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    IN CONVERSATION: IN THE (CRUELTY FREE) KITCHEN.

     

    I WENT TO THE STUNNING K'GARI (FRASER ISLAND) IN SEPTEMBER THIS YEAR, ON A YOGA RETREAT WITH THE VERY INSPIRING ASHLEY FREEMAN + A BUNCH OF BEAUTIFUL WOMEN, ALL OF US INTENT ON RECHARGING, MOVING OUR BODIES, SOAKING UP THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT....AND EATING MOUTH WATERING VEGAN FOOD FOR 7 DAYS + NIGHTS.  JOSH, OF @TWOCONSCIOUSCOOKS WAS OUR CHEF FOR THE WEEK, AND SUFFICE TO SAY, IT WAS LUCKY WE DID SO MUCH EXERCISE THAT WEEK, AS JOSH FED + WATERED US WITH AMAZING OFFERINGS, SEVERAL TIMES A DAY.  CHECK OUT JOSH + ELISE'S IG HERE; WARNING, YOU'LL WANT TO TRY ALL THE RECIPES THEY'RE GENEROUS ENOUGH TO SHARE...AND YOU'LL POSSIBLY WANT TO GET YOURSELF A VAN, AND TAKE OFF INTO THE WILD BLUE YONDER.



    CW: We loved having you cook for us on the K’Gari retreat - how did you go about planning the menu for 13 hungry women daily? Do calories come into it, or is it all about nutritional balance?

    Josh: Thank you, that is good to hear. There was actually a variety of factors that I had to consider when planning the menu. Firstly the location itself provided many challenges. A 3 hour drive and a remote location meant factoring in using the fresh ingredients early in the week, and using foods that needed less refrigeration towards the end of the week. Calories weren’t so much of a concern as everyone has such different and individual metabolic outputs. Instead I was aiming to provide everyone with a well-rounded diet with loads of nutrition. Rather than calories themselves I looked at where these calories are coming from and aimed to keep a simple formula for each meal. The formula was based on the following: one serve of whole grain, one serve of legumes, a good serving of nuts and seeds for fats and then loads of veggies (a mix of leafy greens, cruciferous, marrow and root veggies), to ensure that everyone was getting good all round nutrition. The next step was to keep the menu exciting for guests, everyone was already pushed past their comfort zone so my brief for the menu was the same. Serving up foods that people may not have tried before or certainly aren’t used to eating in a family setting. And the final factor I had to consider was myself, I tried to keep the menu to foods I enjoy cooking. I love to cook a variety of smaller dishes that all come together as one nutritious meal.

    CW: Yourself + Elise have spent the last two years travelling in your converted van - this looks like ’the dream’ to so many - what are the steps you went through in converting your life down to a limited space?

    Josh: For us it was pretty simple. But living in a van is definitely not for everyone. I originally bought the van without the intention of moving into it permanently. Growing up as a surfer in South Australia means long drives, weeks in the desert and very cold and windy winters in a tent. Eventually enough was enough, I got the van as a means of shelter during the harsh winters, my wetsuits could dry and I could cook out of the wind. Those week long camps really set the tone for a minimal outlook on life.  As our uni degrees came to an end we decided to convert the van into a motor home and hit the road for a year, we aimed to loop around Australia in a year, then come back to Adelaide and settle down. Now we are a couple of years in and nowhere near finished.  As the departure date got closer we knew everything had to fit, so there were definitely some harsh truths about what we did and didn’t need. Since being on the road we have really found an appreciation for the small things in life, just being grateful for the time we have together and really understanding the worth of our few possessions. The past two years everything we have needed has fit into a van so we have realised we don’t actually need a lot to be happy.



    CW: Go-to plant based recipes for keeping yourself healthy in body + mind?

    Josh: This is a hard one, our go-to catalogue is about 20-30 recipes. So it’s hard to narrow down to just a couple. I would say something like lentil bolognese or chilli con carne. Our go-to is probably anything in our pressure cooker. You can cook anything in there and super useful for plant based recipes, lentils and other legumes cook super fast and lots of flavour gets added in the cooking process. For people transitioning to plant based diets I would say some staple meals to add that are full of flavour. And don’t be afraid to try something new.

    CW: Being a qualified marine biologist, what are some of the more concerning things you’ve seen in our waters? What are your tips for living a lower impact life on this planet?

    Josh:
    Studying any sort of environmental science I think, seems to give you some sort of optimism, although at times it can seem like the future is bleak. You get introduced to a whole community of people aiming to fix or combat environmental challenges through science. People asking the questions that need to be asked and setting goals that need to be set.  No matter how complex and fragile ecosystems are, life will always carry on. But, it seems with the way humanity is going, these ecosystems will become less and less diverse and complex.  It is extremely concerning how quickly we are starting to see drastic change. Not only in the water but also on land. Weather patterns are becoming less and less predictable and for the past 15 years every year has consecutively beaten the previous year as the hottest on record. Climate change is undeniable, I believe that the most concerning thing is how many people refuse to believe it and how little some people are doing about it.

      

    CW: The most common question on the retreat was ‘when are you writing an E-book for your recipes’?! No pressure, but seriously, when?

    Josh: One day. It is something we have talked about and definitely plan on doing eventually. Our main issue is we have so many ideas it’s hard to know where to start or what road to go down. We both just go with the flow so channeling that energy in one direction can seem a little overwhelming at times.

    THANK YOU JOSH FOR GIVING US SOME INSIGHT INTO LIFE ON THE ROAD + ALL THE WAYS YOU MANAGE TO STAY HEALTHY + MINDFUL ON YOUR JOURNEY.  I FOR ONE WILL BE ATTEMPTING THE BELOW DESSERT FOR CHRISTMAS DAY....I'M NOT THE CHEF IN OUR HOUSE, SO WE'LL SEE HOW WELL IT TURNS OUT AS TO WHETHER ANYONE WILL EVER SEE THE RESULT.




    BLUEBERRY CHEESECAKE (TAKEN FROM @TWOCONSCIOUSCOOKSINSTAGRAM)
    This cake is a super simple two layered cake.  The recipe is for a 12cm cake tin which gives about 4 good serves.  If you have a bigger tin, feel free to DM Josh + Elise to get a scaled up recipe.

    Layer one: Ginger biscuit base
    In a food processor (I'll be using our Thermomix) mix together : 
    1/4 cup buckwheat kernels
    1/4 cup shredded coconut
    8 medjool dates
    1 tsp ginger powder
    1 tsp cinnamon powder
    1 tsp vanilla essence
    When combined, press the mix firmly into the cake tin, layer should be no more than 1cm thick.  Set in the freezer and wait until hard, before starting the next step.
    Layer two: Blueberry mousse
    1 cup cashews
    1/2 cup frozen blueberries
    1/8 of a beetroot (don't add too much, this is just to add some colour)
    1 tsp vanilla
    1 tbsp rice malt syrup
    4 tbsp coconut oil
    Pinch of nutmeg
    Pinch of salt
    Soak the cashews for 30 minutes, drain the water + then place in the blender with all the other ingredients.  Blend until super smooth.  Add to the next layer and return to the freezer.

    To serve, remove from freezer at least 15 minutes before you want to eat, to thaw it out.  Decorate (fresh edible flowers work well) + enjoy.

     

     

    HAPPY FESTIVUS ALL!

    CW XO