Last week we were invited to meet Mirja Finstad and her dog Sammy (A super cute stray from Ibiza.) Mirja is the extremely talented lady behind Made With Love RAW Kaker, a one woman business making vegan raw cakes to order! She is a food obsessed vegan, animal rights activist and health nerd. We were lucky enough to get to taste some of her fantastic cakes and chocolates and decided it would only be fair to share our experience with you guys because it was simply delicious!
Mirja has been baking for many years, food and animals are her passions in life. She has been a member of NOAH for many years and volunteered with them for a little while. When she was 5 years old she became active in animal rights after seeing a program about the killing of whales and seals on TV. She became the youngest ever member of Bellona and thereafter became aware of environmental issues such as recycling and protection of the rainforest. The animal rights issues closest to her heart include the captivity and slaughter of dolphins, captivity of animals in the circus, animal testing & the fur industry.
However a few years ago Mirja had to scale down her activism and calm down her life in general as she began to live with allergies and a health condition called M.E. Making cakes is a very therapeutic experience for Mirja and it suits her calmer pace of life these days.
When I cool, I listen to and sing to Doris Day, Aretha Franklin, Norah Jones, Miles Davies and other feel good "oldies". I believe that if you are in a good mood when you prepare food, it affects the taste in a positive way.
After her regular food focused trip to NYC in May 2013, Mirja started making all sorts of raw goodies. She had taken a class there and become inspired, studying tons of books and online resources. She puts a lot of time into perfecting her treats and has been baking almost every day since then. All of the recipes are her own.
I think I spend about 3 hours every day, looking for inspiration and trying out/making recipes. For me, food needs to look beautiful, taste better than you think and bring something unexpected. I love the word 'amuse bouche'. That`s exactly what I want: to please your mouth and senses. All of them!
Mirja loves food, we spent a good hour or so talking about all the different places she has visited across the world like New York and Barcelona, and her favourite dining experiences and chefs. She watches every food TV show there is and loves checking out the reviews of trendy new restaurants. These are her top tips for restaurants in Oslo:
I hardly ever eat out in Norway, both because of the price and the selection. Being vegan AND multiallergic it's almost impossible. But i am happy to see the expanding number of places offering vegan food here. We are on the right track, Norway!
'The only place in Oslo with a menu for vegans with food allergies. I love their chai tea and scone soo much.'
'Salads, juices, kale chips and some vegan treats. great for lunch!'
'Sexy restaurant, great for a date or night out. They have 4 vegan platters, I think. Just make sure you tell them to skip the fish sauce.'
'Healthy Mexican fast food. They are vegan – aware and also got gluten free tortillas now Inside the food court at Steen & Strøm.'
'The owners of Sawan has opened a sister thai restaurant in the food court of Steen & Strøm with several vegan platters.'
'Great for lunch! I love their gluten free pancake with spinach, tomato and avocado!'
'Michelin Star restaurant for those very special occations. Feel like a royal in regal environments (the royal family may sit on the next table, even!) You have to call the in advance to tell them you are vegan, and they will make something special for you. Love that!'
'They both offer Spanish tapas, including several vegan options. At Delicatessen, I love the mixed salad they do for lunch and at Kolonialen I like the spicy wok.'
You can check out all of these places and many more vegan friendly spots in Oslo by downloading the Vegan Oslo app on iOS. Coming soon to Android!
Her mission with the bakery is not based on making as much profit as possible, but to show people that vegan food and healthy food does not mean sacrificing flavour, quality and excitement. Here at Vegan Oslo we agree! Healthy and vegan food can be awesome and even better than "regular" food. The flavours are purer and deeper, the colours are breathtaking. We don't need artificial colouring and E numbers in our diet. A little taste of Mirjas cakes and you will surely agree. I can't imagine how hard it must be not to eat her own cakes. I personally have no self control when it comes to sweet vegan treats, I could never do her job!
I sat down with Mirja and Christian and we drank some tea, and began to try the cakes. The first one was her famous 'fairy cake' - a delicious ' masterpiece bursting with blueberries and raspberries. This cake is so pretty, and so light and fresh; the perfect one to begin with!
After the fairy cake we moved on to my personal favourite; this delicious chocolatey caramel cake called 'Verdens Beste Trøstekake', I'm not so sure of what the others were chatting about at this point, I think I zoned out and went into a little chocolate trance! I mean, just look at this cake! It is like a tough brownie and creamy chocolate cake all in one package. It has a layer of caramel and a layer of chocolate glaze but amazingly is without sugar, honey, eggs, milk, soy, gluten, yeast. It's also all organic and fair trade.
Here you can see more examples of the types of cake you can order from Mirja. She really does have a great selection. She decided to go pro in December 2013, her first customer being Vegan Wagon in Mathallen. SInce then, most of her customers have been private, but she also takes orders for businesses, galleries, cafès and even celebs! She likes to exceed customers expectations and make sure they feel taken care of. Everyone feels like a VIP.
My dream is to see a world where we have respect and show that we care about nature, animals and our health. It's important for me to only use raw ingredients and organic ingredients, and as much as possible, fairtrade.
After the cakes it was time to try Mirjas yummy protein bars. In contrast to many other protein bars on the market these do not contains dyes, flavor enhancers, sugar/syrup or nutrient poor protein. They are organic, without honey, sugar, gluten, and can be made without nuts. They're packed with vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, antioxidants, fibre and 5 good sources of protein: Chia, hemp kernels, almonds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. They also contain superfoods like goji berries, coconut fat and 100% cacao... Plus, they look really cool!
We were getting full by this point, but it was time to move onto the chocolate (!) As a bit of a chocolate fan, and very curious about what raw chocolate actually was, I was intrigued. We were not disappointed as we got to taste a variety of different special chocolates. They were all ridiculously good. You should go along to Mirjas chocolate class and learn how to make your own!
We finished off our visit by trying out Punsjeboller and New York White Chocolate Cheesecake which, as you probably have guessed by now, were also brilliant! I had never heard of Punsjeboller before. After 5 years of living in Norway, I'm still learning about all the traditions and cool stuff here.
If you would like to meet Mirja you should come along to Oslo Vegetar Festival on 23-24 May where she will have a stand selling her cakes and goodies and also host some free cooking classes.
For more intimate and focused classes check facebook. The next class is on Sunday 22nd of May and as i mentioned earlier, it is a chocolate making course. As well as cooking classes she also offers private consulting for people with allergies and questions about how nutrition can benefit their health.
For anyone who wants to see what's "cooking" in Mirja's kitchen, check out her instagram. For articles on superfoods, ingredients, food trips, food tips and descriptions of the items on her menu, check out her blog. Follow Made With Love RAW Kaker on facebook for menu and ordering.