Tess Begg’s Instagram, @tessbegg, is a slice of sunny Sydney life, filled with fluffy pancakes and acai smoothies. When she’s not working out with a view of Bondi Beach, Tess is adding to her collection of 130 original plant based recipes, or checking out the newest local cafes. As this month’s Recipe Series guest, we caught up with Tess to find out what are her current favourite foods, recipes, and her tips for making your food shots stand out!
Tess, congrats on your latest e-book, which has over 130 recipes! If you had to pick, which one was your favourite to create?
Thank you! I love all the recipes in Vegan Made Simple but dessert always has my heart. The ‘Choc Chip Macadamia Cookie Dough Pie’ has to be my favourite as it’s everything you’d dream of. A deep-dish pie that’s soft and molten in the centre.
You give back to the plant based community by sharing free resources like your vegan shopping kit and food hacks on Instagram. How did you learn to cook when you were starting out on your plant based journey?
Cooking wasn’t always my forte growing up, but I did do food tech and hospitality in high school so I had a basic understanding. Once I got interested in fitness and health, I just began by looking online for healthy recipe ideas and then throwing myself in the kitchen seeing how I could create my own version. It was a whole lot of experimenting, fails and success. When I eventually went vegan it got easier and more fun to try new recipes.
What has been the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about yourself since beginning your health and fitness journey?
There hasn’t been anything too surprising but over all I’ve learnt how important it is to eat a nourishing diet and to move my body through exercise. Health and fitness has been a big game changer for me and I just love how happy it makes me to want to be healthy and thrive! Veganism also impacted me in a positive way through extending my circle of compassion to all animals.
If you were having friends over for dinner, what’s a meal you would cook up for everyone?
My ‘Black Bean Quinoa Chilli’ is my go-to for when I have family or friends over. It’s full of flavour, it’s versatile, simple to make and only takes 30 minutes. Everyone can then decide if they want to have burritos, nachos or buddha bowls with it!
What are your favourite ways to use Cocobella coconut water or coconut yoghurt?
I use the straight up coconut water daily in my smoothie blends, and on a warm day I love drinking a cold one on its own. I use coconut yoghurt as a topping on my bowls and pancakes or to make sauces or creamy frozen desserts.
What are your top 3 fruits and vegetables at the moment?
My favourite fruits at the moment are berries, watermelon and mangoes! I’m so excited mangoes have just started to come back in season (except they’re too expensive, haha!). My favourite vegetables at the moment are kale, cos lettuce and potatoes.
Where are your favourite places to grab lunch in Sydney, and the Gold Coast?
In Sydney when I do go out for lunch I love to get vegan yumcha at Bodhi or amazing Thai food at Kindness Café. On the gold coast I love the LC Miami, which has a variety of vegan restaurants in the one spot, and I always get the kebab. Niche and Co is also great for smoothie bowls and nachos. Chi Ran in Pacific Fair has the freshest sushi I have ever had. Going there is a must!
Fitness is a huge part of your life, and you’re often on the go around Sydney. What are your must have snacks and refreshments to keep your energy up?
When I’m on the go I like to take with me an ice cold Cocobella coconut water, I especially love it after a workout on a hot day. I don’t really snack often but if I get hungry in between meals I just go for fruit as it’s delicious and easy!
You’ve mastered the art of food photography! What your tips for someone wanting to make their pics stand out a bit more?
Be unique and find your own style, it takes time but it’s worth it! When you try to emulate other people’s content it could be overwhelming if you don’t succeed in getting the shot you want, so by creating your own unique content it will be authentic, easy to produce and you will attract people that enjoy your style. A good quality camera definitely helps but it’s not a must if you are starting out. Keeping a consistent theme amongst your photos is also great!
What are your top 3 favourite Instagram accounts for meal inspiration?
I love @jessiemaysnyder, @elsas_wholesomelife and @dollyandoatmeal but there’s sooo many more that I could list! I also love following the main vegan pages that repost photos, it’s a great way to find inspiration.
Do you have any plans to expand your practice in health and wellness?
I have a few ideas up my sleeve but they’re definitely for down the track. I would love to have my own café and a published hard cover book but at the moment I’m currently working on my next eBook trying to get it done as soon as possible.
Check out Tess’ Passionfruit and Mango Sorbet here.