Focusing on delicious vegan dishes and cruelty-free food, The Tofu Diaries combines recipes and foodie ideas with founder, Natalie Tamara’s love of travel and cooking to create a mouth-watering online destination! We catch up with Natalie to find out where the idea for The Tofu Diaries began.
Q: Tell us a little bit about The Tofu Diaries:
The Tofu Diaries is a food, travel and lifestyle blog that, hopefully, shows that being vegan and living compassionately can be both adventurous and delicious!
Q: What made you decide to begin The Tofu Diaries?
I was planning a trip back in 2010 – an overland journey from Hong Kong to Prague - and found that, at that time, there was such a lack of information about being vegetarian in the various countries I would be going through. Once I got started on the trip, I found so much incredible meat-free food and learnt all kinds of quirky ways to get by in the face of language and cultural barriers that I decided to start a blog to share this knowledge. In reality, it wasn’t until a few years later that I actually took the plunge and launched The Tofu Diaries in January 2014. I also decided to cover more topics than purely vegetarian travel. The name, however, is the original name my travel companion suggested on that trip!
Q: Have your tastes and styles changed since you began your blog?
There have probably been two main changes: the first is that I have transitioned from a vegetarian diet to a fully vegan diet – it was around 80% vegan previously. The second is more subtle: when I started The Tofu Diaries I was living in a shared house with an unattractive kitchen and a fear of “having nice things” lest they get damaged. I now live with my partner (and our very big fluffy cat) and can have nice things – which make for better photo props! It also means there’s more room to set things up for a photoshoot. I suppose this hasn’t so much been a change in taste, but the chance to show more of it on my blog and in my food photography.
Q: Where do you look for inspiration for creating blog posts?
Travel, exotic and seasonal ingredients and eating out; all the things I do in my everyday life provide far more inspiration for me than magazines or following trends.
Q: Do you ever have any cooking disasters?
Fortunately, I don’t tend to have many disasters but I’m 100% guilty of not labelling things before I put them in the freezer. I’m always cooking in bulk to get through busy working weeks, but my lunch is often a mystery until it’s been defrosted and heated up!
Q: Can you describe your interior style?
It’s eclectic - I want everything to have character and a story behind it. When decorating my current home I also fell in love with modern, Scandinavian-inspired designs. I’ve therefore opted for neutrals such as whites, greys and creams with shades of blue and mustard. Having a limited colour palette for the statement pieces really brings it together into a coherent story for me. I love incorporating my own photography too by choosing images that fit the atmosphere and colours of a room.
Q: What’s your food styling golden rule?
I can’t say I’ve nailed food styling enough yet to have a golden rule, so maybe my answer should be “persevere”. Having said that, the best tip I’ve picked up has got to be the 80/20 trick: 80% of the food should be where it was naturally placed and the other 20% should be styled and carefully placed.
Q: Can you give us your top recipe tips?
Don’t get too caught up in the recipe. I know it might sound counter-intuitive, but I think it can take the fun out of things if you’re too cautious about sticking to it. For example, don’t fret if you can’t get hold of the exact ingredients as there’s nearly always a substitute out there. Also, trust your instincts when you’re cooking; some of my best ideas come when I’m already halfway through cooking a dish. Aside from that, make sure that your dried herbs are no more than about two years old as they lose their flavour rapidly after a certain point.
Q: Which is your favourite Houseology brand and why?
It has to be Le Creuset! They’re such an iconic brand and one truly worthy of their reputation – I fully expect the Le Creuset pieces in my kitchen (of which there are many!) to last a lifetime.