Vegan in Auckland, New Zealand

Vegan in Auckland

It’s been nearly six (!) months since my trip to New Zealand, and I’ve neglected an important post-travel duty: reporting back on the vegan-friendliness of my destination! Auckland was my home base on the North Island, since that’s where my friend K. was living and working at the time. Neither of us is much of a spendthrift, so we cooked and ate quite a few meals at her house, simple stuff like pasta, mostly. But Auckland proper is definitely vegan-friendly; when I was out and about, I ate perfectly well. I’ll share some of my favorites here, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention An Auckland Vegan, an Auckland-based blog where Moira highlights pretty much everything vegan you can get in Auckland. I used it as research before my trip and wrote down the addresses to have on hand, since I didn’t have a working smartphone with me in New Zealand, and free WiFi access is pretty rare. If you’re heading to Auckland, these are the places I recommend!

Little Bird

My favorite eatery, hands-down, was Little Bird. This brand includes a few brick-and-mortar locations of their Unbakery, along with products sold throughout the North Island. Little Bird offers organic, raw, and mostly gluten-free delicacies, mostly of the sweet variety. Everything is creative, fresh, and absolutely scrumptious.

For the vegan traveler, the Unbakery location at the Britomart Transport Centre is superbly convenient. Britomart is Auckland’s transit hub, where you can catch a local bus or any of the tourist lines. It also houses a railway station, and it’s just across the street from Queen’s Wharf, where you can hop a ferry to loads of locations. If you take the airport bus, you’ll get dropped off right across the street from Britomart.

I sought refuge from the rain at the Unbakery one extremely stormy morning after a failed attempt to visit Tiritiri Matangi, an open wildlife sanctuary on an island accessible only by ferry. The storms were too heavy to safely run the ferry that morning, which I only discovered after getting up early and schlepping down to the wharf from my home base in Kohimarama. Not to be discouraged, I changed my plans, bought ferry tickets to Waiheke Island instead, and made my way across the street to Little Bird to warm up and get a sweet treat while I waited for the ferry.

On that particular morning, I was the first patron, and the two women at the till were friendly and chatty. They pointed out which items in the bakery case included honey so I could avoid those. I selected a coconut berry slice and a cup of English breakfast tea for right then, and a caramel slice and a Matcha and Mint Almond Milk for later.

Little Bird Unbakery

Although the Britomart location is meant to be take-out only (it’s a smidge of a shop!), my new bakery friends graciously let me sit inside and eat since it was pouring buckets outdoors. The tea was perfect for my cold self, and the berry slice was heavenly. I ended up drinking the Matcha-Mint milk then too, and it was by far one of the best raw nut milks I’ve ever had: incredibly smooth, which just a hint of mint. Heavenly! These snacks weren’t cheap, but I considered them wholly worth the money. And isn’t that little glass jar so sweet? I kept it and keep it my kitchen to store dried rosemary — you can see it in a photo from my VeganMoFo kitchen tour!

I went back to Little Bird the very next morning while I waited to catch a bus down to Rotorua. The weather was much nicer that day, so I got a chia pudding to go and ate it in a nearby parkLittle Bird Chia Seed PuddingLittle Bird’s chia pudding is incredible. It’s made with coconut milk and topped with coconut cream, chocolate sauce, raspberry jam, fresh pineapple, granola, and goji berries — all raw. This healthy breakfast felt tasted a decadent dessert! It was easily the best thing I ate in New Zealand. No joke! Can you see why Little Bird was my favorite place to eat in Auckland?!


One night, on the way back from a long day on Rangitoto and in the city, K. and I decided to forgo cooking dinner. Instead, we stopped at an Indian takeaway shop right near her place in Kohimarama. If you find yourself in the suburbs, Himalaya offers lots of options that can be made dairy-free. It’s your standard Indian fare, perhaps a bit less spicy than what you get stateside, but I thoroughly enjoyed the two curries we picked up. They’re pricy, but you’ll have leftovers!

 Revive Café

K. clued me in to Revive and took me out for lunch there right before I caught the bus back to the airport to head home. I love the concept: fresh, healthy, mostly plant-based salads and soups served a la carte. For a (low!) set price, you can choose a combination of soups and salads, usually two salads and one soup. The menu changes daily, and ingredients are clearly labeled. I wish I could remember exactly what I ate (and I wish I took photos!), but I know I had an Israeli couscous-butternut squash salad that was scrumptious. K. confessed that she ate lunch there more often than she’d like, but she couldn’t resist the low price and uber-healthy options! The lunch hour crowd proved that Revive’s mission is a welcome one, especially to folks who want something nourishing and filling on their lunch break.

La Cigale French Market

Don’t let the name fool you — La Cigale French Market is really just a farmer’s market in disguise. In a bit of a post-long-haul-flight haze on my first morning in New Zealand, I assented to a trip to the market to meet up with some of K.’s work friends. My jet lag and the walk — which was uphill, seemingly both ways — rendered me nearly delirious, but I still managed to muster up the energy to be suitably impressed at the French Market’s offerings. With dozens of stalls, both indoors and out, La Cigale has lots to offer vegans. I opted for a cold grain salad from a deli stall, and later kicked myself for not investigating further — there were chocolates, juices, raw vegan sweets, fermented foods, breads, and more! This would be a great place to stock up on snacks for your stay in Auckland. Even though I felt grungy and unfit for public viewing the whole time I was there (my luggage was delayed, so I hadn’t had a chance to shower and change clothes), I enjoyed the vibrant atmosphere and bevy of vegan options.


Needless to say, this is just a tiny sampling of the options on offer for vegans visiting Auckland. I can’t recommend An Auckland Vegan enough when planning your trip; Moira even has a Google map with all the vegan-friendly joints marked up. If you go, tell me your favorite Auckland eats — I’ll have to try them next time I’m in New Zealand!

Fusion Challenge: Pumpkin Biscuits for Humans and Dogs

VeganMoFo 2015 banner

Day 30: Fusion Challenge!

Oh boy, I am taking some LIBERTIES with this prompt.

Typically, “fusion” food combines elements of two (or more) culinary traditions — like curry burritos or Thai pineapple pizza (!). I’m all for merging the best of the best to create super-delicious meals with bold flavors. I even recipe tested for Joni Marie Newman’s fusion-inspired cookbook, Fusion Food in the Vegan Kitchen. But I’m looking at fusion food from a different lens today… the lens of “combining human and dog food.”


Backstory first. Working at The Humane Society of the United States means that I get to bring my dogs to work. We have a strong Pets in the Workplace policy, along with a committee that governs it. It’s a win for humans and dogs alike, in so many ways. But a few weeks ago, we learned that at least one office dog had bordatella, a highly contagious bacterial infection. On the advice of our staff veterinarians, the committee temporarily suspended the PIW policy. For two weeks, our canine companions stayed home, and we humans remembered what it’s like to work somewhere that doesn’t allow dogs. I missed the frequent excuses to get outside, the sound of the occasional bark from somewhere in the building, and the morning rituals when my coworkers (dogs and humans!) greet each other. Of course we all appreciated the caution that prompted the suspension, but it was no fun. And I wished I could explain to Moria and Luna that we weren’t abandoning them at home; they’d be able to return eventually.


My babies!

Tomorrow, though, the dogs are back! And I couldn’t be more excited. I knew I wanted to bake some dog treats to give out to any pup I see tomorrow, and then I thought… why not make some people treats, too? The ultimate fusion food!

(Am I stretching it? Eh. Too bad.)

Dog and People Biscuits

My strategy was to create a base dough that’s then separated in half and flavored for each species. The human variety has sugar and spices, while the dog variety has oats and extra molasses. Note that although you can definitely eat your canine companion’s biscuits, she shouldn’t eat yours — at least not if you include the nutmeg, which isn’t good for pups. And no, these aren’t the most exciting human biscuits, but I have a secret love for chewy, doughy, mildly flavored things I can snack on!

Ed. note: Okay, this is embarrassing. The human biscuits are… not great… the day after baking, so I can’t really recommend them. Instead, you can double the dog-biscuit ingredients and make a LOT of dog treats, or halve the first set of ingredients. I’m sorry!

Pumpkin Biscuits Two Ways
Makes many tiny biscuits

  • 1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, softened
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1 1/2 T blackstrap molasses
  • 1 T cinnamon

For the human biscuits (not recommended)

  • 1 cup + 1 T all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp cloves

For the dog biscuits

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cup rolled oats

Combine the first set of ingredients in a large bowl, then split the dough and move one half into a new bowl. Preheat the oven to 350˚ and oil two cookie pans.

This second bowl will be your human-biscuit bowl. Add all the human-biscuit (HB) ingredients and mix until well-combined; it will take a few minutes to come together. Refrigerate this dough while you prepare the dog-biscuit (DB) dough. To do that, mix in all the DB ingredients. Refrigerate that dough while you roll out the HB dough.

Roll out he HB dough on a well-floured surface with a rolling pin. Using your favorite cookie cutters, cut the dough into shapes. Repeat the process with the DB dough. If your cookie cutters are vastly different sizes, try to group the small biscuits on a single sheet and the large biscuits on another sheet.

Bake small biscuits for about 15 minutes and larger ones for about 18. They’ll harden as they cool, so don’t worry if they’re soft when they come out of the oven.


And with that, I say goodbye to Mofo 2015! I’ve been a little burned out this past week, so honestly I’m not sorry it’s over! But I do like the prompts — Steven and I are already musing about ways to incorporate fun/surprise prompts into my blogging practice, and I have some good ideas. Stay tuned!

…and now I’m gonna go eat some roasted potatoes and Gardein tenders. Night, y’all!

Road Trippin’

VeganMoFo 2015 banner

Day 29: What would you bring on a vegan road trip?

Ha! This prompt is, shall we say, apt. Like anyone who lives juuust too close to family to justify flying, my life involves a lot of road trips. Getting to my parents’ house in Rhode Island from our place in Maryland typically takes eight hours, give or take. (I prefer take.) We’ve had a few nightmarish trips that lasted 11+ hours — not so bad if you’re expecting an 11-hour trip, but pretty bad when your trip is dragging, you’re stuck in traffic, and you just want to collapse in bed because it’s 2:00 in the morning, damn it! Happily, Steven and I have figured out the optimal times to leave to avoid rush hour, so we’ve got Rhode Island road trippin’ down to a science. When we’re both going, we nearly always drive. If it’s just me, though, I’ll leave our single car in Maryland and take advantage of a Southwest sale (they can be as low as $59 each way!) to enjoy the easy-breezy one-hour flight. Or I’ll take the train, which is about six hours long but is a very pretty ride.

Basically, I have road trip cred. (And I haven’t even mentioned the zillions of other road trips I’ve taken, including a month-long trip around the country with my parents and two siblings!)

Now, an eight-hour road trip doesn’t require a ton of snacks, but let’s get real — snacks are as much to keep you busy as to satiate any growling stomachs. Often, I’ll bake a loaf of quick bread or a batch of muffins ahead of time, then supplement with a good variety of crunchy snacks… and water! Because you have to have water.

I’ve actually talked quite a bit about snacking while traveling in the past, because I like to keep my life full of travel-requiring adventures. Most of my tips are for packing snacks for a long journey by plane, but most of the same principles apply to road trips.

Take, for example, my pack o’ snacks from a trip to Italy a few years ago.

Maybe it’s a bit much for a single road trip, but for international travel? Totally appropriate. I packed even more food when I went to New Zealand this past April — because sometimes you need your “travel” snacks to do double duty as regular snacks, just in case you find yourself with an empty tummy in a vegan desert! My strategy is generally pretty simple: give yourself a good mix of sweet and savory, make sure to include truly healthy options, and love thy bars!

Team Burrito!

VeganMoFo 2015 banner

Day 28: Tacos vs. Burritos. Where do you stand on this important issue?

This is too easy. I am wholeheartedly, always and forever, on #teamburrito. Sorry, tiny tacos.

My #1 reason for being pro-burrito is purely pragmatic: Burritos are easier and cleaner to eat! Consider the taco’s construction: It’s basically a tortilla folded in half, but left open on the top and sides. Whether you’re eating soft or hard tacos, so much of the taco filling is exposed that it inevitably comes out. Maybe you’re a weirdo who enjoys it, but I hate the feeling of drippy taco juices streaming out and onto my fingers. So much wasted flavor! So much mess! Plus, that open concept means that more of the filling’s surface is exposed to the outside air. More exposed surface area = more air passing over the filling = a filling that gets colder faster! You can keep your rapidly cooling, inevitably messy taco — I prefer the clean convenience and tightly wrapped warmth of a burrito. Its superior construction means you can add more filling, too, because you don’t have to worry about overstuffing it and having it start falling out the sides.

Not only does a burrito itself stay hotter longer than a taco, but the fact that you stuff all your ingredients in your burrito means that you don’t have to keep those disparate ingredients warm while you’re eating. With a taco, you usually make one at a time, so you’re on the hook to make sure all your ingredients are still warm and ready to go by the time you make the next one. Plus, think of all that wasted time making a new taco! You could be spending that time eating your single, delicious, hot burrito. And let’s get real — a single taco will never fill you up. You have to eat at least three, which means you have three chances for a catastrophic failure, and three times the amount of frustration. I don’t know about you, but frustration is not the feeling I want while I’m eating my dinner!

Now, it’s true that the secret to a compact, secure burrito is all in the wrapping, and it can take a few tries to get it right. But once you do, your burrito most likely won’t let you down! Practicing the art of burrito-wrapping is well-worth your time so you can avoid any unfortunate unraveling incidents.

Truth be told, I grew up eating tacos. But they were always more frustrating than they should have been — whether the hard shell broke in half at my first bite or the soft shell leaked, tacos always had some fatal flaw. I eventually found myself wrapping the bottoms of soft shells, creating a rudimentary proto-burrito in a desperate attempt to corral all the wayward fillings. These days, I forgo the frustration and skip straight to a trusty burrito.

I have zero burrito photos for you today, because we all know what a burrito looks like. I did eat a burrito bowl (a burrito’s inadequate cousin!) for lunch, but frankly it wasn’t very attractive. Refried beans are just not nice to look at.

So… are you #teamburrito or #teamtaco?!


VeganMoFo 2015 banner

Day 27: Favorite herb or spice?

You’d think this prompt would inspire my typical “BUT I CAN’T CHOOSE A FAVORITE!” panic, but it doesn’t! Happily, one spice pushed its way forward without me even giving the question much thought: cumin! I love cumin because of its versatility. It pairs well with so many other spices, and it’s an essential component of lots of flavor profiles. Just imagine taco seasoning or a curry paste without cumin — it’s too crazy to contemplate (regional variants notwithstanding)! A quick search of my blog using the “cumin” keyword reveals lots of mentions throughout the years; I guess I chose wisely! For example, this red lentil soup wouldn’t be the same without cumin.

Sweet Potato & Red Lentil Soup

Hmm… I should’ve called that a stew, not a soup! It’s so thick. Delicious either way, though.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to figure out a way to incorporate cumin into tonight’s dinner!

Snow Drift/Pantry Challenge

VeganMoFo 2015 banner

Day 26: It’s cold and rainy and there’s a snow drift outside your door! 

Wow, it’s cold and rainy and there’s a snow drift?! That’s some weather. Thanks, climate change! Truly, this prompt is really just a pantry challenge — and y’all know how I love a pantry challenge!

I had to set some ground rules for this prompt, though. Roots Market — one of my favorite local grocers — has been celebrating its “grand reopening” throughout the last week, and they’ve been running some great sales. I headed out to Clarksville to stop by and pick up some goodies, like Califia Farms almond milk (two for $7!) and a few Gardein items (buy one, get one free!), along with a pound of organic almonds (on sale for $5.99/lb!). But I didn’t think it would be fair to include anything I bought today, since I wouldn’t have been able to make it out of the house with that big ol’ cold/rain/snowdrift keeping me in. Instead, I used ingredients I already had to put together a super simple, super comforting kale and yellow split pea soup.

Kale and Yellow Split Pea Soup

Truthfully, I didn’t measure everything I put in this soup. If I were snowbound, I likely wouldn’t be worrying about keeping track of everything! And in a soup like this, the proportions don’t really matter; you can’t go wrong. This particular soup was nice and brothy, with lots of kale. Roughly, here’s what went in:

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 big bag of Tuscan kale (from TJ’s)
  • ~1 cup dried yellow split peas
  • ~6 cups water + concentrated veg broth
  • Lotsa spices (coriander, cumin, onion powder, turmeric)

This is exactly the type of thing I’d make on a snow day! I’d also whip up a loaf of crusty homemade bread — because what could be better than hot straight-out-of-the-oven bread when it’s cold outside?! Today, I used this recipe, because I wasn’t in the mood to knead the dough. I don’t have a Dutch oven, so I cooked it in a cast-iron skillet instead. And I didn’t include any herbs because I wanted a simpler bread. It was so simple and surprisingly good. Again, perfect for a snow day! (Or, y’know, a somewhat cool early fall day. Same thing?)

My Favorite Cuisine?!

VeganMoFo 2015 banner

Day 25: Share your favorite cuisine.

Hmph! Today’s prompt is tough; I’m hard-pressed to think of a cuisine I don’t like! My thought process is going something like this:

“I really love Indian food. Dal, curry, naan… is there anything BAD about Indian food?! Nope. I could eat it forever. Oh, but what about Thai? Man. Those flavors are seriously some of my favorite. And I love noodles. Although I also love guacamole. Mmm… Mexican. Really anything from Viva Vegan! is good…”

Can I just say that my favorite cuisine is “anything delicious” and be done with it? Sigh. I’m so boring and indecisive. Really, though, my favorite genre of food is hearty, homey, comfort food. And for me, that’s a blanket term that encompasses quite a few individual ethnic cuisines. For example, I don’t really think of mashed potatoes as comfort food, like a lot of Americans do. But a big ol’ yellow split pea dal? Oh yes, sign me up. And there’s nothing like risotto for a warm-your-belly meal that seems much more complex than it really is.

Butternut Squash Risotto with Sage and Toasted Hazelnuts

Comfort food can be sweet, too — like apple crisp, which reminds me of my mom, or angel cake, which reminds me of my grandma. (Although angel food cake has yet to be veganized, it’s coming! Go aquafaba!)

So maybe this is a cop-out, but hey — my favorite cuisine is comfort food and I ain’t ashamed of it.