For some, plant based cooking isn’t just a choice, but a burning passion. Jessica Prescott is one of those people. Since discovering her love for plant based cooking just five years ago, she’s since created not one, but two cookbooks; Vegan Goodness and Vegan Goodness: Feasts (as well as two babies!). We spoke with Jessica about vegan alternative ingredients, her tips for budget friendly meals, and how to help fussy little eaters.
Hi Jess! We love your Cocobella recipe for the Cauliflower and Leek Vegan Quiche! How did you come up with this Cocobella recipe?
I have been using chickpea flour to replace eggs in things such as quiches and omelettes for a while now, but the idea of adding coconut yoghurt actually came from a friend. Doing this makes it so much lighter and creamier than chickpea flour alone.
Cauliflower has long been my favourite thing to put in quiche and savory pies, because it has such a beautiful and silky consistency once it’s cooked. I have been adding leeks to everything lately, so when I was asked to create a savory dish for Cocobella this one came to mind as the perfect way to combine all of my favourite things to eat at the moment – pastry, chickpea flour, coconut yoghurt, cauliflower and leeks. Yum!
When it comes to affordable plant based cooking, what are your tips and tricks for whipping up tasty and budget-friendly meals?
If you’re buying whole foods and not processed vegan meat and cheese alternatives, eating plant based is actually really affordable. I keep an array of grains and both dried and tinned beans in my pantry, I have a well stocked spice cabinet and buy fresh produce a couple of times a week to minimise waste. This way I always have things on hand so I can whip up something delicious and nutritious in a pinch.
It’s really easy to simply make what you would usually make, but replace the meat with a legume of some kind. For example – make a Thai curry with chickpeas instead of chicken, make tacos or burritos with black beans instead of mincemeat, make Bolognese with lentils instead of mince meat, and so on!
We all know kids can be fussy eaters! What’s your tried and true method for getting them to eat their greens?
I am probably the worst person in the world to answer this because my firstborn child is the fussiest eater I have ever met! I used to be quietly judgemental of people whose children were fussy eaters, thinking to myself ‘oh they just need to do this or that and then everything will be fine’. Oh, how wrong I was.
The irony of that is that he will drink smoothies, but only if they are green. With this in mind, I think one of the best ways to get kids to eat their greens is to hide them in their smoothies. Make a blueberry or ‘chocolate’ one and throw some spinach in there, and your kid will be none the wiser!
For busy days when you’re on the go, what kind of home made snacks to do always have on hand?
Usually some kind of oat based cookie or muesli slice. These are essential, especially when breastfeeding! Smoothies, with banana and usually with berries, cherries, coconut yoghurt, soy milk, some kind of nut butter and hemp seeds.
Hummus – It’s such a cliché vegan thing, but it really is the best snack. I have been popping the skins off my chickpeas lately which makes for a creamier and less gassy hummus, however last night I made a butterbean hummus and I think this just might be my new favourite thing in the world!
You share delicious recipes on your blog, wholygoodness.com, and we can’t go past the cookies and cakes! What’s your secret to vegan baking?
People get so intimidated by vegan baking, but I just look at what a non-vegan ingredient is doing and then swap it for the best alternative.
For example, butter becomes nuttelex or coconut oil. Milk becomes soy or almond milk. Eggs are a bit different, because it depends on what you are making, but you can almost always rely on aquafaba to do it for you, unless it’s something like banana bread, in which case I just add another banana.
Cookies very rarely actually need an egg in them but if they do, you can use ground flax seeds or chia seeds. There are plenty of cheat sheets online to help if you get stuck!
How has become a parent changed your plant based cooking?
I used to have a lot of time to cook, but these days I need quick, easy and simple dishes that make minimum mess. I meal prep often (unless I am in the throes of cookbook creation) and I have gotten in the habit of making a big batch of something and eating some of it for dinner, putting some in the fridge for later in the week and putting some in the freezer for later in the month. That way I really only need to cook a couple of times a week and still manage to have many different meals on rotation.
In addition to that, I used to have a strictly vegan kitchen but we now have cheese on our fridge for Louie as he is vegetarian.
Both your cookbooks have cited Berlin as a big part of your recipe inspiration, and you now live in Melbourne – what have you brought back with you from Germany to the table here in Australia?
Goodness, Germany isn’t known for it’s food that’s for sure, so an appreciation of the Melbourne food scene is the first thing that jumps to mind, however veganism would be the most significant one, as I was living in Berlin when I tried veganism and got really excited about plant based cooking and started my blog. Sauerkraut is another one. I knew about it before, but that was before the big boom in fermented foods. Now I can’t live without it, and I eat it straight from the jar which my husband thinks is so disgusting!
We love hearing about how people enjoy their Cocobella. What are your favourite ways to use Cocobella coconut water or coconut yoghurt?
I use it most days either in the smoothie, stirred into overnight oats, or on top of granola. For savoury dishes, I mix it with a bit of tomato ketchup and seeded mustard to get a delish burger sauce reminiscent of thousand island dressing. I also love mixing it with tahini and lemon juice, and having it on top of a green salad with warm chickpeas and toasted pita bread. Yum!
I love chilled coconut water straight up, maybe with a bit of ice, on a hot summer day when water just isn’t quenching my thirst.
It’s summer here in Australia, and there are so many seasonal fruits and vegetables to cook with! What’s your favourite fresh ingredient of the moment?
I know this probably isn’t very exciting, but I can’t get enough of watermelon. I’ve managed to convince my fussy eater to try it too, and whaddya know, he loves it! So we’ve been eating it a lot since the weather warmed up and it’s just the best. So refreshing and perfect for that 4pm sugar craving.
A great thing about social media is the people you discover doing great things! Which Instagram accounts are in your top 5 for foodie inspiration?
We’re excited to see what you’ll be up to next! Do you have any plans you can share with us?
Nothing specific as yet, because my focus for the immediate future is motherhood, but another cookbook is imminent and I’ve got some ideas about postpartum related food stuff as well. But that’s all I can say for now!
Thanks for chatting with us, Jess! Feeling inspired to cook? Check out her Cauliflower and Leek Vegan Quiche recipe <link>.