Jeremy Dixon talks cafes, COVID-19 and cookbooks

Jeremy Dixon and the cover of his new book The Revive Cafe Cookbook 8.

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With the release of number eight in the Revive Café Cookbook series, Jeremy Dixon is now the author of 10 cookbooks, as well as the owner of the café in Auckland and other entrepreneurial healthy-food projects. He talked recently about what he has been up to, his new cookbook—and why he does what he does.

What have you been working on since the last Revive Café Cookbook?

This is my first cookbook in four years! I have been distracted by another business of mine that created a product called Frooze Balls. These are little energy balls made from dried fruit and nuts. This business accidentally became a large multinational food company exporting to Australia and the United States. It required me to focus on it completely and there was no spare time for cookbooks. It was a wonderful experience. But I have recently sold this business to another company, so I now have time to focus my energy back on my mission of sharing healthy food with my cafes, cookbooks and demonstrations.

How have your Revive Cafes weathered the disruptions of the pandemic?

It has been very tough and I have had to close one of my cafes down. We had long lockdowns and many people still work from home. My remaining cafe in Wyndham Street in central Auckland is slowly picking up. It will be some time before things are back to normal in the Auckland business district, but I am optimistic things will come back eventually.

How do you think the experiences of COVID-19 have affected the way people in our communities think about health?

It was interesting that one of the first thing that people did after lockdowns was go and buy unhealthy takeaway food. And people put on a lot of weight baking “treats” during lockdowns. I believe that having a healthy diet and lifestyle is the greatest contributor to being healthy and avoiding getting sick from viruses like COVID-19. However, my observations were that, in general, most people missed this point and spent a lot of time bingeing on unhealthy food.

What is new about the eighth instalment of the Revive Café Cookbook series?

This edition has some amazing new salads and meals from the cafes we have developed over the past few years. This book particularly focuses on breakfast with 23 awesome recipes. I share three of our top-selling muesli recipes. Also I have some fun pretend recipes like fake fried eggs, and bacon. And two really great healthy waffle recipes. If you want to lift the excitement and enjoyment of your breakfasts, give some of these recipes a try!

What is the secret to recipes that are both healthy and delicious?

With vegan and healthy food, you have to put more effort into them, compared with meat- and dairy-based recipes where you get a lot of natural flavour. So you need to think more carefully about adding ingredients that have flavour, like herbs, spices and curry pastes. I also use healthier sweeteners like maple syrup and date paste instead of cane sugar. In addition, an ingredient that features in the book and I have been using lately is cashew butter which gives a lovely creaminess to many recipes.

Why does health and particularly healthy cooking matter to us as a church?

Life is awesome when you have energy and vitality, and are making great decisions, contributing to society and helping others. Your food choices affect your life significantly. The moment your health suffers, you start becoming inwardly focused, with little energy or desire to help others. In addition, if you want to make good spiritual decisions, you need a clear mind to do this. One of the reasons I became a Seventh-day Adventist was because of the great health message our church has.

The Revive Café Cookbooks—including the new eighth cookbook—are available from Adventist bookshops in Australia and New Zealand, or online.

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