As everyone is only too painfully aware by now, Covid-19 can stop life as we know it in its tracks. However, just occasionally, it can provide an unexpected impetus, as well.
That was certainly the case for Kelsi Boocock of Red Beach last year, after the first Level 4 restrictions were imposed. The 23-year-old ex-national swimmer had been on the verge of heading overseas to go travelling with her partner when all their plans had to be cancelled.
“When we were told we were going into lockdown last year and we couldn’t travel, I had a full breakdown,” she says. “I’m normally a very chirpy, happy person, I go with the flow. But I just didn’t know what I was going to do. I got through that and realised I needed to find something I really loved to do.”
And what she loved to do most at the time was create and share simple, healthy, plant-based dishes that were tasty enough for even confirmed meat eaters to lap up, which she was doing via an Instagram page she’d set up in 2019.
“I’d been to the States for a few months, where the food wasn’t always great, which made me realise how food can affect your mood,” Kelsi says. “I came back and needed to eat good food, so made an Instagram page and then, in lockdown, got really into it.”
Kelsi initially decided she’d try to produce an e-book of her colourful recipes and photographs, but with encouragement from her family, submitted her ideas to a publisher for the real thing – and the 220-page hardback Healthy Kelsi is the result.
Ironically, the book’s official Septmeber launch was scuppered by the latest Covid crisis and Auckland’s lengthy lockdown, but it will be available from local bookstores and online retailers as levels drop down.
As for Kelsi, she will be travelling again as soon as restrictions allow – she and her partner squeezed in a spell in Bali and the US earlier this year, and as soon as she is able, she’ll be off to London for a diploma in plant-based cuisine at the renowned Cordon Bleu cookery school.
“I really want this to be my long-term career. Eating a wide variety of plants has helped me to create a balanced lifestyle without ever compromising on taste or flavour,” she says.
“I honestly believe Healthy Kelsi is suited to everyone. Even my Dad and boyfriend, who love meat, absolutely demolish every single recipe in the book!”
WIN this book
Hibiscus Matters has two copies of Healthy Kelsi to give away. To be in to win, ‘like’ Hibiscus Matters’ Facebook page and message your name and contact phone number. Alternatively, write your name, address and phone number on the back of an envelope and post to Healthy Kelsi Giveaway, Hibiscus Matters, 21 Florence Ave, Ōrewa. Entries close October 29. Healthy Kelsi: Simple, vibrant plant-based food, by Kelsi Boocock, is published by Bateman Books, RRP $39.99 from bookstores or online.
Gingerbread Breakfast Loaf
Makes 1 loaf • 60 minutes
Ginger is one of my favourite ingredients in baking – I find it so comforting, especially straight out of the oven. My mum loves this as a simple breakfast topped with a little almond butter, banana and my Berry Chia Jam.
2 cups wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ cup coconut sugar
Pinch of salt
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp ground ginger
½ cup olive oil
3 Tbsp maple syrup
½ cup plant milk
⅓ cup chopped crystallised ginger
¼ cup chopped walnuts
1 Tbsp pumpkin seeds
Preheat oven to 180°C and line a 10 x 20 cm loaf tin with baking paper.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, coconut sugar, salt, cinnamon and ground ginger and mix through.
In a separate bowl, mix together olive oil, maple syrup and plant milk. Tip the wet mixture into the dry and fold through until combined.
Pour mixture into loaf tin and top with crystallised ginger, walnuts and pumpkin seeds, and place in the oven for 40 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Serves 4 • 35 minutes (gluten and nut free)
Making homemade falafels is way easier than you think. I make them at least once a week for lunch with a simple side salad and dressing. I wanted to create a unique flavour, and the beetroot creates the perfect texture, colour and taste.
2 medium-sized beetroot, quartered
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
1 large handful of fresh parsley
1 large handful of fresh coriander
400 g can chickpeas, drained
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
¼ cup chickpea flour
1 tsp baking soda
Preheat oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Place beetroot on baking tray and cook for around 20 minutes until soft.
Pulse onion, garlic, parsley and coriander in a food processor until finely chopped but still a bit chunky. Tip mixture into a bowl and rinse out food processor.
Place chickpeas and cooked beetroot in food processor and pulse until a chunky paste is formed. Add beetroot mixture to chopped herbs. Add remaining ingredients and mix until combined.
Use a large tablespoon to shape mixture into balls and place on baking tray. Bake in oven for around 25 minutes.