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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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)
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!
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
Christmas is just around the corner. If you love chocolate as much as we do, then you’ll love this Christmas themed treat. I serve it with a platter of other goodies but you can serve it alone. I’ll also be giving away little bags as presents for my kids’ teachers. If you can resist eating it, you could wrap the pieces up for your tree decorations.
I use 90% cocoa dark chocolate drops as its not too sweet, but you can use whatever you like. The cranberries add a chewy sweetness and the raspberry powder gives a sharp, sweet pop which you’ll love.
This recipe makes enough to line a 9 by 9 inch square pan. It comes out quite thin, so if you want thick chunks, simply double or triple the amount of chocolate you use!
1 cup dark chocolate drops
2 tbsp almond milk
1/4 cup cranberries
1/8 cup pistachios, crushed
1 tsp Fresh As Raspberry powder
Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil, with a bigger bowl on top
Line your rectangular tray
Add the chocolate and milk to the bowl and stir occasionally until melted. If the chocolate is too thick, add a little more milk
Once melted, pour the chocolate into your lined pan. Sprinkle over the cranberries, pistachios, then the raspberry powder
Place the tin into the freezer for 20 mins until the chocolate is solid again
Once solid, remove the paper from the tin and roughly chop the slab into pieces
The slab will keep in an air tight container for a few weeks, but it won’t last that long!
Tofu; you either love it or hate it! We love it, but it hasn’t always been that way. We first tried it in an Asian style soup and it was simply cubed and dropped into the broth for a few minutes before it was served. It really didn’t taste of anything, and the texture was rubbery. We’ve tried semi firm tofu cooked like scrambled egg. It’s broken up in the pan while cooking and you add flavour and turmeric for colour. We don’t like it like this either; it feels too much like egg in my mouth.
I came across this method while researching other ways to cook it. A recipe I saw dried the tofu in the oven on a low heat for a few minutes before frying it. The author was cheating, so as not to have to press the water out of the tofu for hours! So I thought, why not just bake it in the oven without oil.
Tofu is bland! It doesn’t taste of the soy beans it’s made from; it doesn’t taste like anything so you have to season or marinate it, so it takes on flavour. I use various methods of marinating depending on what I’m using the tofu for. This recipe makes the tofu nice and crispy, perfect for stir fry’s, wraps, summer rolls and burgers. Tofu is very high in protein and it an excellent meat substitute.
I only use 1 packet of tofu in this recipe and it serves all 5 of us. Most recipes call for pressing the water out of the tofu block for at least an hour. This is because it has a high water content and most recipes deep or shallow fry it in oil. I don’t bother with that (who’s got that sort of time?!) Besides, we need a little water left in the tofu to dry out in the oven, making it crispy.
The picture along with this recipe shows the tofu on top of stir fried rice noodles and veggies. We don’t mix it into the noodles as it will go soggy and we don’t want that.
I prefer the Braggs brand of nutritional yeast, but you can use whatever you like. If you don’t like nutritional yeast, you can sub it for any other seasoning flakes. Onion flakes are a nice substitute. I wouldn’t use powder, as it will clump when it comes into contact with the tofu and the water. You can also change the All Purpose seasoning to suit your preference. This substitute can be a powder, it will sit on top of the previous seasoning layer.
1 pack Tonzu tofu (or any other brand of firm tofu)
5 tbsp Braggs Nutritional Yeast
1 tbsp Masterfoods All Purpose Seasoning
Pre-heat your oven to 200º Celsius
Drain the tofu block, being careful not to break it
Place a clean, dry tea towel on a chopping board
Put the tofu block onto the centre of the towel and cover with another clean, dry folded tea towel
Place something heavy on top of the tofu. I use 3 or 4 cook books. Leave it for 10 minutes
Line a baking tray with baking paper or a silicone mat*
Pour the nutritional yeast into a shallow bowl or plate
Remove the tofu and place it on a dry chopping board, or turn over the one you already used
With a sharp, straight bladed knife slice the tofu width ways, into 1cm thick slices and cut each slice in half
Using your hand, carefully coat the slices in the nutritional yeast, ensuring they are evenly coated. Place them onto the baking tray leaving a small gap
Once all the slices are coated and on the tray, sprinkle them with the All Purpose seasoning. They don’t need to be completely covered
Cook for 20-25 minutes until the edges are brown and the slices are crispy. There is no need to turn them over during cooking
Remove from the oven and try not to eat them all before you serve them with the rest of your meal!
*If you use a silicone mat, you will need to turn the slices over after 20 minutes to get both sides crispy.