It’s no secret that food tastes great when you eat it outdoors. But when the food also happens to be climate-smart, cost-efficient and easy to prepare, well, that’s a new level of delicious.
Eating a healthy and climate-smart diet doesn’t have to be expensive. This is according to dietician Hanna Olvenmark, founder of the blog “Portionen under tian” (A portion for less than SEK 10) and author of a cookbook with the same name. And she prefers to eat outside.
We have just started discussing what is so special about eating outside when Hanna Olvenmark distracts herself with thoughts of beautiful days spent in Änggårdsbergen Reserve, close to her home in Gothenberg.It is surrounded by suburbs but is still a real forest where she can escape for a moment of self-reflection. She thinks about Dalsland’slakes and forests, where she spent her childhood holidays at her father’s summerhouse. And Bohuslän’s coast and walking the beautiful Soteledentrail. “I am quite prone to stress and can really tell when I have spent too much time in the city. The best way for me to ground myself is to get outdoors. Away from all the hustle and bustle, out into nature where everything is calm.”
If you have read Hanna’s blog, you will know that her favourite activity is to eat outdoors, surrounded by nature. Setting up the camping kitchen, getting everything ready, dedicating some time to just being out there. Or simply packing a sandwich and a thermos and heading to the closest park. “But my favourite food? I don’t know. But I hate being hungry. I can’t really enjoy being outdoors when I’m hungry. And I’m not fussy. I actually truly believe that everything tastes good when you are outdoors,” she says and then laughs a little at herself. At the same time she confirms that this is in fact true. She may be an incredibly popular blogger and the author of a best-selling cookbook, but Hanna Olvenmark has both feet firmly on the ground when she repeats her mantras: Simple is often best. And most important of all: Food does not have to be expensive. This is the basis for everything she has created in recent years.
It all started when she was a newly graduated clinical dietician and kept coming across the widespread belief that it was expensive to eat good food. Hanna didn’t agree with this. Already as a student, she had started blogging about food together with some classmates; she even started her own column on the blog that focused on cheap and healthy eating. Now she had even more fuel for her desire to start a larger project aimed at sceptics. She started her “Portionen under tian” blog in 2017 (undertian.com) and three years later her cookbook with the same name was published. Today, Hanna spends a lot of her time travelling around giving talks on the subject. Sharing knowledge on food is good for your body, your budget – and for the planet. “From a climate perspective, it is really important that we eat more plant-based food than animal based. When I choose ingredients according to what is cheap, I often end up with root vegetables and legumes. And legumes are among the most climate-smart foods!” says Hanna.
“But climate-smart eating is also about not buying more food than we will use,” she says. Food wastage is one of our biggest environmental problems, and buying expensive substitutes for meat is unnecessary. “We get told that we should buy expensive things to help the climate crisis. Sometimes we take the wrong approach. Instead of thinking that we need to buy products to substitute meat, why not cut back on meat. Eat it less often, and when you do eat it, make sure you buy good quality meat.
1. Cold yeast bread
About 10 pcs
About 10 g of fresh yeast, 500 mls cold water, 1.5 - 2.5 cups of white flour, 2 cups of graham flour, 2 tbsp oil, 1 tsp salt
Crumble the yeast into the cold water in a bowl and stir until the yeast has dissolved. Mix in salt and oil. Stir in the graham flour first and then the white flour. The dough should be quite loose and a little sticky. Sprinkle some flour over and cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a towel. Set in the fridge. Leave there for about 10-12 hours.
On baking day: Place an empty roasting pan in the bottom of the oven and heat up to 275 degrees C. Remove the dough from the fridge and place on a floured table. Lay out the dough and roll into a long “sausage”. Don’t knead. Divide the dough into 10 parts and form into rolls. Put the rolls on an oven tray with baking paper.
When the oven is hot: Put the tray with the rolls in the middle of the oven. Take a glass of water and pour it into the roasting pan (the steam that comes from the water gives the rolls a crunchy surface).
2. Date balls
About 10 pcs
2/5 cup of sunflower seeds, 2/5 cup of grated coconut, 10 freshly pitted dates, 1 tbsp cold coffee, 3 tbsp cocoa, 2/5 cup of oatmeal, a pinch of salt, a pinch of vanilla powder, grated coconut as topping to roll the date balls in (or sesame seeds, cocoa etc)
Mix all ingredients (except oatmeal) until smooth. Add the oatmeal without using a mixer. Roll into balls. Roll in grated coconut or other topping. Store in the refrigerator or freezer.
3/5 cup of oat rice, 700 mls milk of choice, 300 mls water, a pinch of salt, 4 tbsp chia seeds, 200 mls milk of choice, vanilla powder, a couple of cardamom kernels, 225 g frozen berries
Start by cooking the porridge: Boil rice, water and salt. Let simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes. Add 700 mls of milk and cook on low heat for another 30 minutes.
Set aside and allow to cool. Then add chia seeds, ground cardamom, vanilla powder and 200 mls of milk. Let rest for a while. Thaw the berries and pour over the chia porridge.
4. Banana balls
About 8 balls
2 brown bananas, 1 cup of oatmeal, 1 fist raisins, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 ml cardamom, a few tbsp of coconut flakes
Mash the bananas and mix in the other ingredients. Click out in small balls on a plate and bake at 175 degrees C in the oven for about 10 minutes.
About 2 glasses
4/5 cup of frozen blueberries, 2 cm fresh ginger, 2/5 cup of oatmeal, 1 tbsp peanut butter or tahini, 200 mls oat milk, 1 banana
Mix all ingredients into a smoothie in a blender or with a hand blender.
6. Lentil soup
1.25 cups of red lentils, 2 cans pureed or crushed tomatoes, 200 mls of water, 3 cm fresh ginger, 2 garlic cloves, 1 vegetable stock cube, 2 bay leaves, 1 tbsp soy, oil to fry in, 2 tbsp of dried herbs e.g. parsley / thyme / basil / french herb mixture, sambal oelek to taste, a little feta cheese for topping, about 50 g
Peel and finely chop garlic and ginger. Fry in oil on medium heat in a saucepan. Add stock cube, bay leaves, soybeans, herbs and sambal oelek. Rinse the lentils and place in the saucepan. Allow the lentils to fry, without burning, for a few minutes with the spices.
Add the tomatoes and water and cook slowly until the lentils are soft (approx. 10-15 min). If necessary, add additional water for the desired texture. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with crumbled feta cheese topping and preferably a cold yeast bread roll.
7. Kale crepes
3/5 cup of buckwheat flour, 300 mls oat milk, 2 organic eggs, a pinch of salt, 100 g kale, 100 g of mushrooms, 1-2 tbsp light soy, 2 garlic cloves, 1-2 tbsp oat cream, oil, salt, black pepper
Mix buckwheat flour, oat milk and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Add the eggs and mix. Put a frying pan on medium to high heat and start frying crepes in oil. While frying: Remove the stalks from the kale, chop the kale leaves and mushrooms roughly.
NB: Save the kale stalks (delicious to roast or use in a stir fry, for example). Peel and chop the garlic finely. Fry veges on medium heat in oil and soy until everything has softened. Add oat cream and let stand. When the crepes are ready: put the filling on the crepes and make rolls
8. Kale pasta
250 g fresh kale, 2 garlic cloves, 100 g walnuts or sunflower seeds, 200 ml oat milk, 2/5 cup of grated tasty cheese, oil, pasta for 4 servings, salt, black pepper
Start by toasting the walnuts / sunflower seeds in a frying pan until they get a little colour. Put the nuts and oat milk in a blender and mix into a sauce. Shred the kale (remove the hard stalk in the middle) and finely chop the garlic. Fry garlic and kale until soft in the oil, on medium heat, for a few minutes.
Boil water for the pasta, and cook the pasta according to instructions. Pour the nut sauce over the garlic and kale and allow to simmer on low heat. If necessary, dilute with a little water. Stir the cheese into the sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with the freshly cooked pasta.
9. Creamy spinach stew
1.25 cups of green lentils (dried), rice for 4 people, 1 onion, 2 garlic cloves, 1 chili, 1 tsp cardamom, 1 tsp cumin, 300 mls oat cream, 1 stock cube, 225 g frozen, chopped spinach, 1 lime, oil.
Cook rice according to the package. Cook the green lentils for about 20 minutes, or until soft, in plenty of water in a separate saucepan. Take out and thaw the spinach.
Meanwhile: peel and chop onions, garlic and chili finely. Fry on medium heat in a little oil. Add cardamom and cumin. The onions should soften but not burn. Pour on oat cream, crumble in stock cube, and put in the spinach. Let simmer until the spinach has softened. Add the cooked green lentils and squeeze the lime over. Serve the stew with the rice.
10. Indian potato stew
2 yellow onions, 3 garlic cloves, 1 tbsp yellow, dried curry, 1 tsp cinnamon, 3 tbsp grated
ginger, 1 red chili, 2-3 tbsp oil, 500 g potatoes, 2 apples, 1 vegetable stock cube, 500 mls water, 400 g crushed tomatoes, 2.5 cups of cooked white beans, 200 g frozen spinach, 200 mls oat cream
Chop the onion roughly, it should almost be more like chunks than slices. Chop the garlic and chili finely. Heat a pan or saucepan with oil and fry cinnamon, curry, chili and ginger
on medium heat for a minute. Add onion and garlic and let it simmer and soften for a few minutes. Stir so that the onion is not burnt. Chop potatoes and apples into small pieces. Put in the pot, pour in water, vegetable stock, crushed tomatoes and simmer under lid for about 15-20 minutes.
When the pot is simmering: put in the frozen spinach and pour in the cream. Add the white beans at the end and serve once they are heated through.
Eating out for real
Hanna has been interested in spending time in nature since she was small, and whenever she went walking in the forest or by the sea, there was always a packed lunch and snacks. Regardless of season or weather. Eating outdoors makes her feel at peace in a special way. All five senses are fed. “I have to eat anyway. So I might as well do it outside. It doesn’t have to be a big project; sometimes it’s just a sandwich. Sometimes it’s breakfast in the park on my way to work, sometimes it’s an entire dinner cooked from scratch on my camping kitchen.” She calls it “going out for dinner”, but instead of meeting up with friends at a restaurant, which is an expensive hobby, she likes to take them along to “eat out” in a different way.
The best way for me to ground myself is to get outdoors. Away from all the hustle and bustle, out into nature where everything is calm.
Founder of the blog “Portionen under tian”
“In the summer, we enjoy a lot of meals around the camping kitchen. I like the whole process; setting it up, the noise of the gas. Being outdoors and chopping up ingredients and getting everything ready. It’s fun, and it gets easier the more you do it. You learn what order you need to do everything in, and how incredibly fast the pots get hot.”
Smart outdoor food
Even Hanna can understand the convenience of freeze dried meals in a bag when you are out on a long multiday hike. But for daytrip and shorter hikes she would rather carry a little more weight and eat food that is more delicious – and less expensive. “When I was in Lofotenwith some friends a couple of years ago, we carried all kinds of things up and down those mountains. But when we were at the top we were so pleased to have that delicious parmesan or that really good drink with us,” says Hanna. A good, simple idea for hiking trips is “one pot pasta”, where you throw everything you want into a base of crushed tomatoes and herbs. Everything can cook in the same pot, even the pasta can cook directly in the sauce. So outdoors are actually really easy. “Just do it – make it part of your everyday life! The health benefits are better than if you put it all into one week each year. And it is also important from a climate perspective, to realise that adventures don’t have to be thousands of miles away,” she says, and continues: “Research shows that we want to look after nature more if we have a relationship with it. So we can’t only be outdoors when it’s summery and warm. I think we all need to change the way we think about being outdoors, so we can be out there all year round. So we have regular contact with nature and what it can give us.”