When Amy Chaplin isn’t contributing to food magazines, cooking for private clients or writing a cookbook, she’s sharing original, seasonal and healthy recipes on her nutritious and delicious food blog, Coconut and Quinoa . Having been raised on a wholefoods diet, Amy’s vegan-vegetarian cooking is based largely on using seasonal products and what’s ripe, ready and sprouting in her garden. So, with hunger pangs calling, GTG sat down with Amy to talk veganism, vegetables and Vitamixes.
Firstly, what made you decide to start your blog?
I wanted to share healthy recipes and pictures, and creating a blog allowed me to do it in a broader way. I also love styling food and teaching so a blog was a perfect place to do both.
What’s your favourite aspect of blogging and are there any downsides?
I love inspiring people to cook, so getting feedback from readers all over the world about how they’re enjoying my recipes is very exciting! The downside is that it takes time and when I’m teaching and cooking a lot it means I’m often behind on posts!
How much of a techie are you?
I’m not at all! But I’m continuously learning.
How do you balance blogging with other interests or jobs? Do you ever go offline?
It’s a juggling act; I try to incorporate my posts into my life as much as possible - like creating a new recipe to photograph at the same time as preparing a dinner for friends. I found it challenging to keep my blog updated while writing my cookbook as I couldn’t share what I was making and that is what my blog is all about - what I’m currently cooking for myself and my clients.
What is your personal food philosophy? Are there any food groups/types that you avoid?
Organic and biodynamic whole foods prepared from scratch is how I cook and eat. Although most of my diet is vegan, I avoid any dairy substitutes as I would always rather eat good quality dairy than highly processed alternatives.
How has eating healthily impacted on you personally? Do you ever find it difficult to stick to?
Since I grew up eating a whole food vegetarian diet (and still do) I don’t think of it as eating healthily. There are times when I go for a few meals of not eating as well as I could (often longer when travelling) but it never lasts as I love good food and the way it makes me feel.
How do you create new recipes? Is it a trial and error process?
I usually create new recipes around an ingredient, or it might be a couple of vegetables at the farmers’ market that look particularly good. I start imagining how they could be combined, what I’m in the mood for and what flavours I’m craving.
Have you had any cooking disasters?
Yes, but with experience I get better at fixing them quickly!
How do you decide which recipes to feature on your blog?
They are usually what I’m making and eating. Something one of my clients loves, or something off my long list of things to make and post!
What are your three favourite recipes?
Chickpea mash , Autumn quinoa salad , and I eat this every day in summer: Oats and chia seeds with almond milk .
If you kept a food diary, what would a typical day look like?
At the moment it goes something like this:
Breakfast : Superfood oatmeal with almond milk (on the blog). Or sprouted toast with almond butter.
Lunch: Creamy vegetable soup or a bean soup, with some rice cakes topped with goat’s cheese and kraut.
Dinner: Some kind of whole grains, steamed veggies and an avocado.
Which ten ingredients do you use most often?
Brown rice, quinoa, kale, chickpeas, garlic, flax oil, olive oil, almonds, oats, sea salt.
What five things are always in your fridge?
Miso, flax oil, Dijon mustard, almond butter, hemp seeds, parsley, greens, scallions.
Where are your favourite places to buy ingredients?
Farmers’ markets and health food stores.
Which kitchen appliances could you not live without?
A Vitamix and a pressure cooker.
Where are your favourite places to go when eating out?
I don’t eat out that much in New York but I always enjoy eating at ABC kitchen or any of Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s restaurants. Otherwise a really good Italian or Japanese.
What advice would you give to those considering a healthier lifestyle?
Stock your pantry, buy lots of veggies and learn to cook basic whole grains and beans that can become the basis of your meals.
What are your favourite cookbooks and/or books relating to health?
Healing with Wholefoods, by Paul Pitchford
The Wholefoods Encyclopedia, and The Splendid Grain, by Rebecca Wood
Who are your favourite bloggers?
For great recipes using healthy ingredients I love My New Roots and The First Mess. For stunning photography I love Hungry Ghost Food and Travel.
What does the future hold for your blog? Are there any exciting developments in the pipeline?
More frequent posting since I’m just about finished with my first cookbook. I look forward to sharing more of what I make daily.