Pia’s oatmeal best in the North.
Her profession: Language teacher. Her passion: Oatmeal. Yes, you heard it, oatmeal. Pia Redin just won the Nordic Championship in oatmeal making. Next, she’s preparing for the World Championship in Scotland. “I guess my family will get really tired of oatmeal!” Quite possibly the healthiest of all breakfasts, oatmeal, has become trendy lately. “It’s warm, it’s good, it’s nutritious and it is cheap,” says Pia, who resides in Karlstad. And dietitian Josefine Jonasson agrees: “Oats help lower our cholesterol, has few calories, but is at the same time filling.” Redin tops her oatmeal with toasted oat bran (skrädmjöl in Swedish), honey and cardamom or rye flour, sun flower seeds and banana – all of which she puts in the pot to boil along with the oats. “The banana sweetens it a bit,” she says. She entered the finals with her “Mällegröt”, oatmeal topped with her own muesli, and won with a concoction called “Ugglegröten”. Now she’s training for the world championship “Golden Spurtle” in Carrbridge in October. Try Pia’s winning “Ugglegröt” and see for yourself why she’s a champion. Ingredients: 2 oz oats, 2 oz rye flour, 1 Tablespoon sunflower seeds, a little cinnamon, 1 banana (sliced), 2 Tablespoons toasted oat bran. Stir together everything and let boil for 5 minutes. Serve with raw sugar and cinnamon.

Sweden most competitive economy.
According to the World Economic Forum study released just days ago, Sweden remains the most competitive economy in the European Union, followed by neighbors Finland and Denmark. Those three Nordic nations ranked above the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Germany in the analysis, which is based on indicators such as economic and productivity growth, research and development spending, and unemployment. Italy ranked as the third-least competitive nation, just above Romania and Bulgaria at the bottom of the list. Greece was fifth from last. “While some progress has been made, much remains to be achieved in order to fully harness Europe’s economic potential,” Klaus Schwab, the WEF’s founder and chairman, said in a statement. “Accelerating the reform process” across the EU “will be critical for ensuring that the region gets back to growth,” he said. Europe’s economies are struggling to recover from the worst worldwide recession since World War II. While reviving global growth has boosted exports, consumer spending within the region remains weak and Greece’s spreading debt crisis is clouding the outlook. The Nordic countries “are the strongest European performers in the area of innovation, attributable to their companies’ aggressiveness in adopting new technologies and their level of spending on R&D,” according to the study. It also cited “the high degree of collaboration between universities and the private-sector in research” in these nations.

Entrance fee when Storkyrkan reopens.
It’s unusual that churches in Sweden charge people for entrance, but when Storkyrkan in Stockholm (the church in which Victoria soon will marry) recently reopened, that’s just what they decided to do. The church has been closed for repair and now when you enter, you must do so to the tune of 40 SEK ($5). It’s a special situation, because of Storkyrkan’s small parish (around 3,000 members) and because of the location and history. Storkyrkan is considered important. “(The church) is a holy room, but it is also a museum. In other countries, the churches often have separate museums where they charge visitors. We do not have anything like that, but we do have great treasures of art in the actual church,” said Åke Bonnier, Dean in Stockholm’s cathedral parish. The entrance fee only applies for those who come to the church as tourists, not for members of the parish or for those who go there to light a candle or pray.

Pregnant drinking risks infant leukemia.
Mothers are best warned of alcohol in the USA, not great in Sweden, terrible elsewhere. Despite the warnings to pregnant women about alcohol during pregnancy, their drinking remains dangerously high: 12% in the US, 30% in Sweden and as high as 60% in Russia. Although acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is relatively rare in children, drinking alcohol during pregnancy could increase the risk, according to a paper published in May by the American Association for Cancer Research. Alcohol intake during pregnancy raised a 56% increased risk of AML in children. The risk of AML was higher in children from birth to four years old but had insignificant association with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. About 700 children are inflicted with AML in the US each year.

Madeleine a no-show in Seattle.
Since her break-up with fiancé Jonas Bergström, following rumors of a tryst with a Norwegian woman, Princess Madeleine has been in the US to work at Queen Silvia’s Childhood Foundation. She was also to appear in Seattle at the Sweden Week, but at the last moment she cancelled that appearance, and her older sister Crown Princess Victoria had to be there in her stead. Says Nina Eldh, Director of the Information and Press Department at the Royal Swedish Court: “She didn’t mean to escape to the US, it was in her plans to go, but she is in an extremely exposed position and she needs to gather strength. After all that has been, she needs time to be on her own, she needs peace and quiet.” When asked how Princess Madeleine is feeling, Eldh said: “When you cancel all public appearances, you don’t feel very well.” The royal family, Eldh continued, is a flexible family that supports one another. Thus Crown Princess Victoria boarded a plane at 7 am in order to fly into Seattle and cover for her younger sister. Princess Madeleine remains in New York where she finds comfort in friends Lovisa De Geer and Sofi Fahrman, fashion editor at Aftonbladet. The court won’t say for how long Madeleine will stay there, but all public appearances are cancelled until May 30, the day Victoria and Daniel’s banns will be published.