We caught up with the lovely Bettina from Bettina’s Kitchen to find out more about vegan cooking, launching a cookbook and how her PCOS diagnosis changed her life.
I was diagnosed with PCOS and endometriosis about 7 years ago.
I had decided to go off the pill that I had been on for about 10 years and had started suffering horrible symptoms. I gained weight, lost hair, had unwanted hair growth in places that were not so sexy and generally felt very bad. I guess my worst symptom was completely losing my period for long periods of time. I was also in an unhealthy industry (Food and Beverage) where you work extremely long hours, eat unhealthily and only get a break if you’re a smoker. I hit a wall health wise and decided to quit my job and find ways to deal with my condition. At that time my doctor only had given me two options: 1, go back on the pill, or 2, start medication. I opted out of both and started researching my condition.
At the same time I founded a Wellness retreat and I started cooking at them. This was my introduction to vegan/plant based food. In terms of my condition I experimented a lot with food, supplements and exercise to figure out what worked best for me.
The fact that I started working in the wellness industry just made me more aware of food, ingredients and what we put into our bodies.
I am in no position to dish out nutritional or health advice when it comes to my condition because everyone is diffrent. I will leave that to the professionals. However if your diet requires you to eat more veggies, I have an endless list of options on how you can achieve that!
How do you think the lifestyle change has positively affected your pregnancy?
Everyone’s PCOS/endometriosis story is different and has different severities and symptoms. Over the last 7 years I have met so many women with the same condition but totally different. I did fall pregnant 7 months after my initial “you will never have kids diagnosis”. But I can’t credit it to anything particular other than I started looking after myself better and I happened to enter the Wellness industry surrounded by many wise people that were very good at what they do. It is important that you consult health professionals – It’s trial and error and you have to figure out what works for you.
What do you think training as a vegan raw chef has taught you when it comes to flavours and combinations?
I think you become braver when it comes to flavours, textures and certainly looks. I also think that it’s a more forgiving type of cooking. There so much more room for error than say baking that has to be so precise.
What do you think are some of the downsides of raw vegan dishes, and how can less experienced foodies tackle those recipes?
Vegan/raw cooking is very time consuming and it’s an investment of time that not many people have. Also your geographical location is important. For example, it’s very difficult to be raw/vegan in Iceland due to lack of or limited amount of fresh vegetables etc. Therefore my cooking is a mix of raw, cooked, ayurvedic, macrobiotic and generally inspired by my background and culture. I tend to mix many different cooking styles under the vegan/gluten free umbrella. It’s what I have specialized in and love cooking! Creating recipes with interesting ingredients is a challenge and a passion.
How do you think your background and different cultures have affected the way you approach your cooking?
It’s made me fearless in mixing and matching. I cook with intuition as I haven’t trained in a professional kitchen it makes me much less restricted in my approach. There are no rules in my head only a vast number of opportunities.
What is the story behind your side account avo-daily?
It’s a side account that was created from the #avomonday hashtag. I just thought generally speaking everyone is depressed and tired on a Monday. It’s back to work, back to school vibes. I wanted to turn that vibe around into something positive. Avocados are the new “one apple a day” thing and generally make people happy so why not?!
What’s your favourite avo-picture?
Gosh too many to choose from!
How are you looking to educate children when it comes to a more plant based diet?
I think kids get excited when they are part of the process, sowing the seeds, that turn into plants that then become food on our plates. They are more likely to eat vegetables if they are part of the story. But first and foremost kids mimic us. So we set the best example – the more plants you eat as a parent the more your children will follow. I believe in the positive approach of adding more and focusing on that then the negatives. Add as many plants into your diet as you can. Its a really good start.
How do you incorporate this philosophy when it comes to your own daughter?
She is very much involved in the food process. The going to markets and buying produce, to cooking and preparing food at home. She is a very picky eater and has been since the age of two so I have lots of patience. The last thing you want to do is create negativity around food. I give her more of what she loves and persistently and patiently give her room and space to try what she hasn’t yet. Last but not least I set a good example.
Happy Food: Fast, Fresh, Simple Vegan by Bettina Campolucci Bordi (Hardie Grant, £20) is out on 17th May