Welcome to the newest series on our blog – an interview series with some of our favorite Foodie Mama Friends from the blogosphere. Today we are interviewing Virpi Mikkonen from Vanelja.
Virpi Mikkonen is a Finnish author, recipe developer, stylist, and photographer who specializes in food and wellness. Her award-winning site Vanelja focuses on wholesome food and healthy treats. Virpi’s recipes and beautiful pictures have inspired us since we started our blogging journey so we are truly honored to have her as our first Foodie Mama Friend in our interview series.
Tell us a little about yourself and your family
I’m an entrepreneur, food author and wellness recipe creator and I live in Helsinki with my 5-year-old daughter and husband who is a director.
What is your blog about? When and why did you start blogging?
My background is in journalism but about 7 years ago I got carried away by gluten-free, dairy-free, and refined sugar free vegetarian food and recipe development due to gastric and skin problems that I was facing. I was able to cure my problems with the help of food choices and that’s when I started a Finnish blog called Kiitos Hyvää (It’s a Pleasure), which became quickly very popular. My blog was one of the first Finnish wellness blogs at that time and many other people seemed to have similar kind of problems as I had and they were looking for a way out. I got a lot of supportive and uplifting feedback, which inspired me to carry on the work amidst wellness food. After my maternity leave I decided to quit my job as a magazine journalist and become an entrepreneur. During my first year as an entrepreneur I wrote and photographed my first cook book about healthy treats, which was later published also in English with the name It’s a Pleasure. During the same year I started my vanelja.com-site, which focuses on pure pleasures. I don’t share any health advices on my blog but I rather want to inspire people to try real food by creating delicious recipes and inviting pictures. So far I’ve written 4 cookbooks, out of which N’Ice Cream and It’s a Pleasure have been published also in USA and N’Ice Cream in 6 countries.
Tell us 3 fun facts about yourself.
I love pears and I eat at least two of them each day. My imagination and dream world are rather wild and inspired by them I sometimes dream about a future career as a detective story author. I sing almost non-stop and I could work as a jukebox since I know most of the songs played in the radio by heart.
What kind of food do you love to cook? What are you especially enthusiastic about?
My imagination stops if I have to think about weekday meals. I could create endless treat and snack recipes but for some reason I don’t get as excited about normal everyday food. My biggest passions at the moment are all kinds of smoothies and nice creams.
What are your kids’ top 3 favorite dishes?
Pizza! My daughter could probably eat pizza every day. A regular weekday meal that our whole family enjoys is mini pizzas that are assembled over sweet potato slices.
Nice cream. My bravura is nice cream where I use frozen bananas or other fruit as a base. They are easy and quick to prepare and my daughter always enjoys eating them. She also likes to assist me making them. I’m at the moment creating new recipes for our N’Ice Cream book and we have nice cream at home every day which has made my daughter the happiest kid in the world.
Spaghetti and organic meat balls. We eat rarely meat but when we eat it I always choose either organic meat or game. We use gluten-free rice and sweet potato spaghetti instead of regular spaghetti.
Your 5 favorite ingredients which you always have in your kitchen?
Oat milk. We don’t use cow’s milk but we love oat milk instead.
Sweet potato. We use sweet potato in some form almost every day. I think you can use it in so many ways, even in sweet treats. On vanelja.com-site there is even a recipe for a chocolate pizza, which is topped with chocolate mousse made out of sweet potato. It tastes heavenly!
Almond butter. Almond butter is a lovely snack served together with vegetables and it’s also a great ingredient in baking.
Cucumber. I eat at least one cucumber each day. It’s a perfect vegetable for someone like me who “overheats” easily and needs green food to cool down.
Pears. I add pears to my oatmeal in the morning, use them in cold pressed green juices, smoothies and ice cream or munch them as such.
Share one of your family’s favorite recipes
STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE NICE CREAM
1 cup frozen strawberries
2 ripe frozen banana
2 tbsp full fat coconut cream (kept in a freezer)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
0,5 cup almond milk (or other plant based milk)
Place all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour the mixture into a freezer safe jar and freeze for an hour. Scoop out to balls and serve with raw cheesecake crust.
Raw cheesecake crust:
1/2 cup pecan nuts
5 fresh dates
1/2 tsp cardamom
Place all the ingredients into a blender and blend until a moldable crust. Sprinkle on the nice cream.
Thank you Virpi for the interview!
Find Virpi’s cook books: