Category Archives: vegetarian cafes NZ

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!

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

And the best food for our skin is…


fruit mixMy Ayurvedic beauty therapist friend just loves rubbing fresh raw fruit on her face.

If you want clear, glowing skin – and who doesn’t? – she says it’s the best exfoliant. She recommends we use it every two or three days – we can use a slice of lemon or kiwifruit or tomato, or a little plain yoghurt.

Gently rub it into your skin and allow it to rest for 5 – 15 minutes. Remove with a warm cloth.

Why is exfoliation so beneficial? It removes the dead skin cells that block the absorption of your moisturiser, which in turn helps to counteract the dryness that comes from sun and wind.

Everything we put on our skin is absorbed into our body cells, just as is the food we eat, so Ayurveda does not use any skincare that contains artificial chemicals.  Organic fruit and ingredients naturally give optimal benefit.

The principle is that you don’t put anything on your skin at any time that you wouldn’t feel safe to eat. Ayurvedic moisturisers and skin creams reflect this same principle.

And her eye treatments are total bliss. When you use your eyes a lot they can become tired and strained, such as when you’ve been working at the computer or studying, or you’ve been driving for a while, or you’ve been out in the summer heat, and your eyes also become heated. The best way to cool them – and yourself – is to do an eye treatment.

grated cucumberSimply grate some cucumber and place a teaspoon of it on your cotton eye pads, and take a 5 – 10 minute rest. If the eye pads dry out quickly, as they did with me, it means your eyes have been so hot they have already absorbed the cooling liquid, so repeat and – oh bliss – have another short rest.

Not everyone is partial to cucumber, though you don’t have to like the taste to benefit from this treatment. And it isn’t only vegetables that are good for your skin.

Rose oil isn’t just a pretty perfume, and rose water isn’t only used in cooking. They have myriad medicinal uses.

rose waterSo, if you prefer you can soak cotton balls in rose water and rest them on your eyes.

Either way, you feel remarkably refreshed and your eyes – and you – are clearer and you feel calmer and more rested.

And remember you can make a delicate, deliciously scented and cooling rose water spray for your face. Just mix a little rose water concentrate with purified or spring water to taste – you can take that literally! – and use whenever you wish to feel fresh and cool. The spray is an excellent toner too.

The best food for your skin, it seems, is, well … food.


You can order your copy of the 2015 edition ‘ A Guide to Vegetarian Cafes in Aotearoa/New Zealand’ NOW! Includes 10 new cafes nationwide!

How I became a true blue-blood

Mithai sweetsToday I decided to indulge in a little aristocratic fantasy and become a ‘blue blood’. And why not, when its so easy to do?

So I took myself off to Mithai, a small Indian specialist confectionary cafe on the corner of Sandringham and Mt Albert Roads (there’s also a store in Manurewa) to sample a selection of their dainty, perfectly formed silver leaf confectionary.

Made from ground almonds, cashews, coconut, chickpea flour or milk powder, not all the sweets contain silver leaf. Some are fruit shaped – mango and strawberry flavours are popular – they’re quite delicious, and very pretty.

But the paper-thin shimmering silver leaf… silver is a very old therapeutic ingredient that was used by ancient cultures including the Romans, Arabs, Chinese and Sanskrit for its anti-bacterial properties, to treat wounds, and for its soothing effect on the nerves, including peripheral nerve endings. It’s still used in Ayurveda treatments and in skin care for its cooling and healing properties.

And the blue-blood? Well, it seems that aristocrats in many cultures would have their meals served on the finest silver plate, using silver cutlery and silver cooking utensils, and the traces of silver entering the blood stream reputedly gave it, literally, a blue tint.

See? – I said becoming a blue blood was easy!

More on the virtues of eating silver leaf

‘Let your food be your medicine’

The 2015 edition of A Guide to Vegetarian Cafes is due out this month.

Why chillis have that feel-good factor

Sabudana Vada copyI needed a lunchtime snack for a pick-me-up after some meetings last week so called in at Ras Vatika in Dominion Road. The owner-chef of this tiny Indian cafe smiles and reaches for a Sabudana Vada (sago pattie, $1.80) when she sees me coming.

These lively patties are a delicious mix of soft and crunchy textures, slightly sweet with a light chilli hit. They’re made from spiced mashed potato with sago and peanuts, so are gluten free (sago is made from tapioca root). And the chilli is as good as a caffeine hit, and better for you.

If you can handle chilli, it really is true that it has a feel-good factor. As your body defends itself against the heat of a hot chilli it releases endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers, and that leaves you with a bit of a natural ‘high’. Which explains why so many people who like chillis find them addictive!

Chillis also contain Vitamin C, B-complex, and a host of other minerals and vitamins, along with anti-bacterial properties.

Lots more about the health benefits of chillis here

Coming soon: the updated edition of ‘A Guide to Vegetarian Cafes in Aotearoa/New Zealand’

The Blue Bird sings – and for longer hours

BlueBird extThere’s a shortage of Kiwi-fare vege cafes open for dining in the evenings, especially on Saturday nights. So I was delighted to hear last week that Dominion Road’s The Blue Bird is now opening to 9pm on several weekday evenings and trialling a later time open on Saturdays until 9pm – at least for now. Whether they continue these later hours will depend on how busy they become.

Sometimes what you want in a meal is really good quality comfort food. Something tasty but not too spicy, filling but not heavy. At The Blue Bird, whether you’re vegan, lacto-vegetarian, vegetarian, or gluten-free, they cover all the bases.

Blue Bird interiorIn addition to their standard menu – and their tofu burger is the best in town – they have a cabinet with a changing array of hot and cold foods, cakes and sweets, all made in house. (Including the focaccia bread for the tofu burger, and yes they do a gluten-free version). I have shared a slice of their pineapple and coconut cake with a friend and we found it delicious, especially when the sweetness was balanced with a little plain yoghurt. Their coffee is excellent.

Early on this hot February evening I enjoyed a generous serving of Hazelnut Loaf, made with lentils, herbs and rice flour bread and served with their own tomato and onion sauce($9.50). Vegan and gluten-free, it was truly comfort food. I could have added a side of Roast Vege Salad or Thai Ginger Slaw, but in fact would have liked a crisp light green salad to add a little crunchy summertime perfection.

Blueberrycheescake-BlueBirdThe Loaf was filling but the Blueberry Cheesecake looked irresistible, so I took a slice home ($6.20). Egg free and gluten free, it was nevertheless a real cheesecake, complete with sweet biscuit base and tangy/sweet blueberry glaze, to which I added a little plain yoghurt. And it wasn’t overly rich, as are many of the raw food cheesecakes being made with ground almonds and/or cashews and coconut oil.

The cafe is open from 8am Monday to Saturday. It closes at 3pm Monday and Wednesday and is open until 9pm on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Saturday evening bookings are recommended if possible to assist. You’ll find the menu on their website

Remember to sign up for our new monthly VegeCafesNZ Newsletter for featured cafes and other useful tips.