Making your own recipes is a fun affordable way to use up leftover veggies, or what’s on sale at the farmers’ market. Base meals around cheap staples like pasta or rice (take your own container to the zero waste shop, but eat rice up quickly, as it’s a food poison hazard, if left too long). Eating plant-based recipes is good for animal welfare, the planet and your health. It’s also a good way to replace tasteless and expensive plastic-wrapped ready-meals from the supermarket. Vegan Semla (Lazy Cat Kitchen) is a plant-based version of the most popular cinnamon almond bun in Sweden and beyond.
Use palm-oil-free vegan butter. Keep these recipes away from pets due to toxic ingredients (garlic, onion, leeks, chives, mushrooms, grapes, nuts, avocado, dried fruits, nutmeg, fresh dough, green potatoes/onions, chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, jackfruit and xylitol).
Scandinavia has similar weather to us (much colder though, due to our warmer weather because of the Gulf Stream). But we’re pretty close (Newcastle is on the same latitude, and you can sail to Sweden from the east coast, although it takes several hours. We’re pretty similar in temperament and food tastes too (you’ll find lost of fish and rich buttery cream and cheese dishes) and the main dessert is a kind of almond-cream bun with cinnamon, that’s eaten daily by nearly every Nordic person with a sweet tooth.
Carrot ‘Salmon’ & Cream Cheese Bagel (So Vegan)
As with England, there is a strong plant-based movement. In fact, the Swedish Dairy Board complained about Oatly advertising its oat milk as ‘like milk, but for humans’. The CEO (a Swede-Japanese man who makes videos of him singing awfully in a field) said he wished he had thought of the slogna far earlier. Because the complaint attracted so much good publiclity, their sales soared! Here are some plant-based versions of the most popular Nordic foods.
Plant-Based Scandinavian Recipes
- Vegan Aubergine Herring with Mustard Sauce (Planticize) is a recipe by an American who lives in Sweden. Serve with boiled potatoes and bread, for an authentic feast.
- Vegan Chocolate Mousse & Berry Tart (Rainbow Nourishments) is very easy to make. No pastry, no baking and no rolling pins needed!
- Vegan Chocolate Cake (Pick Up Limes) is ideal for any special occasion. It’s fluffy and no-one will guess it’s plant-based.
- Not a dessert, but this Cherry Old Fashioned Cocktail is a slightly sweeter take on the classic cocktail. The ideal slow-sipping cocktail for a spring or summer day, and easy to make too.
- Cranberry Orange Muffins (The Simple Veganista) is a recipe that can be interchanged with lingonberries (a Swedish popular fruit that is similar). These muffins are easy to make and plant-based.
- Not just in England – rhubarb is also Sweden’s favourite dessert ingredient! Try this No-Bake Rhubarb Custard Tart (Addicted to Dates) that is perfect to use up that glut of fruit from the garden or PYO farm. Rhubarb leaves are toxic to us and all creatures (just bin to naturally biodegrade, to avoid harming garden helpers in the compost bin).
Plant-Based Stinking Fish Alternatives!
Fish is the order of the day in most Scandinavian countries, with stinking rotting herring being a favourite? Your idea of cod may conjure up images of a humble fisherman catching what he needs for the day. But in reality, most commercial fishing kills hundreds of thousands of other creatures (whales, sea turtles) as by-catch in huge nets, with dead fish and creatures being thrown back, along with trawlers losing mountains of ‘ghost fishing waste’. In addition, cod is one of the most unsustainable fish, with stocks collapsing across northern Europe.
People in Scotland tend to buy more haddock, but in England cod is one of the most popular fish. Most is sold to supermarkets, fishmongers, restaurants and chip shops, but North Sea stocks are now at endangered levels, with experts recommending a reduced size of catch of over 60%, to stop cod going extinct. Some are even recommending making larger holes in the fishing nets, so more young cod can escape (this of course means more by-catch creatures can get caught). Most cod caught for UK consumption comes from Norway and Iceland, which has resulted in a huge fishing industry in the UK that provides jobs, but has resulted in cod being fished way above recommended levels for sustainability.
This has led to arguments re Brexit over fishing stocks and who owns them. But of course, a much simpler solution is to simply eat more plants, and less fish. Expanding the local food movement and supporting indie shops (that provide more jobs) is a far better way to create jobs, than killing off cod stocks and arguing about it.
Cod fish are slow swimmers, and need to travel around 200 miles to breed during the mating season, and also mate at very low depths, which is why the nets cause such harm to other creatures. Like a dancing couple, once together as a couple, they go swimming together, how cute! Catching too much cod also impacts other species like Scottish seabirds, which rely on cod to feed. If you know someone who eats cod, ask them to look for versions certified by Marine Conservation Society, and never use cod caught by scallop dredgers, which are the main ones that catch other fish and marine creatures.
Vegan Meatball Recipes
Meatballs are a popular snack world over, especially in the US and Sweden (think of how many are sold in IKEA shops). But of course, conventional meatballs are made with meat. Here are some nice kind plant-based versions. Try these Swedish Vegan Meatballs (The Veg Space). Chickpeas are the star ingredient here, with some nutritional yeast to give them a cheesy flavour.
- Easy Black Bean Meatballs (Shane & Simple) are full of flavour, and super-easy to make with wholesome ingredients. They won’t fall apart either.
- Suma Vegan Meatballs Bolognese is sold in a tin. Free from palm oil, just heat and eat. Also try the vegan meatball chilli.
- Moving Mountains Meatballs are made from natural ingredients, seasoned with herbs. In easy-to-recycle packaging, these have far less greenhouse gas emissions than meat meatballs.
Plant-Based Bakes from a Swedish Kitchen
The Nordic Baker is a beautiful debut recipe book that guides you through a year of plant-based Nordic cakes, buns, breads, cookies and crackers, whilst also inviting readers to keep things simple, and cook with nature in mind. Set to the backdrop of stunning location photography and including advice on embracing the Nordic lifestyle, this book also has tips on seasonal slow living.
A charming celebration of a beautiful corner of the world, and the wonderful food it has to offer. Recipes include:
- Plum & Almond Galette
- Lingonberry Roll Cake
- Thumbrprint Cookies
- Rhubarb Galette
- Raspberry & Cardamom Cupcakes
- Pear Tart
- Cardamom Rolls
- Gingerbread Bundt Cake
- Saffron Buns
- Seed Crackers
- Swedish Almond Cake
- Midsummer Cake
- Kladdkaka (like a chocolate brownie)
Work, laundry, bills and full calendars often stop us from experiencing nature, the way children do. I hope this book will inspire you to go out, forage for whatever is in season and start living more, according to the natural world. I hope it will help you to see the beauty of the changing seasons, to love nature and take care of what it gifts to us. And hopefully you will find the inspiration you need to start baking your own bread, and delicious bakes with ingredients you’ve gathered yourself. With love from a kitchen in the heart of Sweden. Sofia
Sofia Nordgren is a plant-based food blogger and photographer, who has a passion for nature and slow seasonal living. She wants to inspire others to live a simpler life, in harmony with nature.
Naturally Sweet Vegan Treats is a lovely book by a Stockholm baker. All made with natural ingredients, most desserts are Scandinavian although there are some other goodies like a vegan Neaopolitan ice-cream recipe and this delicious celebration chocolate cake.