Agnes Gällhagen – @cashewkitchen on Instagram – is the food creator who captures colorful, beautiful meals through the photo lens in a creative and beautiful way. Her interest in food began at a young age and her food philosophy is about pleasurable eating - nourishing for both body and soul. On the bedside table, Agnes has a salt stone lamp in pink light, crystals and a water glass, and the alarm clock goes off at 06.15. Here, Agnes gives her best recommendations in everything from food, sustainability and sleep, to wonderful writing exercises to start the day in the best way. In addition, we get to see her recipe for a magical porridge, made from oatmeal and with accessories such as berries, tahini, and honey.
Tell us briefly about yourself and what you do
I work as a food creator and run the vego blog Cashew Kitchen, since about five years ago. The blog started as a way for me to explore my interest in food and I found something that felt meaningful to do. I had just dropped out of art school and was looking for something new creative. Food was already my biggest interest then, so once I started creating recipes and photography, it felt just right!
For the past 1.5 years I have lived in Piteå with my boyfriend and our little chihuahua Alice. I'm actually from Stockholm but ended up here as my boyfriend is from Piteå. This small town life suits me much better than the big city. Right now I am writing a cookbook that will be published in the autumn of 2020. It is the most fun thing I have done so far! And a milestone for me.
In addition to food, I am very interested in organic skin care, yoga and health in general. Both for body and soul. I read tarot sometimes, mostly for my own sake, and devour both books and TV series. I probably live mostly as an introvert nerd, although I also love getting in touch with like-minded people.
To all "spirit junkies" out there, I can tell you that my human design is Manifestor, my sun sign is Aries, my moon sign is Scorpio and my ascendant is twin.
When did your interest in food begin?
My interest in food has probably been there since I was little. I especially remember that it developed during high school, when I became a vegetarian and started to help more with the food at home. I used the cooking as a kind of therapeutic break from the studies. During my teens and my first years in my 20s, I developed a lot of fears about food, so my food memories from that period are unfortunately not very positive. It has been a long and rather tricky road to find your way back to the pure joy of food, and I will be honest and say that those fears can still creep in.
Describe your food philosophy
The most important thing in my food philosophy is that cooking and eating should feel pleasurable, as if it gives as much nourishment to the soul as to the body. In other words, there must not be too many restrictions. I mostly eat vegetarian, but am not 100% vegetarian anymore. For me, it has been important to reintroduce certain foods that I previously excluded because I previously thought they would be harmful to my health, and thus prove to myself that I can eat what I want and still feel good. That my body can handle it. I never talk about food as "healthy" or "clean", but always focus on taste, experience and feeling. There is far too much health out there, and that’s not something I want to contribute to.
What does sustainability mean to you? How do you think we can live a more sustainable life?
When I became a vegetarian as a 14-year-old, it was the environment that motivated me. I did not want to contribute to environmental degradation and climate change more than necessary. I still think that the choice to exclude meat is an important thing you can do to reduce your climate footprint. Nowadays I also think a lot about living standards, what we expect to always exist. One thing I challenge myself in is opting out of foods that have been shipped a long way or is out of season (especially during winter). The times I can actually choose something else, I do it. Another big challenge for me is consumption in general, to learn to be happy with what I have and make things and clothes last longer. Scale down and see what is really necessary and does matter. I think we are facing a major transition there. It’s amazing the many new brands that are popping up that actually offer significantly better and more sustainable alternatives! At the same time, I think we need to be careful not to fall into the trap of equally unnecessary consumption, even if it is organic.
How can we eat more sustainably, any recommendations?
The most important thing is to opt out of animal products from time to time. Maybe you start with one meat-free day a week, and then work towards the opposite – one meat day a week and the rest vegetarian! Feel free to look at where the raw materials in the grocery store come from. Many raw materials can also be bought in cans or frozen instead, when they are not in season. For example, tomatoes, broccoli, green beans and cauliflower. Preparing lunch boxes and inventing new dishes from leftovers reduce food waste. Writing an action list in advance is also a great recommendation! This means that we do not make spontaneous purchases. Finally, I want to recommend a real refrigerator cleaning once a week or every other week. There are always things that can come in handy. Especially if you have a well-stocked pantry with tomato paste, coconut milk, spices, wholemeal groats, beans, etc. It will be a good base for the vegetable stumps that remain in the fridge.
When does your alarm clock go off? What does your morning and evening routine look like?
The alarm clock goes off at 6.15 but I’m snoozing for at least half an hour these days. I love early mornings but struggle to get up now that it’s so dark. Once I’m up however I quickly recover! Then I make a cup of tea, light a scented candle and sit on the yoga mat. Usually do a soft warm-up followed by five sun salutations. Some mornings I instead do some writing exercises from a workshop I go to, via tobemagnetic.com. It is in the morning that most of my spiritual work takes place, that is probably why I insist on getting up early despite my body protesting. I would like to have an hour to myself before my partner and dog wake up. After this yoga routine I eat breakfast and right now – porridge with tasty toppings! I follow with reading DN, brew a cup of coffee and then it’s officially working time!
In the evening I go to bed rudely early. Everything after kl. 21 is in my opinion "late", so around 21.20 I start getting ready. I take my supplements (iron and magnesium), brush my teeth (both mine and the dog's) and lubricate my shoulders with oil and a few drops of lavender essential oil. It smells so good and is soothing. Lately I have become very interested in doing my own organic skin care, so in the evening I usually give my dry winter skin a little extra love. A favorite right now is my homemade face oil which includes jojoba oil, rosehip seed oil, evening primrose oil and geranium. Then Alice (our dog) and I lie and cuddle and read in bed for a while before I go to bed around 22. Coziest moment of the day!
What do you have on the nightstand right now?
Deborah Harkness - A Discovery of Witches, a pink salt stone lamp, silicone earplugs, bite splint (incredibly sexy set of sleeping gear here, I know), a bunch of crystals, water glass.
What are your top recommendations for a good night's sleep?
Turn off the TV and phone one hour before going to sleep – read a book instead. Dim the lighting and get a pink salt stone lamp for the bedroom. It gives such a cozy and soothing light! Soft bed linen that is super soft is also a must. Bonus recommendation now in the winter is to sleep with a really fluffy duvet and put a wheat heater there that can heat the bed for a while before I lie down.
I had a lot of problems with sleep before, which I think was because I never unwinded in the evening. I often sat and worked on small things, checked things out on the computer, planned and watched series until I went to sleep. It was difficult to know when to set the limit and "call it a night". Nowadays I never work after dinner, and if I need to do something on the computer or if I want to see a movie I try to do it a little earlier in the evening. So I always go to bed at the same time, almost whether I'm tired or not. Routines help! During periods when I sleep poorly, perhaps due to stress or anxiety, herbal supplements with ashwagandha and valerian are my salvation!
True or false - eating in bed is a big no-no?
Have eaten in bed all my life! Love it. When I lived in Stockholm, I lived in a very small apartment with only a kitchenette, a bed and a tiny table. Then the bed became the "sofa" and the place where I crawled up with my favorite series and my evening coffee after work. There was a lot of granola and bread crumbs to brush off before going to sleep haha.
Who would you like to cook with and have dinner with?
Samin Nosrat seems so heavenly lovely! She is sitting on such crazy, very solid food knowledge. Want to hear her tell us about everything we can cook and teach me all her secret tricks in the kitchen. Here you can watch her and also watch her TV series "Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat" on Netflix.
What is your very best breakfast recommendation?
Oatmeal porridge with berries, tahini and honey (4 servings)
2 dl oatmeal (also called "steel cut" oats)
6 dl water
1 teaspoon salt + extra
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 dl almond milk
2 finely grated carrots
5 dried apricots
Ingredients (golden spice mixture):
2 1/2 tbsp ground turmeric
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon finely supported cardamom seeds
1 teaspoon real vanilla powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 - 1 cream cayenne pepper (can be excluded)
frozen berries, such as lingonberries and blackberries
Rinse the oatmeal thoroughly. Bring to the boil in a large saucepan along with the water and 1 teaspoon of salt. Let simmer on medium heat for 12 minutes. Then add milk, carrot, apricots, coconut oil, spices, and a little more salt. Let simmer on low heat for another 15-20 minutes, or until the porridge is creamy and the oatmeal grains are soft. If necessary, add more milk during cooking time. Stir at regular intervals. Taste and add more salt or spices if necessary.
Serve the porridge hot, topped with apple, lingonberry, peanut butter, honey, a little flake salt and a splash of milk.
Store leftover porridge in the refrigerator. Lasts for at least 4 days.