Posts Tagged ‘food box’

Help! My teenager wants to go vegan

Monday, January 25th, 2021

You want to be … what!?!

If you’re a family of meat-eaters, the announcement may come as a bit of a shock. Your first reaction might be concern: ‘what do vegans eat?’ and ‘is a vegan diet healthy?’ You might be tempted to dismiss it as ‘just a teenage fad’.

Among good company

The reality, however, is that while meat-free diets are growing in popularity right now, it’s actually a dietary choice that’s been around for centuries. From Pythagoras (the Greek mathematician who lived more than 2,500 years ago), to the artist Leonardo da Vinci to Albert Einstein, who adopted a vegetarian diet later in life, announcing that 

“nothing will benefit human health and increase chances of survival for life on earth as much as the evolution of a vegetarian diet.”

There are plenty of highly respected people – not just Hollywood celebrities! – who advocate going meat-free. 

Health benefits

Veganism takes a vegetarian diet one step further, removing other animal products such as dairy and eggs from the equation. In an era when the environmental effects of dairy farming, for example, are becoming more well-known, it’s not surprising that the vegan lifestyle is becoming increasingly popular. We want the best for our kids – and that includes their health. With 1.2 million New Zealand adults (32%) being obese (figure from the Ministry of Health New Zealand Health Survey 2016/17), and with both the Ministry of Health and the Heart Foundation recommending an emphasis on plant-based sources of protein, there is plenty of evidence that a plant-based diet is a healthy option.

It’s not just about subtraction

It’s not simply a matter of cutting meat and other animal products out of the diet. A plant-based meal plan still needs to include the necessary food groups – for example, replace animal-derived protein with plant-based alternatives, such as legumes (dried peas, beans and lentils), nuts, soy products (such as tofu and tempeh) and certain grains and seeds. All of these alternatives are easy to find in your local supermarket. They’re also easy to prepare. It will just take a little bit of research and forward-planning to become familiar with all the new options after a lifetime of cooking to accommodate meat-eaters!

Make life easier

Subscribing to a plant-based delivery service like Green Dinner Table can make life easier. You’ll get a weekly menu of vegan dishes, recipes and all the ingredients you need delivered to your door. This is a great way to lighten the load, especially if you’re already planning, shopping and cooking for meat-eaters in the family. And you won’t be short of options when it comes to dining out as a family either. There is a good selection of vegan restaurants and cafés in Christchurch, as well as an increasing number of vegan-friendly eateries with choices to suit vegans and meat-eaters alike.

Get your teen in on the action

But, of course, it shouldn’t all fall on you. If your teenager is keen to eat vegan food, it’s a good opportunity to set them up with a lifetime of healthy habits by getting them involved in meal planning and prep. Encourage them to do some research into how to plan a healthy vegan diet, choose some recipes and help with the cooking. And it’s also a great opportunity for the rest of the family to start eating healthier. Make some of the family meals meat-free and boost everyone’s vege intake – after all the New Zealand Health Survey revealed that only 38.8% of New Zealand adults eat the recommended 5+ a day and new research suggests that the 5+ a day recommendation should in fact be increased to 10+ servings per day for the full health benefits fruit and vegetables provide!

Congrats! You’ve raised a thoughtful teen!

So, once you’ve processed the initial surprise of your teenager announcing that they want to go vegan, relax … with a little planning, eating plant-based can be a very healthy choice. And pat yourself on the back, too! You raised a young adult who is thinking about their food choices and trying to make better ones. They might inspire you to do the same!

Cook like a Masterchef with these pro tips

Monday, April 1st, 2019

When you live with a chef who will cook for you at home, life is sweet.

On the rare occasion that I do whip up dinner, it ends up taking me way longer (I still can’t chop with super speed). And, the results are pretty different, I do a pretty solid job as an amateur. That said, after more than 10 years together, I’ve picked up a few tricks from Tom. I’m delighted to share them with you, so that you hone your inner Masterchef.

1. The claw

This is the most important tip, which is why I’m sharing it first. Master this tip and you’ll never cut off the tip of your finger. Safety first!


With your fingers in this position, you run much less risk of a serious injury than if you were holding the food with the pads of your fingers. If the knife slips while you’re in this position, it will only hit against your hard fingernails. Even if it does knick the skin, the injury will be far less severe.


  • Curl all the fingers and the thumb of your non-knife hand like you’re imitating an angry bear. (Roar!)
  • Keep this shape and go to your cutting board. Rest the tips of your fingers on top of whatever you’re about to cut. Your fingertips should be perpendicular to the surface of the food, with your fingernails acting like a shield.
  • Your thumb should be perpendicular to the food as well, but on the side. The thumb also helps keep the food stable while you’re cutting.

Hone your skills

This is a great video that takes these tips even further. Wield your knife like a pro:

2. Always read the recipe first

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve made this mistake!

For Green Dinner Table meals, it’s less tricky because they are so easy and you have everything you need.

Reading a recipe through can also help you prep your kitchen space appropriately. Choose the right pots and pans or bowl to use for each step. It can also give you a sense of calm and control knowing what’s coming up.

3. Sharpen your knife

Just like your other tools around the house, you need to take care of your knife. A clean, sharp knife is much safer to handle than a dull one. Even if it’s a big chef knife!

On that note, chef knives are a wonderful tool for your kitchen and make cooking so much easier than trying to tackle big jobs with a small serrated knife or paring knife (yes, guilty! I did that until Tom came into my life and equipped me with a perfectly sized vegetable knife).

Learn how to care for your knives by following these two methods:

  • Honing: A honing steel basically pushes the edge of the knife back to the center and straightens it. It corrects the edge without shaving off much, if any, of the blade’s material.

Honing doesn’t actually sharpen the knife, but if done properly, the knife will seem sharper because the blade is now in the proper position. Honing should be done often — some even hone before each use.

  • Sharpening: Sharpening, on the other hand, is a process where bits of the blade are ground and shaved off to produce a new, sharp edge.

It can be done using a water stone. Sharpening can be done less frequently than honing — just a few times a year, depending on how much use the knife gets.

Tom does all the maintenance on our knives, but if you don’t have a chef at home, watch this video to learn how

4. Taste and season as you go

It’s not enough to sprinkle a bit of salt on your dish at the end. You need to infuse your dish with flavour throughout the cooking process. If you’re a regular Green Dinner Table customer, you’ll notice that we ask you to taste and season a few times while cooking a dish.

Here are some key taste and season moments:

  • Boiling water is salted
  • Sautéed vegetables are seasoned while cooking
  • Roasted vegetables is sprinkled with salt and pepper, as well as drizzled with oil, before cooking
  • Dishes are finished with a final seasoning to taste.

Tasting along the way can also help you build up the flavour slowly, so that you don’t overdress your dish with sauce. This method can help you achieve your desired heat when adding a spicy sauce or seasoning.

5. Learn how to cut certain foods

I always learn a few new tricks from Tom about the best way to cut a particular fruit or vegetable, but if you nail a few key ones, it will greatly reduce your prep time and give you more even sized pieces to cook with (which translates into more consistent cooking and a better end result).

Watch these videos and practice, practice, practice!

Peel and mince garlic like a pro

Three ways to chop an onion


Be careful with that stone!!

Also, how cute are those ladies!


6. Final tip – Have a glass of wine on hand

Finally, if you are so inclined, have a glass of wine on hand while cooking. You deserve it!

Canada ditches dairy. Maybe you should too

Thursday, January 31st, 2019

It took over ten years, but Canada has finally updated it food guide. Canadians have used the guide since the 1940s as a source of nutritional advice on optimal health. Like other countries around the world, Canada’s major revisions do away with its pyramid of ‘food groups.’ Instead, Canada offers up an appetising plate to illustrate what we should eat.

So what does a healthy plate look like?

We should fill:

  • Half our plate with fruit and vegetables
  • A quarter with starches or grains, and
  • A quarter with protein.

Easy enough to do with Green Dinner Table on the menu!

The mounting case for a dairy-free diet

Many assume that dairy is essential for bone health, however clinical research shows that dairy products have little or no benefit for bones in children, in teenage girls and even in post-menopausal women. One of the best ways to protect our bones from osteoporosis is to exercise and eat calcium-rich foods. Some examples include kale, broccoli and other leafy green vegetables and beans.

Dairy products like cheese, ice cream, milk, butter and yoghurt are high in cholesterol and saturated fat, which can increase the risk of heart disease. Consuming dairy products has also been linked to higher risk of various cancers, especially prostate, ovarian, lung and breast cancers. One American study found that women who had consumed more than one glass of milk per day had a 73% greater chance of developing ovarian cancer than women who drank less than one glass per day.

People who drink dairy milk have poorer brain health. Researchers found that those who consumed more than one glass of milk per day were 10% more likely to experience cognitive decline, compared to those who consumed less or no milk.

Dairy products have also been linked to health risks for children and can encourage the development of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Experts recommend that infants not consume dairy. In addition to concerns about causing colic (both when consumed by the infant directly or through the breastmilk of a mother who consumes dairy), dairy is also linked to type-1 diabetes.

New Guidelines, Not So New Advice

With research like this, it’s no wonder that there were such sweeping changes. The new guide looks at evidence – and not evidence funded by industry. And while the meat and dairy industries might be feeling sour over the changes; people on a plant-based diet have been praising it for recognising something they’ve known for years.

Want to eat more plants but don’t know where to start? Green Dinner Table can help! Sign up to one of our weekly plans and get everything you need to eat delicious, plant-based meals you and your family will love!

The Most Important Thing You Do For Your Kids

Wednesday, November 28th, 2018

Kids who eat dinner with their family are more resilient, more positive and happier.

Numerous studies show that eating together can help us maintain a healthy weight. This is an excellent time to form healthy habits. In a country where a 12.3% of children (and 66% of adults are overweight and obese), it’s something we need. One study from Stanford University reported that kids who eat family dinners are more likely to eat more fruits and vegetables than those who don’t. Plus, as teens they are less likely to be obese. They are also more likely to keep up their healthy habits once they move out on their on.

But it’s not just about what’s on the plate.

Research suggests that tone you set for dinner time is also important. Parents should approach dinner time with warmth and be ready to engage. Forget fighting over mouthfuls. Controlling, restrictive behaviours is a turn off. Literally kids will stop paying attention; negating the benefits of the dinner ritual.

And forget dinner and a show, researchers found that preschoolers who watched TV during dinner were more likely to be overweight by third grade. Tom’s wife has a firm no phones at the table rule. “She’s unapologetic about enforcing it,” said Tom. While it may be tempting to eat in front of the TV, or check our phones, it takes us out of the moment.

For the littlest members of the family, sharing dinner at the table with parents can help promote language skills. One study found that for young children, dinner time chatter boosted vocabulary more than being read aloud to. Kids who have a large vocabulary read earlier and more easily. So put down Hairy McClary, and sit up at the table together.

Dinner time gives little ones an opportunity to practice patience and dexterity. Social skills are also developed, including manners, taking turns, and trying new things. “I don’t mind if our toddler doesn’t eat everything on the plate,” said Tom. “I just ask her to try it.”

Dinner together isn’t just for the wee ones

One study from Columbia University found that teens who ate with their families were more likely to have better grades. Regular meal time is more powerful than time in school, doing homework, playing sports or doing art. Teens who ate family meals together were twice as likely to get As in school than kids than those who ate dinner together fewer than two times per week. A number of studies link family dinners with lower risk of problem behaviours like smoking, binge drinking, drug use, violence, school issues and eating disorders.

You have a captive audience, so make the most of it.

You can build self-esteem, by reinforcing common values. This is a great time to lay on the praise and build them up! Family members are better able to handle the stresses of daily life, if they can be shared. When we sit down together, we practice our communication skills, our listening skills, and we demonstrate respect. The simple question, “How was your day?” can be just the opener your child needs to share what is significant to them.

Lead by example.

Dinner is a perfect opportunity to divide tasks and deconstruct stereotypes. It’s not a surprise that Tom cooks dinner most nights for his family (he’s too darn good at it!). Often, he’ll let his toddler lend a hand. “She’s pretty good at peeling garlic,” said Tom. “I also give her things to set the table.” His wife leads the clean up crew. At Cole’s house, the roles are reversed. The point is that dinner is a family activity and a shared responsibility amongst all members of the family.

Every meal is an opportunity.

With all the benefits of eating together, it’s worth the effort. Green Dinner Table makes preparing dinner easy. With everything you need to create delicious restaurant style meals, you can focus on creating opportunities to connect with one another, rather than what’s on the plate. Sign up and see how stress-free family dinners can be.

7 of the best vegan finds from the Vegan Expo

Thursday, November 1st, 2018

Some people like the cooking demos, talks, information stalls, but we’ll be honest; We were there for the food. We arrived with an empty tummy and a fist full of cash, we left with an stuffed tum and an empty wallet. Tom’s wife calls it her “Black Friday.”

We scoped out the best of the best this year for this month’s blog and we’ll tell you where you can get some of these noms, even if you missed the expo.

1. Kimchi grilled cheese from Green Dinner Table

This was one serious sandwich! Delicious house made kimchi with Angel Foods cheese in a perfectly grilled sandwich. Served with a generous helping of GDT’s special rum and coke BBQ sauce. People were asking us to bottle it up and sell it. For now, we’re keeping these drool-worthy items for our subscribers as part of our weekly delivery.

We could go on and on about how it was the best thing at the Expo (according to a few others on Instagram!) but we’ll quickly move on.

2. Passionfruit Custard Square from No Bulls Pies

Conveniently located right beside the GDT booth. One bite was like heaven. Creamy yumminess between perfect pastry, topped with sugary sweet passionfruit. The only downside is that we don’t know where we can get more! We didn’t find a business listing for No Bulls Pies. If anyone has a lead let us know …

3. Rosé from Brod Kvas

Brod Kvas rose

Brod Kvas rose

Kumbucha and kefir move over because Brod Kvas is dairy-free and has no slimey scoby. Plus the manly marketing makes us feel like we can bring it to a BBQ instead of beers and get away with it. These delicious, naturally fermented beverages are inspired by thousands of years of tradition. We snapped up a few big bottles.

4. Valsoia hazelnut spread from Nuovo Pantry

AKA nutella! YESSS! Our childhood memories no longer need to be a thing of the past! We’ve tried other vegan ‘nutellas’ but this one tastes just as delicious as the original (must be because it’s Italian 😉 ). Nuovo Pantry also has some fancy ice creams by Valsoia like cornettos and ice cream sandwiches. Buon appetito!

5. Literally anything from Grater Goods

Did you check out the grazing plate at the Grater Goods stall? It was chocka with delicious vegan cheeses, deli meats and the Blu butter? Simply divine! We wanted to buy it all, but like the gracious hosts they are, they made sure there was plenty to sample, so we have no choice but to visit their deli and stock up.


6. Plant Powered Dip by Black Doris

We loved Black Doris range. Talk about yum. It was hard to choose just one, so we bought everything but the mayo (Tom did just make a huge batch at the cooking demo!) The Plant Powered Dip was perfect as a little ‘alfredo’ sauce on a quick toddler pasta later that night.

7. Chocolate cheesecake from Moa Bakery

We’re usually more into the savoury, but these cheesecakes were worth raving over. Hard to believe that in addition to being vegan, they were also gluten and sugar free! Sensitive tummies rejoice! We’re glad we got them in our gob because they are from Moa Bakery hails from Oamaru. So next time you’re over that way, try one!

Missed out on all the fun? Check out the hosts of the Expo, the Christchurch Vegan Society to find out about next year’s event.

Who’s Eating Green Dinner Table?

Wednesday, August 1st, 2018

Sofia is certain that a vegan diet helps her deliver parcels week after week in rain, hail or sunshine.

She knows how important it is to effectively fuel her body, especially since she is cycling well over a hundred kilometres every day on the job! We asked how a vegan diet works with such a physically demanding role, and she told us, “Some people think vegan means not enough energy, without Green Dinner Table I would have struggled.”

Being so active, it is important that Sofia maintains her energy all day, every day.

Sophia’s energy levels while eating Green Dinner Table meals are high as ever, without the feeling of being ‘weighed-down’. “My energy levels are really good. I am always high energy. It is nice in the evening to feel full, but not heavy. If I do have leftovers for lunch I can eat and get straight back on my bike.”

Sofia has been eating a vegan diet exclusively for over six months after making a conscious effort to cut meat and dairy products from her diet. “I started watching documentaries about the meat industry” she said.

Formerly a chef, Sofia is continuing to learn more about the vegan diet and lifestyle.

Subscribing to Green Dinner Table has positively changed her outlook on how food can be interesting, even with a plant-based diet. “A friend suggested Green Dinner Table and I signed up the day after that. It is a lifesaver. I used to be vegetarian– and I just ate without meat. Now, each night is a little cooking class. I can struggle at lunch trying to find vegan options. Without Green Dinner Table, dinner would be the same.

Sofia entertains friends and family who start out sceptical about eating vegan.

However, the tasty and varied plant-based meals that Sofia creates with Green Dinner Table have changed their outlook entirely. Sofia’s Dad, who used to make fun of her diet, now uses the Green Dinner Table website for recipe ideas, and her flatmate – who used to eat KFC three or four times a week – is now almost entirely vegan!

Ask Sofia the best thing about Green Dinner Table and she says,

“Variety! Green Dinner Table comes up with so many new things. I would otherwise be stuck in a rut. I’m impressed that it’s so good.”

Sofia is keen to spread the word about Green Dinner Table so that others can benefit from a healthy (and easy) plant-based diet.

“I offered to put a sticker on the back of my courier bag, ‘Powered by Green Dinner Table.”

And her favourite Green Dinner Table meal? “I really like the Mexican dishes, but I love the massaman curry!”

Sofia established Geronimo Messengers in 2016, delivering a wide range of parcels across Christchurch City by bicycle. She saw the opportunity to introduce a clean, green alternative for delivering goods within the city, while at the same time avoiding the traffic delays that have been accentuated by earthquake and remediation work around the city – and the new 30 km/h speed limit for vehicles within the CBD.

Geronimo Messengers delivers throughout the Christchurch CBD, Riccarton and Sydenham (check out the service area map here), carrying anything up to 6 kilograms, from lunch to car parts! Photo courtesy of Underground Coffee, one of her customers – their beans are now delivered by pedal power.