The effervescent Two Raw Sisters discuss good health, their love of vegetables and why it's okay to take shortcuts in the kitchen.
Margo and Rosa Flanagan are the Two Raw Sisters, authors of best-selling books, cooks, and advocates of a plant-based lifestyle. They’re also Be Well and eatwell.co.nz’s new columnists, and will be sharing recipes, knowledge and insight in upcoming issues.
The sisters are looking forward to the launch of their second cookbook later this week, All Eaters Welcome. The title is reflective of the Raw Sisters' approach to cooking, food and teaching. Just a few years ago, in their hometown of Christchurch, the pair started their unique brand of cooking classes, aimed at helping people to love fresh, healthy food, teaching everyone from novice cooks to children and timepoor parents.
Rosa and Margo's affinity for healthy food didn’t come easily, and their personal journeys are reflected in the compassionate way they teach. Older sister Rosa, 24, has struggled with an eating disorder and Margo, 22, with chronic fatigue. Looking to rekindle her love of food, Rosa undertook a degree in nutrition, while Margo learned how her condition could be alleviated through a plant-based diet.
With an infectious enthusiasm the sisters set out to share their newfound love of plant-based eating through hands-on workshops —a move that brought things very close to home. “We ran all our workshops from our parents’ kitchen for about a year,” laughs Rosa. “We were doing it four nights a week. We were then invited to join this big commercial kitchen in Christchurch and we just thought, 'Let’s do it'.”
The popularity of the workshops has a lot to do with their fuss-free approach. “We just show people who we are. People prefer that natural approach,” says Margo. Their teaching style aims to give people the skills to throw something together, without having to always rely on a recipe. “Some people are obsessed with using a recipe word for word. We like to use a recipe as a guideline,” says Rosa. “Instead of using packet sauces that are full of sugar,” says Margo, “we tell people to use ginger and tahini, tamari, sesame oil — most people have those in their pantry. Once you have those you can make anything”.
Much like their workshops, All Eaters Welcome is not about restriction, specificity or making things complicated. "Eating healthy is seen as complicated, but it doesn't have to be that way," says Rosa, with Margo adding: "We want to make it easy for people, and fun. We believe in getting people out of stressful, time consuming habits". That means not cutting the skin off pumpkin, something that still amazes their students, says Rosa.
The Two Raw Sister's food is focussed around natural, whole ingredients. "By raw we mean using whole, unprocessed ingredients — we do cook things," says Rosa. The recipes in the new book are approachable and practical. "All Eaters Welcome has a lot more salads, really versatile recipes that people can whip up at any time."
“We think no matter who you are you can relate to wanting to be healthier,” says Margo. The book makes the move towards healthier eating simple, an ethos Rosa and Margo will bring to their column in Be Well magazine and eatwell.co.nz. For a taste of what’s to come, try one of these fresh, plant-based recipes from the sisters' new cookbook.
Dukkah roasted cauliflower and avocado dressing
Pomegranate cumin roasted kumara and potatoes with hemp aioli
Two Raw Sisters All Eaters Welcome by Rosa and Margo Flanagan, $40, published by Bateman Books. Available Friday October 9, 2020.