Features & Stories

Q&A with Bettina Campolucci Bordi, author of Happy Vegan Food

“I love using vegetables that people may think of as quite humble and turning them into something fantastic.”

Bettina portrait

“The best plant-based food is fuss-free, simple, easy, inexpensive, and speaks for itself.”

Born in Denmark and brought up in Tanzania and Sweden, Bettina is a chef, cooking teacher, recipe developer, and food writer who specializes in plant-based dishes. Her recipes celebrate flavorful, creative vegan fare, and Bettina puts an emphasis on cooking with the seasons and eating sustainably.

Her multicultural upbringing and love of travel have played a huge part in her career path. She is now a chef on health and wellness retreats all over the world – India and Bali are two of her top destinations.

“I believe that, wherever possible, we should eat seasonally, locally, and from farm to table. We should support small businesses within our communities, and use roots, shoots, and all – cooking waste-free is particularly important to me. The best plant-based food is fuss-free, simple, easy, inexpensive, and speaks for itself,” she says.

Bettina has written three cookbooks, all available on ckbk: 7 Day Vegan Challenge, Celebrate: Plant-Based Recipes for Every Occasion, and her most recent, Happy Vegan Food, published earlier this year.

We asked Bettina about her food influences and what she thinks about vegan sausage rolls…

Q: You aim to demystify plant-based cooking so anyone can give it a try. Are there particular challenges (such as hard-to-find ingredients) that put people off? If so, how do you address them?

I would say keep it simple – the simpler the better. Focus on wholesome, local ingredients, and you will do great! Subscribe to a veg box of your choice (there are many) and cook with what is in season and available. It will be cheaper, more delicious, and will encourage you to cook with ingredients that you might have not bought. 

Q: Are there any plant-based ingredients you think are unsung heroes that should get more love?

My favorites are leeks. They are sweet and delicious, and I love them. Express Leek & Bean Red Curry is an instant dinner I make in minutes. I also like all types of cabbage. When it’s cooked properly, it tastes great. Sautéed red cabbage is the star in Korean-style Bibimbap and my version of Bubble & Squeak is made with butter beans for a protein boost.


Q: The cost of living is a big concern at the moment. Can plant-based cooking also be budget-friendly cooking?

Yes. Again, it goes back to keeping it simple. Focus on grains and pulses and give batch-cooking a go. Buying larger amounts is cost-effective, so putting some in the freezer for another day is a good way to help cut down on expense. My Red Lentil Dhal & Tandoori Chickpeas is perfect for batch-cooking, as is One-Pot Curry in a Hurry.

Making traybakes is useful for the same reason – and allows you to use your oven less, too. I love Middle Eastern flavours, and this Middle Eastern Traybake is a feast of tastes and textures.

Q: There are lots of vegan convenience foods now that imitate meat – vegan ‘sausage’ rolls, Impossible Burgers and the rest. Is cooking from scratch going out of fashion?

No. I think people – families and individuals – do have less time to cook due to work commitments, but I actually think that food is in fashion. We are buying more cookbooks than ever, there are countless cooking shows on TV, restaurant chefs are more creative than ever.

Curry in a Hurry

Perfect for batch-cooking: One-Pot Curry in a Hurry.


The interest in new types of ingredients just shows that people are willing to try new variations on existing themes. You can make great meat-free burgers at home, of course. I think my veggie burger, made with mushrooms, tofu, and black beans, really is The Best Burger You Will Ever Eat. And my Not Sausage Rolls are something that everyone will like, regardless of their food preferences. 

Q: What role does eating locally and seasonally play in your cooking?

Immense. I love hero-ing in-season vegetables in all their glory, using vegetables that people may think of as quite humble and turning them into something fantastic.

For example, I turn leeks into an incredibly sweet and creamy dip in Herbed Crostini with Leek & Tahini Dip. Root veg is often under-used, and my Roasted Swede & Chimichurri gives it real zing.

Roasted Swede & Chimichurri

Roasted Swede & Chimichurri is a dish that delivers real zing.


Q: Are your recipes aimed mainly at vegans or also the vegan-curious?

Most of my followers on social media and blogs are not vegan. I call them the ‘veggie curious’ – people who want to do better but not necessarily go completely vegan. 

Q: Are there benefits anyone can get from incorporating more plant-based meals into their diet?

Yes, absolutely. Everyone can benefit from a varied diet that includes lots of fresh vegetables, which will give you additional fiber. Eating plants that are in season can also be financially beneficial, as in-season vegetables will be less expensive when they are abundant. 

Q: You run events in some amazing locations – wilderness retreats in the UK and retreats in Bali, too. What do you like about being a retreat chef, and what role does food play in these retreats? 

I think food is so important. I run a Retreat Chef Academy, where I teach people all the things they need to know to be successful. As a retreat chef, you are taking clients on a food journey throughout a week. You are there to support and inspire, so it’s a very important role.

Q: To what extent has Balinese/Indonesian food influenced your cooking?

I get inspired by the food of lots of countries. I love Bali, and one of my favourite dishes inspired by the place is Black Rice Pudding with Maple-Glazed Bananas, which is absolutely delish and a firm breakfast dish in Bali. The sambal in my Garlic & Onion Fried Rice, Fresh Sambal & Mashed Avocado was passed on to me when I was running a retreat in Bali, and it gives any dish a bit of added oomph.

Black Rice Pudding with Maple-Glazed Bananas

Balinese cooking has been an influence on Bettina’s cooking – as in this Black Rice Pudding with Maple-Glazed Bananas.


Q: Your book Celebrate: Plant-Based Recipes for Every Occasion focuses on plant-based cooking for special occasions. Do you think vegans and vegetarians can often feel a bit left out from traditional celebratory feasts? Are there any striking centerpiece dishes or party nibbles you especially recommend? 

Celebrate was specifically written so that everyone, regardless of whether they are vegan or vegetarian could be included in a big feast. I’ve created centerpiece dishes that everyone can tuck into, and so that the host doesn’t have to cook five separate versions! The Dinner at Mine chapter is based on dishes that are made for sharing. Some of my favorites are Pea & Mint Fritters with Garlic Mayo, Creamy Sweet Potato and Leek Bake, and Roasted Broccoli with Cheesy Polenta and Chives.

Roasted Broccoli with Cheesy Polenta and Chives

Roasted Broccoli with Cheesy Polenta and Chives is a special dish that everyone can enjoy, regardless of their dietary preference.


For Halloween, my favorite cake recipe is Brown Sugar Spiced Apple Cake and Spiced Pumpkin Pie.

Coming up to the festive season, my Ice Cream Yule Log is a must, as is my big Mince Pie and Mini-Christmas Cake Bites. Forward planners might want to take a look at the Christmas & New Year chapter.

Watch the replay of our Livestream and Q&A with Bettina

On Wed 2nd November 2022, we ran a free ckbk Livestream and Q&A in which Bettina demoed a recipe from Happy Vegan Food, and answered questions about vegan cooking

Watch the replay here.


Try these great recipes from Bettina’s cookbooks

ckbk Premium Members have digital access to the full content of 7 Day Vegan Challenge, Celebrate: Plant-Based Recipes for Every Occasion, and Happy Vegan Food on ckbk, including all recipes and photographs.


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