Meet Christchurch sisters Margo and Rosa Flanagan who swear by a whole-food, plant-based diet in their new cookbook Two Raw Sisters


Low energy and poor mental health had Margo and Rosa Flanagan trying out the vegetarian diet. They’ve never looked back, but look to the future with their new cookbook Two Raw Sisters.

Words: Tracey Strange Watts

If life is a song, the tune Margo and Rosa Flanagan must be humming is “Sisters are Doing it for Themselves”. Like Venus and Serena, Mary-Kate and Ashley, these two, only a couple of years apart, are using the familial bond to advantage. A few years ago, a short time after returning from a plant-based culinary school in Venice Beach, they launched a Christchurch-based food business. Their first cookbook, Two Raw Sisters, was released this month.

Rosa, the elder of the two at 23, is on the phone, racing between appointments. Life, she says, is exciting but full-on. Even a tiny bit stressful. There’s a new cooking-school to organize, a book to publicize. Ever mindful of what pressure can do to the body, Margo, 21, has read the signs and has taken herself to bed for a pre-emptive rest.

But, then, wellness is the whole point of their enterprise. Through workshops, catering, how-to videos and now a cookbook, they aim to influence, inspire and educate us on how to cook delicious, plant-based food. Not specifically vegan or raw, but everyday meals with loads of veggies. So that Kiwis can be healthy, mindful and grateful.

“We feel people have lost touch with their food, and with what it’s like to be at the peak of their wellness,” they say in the introduction to Two Raw Sisters. “But it’s difficult to get excited about plants or cooking when all you know is stir-frying, boiling and steaming.”

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Both young women understand what it’s like to feel lousy. Each has dealt with significant mental and physical health issues, including eating disorders and chronic fatigue. They suffer from low iron and B12 levels. A few years ago, at 50, their father had a stroke. They say their interest in plant-based eating stems from the need to heal themselves, and those they love.

“At certain times, food has been the enemy,” says Rosa. “But I’ve learned to see the bigger picture. I’ve learned how and why we need food to function, that what I put in equals how I feel.”

THE RAW SISTERS ON THE GUT

“The gut is the stem of every process that goes on in the body. If you have anything wrong with you, whether it be severe health issues or something as simple as stress or tiredness, start with the gut.”

ON RAW FOOD

“Raw-food cooking means that the food is cooked at under 45 degrees Celsius. By cooking under this temperature, you maintain all the beneficial nutrients and enzymes within the food. The drawback? It takes between six and 24 hours to ‘cook’ a meal. It also uses a lot of expensive ingredients.

“So we flipped our thinking… to us, ‘raw’ food is another way to describe whole food, which is food that is as minimally processed as possible.”

ON THE BENEFITS OF BEING ORGANIZED

“The average Kiwi worker spends $100 a week on meals from cafés or restaurants. Preparation is the key to making healthy plant-based eating a cost-efficient, time-efficient, easy way of living – something you can sustain for the rest of your life.

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“Preparing meals and snacks – or components of them – is the way to go. If, for example, you make our Eggplant Falafels and a salad like our Kumara + Lentil Salad with Miso Tahini Dressing at the start of the week, they’ll be waiting for you to scoop into a container for lunch or in the fridge ready to heat up for a five-minute dinner.”


Two Raw Sisters, David Bateman Ltd, RRP $39.99.

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Recipe: Two Raw Sisters’ Vegan Banoffee Pie

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