Hello! I'm Camilla, a trained chef, recipe developer, food photographer & stylist, and also a part-time lawyer and mum of three, living as a British expat in Qatar!
- 2006-7: chef training at Leiths School of Food and Wine.
- 2007-9: co-founded an eco food business developing and selling jams, chutneys, biscuits and other hamper ingredients.
- 2011: I went gluten-free to fix endless digestive and health issues.
- 2021: did veganuary and became vegan.
- 2021: studied Nutrition Science with Stanford Center for Health Education.
Being Gluten-Free AND Vegan
After a decade of avoiding gluten, I was a dab-hand at converting recipes to be gluten-free, but the move to veganism really threw me! Despite endless searching on the internet, often the good recipes I found were either gluten free or vegan, but not both.
So, with my chef's training supporting me, I decided to experiment and create my own recipes instead, just like I did when I first went gluten-free. This blog is my way of recording the best recipes I've created so that I can easily refer back to them and hopefully others will benefit from using this resource too!
Getting Kids to Eat Healthy Family Food
Balancing the need for vegetables with the different likes and dislikes of each child is a tricky business at the best of times but especially when you are a working mum with a busy schedule! In my first ten years of parenting, I read so many books about food and children and I came up with a few "tricks of the trade"!
- Hide the least-liked vegetables wherever possible (see hidden veg veggie bolognese recipe) and sometimes in unexpected places! (see my recipe for chocolate beetroot brownies that are an absolute favourite with my children even though they know that they contain their most hated vegetable, beetroot!).
- If you hide vegetables, be sure to tell your children that they have eaten those vegetables so that they know it wasn't so bad after all. Don't tell them in a way that they feel tricked but explain that they can either eat those vegetables (that they don't like) as a separate portion on their own or in the meal that you served where they hardly taste them. This really works especially if you do sometimes serve the vegetable as its own side portion (my children feel this way about green beans but for some reason they love the Chinese Green Beans with Tempeh because it's in a yummy sauce!)
- Don't try to make them be healthy all the time! I work on the 80:20 rule - try to make sure they eat as healthily as possible most of the time at home and then let them eat whatever others are eating while they're out. That way they don't feel like they're missing out or resent the healthy eating.
- Talk to your children about why healthy eating is good and lead by example. I think it's very important to eat with your kids as often as possible and try to eat the same food - maybe with a bit of adapting. We often adapt by adding a more adventurous salad for the parents or doing a separate portion for the adults that includes chillis or a chunky version of a sauce that includes vegetables that the children don't like (that was whizzed up for them).
- Serve something they love alongside the thing you want them to try. For us, this means always serving poppadoms and mango chutney with curry. The kids used to hate curry but now they associate curry nights with their beloved poppadoms and mango chutney so now they love curry too! Favourites in our house are the Family-Friendly Mung Bean Curry or the Indonesian Jackfruit Curry, both of which are not spicy but are super tasty!
My Chef Training
I trained as a chef in 2006-7 at Leiths School of Food and Wine in London, UK. It was before I'd had children and after I'd been working all hours as a lawyer for a few years. It was a complete life-changer and one of the best years of my life!
After graduating from Leiths, I started an eco-friendly food business with a fellow Leiths graduate. Running this food business was where I learnt how to create recipes that worked consistently. Day and night, we recipe tested and cooked huge batches of chutneys, jams and biscuits and recorded the results on spreadsheets, marginally changing the amounts of ingredients in each column to record the next taste test result! It was a world away from my previous life as a lawyer, and I was in heaven!
When I later moved abroad, I ended up returning to being a lawyer but I've never lost my passion for food. Now, a few children later, it’s less about fancy perfect chef-style cooking, and more about quickly providing tasty healthy meals for my family and relaxed convivial food to feed friends and their kids when they come to visit.
My Nutrition Beliefs
Having always been interested in nutrition and studied a 3 month intensive Nutrition Science course with Stanford Center for Health Education, over the years I have developed my way of eating according to the following principles:
- Wholefoods – I firmly believe in cutting out heavily processed foods and use mainly wholefoods in my cooking.
- Gluten free – After years of digestive issues, I went gluten-free ten years ago and never looked back. The rest of the family have no problem with gluten so I occasionally cook gluten for them but, for ease and convenience, my cooking is mainly gluten-free so that we can all eat the same meal.
- Maximize vegetables – I try to squeeze in as many vegetables as possible into each meal, often resorting to hiding the “difficult” vegetables so that they are not rejected.
- Limit meat and dairy – I only eat vegan food but the rest of my family haven’t quite followed suit. I do provide a little bit of meat, fish or dairy for them throughout the week but I'm always thinking about how to limit this and sneak in more vegan food without them noticing!
- Limit refined sugar - I try to limit sugar full stop but kids love treats! So, when I do make sweet treats for them, I try to use a less refined type of sugar like dark muscovado sugar, blackstrap molasses, rapadura or maple syrup or, when using in sauces or savoury food, I tend to use a little brown rice syrup.
- Avoid processed foods and unhealthy fats - we rarely eat processed foods at home as I love cooking and so I find it quite easy to cook from scratch. I totally understand that's not the same for everyone though! I am also a bit of a kitchen gadget collector so I do have a lot of equipment that makes this much easier for me (Thermomix is my godsend!).