Kitchen Stories with Tiina from @myberryforest

One of my favourite foodies on Instagram at the moment is Tiina. She's also a fellow Finn (I love how the plant based food scene is growing here in Finland and so many talents are popping up). I'm in love with Tina's fairytale like creations with a Nordic twist. They come in all colours of the rainbow and there will most likely be some sort of berries included as well. 

I think it's quite amazing that Tina is a mum of three and yet she manages to create new recipes and take the most beautiful food photos. I can only imagine how busy her life must be! Tiina truly is a recipe magician (more about this later in the interview). I wish I would have grown up eating blueberry bars and drinking all kinds of smoothies like Tina's children.

Scroll down to read more about Tina and to get one of her delicious recipes. 

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Hi Tiina, tell us a little bit about yourself. 

Hi Ida, so lovely to have this opportunity to share something about myself. I’m a mom of three (6 months, 3 years and 6 years), and I’m currently on maternity leave. I love to cook and create, and I share my plant-based food creations on Instagram @myberryforest and on my blog myberryforest.com which will be relaunched in August 2017 when I start writing in both English and Finnish (until now it’s been in English). I used to work over 10 years in brand marketing and will pursue my foodie career full time in August.  

Also I’m pleased to announce that my first cookbook which I made together with my fellow foodie and friend Tuulia (www.wellberries.com) will be published in May. It’s called Puuron uusi aika and it’s all about nourishing porridges, puddings, yogurts and what to do with porridge leftovers, all plant-based of course. You can check out the book here.

You have a magically beautiful Instagram where you share your clever cooking creations. When and how did you get into cooking? How about plant based foods?

Thank you so much, you are so kind!

I began cooking from scratch about five years ago when I had my first baby. It was around that time I started being more health-consciouos and wanted my little family to eat clean & wholesome food. 

I’ve always eaten a lot of vegetables and I’ve never preferred meat so switching into eating plant-based happened gradually and quite naturally. The final spur was when my second baby was diagnosed with dairy and egg allergies. I started searching dairy free and egg free recipes online, joined Instagram and was amazed by all the vegan food. So I began cooking vegan food for my family and that’s actually how my Instagram journey began.

Name three must haves in your kitchen. 

Berries, avocados (or cashews, so difficult to decide) and my high-speed blender. 

 

Breakfast, lunch or dinner? Why?

Neither, I’ll choose: afternoon matcha break. Now that I’m on maternity leave my mornings, lunch time and especially dinner time can be super hectic. Although I love eating together with my family, I choose my afternoon coffee break because it’s a time when my youngest is napping, and other two children are in daycare. So I have this precious 1-3 hours break when I usually have a matcha latte and some yummy vegan treats.

Would you like to share your favourite recipe? 

Yes, of course! My Blueberry Cheesecake Bars is one of the most popular recipes on my blog and I’ve had several amazing comments about this. Here’s the recipe:

 

My Blueberry Cheesecake Bars

vegan

PREP TIME: 1 hours 30 mins / COOK TIME: 30 mins / TOTAL TIME: 3 hours (Prep time includes the minimum soaking time for cashews - 1 hours)


Crust

Dry ingredients

⅓ cups gluten-free oat flour

¼ cups white rice flour

¼ cups almond flour

4 tbsp coconut sugar

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp Ceylon cinnamon

¼ tsp salt

 

Wet ingredients

3 tbsp melted coconut oil

2 tbsp almond butter

1-2 tbsp cold water (depending on how thick the almond butter is)

 

Cashew cream cheese filling

1 cup soaked cashews

¼ cups unsweetened plant-based yogurt (I used oat yogurt)

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp water

1,5 tbsp maple syrup

¼ tsp vanilla bean powder

⅛ tsp salt

+ 1 tbsp almond flour

 

Berry topping

1 cup of frozen blueberries (or other berries)

1,5 tbsp potato starch

1 tbsp coconut sugar


  1. Preparations: Soak 1 cup of cashews a minimum of 1 hour (preferably at least 2 hours or overnight) in warm water + ½ tsp sea salt.

  2. Crust: Preheat oven to 375F / 190 C.

  3. Combine dry ingredients together. Add melted coconut oil and almond butter to the dry ingredients. You might need your hands to mix the batter properly. It should look like wet coarse sand. Add cold water 1 tbsp at a time and mix with a spoon until the batter is firm and can be easily rolled into a ball.

  4. Line a small baking pan (I used a rectangle shaped: 22 x 16 cm ~9 x 6 inches, but this recipe would also work in a spring form cake pan) with parchment paper. Flatten the batter in the pan with your fingers until it is even. Bake in 375F / 190C for 10 minutes.

  5. While the crust is in the oven, prepare the cashew cream cheese filling: drain and rinse soaked cashews. Add all filling ingredients except almond flour to a high-speed blender or food processor and blend until the cashew cream is completely smooth. Add 1 tbsp almond flour and mix with a spoon.

  6. Berry topping: mix frozen blueberries and potato starch + coconut sugar. Coat all the berries in potato starch.

  7. Pour cashew cream on top of baked crust. Add blueberries on top of cashew cream and press the berries gently.

  8. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until blueberries have melted into a jelly like consistency.

  9. Let the blueberry cheesecake cool down in the baking pan. Cut into bars OR keep overnight in the fridge and cut into bars after chilling the cake.

  10. Enjoy this creamy berry delight!

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What would your perfect food day look like?

Totally depends on the season, but as we’re heading towards Summer, my perfect foodie day would start with overnight oats or a chia pudding made with vegan yogurt, berries and chia seeds. Or then I’d go for a beautiful brekkie tart made with a raw buckwheat, oat + date crust and filled with yogurt and berries. I also love my morning coffee: an almond milk latte with a few vanilla stevia drops.

Lunch I would love to grab from a plant-based restaurant like DATE + KALE, would definitely choose their summer rolls as they are super delicious!

As a snack I’d drink a nourishing smoothie and some nuts, and then I would have my precious afternoon matcha latte break with vegan cheesecake. 

For dinner I would prepare a tasty flavourful vegan lasagna, which my kids love, and would also make a fresh green salad with it.

My evening snack would be a perfect avocado toast.

You live near Helsinki, Finland. Do you have any places, shops, cafes (anything really) you would like your foodie friends to know about?

Helsinki has a thriving vegan food scene with many vegan friendly restaurants popping up. My go to place for weekend brunch is a Sandro and for lunch I would choose DATE + KALE, a super fresh new plant-based restaurant. Raw cakes and treats are also becoming available in many cafes. Among my favorites is the cozy Johan & Nyström cafe. Also would love to share my go-to shops for vegan ingredients: Vegekauppa, Ekolo and Ruohonjuuri.

We all have a sweet tooth, don’t we? What do you prefer to have when you need that sweet kick? Feel free to share a recipe as well.

Again this depends a lot on the season. In the winter I crave more chocolatey sweets like brownies and in the summer I love all kinds of raw treats and berry tarts. The above mentioned Blueberry cheesecake is both a summer and winter recipe so I recommend you to give it a try. 

You call yourself a recipe magician - which you truly are. What’s the recipe creation process like and how does a new recipe come alive? 

I was actually called a recipe magician by Thrive Magazine so that kind of stuck. I feel like there really is some sort of magic involved in the creation process. I come up with new food ideas daily, and write them down in my notebook or iPhone notes. From these ideas, I choose about 4-8 recipes to test per week. 

First I draft the recipe and then I start experimenting! I adjust the recipe while cooking, and hope it will turn out delicious. Sometimes I have to test a recipe 4-5 times before it tastes good and is what I envisioned. My mom and dad help me with recipe testing as they’re both amazing cooks and bakers. And I also use the most critical and honest audience to test my food creations: my children. 

You’re such an inspiring woman. Where do you get your own inspiration from? Any particular bloggers/foodies out there that inspire you?

Thank you again, you are a great inspiration too.

I’m extremely inspired by foodies who are not only creative but also kind, and who have a distinctive visual style. Some of the top foodies inspiring me are: Tastyasheck, Thefitfabfoodie, Cashewkitchen and Feastingonfruit. I also love cookbooks and some cookbooks with a beautiful visual style are: Nina Olsson: Bowls of Goodness, Jessica Prescott: Vegan Goodness and Emma Galloway: A Year in My Real Food Kitchen.

I’m also very much inspired by nature: forests, berries in the forest, lakes and the sea, and the changing seasons + seasonal colourful produce.

 
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Follow Tiina:

Instagram: @myberryforest

Blog: myberryforest.com