In general, I’ve found it’s not the cooking at home that’s the issue when you’re following a ‘special’ diet. The cooking, in fact, has been a fun creative challenge for me as a food writer. I managed easily at home for Saturday breakfast with some bakery sourdough (four ingredients: flour, water, sourdough starter, salt) with peanut butter and tomato. The trickier part is when you’re out and about and picking up food on the fly.
Later that day I’m at The Very Vintage Day Out event at Shed 10. It’s a big, buzzy event with lots of people, and lots of food. But the food trucks outside are full of meaty (and delicious-smelling) food and for a while I think I’m going to have to have fries for lunch. But inside, happily, there are vegan-friendly delights. I approach a cute taco caravan tentatively. I feel a little silly asking for vegan dishes – like I’m being extra demanding and picky. But they’re totally relaxed and smiley about it, and I eat a rather delicious bowl of vegan nachos full of veges and guacamole. The only issue I have is completely unrelated to being vegan: how to eat this elegantly in my ’60s-era suit and large bouffant hairdo. Did Jackie O ever have this problem?
I’m not a big snacker but as it happens there are sweet treats that are too good to pass up. A selection of vegan cupcakes at Rockabilly Bakes, and vegan gelato from Lalele – both delicious and lovely in flavour and texture.
Later, I’m running late for the Show Me Shorts film festival opening night with friends. I throw together some fried rice with veges, tofu and chilli. If I wasn’t vegan I’d probably default to an egg dish here, such as an omelette or scramble, which I can get on the plate in five minutes. This took a bit more time, but was probably more satisfying.
At the event I have a glass of Deutz. When I get home I check to see if it’s vegan. It’s not on the list of vegan-friendly wines on the Vegetarians NZ website. The Deutz website isn’t helpful either. So I still don’t know if I’ve consumed egg whites or fish bladders!
On Sunday I have a lazy toast brekkie in bed (Marmite is vegan, yay) and a bit of a grazing day. I’m working on a sewing project at home and don’t want to stop to cook. Through the day I eat nuts, cashew cheese (so more nuts), avocado on toast and fruit.
I’m a bit hungry by early evening, so I make one of my favourite savoury snacks: popcorn. I always make it in a pot myself so it’s vegan-friendly (the microwave stuff has dairy-containing additives), dressed with a little salt and some chilli oil.
Recipe inspiration strikes at dinner time after browsing through a few of the plant-based books on my shelves. I stuff an eggplant with a mix of veges, mushrooms, rice and tofu spiced with paprika, cumin and chilli. Topped with spicy chipotle-infused cashew cheese, baked in the oven and served with roasted tomatoes, it’s a really delicious dish. (I’ll feature the recipe in Healthy Food Guide in one of the summer issues).
Dessert is a glass of chocolate macadamia milk. It’s a lot nicer than it sounds.
*Follow Niki’s journey on her Instagram account @nikibezzant