Hi everyone! I hope you enjoyed PART 1 of the food photography backdrops series as this week I bring you PART 2! To keep the blog post as short and informative as possible, I haven't included a recipe today. Sorry. But I'll be back with a stunning recipe next time. Is that ok? Cool ;)! Ok, so let's quickly move on to two of my most favourite food photography backdrop options EVER, shall we? Fabrics and metals...
Storage: easy/medium/a tad more complicated
For those of you who have been following me for a while on instagram, you'll know I'm OBSESSED with fabrics. In fact you'll be hard pressed to find an image in which I don't use fabrics. That's because I love the look, feel and texture of fabrics so, so much and believe they often add the missing ingredient to a shot.
It feels as though so much has happened in the last two weeks and I am bursting to tell you all about it! Can I start off by sharing a little bit about my experience at Food Blogger Connect 2015 (FBC15)? If you've been following along, you'll know that I've wanted to become much more serious about my food blogging, writing, photography and recipe development. So as part of that 'want', I did a collaboration with Ceri about two weeks ago to broaden my food blogging horizons. I also attended FBC15 at Chiswick House and Gardens in order to get as many tips as I could on making my blog bigger and better.
So what was the conference like? Well, it took place over 3 days (I attended and volunteered at 2) during which one had lots of opportunities to meet, mingle and connect with other bloggers, share experiences and provide one another with heaps of encouragement and support. For me personally, this was probably the most invaluable aspect of the conference and as it stands 2 possible collaborations are in the works as a result of FBC15! So watch this space ;)
Hi everyone! Sorry it's been a little while since I posted a recipe. As you know I like to post bi-weekly, but the last few weeks I've been away from home meaning it's been rather complicated to access the internet or a kitchen for that matter. I'm glad to report though, that I may have found a way around this problem. For now. More about that soon...
Firstly, I wanted to tell you a teeny tiny bit about my week on the island of Curaçao or Curadise as I like to call it. If you've been following me on instagram, you know I enjoyed lots of gorgeous and fresh juices whilst I was there. Honestly, I can tell you that they were all as tasty and refreshing as they looked!
You'll be glad to hear though that those delicious juices formed only a tiny part of our wonderful time on Curaçao. I mean the warm and friendly people, the fun music, the vibrant atmosphere and those magnificent beaches were actually what made our stay unforgettable. It's such a special island; I can wholeheartedly recommend a visit :).
As you read this post I'm either at the airport, perhaps I'm even on a plane high up in the sky or maybe I've already landed in my first destination. Either way, I won't be in London. In fact I won't be in London for the next 6 weeks (eek!). Needless to say I'm excited and not just because it's a holiday and a nice long one too. Nope, it's more than that. Actually it's really all about my son. He's just finished his first year in school and with me being so busy over the last 12 months, we've not seen each other as much as we we did before he was in full-time education. So, I though it was worth making the most of the school holidays and spending the entire time together.
During the first week of our journey, we will be on the gorgeous island of Curaçao which forms part of the Dutch Antilles. Curaçao has the most beautiful beaches I know and it's also the place my mother is originally from meaning that part of my roots as well as my son's roots are from this stunning little country too.
I've posted some really long blog posts recently and you'll be glad to hear this one's gonna be short and sweet. Why? Cuz I've got a massive nutrition exam coming up at the end of the week and I am waaayyy behind schedule. Which in turn means I'm in a total panic :(
BUT I made a commitment to this blog and to you so here is my bi-weekly post as promised. And, it's a pretty good one too. In fact it's a super good one - my all time favourite green juice! Yup, this is one of the juices that helped me find my green path and I bet it will help you on your wayy too.
WARNING: This is another looooong blog entry, mainly about food photography and food styling. So if you're just here for the recipe – no offence taken – just scroll way down to the bottom of this post and you'll find what you're looking for :).
You still here? Great, cuz it's a blog post I've been feeling really excited about sharing with you. But first the backstory: I'm a complete total first born. I think as a first born you always feel responsible and you always want to make things better for everyone. So if someone comes to me and tells me their problem – I go into first born mode. I'm a sympathetic listener, sure, but mainly in the back of my head I'm thinking: OK, this person is upset/sad/frustrated, what can I do to make everything alright? How can I solve their problem and make them smile? Cuz that's what you do as a first born, you fall into that psydo parenting role, right? At least I do.
So what's that got to do with food photography? Well, loads actually. See this time around I was the one with the problem that needed fixing. I just got so bored of hearing myself moan about not knowing how to take good enough pictures (BTW I don't feel that way anymore, but at the time I did ;)). So, I thought about all the ways I could make things better and solve my problem. Ah! Attend a food photography and food styling workshop of course...
Next week is a pretty significant week for The Little Plantation Blog (more about that next week of course ;)). To mark the special occasion I wanted to share a recipe on the blog that YOU really want to see. So I am handing over the reins and letting you decide what's next. The choice is between a vegan, gluten-free and grain-free savoury asparagus tart OR a sweet vegan, gluten-free and grain-free rhubarb tart. They are both seasonal, easy to make and utterly delicious.
Though still in the midst of Winter, the sun was shining brightly the day I got to hang out with the most influential Raw Chef in the UK – Russell James. Many of you will know Russell from his youtube channel and other may know him from his popular blog The Raw Chef. I was lucky enough to meet him at an uber-cool converted South London warehouse which is his live/work space. It houses not one but two stunning, envy-worthy kitchens; the first kitchen Russell uses to teach his super popular raw food classes, the second one (an electric blue one nonetheless), is his personal kitchen which is as high tech as it is inviting and beautiful.
Now what do you do when you meet a vegan foodie superstar with more than 190,000 facebook followers? Talk plant-based food of course ;)
"I know one thing: that I know nothing" - Plato
It's MEAT-FREE WEEK here in the UK and guess what? I'm in. Wholeheartedly. Completely. Totally ;)!
So I gotta thinking how best to use this really cool and important week in the foodie calender. Of course I'm gonna share a cracking plant-based recipe with ya'll, right?! But I also thought it would be a great excuse to finally talk in detail about the what, why and how I eat. I've been meaning to do this for donkey's years (ok, maybe just 10 months aka since launching this blog), but up until now it didn't seem like quite the right time. As my readership has grown though I feel it's so important for me to continue to be open, honest and transparent about my food philosophy. I owe that to you, my readers and I owe it to the integrity of my blog :).
To be clear, I'm under no illusion that my writing in this post is 'the ultimate truth'. It's just my personal view as I hold it in the here and now. However, I'm always open to learn and explore other ideas and thoughts; I want to keep developing my knowledge about food and hence should I learn something that challenges what I presently think, I'll be sure to let you know ;).
WARNING: This is a long post. Please skip to the recipe section at the bottom if you want to. I won't mind :)
Are you a raw foodist?
I LOVE raw food and I strongly believe that everyone can benefit from increasing the amount of raw plant based foods in their diet, which is why there are lots of raw recipes on this site. But I don't exclusively eat raw foods. I did a blog post a while back about why. Check it out here if you want to :).
Are you a vegan?
Nope, I'm not a vegan.
So are you a vegetarian then?
Nope. Like 'vegan' it's a title that doesn't fit me 100% and actually doesn't quite describe what and how I choose to eat. So, I'm uncomfy with it.
What about paleo?
You'll find lots of paleo recipes here, but that label definitely isn't 'me'. I ADORE legumes and grains. They form a major part of my diet.
But you constantly use hashtags like #vegan, #vegetarian and #paleo on instagram and twitter. Isn't that a bit misleading?
I hope not. I use these hashtags to help people who are curious about vegan, vegetarian and paleo foods find my recipes. If a recipe is vegan, I will use the vegan hashtag; so in essence I'm trying to describe the food, rather than define who I am with the chosen hashtags. Does that make sense?
I occasionally use the hastag veganmom not because I am a veganmom, but because the recipe is especially family and kiddie friendly and something I think a vegan parent would like.
So how DO you describe yourself?
Firstly, I'm a human being ;).
Secondly, if I HAVE to put myself in a foodie camp, I'd say I eat a mainly whole food plant-based diet. This means that the fast majority (around 95%) of what I eat are seasonal, local, organic, whole, plant-based foods such as veggies, fruits, legumes, grains, etc.
And what makes up the rest of your diet?
I LOVE honey and bee pollen, which aren't strictly 'vegan' foods. I can also be a bit naughty and bake cakes that includes refined sugar or be really naughty and have something pretty vile like ketchup (I LOVE that stuff) or soya products. I eat eggs, probably 1-2 every week, and use mayonnaise occasionally. A couple of the ingredients I cook with might not be organic or seasonal and sometimes you'll even see me nibble on a piece of raw, oily fish. Not often, but it can happen.
Fish? Isn't that cruel? Doesn't it go against everything the blog stands for? How do you justify eating that?
Some people choose to eat a vegan or plant-based diet because their main concern is the welfare of animals. Though it is something I think about A LOT, it's not how I ended up where I am now. Instead my drive towards a plant-based diet came out of my desire to be healthier. I suffered from really bad constipation after having my son and was eager to try and figure out what was going on with my body. Furthermore, when my son stopped breastfeeding and moved on to finger foods, I wanted to be sure I was giving him the best and healthiest meals possible. One thing led to the next and before I knew it, I'd read every book about food and health I could get my hands on.
The more I read, the clearer it became to me that a whole food, plant-based diet was the way forward. I tried it and felt like a million dollars. I haven't looked back. Now I'm in my second year of retraining as a nutritional therapist and the course has just confirmed what I already experienced for myself: that the power of plant-based food is fascinating cool and super healthy!
The second most important driving force towards the diet that I presently follow has been my deep love for Patch Mama (Mother Earth). She feeds us and looks after us and you know, we need to respect, honour and care for her. Eating a whole, seasonal, organic plant-based diet – I feel – is the best way to do that.
Lastly, I did a lot of reading about farmed animals, their suffering and you know what? I just didn't want to be a part of that. I don't judge anyone who is. And I don't believe that omnivores are 'cruel' or 'bad' or 'ignorant' or that vegans are necessarily more 'enlightened', 'compassionate' or 'better' human beings. I have met lots of omnivores (including my husband) who have a heart of gold. (Though rest assured, I'm working on him ;).)
More importantly, I think it's my role as a plant-based blogger to spread love and acceptance, not hate and anger, which is something I know many other plant-based, vegan and vegetarian bloggers are commited to.
Which leads me to the issue of eating fish. It's a very tricky one for me. Because healthwise, I feel that the small amount of raw fish that I do eat has more positives than it does negatives. In particular fish's vitamin D content is something that does me good.
I feel that eating more than the occasional piece of wild fish puts a tremendous pressure on our oceans. It breaks my heart that we're depleting our marine resources the way that we are. And hence - despite my joy of eating fish - I know I need to keep it in close check. Will I give up fish completely? I don't think so. Do I feel eating fish is cruel? Honestly, I don't. But things shift and change so watch this space.
Any more confessions?
Nope, but I will do a post about how I feed my family at some point as that's a whole different topic in itself...
Just for the record though I don't do red meat, chicken, turkey, duck etc. And I am really not into dairy. I can't see that ever changing. But something like this could happen, right!? Other than that, you can safely bet your bottom dollar you won't see me sneaking a piece of spam into my mouth;).
Finally, does that mean you'll include egg or fish recipes on your blog?
I have unintentionally never included (free range, organic) egg recipes, but I will because I do eat them and find them very versatile. My baking recipes however will remain 100% egg-free.
I can promise that you won't see fish here.
They say boredom is a great excuse to eat. So let's eat, shall we?
Thanks for reading everyone.
GLUTEN-FREE NO-BAKE GRANOLA BARS (V+, GF, ChF, NF)
IMPORTANT: This recipe is adapted from one I found in Angela Liddon's truly wonderful book The Oh She Glows Cookbook. It's a firm favourite! Also, please check the tips at the end of the recipe for substitutions and other suggestions.
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Chilling Time: 20 minutes
Makes: 12 scrumptious bars
½ cup (65g) (organic) sesame seeds
1 ½ cups (125g) (organic) gluten-free oats
1 ¼ cup (180g) (organic) buckwheat
¼ (25g) (organic) goji berries
¼ cup (35g) (organic) raisins
1tsp (organic) ground cinnamon
¼ tsp pink Himalayan Salt
½ cups (120ml) maple syrup
¼ cup (60ml) light tahini
1 tsp pure (organic) vanilla extract
Get all the ingredients out onto the kitchen counter and ready to use.
Line a square baking tray with parchment paper.
In a large bowl combine the oats, buckwheat, goji berries, raisins, cinnamon and salt.
In a little pot, gently heat the maple syrup and tahini until nicely combined. Take this mixture of the heat and add the vanilla.
Pour the mixture over the dry ingredients and combine well.
Transfer this onto the prepared baking tray, spreading the mixture as evenly as you can. (Feel free to use your fingers if need be).
Pop in the freezer for 20 minutes or until set.
Remove from the freezer and cut into 12 bars.
You can store the bars in the fridge, but I'd recommend storing them in the freezer (for up to a month) and taking one out when you fancy it. They are GREAT for breakfast on the go or as a filling snack.
Tip 1: When you take a bar from the freezer wait 5-10 minutes before eating. However, I did notice if I left it out too long, it didn't hold together that well. When that happened, I transformed the bar into a chunky granola and enjoyed it with some almond milk. Yummy.
Tip 2: I used toasted buckwheat, but you could use raw buckwheat too. Just soak them overnight before using.
Tip 3: I know some people who are gluten intolerant don't do well with oats, regardless of whether the oats are gluten-free or not. If that's you, just swap them with millet flakes.
Tip 4: I used black sesame seeds, but there's nothing stopping you using white ones.
Looking for more breakfast ideas? Just click here:)
I wish I could say something inspiring, clever, thoughtful, reflective or funny even. And how I wish I could include a quote from some literary master. But the truth is life's been pretty hectic at the mo' and I gotta keep it short and sweet today. You see, motherhood has kept me busy :) as well as this MASSIVE biochemistry/nutrition exam I've been revising for. It's on Friday. :(. YIKES! So, everything else has kinda had to go on hold.
Thank goodness there was time to celebrate Valentine's day with my 3 loves though – hubby, son and... kale. I know the kale bouquet has nothing to do with today's recipe but it was so cute, I HAD to share it here with you guys. (Can you blame a proud mama?)
In December (oh gosh, that seems so long ago now!) I hosted a winter yoga workshop in a converted warehouse in South East London. Some lovely yoginis joined me for a sweaty and fun ashtanga yoga practice. Their hard work didn't go unnoticed and certainly didn't go unrewarded because after nearly 2 hours on the yoga mat, I made sure they had the opportunity to enjoy a nourishing and delicious vegan winter soup.
B/W Photos by: JOASIS PHOTOGRAPHY (gluten-free)
We all tucked into my seasonal curried butternut squash soup, a firm favourite from the blog. It was super yummy and I am proud to report that not a drop remained uneaten. Cheekily I also did some recipe testing on my students and 'made' them try some home-made Swedish crisp bread. I'd discovered the recipe during a girly get-together a few months earlier and wanted to make sure it was blog worthy. The recipe is on the blog today so I am sure you can figure out what the feedback was ;)
THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF CINNAMON:
Without a shadow of a doubt, cinnamon is my most favourite spice in the whole wide world! It smells amazing and exotic, yet so familiar and comforting too. It reminds me of childhood and I connect its smell and taste to being spoiled by my mother on a Sunday morning. It is warming and nurturing and…well I could gush about cinnamon for the next half an hour, but I’ll spare you ;) .
The good news is that – apart from being super duper yummy – it’s also really good for you. And, more importantly it’s so easy to use and really versatile. So what makes cinnamon so healthy and why should you use it?
1. Cinnamon has a gently warming effect throughout the body and is a great way to fight off colds, fevers and flu during the chilly winter months. When my son is unwell I often put cinnamon in his tea and I promise you, this stuff works wonders. Because it has such an attractive taste, it’s relatively easy to slip this into your child’s diet and despite its healing qualities, your child won’t feel like they are being given ‘medicine’. Instead, it’s more like a treat.
2. Cinnamon can protect against candida yeast infection. Using cinnamon in your food is something I highly recommend for those of you who are taking antibiotics and who may consequently be more susceptible to candida yeast infection.
3. I have found reference on the internet that cinnamon is a good way to control blood sugar levels and hence very popular with type 2 diabetics. I have not read any specific research around this myself, but please do share your thoughts on this point. I’d be keen to hear if anyone has personal or professional experience of cinnamon’s use in this capacity.
4. Cinnamon has strong anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. This is one of the reasons it’s great at fighting candida yeast infections. But because of this quality, cinnamon can also be used to fight other fungal and bacterial infections such as tummy bugs and flu, to name but a few.
5. Both in the Ayurvedic tradition as well as in Chinese medicine, cinnamon is viewed as a powerful medicine. It is used to treat cold and indigestion, menstrual discomfort and bloating. I am not an expert in either of these two fields, but have read numerous reference of cinnamon’s use within these traditions. Please do share your experience and knowledge if you practice Ayurveda and/or Chinese medicine.
6. I’m pretty obsessed about good dental hygiene, hence my general dislike of (too much) sugar! So, I was really pleased to discover that cinnamon has been found to fight tooth decay and gum disease, again because of its anti-bacterial properties mentioned earlier. Cool huh?!
Here some recipes where I use cinnamon.
Enjoy and thanks for reading!
HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone! It's sooooo good to be back. I really, really, really missed writing, creating recipes and taking pictures for the blog. And I missed being part of the blogging community :). But the 3 weeks off did me well and I can't think of a better month than January to start blogging again! I know lots of people think the first month of the year is too dark, too gloomy and too depressing but you know what? I am rather fond of January. That's because the beginning of the year to me means a chance to make a fresh start and to be a better, healthier and happier me :).
Like many of you, I tend to make a wish list of things I want to accomplish and achieve . (I don't like using the term New Year's resolutions as it kinda implies that it'll all fall to pieces before Jan is even over ;). Whereas wish list is more positive, more attainable and less conspicuous, don't you think?). I always post my New Year's wish list on my personal facebook page because the scrutiny of family and friends, as well as their support and encouragement, makes me work harder at completing all items on my list.
NOTE: The pictures were updated in September 2015.
A few weeks ago the lovely Ksenia - the blogger behind At the Immigrant's Table - nominate me for the Liebster Award (remember I mentioned Ksenia last week?). Please, don't get too excited, the Liebsters ain't the Oscars ;), but the award is a superdy duperdy cute way of making the food blogging world feel like a real, caring and tangible community. Consequently I was delighted and rather flattered that I'd been chosen for this award. Thank you soooo much Ksenia :).
First things first, the Liebster Award Rules:
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you by providing a link to their blog
2. Display the award badge
3. Answer 11 questions provided by the blogger who nominated you
4. List 11 random facts about yourself
5. Nominate 11 bloggers
6. Pose 11 questions to said nominees
7. Go to each nominee’s blog and notify them of their nomination
YIKES! I got my work cut out!
No one can claim that opportunities to learn about cooking aren’t all around us. For starters, the internet is such a wonderful source of cooking inspiration; the array of creative food blogs out there is near to overwhelming! And then of course there are 100s of cookbooks to fall in love with, countless stylish cooking magazines to subscribe to and free recipe cards galore to grab hold of at your local supermarket. I mean, come on, there was never a better time to be a food geek.
And though I have indulged in all the options noted above, this week I thought I’d go all old school and do something a little bit different... To celebrate ‘Homemade Bread Day’ I decided to emulate what women did centuries ago i.e. hang out near a big fire, catch up on village gossip whilst preparing a delicious meal together. To recreate a modern day version of this girly tradition I invited some pretty cool female friends into my kitchen where we chatted, cried, giggled, moaned about the pressures of being working, middle-class moms and baked some yummy scrummy goodies.
''La vida no es como deberia ser, sino como es.'' - Facundo Cabral (1937 - 2011)
''Life is not as it should be but as it is.'' - Facundo Cabral (1937- 2011)
I had it all planned. So perfect. So organised. Thinking I was being really clever, I prepared 2-3 dishes for the blog in advance several weeks ago. I photographed and edited them, then stored them away in a file titled 'rainy day reserves'.
That rainy day came this week. It came with a vengence; you see it is getting colder, darker and well... rainier so finding the right lighting for my photoshoots has been quite hard. In addition, my son is off school, my husband is away on a business trip and consequently photographing and styling fresh material for the blog is completely impossible (I tried it in the past, but 4.5 year olds and food photography do not pair well;)).
Turn back the clock by about 6 years: It’s the morning of Halloween. I frantically run to the supermarket, get a family sized pack of miniature milk chocolate bars and - that evening - hand them out to unassuming children after they have politely rung our doorbell and chanted ‘trick-or-treat’.
Of course there are left-over chocolate bars. There always are. I eat 1-2 (honest ;)) and then take the rest into the office at the earliest opportunity, causing a handful of work colleagues to abandon their diets and yet strangly feel better for it; at least temptation is no longer within my four walls.
Fast forward: I become a mother. Then I learn more about nutrition. Then I question my actions...
Today is a pretty special day. I mean a super special day. I mean a super duper special day because my little sister’s first single from her first album has been unleashed! (I mentioned my sister Sumera before, here and here, remember?) (WHOOOOOOOOO!!!!! HOOORRRAAAYYYY!!! YIIIHHAAAA). Oh man, our entire family – in London, Spain, Holland, Ecuador, Colombia, Portugal, the Caribbean, the US - EVERYONE is oh so excited, proud and over the moon that all her hard work has resulted in the masterpiece that is WOLF. And this spot in cyberspace is MY opportunity to brag about Sumera because I am utterly and completely besotted with her work.
NOTE: The pictures for this blog post were updated September, 2015.
Let me be open and clear: As I write this post, we are not a dairy-free household. (Ouf, glad that’s out in the open and no, I am not planning a Swiss fondue recipe for the blog any time soon, in case you were wondering). Although I personally don’t consume any dairy and would love it if my husband and my son didn’t either, the reality is, they do. To be frank, I am ok about it because I appreciate that they have to find their own path in their own sweet time. I see my role not to judge them but to offer as many (better) alternatives as I can. I’d also like to stress though that I have the utmost respect for families who take a more definite and decisive vegan approach. Fantastic, amazing, wonderful :), I may even be a tad jealous, but I also know it’s just not for us.
Like I mentioned last week, we are really only just embarking on our plant-based journey and still have a long way to go. But it’s so exciting to be at the start of something so big; I love this moment right now, right here and all it has to offer in the form of new discoveries and the shape of awesome opportunities. Importantly though we’re making lots of big steps in the right direction, but ...
I have been really keen to use this blog as a space to experiment and to explore what I am capable of in the kitchen. I feel The Little Plantation is the perfect excuse to step out of my comfort zone and just go for it. If I can’t be a daredevil in real life, I better be one in cyberspace, right?
My biggest fear has always been baking bread. I know it’s a bit ridiculous but I just never knew how or where to start and frankly I thought all that kneading business looked rather complicated. Plus I believed that you needed lots of patience (something I lack) and heaps of time (something I never have enough of) (SPOILER ALERT: I was right, you need both but it’s totally worth it and it ain't as bad as it sounds).
So, instead of making my own bread I’ve just popped into the supermarket and bought the best loaf I could find. But deep down inside of me I’ve always known that there is so much I am missing out on by going down that easy route. One of my yoga students put it really poignantly, she said: ‘We all originate from a place where we use our hands, sit around a fire, chat, share stories and make beautiful things.’