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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.

Eat, Recipes

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.

 

 

Eat, Recipes

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!

 

 

 

Eat, Recipes

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.

 

Eat

Nella Cucina Cooking School

The other week I had the lovely pleasure of checking out Nella Cucina cooking school for the first time. The evening theme was Journey to the Eastern Mediterranean. It was a complete hands-on experience that I would recommend for any one looking to develop their kitchen skills, learn proper methods, or just to meet other food enthusiasts!

photoAs soon as I got there they had a beautiful spread of hors d’oeuvres, including fig and pine nut toasts with roasted pepper hummus. We then moved into the kitchen where we were welcomed by the chefs. They had us divide into two groups where every 20 minutes we’d rotate through each cooking station for the rest of the evening.  The first dish we started off with was the honey’d phyllo triangles with dates and walnuts. I have always wanted to work with phyllo before but have never had the opportunity until now. The chef at the station taught in a fun & interactive way by showing the group various techniques of how to work with the pastry. The next destination we moved to was lamb kofta with pistachio herbed couscous, they had already pre-made the herbed couscous, so the group just mixed and shaped the lamb kofta before sauteing and placing in the oven. After having a little bite to eat we then moved on to make falafels with a tomato & parsley salad, the salad tasted very fresh and light, I will definitely be making it again sometime soon. Last but not least, my favourite dish of the evening, the roasted cauliflower with tahini side. It was absolutely fantastic and very flavourful.  Once we we’re finished each of  the stations, the full group got together and had dessert & coffee. Overall, I had a wonderful evening, I met great people and learnt some awesome techniques along the way. Be sure to check Nella Cucina on Twitter: @nellacucina or Instagram: @nellacucina. Below is the recipe for the roasted cauliflower with tahini, enjoy!

Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini
 
Ingredients
  • 1 large head cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets (about 1 ½ lb.)
  • 4 tsp. olive oil, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tsp.)
  • 2 Tbs. tahini
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbs. chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds
Instructions
  1. Place oven rack in top position. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Toss cauliflower with 2 tsp. olive oil, and season with salt. Spread on large cookie sheet, and bake 10-12 minutes, or until cauliflower is fork-tender and slightly browned.
  3. Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 tsp. olive oil in small saucepan over medium heat. Sauté garlic in oil 1 to 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Stir in tahini, lemon juice, 5 Tbs. cold water, and salt. Simmer over low heat 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. Divide cauliflower among plates. Whisk sauce, then spoon over cauliflower. Sprinkle with parsley and sesame seeds, and serve.

 

Eat

Greenhouse Juice Co.


Greenhouse Press 1Earlier this week I had the pleasure of interviewing co-owner Hana James, from the Greenhouse Juice Co. a sweet little white house on Macpherson Ave. in Toronto’s Rosedale neighbourhood. Her along with six childhood friends opened the boutique last month, with the aim to fill the void of cold-pressed organic juices being offered in the city. Greenhouse Press 2While there that afternoon Hana gave me a sample profile of their various offerings. The menu includes the cold-pressed juices, smoothies, handmade nut milks, detoxifying waters and boosters. All of their products are made with a variety of raw and organic ingredients that function together to achieve cleansing, detoxifying, immunity boost, cold fighting, strengthening and energizing effects. These juices are freshly made every day right in the shop, and are offered in two different sizes, 250ml and 500ml, with prices ranging from $6 to $11.Greenhouse Press 3Last but not least, when you return ten empty bottles, you get the next 250ml juice on the house and a free yoga pass to Roots Yoga studio down the street. Check out the Greenhouse Juice Co. tumblr page to learn more about their shop and menu!