Kitchen Stories with Natalie from @happyhealthblog
Let's travel to Stockholm, Sweden, to meet the lovely Natalie - the power woman behind the Happy Health Blog.
I immediately fell in love with the fresh look of Natalie's kitchen creations. She definitely knows what delicious food is and she's braking boundaries by making raw foods a main stream thing.
I asked Natalie a bunch of questions and she also shares a few amazing recipes down below.
Hi Natalie, tell us all a little bit about yourself.
I'm a 25 year old raw chef and recipe developer. I'm the creator of Happy Health blog. I spend my day's cooking, photographing, blogging + all that other stuff in between. The food that I make is always plant based and sometimes raw, sometimes cooked. My focus is really to inspire people, I want "regular people" that aren't vegans or raw foodists to look at my food and go, I wanna eat that! There are a lot of great blogs that really focus on the nutrition and facts behind healthy food so my goal is just to make people interested and to open up their door to this wonderful world of healthy and pleasurable food.
You have a beautiful Instagram account and website where you post your kitchen creations. When and how did you get into cooking? How about plant based foods?
Thank you! Cooking has actually not been a big part of my life until just a few years ago...
It all started with desserts... I have a sweet tooth and love pretty food! And what's more beautiful than a raw cake, right? I lived in Sydney for a short period of time, about three years ago, and the raw food over there was so much more advanced than back home in Sweden where salads and sushi was the first thing people thought of when they heard "raw food".
I got so much inspiration and spent all my salary from my café job on raw food places like Earth to Table, Sadhana Kitchen and Ungaro Raw. I decided to learn and take in as much as possible and as soon as I got home to Sweden I bought my first high speed blender, a Blendtec of course, and started to experiment with all kinds of raw cakes and desserts. I got great response on my cakes from friends and family so I decided to start a small catering for my raw desserts. After doing that for about 2 years, I felt that I wasn't satisfied creatively. I wanted to challenge myself and learn more.
So the plant based food part started when I did my raw chef education at Matthew Kenney Culinary, less than a year ago. Since then I think I've spent at least 3-5 hours in the kitchen each day. I always loved to paint, so all the colors and vibrancy in plants makes it possible for me to create art with the food. I totally fell in love with plant based cooking and raw food. There is so much that hasn't been done yet and that's very satisfying to me creatively.
Name three must haves in your kitchen.
Avocado because you can use it in raw food, cooked food, smoothies, on a sandwich or just eat it as it is. I love avocados! The second one would probably be dates, because just like avocados, it can be used in so many ways and also be eaten just as they are... Finally I would have to choose my blender! Haha...
Breakfast, lunch or dinner? Why?
Dinner! For me dinner is the cosiest and most social meal, it's where people get together and share how their day has been like, for a lot of people I think this is the only time during the day when the whole family can get together...
I don't mind someone else making the food. Haha, I love going out to restaurants. Especially when I find a great restaurant that isn't necessarily vegan, but serves vegan options or vegan tasting menus. I have had my best restaurant experiences at places like that... I believe that you can tell if a chef is great by making them cook vegan food.
Would you like to share a favourite dinner recipe?
Yes! I'd love to share this recipe that I came up with recently in a segment on my blog called "Plant crush".
This is a super delicious salad dish that is easy to make and very quick which makes it perfect for quick dinners that you might wanna put together during a weekday after a long day of work.
Raw Sweet Potato Pad Thai
vegan ● gf
Sweet potato noodle salad
2 sweet potatoes
1 cup bean sprouts
0,5 cup red cabbage
1 red bell pepper
Pad thai dressing
1/3 cup almond butter (raw or roasted, the roasted one will have a richer taste but the raw one is much healthier)
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp brown rice vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/2 garlic clove
1 small piece of red pepper (according to taste)
1 small piece of fresh ginger
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
2 tbsp black sesame seeds
Prepare the vegetable noodles: Use a julienne peeler, mandolin or spiralizer to create noodles out of the sweet potato, red cabbage and red bell pepper. I used a spiralizer for the potatoes and a mandolin for the cabbage and the bell pepper. Mix the vegetable noodles in a big bowl with the bean sprouts.
Make the sauce: In a blender, blend the ingredients until the sauce is smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Drizzle some of the dressing to coat the vegetables. Use your hands to gently toss the mixture until everything is coating in dressing. If you have some extra sauce left, serve it in a bowl on the side. Serve with a wedge of lime, some fresh cilantro and a sprinkle of black sesame seeds.
What would your perfect food day look like?
Isn't everyday a perfect food day? Haha! Variety is very important to me, and I believe it's also important for a healthy and balanced life, so what might be the perfect food one day can be something different another day. But my favourite breakfast is probably gluten free bread with mashed avocado. For lunch I'd like something raw and fresh like my Nut free raw vegan falafel salad. And for dinner I like to eat cooked food, something a bit more filling and grounding like my Vegan gluten free lasagna.
You live in Stockholm, Sweden. Which places, cafes, restaurants and food shops must one visit when over there? Feel free to share your hidden gems one must visit when in town.
If you love Asian flavours like me you must visit a restaurant called 'Surfers'. It's my favourite place here in Stockholm at the moment. It's not a vegan restaurants but they serve vegan options and they do it very well!
There's a store called 'Paradiset', it's like a Swedish mini Whole foods. I love that place! Very cozy, feels like a second home almost...
I can also recommend a cafe called 'Pom & Flora'. I haven't been there in a while now, but they used to have breakfast all day and they had the most amazingly delicious almond butter toast! You could also find smoothies, acai bowls and chia puddings on their menu.
We all have a sweet tooth, don't we? What do you prefer to have when you need that sweet kick? Maybe you’d like to share an easy recipe as well?
Oh, yes... I do! Since desserts are my specialty, I could go crazy on this topic and all my dessert recipes with you, but I will simply have to direct you to my blog... Check it out yourself! When it comes to everyday snacks or quick treats, I love raw chocolate balls!
Rawmazing Chocolate Balls
vegan ● gf ● rfsf
1 cup almonds
3 tbsp raw cacao
1 tbsp coconut sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Mix the ingredients for the balls in a food processor. The salt is the most important ingredient in this recipe! Just a pinch of good quality salt will bring out so much flavor of that raw cacao and dates!
You’re a raw food chef. What are your best tips when putting together a raw food dish? What are the main thing(s) one will need in the kitchen to get started?
Aside from raw veggies and all the other raw produce that you'll need I'd probably say a high speed blender... I know it's a big investment but it's the single most important machine in my kitchen. Of course you can make raw food taste fine without the blender, but the blender will just help you go from beginner to pro in a second!
You are obviously a very inspiring woman. Where do you get your cooking inspiration from? Any specific foodies out there that inspire you?
Thank you, sweetie! Nowadays I'm getting a lot of inspiration from social media like Instagram and Pinterest, but I used to watch master chef a lot! I really believe that we do eat with our eyes, so I spend a lot of time thinking about presentation. Whenever I see a beautiful color combination, I remember it. I think inspiration is everywhere, some people might just be more receptive to it. Chefs and foodies who inspires me are Matthew Kenney, Sarah Britton from My new Roots and Virpi Mikkonen who writes the blog Vanelja. A new foodie inspiration I've found is Sophie Bourdon who writes the blog The Green Life.