Paula Smit - For the Love of Food

It's that time of year where most of us get to slow down a bit, appreciate quiet moments with family and friends, reflect on the year that has gone by, and set goals for the year ahead. Some of us don't get to experience quite as much slowing down as others, having to work throughout the Christmas & New Year period. If you find yourself in this situation my wish and prayer for you is that you will find small moments of solace and reflection in between the craziness of everyday life.

Meet Paula

If there's one person I know who knows how to see the beauty in small, seemingly ordinary things, and is able to find peace and rest in most situations, it's my dear friend Paula Smit, whom I will be introducing to you today. Paula messaged me about a month ago to share the exciting news that she managed to create the most delicious muffins out of red kidney beans. I thought to myself that I better ask if she would like to share her recipe with all of you, and thankfully she was super keen to do so. So without further ado, I'd like to introduce you to Taste & See Blog's #gamechanger for December :)

I’m excited for the future of food science, not to invent the fastest machines that mass produce cheese, or to mimic the taste of salmon in artificial flavouring, but rather to celebrate, sustain and creatively use nature’s gifts to nurture the nation!
— Paula Smit

Tell us a bit about who you are?

As a little girl, I used to demand a bowl of cooked white rice with a nub of butter, or a melted cheese sandwich - with the crusts removed, please. My dear mother tried all the tricks to get some nutrients into this system. Today, some years later, I am a curious food fanatic who just about eats the entire rainbow of fruits and vegetables (that is what our small boere (farming) town Moorreesburg can offer on a good day...). Guess I'm subconsciously catching up on all the fun I missed out in my younger years! My dad is a wheat farmer, my mother got caught by the corporate world and my little bro likes to lift heavy things in the gym :) They, together with the man I'm unashamedly in love with, are the guinea pigs who get fed all my concoctions. 

Hi, I'm Paula.


What inspired you to study food science? And what are your future hopes and aspirations in the field?

Ah, the inevitable decision one comes across at the end of high school - "What are you going to do with your life?" (a.k.a. - "how are you going to make money?"). I figured that everyone on earth has to eat. Hence my current profession as a fourth-year BSc Food Science student at the University of Stellenbosch. I'm hopeful that this never-ending story of food production will someday become my muse, and not a greedy money making business. I'm excited for the future of food science, not to invent the fastest machines that mass produce cheese, or to mimic the taste of salmon in artificial flavouring, but rather to celebrate, sustain and creatively use nature's gifts to nurture the nation!


What are your top tips for staying healthy (physically, emotionally, and mentally), especially as a busy student?

  • Take the stairs, always.

  • Wake up 15 minutes earlier to stretch before you conquer the day.

  • Resist falling into series addiction, rather spend quality time with a neighbour.

  • Challenge yourself to remember things without a list (okay, this usually causes havoc).

  • Read, a lot. About a lot of things.

  • Sometimes, when all else fails, it is okay to call mother and rage.

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 What is your favourite go-to meal after a busy day?

Crunchy green apple slices dipped in peanut butter, and plain yoghurt with sesame seeds dusted with cinnamon, often carries me through between meals. A mouthful, yes. A soft poached egg and perfectly ripe avocado can also lift me out of any kind of predicament... 


What is your favourite recreational activity? What do you enjoy doing to wind down?

I read cookbooks to clear my mind (just to fill it with crazy ideas for new recipes again). I enjoy exercising, especially outside, and even more so when it's raining! A cup of common English breakfast tea, alongside my mother in her garden - this is my happy place. 


And tips and advice for those who are interested in studying food science?

Food Science is an interesting field of study that very few people know about. This is funny because every single person who purchases food or beverage items at any retail store is relying on food scientists make sure that their food doesn't make them sick! And have you ever thought about how the milk from the udder of a cow made it into the bottle you buy from the shops? As food science students, we do not learn how to debone a chicken, nor how to cook pasta to perfection. We actually learn how to preserve foods, at what temperature lethal bugs get killed, how to improve the shelf life of products, and let me tell you in real life, the people in charge of quality and safety have a lot of paperwork to do! There is also the new product development side of things, where interesting flavours, textures, sweet replacements (hello sugar tax!) and any kind of flashy food product that'll attract mamma's eye on the shelf are created. I believe, however, that the science of food stretches far beyond just that. I'm truly excited to see where this field of study will take me.

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 What inspired you to create this recipe?

I have a bit of an obsession with beans (well, actually an obsession with food in general...). The bean is such a versatile, nutrient-packed little champ and is surprisingly affordable for my wally! The student budget sometimes gets me down. Ai man, why is tahini SO expensive?! Beans effortlessly create texture and flavour, and are very filling. I like to tamper with traditional recipes, which are often not too kind to the waistline, and try to make them a little bit healthier. The look on people's faces when they taste a creamy, cacao moose made from avo. "Wait, what, there's green stuff in here?".

These recipes were inspired by my bean obsession and a love for indulgence. Cupcakes, muffins, and pancakes are all proven to satisfy the soul (hello comfort food!). Sadly, these munchies are typically not very nutritious and often eaten in excess. Life is way too short not to indulge. Stuffed butter bean pancake for lunch anyone? (This recipe will have to be shared in another post sometime soon!). So how about a too-good-to-be-true red kidney bean cupcake? My brother, Frikkie will wholeheartedly answer, NO. Well, what he doesn't know will only do him good! Honestly, the bean substitute can hardly be recognized in the cupcakes and hey, nowadays one can just mention "HIGHER IN PROTEIN" and most people will pay attention :)

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 A few final words...

When you struggle to sleep at night because you decide how to spice up yesterday's leftovers to create a new dish, then you know, you're passionate about food ;) Food brings people together. Stories and troubles are shared around the dinner table. Every meal you get to share with your loved ones is a gift. I truly appreciate this small pleasure God created for mankind - food. I'm proud to say I'm a friend of this lovely lady, Kirstin Mapstone and very excited about her blog, Taste and See. I dream of blogging someday myself. I urgently need to share the wonderful things that keep me awake at night with the world! :)

Ok so now it's time to share the recipe! If you give these a try please tag @tasteandseeblog so we can see your pics :) 


Red Kidney Bean Muffins

Total time: 40min

Makes: 4 muffins


Dry ingredients:

  • 50 ml Whole wheat, stone ground flour

  • 50 ml ground flax seed

  • 50 ml quinoa flour

  • 50 ml good quality baking cacao (I used NOMU)

  • 5 ml baking powder

  • A handful of chopped nuts (I used almonds)

  • * Optionally, add 50 ml fine beetroot to the mix. I had pulp leftover from the juicer and decided to add it for extra moisture and colour!

Wet ingredients:

  • 2 eggs

  • 15 ml honey, in a runny form

  • 1/2 can (± 200 g) red kidney beans, with the brine

For the optional frosting:

  • Cream cheese

  • Honey

  • Strawberries


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

  2. Coat your muffin pan with coconut oil, or line with baking paper.

  3. Sift all the dry ingredients together in a bowl.

  4. In a blender mix together the half can of beans, with the brine, together with the eggs and honey until well blended. The optional beetroot can be added in this step too.

  5. Carefully fold the wet mixture into the dry ingredients. Add the nuts, mix for a turn or two.

  6. Bake in the oven for 25 min

  7. Remove from the oven when done and allow to cool before eating

To make into cupcakes:

  1. Mix cream cheese in a bowl, swirl in honey to taste.

  2. For some variety, blend fresh strawberries in with the cream cheese.

  3. PASTE the muffins with frosting to make delicious cupcakes.Don't be stingy!


  • If you can't get a hold of quinoa flour, add more wheat flour.

  • If you aren't able to tolerate gluten/wheat, substitute the wheat flour with a gluten-free alternative. If you give this a try please let me know so that I can update the recipe accordingly :)