Nina Olsson is an independent Swedish art-director, talanted food-photographer, designer, stylist, illustrator and writer. She lives with her husband and two children in the Netherlands to the north of Amsterdam. Nina shares food inspiration that is healthy and vegetarian in her blog (www.nourishatelier.com) and Instagram account (@nourish_atelier). In our interview Nina told us about her passion for cooking, favourite ingredients, way to vegetarianism and shared a recipe from her brand new book "Bowls of Goodness".
- Where does your passion for cooking come from?
- I always loved cooking and eating with family and friends, food brings people together and I love sharing good and healthy food with the people I love. I'm very curious and love traveling and reading, my food inspiration comes from allover the world.
- What motivates you everyday? Where do you find inspiration?
- My happy hormones goes up when I shop at bio dynamic farmers markets and shops, or eat at a restaurant where you sense the passion and love for quality ingredients. I'm also finding plenty of amazing creative food on places like Instagram. I love the positive and progressive community that exists in this rare and special online space.
- What excites you about cooking?
- We all make choices in our lives and I made a conscious choice to nourish my family with the best food they can get. I really love that feeling of knowing that it's a conscious choice how you eat. Eating plant based food still requires quite a creative touch, there's a lot of great recipes for vegans and vegetarians emerging but it didn't use to be like that. I appreciate that inventiveness, making veggie burgers that actually taste amazing. It's very satisfying when my friends who eat meat are stunned and convinced by my meat free cooking.
- If you were stranded on a desert island, which 3 foods would you bring along? What is the most unusual food you have ever tried? What food can't you stand?
- Avocado, bananas and almonds if they didn't already grow there.
Most unusal food most be any of the tropical fruits I tried in Singapore
The most unusal food i tasted apart from chocolate covered ants as a child most be the stinky fruit durian that I tried in Singapore.
I don't eat meat on an everyday basis but as I remember really having an a version to liver and black pudding when I was younger)
- Why did you choose to be a vegetarian? Did your lifestyle change your health condition?
- It came naturally, When I moved out of my parents home and started to really cook for myself I had a difficulty with buying and cooking meat, I felt like it was such a waste that animals were produced just to feed me. I ate meat very seldom and at one point I really made an ethical decision to become vegetarian for the environment and not to support the industrialized meat industry. But I'm not an absolutist, I also allow myself to have meat on occasion If i feel like it, though I seldom do. When I buy dairy I choose animal friendly and ecological products.
I have noticed an increase in energy levels the more I cut out animal products from our foods. I see that my family looks much more naturally fit and vital from eating well for a longer time. It has a positive effect on the mind too.
- Are your husband and kids also vegetarian?
- Yes, everyone eats the same and the kids never asks for meat. Though if a someone in our family would want to eat meat outside the house with friends it's not an issue, were pretty relaxed.
- How do you plan your diet to reach all nutritional needs? Can you describe your usual day diet?
- Because we're not vegan though we often eat vegan food, we get b12 from eggs and dairy. I'm not worried about nutritional lacks because we don't eat meat, we eat lots of leafy greens, lentils and beans and wholegrains. Adding fresh veggies and nuts, we really are well nourished. The key to good nourishment is variety and balance, we eat both grains, greens and legumes. We usually have smoothies or porridge for breakfast, an avo toast or salad for lunch, a soup or a comfort dish for dinner, like zoodles with lentil bolognese.
- Do you have eating rituals?
- When we have dinner I want everyone to sit around the table and nobody can leave until everyone is done. There's absolutely no phones or TVon while we eat. It's daily moment to connect with each other. I like to make a beautiful table adn we light candles in the winter.
- Where do you make your groceries?
- We mostly shop in the village north of Amsterdam where we live, or in the farmer market Noordermarkt in Amsterdam.
- What would you choose: a piece of chocolate cake or fruit salad?
- Funnily I've never been crazy about chocolate so that's easy, fruit salad, but you can have chocolate in your fruit salad too :)
- What are your's 5 essential ingredients for cooking?
- I use a lot of tahini, soy sauce, citrus or lime, almonds, and spinach
- How long it took to prepare your first cookbook «Bowls of goodness». How did you come with idea to make your own cookbook?
- I was approached by a publisher and I had about six months to do it. It was great fun but I was exhausted at the end. I really love the idea of bowl food as it's how I eat at home most often. A great deal of the recipes are what we actual eat at home on daily basis.
- Tell us a little bit more about your cookbook «Bowls of Goodness». What should readers expect?
- Bowls of Goodness is a book full of vegetarian bowl food inspired by whole foods eating. The recipes are nourishing and stretch from porridges and smoothies, to salads, grainbowls, soups, curries, pastas and dessert. The goodness is also partially in the food philosophy presented, I write about good choices like fair trade, organic and gmo free food. Also the book will disprove anyone claiming that vegetarian food is boring. This book is full of flavour, good flavour!
- Who is your ideal reader? Can you describe your target audience?
- I really don't have an ideal reader, the book will feed the mind and belly of readers from various bakgrounds and allover the world. because it's aiming to spread a message that vegetarian and vegan food is a good choice, I hope that as many people as possible will read it. My typical audience according to my Instagram analytics tool would be in her 20's well educated living in a bigger city and with an interest in health and lifestyle. But really I hope that a broad range of people will like the book.
A VERY GREEN SOUP
This chlorophyll-rich soup with peas and spinach is filled with light energy – a perfect reboot dish when you need a fresh start. The quinoa gives a little more body and boosts the nutrition with extra protein as well as adding a pleasing texture. Quinoa needs a little longer to cook than the rest of the ingredients, so I prepare it beforehand to keep the cooking time for the peas and spinach really short so they retain maximum freshness. The basil and mint are only added after removing the soup from the heat, to preserve their flavours – all in the name of vibrant taste! Drizzle with the wasabi cream for a perfect finish.
3 tablespoons coconut oil
3 shallots, sliced
1 celery stalk, sliced
1 litre vegetable broth (see page 56)
500g green peas
300g spinach, roughly chopped
½ tablespoon ginger, crushed
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
handful of mint leaves
handful of basil leaves
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
150g vegan crème fraîche (see page
50) or regular crème fraîche
½ tablespoon wasabi (or more for
a stronger taste)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon honey or agave syrup
1 teaspoon lemon juice
How to cook
1. Cook the quinoa according to the packet instructions. Drain and set aside.
2. Mix the ingredients for the wasabi cream, then cover and keep in the fridge until serving.
3. Melt the coconut oil in a saucepan over a medium–low heat. Add the sliced shallots and celery. Salt and pepper lightly, then toss and stir for 5 minutes, until the shallots are transparent.
4. Pour in the vegetable broth and bring to the boil. Add the peas, spinach, ginger, garlic and cooked quinoa and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat before adding the mint, basil and olive oil. Blend to a smooth consistency or leave some texture if you prefer. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and serve with wasabi cream.
Tip! Get creative and swap the wasabi edge in the sauce for horseradish or mustard – the brave can increase the measures for a harder hit.
Vegan version: Use maple or agave syrup instead of honey, and use vegan crème fraîche (See the book Bowls of Goodness, page 50).