Author Archives: VegeCafesNZ

Takapuna’s Cafe Mimosa is worth a visit

Mimosa Cafe

The mimosa flower is a delicate, fragrant pink bloom that heralds spring’s movement into summer. Different cultures ascribe different meanings to the mimosa – delicacy, sensitivity, calming – and in Chinese medicine it’s described as the ‘happiness herb’ because of its ability to open a person’s heart to happiness.

Cafe Mimosa has been on Lake Rd, Takapuna for some time but became wholly vegetarian and mainly vegan just a few months ago. The cafe is also committed to providing gluten free, organic and Fair Trade options.

So – how does Cafe Mimosa rate on the happiness scale?

Matt and I wandered in for a visit on a sunny late spring day. The cafe is bright and busy with a light rustic decor. There’s a blackboard menu which is adapted for summer and winter and a cabinet with snacks and vegan and gluten free cakes made on the premises.

I ordered the Crispy Tofu and Vege Bowl with brown rice, eggplant, vegetables and miso soup ($18). Matt selected the Breakfast Mushrooms with cashew cream and sourdough bread ($17).

There’s a Japanese flavour to the serving style at the table and this is reflected in some of the menu. The Crispy Tofu was quite a charming dish, and to my delight turned out to be a true macrobiotic meal (macrobiotics originated from traditional Japanese cooking). It was served in a wide glazed pottery bowl and came with a mug of white (shiro) miso soup; this is a light miso appropriate for summertime.

The short grain brown rice is my favourite and, when cooked well as this was, releases its slightly nutty flavour as you chew. The tofu and veges – eggplant, asparagus, mushrooms – had a light sauce to bind them, but not so much as to drown the flavour of the rice – in face my only wish is that there was a little more of the sauce. There was even a sprinkling of fine nori seaweed strips and saffron for garnish. The miso soup, garnished with watercress, added a welcome sweet/salty balance to the meal.

Matt’s mushrooms looked attractive but he found them to be a little overwhelmed by the sage, as was the cashew cream.

The main meals all looked to be nutrient dense, which is a pleasure to see in a vegetarian cafe and suggests a real understanding of sound vegan nutrition. Even the mushrooms were served with a protein, the cashew cream. That suggests a real understanding of nutritional principles, as so often mushrooms are served just with toast and there’s no substance in that at all.  mimosa-flower

In January I returned for a quick lunch from the cabinet.

Falafel rolls are frequently strongly flavoured and quite dry, needing more sauce than is usually provided; happily, Cafe Mimosa’s version ($7) is light, gently flavoured and definitely not dry – most enjoyable on a very warm summer day. I followed this with a slice of vegan, gluten free chocolate orange tart. The combination of rich dark chocolate and orange flavour with almonds, walnuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds was packed with flavour, and was every bit as rich as you’d expect.

In February Matt and I found ourselves at Takapuna Beach again for lunch. This time Matt had the Crispy Tofu and Vege Bowl, which he enjoyed, though he also would have liked more of the sauce. I ordered the slightly smaller Mimosa Bowl of brown rice, mixed herby beans, olives, avo, coriander, mustard and sour cream ($14). (There would have been cheddar cheese but the staff were unable to confirm that it was a vegetarian cheese i.e. that it had vegetable rather than animal rennet.) It was well seasoned and satisfying.

The staff have always been most friendly and helpful. Cafe Mimosa is a welcome and distinctive addition to the region’s vegetarian cafes. I’ll be more than happy to return any time I’m in the area.


New Hastings stockist of Guide to VegeCafesNZ

Cornucopia Organics

Summertime travellers through Hawke’s Bay rejoice!

Cornucopia Organics at 221A Heretaunga St, St Leonards, Hastings is now stocking the Guide to VegeCafes in NZ

With your copy in hand, you’ll know immediately where to go for vegetarian and vegan food anywhere in New Zealand – not only where to find them but exactly what to expect from each cafe – food style & ethnicity, plus whether gluten free and/or organic; opening hours, parking, disability access, and more.

Touring around NZ this summer …

???????????????????????????????Whether you’re vegetarian or not, if you’re travelling to or through unfamiliar territory – or even the well-travelled routes – it’s always useful to know where to go for a good quick meal.

We’ve done the research for you! The Guide to Vegetarian Cafes shows you where to find 60 cafes from Whangarei to Dunedin.

You can be confident that you’ll get a good meal – vegetarian cafes are usually a reliable choice for tasteful, healthy food.

It tells you whether they provide Kiwi style food, or Indian or Asian meals; whether their menu caters for vegetarians or vegans, and is gluten free and/or organic; what days and hours they’re open; whether there is disabled access and facilities; where to find parking.

So don’t leave home until you have your Guide to Vegetarian Cafes!

Where to find them? There’s a list of stockists here or you can buy direct through this site Buy the Guide


Golden Bay Organics, Takaka is our new stockist

If you’re travelling around the Top of the South this summer, do call in for supplies at our newest stockist Golden Bay Organics in Takaka.

‘GB organics is a funky shop on the main St of Takaka in Golden Bay. We stock a wide range of Organic food and products including bodycare and herbs. We are a vegetarian store and proud of it! We endeavor to stock as much local fruit and vege as possible.’


47 Commercial Street
Takaka, New Zealand, 7110

Get Driving Directions


Work 03 525 8677
Fax 03 525 8608

Store Hours

Mon – Fri 9am – 5.30pm Sat 9am – 2pm

Summertime means fresh sweetcorn… and it’s so good for us!

sweet-cornThere’s been a fantastic explosion in the provision of vegetarian meals during the last couple of years – not just with more vegetarian cafes, but with more vegetarian options in regular cafes, more recipes in newspapers and magazines by non-vegetarian cooks, more blogs by vegans and vegetarians – it’s all quite wonderful!

It’s fun, and colourful, to play with cooking different combinations of vegetables and grains and lentils, but we do need to be alert to what constitutes a healthy vegetarian protein.

Our bodies need protein for maintaining good bone and muscle mass. This is especially important as we age – our bodies need more protein, not less. Protein builds a strong immune system, and helps get rid of toxins from the liver and arteries, and prevents fatigue.

All protein consists of amino acids. All plant proteins contain some of every amino acid, though legumes are lower in the amino acid methionine, and I’ve recently learned that many vegetarians are deficient in methionine.

Why? Because we need quite a lot of methionine and when I list foods that contain it, you’ll see why: chia seeds, avocado, sunflower seeds and ricotta cheese are at the top of the list, along with soy products such as tempeh and tofu. Also useful are peanuts, almonds and brazil nuts, oats, sweet corn, sesame seeds and chickpeas. 

Nut platter

These aren’t foods that we necessarily include in substantial amounts in our meals every day – at least, I don’t – on some days, for sure, but not every day unless we’re paying attention.

What happens when we don’t get enough methionine? We become tired and listless and this can become chronic. Of course you can take methionine supplements, but why not save yourself the cost and add deliciousness to your meals and snacks at the same time?

Nuts and seeds are best eaten lightly roasted for digestibility. Or soak a handful of almonds in boiling water overnight and peel off their indigestible covering to make a tasty mid-morning snack, along with a handful of raisins.

hummusVariations on this theme include nut butters (made from almonds, peanuts, brazils, sunflower seeds, or sesame seeds aka tahini), hummus (left, combines chickpeas and tahini); falafel (made with chickpeas and served with hummus); gomasio (a table condiment of toasted sesame seeds ground with a small amount of salt, ratio about 1:8); oat-based muesli or cookies; gluten-free polenta (try it as a base for a flan or pizza) … and who doesn’t love avocado, or succulent fresh sweet corn as the essence of summer?

All simple, delicious and important to eat.

Lambs to the Slaughter

Tofu burger-veganSo we’re over halfway through World Vegetarian Awareness Month – so what? What’s its about?

Being cruelty free, that’s what.

When I was in the Coromandel on a summer holiday some years ago, walking along a pier where rows of people were throwing their lines into the ocean, I watched as a boy pulled a gleaming silver fish from the water and threw it down beside him. As he loaded his hook with more bait the sleek, beautiful creature from the sea threshed frantically on the boards, suffocating to death, and I wondered how I’d feel if I was being suffocated. I never ate fish again.

We’re well into springtime so memories of seeing lambs and calves in the fields just outside our cities are still vivid. But already you won’t be seeing many of these young animals now. Anyone who has heard a calf and his mother calling to each other from separate pens when they’ve been forcibly separated would need a stone heart not to hear the desperation in those cries.

We wince when we hear about cruelty to our fellow humans. Some of us wince equally at the knowledge of the daily cruelty that takes place en masse to sentient, defenceless animals that are imprisoned and slaughtered to please our palates – from the millions of people on the planet who are successfully vegetarian, it’s obvious that choosing to be carnivorous isn’t for health reasons.

Sheep give us their fleece to make warm clothing for our bodies and furnishings for our homes, cows provide milk for our butter and cheese, chickens give us eggs. None of these animals offer us any harm.

So why, when we benefit so widely from their bounty, do we repay them so harshly?

chili con carneIf you’re new to vegetarian eating, why not try something new this month. If you’re eating out – or at home – perhaps try making chilli con carne with kidney beans instead of mince. Or try wraps or pita pockets made with falafel (just remember to use extra sauce – yum).

If you’re eating out and want to try something different, tofu often gets a bad press but Auckland’s Blue Bird Cafe in Dominion Rd and the Raw Power Cafe in the CBD both have excellent Tofu Burgers (as in the photo above), and the Blue Bird has an alternative burger with a delicious walnut-pumpkin patty.

Masala-DosaFor a tasty range of substantial cooked as well as raw salad lunches why not visit one of the Revive Cafes in the city. Or go Indian and order a masala dosa, a thin crispy pancake made with lentils and rice and stuffed with a spicy potato filling. Or for something quite different, take a trip out to Flat Bush in Manukau to the Fo Guan Shan Water Drop Vegetarian Cafe at the Buddhist Temple, and order the spicy Noodle Laksa or one of their other attractive meals, and wander around the remarkably beautiful and tranquil Temple and grounds.

There’s a world of new tastes awaiting you. Along with a clear conscience.

And remember if you’re travelling around the country, or just within Auckland, and would like to know where there are vegetarian cafes, my Guide to Vegetarian Cafes in NZ describes where to find them.

Happy eating!

Lunch at Wagamama, Sylvia Park

For a recent birthday celebration Matt and I lunched at Japanese/Asian restaurant Wagamama at Sylvia Park.

The long community-style tables look as though they encourage relaxed eating, and the menu had enough vegan options to appeal. The service was very quick and friendly, and it was fun watching the cooks with the live flames flaring up behind the tall service bench.

I ordered a Mains-Salad-Chilli-Chicken-Salad-thumbwarm tofu chilli salad which was described as ‘stir fried tofu, red peppers, mangetout, tender stem broccoli and red onions in a sweet chilli sauce on a bed of baby gem lettuce with the wagamama house dressing. Garnished with cashew nuts, chillies and spring onions’ ($18.50). It looked tasty if insubstantial so I requested a side of brown rice.

The salad tasted as good as it looked, the veges were nicely cooked and still firm, and it did need the rice to give it substance, and to balance out the flavours.Matt had the Kouma Yasai* – ‘deep fried tofu marinated in ginger, garlic and lemongrass, stir-fried with broccoli, zucchini, chillies, red onions, garlic, ginger, mint basil and coriander in chilli oil. Served with steamed jasmine rice and garnished with lime’ ($19.70).

This turned out to be a small topping of veges dominated by zucchini – not his favourite – and while the rice bowl was tasty there was a lot of it in proportion to the veg. A side of leafy greens would have been an extra $7.

While the wait staff continued to be attentive, relaxed eating is not, alas, encouraged. Matt’s empty plate was whipped away well before I had finished, and when I did, my own plate was politely removed within seconds. The message was: don’t linger. Not that the restaurant was busy.

Would I go again? Perhaps, if was was seeking a quick, light meal, but other places give better value for money.

*Yasai or V denote vegetarian options, but not always vegan, so do check if you want egg-free.

It’s World Vegetarian Awareness month this October – why not give a vegetarian meal a try when you’re next out at your favourite cafe? 

Dining for vegans in Auckland’s Restaurant Month?

Hectors restaurantAuckland in August is Restaurant Month, a feast of food with upmarket restaurants competing to produce the most enticing special fare.

But what special offerings are there for vegans and vegetarians?

Hectors Restaurant at the Heritage Hotel to the rescue! Chef Vinu Abrams is offering an elegant three course vegetarian menu for $40 that includes vegan options such as a poached baby vegetable salad with macadamia cheese, a mushroom tart with hazelnut salad, and mango parfait with cinnamon banana fritter and ginger syrup. This is special dining that makes it a special occasion.

Hectors Restaurant

Latest news on food and healing

OrgNZ_July_CoverAnyone interested in good quality nutrition as the basic building block of our health will be aware of the value of organic food – even if we can’t always find, buy or grow it!

The NZ Soil & Health Association publishes a two-monthly magazine Organic NZ. It’s always worth a look – the latest issue includes features (among many others) on

* pesticides in our baby food (there are lots)

* updates on GE – what’s really happening now in our food chain and  how it affects us

* beneficial foods to reduce the effects of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)

* the crucial need for zinc in healing any wounds to our bodies – eat pumpkin seeds, everyone!

* a feature on the Wild Earth Organics shop and vegetarian cafe in Tauranga

* moon calendar for your garden

And a wonderful quote from the owners of IE Produce (50/50 organic and conventional groceries): “Many perceive eating organic food is expensive, and they can expect to pay maybe a third more, but they don’t realise it has a much better quality, high density nutritional content and they don’t need to eat so much of it.”

Once you join the Soil & Health Association, you automatically receive the magazine. Or you local library may have it, and if not, simply ask them to subscribe

Blue Bird Cafe hours change

BlueBird extThe Blue Bird Vegetarian Cafe in Dominion Road has been trialling new hours including open until 9pm on Saturday evenings.

That’s still the case BUT ONLY IF YOU BOOK FIRST.

They now open from 8am-3pm on Saturdays but will re-open at 6pm on request.

Plus, they’ve amended their opening hours in April and August – details are posted on their website.

The new updated 2015 Guide to Vegan and Vegetarian Cafes in Aotearoa is available – simply go to BUY THE GUIDE to order your copy.