Sunday, 3 November 2019

How to Photograph a Self-Published Cookbook

It's been a whole year since I self-published Plantain Cookbook and to mark the occasion, I've put together this short, no-fuss guide to food photography, aimed specifically at anyone who is interested in self-publishing a cookbook but perhaps worried about getting the quality of photographs just right. This was a major concern for me, and so you can imagine my relief when compliments about the food photos started rolling in as people purchased the cookbook.

I used my trusty Sony Alpha A58 to take all my food photographs. This handy camera with 18-55mm lens has served me well for about five years now. But any reliable DSLR or one of these (Professional) Mirrorless Cameras will do the trick. A DSLR is worth the investment and will give you more control over the final outcome of your photographs.

Still, whether you have the most basic or advanced camera/equipment, there are a few principles to keep in mind when it comes to taking beautiful and eye-catching food photographs. Forget brushing your food with glue or any of those other crazy hacks you've probably heard of. Read on to discover a more down-to-earth approach to food photography.

1. Use Natural Light
You'll want to schedule your shoots for when you've got the most natural sunlight streaming in. At the time of writing my cookbook, I was also working a full-time job, so that meant favouring weekends or early mornings to do all my photography. As tempting as it is, avoid using lamps, artificial lighting or your camera's built-in flash. Move around and try different parts of your house. Don't forget to use a diffuser (this can be a white foam board or white sheet held up against direct sunlight) to soften any shadows. The image below was taken in my housemate's bedroom because it had more natural sunlight than our kitchen at certain times of the day.

Fruity Plantain Loaf

2. Use Props
Get creative and use props to tell a food story. If there's already a lot going on with the dish, with lots of eye-catching elements and colours, then you can scale back on the props or go for more neutral tones. Sometimes less is more. Otherwise, try using complimentary props such as coloured napkins, mugs, jars, textured tiles/fabrics, cutlery, ingredients or plants to bring a shot to life.

Plantain Scones

3. Try Multiple Angles
Better to have a lot of different shots to choose from than to regret not taking enough. Certain dishes look better from different angles - whether overhead or from the side - so be sure to capture as many sides as possible so that you can pick the one that best showcases the meal.

Plantain Dumpling Soup

4. Understand Basic Editing
Natural lighting will allow your food colours to pop, but if for any reason you discover something off about a photograph you've taken, the last thing you want to do is make the entire dish again and repeat the process. A good photo editing tool will allow you to make certain colours vivid or adjust the white balance or fine-tune the exposure - these little tweaks can make all the difference! Adobe Photoshop, Fotor and Pixlr Editor are just some examples of editing platforms I've used in the past.

Plantain Choc-Chip Pancakes

5. Make the Food Look Tempting
Once you've got your lighting, props and angles down, you're well on your way and can be as experimental as you want. But how's the actual subject looking? Try layering ingredients, add greens and fresh veggies/fruits where necessary to brighten up the meal. Remember, we eat with our eyes so if you're not tempted to lick or bite into the picture then you're probably doing something wrong!

Baked Plantain Burger
And remember...have fun! No, seriously. Banish perfectionism. The process of photographing your cookbook should be as enjoyable as possible. That's the empowering part of self-publishing - there's no limit to how creative you can be. Good food photography is a never-ending learning process and the more you play around with it, the better it will get.

Monday, 28 October 2019

Ultimate Vegan Guide to Covent Garden

If ever you decide to visit London, I cannot recommend Covent Garden enough. It is a little slice of paradise for food-lovers, teeming with all kinds of quaint and contemporary eating establishments that are sure to impress new and seasoned vegans alike. 

I recently had the opportunity to collaborate with Hotels.com to explore the area and I couldn't have been more thrilled. Thanks to them, you can enjoy an unforgettable stay at one of the best Covent Garden hotels, and you won't have to venture too far to discover the best vegan food that the area has to offer. I have done all the necessary research so that you don't have to.

The spending money used to put together this guide was gifted by Hotels.com, but all views are my own.

Read on to unpack the ultimate guide to vegan eating and drinking in Covent Garden!

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Jamaica Patty Co.

For the perfect vegan snack while you're on the go, pop into Jamaica Patty Co. for their vegan patties.

Wonderfully flaky crust, with a delectable vegetable filling that's bursting with flavour. You'll probably want to circle back round to buy a second one!

These sell out pretty fast, so be sure to get there early.


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The Real Greek

Whether you're familiar with traditional Greek food or new to the cuisine, you can experience vegan versions of classics such as souvlaki wraps or dolmades (stuffed vine leaves). 

The Real Greek has a dedicated vegan menu so you can order with complete ease and confidence.

I highly recommend the jackfruit gyros wrap with vegan aioli!


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Koshari St.

Koshari is a popular Egyptian street food that consists of grains, chickpeas, spiced vegetables and seasoned sauces, all topped with caramelised onions and doqqa (spice mixture).

At Koshari Street, you can build a vegan-friendly bowl from their bar of fresh ingredients that include fava beans, quinoa and stewed jackfruit. Perfect if you're on a health kick! 


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Redemption Bar

Although best known for their alcohol-free cocktails, this vegan restaurant also serves up a huge array of healthy brunch, lunch and dinner dishes. 

You'll want to round things up with one of their gluten-free, sugar-free treats, which taste just as good as they look. If you've got a sweet tooth, then this needs to be at the top of your list! 


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Wild Food Cafe

You cannot visit Covent Garden without dropping in at Wild Food Cafe! Right from the entrance, you'll be drawn into a world that's a feast for the senses.

Their bright and mostly raw menu will leave you feeling energised after your meal.

Treat yourself to their raw rainbow cheesecake! 



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Club Mexicana

There really is something for everyone in Covent Garden and if Mexican street food is on your mind then you need to pay these guys a visit.

Tasty tacos, burritos and fully-loaded nachos await you here. And the best part? Everything is 100% vegan!

Find them tucked away in Seven Dials Market.


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By Chloe

If you're craving some diner fare or traditional British grub such as fish n' chips or Sunday roast, then look no further than By Chloe.

Their celery root roast comes with thyme roasted potatoes, vegan Yorkshire pudding (!) and a rich, warming gravy.

If you've still got space, sneak in a batch of their air baked fries or get it to go!

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The Alchemist 

For a celebratory night out, The Alchemist offers vegan-friendly options in a buzzing, social setting. Their seitan bites and cauliflower katsu curry will leave you wanting more. 

Their vegan-friendly cocktails are the real appeal though! Get ready for a smoky, theatrical experience when you order the mad hatter cocktail for two. You'll want to capture the moment for Instagram!

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Doughnut Time

Finally, it would be criminal to visit Covent Garden and not stop by at Doughnut Time to pick up one of their vegan doughnuts.

With flavours like lemon-blueberry, Biscoff and red velvet, these morsels of joy are worth the extra calories.

Always wanted to learn how to perfectly decorate doughnuts? They also offer vegan doughnut masterclasses!

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Vegan in Nice, France | 5 Best Vegan Restaurants in Nice



Back to the scene of the crime. The scene being the South of France and the [wonderful] crime being my decision to go vegan.

It's been over six years since I embarked on the unforgettable adventure of my year abroad in France. I spent an equal amount of time in Perpignan and Marseille. Half-way through my stint in Marseille, my mum and sis came to visit and we went on a long road trip across the French Riviera, starting in Marseille and passing through Cannes, Nice and eventually Monaco. When I think back to the day we spent in Nice, it still feels so fresh, like it happened yesterday. I remember us driving along Promenade des Anglais, stopping for lunch on the busy Avenue Jean Medecin.

Being back there again with the same partners in crime was truly dreamy. This time, we had ample time to explore the nooks and crannies of the city. As fate would have it, the apartment we stayed in was 5 minutes from Jean Medecin and walking distance to the promenade, Colline du Château and Old Nice. Not once did we have to take public transport - let's just say we were able to hit our daily step goals.

We spent our days ambling through the city, soaking up the sun and sights. We ate a lot of good vegan food, and I was able to capture some of it for the video.

Below, you'll find a top 5 list of the best vegan places we visited.

1. Amour Pâtisserie Végétale - for organic, homemade vegan pastries. 

Pear and chocolate bar

Fig cheesecake


2. Pekin - for an all-you-can-eat vegan buffet of incredibly tasty Asian food.

Every single element was seasoned to perfection
























3. Vegan Gorilla - for seasonal, organic vegan meals and desserts that are plated gorgeously. Menu changes often.

Baked potato, lentils, smoked tofu


































4. Not Dog - for fully-loaded vegan hot dogs with all the trimmings.

Original hot dog in a charcoal bun
























5. Copper Branch - for bowls, all-day breakfast, bountiful salads and desserts.

Seitab wings with slaw and vegan mayo
























If you like this post, you might also like:
- Vegan in Utrecht, Netherlands
- Vegan in Paris, France
- Vegan in Italy

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Water Fried Plantain | Oil Free Healthy Cooking Method



Hi folks,

As simple as this recipe is, I am incredibly excited to share it with you.

You may already know that I have a slight obsession with plantain, having dedicated a whole cookbook to it and all! One of my favourite ways to enjoy it is shallow fried in sunflower oil. Mmmm. Fried plantain is truly one of those food pleasures that I cannot imagine my life without. At the same time, I am constantly looking for ways to improve the way I eat, incorporating healthier habits over time until they become second nature. Water frying my plantain is an example of one such healthy habit. Let me explain a little more...

Back in May, I led a vegan Nigerian cooking class with the social enterprise Life After Hummus. The community cooking classes advocate low-fat, low-GI recipes and so I had to adapt my recipes to fit with this. Instead of oil, ingredients are fried in water instead. I was pleasantly surprised to see how well it worked with plantain. Part of the joy of fried plantain is the golden brown exterior and soft, sweet centre. What a thrill to discover that I could achieve all this with just a bit of water!

Water frying, as the name suggests, is when you use a small amount of water instead oil in order to achieve caramelisation.

Now, I don't want you to think that I am anti-fat or that I don't think we need it in our diets. We absolutely do. But I've come to learn that some fats are better than others. That is, unrefined, whole food sources such as nuts, seeds and avocados are nutritionally more beneficial than processed, refined fats and oils. In an effort to limit the processed oils, this water frying method is golden.

Check out the video above to see the method and let me know if this is something you will be trying for yourself!

Have a great week! x




Sunday, 29 September 2019

Inside A Vegan Bakery | My Gammie's | GIVEAWAY!


I was introduced to My Gammie's by an avid reader of my monthly newsletter.

A few email exchanges later and a visit to their vegan bakery was arranged, along with a brilliant giveaway for you guys (more on that below!)

My Gammie's is a London-based vegan bakery specialising in baked goods that are free from the 14 main allergens (gluten, eggs, milk, celery, nuts, mustard, peanuts, soya, sesame seeds, sulphites, fish, lupin, molluscs and crustaceans).

Now vegan is one thing, but if you're wondering how in the world it is possible to produce tasty baked goods when avoiding ALL these allergens at once, you wouldn't be alone. I too was curious and keen to find out more.



Visiting My Gammie's


I took a friend along for the experience and on a sunny Saturday afternoon, we were welcomed into the My Gammie's factory. And what a warm welcome it was. On hand to show us around was Co-Founder and Head Baker, Marie-Anne Rasé, along with Operations Director, Shafiq Ahmed.

Make no mistake about it, My Gammie's is the real deal when it comes to ensuring that their products are 100% free from all allergens. We were taken through some rigorous steps before we were able to step foot into the main kitchen. This included washing our hands twice (or was it three times?), wearing overalls, covering our hair and shoes, and wiping down any items (such as my camera and notebook). This is their standard, everyday procedure and you have to admire the dedication. When Marie-Anne and Shafiq described to us the intense deep-cleaning and disinfection that took place when they first secured the baking facilities, we could only look on in awe and absolute respect.

Marie-Anne and Shafiq were absolutely lovely and generous with their time and energy. Marie-Anne had prepared a smogarsbord of treats for us to try, ranging from delectably soft cupcakes to savoury sun-dried tomato bread to turmeric buns and sugar-free chocolate fudge. For those couple of hours in the kitchen, we were in food heaven. And just when it couldn't get any better, Marie-Anne decided to bake us a fresh batch of doughnuts. I mean...

In between stuffing our faces, we got to hear the story of My Gammie's. How Marie-Anne's granddaughter's food allergies inspired her and her daughter, Rebekha, to begin experimenting with free-from recipes. How they eventually founded the company to serve other people who suffer from similar intolerances.

As Marie-Anne and Shafiq spoke about the business, I could hear the passion in their voices. Theirs is a deep understanding of the serious impact of food sensitivity and the risks involved if there is so much as a speck of cross-contamination. Theirs is a desire to put a smile on the face of the child or adult who hasn't been able to enjoy a cake in years due to their food intolerances.

It was refreshing to witness this level of dedication, but I was even more thrilled to discover that their products match the passion. It's no surprise that they have won multiple awards to date, highlighting the quality of their ingredients and the taste of their bakes.

We left with huge smiles on our faces and I cannot begin to express how grateful I am to have connected to this company and the team behind it. Above is the video I put together of the experience (so scroll back up and give it a watch if you haven't) and below I'll tell you how you can win £60 worth of My Gammie's goodies! :)

Giveaway

One lucky winner will get the chance to win a hamper of delicious My Gammie's baked goods. You will receive a voucher worth £60 which you can use to pick and choose your favourite treats from their website (large celebration cakes not included). Your treats will be delivered straight to your door.

Entry Rules and Information:
- You must be over 18 years to enter
- You must be based in the United Kingdom
- Entries close on Thursday 31 October
- Winner will be notified shortly after and given 48 hours to respond. Failure to respond will result in another winner being selected.


There are two ways to enter:
1) Visit Instagram and follow the rules on the giveaway post.

OR

2) Head to YouTube, subscribe and leave a comment under the My Gammie's video sharing your favourite part, which product you would most like to try, and your social media handle (so we can contact you if you win).

Good luck!

Saturday, 28 September 2019

Sweet Potato Bites | Vegan and Gluten-Free



I first created this recipe when I was preparing to cater a networking event earlier this year. These bites make for excellent appetisers and can be paired with dips and sauces to make for addictive snacking.

They're gluten-free and oven baked to boot so high on the healthy scale and virtually guilt-free.

You'll notice that I don't specify which 'greens' I use and that's really because it's in there for colour and an additional nutrient boost. For the record, I used chopped coriander but really this can be replaced with spinach, kale, parsley or any other green leafy veg you have lying around the house or growing in your garden. If you're using pungent herbs like sage or basil then you might want to add less so that the flavour isn't too overwhelming. But the likes of spinach and kale can be added to abandon.

I hope you enjoy this recipe, give it a try and leave me some feedback if you do. As always, you can hop over to Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to drop me a line.

Have a wonderful week!














Ingredients
500g sweet potatoes
1 cup fine corn meal
3 cups water
1 red chilli (chopped)
Handful leafy greens (chopped)
3 tbsp cornflour
Salt, to taste

Peel and dice the sweet potatoes. Place in a pot of lightly salted water and boil until completely soft. Drain and mash until chunky-smooth.

Cook the corn meal on medium-low heat in 3 cups of water, stirring at intervals for about 10 minutes until soft and thick.

Combine the mashed sweet potatoes and cornmeal in a large mixing bowl. Add the chopped chilli, leafy greens, cornflour and salt (to taste). Mix until well combined.

Spoon the mixture on a lined and lightly oiled baking tray and bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 25-30 minutes until crispy.

Serve hot or warm with your favourite dips/sauces, or add to a fresh salad.