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Creating a sustainable and ethical design with Julia Denes – Woodfolk

As I become more and more aware of our impact to the environment, I started to be more conscious as a consumer. Everything we do affect the environment. From our choice of food, our wastes, our transportations, our houses, our clothes, everything.

The good thing is, sustainable design movement is on the rise, and I am hopeful that the future will be filled with more sustainable, environmentally-friendly generations of people.

In this interview post, I sat down with one of my favourite designer, Julia Denes.

Julia Denes is a Sydney-based, Australian designer and the Founder of Woodfolk, a sustainable and ethical jewellery, homewares and accessories brand that works in collaboration with artisans in Nepal to handcraft its pieces from sustainable materials such as ceramic and Nepalese hardwood. She spent many years working as a qualified jeweller, designer and gemmologist in Sydney before launching Woodfolk in 2013. I absolutely love Julia’s work – the earthy tones, the organic, elegant forms, and the simple yet striking lines that commands attention. It brings me joy knowing these beautiful pieces are created sustainable and ethically. Here’s Julia…

Hi Julia, thank you for spending the time Just a warm up question, what did you have for breakfast this morning and why?

I always start my mornings with a Green Smoothie for brekky. I feel it helps me start my day on a healthy foot.

We know that you’re an uber-talented designer. Tell us something about you that most people might not know?

I love rom coms, eating chocolate, going to markets, singing in the car, going out for brunch on weekends. This is pretty much everything I do in my spare time.

Have you always wanted to be a jeweller/designer? What was your childhood dream?

I always knew I wanted to do something artistic, as I enjoyed it and it came naturally. I knew I wanted to be a jeweller when I spent two years travelling around the world and started making jewellery along the way with whatever materials I could find.

I can’t quite remember but I have a vague recollection of wanting to be a hairdresser as a child.

Tell us about your journey with Woodfolk, what inspired you to start this business?

As a designer and jeweller by trade, I have 10 years’ experience creating Fine Jewellery for prominent Jewellery houses around Australia and for private clients. I loved working with metal, diamonds and gemstones but at some point, started to feel drawn to more natural materials, such as wood and ceramics. Combining this new-found appreciation of these materials with my love of all things natural and ethical, I launched Woodfolk in August 2013. Woodfolk has given me the opportunity to express my creativity and apply my trade in a more authentic way, with inspiration coming from nature, my travels in third world countries and collaborations with the artisans I work with and their cultures. I’m proud to say that Woodfolk is now stocked in more than 70 stores around Australia, and over the last 4.5 years has developed a strong and loyal following.

What is the biggest challenge of running an ethical business?

Initially before launch, I found it a challenge to find the right people to work with overseas. I could have easily gone somewhere like China, India or Bali to work with a factory, not even needing any face to face contact, however that defeated the purpose of my business. I wanted to make it more personal and was looking to work with a family or an organisation that I respected. I chose Nepal because it felt like a good fit and I had always wanted to travel there. After doing months of research on materials available and skills of the local people, I booked a month-long trip there to give myself plenty of time.

The wonderful thing about Nepalese people is how open they are to helping you. From when I arrived, I found that they always made time to meet me, would always take my request seriously and if they couldn’t help, would provide details of someone that might be able to. I followed my instinct which eventually led me to exactly who I was looking to work with.

Tell us why people should support ethical businesses, and what can we do to ensure that we are not supporting businesses with unethical practices?

Like the Fashion Industry, jewellery has its own issues regarding the supply chain in terms of transparency around where its manufactured. Often, these products are made in China or neighbouring countries where cheap labour can be exploited and unfortunately, there hasn’t been much insight or transparency come through about the conditions of these factories.

I see transparency as being just as important as the design and the designer. From start to finish, one item might touch the hands and use the skills of 20 people so every customer has a right to know where their items are truly coming from. It’s my personal belief that people are inherently good and caring and that few would want to think that their purchases have been made in a sweatshop under terrible conditions. For too long, consumers have been kept in the dark about the supply chain. Transparency lifts the veil on a brands’ practices and allows consumers to factor in their behaviour as a global citizen into the purchasing decision.

As an ethical business, I hope to inspire other brands and business owners by providing a working model of what a fair trade and ethical business can look like. We demonstrate that working directly, personally and respectfully with our artisans and their families, using only natural materials that nature has provided us with, can be both fulfilling and profitable. Consumers should be asking brands where their products are manufactured and global movements such as Fashion Revolution are a true driving force behind consumer awareness around supply chain transparency.

Your design is so unique (and beautiful), tell us a bit about your creative process, including how you choose the material for your jewellery and your homewares?

Each piece is a collaboration between myself and our artisans in Nepal. All pieces are designed in my studio in Sydney, which can take anywhere between 1 and 3 months as there’s a lot of consideration and refining that takes place during this time. After the design work is complete, I will either travel to Nepal or send my designs over and from there finalise the design with our artisans. This is an important step as it is a demonstration of our collaboration – I want to know their opinion about the design and whether they think the materials, sizes, shapes are suitable and possible. I try to travel to Nepal as often as I can. When I go, it is essentially about making samples, but it is also about bonding and deepening our relationships, which is something you can’t do through a computer. Once the wood pieces are finished, these are sent back to me in Australia or if I have visited, I will take them home with me. Each item is then completed and finished in my studio. This includes all ceramics, silverwork and stringing. There’s a beautiful synergy in the process and collaboration of our pieces that make us different to other businesses.

The materials used are just as important as the pieces created. As a sustainable business with ethical practices, I use materials such as wood, ceramic, cotton, linen and nettle that nature has provided us with, without having to look too hard to find them, and without needing to fabricate them ourselves. These materials go through the cycle with us, and when no longer needed, can be turned into something else, or recycled.

What does a typical day in your world look like?

I don’t really have a typical day, however, mornings generally start with emails and a smoothie. Days can be filled with getting orders ready and sent; preparing for different design markets and trade shows; liaising with stockists and contacting new stores; developing new ideas to build on the Woodfolk range; photoshoots; all the usual business stuff; lots of cups of tea and the list goes on.

What inspires you? Where do you get most of your inspirations for your design?

I feel I’m inspired by different things each day. It could be a person, someone I know personally, someone I work with or someone I read about; it could be a moment walking in nature or a sudden surge of courage; it could be something visual such as a colourful flower, a beautiful photograph; lovely interiors; and every now and then its music, a song that I connect with straight away and play over and over again.

What is your favourite place in the world, and why?

Kangaroo Island, South Australia. The nature, the beaches, the wildlife are incredibly special. It’s all very up close, personal and raw. I camped there for a couple of weeks over Christmas break a few years ago and can’t wait for the opportunity to go back again.

Who is your role model, and why?

I wouldn’t say I have one role model but I am inspired by different people at different times. There are so many amazing people doing amazing things. I’m very inspired by ethical clothing designer Laura Seigel – her documentary Traceable is a must; New Zealand based Gosia Piatek from ethical brand Kowtow clothing; I also love the work of Shannon Sheedy from Dharma Door; and Carly Nance & Rachel Bentley from ethical store The Citizenry.

What are your goals and vision for Woodfolk? Or what can we expect from you in the next few months/year?

We’ve just launched our 7th collection called Earth, which is available now with my stockists and shortly via woodfolk.com.au. Having had a baby late last year, we’re also looking to include 100% cashmere baby blankets into our ongoing range. We’re also looking at the possibility of doing a pop-up store in Sydney sometime soon, so stay tuned!

If you could invite 3 people (historical or current) to a dinner party who would they be?

My Grandmother, Jane Austen, Brene’ Brown

And what would you serve? 

 I’m going through a pie phase so probably a vegetarian pie with a giant salad and a chocolate dessert.

If you are going to be stranded on an island and could only bring three things with you, what would they be?

A knife, a pot and a blanket

What’s the most influential book (or books) you’ve read to date?

Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien. Trust me I know its long, however that book has so much gold in it. The story is quite beautiful and the characters, their heartfelt relationships and their trust in the journey I find very inspiring.

What is one message you wish to share with the world?

Let your heart guide you in everything you do and you’ll be fine!

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Some images I took featuring Woodfolk homeware range.

 

 

 

I hope you enjoy this interview with Julia as much as I did.  You can find Julia and her gorgeous collection on:

Much love,

Keren x

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Lessons from Speakers Institute’s Weekend Premier Bootcamp

Speaking Lessons

Have you ever been so nervous you can’t hear yourself because you heart was beating so fast and so loud?

I hadn’t, not until a few weeks ago at the Speaker’s Institute’s Premiere Bootcamp.

Honestly, I’ve never been interested in speaking on stage. I’m more into one on one conversations or talking to a small group of people in an intimate setting. But I’ve always wanted to become a better storyteller and have more confidence when I speak. I think being able to speak with influence is a great skill to have and that is why I went to this bootcamp: simply to be better than before.

I’m glad I did.  I learned so much during this bootcamp and met so many wonderful people. I learned not just how to speak better, but also about myself, my fears and my abilities. I also learned a bit about recycling technology, health and nutrition, physiotherapy, psychology, recycling technology, ocean conservation, agile software, and so much more!

The wonderful people at September 2018 Premiere Bootcamp

Today I thought I’d share some of the key lessons I learned from this transformative event. But first, let me tell you how I got there in the first place.

As with many people who were at the bootcamp, I went to Sam Cawthorn’s one-day free “StoryShowing” event back in June after being invited by my friend Stella, who, I can safely say, is an event junkie. But the event was so impressive that I signed up to their paid weekend bootcamp event on the spot. Already I learned valuable lesson number one – the free event ‘funnel’ works.

Honestly, I think I waited way too long for the bootcamp. Owning to prior commitments, I chose a date that was four months ahead. By then, the excitement from the one-day event had already worn off and the thought of spending the whole weekend learning to ‘speak’ (not to mention the gruesome 8am-8pm daily schedule) was becoming less and less appealing. Thankfully, I had the best accountability buddy in the world: Money. The only thing that kept me from bailing out was the fact that I had already paid for this event, and it wasn’t cheap.

And so, I went, completely unprepared. I had selected a topic to speak about, but apart from that, had done zero practicing or rehearsing. Day one was the worst. I completely flunked it on stage. I felt completely out of my depth, stupid, and scared.  It is quite ironic really, because my talk was about embracing the “comfort zone” and – yet there I was, in the most uncomfortable position I could ever imagine, and failing miserably.

However, through this experience, I gained so much clarity not just on my idea, but also with the best way to convey it. Every day of the bootcamp I had to got to speak on stage. And every day I was able to refine my message through feedback from expert speakers and other fellow students. The best feedback I received was from one of the students who said that with my first talk, he disagreed with my idea completely. For the second talk he was not fully convinced but thought that there was something there. But with the third and final speech, he was completely on my side. Same idea, same message, different speaker – me, version 2.0. And with that said, here are the key things that I’ve learned that completely transform me as a speaker, as a storyteller, as an influencer, as an individual. Are you ready?!

 1. It’s not about you. It’s never about you.

This was the biggest lesson from my first talk, after I completely bombed.

Imagine this, you’re standing on stage in front of strangers, eyes looking at you, a big digital clock counting down, you’ve forgotten your next line and your hands and legs are trembling. You’re terrified. You don’t want to look stupid. You don’t want to look bad. And you start saying ‘stuff’.

The more you’re trying to make yourself look good, the more nervous you become. You become obsessive with trying to remember every single word, and when you don’t (and trust me, it will happen), you’ll get even more nervous and start saying things that don’t make sense. Game over.

But it’s not about you. You need to free yourself of the fear that you might fail, that you might look like a fool, that you might bomb. Because your audience don’t really care about you, they only care about your message, and how it can help them.

If you forget about your own ego and start thinking about your audience, the people you’re talking to, and how you can give them something valuable to go home with, that’s when you start becoming a better speaker. And it’s quite liberating, really.

“Stop focusing on trying to look good/avoid looking bad and start focusing on making a difference.”

2. Speak from the heart.

I know this sounds very cliched and hippie-like. As a scientist and a professional auditor, I struggled with this idea myself. I am pro-fact, evidence-based, and head-first. In my line of work, I assess and review evidence and facts, not what people say or ‘feel’.

But as I dig deeper into this idea, the more I see the point, especially if you want to be an effective storyteller, or an influencer.  Studies have shown that buying decisions are made based on emotion and not logic. Even with what we believe are logical decisions, there is always an emotional part (or whole) made by our subconscious mind. Our conscious mind then uses our logic to justify that decision.

As a speaker, understanding this is essential. Especially when you’re trying to get others to support your idea. You need to connect with your audience by speaking not just to their rational minds, but also to their emotions and their subconscious mind.

‘How to speak from the heart?’ I hear you ask. Well, here’s how you can do it:

  1. Tell a genuine story from your personal life. “There was this one time when I…”
  2. Connect the story with your message. “That’s when I realised….”
  3. Explain how your message can benefit your audience. “This can help you with…”

When you speak from the heart you build a deeper connection with your audience. They’ll be able to relate to you, buy into your idea or see your point of view. It can be scary to talk about some of these personal stories but often, the reason is because of how significant it was for you. And if it was significant for you, chances are, it will be for others too.

3. Notes will f*** you up

If you want to be a better speaker, you must get rid of your notes. Though I get that they might provide you with some level of security and comfort, at the end of the day you (should) already know what your message is. You don’t need your notes, truly. If you absolutely need to have them, then make them talk points, not a script to read from. And if you’re worried that you’re going to forget, stumble and look like an idiot without your notes, go back to point number 1.

I saw first-hand how this played out during the bootcamp. I remember it very clearly.  It was day 2 of the bootcamp. Everyone had to do their six-minutes talk on stage. One of my fellow students went on stage and he had his notes with him. You could tell that he was nervous. He was started reading from his notes, and then went off for a while, and when he returned to the notes in his hands, he looked like he might have lost his place among his notes. There was this long awkward pause, and the speaker was getting more and more nervous with every second that passed. I could feel the suspense as the room was dead silent and everyone was waiting to see what he was going to do next.

And then something drastic happened. He tossed his notes onto the table in front of him in frustration. He shook himself and then just started talking. In that moment something changed. He was a completely different speaker. The difference was night and day. He was more ‘himself’, his voice got louder, he became more relaxed and he was much enjoyable to listen to. At the end of the talk someone asked him why he threw away the notes. He said, ‘the notes f-ed me up, man!”. He already knew what he wanted to say. His notes were holding him back!

There are so many more gold nuggets I’d love to share with you, but hopefully these three will get you off to a good start. Whether you need to present at work, give a talk at your local community, or even pitch a holiday idea to your partner, I think it’s worth honing your speaking skills. If nothing else, it makes you feel more confident and comfortable whenever you speak in front of crowd, and that, my friend, is a wonderful feeling.

Yours sincerely,

Keren

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Funky Fields Plantbased Mince Review + Burger recipe

Funky Fields Minced Burger With Stuffed Cheese - Passionately Keren

Over the last few years we’ve seen a huge increase in the popularity of veganism and plantbased foods. As a vegan, this is a super exciting time for me as new products continue to emerge, filling the gaps in the vegan market, making veganism more accessible, more interesting and more delicious. And today, I want to introduce you to one of the most innovative plantbased products in the market to date – Funky Fields’ “Minced” 100% plantbased mince that looks and tastes like, you guessed it, mince meat.

Funky Fields Plantbased Mince - Passionately Keren

The folks at Funky Fields did an absolutely brilliant job in presenting Minced. I’m super impressed by how ‘real’ it looks: from the packaging (not pictured here, but looks like the normal mince pack with plastic windows) to the squiggly strands and the iron red colour.

Funky Fields Minced - Passionately Keren

What’s is Funky Fields Minced made of?

This is first question I asked myself. What is it actually made of? Here’s what it says on the package as well as on their website.

Ingredients:

Rehydrated soy protein/isolate (58 %), water, coconut oil, soy flour, wheat gluten, almond, porcini mushrooms, tomato, fermented dextrose, tapioca starch, salt, malt extract (barley), colour (beetroot), natural aroma, maltodextrin, stabiliser (methylcellulose).

The ingredients list is shorter and healthier that I thought. I was expecting some funky ingredients I can’t pronounce so I’m actually quite pleased to see that I’m familiar with most of them. I’m not sure about natural aroma, it could be anything really, but I’m willing to let that slide.

How does it tastes?

The second (and most important) question was, how does it measure up against real beef mince? Though I haven’t had the real thing for over 5 years, it used to be one of my favourites so I’m quite confident I’d be able to make a pretty accurate comparison between the two. But as a safety measure, I’m including my husband Nat in this test – he eats vegan at home but still eats meat from time to time, mostly when he eats with his parents.

Funky Fields Minced Burger With Stuffed Cheese - Passionately Keren

It tastes surprisingly very close to real mince. If I’m going to quantify it, I’d say it’s 85% similiar to normal beef mince. It can never completely be a hundred percent because it’s not actually beef, but it’s damn close! I love the texture, how it browns when cooked, how it sizzles and gives off that smoky aroma when it hits the hot oil on the frying pan. I tasted it when cooked, though I think next time I will brave myself to taste it uncooked, just to see what it tastes like without the effects of cooking. I think might struggle though, because it just looks so real!

Funky Fields Minced Burger With Stuffed Cheese - Passionately Keren

Funky Fields Vegan Burger (with stuffed cheese)

This will be the best vegan burger you've ever made. Delicious and juicy vegan burger patties made with Funky Fields Minced, stuffed with vegan cheese for next level vegan burger experience.

Course Dinner, Main, Main Course
Cuisine Vegan
Keyword burger, vegan burger
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 Burgers

Ingredients

Vegan patties

  • 200 g Funky Fields Minced half a packet
  • 1 brown onion finely diced
  • Dairy-free cheese slices
  • 1 drop of liquid smoke
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

To make the burger

  • 4 burger buns
  • 1 red onion sliced
  • 1 continental cucumbers sliced
  • 1 Baby cos lettuce leaves torn and rinsed
  • 2 tomatoes thinly sliced
  • Vegan mayo
  • BBQ or Tomato Sauce

Instructions

To make the patties

  1. Heat the oil on a frying pan, fry the diced onion until translucent.

  2. Place 200g of the mince into a bowl. Add in cooked onion, salt, and pepper. Mix until combined (I used my hands).
  3. Divide the mince into 8 equal portion, roll each into balls and then flatten into discs - around 1 cm thickness.

  4. Place 1 stack of vegan cheese in the centre of one of the patties. Put the second patty on top and pinch the edges to form a seal. Repeat with the remaining patties.

  5. Place the patty on a cold frying pan greased with a bit of vegan spread (I use Funky Fields spreadable) and cook one side for a few minutes on medium high temperature until brown, flip using a spatula, and cook the other side.

Assemble your burger.

  1. Layer your bun bottom with vegan mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, and cucumber, burger patty, sliced red onion and BBQ/tomato sauce. Cover with a bun top. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

If you like crusty burger buns (I do). You can heat the buns on the pan as you cook the patties for a few minutes until light brown. The buns will soak up any left over drippings making them taste even better.

The patties held together nicely, much better than other vegan burger patties I’ve made previously. However, you still need to cook it gently, and not flip it too much, so you won’t risk it disintegrating. Trust me, your patience will be rewarded with the juiciest, most delicious vegan burger you’ve made!

Funky Fields Minced Burger With Stuffed Cheese - Passionately Keren

So, what do you think? Would you try Funky Fields Minced?

Funky Fields Minced is currently available in Woolworths.

P.S. If you make this, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or find me on Instagram or Facebook. Don’t forget to tag me @passionatelykeren so I won’t miss your post.

Keren x

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Vegan coconut flour choc chip cookies

Coconut Flour Choc Chip Cookies

“Don’t tell me the problem. Tell me the solution”. One of my old bosses used to love saying this. At the time I thought it was a little annoying but I have to say, he’s got a point. Sometimes you need to stop focusing on the problem, and start thinking of the solution. And today, I’ve found a solution to my old, old problem – how to turn coconut flour into something tasty, and vegan.  The answer couldn’t more obvious. Vegan coconut flour choc chip cookies. I hope you believe in magic, or science, or soft crumbly cookies.

Coconut Flour Choc Chip Cookies

These vegan coconut flour choc chip cookies are soft, slightly chewy, and absolutely addictive. I won’t go as far as saying that these are healthy cookies, but they certainly healthier than your usual choc chip cookies, and tastes just as good if not better. If you’ve used coconut flour before, you’d know how tricky it can be. Most recipes would call for loads of eggs when using coconut flour because of the nature of coconut flour. It’s full of fibre, dense and absorbs a lot of liquid (which can make the resulting bake goods dry). But these vegan coconut flour choc chip cookies contain no egg, soft and chewy, and every bit delicious. I hope you give them a go.

Coconut Flour Choc Chip Cookies

Coconut Flour Choc Chip Cookies

Vegan Coconut Flour Choc Chip Cookies

A super delicious way to use coconut flour. These cookies are soft, just like those Subway cookies, but so much better for you.

Course Cookies, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword chocolate, coconut flour, cookies
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 18

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil melted
  • 1 tablespoon tahini *optional - see notes
  • 2 tablespoon almond butter or your favourite nut butter
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
  • 3 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 80 g dark chocolate chopped into fine chunks

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 C. Line a baking sheet with a baking paper. Make flax egg by whisking the ground flaxseed with water using a small whisk or a fork until thick frothy. Set aside for 5 minutes to thicken.

  2. In a blender, add melted coconut oil, nut butter, vanilla extract, and coconut sugar. Blend until well combined. Add the flax egg and blend again.

  3. In a separate bowl, mix coconut flour, baking soda, and sea salt. Stir in the coconut oil mixture. Stir in the chopped chocolate.

  4. Take one tablespoon of cookie dough. Roll into a ball. Flatten the ball to create a disc (about 1/2 cm thickness). Place onto the baking sheet.

  5. Bake the cookies until they are just set, for about 10 minutes. Careful not to overbake them.

  6. Allow the cookies cool on a baking sheet, and then move onto a wire rack to let them cool completely. Serve with a glass of your favourite dairy milk. Also great to make cookie sandwich!

Recipe Notes

* if you don't want to use tahini, you can replace it with another tbsp of almond butter

P.S. If you make this, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or find me on Instagram or Facebook. Don’t forget to tag me @passionatelykeren so I won’t miss your post.

Keren x

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Lessons from Shark Tank and on sheer tenacity – Nicole Mahler

Nicole Mahler

In this audio interview I sit with Nicole Mahler, the brain behind the scrumptious Dahlicious and Veglicious ready to serve plantbased meal with 5 star health rating, as we talk about her journey with Dahlicious, her experience with Shark Tank, and how she grows her business through sheer tenacity.

Dahlicious Delicious Cherry Tomato

 

 

I hope you enjoy this interview with Nicole as much as I did. If you wish to learn more about Nicole and her business, you can visit her website at Delicious Foods Australia.

You can find also find Nicole on:

 

Kerenx

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The Ultimate Vegan Shortbread

Ultimate Vegan Almond Shortbread - Passionately Keren

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Not a VIP yet? Get access here and see you on the other side.

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Lunch at Gathered Kitchen

There is comfort in the familiar.

I love being a vegan, but sometimes I just want to feel normal. And I don’t mean that there is anything abnormal about being a vegan. In fact, it is very normal to not want to harm other beings. What I mean is that when I go out for lunch or dinner, I want to feel like the rest of the population, being able to choose everything on the menu and not have to ask if this and that have eggs or dairy in them. To not have to worry about whether or not there’s food for me to eat and just enjoy the presence of the company whom I’m with.

That is one of the reasons why I love going to a vegan restaurant. Why I would recommend then, whenever I’m asked to go out for lunch. They make me feel normal. And therefore I love supporting their businesses. These guys play a huge role in the vegan movement. Firstly, they’re normalising the plantbased diet in our society – they’re showing vegan food is just food, and they can taste good, or even better than the non-vegan counterparts. Secondly, they’re making it easier for people to eat more plantbased, especially those who are transitioning or just experimenting. Thirdly, and most importantly, they’re giving vegans like me, the freedom to choose anything from the menu, something that we don’t get to do 99% of the time.

And Gathered Kitchen is such restaurant. Friendly, cosy, non-threatening, all vegan restaurant. And a great one at that. From flaky croissants to vacon (vegan bacon) bagel – their menu list is as exciting as it is vast.

Located in the one of the vegan hubs of Sydney, Glebe – I like to come here during weekday or Sunday lunch time. I always try to get a table at the back in their the outdoor area. It is airy and filled with pretty flowers and small pot plants. It’s feels like you’re at the back of your cool grandmother’s house.

Gathered Kitchen Sesame Ginger Crispy Legume - Passionately Keren

Sesame Ginger Crispy Legume $17 – Marinated tofu, fresh ginger, unhulled sesame seed, sauteed garlic kale, red sauerkraut, served with organic brown rice, furikake seasoning

One thing I like about Gathered Kitchen is how neutral they are in the spectrum of healthy vs. not so healthy vegan foods. They’ve got both, leaving you to make the decision on what you feel like that day. And that is refreshing. Because just like many things in life, it is often not an either/or situation. Sometimes you want both. Sometimes you need both. And in here, you can delight in the yin and yang of vegan foods.

Gathered Kitchen Sesame Mushroom Bruschetta - Passionately Keren

Mushroom Bruschetta $16 – Pesto tamari mushroom, almond feta crumble, cracked native pepperberry, tahini toast, green garnish, citrus wedge, roasted sweet potato turmeric puree and wholegrain toast.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a croffin before. It was fabulous and carb-licious – a bit of indulgent never hurts.

Gathered Kitchen Sesame Croffin - Passionately Keren

Croffin $6 – Croissant muffin

Yes it is little pricey. A croissant can set you back 2-3 dollars more than a regular non-vegan croissant. But the food is good, the service is accomodating and you can walk out feeling great, knowing that no animals were harmed in the making of your food. Would I pay a bit extra for that? Heck yes.

xKeren 

P.S. If you’ve been here or have any vegan restaurant recommendation this, leave a comment below or find me on Instagram or Facebook. I’d love to hear from you.

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How to Make Kitchari – and a Quinoa Kitchari recipe

Quinoa Kitchari - Passionately Keren

If you’ve never heard kitchari before, then you’re in for a treat. This beautiful recipe is a request from my equally beautiful friend Jess who wanted me to create a kitchari recipe, and I’m so glad she did. Because, this recipe goes straight to my number 1 favourite for winter! A protein pack grain-free quinoa kitchari that will warm your body and nourish your soul. Enjoy it friend, this is comfort in a bowl.

What is Kitchari

Kitchari /ˈkɪtʃ(ə)riː/

If you’ve never heard of kitchari before, it’s an Indian-vegan-equivalent of a chicken soup. ou eat it when you have a cold, or a digestive issue, or a stomach ache, or a hangover. It’s considered to be very soothing to the body and easily digestible. At its simplest and most traditional, kitchari is made with a mixture yellow moong dal, ghee (clarified butter) and Indian spices. It is minimally seasoned and is often used by mothers to feed their young children (or infant, when pureed).

Kitchari is also popular Ayurvedic medicine and is believed to have detoxifying, restorative properties as a cleanse. As for me, I think it a perfect dish for winter, or whenever you feel like some tasty and comforting, but also good for you.

Quinoa Kitchari - Passionately Keren

How to make kitchari

Making kitchari is fairly straight forward. You just need these key ingredients:

  1. A mixture of grains and legumes – such as yellow mungbeans or moong dal, split peas, rice (either white or brown)
  2. Coconut oil – coconut oil makes the perfect plantbased replacement for ghee (and tastes better too!).
  3. Spices – the key spices are cumin seeds, mustard seeds, ginger, and turmeric, however I highly recommend adding fenugreek if you can source it, the rest is optional.

Adding quinoa to kichari

This is my little twist to the traditional kitchari recipe. Technically a seed, I think adding quinoa to the bean mixture makes the dish a little more wholesome. You can add it to your rice and legumes mixture or use it to replace the rice. It adds a lovely nutty taste to the kitchari and is pack full of protein.

P.S. If you make this, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or find me on Instagram or Facebook. Don’t forget to tag me @passionatelykeren so I won’t miss your post.

Keren x

Quinoa Kitchari

A comforting and delicious grain-free kitchari that you will absolutely love

Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword ayurvedic, kitchari, quinoa, turmeric
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 massel stock cube
  • 1/2 cup yellow mungbeans
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 cup split red lentils
  • 6 cups water

Spices

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 knob of ginger minced
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Vegetables

  • 2 cups of chopped vegetables. I use carrots and cauliflower

Instructions

  1. 1. The night before - rinse mungbean, quinoa, and lentils and soak them. Make sure you use a large bowl filled with with water.


    2. The following day - drain the soaked beans and seeds and rinse under running water. Set aside.


    3. Heat coconut oil over medium heat, in a cast iron pot (or any heavy-bottomed pot). Add onion, garlic, cumin, turmeric, fenugreek and ground coriander. Cook for a few minutes until seeds begin to pop.  Add the rinsed beans, and stir to coat. 

    4. Add stock cube and water. then bring to boiling over medium heat. 

    5. Cover and reduce to low heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  Add the chopped veggies and cook until they become soft, about 20 minutes. 
Stir the pot every now and then to prevent it sticking on to the bottom.

    6. Season with salt and pepper.

    7. Adjust the consistency to your liking by add more water for a soupier consistency, and increasing the cooking time for a thicker, creamier soup.

    8. Serve with fresh coriander.


Recipe Notes

If you like your spices like I do, you can add some freshly sautéed spices for bolder flavours. In a separate saucepan, sauté 1 tsp of mustard seeds in a bit of coconut oil until they pop. Then add 1/2 tsp of cumin seed. Stir together to release the flavours. Stir the sautéed spices into the cooked kitchari mixture just before serving.

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Flourless Vegan Sweet Potato Brownie

 

Have you ever craved something you have not had before? I get that all the time. Case in point is this flourless vegan sweet potato brownie. I was craving sweet potato brownie one day, even though I’ve never had it before. It was one of those moment when you go “you know what, I really feel like sweet potato brownies today”.

Inception much?! I don’t know it works but it is likely that I saw the recipe either on Instagram, or Youtube, or somewhere in the blogosphere and that planted a seed in my head that kept growing and growing, until it suddenly become a craving.

When I experiment with a new recipe my success rate is usually 70% – which means that three out of ten times I fail. The good thing is, this is not one of those times.

If you like dense, filling brownie that tastes even better the next day, then you will love these brownies. They’re so decadent, filling but won’t make you feel heavy after eating in. They also taste good cold, strangely enough. The mashed sweet potato makes it moist and not too hard when chilled. Just perfect. I hope you give them ago!

 

P.S. If you make this, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or find me on Instagram and share your creation. Don’t forget to tag me @passionatelykeren so I won’t miss your post.

Keren x

Sweet potato brownie

A dense and decadent chocolate brownie with a healthy twist that no one will notice.

Course Dessert
Cuisine Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword chocolate, sweet potato
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 8
Author Keren Natalia

Ingredients

  • 1 cup mashed sweet potato

Dry Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1/3 cup oat flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Wet Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil melted
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter or seed butter of choice
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk I use soy
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp vinegar

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a 26cm rectangular baking pan (brownie pan) with baking paper and set aside.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix your dry ingredients.

  3. In a microwave-safe bowl, add all your wet ingredient. Add in your sweet potato and mix until smooth.

  4. Pour your wet mixture into the dry and mix until until a thick, yet smooth batter remains.

  5. Pour batter into lined baking pan and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean from the centre. Depending on how much liquid you added, you may need to cook it longer.

  6. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan completely before frosting and slicing into pieces.
 For firmer texture, leave in the oven (power off) for an hour while the oven is cooling down.

Recipe Notes

You can add 1/4 cup of dairy-free choc chip for a more chocolatey experience. 

I also like to add some spices like a pinch or cayenne pepper of a tablespoon of spicy latte powder to add a spicy hint.

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A Sweet Affair – San Churros New Vegan Menu

The Happy Vegan at San Churros - Passionately Keren

Churros and chocolate. How can you resist.

A few months ago I had the opportunity to visit San Churros to try their new vegan menu. I’ve been a long time fan of their tasty churros and their delicious dark hot chocolate and so I was really excited to try all the new vegan deliciousness that is now on the menu.

If you have not had Churros before, they are fried-dough pastry snack dusted with sugar originated in Spain and Portugal. Apparently back in their home country they are normally eaten for breakfast – dipped in hot chocolate or dulce de leche (caramel sauce). I don’t think I’ve ever had these for breakfast but I guess, why not… maybe one day.

Anyway, I went, I saw, I ate, and I went to churros heaven and back. I don’t think I ever had quite a sugar-loaded night since the Good Food Month Sweet Festival back in 2008! I’ve never had so much option for dessert since I went vegan almost 5 years ago so it felt really great to be able to indulge in a delicious sweet (or five)…

So without further a do. Here are some of the things that I’ve tried, thank of the lovely team at San Churros.

The Happy Vegan – Handmade churro bowl, rolled in cinnamon sugar, filled with vegan Salted Caramel & Honeycomb gelato, drizzled in dark chocolate, topped with fresh strawberries and smashed Oreo cookies.

 

Vegan menu at San Churros - Passionately Keren

For the dunking duo – 6 churros and two dip-cups, plus extra strawberries and banana! I had both dark chocolate dip or vegan cookie butter. The cookie butter sauce is silly good!

 

Vegan Mocha at San Churros - Passionately Keren

Vegan mocha REAL chocolate with fresh espresso – using Dark Chocolate and Bonsoy Milk.

 

Vegan churros at San Churros - Passionately Keren

Mini churros drizzled with dark chocolate and cookie butter and sliced strawberries and bananas. Game over.

Are you drooling yet? I am… all over again.

It makes me feel so hopeful seeing mainstream food places offering vegan options. It shows that there is a shift, no matter how small, and that a plantbased lifestyle is becoming more and more accessible (and normalised) in today society.

Thank you San Churros