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rachelsteiman@gmail.com

Wine Tour: Waipara

Waipara

It’s only taken Dan and I all of eight months to finally drive out to the Waipara wineries. Luckily, our friend Megan came down from Auckland for the weekend and inspired us to take a drive out of town. Despite the rainy weather forecast we made the most of our grey Sunday with our first Waipara Wine tour of the season.

Waipara Wine Tour

The Waipara area is well known for its warm dry climate and limestone rich soils, both ideal for quality wine production. Our particular wine tour included three winery stops, giving us good reason to come back to explore more.

Black Estate Winery

Black Estate

A beautiful vineyard located about 6 kilometres north east of the Waipara Junction. The winery is organic and has been using biodynamic practices (a holistic, ecological, and ethical approach to farming, gardening, food, and nutrition) since 2010 and is well known for their Pinots, Chardonnays and Rieslings.

The lunch menu focuses on fresh local ingredients which flavours well with the wines. I definitely suggest ordering more tapas style that way you can taste a little bit of everything on the menu. We decided to start off with the cheese plate which had a selection of one, two or three cheese options. We opted in for the goat cheese with an ash rind and the gouda. I particularly enjoyed the freshly made crackers and local honey with the cheeses.

Black Estate Winery

Dan started with the creamy Jerusalem artichoke soup which he was kind enough to share around the table. Even though the artichoke soup wouldn’t have been my first choice I would have definitely licked-the-bowl good if I had the opportunity.
Jerusalem artichoke soup

For mains we had the potato gnocchi with lemon, sage, winter greens (I would highly recommend this dish) along side with the miso asparagus special. Due to being a seasonal vegetable this side is not always on the menu. Looking forward to our next visit out to the region as I could definitely see myself going for lunch again.

Greystone Winery

After filling our stomachs at Black Estate we decided to carry on our tour to Greystone winery just off the main highway in beautiful Omihi in the Waipara Valley. We tasted an array of their wines and it was easy to get caught up in conversation the cellar door manager. I would definitely be keen to go back  to sit outside on a sunny day on their amazing patio.

Greystone winery

Pegasus Bay

​Pegasus Bay is known for its award winning wines and renowned world class restaurant. As soon as we drove up to the area we new we were in for a real treat.

Walking around the grounds we soaked in (literally) the breath-taking gardens. I was humbled by the beautiful flowers and plants surrounding the building.

Pegasus WineryAlthough we didn’t get to test out the food we took a bottle or two home after tasting some wines at their cellar door. I can’t wait for our next journey back out to Waipara to check out even more of the restaurants and the other cellar doors.

The Best Health-focused Cafes in Auckland

It’s most certainly been a fun-filled few weeks of tasting my way through Auckland’s generous selection of health-focused restaurants scattered across what is known as ‘the city of sails’.

Looking for the best healthy meals in Auckland? With all the choices available you can’t go wrong. Here are my top 4 picks for the best health-focused cafes serving plant-forward, whole food meals in Auckland:

photo credit: @theurbanlist

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The Unbakery Cafes (Ponsonby & CBD) | $$$ (out of 5) | Cafe

@theunbakery | Visit website

The Unbakery Cafe’s offer some seriously nutritious raw plant-based food that caters to most allergy sufferers. You can sense the amount of love and energy they put into their creations by looking around their two beautifully designed spaces. I was first introduced to this cafe while on our New Zealand road trip travelling south for the month of January (blog post coming soon). The Unbakery’s cookbook started popping up in other health-based cafes, grocery stores and friends houses throughout the trip. When we returned back to Auckland I knew I had to go check this place out and try some of their delicious creations. For those of you who know me personally I definitely tend to indulge in the sweets, so I highly recommend the raspberry chocolate brownies, they’re to die for. Seriously, I’d kill my fiancé if he ate more than his half.

Monday's Eatery

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Mondays Eatery (Kingsland) | $$$ (out of 5) | Cafe

@mondayswholefoodsVisit website

A lovely little hidden gem down a small lane in Kingsland serving up tasty healthy whole-food plates for breakfast, lunch & dinner. On top of the cafe is a wonderful intimate space called Ivy Studio which hosts daily yoga and meditation classes. I highly suggest checking out a class first and follow the stretch up with the tasty Middle East Feast dish loaded with herbed quinoa tabbouleh, coriander lentils, dolma rolls, green bean salad, pumpkin hummus, rosemary & sun-dried tomato olives. If your craving a little extra goodness be sure to add an avocado; it’s a great addition to the mix!  I also recommend relaxing in the garden oasis out back of the cafe, your body will thank you after soaking up the rays and greenery and filling your tummy with goodness.

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Wise Cicada Cafe (Newmarket) | $$ (out of 5) | Cafe

@wisecicadaofficial | Visit website

One of my favourite healthy spots for breakfast or lunch in Newmarket without a doubt. I stumbled across the cafe by complete fluke after attending a yoga class at the Yoga Corner nearby. The cafe offers a wide range of delicious smoothies, salads and raw desserts. I was lucky enough to try an array of dishes while there. The vegan shepard’s pie was a definitely favourite, but I will mention that it was a special of the day so occasionally you’ll see it on the menu. I always get the liver cleanser smoothie after sweaty yoga class as it helps boost the detoxification process they make this one with organic orange, apple, beetroot & spray free ginger. As soon as you pop in you’ll also find a large selection of raw cakes and slices so be sure to treat yourself with something sweet if you go. Attached to the Wise Cicada Cafe is also one of the best organic grocery stores that I’ve ever been too. It’s been a one-stop-shop for all my vegetarian, vegan, gluten and dairy free supplies since landing in Auckland.

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The Raw Kitchen
(CBD) | $$ (out of 5) | Cafe

@therawkitchen | Visit website

The Raw Kitchen is located in the City Works Depot a unique little industrial area in the heart of downtown home to creative and talented restaurants and shopping outlets. Whether you’re looking for a healthy lunch or a 3PM snack break The Raw Kitchen serves up freshly made meals, smoothies and delicious desserts that will have you wanting to come back for more. My personal favourites include the flat whites as they make a delicious homemade coconut-almond milk. I tend to pair it with a raw slice of chocolate raspberry cheesecake or chocolate peppermint slice (I told you I had a sweet tooth).

So there you have it, if you ever find yourself in Auckland looking to try out some fresh tasting health-focused restaurants these are some of my favourite places.

Road Trip Through New Zealand

Hello all! From the white and black sand beaches to some wildly windy roads and an endless amount of pies. I’m happy to say that our photos are finally up from our month long trip around New Zealand. There are more stories to come but I wanted to share a few of my favourite moments from our adventure together.

Only fitting that the first photo I take in NZ is of a . We had a pretty crazy last month in Vancouver... between getting engaged, packing up our lives in a container and saying good-bye to our friends and family we have finally arrived at our destination. Here's to the next three weeks of exploring this beautiful country ✨

Only fitting that the first photo I took in New Zealand is of a sheep. We had a pretty crazy busy but awesome last month in Vancouver between getting engaged, packing up our lives in a container and saying good-bye to our friends and family we finally arrived at our destination.

Wander this way.. but watch out for quicksand.

About an hour drive outside of Auckland is the beautiful Te Henga also referred to as Bethells beach in the Waitakere Ranges well worth a visit despite the quicksand.

Settling into this kiwi way of life just fine. Thanks to my amazing tour guide @dssims and @meganpe87 for letting us say at her family batch Next stop: Rotorua

We made our way up to beautiful Hahei, a small settlement in Mercury Bay on the eastern side of the Coromandel Peninsula. This photo was taken at Cathedral Cove, between the settlements of Cooks Beach and Hot Water Beach.

Taking in the beauty of the pōhutukawa, also known as New Zealand's Christmas tree.

I love taking photos of plants and flowers native to New Zealand. This here is the pōhutukawa, also known as New Zealand’s Christmas tree.

Morning eats at @flightcoffeehangar in Wellington.

We arrived in Wellington and we enjoyed some delicious morning eats and coffee at The Hangar in Wellington.

Tussock grassland and this guy ☝

After a few days in Wellington we few down to Christchurch and explored the Port hills and the endless amounts of tussock grassland.

Lyttleton farmers market.. you're a real winner

While spending time in Lyttleton we visited the famous farmers market which takes place every Saturday. The main street was blocked off and completely filled up with people. I’ve never seen so many amazing vendors in my life. We spent the afternoon sampling local goodies and shopping for our next meal which included loads of veggies from the local farmers & fresh bread from the bakery.

Watching the waves roll in

We flew back into Wellington and had a few more day to explore. We drove around and stopped in Tarakena Bay to watch the waves roll in.

Such a beautiful stay in Taranaki from meeting friends parents to sleeping in @cottesloeciaran sweet little camper van on the beach. Next stop Raglan for the tail end of vacation

On our way up from Wellington we spent a night in Taranaki on the beach in a camper van. I absolutely love waking up to the sound of the waves rolling in.

Just in time to catch the sunset surf

Made our way to the amazing town of Raglan, just in time to catch the sunset surf and to celebrate my fiancé birthday.

Happy birthday to the love of my life. May this next year be as eventful and wonderful as the last. Here's to new adventures in kiwi land and living the life of our dreams.

Dreaming of our next visit to @solscape.nz ✨ If you find yourself in Raglan make sure you check out this spot. There's yoga, a plant-based restaurant and a epic view of the ocean... What more do you need? #solscape2017

Our evening consisted of listening to live music and watching the sun fade away across the ocean, what more could you want?

Listed above are just a few of my favourite moments from our trip. I hope you enjoyed my little round of photos and if you’d like to check out the rest of the album feel free to check them out here.

 

Gluten-free Banana Bread

img_3891The snow dusted the top of the north shore mountains this past week, which hopefully means winter is here to stay in Vancouver. The drop in temperature and a bit of the “white stuff” has me super excited about the snow season. All I can now think about is snowboarding and breaking in my new set of skis.

img_3941The last week has been a bit of a whirlwind. There is a good chance that Dan and I may move to New Zealand for a couple years in January or February. Which makes me even more eager to take full advantage of all that British Columbia has to offer. The final decision has yet to be made, but in the meantime I’ve been taking time to reflect on the past two years here in Vancouver. 
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This gluten-free Banana Bread recipe is the perfect loaf for a winter getaway. Not only is it moist and delicious, but is quite easy to make once you have the recipes on hand!

Gluten-Free Banana Bread
 
Ingredients
  • 3 mashed baking bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil (melted)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup rice flour
  • ½ cup gluten free oat flour
  • ½ cup almond meal / flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • About a tablespoon of cinnamon
  • Teaspoon of nutmeg
  • ¾ cup chocolate chips (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix mashed bananas, eggs, coconut oil (melted), vanilla, brown sugar and coconut sugar in a bowl
  3. In another bowl mix rice, corn and almond meal flour. Add in baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  4. In a medium sized bowl stir in dry mix to wet mix, stir to good consistency. Add in the chocolate chips (optional).
  5. Pour batter in baking pan and cook for 30 mins.

 

Flourless Chocolate Cake and Brownies

img_4577If you’re a chocoholic like me you will definitely appreciate this recipe. I have experimented with a handful of chocolate cake and brownie recipes but I also keep coming back to this one. If you end up making it, you won’t be disappointed to say the least. It is gluten-free, simple to make and will satisfy any sweet tooth.

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Feel free to change up the toppings. In the past I’ve used shredded coconut, pomegranates, crushed hazelnuts and pistachios. I have also added a glaze option in case you want to make it extra chocolatey.

Flourless Chocolate Cake
 
Ingredients
  • 6 1-ounce squares coarsely chopped semisweet chocolate
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup cocoa
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • For Glaze:
  • 2 1-ounce squares coarsely chopped semisweet chocolate squares
  • 1½ tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1½ teaspoon milk OR light coconut milk
  • 1½ teaspoons Agave syrup OR honey
  • ⅛ teaspoon vanilla
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Melt 6 ounces of chopped chocolate and butter in a heavy saucepan over medium low heat. Stir until chocolate and butter are melted and smooth.
  3. Add sugar and salt and reduce heat to low. Cook while stirring for about one minute, until sugar starts to dissolve.
  4. Remove pan from heat. Whisk in eggs, one at a time. The mixture will look smooth and glossy.
  5. Sift cocoa into mixture. Whisk until the cake batter is smooth.
  6. Pour batter into prepared greased pan and bake in preheated oven for about 25 minutes. The center of the cake should be just firm to the touch, but be careful to not over bake the cake or it will be dry.
  7. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Invert the cake on a plate.
  8. To prepare the glaze, melt 2 ounces of chopped chocolate and 1½ tablespoons of unsalted butter in the same saucepan you used to make the cake. When melted and smooth, remove the pan from heat. Add milk and Agave syrup OR honey and vanilla and stir until smooth and glossy. Let the glaze cool for about 3 minutes before pouring it on the cake.
  9. Pour all of the glaze in the middle of the cake. Use a silicone or rubber spatula to spread the glaze evenly over the cake, allowing the glaze to evenly run down the sides of the cake.

 

Quinoa Feta and Pomegranate Salad

fullsizerender-3Over the Holiday season there are many friend and family gatherings that take place. I always find myself thinking about what type of dish to bring over and wanted to share one of my favourite seasonal winter salads. Pomegranate season typically runs from October through February, depending on the harvest. When selecting ripe pomegranates from your local grocery store or farmers market look for ones with a red to reddish-brown outer rind and ones that are heavier for it’s size. These pomegranates tend to be full of flavour and make a great addition to any salad.

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For those of you who don’t know some of the many health benefits of pomegranates; I’ve listed some interesting facts below:

  • Pomegranates provide a good sources of vitamins, including vitamin A,vitamin C, and vitamin E, as well as folic acid.
  • They have been traditionally used for clearing up the skin and reducing inflammation. And the juice of a pomegranate can also be useful for the treatment of sore throats.

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4.0 from 1 reviews
Quinoa Feta Pomegranate Salad
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 pomegranate , seeds removed
  • 2 large plum tomatoes, seeded, coarsely chopped
  • ¾ cucumber, peeled, seeded, coarsely chopped
  • 1½ teaspoons dried oregano (I use simply organic)
  • ½ cup feta cheese to crumble on top
  • Dressing
  • ¼ cup Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Spread cooked quinoa over a platter or wide, shallow bowl.
  2. Sprinkle on top remaining ingredients with plenty of dried organic oregano.
  3. Drizzle dressing on top and salt and pepper to taste.

 

Vegan Earl Grey Cookies

fullsizerender-3Lift your tea time to the next level with these super chewy Vegan Earl Grey Cookies. I’ve always loved the taste of Earl Grey, especially on those rainy afternoons when you need a little boost. Below are three interesting facts that you may or may not know about Earl Grey tea:

  • It is a blend of black tea enhanced with oil from the rind of bergamot oranges.
  • Traditionally, it is served with a slice of lemon with sugar to taste, as it brings out the bright flavours and shows off the warm brown colour of the steep.
  • The bergamot in Earl Grey has been known to have a calming effect on people, as well as to boost a person’s mood. This is due to bergamot’s natural aromatherapy qualities.

Lately, I’ve started to test out delicious organic all-natural teas from Sunnyside; a favourite shop of mine in the cove. They have over 30 teas in store, so there’s always something new and interesting to try.
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After stumbling across the Cream of Earl Grey Tea at Sunnyside; I knew that I wanted to infuse the flavour into a cookie. After researching some recipes on the web I came across something on the New York in Green blog. Since I didn’t have all the ingredients I ended up adapting the recipe.

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So here you have it; a Vegan Earl Grey cookie. If you make it be sure to let me know what you think in the comments below.

Vegan Earl Grey Cookies
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups unbleached organic all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons Early Grey loose tea leaves
  • ¾ cup non-dairy margarine
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla soy milk
  • sugar, for the cookie edges
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the sugars, salt and tea and pulse until the tea is pulverized. Add the flour, and pulse again until everything is evenly mixed.
  3. Add the non-dairy margarine, vanilla and soy milk, and pulse again until a dough starts to form. Dump it out into a bowl, and knead just until everything comes together and the loose bits of flour are incorporated.
  4. Divide the dough in half, and roll each half into a log about 12-inches long and cut slices that are about ⅓″ thick. Place them on a cookie sheet and bake for about 10 – 12 minutes. Let them sit on the trays for at least 10 minutes to cool, and then transfer them to cooling racks.

 

 

Curried Baked Sweet Potatoes

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The nights are getting a bit cooler here in Vancouver which means the rainy weather is starting to settling in for the Winter. Despite the fact that so many of us do not live according to the seasons, our bodies still do.

As the seasons change it’s only natural for us to start craving warmer comfort food. Of course, if you’re like me you’ll want to keep it healthy and satisfying so these Curried Baked Sweet Potatoes are a great option.

Curried Baked Sweet Potatoes
Serves: Serves 8
 
Ingredients
  • 4 sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp. grape seed oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 red pepper diced
  • handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • ½ cup toasted slivered almonds
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 cups cauliflower florets, washed
  • 1⁄4 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Poke a few holes in the sweet potatoes with a sharp knife to allow steam to escape. While they cook you can start on your filling.
  2. Pour vegetable broth and quinoa to a medium sized sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Once boiling reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is fluffy. In the meantime sauté the onion and garlic in the grape seed oil with a pinch of salt until soft. Next add in the red pepper, spinach, cherry tomatoes and almonds and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. From there you can add the finished quinoa and cinnamon to the frying pan and mix together.
  3. For the Cauliflower:
  4. Mix the olive oil, curry powder, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a small mixing bowl.
  5. Place the washed and well drained cauliflower florets in a 13 x 9 inch baking dish; pour the oil mixture over the florets and toss gently.
  6. Cover with foil and bake 15 minutes; remove from oven and stir in almonds mixing lightly.
  7. Return to oven and bake uncovered for an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until cauliflower is browned.
  8. Once sweet potatoes are cooked, Remove from oven and let stand until cool enough to handle. Slice sweet potatoes lengthwise down the center to expose cooked insides, top with the quinoa and curried cauliflower and enjoy!

 

 

 

Vegan Borscht Soup

fullsizerender-6This past week I had a long over due lunch with a girlfriend whom I hadn’t seen for ages at Pazzo Chow. For those of you who haven’t been, it’s definitely a local gem in Chinatown that I often frequent for lunch. The menu changes everyday so you’re always in for a surprise.

The special for the day ended up being this life-changing Vegetarian Borscht Soup which instantly brought back many memories of the good ol’ days at my Bubbie’s chalet in Quebec’s Eastern townships. It’s pretty incredible how certain flavours can take you right back to a place or a moment in time. For me while eating this soup all I could think about is coming home after a long day of skiing in -43 degrees, cozying up by the fire and indulging in comfort food prepared by my very talent Bubbie.

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This Sunday I made the point of calling her and asking her for the recipe which I wanted to share with all of you.

Vegan Borscht Soup
Author: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 3 medium-size beets, peeled and grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 medium onions, sliced into half-moons
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 1 pound white cabbage, cut thinly into shreds
  • 2 tablespoons grape seed oil
  • 7 cups vegetable stock
  • Juice of ½ a lemon
  • Salt & ground black pepper to taste
  • Finely chopped chives & dill for garnish
Instructions
  1. Peel and cut the onions, carrots, and grate the beets once peeled.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of grape seed oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add crushed garlic and onion; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent.
  3. Continue to add carrots, grated beets and a pinch of salt. Cook until they have soften.
  4. In the meantime, bring the vegetable stock to a boil. Once boiled, add the soften veggies along with the shredded cabbage. Let simmer 15-25 minutes.
  5. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then squeeze in the lemon juice.

 

Chicken Soup

Nothing feeds the soul like homemade chicken soup, especially as cooler weather starts to settle in. The version I’m sharing with you today is tested, tried and true. It’s a cherished staple amongst the Steiman side of my family, passed down from generation to generation.

Chicken Soup
The stock freezes quite nicely and can be used as a great base in all sorts of other dishes, some of my all-time favourites include homemade mushroom risotto.

Chicken Soup
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • Chicken Stock:
  • 4 lbs chicken, cut in pieces
  • 8 cups cold water
  • 3 large yellow onions
  • 4-5 carrots, cut into ½ pieces
  • 3 stalks celery, cut into ½ pieces
  • Chopped fresh dill leaves
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Wash whole Chicken and cut into quarters. Place into sauce pot and cover with cold water about 8 cups.
  2. Bring to a boil, over medium heat, skim until clear then add the carrots, whole onions and one rounded teaspoon of kosher salt. Cover and let simmer until almost done about 2 hours then add the celery and dill for an additional hour. Strain broth into a large bowl and separate chicken from bone.
  3. Reheat and ladle the soup into individual bowls and serve.
  4. *Tip: Refrigerate broth after separation to remove fat.