Paleo-mythic Diet and Why You Should be Consuming Whole Grains

2014 was the year of the Paleo Diet here in Australia and I have met countless people who have eschewed grains in search of better health. It is time to put to rest the myth that grains are bad for our health. In order to promote better health I pronounce 2015 to be the year of Whole Grains!

Why whole grains? Most people know grains are a source of energy, fibre and B vitamins.  And many people believe they can get all the fibre and B vitamins they need from vegetables so eliminate grains entirely.  However, whole grains have a whole lot more going for them than just fibre and B vitamins.  They are nutritional powerhouses and have been associated with lower risks of Type 2 Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease, Cancer, Inflammation and even weight gain.

So what are whole grains?  Examples include wheat, oats, barley, brown rice, maize (corn), rye, millet, sorghum, teff, triticale, amaranth, buckwheat, farro, freekah, bulgar, emmet, spelt, Kamut and quinoa. Whole grains, according to the American Association of Cereal Chemists International and the FDA in the US, consist of “the intact, ground, cracked or flaked fruit of the grain whose principal components, the starchy endosperm, germ and bran, are present in the same relative proportions as they exist in the intact grain.” Here is an illustration detailing the different components of a whole grain:grain
Continue reading “Paleo-mythic Diet and Why You Should be Consuming Whole Grains”


Caramelised Carrot and Mung Bean Salad

IMG_7987Up until a year ago I had never seen (let alone cooked or eaten) mung beans. I had seen mung beans sprouts in the supermarket but I had never seen the actual dried beans which I think are quite attractive and look like glossy green gems. Here is what they look like uncooked:


Mung beans are incredibly healthy and can be considered a functional food. This means they have a potentially positive effect on health beyond basic nutrition. In addition to containing numerous important nutrients like folate, magnesium, iron, potassium, and fibre, scientific studies have found that mung beans have certain physiological functionalites. These include antitumour activity (see here), antioxidant activity (see here), antidiabetic activity (see here), antihypertensive activity (see here), and the ability to lower plasma cholesterol (see here)  and inhibit LDL oxidation (see here). Wow, who knew? Continue reading “Caramelised Carrot and Mung Bean Salad”

Coconut Carrot Cake Spiced Oatmeal

IMG_7936My family loves oatmeal and we eat it almost every morning. Oatmeal doesn’t have to be boring as you can cook it with a variety of different ingredients to change it’s flavour. This recipe uses the ingredients typically found in carrot cake plus I add coconut and banana to make it even tastier. I like eating this dish as the carrots count towards my 5 serves of vegetables that I try to get each day. And oats are super healthy as they are a whole grain that contain resistant starch. Continue reading “Coconut Carrot Cake Spiced Oatmeal”

Spiced Red Lentils with Cucumber Yoghurt


This beautiful dish is another recipe I adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook Plenty. I love that cookbook and am very excited about getting my hands on Plenty More, the sequel that is coming out in October. I love this dish because it relies on numerous exotic spices to flavour the dish instead of using a lot of salt. Most people in Western (and some Eastern) cultures consume excess salt above the level that is healthy. A high salt diet can not only lead to high blood pressure, but to osteoporosis, obesity, stomach cancer, kidney stones, and stroke. Check out the AWASH (Australia’s Division of World Action on Salt and Health) website here for more information on the health effects of excess salt and tips for reducing your salt intake. Continue reading “Spiced Red Lentils with Cucumber Yoghurt”

Mediterranean Clam Stew with Tuscan Kale and Cabbage

030The Mediterranean Diet has received a lot of press this year as countless studies have uncovered the numerous health benefits of this style of eating. Evidence has shown that the Med Diet can increase lifespan, prevent cancer, protect against metabolic syndrome,control diabetes, ward off Parkinson’s disease, lower your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and elevated “bad” cholesterol levels, and even slash the risk of Alzheimer’s!  In fact, researchers found that women who followed a healthy Mediterranean diet during middle age were about 46% more likely to live past the age of 70 without chronic illness and without physical or mental problems than those with less-healthy diets. You can find that study here.

Continue reading “Mediterranean Clam Stew with Tuscan Kale and Cabbage”

Roasted Vegetables

The results of a comprehensive survey of the dietary habits of Australians were released this week with depressing news. Only 6.8% of Australians are eating the recommended number of serves of vegetables each day. What are the daily recommended number of serves of vegetables?

Age group # of Serves of Vegetables per day
Men 6
Women 5
Children aged 12-18 boys 5 1/2
Children aged 12-18 girls 5
Children aged 9-11 5
Children aged 4-8 4 1/2
Children aged 2-3 2 1/2

One serving equals a 1/2 cup cooked vegetables, 1/2 a medium potato (french fries and chips don’t count!) or 1 cup of raw vegetables like salad.

So how do you get enough serves of vegetables each day? Don’t wait until dinner because it is hard to fit them all in one meal. One way I get my family to meet the recommendations is to roast up a big batch of veggies on Sunday night, store them in a container in the refrigerator, and use them each day to create quick and healthy meals. I promise you, this is a HUGE time saver.

Start with a variety of vegetables. Choose the rainbow and try to pick what’s in season. You can change the mix each week to keep it interesting.
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Kale and Freekeh Salad with Toasted Coconut and Mango Dressing

There is a new grain in town called Freekeh and it is freekehing delicious! It is actually an ancient grain from the Middle East but is relatively new in western countries. Freekeh is a type of wheat that is picked when green and then roasted which causes the grain to be higher in fibre, protein and nutrients including calcium, iron, zinc and potassium. Freekeh is also great for your eyes as it is a rich source of lutein and zeaxanthin, which have been linked with a reduced risk of macular degeneration. Freekeh is also very high in resistant starch, a type of fibre that has been shown to increase the production of ‘butyrate’ in your gut. Butyrate is a short chain fatty acid that has repeatedly been associated with a reduced risk of developing bowel diseases and is thought to help reduce cholesterol by suppressing cholesterol synthesis. See a CSIRO study on freekeh here.

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Sweet and Salty Seaweed Snacks


These toasted nori strips are irresistible, especially to kids! They are crispy and slightly sweet with a hint of salt. You won’t be able to stop at just one! They are ready in 10 minutes and make a perfect after-school snack. Continue reading “Sweet and Salty Seaweed Snacks”

Persian Pomegranate Pumpkin Salad with Baharat, Bulgur and Brussels Sprouts

IMG_7555This colourful warm salad is a celebration of autumn. The flavours are so delicious and unique that I promise even the biggest Brussels sprouts haters will be converted! Bulgur, commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisines, is whole-grain and high in fibre. Pomegranate seeds add beautiful colour to the salad while also increasing the antioxidant content with their polyphenols and high levels of flavonoids that protect against heart disease and cancer. Brussels sprouts, a cruciferous vegetable is on the American Institute for Cancer Research’s list of “Foods that Fight Cancer.”(1) See their website here. They are full of vitamin C, folate, magnesium, vitamin K and glucosinolates (compounds that contain sulphur and nitrogen). Glucosinolates form isothiocyanates and indoles in the body. Isothiocyanates (like sulphoraphane) protect against cancer by binding to proteins in cancer cells and slowing their growth or causing the cancer cells to die. In addition, isothiocyanates and indoles have been shown to decrease inflammation in the body.(2) Continue reading “Persian Pomegranate Pumpkin Salad with Baharat, Bulgur and Brussels Sprouts”

Chipotle Sweet Potato & Bean Chili with Coconut Cornbread

IMG_7517This week is Meat Free Week here in Australia so I am posting a delicious smoky, hearty chili recipe that even the biggest meat eater will love!  I adapted this recipe from a cookbook called Spilling the Beans. The use of chipotle in adobo sauce gives it a smoky flavour, which when combined with beans makes an excellent meat substitute. Chipotles are smoke-dried jalapeño chilies. Here in Australia you can find cans of chipotle in adobo sauce from specialty fruit and veg shops. Continue reading “Chipotle Sweet Potato & Bean Chili with Coconut Cornbread”