Glittery snow, annual existential crisis, smoothie tip

by | Jan 12, 2024 | Bulgarian life, Food & recipes | 3 comments

Greetings from a very cold Bulgaria. We’ve not got much snow, but what we have got is sparkly-sparkly, like a dusting of glitter on a 1990s movie star’s chestal region.

Well, what a mashup this week’s post is. To start, let’s discuss my usual post-Christmas breakdown, in which I spend the days between Christmas and New Year fretting about big life questions, then wake up on 1st January and forget all about that nonsense.

After that, a smoothie recipe. Just because.

Thank God for January

I quietly love January. It’s a peaceful month of dark mornings, hibernating in the kitchen, cold walks (in the snow if we’re lucky), and hearty food. True, January used to feel a lot bleaker back in the UK when I had to, you know, leave the house every day for work – even worse back when I was commuting to London. So to all those struggling with January bleakness, may I suggest you nope out of normal life and run as far away from it as you can, like we did? Worth a thought.

Which brings me to the root of my annual, post-Christmas weirdness. Thanks to our cosy life here, I’d say I feel content and at peace 95% of the time, which is pretty good going, I reckon. But then the end of December rolls around and I start thinking things like:

‘Am I getting too lazy and complacent because everyday life is so content?’

‘Should I be hustling and striving for a better career?’

‘What’s my “dream job”?’

‘Is there even such a thing as a dream job?’

‘What’s my LIFE PLAN? Because gardening, cooking, and occasionally being paid to write stuff about how AI is going to take my job doesn’t really seem like a solid life plan.’

It’s like a strange fever that grips me, body and soul, between 27th and 31st December. (I’m fine Christmas Day and Boxing Day – there’s just something about an impending New Year’s Eve that sends me a bit batty.) Then I wake up on New Year’s Day, with the fever broken, and feel … pure, blessed relief. I go back to my content little life and almost total absence of deep thoughts for the next 12 months.

Which is partly why I bloody love January so much. The relief is palpable.

I’ve learned that I need to keep myself sort-of busy on those few weird days, while still enjoying a break from work. I make sure I get out on a walk every day. I don’t eat a lot of junk food over Christmas (because it only makes me feel worse), or drink in the evenings (because it messes with my sleep – although I’m all for daytime drinking). And I set myself little projects, which could be something around the house, or doing some creative writing.

So, for any psychologists out there (real or armchair), is this normal? I suspect it’s part of getting older. Or maybe it’s actually a sign of a happy life. I’m not unaware that plenty of people are so bogged down in the crappiness of everyday life – or are dealing with genuine crises – that they don’t have the luxury of dwelling on daft questions like, ‘What’s my life plan?’

Anyway, how was your Christmas and New Year? Did you hang on to your sanity? If so, well done.

Weekday breakfast

To January, and food. I don’t change my eating whatsoever in January because the way we eat year-round is pretty freaking brilliant (smug vegan alert!). But I know that January is a time when a lot of people want to introduce better habits. If you’re one of them, may I suggest one of those habits be to eat more seeds? They’re full of healthy fats, protein, and fibre. And fibre is something we should all be obsessed with. Obsessed, I tell you.

One way I get more seeds into my diet is by adding them to my weekday smoothie breakfast. This smoothie is brilliant – like an indulgent chocolatey milkshake but full of goodness. I’ve added measurements below, but you don’t actually need to be that precise – a handful of this, a sprinkling of that will do you fine.

To start, put the following in your blender (I use my Nutribullet):

4 tablespoons oats

1 tablespoon chia seeds

1 tablespoon ground flax seeds

2 tablespoons sunflower seeds

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

1 tablespoon tahini (or peanut butter or sunflower butter)

3 or 4 dates (or, if you don’t have dates, a tablespoon of syrup/honey)

A pinch of salt (don’t leave this out, salt brings out the flavour of everything else)

And enough liquid to cover everything by about an inch* (I use half plant milk, half water)

Then leave this lot to soak while you make your morning tea/coffee. 10 minutes’ soaking is better than nothing, but leave it longer if you have time. I read somewhere that soaking nuts and seeds makes it easier to digest them and get the full benefits. So I assemble my smoothie as soon as I come downstairs in the morning, and then leave it to soak while I drink my coffee and do my general morning business (there’s a nice euphemism for pooing).

When you’re ready to blend, add a frozen banana (I freeze bananas in chunks to make them easier to blend) – or you can use a normal, non-frozen banana, in which case, add a couple of ice cubes as well.

That’s it. Blend and enjoy.

In winter I’d normally transition to porridge for weekday breakfasts – which is essentially all the same stuff as above, in a different format – but I just can’t seem to tear myself away from this smoothie. Even when it’s below zero outside, I’m still here chugging my frosty banana drink. That’s how much I like it.

And yes, I know seeds can be expensive. I buy mine in bulk from one of those health food shops and then store them in the freezer. They last forever that way.

*The amount of liquid that’s right for you will need a bit of trial and error, since you might like a thicker or more liquid smoothie than me…


  1. Auntie Bulgaria

    In case that all sounds too healthy, let me emphasise again that this is my Monday-Friday breakfast. On a weekend, anything goes. Pancakes. Fry up. French toast. Fried rice. Even leftover pizza if the mood takes us…

  2. Nicola C

    Love this breakfast idea, and yes I def have existential crisis quite frequently tbh! Thanks for sharing what works for you, some good tips.

    • Auntie Bulgaria

      Glad to hear it’s not just me! Thanks for reading x


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