The Fresh seasonal organic energising balanced vibrant nourishing healing kitchen
Fresh, seasonal,organic, energising, balanced, vibrant, nourishing,healing kitchens
Fresh, seasonal,organic, energising, balanced, vibrant, nourishing,healing -words like this symbolise good plant food to me and they paint a diverse picture when it comes to food. Does it sound like your kitchen? Does it sound like your ingredients? Does it sound like your life?
Today can be the greatest in taste and flavour and in vibrancy. I think we can be thankful in large part to the influence that other cultures have had on enabling us to make this possible. You can make the circle you move in just so. There is so much more to food than what the mono farming landscapes might suggest to us. Growing grass for dairy and beef pale in comparison to the beauty and diversity that so many other plant crops can offer. Dream on. Despite the industrial focus on food growing in New Zealand and the traditional meat and dairy food culture which forms the basis of so many Kiwi’s diets; we have also undergone some significant and hopeful changes away from this diet over the decades.
I was led to believe that eating meat was once considered a status symbol in the early days of colonisation in NZ and fish was what those poorer folk back ‘home’ in Britain ate, a status symbol if you like. I also heard that big bellies signified status in some cultures. How things have changed. What is aiding and abetting this shift in the food landscape is I think quite ironic. The Globalisation of the 90’s which fuelled the farming industry mantra has also provided us with a huge and varied range of foods from other cultures. It effectively broadened our food horizons. Obviously I am not talking about the plethora of badly processed foods which have their roots in the SAD diet; Standard American Diet. Nor do I endorse the epidemic unregulated wonders and convenience of supermarkets. It is a great shame supermarkets are now often the only place we are able to access some of these ‘international’ foods.
The good news is that colour and vibrancy and flavour jump out at me when I think of those cultures with a rich food history. Significant too is that spices in food recipes often seem to originate from those cultures who already have a long history in eating vegetables. The many Asian countries, Indonesia, Japan, India and South America in particular are great sources of vegetarian foods that taste fantastic. Then there is Israel, Palestine and Greece and of course recipes originating from the Mediterranean region. But I really love the Asian, Indo, Japan, Indian and South American recipes when it comes to vibrancy and flavour and often simplicity. Many well-known vegetarian recipes originate from these cultures. So in the cooking classes we will be celebrating the opportunity to use, steal and adapt other cultures takes on plant based meals with some well known favourites in the mix.
Trying out ‘foreign’ or even unknown ingredients means you may have to put aside some assumptions you have acquired along the way. Chilli need not be so hot, and Curry need not upset you! The takeaways you have eaten are not always a good measure of that cultures food, so expect to be delighted.
Indian food is rich in food history when it comes to vegetarian recipes. Ayurveda style of food is synonymous with health and has a history in India of over 5000 years. ‘Food is medicine’ is the mantra of this style of cooking which uses common spices renowned for their medicinal qualities. In the cooking classes we will use this cultures knowledge of food in how we choose, prepare, eat and relate to our food. After all they have quite a track record and the recipes are delicious. This fits perfectly with our own interest in improving our diets by eating more plants, and also the relative ease we now have in finding the spices and herbs to use. The range of spices is probably as wide as the range of plants we can eat, as is the herb kingdom, and as you will see they are important part of making really delicious foods. We will put together many takes on other cultures best recipes with the aim to provide you with the know how and appreciation of plants.
The other interesting thing about the Indian food culture if I can put it into one basket which I should not, was discovering the word A-Himsa. A means no; himsa means violence. Vegetarians in India practice A-himsa which forbids the killing of a living creature. This was very pre industrial animal farming remember and in most areas it still is! I wonder if our own cultures reliance on animals as part of our diet has influenced how we regard them and as a consequence we have never really developed an emphasis on the plant. We are of course well up to the neck in industrial farming and the health consequences of eating processed foods, so if we come to A-Himsa at all we are arrive from the other end of the spectrum. Of course Indian food, Hindu, Buddhist have many well known vegetarian and vegan recipes, sadly more than my culture had. But there are also some curly attitudes to throw into the mix. Those individuals who identify with the A-Himsa ethos who are vegetarian will not eat any meal cooked in animal fat. Butter however, is considered the gift of the animal or of nature because the animal does not need to be killed. Vegetarian eggs as they are known in India are also eaten by Vegetarians as they are unfertilised and contain no life. Ghee or clarified butter, is the most common form of butter used. It is a considered medicinally beneficial in many Indian cultures. When used in Ayurveda cooking it is considered a medicine. Today’s vegan chooses to be one for personal reasons; maybe as a reaction to animal agriculture, as respect of the sentient animal, the environment and or for health reasons. But it is worth noting that these other cultures who have developed strong ethical principals often came around to vegetarian or vegan eating long before industry took over the food scene. But most relevant to this blog is that their recipes stand the test of time.
Those of us simply seeking alternatives to consuming animal fat for whatever reason will be happy to know that most recipes can be replicated easily without losing too much of the ‘essence of the original recipe. Authenticity can be satisfying but I am no perfectionist so adapting and creating without too much compromise is the goal for me. Sometimes it’s not possible and it is better to just let it go and find something else to make and eat. In most cases conversion to the animal free and or gluten free and egg free recipes is possible with a little understanding as to how. But usually I find that these cultures have existing vegan or vegetarian meals that you can make at home and hopefully open up the door to a world of different flavours. This is the easiest and in many instances most delicious of totally plant and vegetarian recipes to eat.
Most important part of the plant based kitchen is stocking the plant based pantry. I will help you do this in the first Foundation class.
Creating vitality and nourishment into the plant based diet can be completely compromised by our use of ingredients. So to ensure this does not happen I suggest you make condiments, sauces and spreads an important part of your daily or weekly kitchen routine.
Generally this group of foods are one of the more processed of ingredients you can purchase in store; and we use them a lot because they make life easy. But at what cost. Loaded full of sugar, salt and often stale oils and preservatives of dubious nature. Maybe some plant fragments make it into the mix, maybe not. Nutritional labels are mostly a joke so really just read the ingredient list. Ask yourself how much plant are you buying in that jar? Is it mostly plant? Is it mainly plant fragment? Or are there no plants in it at all? I suggest you buy only mostly plant and even then only if you have to. Really I think these processed condiments are one of the first on the list to leave off the shopping list. Make you own. How reliant are you on this line of foods? Without them you might struggle. These recipes below will help you make the transition away from those often unnecessary food items, and also provide you with some really good all rounders made by your own hand.
When you do the courses you will not only receive a list of recipes you can make at home but you can also choose from my list of recipes what we will make at each session! Fun! Here are a couple of sauces and condiments you might find useful, instead of buying them, make them.
GADO GADO Spicy Indo Peanut Sauce.
This a well known sauce which I think is great for kids and I call that category family friendly. That is if no one has a peanut allergy. If this is the case you can try replacing peanut butter with another nut butter, not quite the same as that very tasty peanut flavour but worth a try.
A well known classic Indonesian recipe. You can make this as spicy as like, and I like it spicy. It’s great on roasted or steamed veges like carrot, kumara, pumpkin, beans, cauliflower, broccoli, shredded cabbage, celery. Garnish (an extra which is a great accompaniment to many plant based meal) with any of these: drizzle of sesame oil, apple chunks, orange segments, raisins or toasted nuts and seeds. You can also make a substantial meal by adding tofu chunks or tempeh lightly fried in tamari, or that unfertilised egg! Brown rice is good with this too.
In a saucepan cook up :
A drizzle of organic olive oil or Ghee, 1 small brown onion sliced, 2 crushed garlic cloves, grated knob of ginger and add a bay leaf. Sizzle until onion is soft then add 2-3 cups of water, 1 Tb of apple cider vinegar, dash of tamari (optional), 1 cup of really good organic (I like the whole Chantal brand) or artisan made peanut butter or previously roast your own peanuts and blend until smooth and add ½ cup of tahini (sesame paste) or a nut butter alternative, 1 Tbs of honey or rice syrup. Mix well and simmer on low for around 30 minutes. Should be a thick creamy sauce but chunky with peanuts if you like chunky peanuts.
Keeps in the fridge for around a week or more.
Curry Cumin Tomato Sauce.
A very versatile light sauce. The addition of coconut milk makes it very family friendly. Stir over cooked baked, veges with brown or red rice.
Optional sliced onion
2 garlic cloves grated (opt)
X 1 400 gr jar of tomato puree or 1 tin of tomatoes if you don’t have them fresh. Puree or whole, it won’t matter.
Finger of turmeric grated
Grated knob of ginger
1 Tb Cumin powder
1 tsp of ground coriander
1 Tb Curry powder (see below)
1 Tb Garam Masala Powder
Throw in a little pinch of yellow mustard seeds if you like
1tsp of Fenugreek seed ground Tb of good quality vege stock mix (in which case add 1 cup of water) or 1 cup of your own homemade stock
Optional cup of raisins or sultanas or optional ½ cup of soaked and mashed dates depends how sweet you like it.
Optional tin of coconut milk organic.
Pinch of chilli
Simmer for 15 minutes
Extras: sprinkle chopped Coriander, roasted pepitias (pumpkin seeds and salt roasted) and or sunflower seeds, add tinned or cooked chickpeas.
If you must Mayonnaise.
Like a lot of store bought processed jarred, vacuum packed, frozen ‘foods’, sauces and condiments can be a nasty thing. They are so ultra-processed. How much plant is in the list of ingredients? No plant, part fragments, or mostly plant? Store bought varieties often contain a lot of ingredients that really don’t offer much in the way of any nutrient benefit. Most ingredients consist of stale oils, salt and sugar. If egg is in that list of ingredients then even more reason for me to decline. Making your own fresh mayonnaise is the way to go if you really need it at all. So here are a couple of recipes for those who want a more nutritious, fresh mayonnaise, vegan too.
The Vegan Mayo – homemade is the way to go. Why load your liver with anything else. Once again versatility is this Mayo’s middle name. Spread on breads, crepes,burgers and wraps. This is a very good looking mayonnaise. Nice body. Add smoked paprika for extra flavour or chilli or horseradish or mustard. A little goes along way too remember. Don’t drink it! You can also use a lot less oil if you prefer, which I do, always mostly.
½ cup of home made almond milk or a malt free organic soy milk
1 cup of olive oil
1 – 2 tsp mustard powder or for real grunt grind up your own mustard seeds or horseradish sauce
1 clove garlic
1 good pinch sea salt
Squeeze of lemon or lime or a splash of cider vinegar
Add any herbs of your liking
If you want to sweet this little mayo add a pre softend soaked date or a drizzle of honey or agave (But really sweet ain’t necessary)
Blend the above ingredients and when thick remove and pour into a jug and fold in the herbs. Mix well and keep in the fridge for up to a week. Sprinkle with smoked paprika.
Next blog - mid July.
Please register your place for the cooking classes starting in September. We do have enough participants to start a class which is exciting! So please be in touch and book a seat.
I have also added a one day session, it might some of you better? It won’t cover as much as we will in the four week sessions but will still be very intensive in the 6 hours. Lunch and snacks are provided, or rather you help make them! I look forward hearing from you - any questions please don’t hesitate in asking me.