Benevolence is the new cool says the brains behind a new plant-based Kiwi food brand called Ascension Kitchen.
Naturopath, nutritionist and raw foods chef Lauren Glucina is on a mission to bring plant-based food to the masses with an innovative range of organic, raw and vegan desserts under the LIVELY tm Desserts banner. The offering – that includes flavours like Espresso Zest and Banana Cacao – is kind to your body, the earth, and other sentient beings, according to Lauren.
“Consumers are demanding it and therefore it’s an opportune time for a maverick wellness entrepreneur to carve out a niche in healthy places, take plant-power to the masses and revolutionize the frozen food offering.
“Mintel’s 2017 global food and drink report predicts plant-based diets are set to explode into the mainstream this year and cites that veganism has grown a staggering 360 per cent in the last decade.
“People are simply becoming more conscious of what they put into their bodies, and how what they eat impacts the Earth, and those we share it with. The longest-lived people in the world have a predominantly plant-centric diet, so this lifestyle certainly stands us in good stead for the future!”
Proof herself of the positive impact a plant-based diet can have on your health, five years ago Lauren worked in advertising and suffered from severe adrenal fatigue.
Redundancy funded a two-month stint in Bali, where she formally trained as a Raw Foods Chef.
Returning to New Zealand to focus on qualifications in natural and nutritional medicines, she focused her energy on healing her own medical issues through whole foods and building wellness website Ascension Kitchen, which is now one of the most-read blogs in the plant and nutrition niche in Australasia.
Sensing an opportunity to create an income from the blog, Lauren developed two recipe apps and began hosting intimate raw desserts workshops. The immense positive feedback from her classes made her curious to explore the possibility of bringing her raw dessert recipes to the public.
Lauren moved back in with her parents, transformed their home into a test kitchen and threw herself into product development.
18 months and 200 cake recipes later, Lauren describes “It was an industrious and messy few years, so I’m beyond excited to finally bring these desserts to conscious Kiwis.”
LIVELY tm desserts are believed to be the first of their kind and Lauren’s carefully curated range features four products: Espresso Zest, Dark Mint, Mango Lassi and Banana Cacao. Somewhere between an ice cream and a cake, they taste purely indulgent, yet are made from natural ingredients.
As a naturopath, it was important to Lauren to avoid common allergens, such as wheat, gluten, dairy, eggs, soy and even nuts – which are actually the usual base of a typical raw dessert. Likewise, the range is free from all commercial nasties such as thickeners, emulsifiers, stabilisers, gums and the like.
The desserts may have a lot of ‘made withouts’ – but taste isn’t one of them. Something alchemical happened during product development: “I arrived at the recipe somewhat organically, allowing intuition to step in and try out what seemed to be never-ending combinations of simple ingredients. The end result is just magic – while an ice cream will dissolve fairly quickly, this has length and incredible mouth feel.”
The ingredients used in the coconut-based desserts are entirely vegan, and organic and fair trade where possible. Lauren’s even had a custom vanilla extract developed as most use alcohol derived from whey.
LIVELY tm Desserts contain no cane sugar, sweetened naturally instead with whole fruits, organic brown rice syrup and a dash of pure stevia.
The packaging is also plant-based – animal fat is often used in plastics whilst glues and gums are frequently derived from animal tissue and bone.
The range is infused with Ayurvedic spices, superfoods and premium quality pure essential oils, Glucina says. “The packaging is just as magical as the product. They make the perfect gift to bring along to a dinner party.” And, in the spirit of spreading a little joy, there is even a gold-embossed positive mantra on the lid of each dessert.
“There have been naysayers at every turn, but it only motivated me more. I kept reminding myself – if it was easy, everyone would be doing it,” Glucina says. “Besides, no man’s army can stop a good idea whose time has come. I’ve got plenty more products in development so I’m hoping Kiwis respond well to my first range!”