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Interview with Paula Ansell of Just Soul Food

Pina Colada Chia Pudding

Paula Ansell

Paula Ansell of Just Soul Food

This week we welcome Paula Ansell of Just Soul Food. Paula is a dedicated raw gluten-free vegan living in Powell River on the Sunshine Coast. After her father received a cancer diagnosis in 2014 Paula set out to find the best way to still have fulfilling treats without all the harmful ingredients and thus Just Soul Food and an entirely new lifestyle came about. Following the interview Paula shares her recipe for Pina Colada Chia Pudding.

 

What was the catalyst in your life that made you decide on a vegan lifestyle?

I was always interested in trying a vegan lifestyle, getting more vegetables into my diet and just to challenge myself really. But it really triggered that change in me, when a good friend of mine, Caitlin suggested I watch a movie called ‘Earthlings’ and that was it, I was vegan. I got to the part where they were throwing dogs in the dumpster and morally I couldn’t turn a blind eye anymore!

Tell us about Just Soul Food. How did you get started?

You know what? it all just happened. I know that may sound funny but it did. I just trusted that this is what I was meant to be doing. I had always loved to work in the kitchen with my sister back in Australia. She’s ridiculously talented when it comes to flavour combinations and cakes (Chocolate Provisions – seriously check her out).

I spent most of my days in the kitchen or wanting to be in the kitchen, creating new things and re-creating old favourites. Then it came to me in a dream and I honestly just followed my intuition from that point on. I really wanted my treats to be free of gluten, dairy, sugar, animal products, grains, or anything artificial or that I deemed to be bad for the body. I wanted them to be as nutritious and as tasty as possible. Also easy on the environment. So with those kinds of guidelines it was really easy to build a business, with so many being health conscious now. The demand is there and I just wanted to be a part of the change for the better in this world and educating the masses on how sweets can be so nutritious.

What is the most challenging aspect of what you do as a small vegan business, and what is the most rewarding?

The most rewarding is seeing these beautiful faces returning every week like I’ve made a difference in their life. I totally understand that for some people, being vegan is a lifestyle they didn’t choose. But to save their lives, they had to adopt this way of living for life. Being a little bit of sunshine in people’s lives is all I ever wanted.

The biggest challenge is showing the other side of the population that not having, milk, cream, butter, eggs and sugar in your dessert isn’t a disaster. I design treats that everyone can and will enjoy. I wasn’t put here to only feed the ‘food sensitive’ population, I’ve got everyone’s taste buds in mind.

You just moved to the Sunshine Coast! What has the response been from the vegan community to having a new option in town?

Incredible really. This town is full of little rays of sunshine, who love every aspect of their community and working together to continue to build it. I love the vegan community here, they opened their arms and their hearts to me overnight. They adopted and accepted me, no questions asked. It’s all about helping each other reach our dreams and goals. We all support one another.

 

Tell us about some of the places you’ve traveled to and how that influences your recipes!

Indonesia was a big one. As most of what they eat is vegetarian and vegan because they grow everything they eat. I mean it’s so hot there most of the time, I couldn’t imagine eating a cooked breakfast at 900 degrees. Huge inspiration for me and their desserts were phenomenal, I could never re-create that kind of stuff. I can’t wait to go back. Cuba, believe it or not was a huge one too. With fields and fields of fruit trees, avocados the size of footballs (seriously), They grow cacao beans in the hills and it’s cheap and deliciously real. Fresh, organic, cheap produce is a massive turn on, for my taste buds. The produce was epic and all organic…because there is no other way of farming there! Of course Australia – my homeland. We just have too many artistic individuals there, making devilishly amazing cakes, treats and sweets.

Who are some bloggers or cookbook authors who have inspired you?

My instagram love is Sobeautifullyreal I would fly back home for one of her cheesecakes. I really would. I have a little bit of a girl crush on Laura Millar – just because she’s simple and unique. NouveauRaw because she is like a unicorn to me.

Being a vegan foodie is a full-time job in itself. How do you stay inspired cooking for yourself when not prepping food for others?

I love food….My diet is very simple, I often have the same things over again. I often find new savory recipes on pinterest because savory is not my strong suit, but all the sweet desserts come from my head and flavours I wanna taste. Hungry taste buds keep you inspired.

What can we expect to see from Just Soul Food in the future?

There will be a book released this year. It will be available in hard cover and E-book form. With loads of dessert making tips and tricks to master the art of ‘desserty’ . Recipes for days with loads of nutritional advice to feed your body for beauty. But for the minute, loads of free content online at my website. Expect to see some deliciously nutritious things on the menu….as always.

Thank you so much to Paula for answering our questions and sharing her recipe! To our readers who want to learn more about Paula’s recipes and blog – you can visit her website at just-soul-food.com or connect with her online: Instagram| Facebook | Pinterest

 

Pina Colada Chia Pudding

Servings: Makes (2) x 12-ounce mason jars

Step 1

The night before: Cut, peel and freeze one-half of a small pineapple.
 The next day, once frozen blend in a high-speed blender until smooth and resembles sorbet. (Set aside)

Step 2

Blend these ingredients in a high-speed blender until smooth.

  • 1 cup Coconut Milk
  • 2 tbsp Lime Juice
  • 1 tbsp Maple Syrup

Step 3
Pour into a bowl and soak 1/3 cup of Chia Seeds.
 Let sit for 30 mins, so the Chia can absorb all of the liquid and become ‘gluggy’ and is easily manageable.

Step 4

Layer in your mason jars in order of heaviest to lightest.
Spoon one layer of Chia mixture, then follow with coconut yoghurt or any other vegan yoghurt (you can find my coconut yoghurt recipe on my blog) followed by a layer of pineapple sorbet and repeat until the jar is full.
Garnish with a some lime zest and a slice of pineapple.

Anna’s notes: Check for sweetness before adding chia seeds to the coconut milk, particularly if using unsweetened yogurt. If your pineapple is too sour, drizzle with a bit more maple syrup.


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2 Responses to “Interview with Paula Ansell of Just Soul Food

  • I just happened upon your rockin’ blog via Twitter, and so glad I did! Love the intriguing interviews, and your lish-looking recipes! Pinned this chia pudding, and thanks! –g

    • Vegan Creative
      4 months ago

      Hi Ginger Wroot! So happy you found us and are enjoying the blog! Thank you so much for the lovely comment and pinning one of our interviewees recipes!

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