By Prudence Wade
Ching-He Huang switched to plant-based eating after seeing how it could dramatically change people’s lives.
Her husband started Huang on a “journey of self discovery”, the 42-year-old chef and presenter explains. Within a month of trying it himself, Cho noticed improvements in his asthma, eczema and psoriasis.
Of course, everyone’s body is different and may react differently – it’s worth checking with a medical professional if you’re considering big diet changes, especially if you have existing health conditions – but for them, Huang says it was “quite a revelation”.
It encouraged her to experiment with plant-based foods, which initially felt at odds with her background. “Being a Chinese chef, we experiment, and being a Chinese food connoisseur you’ve got to try everything,” she confesses.
“I’ve always believed in ‘you are what you eat’, [and] a balanced diet,” she explains. “I grew up with my parents and my grandparents, and they eat seasonally.
“Think about yin and yang; balancing hot and cooling foods depending on your body. If you’re tired and stressed, your body’s very yang – if you’re always cold and shivery, then your body’s too yin, you’re having too many yang and fiery foods.”
So how do you balance this yin and yang? Firstly, Huang says: “You literally just need to listen to your gut” – then you’ll be able to properly judge what your body needs. “On a vegan diet, you need to have more garlic, ginger, chillies – more yang dishes,” she explains. “Mostly, yang ingredients are from meat.”
How you cook your meals also plays a part. “Steaming is more yin and stir-frying is more yang,” says Huang.
For Huang, it made sense to adopt a plant-based diet, saying it “aligns with who I am” – and the results make it worth it. Asked how she feels, she says: “Much healthier and lighter, I just have more energy – but obviously everyone should do what’s right for them”.
Huang’s personal journey led her to write Asian Green. It might be Huang’s first fully vegan cookbook but it’s her 10th overall, and stays true to her food ethos of getting “maximum flavour with minimum fuss”.
Mango and Cashew Vegan Cheesecake recipe
For the biscuit base:
200g fruity vegan oat biscuits
3tbsp mixed nut butter
For the cashew ‘cheese’ layer:
200g cashews, soaked in water for 30 minutes then drained and rinsed
200ml coconut milk
400g plain coconut yogurt
1tbsp coconut cream
3tbsp golden syrup
Juice of 1 lime
Pinch of sea salt
For the fresh mango compote:
2 mangos, peeled, stoned and diced into 0.5cm cubes
4tbsp golden syrup
Zest and juice of 1 lime
To make the biscuit base, crush the biscuits in a food processor. Add the nut butter and process until well combined. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and set aside. Clean the food processor.
Place all the cashew ‘cheese’ layer ingredients in the food processor and blend until smooth.
Line the base of a 26cm round glass cheesecake dish with the biscuit and nut butter mixture and press into place. Pour over the blended cashew ‘cheese’ mixture. Cover and let it set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the mango compote. Place the mango and golden syrup in a shallow frying pan over a medium heat. Stir gently to combine. Cook for two to three minutes until the mango has softened and the mixture is slightly sticky. Take off the heat and let cool for 30 minutes. To assemble, remove the ‘cheesecake’ from the refrigerator and top with the cooled mango compote. Just before serving, garnish with the lime zest and juice. Enjoy!
Asian Green: Everyday Plant-based Recipes Inspired By The East by Ching-He Huang is available now