Rubbish Free Pop Up Cafe!

Rubbish Free Pop Up Cafe!

Simone’s Plant Based Kitchen is popping up cafe style at the Wellness Fair in Inglewood on 15th June. It’ll be in the Town Hall, 34 Cutfield Street.

I am committed to reducing my own waste so I’m excited to announce that it will be a rubbish free event. Where possible please bring your own food container. If you can’t or you forget, I will have home compostable serve ware, which I will take home with me to compost. There won’t be any rubbish bins provided, so please take your general rubbish home.

Drop in for some delicious food to eat in or take away.
I’ll have a few favourites for you; vegan sausage rolls, chocolate truffles and chick pea smash wraps plus gluten free options and a hot option!

Eftpos available

Available for pre-order by 12th June and pick up on the day:
* Platter box for 1 – Sunflower cheese, herby pesto, crackers & veggies $25
* 5 seed bread – $13
* Kumera & Chick Pea Curry with brown rice for 1 $15
* Lasagne – for 1 $15

Email me to pre-order: simonesplantbasedkitchen@gmail.com

Breakfast Cookies

Breakfast Cookies

Some say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If that’s true for you, then you want to be eating something delicious and nutritious right?! These cookies are absolutely delicious and easy to eat on the go. So many people eat on the run, which isn’t ideal, but sometimes can’t be helped.

I’ve called them breakfast cookies because I made them late at night and I forgot to prep some oats for breakfast. In the morning, my eldest asked if the cookies were what we were having and I thought, why not! Of course you an eat them at anytime of the day and they’re great in the lunchboxes.

The recipe is very adaptable, so you can add any type of nut or seeds that you have. If you don’t have nuts or seeds, just use extra oats! As usual, these cookies are oil free, dairy free and egg free. I made these cookies fairly large, but you can make them smaller to make the ingredients go further.

If you’re not used to cooking without eggs, oil and butter; the cookies won’t be like the traditional cookie you’re used to. They’re not crunchy and light, they are soft, deliciously chewy and satiating. The dates give them natural sweetness, so there’s no need for any extra sugar. If you’re introducing children to these cookies for the first time and you’re worried they won’t find them sweet enough, add half a cup of dairy free chocolate chips.

Recipe:

Makes 10 large cookies

  • 1/4 cup organic nuts or seeds (I used almonds & hazelnuts)
  • 2 cups organic dates (soaked in hot water for at least 15 minutes)
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp flaxseed
  • 1 1/2 cups jumbo oats (not quick oats)

Method:

  • Pre heat your oven to 180 degrees and line a baking tray
  • Boil the kettle and soak your dates in a bowl
  • In a food processor or thermomix, blitz your nuts or seeds (not the flaxseed) until they’re small, but not ground and set aside
  • Add the dates to the mixing bowl along with the cinnamon and vanilla. Blend until nearly smooth. You might need to scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times
  • Add the oats and nuts/seeds to the dates. Blend until the oats are just mixed in, but still whole
  • With damp hands shape the mixture into tablespoon size balls and flatten slightly on the tray.
  • Cook on the top shelf for 12 minutes or until the cookies are golden brown and still soft.
  • Remove from the oven and cook on the tray for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before storing. Otherwise dig in!

Tips:

  • Use any seeds such as sunflower or pumpkin seeds in place of nuts
  • If not using any seeds, ad an extra 1/2 cup of oats
  • Add 1/2 cup dairy free chocolate chips for a sweeter cookie
  • You can leave out the flaxseed if you don’t have it
  • Make the cookies extra large and top them with ice cream, fresh fruit or chia jam for an extra boost of colour and nutrients
  • Store the cookies in an airtight container and keep them in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or the freezer for up to 3 months

Our Journey

Hi and welcome! I thought I’d better introduce myself and my family.
I’m Simone and I’m married to Stephen. I’m originally from UK and my husband is from NZ. I’m a qualified Social Worker and trained in UK. I met Stephen in Birmingham in 2004 and we moved to NZ back in 2009 after we had our 1st son in 2006. We then went on to have 2 more children, another boy in 2015 and a daughter in 2017. Yes the last two are close together; 18 months apart in fact! We now live in beautiful New Plymouth, Taranaki. I am fortunate that I am able to stay at home with our children.
We’ve been eating plant-based food for a month now and we’re loving it. Well, the children and I are loving it. My husband misses meat and does eat it when he’s at work. I’m sure he sneaks in a pie once a week. He also still has milk in his coffee and for his weetbix (it is like cardboard!) He can’t stand almond milk, and that’s ok. I’m working on alternatives for him to try; this is a learning curve for all of us after all. Although Stephen isn’t 100% plant-based yet, he does eat all the meals I cook at home and he’s supportive of the change.
We changed to this way of eating for a number of reasons. One is for our health, the second is for the environment and third is the animals. I have a condition called Sarcoidosis and I recently had to have tests as I found a lump in my breast. Turns out the Sarcoidosis has spread throughout my body in my lymph nodes. It’s an auto immune disorder which causes inflammation. After doing lots of research about my condition and finding out that there is no cure; I concluded that I needed to change my and my family’s’ diet and lifestyle.
Now I come from an African background where meat, starch and vegetables are the normal diet. I’ve eaten meat, dairy and animal products all my life, but I’ve known for a long time now that they aren’t that great for our health. I needed a reason to change my diet and my condition was it.  A good friend of mine had embarked on a similar journey, so she suggested some documentaries to watch to get me started. I have to say, these documentaries have changed my life! If you’d like to watch any, they are: What the Health, Forks over Knives, Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead and Cowspiracy.
What is the WFPB (whole foods plant-based) diet? Well if the food has a mum and dad don’t eat it! I love that phrase from Forks over knives. Whole foods are foods which haven’t been processed; the whole apple, the bean or grain. Plant based means food which comes from plants and not animals, so no meat, dairy, honey or eggs. Eating WFPB also avoids oils and refined sugars. I love the Forks over knives webpage as it explains it so much more eloquently!
So here on my blog I’ll be sharing our journey, how to start eating a whole foods plant-based diet, recipes, information, places to shop, places to eat, our daily struggles, meal planning, ideas for the kids, lunchbox fillers and anything else fun!
Whether you’re thinking about changing to this way of eating, converted already, want to incorporate more plant-based meals into your diet or you just want more information come and join me.
Easy tray pancakes

Easy tray pancakes

Weekends are for pancakes!

Most kids love pancakes, but if like me you hate standing at the stove for 30 minutes flipping them and listening to the kids screaming ‘are they ready yet?’ This recipe is for you.

It’s so easy, just mix, pour and bake. Everyone gets to eat at the same time and your not standing around for ages….win, win!

I didn’t have any yogurt this morning so we just had ours with rice syrup. You can use whatever fruit you have too. Plus you can change up the flours to any you prefer.

Enjoy 😊

Ingredients:

2 flax eggs (14g ground flax seed and 10g water)

2 ripe bananas

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup organic rice syrup (plus extra for serving)

3/4 cup organic buckwheat flour

1 cup organic wholemeal flour

2 1/4 cups soy milk (or any plant milk you like)

1 1/2 cups mixed frozen berries

Method:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees

Line a square 10 inch pan with baking paper

* In your thermomix or food processor add:

2 flax eggs – mix gently for a few seconds and leave it to thicken for a minute while you get the other ingredients ready

* Add in the bananas, vanilla, cinnamon, rice syrup if using and baking powder. Blend until smooth; around 10 seconds

* Add buckwheat flour, wholemeal flour, soy milk and blend until combined

* Add berries and mix gently, being careful not to break up the berries

* Pour into lined tray and tap it on the bench to ensure the mixture is even

* Bake on the top shelf for 20-25 mins. The top should be nice and brown and the berries gently bursting

* Leave to cool for 5 minutes before slicing

* Serve with fresh fruit, your favourite yogurt and or rice syrup

Father’s Day cookies

Father’s Day cookies

It’s Father’s Day here in NZ. These cookies are a lovely treat for him. You could make them yourself or if your children enjoy baking, get them to make them for their dad.

These cookies use light brown sugar. So they’re not refined sugar free. They’re are however ridiculously addictive fresh out of the oven. You’ve been warned!

Makes 16

1⁄3 c unsweetened applesauce

½ c light brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

¼ c nondairy milk

1 c whole-wheat pastry flour

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp fine salt

1 tbsp cornstarch

few dashes of ground cinnamon

½ c vegan chocolate chips

Method:

Preheat oven to 200˚C

Grease baking tray or line with parchment paper

In a large bowl combine applesauce, sugar, vanilla extract, and nondairy milk

In a small bowl whisk flour, baking powder, salt, cornstarch, and ground cinnamon together

Transfer the dry mixture into the wet mixture in three batches. Stir until almost combined

Fold in chocolate chips

Drop spoonfuls on baking tray and bake for 7–10 minutes for a soft and light cookie or a few minutes more for a firmer cookie, being careful not to burn.

Variation:

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies: Replace 2 tbsp of flour with 2 tbsp of unsweetened cocoa.

Note:

For a firmer cookie, work a fresh banana into the flour (crumble it in until you have clumps). If your banana is ripe, reduce sugar.

Cool on the tray for 5 minutes before tratransferring to a wire rack to cool completly (if they last that long)!

Enjoy 😊

Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies

These peanut butter, date & oat cookies are so delicious and ‘oat’ so easy to make. We love desserts, but there’s something special about a cookie with only 3 ingredients!

I don’t use any packet mixes for any of my baking; only organic whole food ingredients.

You can whip these up in 20 minutes, including cooking time. I use a thermomix, but if you don’t have one just use a food processor. Use the blade attachment to blend the dates, then change it to the plastic blade attachment to gently mix in the oats. You want the oats to be relatively whole, rather than being all chopped up.

If you don’t have a very powerful food processor, I would recommend you soak the dates for at least 15 minutes in hot water. Once you’ve drained them, save 1/4 cup of the water to smooth out the dates and peanut butter mixture.

If you like a bit more sweetness, add some pure maple syrup or rice syrup. Otherwise the dates give the cookies a nice natural sweetness.

Ingredients:

2 cups organic dates

1/2 cup organic peanut butter (no added salt, sugar or oil)

3 cups organic jumbo oats

1/4 cup water (saved from the dates if you soaked them)

Method:

Pre heat your oven to 190° degrees

Line 2 baking trays with baking paper

Blend the dates, peanut butter & water until fairly smooth. A few small lumps of dates are great for texture

Add the oats and pulse until they’re just mixed with the date mixture. It will be quite sticky.

Using damp hands roll tbsp sizes of the mixture, place onto the tray and press to flatten into a cookie shape. Try to keep them 1cm thick

Continue with the rest of the mixture

Place the trays into the oven; 1 on the top shelf and the other on the middle shelf. Cook for 12-14 minutes, until the cookies on the top tray are brown and slightly crispy at the edges

Remove the top tray and move the middle tray to the top shelf for 5-6 minutes

Cool the cookies on the trays for 5 minutes, before moving them to a wire rack to cool completely

Store the cookies in an airtight container for a week

Breakfast with the opposition

Breakfast with the opposition

I was honored to provide the catering for Paula Bennett’s visit to Inglewood yesterday. If you don’t know who she is, she’s the deputy leader of the NZ National Party. They’re currently the opposition to our Labour/coalition government.

It was a wonderful experience, not least because the event was hosted in a shop/event venue called Farmsource. As you can imagine it’s a place where farmers come to buy stock, conduct training and do business. All types of farmers, but the majority are dairy and dry stock farmers. The irony was not lost on me!

There were some looks of anxiety on their faces when they saw there was no meat or dairy for their breakfast, but after the initial shock they tried the food and really enjoyed it.

The breakfast consisted of:

* Chia pots with blueberries and granola. This was made with soy milk rather than coconut milk and sweetened with rice syrup.

* Breakfast burritos with avocado, black beans, green capsicum, tomato, cajun spices and sunflower mayo

* Seedy rye Sourdough bread with apple & onion chutney and blueberry & chia seed jam

I answered lots of questions about the ingredients and the merits of a plant based diet. They were especially interested in why we use minimal oil and reduced sugar. I really enjoyed educating the group and they enjoyed listening. While I got lots of compliments and the sound of ‘mmm’s’ was echoed through the building while they were eating, I know these farmers will not choose a plant based diet. The point is that they tried something new and were surprised that they enjoyed it.

That is all I ask for.

I’m so proud to be the local plant based caterer and voice of change here in Taranaki. I know that many people have tried my food with apprehension and become lovers of plant based foods because of me and for that I am humbled and proud.

If you’d like to order catering or book me to speak at your next event, contact me for a quote. I’d love to help you.

Home made bread

Home made bread

The benefits of making your own bread

Yesterday a friend told me that she loved my 5 seed bread and that it didn’t make her bloated, like shop bought bread. She asked me why, so I thought my response would be great shared with you all.

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like bread! However, I do know plenty of people who don’t eat it for various reasons.

Making your own bread may seem like an arduous task, but when you think about what goes into the traditional shop bought loaves, you may just try making your own!

Here are some reasons why homemade bread is better:

Healthier Ingredients

You select all the ingredients that go into your homemade bread. You can choose the highest quality flours or grind your own. You control the sugar content and do not have to worry about the addition of high fructose corn syrup or dextrose, which offer empty calories. Commercially prepared breads often contain preservatives and artificial ingredients to extend their shelf life and boost flavour, while homemade breads don’t.

Lower Sodium

Many commercially prepared breads contain over 130 mg of sodium per slice. If you prepare your own at home, you can limit the amount of salt in the loaf.

Whole Grains

The USDA recommends consuming at least 3 oz. of whole grains daily. Labels on commercial breads can lead you to believe they contain more whole grains than they actually do. When you prepare bread at home, you can be sure of the amount of whole grains included in the recipe. You can make a heartier, healthier bread by using 100 percent whole wheat flour or other whole grain flours. Whole wheat flour has more fiber and nutrients than refined white flour. When you bake your own bread, you can also experiment by adding in other grains or ingredients to boost nutrition. I add ground flaxseed for omega-3 fatty acids, whole oats for soluble fiber or quinoa flour for protein.

Allergen-Free

If you have serious food allergies, you can tailor your bread recipes to leave out the offending ingredients. Even manufactured breads that do not contain the allergen may have been produced on equipment contaminated with it. Making your own bread prevents almost all possibility of cross-contamination.

Taste

Homemade bread just tastes better, especially the same day it’s made. Plus the ingredients are cheap, so per loaf you’re paying much less than you would in the shops.

Will you have a go at making your own bread?

Spelt flour bread rolls

Vegan chocolate & ethically sourced ingredients

Vegan chocolate & ethically sourced ingredients

Yesterday I felt like some chocolate and reached for my favourite; Whittakers Dark Chocolate block. Readi

ng the ingredients, it got me thinking about where companies source their ingredients and whether they are concerned about child slavery.

I did some research and came across the Food Empowerment Project. They have created an app listing chocolate makers who source their ingredients ethically. It was great to see a few NZ companies listed; Loving Earth & The Wellington Chocolate Factory. Safe to say I’ll changing brands!

Take a look at this app:

Chocolate List

Beautiful Buckwheat

Beautiful Buckwheat

All hail Buckwheat!

Buckwheat, also known as Kasha is a seed and in no way related to wheat. The seeds come from a plant in the rhubarb family 👏

Buckwheat really packs a nutritional punch. It’s rich in vitamins and minerals like magnesium and potassium and the bio availability of zinc and copper is higher than other cereal grains. 1/2 cup of Buckwheat contains 17g of carbohydrate, 0.6g of fat and 2.27g of fiber and 11.5g of protein!

It’s a popular substitute for wheat for those who are gluten-intolerant or coeliac; it’s pretty cheap and very easy to cook! Choose organic Buckwheat were possible and always soak it before using it. Soaking breaks down phytic acid, making the ‘grain’ more digestible. Plus it cuts the cooking time by half!

If you love porridge, but can’t have oats try using buckwheat instead. If you love bread but can’t eat wheat, I make delicious buckwheat bread you can order any time! You can also use it in salads, warm or cold; sprout it and make crackers; mill it into flour and make pancakes, wraps or muffins…the possibilities are only limited by your imagination!

To get you started, here’s my recipe for buckwheat porridge:

Serves 4:

* Soak 1 1/2 cups of buckwheat with 6 cups of water covering the seeds, overnight in the fridge
* The next day rinse the buckwheat well with fresh water. It will be a bit gloopy, but that’s normal so rinse well
* Add the buckwheat to a saucepan with 4 cups of almond milk or any other plant milk, 2 tbsp pure maple syrup/rice syrup
* Bring it to the boil, then turn down the heat and cover with the lid. Cook the buckwheat for 15-20 minutes, until the seeds are cooked but still firm
* Serve with fresh fruit and big dollop of organic peanut butter

Enjoy 😋

And in local news!

And in local news!

This week I was excited to be interviewed by Taranaki Community News. It’s great to be featured by a local news outlet who’s focus is on community issues, local projects and businesses.

I love that mainstream news outlets are starting to report positive stories about the plant based lifestyle. The more we talk about it, the less extreme it becomes.

It’s very humbling to be asked to share my story; I hope you enjoy reading it.

Here’s the link:

https://taranakicommunitynews.com/2019/03/08/cooking-with-plants/

Crispy Hashbrowns

Crispy Hashbrowns

Potatoes are one of my favourite vegetables. They so versatile, but also very filling and contain vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin A, fibre, potassium, magnesium and folate (vitamin B9].

We love hashbrowns, especially the crunchy bits on the outside. They go with anything and you can eat them anytime!

In my quest to cook them without oil, I discovered that using my sandwich maker or grill produced a crispy result while still being fluffy inside.

Depending on how many people you’re feeding, you’ll need to either cook 2 batches or like me, use both the sandwhich maker and the George foreman grill. This recipe makes enough to feed 2 adults and 3 children. I use 2 potatoes per person, so you can adjust that number as you need to. You can also sub some potatoes for zucchini, kumera, onion and carrot.

I top ours with pan fried vegetables cooked in liquid seasoning and fresh garlic. You can add anything you like!

Ingredients:

10 medium potatoes (any variety)

1/4 cup chopped parsley (or any fresh herbs)

2 chopped garlic cloves

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

2 tsp onion powder

1 tsp mustard powder

Method:

Pre heat your sandwich maker and/or grill to toast or medium setting

Scrub the potatoes and grate them into a clean tea towel

Squeeze the water from the potatoes

Place all the ingredients into a large bowl and mix everything together, making sure the potatoes are well coated

Spread half of the mixture onto the grill, making sure it is even. Repeat with the other grill if using

Close the grill or sandwich maker ensuring the lid is flat. Cook for approximately 15 minutes (each machine is different so adjust cooking time as needed). Be careful not to lift the lid too early. If the hashbrowns haven’t crisped up enough you’ll pull it apart.

Carefully remove your hashbrowns and enjoy on its own with a dipping sauce or top with your favourite vegetables.

The best bit is that you only need to gently wipe you machine, as no oil is required!

Transitioning workshop

Transitioning workshop

Simone’s Plant Based Cooking Classes are your gateway to creating and eating vibrant, mostly organic and healthy vegan food.

I believe that food should serve your body and mind well. The plant based lifestyle is a way of fueling yourself that is enjoyable, simple and sustainable.

This 3 hour transition class will give you the information, tools, motivation and recipes to start your own journey into discovering plant based foods.

The topics we’ll cover are:

* The science

* What is a plant based diet?

* Discover your why & motivations

* What to eat?

* How to start

* How to include your family

* Recipes

* Shopping lists

* Goal setting & planning
The cost of the workshop is $100 per person and includes:

* A work book with all the information you need, including motivational tips, resources and useful websites.

* My ebook of family friendly recipes (worth $25)

* Nibbles & light dinner
Numbers are limited to 10, so book early as places will fill up fast. Come alone or bring a friend, but you’ll leave with a new community of friendship and support.

It will be held at @the open space in New Plymouth 3pm – 6pm.

Email or call me to book your space.

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