.

Pasta with hummus sauce

I know it sounds odd, but I guarantee you it’s life.

Ingredients

  • any pasta (as much as you’d like to eat)
  • hummus: the more you use, the juicier it will be (I use about half of what I make out of one can of chickpeas)
  • nutritional yeast: a tablespoon or two
  • some dried tomatoes
  • some fresh cherry tomatoes

Instructions

Cook the pasta, drain it, put it back in the same pot you cooked it in, and throw all the ingredients on top. Add some salt or pepper if desired (I don’t). Mix it well and eat!

Hummus

You can cook your own chickpeas or buy a can (drain the chickpeas and then rinse well in case it’s a can; in my case it usually is). Place around 240 grams (1 can) of chickpeas in a bowl or blender, squeeze some lemon on it, add a pinch of salt, some garlic powder (or fresh minced garlic) and a teaspoon of tahini (sesame paste). Blend it in a blender or in a bowl using a stick hand blender. That’s it! Adding oil is completely unnecessary, but some people find the store-bought hummus tastier (it contains oil, more salt and preservatives).

It looks gross but it ain’t.

Chickpea »curry«

The question marks are there because that’s probably not real curry, it’s just something I made up after reading a couple of recipes and deciding they were too complicated/I didn’t have the ingredients and was too lazy to get them. It was for about two people or two lunches.

Ingredients

  • an onion
  • a clove of garlic
  • 2 medium carrots
  • some green beans
  • a courgette
  • a can of chickpeas
  • soy milk (coconut would be better, I just didn’t have it)
  • spices: salt, black pepper, paprika, curry obviously, turmeric

Instructions

Cut the onion and fry it in some kind of oil (or in water). Add the garlic after about a minute. Fry everything for another minute at medium temperature, then add all the remaining veggies and pour about a glass of water and a glass of soy milk over them. At this point I also added some soy sauce and all the spices, and then cooked it all until the veggies were almost done, then added the canned chickpeas (rinse it first, my friends), some nutritional yeast because I like it, and cooked a couple of minutes more. If it’s too dry add more liquid and if it’s too watery don’t cover it while cooking. Serve with rice.

I had it with rice (I usually have brown, but mummy made white) and more green sprouts because vegetables are important.

Chippies with hummus, eggplant and tomato sauce

If you’re not vegan it probably seems like this meal is missing something (maybe it seems like they all do), but for me it’s a completely normal lunch. I just have it with some hummus and my life’s complete.

Ingredients

  • thinly sliced potatoes (as much as you’d like to eat)
  • an eggplant, sliced
  • any tomato sauce (my mum makes her own, will ask how at some point)

Instructions

Put the potatoes and the eggplant on a baking tray lined with baking paper, add salt and desired spices and bake at around 200 degrees Celsius for about 20 to 25 minutes. Heat up the tomato sauce and, if you’re me, make some hummus! Put it all on a plate and dip the potatoes in the sauce/hummus.

Just try making oil-free potatoes; it’s life-changing.

Sweet potato with, surprise, hummus

Sweet potato is different from regular potato: it’s sweeter and the structure is different; it’s pumpkin-like. If I bake it in the oven, I always cut regular potatoes into thin slices and sweet potato into thicker slices; it’s just my preference, though.

Ingredients

  • sweet potato (I used two small ones)
  • hummus (check the recipe above)

Instructions

Cut the sweet potato into slices that are about one centimetre thick. Put them on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake at 200 degrees Celsius for about 20 to 25 minutes. I don’t add any spices because I love the taste as it is. I recommend having it with hummus or avocado spread (I make it with lemon, salt, black pepper and garlic powder).

Actually, I think guacamole is even better with sweet potato than hummus, I just didn’t have any avocados.

And that’s it! I hope this gives you guys some ideas about what a vegan lunch could look like. Of course, I could have added tempeh, seitan or some sort of fake meat to any of these meals, but I don’t do that often, except for the occasional tofu (like in the pad thai recipe). I also had raw veggies with all of these meals, like lettuce or something similar. I think they are filling, tasty meals that provide the necessary carbs, fats and protein (because of all the hummus).  More importantly, I think they can be enjoyed by anyone, vegan or not!

I also have a post with vegan breakfasts and dinners in case you’re interested.

5 Vegan Breakfasts

If I had to pick one kind of food to live on for a while, I’d pick bananas. I love them because they’re so versatile, so sweet, but still healthy. I never, ever, unless I really don’t have a choice, have a banana free breakfast. You get the point: bananas are life. So here are 5 vegan breakfasts (or lunches or dinners, no limits there) featuring BANANAS.

Note: when I say cup, I mean any cup, and not the standard American cup measure. It’s just for the sake of proportion.

Porridge with mashed banana

My classic and all time favourite breakfast. You can make oats without adding banana, or you can simply add slices of it as a topping. I really recommend mixing mashed banana into the oats, though, as it makes them sweet and creamy. If you’ll be using classic rolled oats (not instant), you should soak them overnight or at least for an hour before using them, or just cook them longer, as they are harder. You can only use a cup of liquid if you prefer firmer oats, and up to two cups if you prefer them more runny.

Ingredients

  • a cup of oats (the size of the cup depends on how hungry you are; just keep in mind that oats expand)
  • a cup and a half of liquid (water, plant-based milk or a combination of both if you’re me)
  • one ripe mashed banana
  • a spoon (or two) of chia seeds/flaxseeds
  • cinnamon to taste

Instructions

Mash the banana in a bowl (if you’re using the microwave) or in a pan (if you’re using the stove). Add in all your remaining ingredients and microwave it for about two minutes, then give it a stir, then microwave the oats a bit more, for about thirty seconds. It takes about this long for me when I’m using the highest power (it might differ depending on your microwave and on what you consider cooked oats). They should be slightly firm but still creamy; you should be able to stir them. On the stove it might take a minute longer, you should cook them on low temperature and stir all the time; be careful not to burn them (I’ve done it too many times).

Toppings

You can use everything, basically: a piece of dark chocolate, frozen/fresh berries, any sliced fruit, nut butters, nuts, seeds, you can drizzle it with maple, agave or some other syrup or add a spoon of »nutella«. My personal favourite is mixing a spoon of cocoa, a drizzle of coconut nectar and a tiny splash of soy milk in a small cup and microwaving it for about 30 seconds (no more because it will boil and you’ll turn your microwave brown, happens to me about every other time). Then I just pour this over my porridge and that’s it! Be careful not to burn your tongue; porridge doesn’t cool down quickly (which is why I sometimes add a splash of soy milk on top). This is the most filling, delicious and healthy breakfast ever, and ideal during winter.

This was oats, mashed banana, soy milk, water, chia seeds and cinnamon, topped with a piece of 85% chocolate and a drizzle of maple syrup. It was more on the dessert side, to be honest.

Nice cream

My favourite breakfast in the summer or whenever I feel like eating ice cream! I think I actually enjoy it more than regular ice cream, maybe because I’m a health freak, or at least that’s what they say. The first thing you need to do is slice a couple of ripe bananas (the riper, the better) and store them in your freezer overnight or at least for a few hours. The second thing you need is obviously a regular blender (smoothie maker) or a stick hand blender.

Ingredients

  • 2-3 ripe frozen bananas
  • a splash of »milk« or a couple of spoons of yogurt (not necessary, but I prefer my ice cream a bit softer)
  • any flavour that you desire: you can add cocoa powder, fresh/frozen berries, cinnamon, nut butters, vanilla…

Instructions

Blend it all in a blender or in a bowl with the stick hand blender until smooth. You can add any topping you like and you’re done! Just be careful not to get brain freeze.

2 frozen bananas, a cup of blueberries, 2 spoons of soy yogurt. Topped with walnuts and chocolate sauce made of cocoa powder, peanut flour, coconut nectar and soy milk (in the microwave).

Yogurt with banana

It doesn’t get much simpler than this. I used to love Greek yogurt with banana slices and honey for breakfast; so I veganized it.

Ingredients

  • soy or any other plant-based yogurt
  • sliced banana
  • any desired toppings: more fruit, nuts, seeds, syrup, dried fruit, granola etc.

Instructions

Mix it all in a bowl and enjoy!

Additional recipe for the homemade granola that’s pictured below

Ingredients

  • oats
  • cinnamon
  • nuts
  • some kind of syrup (any)
  • chopped dates

*The quantities are a personal choice and depend on how much of it you want to make and on how sweet you want it. Also, the more syrup you add, the stickier it will become. I usually use about 2 cups of oats, a random amount of cinnamon, half a cup of nuts, half a cup of dates and a quarter of a cup of syrup. I sometimes also throw some seeds in there. It’s still sweet, but much healthier than regular breakfast cereal.

Instructions

Mix it all in a bowl, adding the syrup in the end and mixing it well again. Place the granola on a tray lined with baking paper and bake at around 160 degrees Celsius for about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on your oven. Don’t forget to check on it, it burns quickly. When it’s done, add the chopped dates and cool everything down. Store in closed jars/plastic containers.

Homemade granola, soy yogurt, sliced banana, sliced strawberry.

Warm Weetabix with banana

A classic quick breakfast option. You can, of course, eat it cold (as it’s meant to be eaten lol), but I like the hot version when it’s cold outside.

Ingredients

  • 3 (or more) Weetabix biscuits
  • one ripe banana
  • about a glass of plant-based milk
  • cinnamon
  • topics of choice

Instructions

Very easy: mash the banana in a bowl, add the biscuits and the cinnamon, then the milk. Mix it all and the biscuits will get from dry and disgusting to mushy and nice. Microwave for about two minutes and here’s your alternative to porridge! Top with whatever your heart desires and enjoy.

Tip: eating cold Weetabix with milk, mashed banana, frozen berries, some kind of liquid sweetener and cinnamon, is also amazing, and my favourite version for the summer.

Weetabix with mashed banana, cinnamon and soy milk, topped with the banana leftovers, some roasted almonds, raisins, and a piece of super dark chocolate. Featuring my broken bowl from a Chinese shop in Valencia (I broke it about 2 minutes after buying it). Good times.

Sweet potato »toasties« with stuff (including banana, worry not)

This might take some more time, unless you have leftover baked sweet potato, so perhaps it’s better making it four lunch or dinner if you’re in a rush in the morning. You can, of course, just make the sweet version, or just the salty (which would exclude bananas, sadly), but here are the ingredients for both. Also, you can just use regular bread if you’re not feeling adventurous.

Ingredients

  • one smaller sweet potato
  • one banana
  • nut butter of choice
  • jam of choice
  • hummus
  • smoked tofu

Instructions

Cut the sweet potato into slices that are about a centimetre thick (sometimes it only means cutting it in half) and bake them in the oven at about 200 degrees Celsius for 20 to 25 minutes. (I hear that some people use a regular toaster for them, but I haven’t tried yet, so I wouldn’t know. I tried microwaving them once, because that’s apparently also a thing, but it took ages and they weren’t as good as they are from the oven.) Spread the nut butter and then the jam on one piece and top with banana coins. Spread the hummus on the other slice and top with slices of smoked tofu. I know it sounds bizarre but it’s seriously delicious, I kid you not.

Sweet potato toasties for breakfast.
Well, this contains exactly what’s described above.

I hope this post about 5 vegan breakfast ideas gives you ideas on what you can make with bananas, and what you can generally eat for a vegan breakfast (regardless of whether you’re vegan or not). This is not where the options for meals featuring bananas end at all, though, so expect more on that topic. 😀 In case you’re interested in vegan lunches or dinners, I’ve got you covered too.

Impressions of Barcelona

I expected two things from Barcelona: for it to be beautiful and crammed with tourists. Before our trip, my mum kept sending me pictures of gorgeous mosaics that we absolutely had to see. A friend of mine, on the other hand, told me to enjoy »the amusement park«. All our expectations turned out to be facts. Barcelona is a truly beautiful city, but the number of visitors has a big impact on it.

Park Güell

Things that I loved

Gaudi’s work

I haven’t seen all of it, but I did visit the famous Park Güell. It’s full of his mosaics, as is the house he lived in. I’ve also been to Casa Milà which costs 20 if you’re a student and 25 if you’re not. I’ve seen Casa Batllo, Sagrada Familia and some other buildings from the outside; they stole my mum’s wallet while I’m not rich enough. I would really recommend visiting Casa Milà because the roof is the weirdest, but also one of the best things I’ve ever seen. Park Güel is great too, and the cliché wall, where everyone takes the classic picture of Barcelona, is amazing. Just remember to buy the tickets in advance online. It’s something worth seeing, despite the crowd of people, trying to take an Instagram-worthy photo.

Barri Gotic

The Gothic Quarter is my favourite quarter in Barcelona. It’s full of narrow streets, cool architecture and diverse bars and restaurants, not to mention the shops that sell basically everything, from clothes to expensive artsy souvenirs. It’s also where the Barcelona Cathedral is situated. The interesting thing is that they only made it »gothic« in the 19th century.

Plaza Real

It’s just a square with a fountain, lots of palm trees, yellow walls and many bars, restaurants and clubs, but it’s beautiful. I walked through it several times because it was on the way from our hostel to the Gothic Quarter, right next to La Rambla.

Plaza España and Font Màgica

Plaza España is huge, and it features a shopping centre, to the roof of which you can get with a lift for one euro. I suppose there are other ways, but that’s the one we chose for some reason. The roof offers great views of the Palacio Nacional and of other parts of the city. It’s also full of restaurants. The Magic Fountain is a 5-minute walk away, and they do a lights and music show every evening. It’s free, and it’s something worth seeing despite the huge crowd that gathers there to watch. They play diverse music and do weird but amazing things with the water. I’m actually surprised they haven’t started charging for it yet (nice one, Barcelona).

The many vegan options

There are lots of vegan restaurants, but I haven’t been to any. I only tried places that had vegan options. I’ve been to Chök The Chocolate Kitchen and Cookies Demasie. The first one has lots of chocolatey vegan treats on offer (I had the most amazing cupcake), and the second one makes vegan cinnamon buns. We also ate in Abirradero, right next to our hostel, and they had a vegan burger on the menu, but I opted for the quinoa salad instead.

Casa Milà (La Pedrera)

Things that I liked

The beach (Playa de la Barceloneta).

Barcelona has more beaches to the north of Barceloneta, but I haven’t been to those. Barceloneta is a classic: very long, very wide, with many bars and restaurants nearby. The downside of the beach are the guys and girls who walk by all the time, trying to get you to buy drinks, towels or get a massage. It’s hard to fall asleep or read when someone’s screaming »Cerveza!« at you all the time.

La Rambla

The famous street that connects the port and Plaza de Cataluña. It’s cool if you fancy a walk down a big street that’s surrounded by beautiful houses, is full of bars, restaurants and mini-shops, as well as of people (almost exclusively tourists). I wouldn’t call it ugly or the walk through it unpleasant, but I really don’t see what’s so interesting about it.

La Sagrada Familia

Once again, I only saw it from the outside. The way in which the building is done, how diverse it is, the details that it has and just how huge it is, make it amazing and worth seeing. The fact is, though, that there are huge lines and groups of people all around it, and that it’s under construction. They have been building it for about a century, they’re still not done, and they probably won’t be for another decade or so.

Mercado de la Boqueria

It’s big and it offers a big range of different food products, but it’s also very very crowded and everything’s expensive. They sell a lot of chocolate, but even the dark versions contain milk, so sad times for vegans and lactose intolerant people.

Park Monjuic

A hill with a castle and with amazing views of the city. Totally worth the hike which took us about half an hour with all the stopping for pictures.

Playa de la Barceloneta

Things that I didn’t like

The prices

How expensive the entry fees to most museums and other attractions are. Also, they charge you one euro for using the stupid toilet on the train station Barcelona Sants and in the shopping centre Maremagnum, which is next to the Aquarium (in the port).

The constant invitations

The already mentioned people who want to sell something to you constantly, plus the ones who want to convince you to eat in their restaurant.

The pickpockets

They stole my mum’s wallet before we even got to the hostel, which is nothing unusual for a big touristy city. She definitely should have been more careful, but it still sucked.

The crowds of tourists

I’m a hypocrite for saying that because I was one of them, but it still didn’t make me like it. It was interesting to hear so many languages and see people from so many different cultures and parts of the world, though!

Plaza de Cataluña

Stuff I’d recommend

Using public transport

It’s well organized and the buses are punctual. The city is also well connected by the metro. We bought a ticket for ten rides and used nine of them in four days (the ticket allows you to use buses and the tube).

Staying at Hostal Abrevadero

It cost us 200 euros for three nights for both of us, but we had our own room and our own bathroom. It was very clean, renovated, the staff was super nice and helpful, the room was pretty, and the location was great (near the port and the Gothic Quarter, with bus and metro stations a two-minute walk away). I’m still not entirely sure why it’s called a hostel; it was more on the hotel side.

Taking a Free Walking Tour with Craft Tours

We walked from Plaza Cataluña, through the Gothic Quarter, and finished on Plaza Real. The guide gave us a brief history of the city, touched upon recent political events and told us many interesting things and funny stories about the buildings we saw during our walk. Also, you can pay as much as you think the tour was worth.

Eating in Calle Blai

It’s a street full of tapas bars where you can eat pinchos. Pinchos are small sandwich bites: a different kind of tapas. I’d recommend tapas in general, as they are usually the cheaper, but still tasty option. They’re also a way in which you can try more things (you share them with the people you’re eating with).

Sagrada Familia

Conclusions

I hope you enjoyed my impressions of Barcelona, even though I only spent four days there, and am not done with it at all. Despite of our short stay, we still managed to see all that we had planned. This means that it was quite intense, and each evening I went to bed with my head full of new pretty images. This special city has lots left to see, and I fully intend on visiting it again. I was somehow happy when I got to the smaller and more peaceful Valencia, though.