With research consistently showing that eating less meat, fish, eggs and dairy is better for your health and the environment, more people than ever before are turning to plant-based foods and dishes in the kitchen. And while eating more vegetables, grains and fruits may seem simple enough for yourself, when it comes to the whole family (we’re looking at you fussy kids!), the thought of trying to increase the plant intake may seem a bit overwhelming.
However, according to chef and mum, Clarissa Kocovski (The Nourished Chef), eating plant-based is not as complicated or time consuming as you think, plus meals can be just as delicious as those with animal products, and often more healthy.
“Plant-based cooking at first can seem tricky however with some pre planning and educating yourself with vegan staples it couldn’t be easier,” says Clarissa.
“I always pre plan my family’s meals a week ahead so that I know which groceries I need to collect and what meals I’ll be preparing. Planning ahead means you aren’t put on the spot – you’ll have time to make healthy choices.”
Clarissa says that swapping dairy milk for a calcium fortified plant milk, such as Califia Farms Unsweetened Almond milk, in your smoothies, baking, on cereal and more is a great place to start. From there move to replace eggs with chia seed or flaxmeal ‘eggs’ and start experimenting with new recipes that make plants the hero of the dish. You can also tweak your old favourites to up the ante on the plant front too often by just swapping dairy or meat products for plant alternatives.
For example, instead of chicken nuggets try homemade tofu nuggets! It’s an easy way to get the protein in for the kids, and adding spinach to a lentil or mushroom bolognaise, or breakfast smoothie will help boost iron.
And cooking in bulk is a timesaver in any family meal situation, but if you’re new to eating plant-based foods then it’s even more important.
“I like making double the quantity when creating dinner recipes as I love to batch freeze for evenings that I may run out of time to prepare something fresh,” adds Clarissa.
“Having homemade, healthy meals ready to go in the freezer really makes life that much easier – especially on busy weeknights.”
Keen to incorporate more plants into the family meals? Why not try one of Clarissa’s delicious recipes to get you started such as her oat milk fritters, Christmas star cookies or blueberry and lemon popsicles! (recipes below)
OAT MILK FRITTERS
A recipe from The Nourished Chef
“Looking for a mid-week dinner idea? I’ve got you covered. Oat Barista Blend isn’t just for your morning coffee! You heard right! It’s an amazing plant-based option when creating savoury dishes throughout the week,” says Clarissa from The Nourished Chef.
Vegan │ Dairy Free
› 1 Cup Frozen Peas (thawed)
› 1 Cup Vegan Cheese (grated)
› 2 Small Carrots (grated)
› 2 Medium Zucchini (grated)
› 2 Tbsp Fresh Dill (chopped)
› 1½ Tbsp Onion Powder
› 2 Tbsp Black Sesame Seeds
› ¼ Cup Psyllium Husks
› ⅔ Cup Chickpea Flour
› ½ Cup Califia Farms Oat Barista Blend Milk
› Salt + Pepper (to taste)
- To prepare the zucchini; in a bowl sprinkle over sea salt and stir. Allow to sit for 15 minutes. Once ready, using a nut milk bag or cheesecloth wring out and discard all the excess liquid.
- Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, mixing well to combine. The mixture may initially look very dry – continue to incorporate using your hands. The moisture in the vegetables will turn the mixture into a sticky dough. If you do need more liquid – add 1 tsp of oat milk at a time.
- In a large frypan, over medium heat, pour in your oil of choice. When ready to cook, shape about 2-3 Tbsp worth of mixture into patties and shallow cook for 3-5 minutes on each side or until golden. Transfer to a paper towel until ready to serve. Top with plant-based yoghurt and fresh dill. Enjoy!
CHRISTMAS STAR COOKIES
A recipe from The Nourished Chef
1 Cup Smooth Peanut Butter
1 Cup Coconut Sugar (or sugar of choice)
1/3 Cup Califia Farms Vanilla Almond Milk
1 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Ground Ginger
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 175⁰C. Line two large baking trays with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, add the peanut butter and sugar of choice. Using a spoon, mix until creamy. Stir in the vanilla almond milk and vanilla bean paste until combine. Add the flour, baking soda, ginger and cinnamon. Using your hands, knead the mixture and roll into a large ball.
- On a floured work surface, using a rolling pin, roll out the dough ball into a 1cm thick rectangle. Using a star cookie cutter, create star shapes into the rolled dough. Carefully remove the stars and place onto the baking tray. Repeat this process with remaining dough.
- Place in the oven and bake for 7-10 minutes or until crispy on the outside. Allow to cool completely before dusting over some icing sugar. Enjoy!
BLUEBERRY & ALMOND MILK POPSICLES
A recipe from The Nourished Chef
1 cup Frozen blueberries (thawed)
1/2 cup plant-based yoghurt
1 cup Califia Farms Unsweetened Almond Milk
- Combine all ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth.
- Divide mix between 8 icy pole moulds, add sticks and place in the freezer for 4-5 hours or until firm.
* Run moulds until warm water for easy release.
“Need to cool down? Nothing says spectacular like pulling out a home-made popsicle from the freezer, made from fresh berries and velvety almond milk. Personally, choosing Califia Farms is not only a fantastic dairy free choice but a sustainable one! Join the plant-based revolution and reduce your carbon footprint today!”
“I have been using the Califia Farms range in my home kitchen for quite some time (years in fact) and have been given the wonderful opportunity to now share my recipes directly to you.”
The Nourished Chef (Clarissa Kocovski) has been curating and recipe developing low carb, gluten and dairy free recipes for the last five years. Recently she has been inspired to embrace plant-based living and has adapted this philosophy throughout her recipes. Long-term sustainability is something she’s very passionate about and working with the power of plants in her kitchen has been an eye-opening journey. She hopes by showcasing the true ingredients she uses and sharing her recipes will educate and inspire home cooks.
For more plant-based info, recipes and inspiration visit: www.califiafarms.com.au or follow Clarissa on Instagram @thenourishedchef