Christina Leopold- Addicted To Dates
Christina is the talented blogger behind Addicted To Dates! She shares yummy plant based recipes and aims to show people that you don't have to compromise on treating yourself when vegan. She believes all non-vegan recipes can be recreated in a healthier, cleaner, ethical version. We chatted to Christina about her passions, lifestyle and blog...
Tell us about yourself!
Hey! I'm Christina. I live in the south west of Ireland. I studied a business degree in Culinary arts. Throughout my time in college and since then I have worked in a number of fields. From housekeeping, bar and waitressing to a chef, from direct sales to office administration to accounts which I work in now. My true passion is when I am in the kitchen creating vegan recipes and bringing them to life through photography. I love speaking to people about veganism and spreading the message as much as I can through both social media and the little face to face conversations with work colleagues etc.
When did you start food blogging on Instagram and what inspired you to start?
I started my Instagram account last summer. I was big into watching youtube videos about veganism at the time (still am). I saw Instagram as a great platform to start documenting delicious foods. I wanted to show people how easy it was to replace animal products with plant based alternatives, and that becoming vegan doesn't mean sacrificing taste.
By last September, I realised how much potential Instagram had to reach a wide audience. I invested in my first camera and have been dedicated to vegan recipe development and photography ever since.
How long have you been vegan and what inspired you?
I've been vegan for 2 years and 8 months. I had been vegetarian for 3 years before deciding to go fully vegan. In January 2015, I gave myself a 30-day vegan challenge, initially more for health reasons. I thought that if I could make it through the 30 days then I could go vegan permanently. It was during this time that I began to research more about the lifestyle and watch documentaries which informed me about the cruelty behind the dairy and egg industry. What started as a 30-day challenge turned into a permanent decision and an ethical one. I wouldn't say that I went vegan overnight because I believe veganism is a journey and it's about learning more each day. Unfortunately these days so many products are based on animal exploitation. We are not 'perfect' vegans overnight. We have to stay open to learning and improving each day if we make a mistake, we shouldn't beat ourselves up just grow from it and move forward.
Your vegan desserts are out of this world amazing. Where did you learn your skills from?
Thank you so much! I guess I learned a lot through my college degree about cooking in general, although I was never quite the pastry chef! I don't like ovens! I love applying my skills to raw recipes as I find them much more forgiving and there is so much space for creativity. For example, with raw 'baking' if a mixture is too dry, I can add more moisture to it and get it right. Whereas with baking, I would only find out after it has been cooked that it wasn't right, and then it's a problem! Most baking requires exact measurements, and I love to create something new every week, so I like to be able to add ingredients as I go along to get the recipe right. I get huge inspiration from other Instagram accounts too, there is so much talent out there.
Your Instagram feed is so bright and beautiful! Where do you source all of your fruit and veg from?
Aweee thanks! I get it from a number of places, to be honest. Whilst other people are out clothes shopping or heading to the pub, I'm doing a fruit and veg crawl. I get a lot of fruit and veg from local supermarkets and cooperatives. As I live in the country, if I ever pass through a town or market I have to stop and scope out the fresh produce! I've been to Thailand a few times and one of my favourite parts of the trip is always going to the local market for local tropical fruit. We can't get fresh dragon fruit over here and the papayas aren't so good as they are imported. In an ideal world, I would live in a tropical climate and eat fresh fruit all day.
Your photos are always styled so nicely, what tips and tricks can you share to assist in creating such great images?
You're making me blush now.. Something I find really makes a picture stand out is creating a good depth of field. For example, your main subject ie; smoothie jar should be at the front. Then place a few related items in the background at different distances which appear out of focus.. eg a tea towel a little bit behind the smoothie and then further behind that throw in some fresh fruit. This brings the eye forward to the subject but also makes the image more interesting. Lighting is also really important. I only ever use natural light, I don't ever work with artificial light as I don't have the skills to make it appear natural.
If you had to live off one ingredient for the rest of your life what would it be?
This is a really difficult one. I love so many of them! It would be a toss up between bananas and coconuts. Because they are both so versatile you can make so much with them!
What’s your go-to breakfast?
At the moment I'm loving oatmeal made with cashew milk and a dash of vanilla. Topped with fresh fruit and nut butter. When I have more time on the weekends I make things like parfaits/ nice-creams.
You serve up some pretty amazing dishes in our Coconut Bowls! What has been your favourite so far?
Hmmmm..... Wow you don't make these questions easy! I guess my favourite was probably the Avocado and Asparagus Green Summer salad with creamy garlic dressing.
What is your favourite thing about your Coconut Bowls?
I love that they remind me of being in Thailand. They always make me feel like I should be sitting on a beach watching the waves crash in while eating my smoothie bowl. I also love the fact that something that is normally a 'waste' product is recycled into something so beautiful.
Thanks Christina! Big love from Coconut Bowls ❤
Be inspired and follow Christina's journey over at @addictedtodates