Olivia Hislop was brought up on organic whole foods, so it was something of a natural progression for her to move into creating raw food treats.
Daughter of Paul and Elizabeth Hislop, proprietors of Hislops Wholefood Cafe in Kaikoura, and granddaughter of Ivan and Ella Hislop, themselves famed for their organic homestead south of the township, she is no stranger to the benefits of healthy food.
Ivan and Ella began their organic journey back in the 1950s, something which at the time would have seemed radical but which has become increasingly mainstream in recent times.
It was in the 1950s that Ivan’s brother, Archie, brought a flourmill to the family homestead which was the catalyst for the business which is now a prominent feature on the highway north of town.
It was the organic whole grain flour which started the burgeoning business, along with organic honey produced from the family’s beehives.
Organic vegetables came later and opening a cafe seemed a logical progression for Olivia’s father, Paul, and his wife Elizabeth.
The cafe opened in 1995 with the goal of making delicious organic wholefoods “the norm”, and since then it has created quite a name for itself.
Olivia, now a mother of two, has worked alongside her family since she was young, starting from helping in the garden with her two brothers.
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“Our main job was pest control, running around with nets catching white butterflies that would eat the greens.
“We would fill a whole Agee jar each and go exchange them for pocket money from our grandparents.”
Now she is helping the business progress to the next phase with her raw food products.
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“Popular in Europe and the United Kingdom, raw cakes are now starting to be recognised a lot more in New Zealand,” she says.
“When I first started making them two years ago, I had to talk people into having a taste but now they are being requested.
“I wanted to create something that was yummy to eat but also really good for you, so using fresh garden vegetables and fruit to brighten and enrich delicious healthy cakes sounded like the perfect thing to try.
“It keeps my 5-year-old interested in veges too!”
It has taken Olivia a year of trial and error, trying different ingredients and methods, to get the recipe just right.
“When I started they were mostly made to be frozen.
“They would be melting in the cabinet so decided to make my own recipes.
“Getting the ratio just right so they don’t melt but still taste nice, that was the hard part.”
Olivia also spent a lot of time researching top quality natural ingredients and their nutritional value.
Brazil nuts are a good source of selenium, something which is lacking in New Zealand soils, while things like pumpkin seeds can offer a good iron boost, she says.
She is a firm believer in using food for health benefits and says eating a variety of food in its whole, raw state is a great way to retain nutrients and get the most out of quality ingredients.
“Cacao beans for example are rich in magnesium and iron, but by the time they are heated and processed with refined powders and sugars, it is rubbish.
“The cakes are raw, but im not super strict about using only raw ingredients – sometimes I like to add toasted nuts to sprinkle on top.
“More raw is good, but the main focus is to encourage more variety of whole foods into everyday eating, enjoying food in the form that’s best for our health.
“Simply put, when we eat foods closest to their natural form they are much easier for our body to digest.
Once refined, processed and overheated, our system just doesn’t recognise it as food anymore, therefore creating a lot of health issues we all deal with day to day, mentally and physically.”
Olivia has worked hard to research the provenance of everything which goes into her raw food products, making sure they are from sustainable sources.
Her cakes and slices are sweetened with dad Paul’s certified organic manuka honey, something she had to trial to get the levels just right and make sure the flavour did not overpower the end product.
All of her ingredients are as natural, organic and whole as possible – she also uses pure maple syrup for sweetening, and coconut nectar for diabetics to avoid the sugar spike.
As well as a variety of cakes and slices in the cabinet at Hislops Cafe – these include chocolate slices, tropical treats and berry cheesecakes, Olivia loves a challenge and will also tailor-make items to cater for individual needs.
“That’s the reason I started trialling raw foods in the first place, so I could cater for friends with allergies.
“Everyone should be able to eat really yummy treats without having to resort to refined and over-processed foods, no matter what their dietary requirements.
“These days some people don’t have many options available and I want to help with that.”
– Kaikoura Star