Interview with Minako Umehara-Kazama of 365 Clean Eats
It’s a pleasure to feature Instagram blogger Minako Umehara-Kazama, as her photography and recipes of healthy vegan dishes are so beautiful. Each recipe and photo is a delight to look at. We just had to ask her a few questions about herself and her work.
List du Jour: What inspired you to go vegan? What do you love most about plant-based food?
Have you always been vegan or vegetarian?
Minako: I am not a vegan nor vegetarian, but the experience of volunteering at a vegan café kitchen in Melbourne influenced me to begin vegan cooking. Before working there, I had never eaten delicious vegan food, so I was really impressed how delicious they can be, as well as the creativity that goes behind the preparation of it. After volunteering there, I took online courses at PLANTLAB Culinary (formerly Matthew Kenney Culinary). The course opened the door to various new techniques necessary to elevate my dishes. It has broadened and enhanced my view of plant-based cooking and has inspired me to continue to pursue healthier and tastier dishes that intrigue both the palette and the mind. I enjoy cooking and eating plant based meals and sweets almost every day, but I eat regular meals as well. Vegan cooking is one of the options for me to enjoy a healthy eating lifestyle.
List du Jour: That’s wonderful Minako! It’s so refreshing to know that people embrace plant-based cooking, and more importantly, how people who aren’t entirely vegan enjoy the pleasures of vegan recipes. Can you tell us about who inspires you?
Minako: Instagrammers whom I have been following, and Michael Pollan.
Instagrammers: Their beautiful creations and unique cooking ideas stimulate and inspire me to create more healthy and beautiful dishes.
Michael Pollan: He made me realize the power of every food choice I make. He said that “eating is a momentous decision” because we have the opportunity and power to support different platforms. Before there were only conventional foods at supermarkets. But now, there are organic, local, humane, conventional, and many more options. We can support the environment, the welfare of animals, farmworkers, and our health when we eat our food. And he insists that we should take advantage of that. I can’t agree with him more. His thoughtful approach to healthy eating inspires my way of eating.
List du Jour: Ah, both wonderful inspirational sources! It’s great to see how the way we create our food is inspired by the visual as well as the meaningful. What do you enjoy making in the kitchen?
Minako: I enjoy cooking with vegetables. Since living outside of my country, I really enjoy using vegetables which I can’t get easily in Japan.
List du Jour: Minako-san, since you are native to Japan and currently live in Australia, can you tell us more about your life?
I was born in north Japan. I worked as a graphic and web designer until age 35 when I moved to USA because of my husband’s work. I first lived in California, where the unfamiliar vegetables really intrigued me and catalyzed my passion for food. I then began learning organic farming, which lead to me volunteering at an organic farm when I lived in Georgia. I met people who love vegetable cooking as much as I do, and we started organizing cooking classes using the vegetables that we harvested at the farm.
After moving to Australia, my interest of vegan cooking further blossomed, and the more I learned, the more I wanted to share the joy of vegan cooking with not only my cooking class students but also a wider audience and those who think that vegan cooking is bland and boring. I thought that Instagram was really good tool to share my vegan cooking with a large platform. I want to share delicious and healthy vegan cooking that everyone can enjoy through Instagram, and my wish is to spread the message that vegan dishes can be a healthy and satisfying meal option for everyone.
List du Jour: We drool over your Instagram feed daily! We are so excited to try the recipe you’ve shared, but honestly we’d love to have all of your beautiful recipes in a cookbook! Hopefully you’ll create a cookbook soon, but until then, this raw vegan dessert is a perfect recipe share.
Arigatou Minako-san! ありがとうございます！
Raw Vegan Chocolate Tart Recipe
I want to share this raw vegan chocolate tart. I have been making vegan raw cakes for a while, and the chocolate flavor cakes are my favorite. It is easy to make, and simply scrumptious. ~ Minako Umehara-Kazama
Ingredients: (4 inch x 10 inch x 1 inch mold)
1 cup raw pecan nuts
4 tbsp. desiccated coconut (or more if you desired)
3 tbsp. melted raw cacao butter or melted coconut oil
1 tbsp. raw cacao powder
1 tbsp. raw cacao nib
5 dates (pitted)
Pinch of pink salt
1cup raw cashews (soaked 2-5 hours and rinsed)
¾ cup coconut cream
3 tbsp melted raw cacao butter or melted coconut oil
2 tbsp raw cacao powder
3-4 tbsp maple syrup or agave nectar (add more if you desired)
Pinch of pink salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Add all the ingredients for the crust in a food processor, and blend until well processed but still slightly crumbly.
Press the mixture into a lined tin or a silicon mold.
Put it in a freezer while preparing the filling.
Add all the ingredients for the filling in a food processor, and blend until the mixture becomes smooth texture.
Pour the mixture over the crust, and put it in the freezer until set (at least 2 hours)
Garnish with fruits. Enjoy!