Recipe Category: Fiona Smith Issue 200.1



Not only do I imagine we will be encouraged to eat less sugar in the future, but I am growing less and less fond of overly sweet desserts, preferring something fruit based. Sticky date pudding is one of my favourite desserts but, if you think about it, it is sugar on sugar with more sugar. In this recipe I have used the sweetness of dates, apples and orange kūmara to replace the refined sugar. I can’t live without ice cream to serve, but if you really want to be free of refined sugar, serve with plain yoghurt instead.



In my household, gratin is devoured greedily; the youngest is likely to go for double helpings so I always tend to make a lot. It’s an easy recipe to cut down if you need too, but also a brilliant dish for taking to a potluck. I tend to assume there will be at least one vegetarian, so use a vegetable stock rather then chicken. If I know there are vegans or people on a dairy-free regime present then I omit all the dairy, using oil in place of butter, increasing the vegetable stock to replace the cream and instead of the cheese I will often top the gratin with lightly oiled panko crumbs.



With growing awareness of the health and environmental benefits of eating a plant-based diet, I see more and more people turning to plants such as quinoa and hemp seeds to meet their protein needs. In the past these had to be imported, so buying them undid a lot of the environmental reasoning behind why one would choose to eat them (other than their deliciousness, of course). Thankfully, more and more NZ farmers are diversifying their crops to include both plants. Hemp is now grown around the country and sold by numerous companies (search NZ-grown hemp online to buy or ask at your local healthfood store). We also have two families now growing quinoa here in NZ; Kiwi Quinoa in Taihape and New Zealand Quinoa in Taranaki, both products available throughout the country and also online. Not only are these two powerhouse plants nutrient dense, they’re incredibly versatile and can be eaten whole, ground into flour and, in the case of hemp, can be used to make everything from bioplastics and textiles, to insulation (there’s even a Canadian company trialling the world’s first airplane made almost entirely from hemp and powered with hemp oil). Hemp may also prove to be one of our best defences against climate change as the plants are able to breathe in four times the carbon dioxide of trees during its quick 12-14 week growing cycle. They truly are the plants of the future.