Finding it hard to get your five a day? Kate Hackworthy’s Veggie Desserts blog will have you reaching for the greens in no time
With a real knack for creating tasty treats with a healthy twist, Kate’s Veggie Desserts blog is a revolution for foodies and allows us to actually feel good for indulging. Hanna Ibraheem sits down with the blogger to discuss how it all started, how she creates her recipes and which ingredients are vital…
Firstly, what made you decide to start your blog?
I started creating desserts with vegetables for my son’s first birthday. After ensuring that all of his first foods were healthy, it felt odd to give him cake. So I made a cake with one layer beetroot and chocolate and the other layer butternut squash and chocolate iced with avocado ‘butter’cream frosting. It went down well with everyone so I continued making veggie desserts and started the blog after being frequently asked for the recipes.
What’s your favourite aspect of blogging and are there any downsides?
My favourite part is creating the recipes, followed by writing the blog posts. It has been very exciting to watch my blog grow so quickly. There aren’t any downsides; I do this because I love it.
How much of a techie are you?
Not a huge techie, as my kind and patient hosting provider will attest. I’m studying digital marketing so that side is covered, but I wouldn’t go taking apart the toaster! Wordpress is fantastically user-friendly so it makes the tech side of blogging easy.
How do you balance blogging with other interests or jobs? Do you ever go off-line?
I post one recipe a week so that I can make it one that I’m completely happy with. For a while I tried to post a lot more and it totally took over my life. I still do a lot of social media, but I try to keep a lid on it during the day when the little ones are around.
What is your personal food philosophy?
I don’t eat meat, but other than that I suppose I just live by ‘everything in moderation except vegetables.’ Go wild on those. My most loathed foodstuff is definitely Coke and I can always taste artificial sweeteners quite strongly so I don’t eat ‘diet’ food.
How has eating healthily impacted on you personally? Do you ever find it difficult to stick to it?
I obviously love desserts, but I suppose that I have always had a rather healthy diet. I’ll happily sit down to a plate of raw veg. When you love vegetables you can indulge in chocolate without too much guilt.
How do you create new recipes? Is it a trial and error process?
I’ve got my usual base cake recipe that I can add certain amounts of wet vegetable to without altering the texture too much, but for other types of desserts it’s usually trial and error. Often the recipe starts with whatever vegetable I need to use up. If I have a load of spinach that hasn’t yet made it into dinner, then I might put it into a cake or cookies. I spend a lot of time thinking about how I can put vegetables into desserts and writing lists of flavours that might work well together.
Have you had any cooking disasters?
Beetroot custard was a low point. Inedible muck, it was. But I’ll persevere until I get it right. I try to get as much vegetable as I can into my recipes, so often I’ll have to trial the recipe a few times if it is too strong in the first one or affected the texture too much.
How do you decide which recipes to feature on your blog?
Usually whatever vegetable dessert concoction I’ve come up with recently that we’ve loved. I have loads of recipes that I haven’t even blogged yet so I seem to be baking faster than blogging at the moment!
What are your three favourite recipes?
I really enjoyed the Beetroot Chocolate Mousse , the vibrant green Kale and Orange Cupcakes and the refreshing Cucumber Lemon Cake with Elderflower Icing .
If you kept a food diary, what would a typical day look like?
Quite varied but generally healthy. Breakfast is usually a kale green smoothie, refrigerator porridge with seeds and almond milk or avocado on toast. Lunch is a cheese and salad sandwich on toasted bread or soup and dinner could be anything from falafels to a vegetable stew.
Which ten ingredients do you use most often?
The usual baking ingredients like butter, sugar, flour and eggs, but also kale, porridge oats, lemons and vanilla extract because adding extra means you can cut down a bit on the sugar. I’ve got small kids so we’re also always well-stocked with peanut butter and raisins.
What five things are always in your fridge?
Avocados, carrots, butter, milk and eggs.
Where are your favourite places to buy ingredients?
I’m lucky to live in a town with a great market and lots of lovely local farm shops. My huge bunches of kale come from a lovely woman at the local market who cuts it fresh that morning. Day-to-day I shop at Waitrose and Morrisons.
Which three kitchen appliances could you not live without?
My food processor, my dishwasher and my hand-held electric stick blender (never call it a hand blender, shudder). All three of these essentials broke this week. I can’t begin to convey how upsetting and inconvenient this is. Cooking/washing up acoustic-style is barbaric.
Where are your favourite places to go when eating out?
I love London’s vegan cafes, but generally I always want to try somewhere new. That said, cheese, olives, bread and red wine in the cellar at Gordon’s Wine Bar is always amazing. The best meal I’ve had out was the mushroom soup at River Cottage.
What advice would you give to those considering a healthier lifestyle?
Some of my desserts are more virtuous than others, but I think if you just up your intake of vegetables (and not all in cake!) you’ll feel healthier. Moving about a bit more always helps, too.
What are your favourite cookbooks and/or books relating to health?
The cookbook I use most often is definitely Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Veg. Everything in it has been utterly delicious.
Who are your favourite bloggers?
There are such amazing blogs out there. I enjoy the talent and youthful vibrancy of Top with Cinnamon , the stunning images of Local Milk and the lovely creations of My Name is Yeh . I always look forward to new posts by Two Red Bowls and The Vanilla Bean Blog . There are so many more….
What does the future hold for your blog? Are there any exciting developments in the pipeline?
At the moment I’m enjoying creating new unusual vegetable desserts and sharing them with my readers. I’ve been up for some awards and was Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Blog of the Month, which was amazing.