Saturday, May 31, 2014

weekend reading

A few travel inspired links in the mix here this weekend as a result of our road trip. We are very happy to be settling into Byron Bay and surrounds for the next little while...

The photo is of River at Bondi Grower's market - Thankyou Kellie for suggesting we meet there, it was such a delight to meet you and Olive and Clancy in real life. Great chai at the market by the way.

Bellingen worked its charm on us this week. Thankyou Jay, Scott, Ilo & Poe for your beautiful hospitality xx

If you have a spare million in the bank, the gorgeous Bellingen backpackers is for sale

Flicking through My Darling Lemon Thyme at Jay's dining table made me want to buy a copy soon!

I'm homeschooling River on the road, so I was interested in Tsh's post on the subject

I like Sarah's recipes and tips for healthy travel posts: 

Have you visited Erin in her new space? I am so glad she didn't quit blogging for good.

Veggie gardeners, take inspiration from Soulemama

If you are writing an ebook or wondering where to start, and you can get yourself to Melbourne on Saturday 14th June, I recommend booking into my friend Sam's Publish your Passion workshop.

I'm looking forward to a little more regular posting this week. Happy weekending everyone xx

Monday, May 26, 2014

notes from the road

Regular readers here will know that my family and I are on a working road trip from our home on the Mornington Peninsula up to Cape York in Far North Queensland. The working part relates to the work my husband Pete is doing with Indigenous communities around Australia you can read more about that at and

Despite having a myriad of stories to share with you already after only being away for 10 days, blogging on the road hasn't proved easy due to inconsistent internet access. Bear with me I am still thinking of you! And will post when I can, including getting back to the step-by-step series.

Highlights so far:

*Sunrise ceremony with Yuin Elder Uncle Max Harrison just outside of Bermagui.

* Meeting Kellie from dear olive at Bondi Grower's market. The market was crazy busy; Kellie, Olive and Clancy were as divine in real life as they are online.

* Child free time in Sydney with my old friend Anna that included lunch and cocktails at The Grounds.

* Wholefood and friendship in Bermagui where we ate prawns caught by our friend Adrian, sourdough prepared by his wife Steph topped with honey harvested from Adrian's beehives, taylor and salmon caught by Pete and Adrian and sons.

* Coffee and chai at mister jones in Bermagui.

* Discovering new to me wholefood stores and markets, I am compiling a list to add to the blog.

*The feeling of freedom and sense of possibility and creative inspiration that comes with being on the road.

There have been challenges too, long days in the car with two young children are not easy. It is taking some time to find our family rhythm of life on the road (24/7 together!) but that is part of the fun too. There is much more to say, I am taking notes and will share more soon. I hope you are all well and enjoying your wholefood path.

If you want to follow our trip on instagram you can find me @wholefoodmama or on facebook here.

Bye for now xxx

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

stills collection: on the road

1. Grandpa's Garden - Narooma's home of organic fruit and vegetables

2. Bermagui sunshine through the trees

3. My 'desk' this week. I know, mesmerising view

4. Salting eggplant for homemade pizza in our friend's kitchen

5. The beautiful home of our lovely friends who made us so welcome in Bermagui, where many fresh fish and prawn meals were shared. Thankyou!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

feel the fear and cook it anyway

I am writing this for all the mamas who cook with a knot of anxiety in their stomachs and hearts each night. Wondering as they cook, will they eat it? Will there be tears or tantrums?

For the sake of peace and sanity many mothers 'give in' to their children's food likes and dislikes. They bend and weave their way through feeding their children in the small hope that they just eat something.

Falling into the pattern of mono cooking can easily happen - pasta, meat and potatoes, pasta, rice, meat and potatoes - I understand how it happens, really I do. However, it isn't doing anyone any favours. It is so boring to cook this way when we live in a world with so much beautiful food variety, and it is not in any way encouraging our children to eat a wide variety of foods, particularly the all important vegetables. If you think of vegetables as nature's multivitamin pill it makes sense that to get the most nutrients we all need to eat a variety, not just the same two or three over and over. My friend Sally says, "we need to eat a rainbow." This is a good thing to teach and regularly remind our children.

My eldest son River (age 7) is willing to taste absolutely anything from broccoli to brussel sprouts to blue cheese to scallops whatever it is he will at the very least take a bite. When it comes to vegetables my other son, Sol (age 4) is not willing. "I'll eat vegetables when I'm five" he tells me. "I only like carrots in soup" he says.

Occasionally I find Sol's defiance challenging but most of the time I am not phased, I continue to put vegetables on his plate and in his lunchbox, I continue to cook a wide variety of meals with varied ingredients and flavours. Sol knows the dinner table rules, what is served is dinner and he can decide how much he eats and if he eats at all. There is always something on his plate that I know he eats.

Sure I still make their favorites - spag bol (with heaps of veggies grated in), chicken schnitzel and mash potato, home made fish and chips - but I also cook or prepare stews, soups, salads, sushi, rice paper rolls, homemade vegetable pies, tacos, homemade burgers, dahl, roasted meats and roasted vegetables and so on.

When I cook something they haven't tried before I sometimes involve them in the cooking process, this can increase the likelihood of them eating it. I always announce the meal to them with enthusiasm not hesitation and I casually plant the idea in their head that they will love it as I model to them how much I enjoy eating it. I want my sons to develop a taste for a wide variety of good food and they can't do that if I serve them the same thing over and over just because I know they will eat it.

If you've fallen into a bit of a pasta rut it is time to branch out and have another go at presenting a colourful array of vegetables to your family, to introduce some new flavours or ingredients. And to do so with enthusiasm, from a place of leadership not fear.

Can you relate to this post? Share your story in the comments.

Monday, May 19, 2014

wholefood step-by-step: #19 (herb &) spice up your life

Cinnamon, tumeric, ginger, paprika, nutmeg, chilli what a bland old world it would be without you. But more than just your flavours it is your aromas and medicinal qualities that you bring to our kitchens and cooking that I am thankful for.

It is easy to fall into a habit of using the same flavours in our cooking, flavours that we grew up with, that we know go together and are confident will make a dish sing.

I was inspired to write this post to encourage you to step outside your herb and spice comfort zone and seek out flavours you haven't tried, do some research, find recipes that perhaps use your favorite everyday spices in ways that you wouldn't have thought to. Or skip the recipe and create your own.

For me, it is this creative, unexpected use of flavours that sets good food apart from memorable meals. Like Robin's spaghetti bolognaise with star anise, or any of Rachel's recipes in the Hungry Girls cookbooks. Pete Evans recipes too make great use of many flavours taking simple meatballs or a plain piece of fish to something memorable without any fancy cooking techniques, rather it is the combination of flavours that set the recipes apart.

If you need to dust the cobwebs off your dried herb and spice rack and restock it, I recommend Gourmet Organic Herbs I buy them at my local health foodstore but you can buy them online here. Whether you buy organic, or non-organic from the supermarket, the main thing is that you have them on hand and they are not out of date.

And if you are reading this thinking, there is no way my kids will eat coriander, cumin, tumeric and so on I say to you, give them a go you will be surprised! Part of what needs to happen in the food culture we create for our children is to develop their tastes for things outside of sugar and salt and the way to do this is to cook with a wider variety of fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices. These foods are nature's medicine and if we stay with thoughts of what they won't eat then that will be the reality. We must put aside our own stumbling blocks to what our children will eat and just cook, cook with love and flavour and keep presenting real, flavoursome food over and over and over again and they will eat it I promise! And more than that, in time they will love it.

The weather is cooling here in Australia so it is a good time to cook with warming spices such as chilli, ginger, cloves and cinnamon. Give my dahl recipe a go. Or enjoy a warming cup of chai.

How is your spice rack looking? What are your favorites?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

thursday recipe: baba ganoush (eggplant dip)

If you've never made this you must. You will never buy commercially made baba ganoush again. I made this on Mother's Day to take to our shared lunch at my aunty's house. It was a beautiful day both weather wise and company wise. I hope you had a beautiful day too. And if you didn't, breathe a sigh of relief it's over for another year and know that next year it may just be your best one yet! It's a funny thing about Mother's Day, it can be a day of such mixed emotions. Anyway back to the dip...

I really love eggplant if it is cooked well. Grilled eggplant, eggplant moussaka, stuffed eggplant, baba ganoush I love it all. For this dip I used two medium size eggplant, wrapped them in foil and then nestled them into the coals inside our woodheater. I turned them from time to time until they were deliciously soft. I removed them from the fire and let them cool just enough to touch and peel back the skin. I then put the cooked eggplant into the food processor along with 1/2 cup of tahini, the juice of two lemons, 2 garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, a good pinch of sea salt and a handful of parsley. So simple and so heavenly in flavour.

My aunty's mother-in-law who is in her eighties and loved the dip told me it was the first time she'd ever eaten eggplant. I was happy I made it just so that Nana Cel tried eggplant for the first time!

If you've never tried eggplant before or would like to introduce it to your children give this recipe a go and if you like it share it with your friends.

I'm writing this the night before we set off. The packing is calling me back to it...gee there's always a lot to sort out when going away!

More soon. Looking forward to my first post from the road. x

Baba ganoush


2 or 3 medium eggplant, char grilled or roasted and peeled
1/2 cup tahini
juice of 2 lemons
2 garlic cloves crushed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
a good pinch of sea salt
handful of fresh parsley

(adjust lemon juice, salt and garlic to your taste)

To make

- To get the traditional smoky flavour of baba ganoush, grill the eggplants whole over an open flame until the skin is blistered and the flesh soft. If you don't have a gas flame or woodfire to do this in, roast the eggplant in the oven. Roasting in the oven won't give you the smoky flavour but it will still be supremely more delicious than most commercially made versions.
- Place peeled, cooked eggplant and all other ingredients into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Garnish with fresh herbs. Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

wholefood mama & family are hitting the road...

I've been meaning to post about this for a while but somehow life got full busy as it does and now Thursday, our departure date is almost here.

This trip has been brewing for a while. I think I've resisted writing about it here because it makes it real! I am excited about travelling up the east coast of Australia with my family but I'm also a bit dare I say, anxious. I'm a Virgo, we do anxious and calm well.

It will be a work trip. I will continue to write both here and the plan is to foray into some travel writing. And Pete who some of you know is a photographer and author will be working in remote Indigenous communities and also doing some photography workshops and book presentations along the way.

I will be homeschooling River and Sol. I'll just write that again so it sinks in, I will be homeschooling River and Sol. Yes ok, I'm a bit nervous about that. Feels like a big thing for them to be missing almost two terms of school and kinder. I trust I am completely capable of making sure that they read, write, count and be creative every day, but then my irrational brain chimes in and reminds me how happy they are at school and kinder, how they (& I) really like the rhythm of our days and that life on the road is going to be, a bit well, unpredictable.

Despite working as a freelancer for the last 13 years I actually really like routine or rhythm whatever you prefer to call it. I know I will find our new rhythm on the road, but I also know it will take some adjusting to.

Before I start sounding like a completely neurotic woman and you click over to another blog because you wish you were going on a road trip and you can't bear to read another word of my fretting, this post is also to let you know that the frequency of posting may change a bit too. I am hoping to regale you with wholefood travel tales but if I disappear for a few days its because there's no WiFi!

What I am looking forward to is time with friends in Bermagui, time with beautiful Jay and her family in Bellingen, time exploring Sydney with the boys while Pete works, and time in Byron our home away from home. After that, no dates and places are set yet. Oh catching up with the girls from Confetti Mag when we reach Townsville. My mind hasn't made it past Byron yet. Past my comfort zone. Perhaps I will get to meet a few more of you at farmer's markets and health food stores along the coast...

While we are away River will turn 8 and I will turn 40. And we will have our eyes peeled for our potential new home in the warmer northern this space xxx

Have you ever been on an extended road trip with children? Tell me the highlights and lowlights. Or do you dream of doing it but haven't worked out how to make it happen. I'd love to hear.

Friday, May 09, 2014

weekend wholefood reading

How fun does this look?!

Rhubarb tart? Yes please. Along with every other recipe on OSTRO.

Bloggers I think you'll find this post from Tsh Oxenrider interesting

As well as this behind the scenes post from chef, nutritionist and food blogger Nicola Galloway

Love this. 10 Things Everyone Can Learn from Paleo (even if you hate it).

If you love food blogs, set aside a few hours or perhaps days and click your way through Savuer's 2014 food blog award winners

I enjoyed reading this article from dietician Glenn Cardwell, in it he writes: "Ignore all nutrition advice. Just eat well. And give to charity, hug the kids, help the frail, laught at yourself, read widely, be generous and drink good wine." Sounds like a good plan to me.

Wishing you all a wonderful mother's day on Sunday whatever you are up to. I'll be spending mine with my nan, my aunties and my mother-in-law too! And I can't let the day go by without acknowledging all the mamas who aren't here with us, mine included, and the daughters who miss and remember them always.

See you back here next week. Thanks for visiting. Happy cooking x

Thursday, May 08, 2014

thursday recipe: fig, apple, ginger and almond cake (egg free, refined sugar free)

More cake. I know. We had cake last thursday, but there was a bowl of figs on our bench ripening fast and Pete asked 'can you please make a cake with these?' I don't need much prompting to get baking. So, this is a cake of sorts. Another egg free version. And might I say quite a delicious one. The apple puree means it is very moist and the cooked figs are like jam, the almonds and chia seeds add crunch and texture. I told you it's yummy. With some custard you could have it for dessert. Happy cooking x


1/2 cup of unsweetened apple puree
6 walnut sized figs roughly chopped
2 cups of white spelt flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 - 1 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp maple syrup, extra
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup milk of your choice
1 tbsp chopped raw almonds
1/2 tbsp black chia seeds

To make

Preheat oven to 180 C.
Prepare small loaf tin, grease and line the bottom (I used 22cm x 12cm)
Place flour, baking powder and ginger in a mixing bowl and stir to combine.
Add in apple puree, figs, milk, coconut oil, 1 tbsp maple syrup, apple cider vinegar and stir until combined.
Pour into prepared tin and sprinkle top with almonds and chia seeds, then drizzle 1 tbsp maple syrup over the top. Come to think of it shredded coconut would be nice on the top too!
Bake for 40 minutes or until golden and when skewer is inserted it comes out clean.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

wholefood step-by-step: #18 make your own marinades and salad dressings

When I was growing up, my mum made salad dressing by squeezing the juice of one lemon into a teacup, adding a glug of olive oil, a teaspoon of dried Italian herbs and one chopped garlic clove. She would make that first and then leave it to sit while she prepared the rest of the meal. The last step before announcing that dinner was ready would be to dress the salad. I still love that basic dressing and equally the memory of my mum that it conjures for me. I also remember the many regular barbecues we had and that my mum made her own marinades for the meat. Again there was always garlic involved, olive oil and herbs and sometimes soy sauce, honey or mustard. Always simple. And delicious.

Commercially prepared salad dressings and marinades are perfect products for food manufacturers to fill with sugar, salt, GM oils, and additives that may pack a punch on flavour but can also be not so pleasant to digest and for those sensitive to additives can leave them with nausea, asthma, eczema, migraine, mood and behavioural problems to name a few.

Let's take Kraft Zesty Italian dressing as an example. Ingredients: vinegar, water, soybean oil, canola oil, sugar, salt, garlic* red bell peppers*, onions*, xanthan gum, spice, oleoresin paprika, potassium sorbate and calcium disodium edta (to perserve freshness). *dried

If you're wondering what potassium sorbate (202) and calcium disodium edta are, like I was, in a nutshell they are synthetic preservatives/additives.

As with many food additives approved by Food Standards Australia New Zealand and other food governing bodies these are deemed safe 'in moderation'. I have written before that one person's moderation is another person's overload and of course 'safe in moderation' does not take into account individual sensitivities to additives, or the cumulative effect when consuming a high processed diet. Potassium sorbate for instance can also be found in cheese, ice-cream, bread, pasta, processed meat, dips sauces and wine and skincare products.

Alternatives to commercial marinades and salad dressings

Once you have a few home made marinade and salad dressing ideas you'll never buy commercially prepared additive filled ones again.

Basically you need in your pantry:
acidity (lemon, orange, lime juice or vinegar - apple cider, balsamic, red wine vinegar)
fat (olive oil, sesame oil, yoghurt, macadamia oil, coconut milk)
and then whatever herbs, spices or flavours (mustard, honey, tamari) you like.

And then the ratio is roughly 3 parts oil to 1 part acid and then flavour as desired.

To get you started check out:
Jamie Oliver's quick jam jar dressings
Honey, mustard and sesame marinade (I'd substitute the low salt soy for tamari)

If you want to keep a ready made dressing or marinade on hand read the fine print and avoid ones with additives and GM ingredients. I have used and like Bragg Healthy Vinaigrette and Ozganics Teriyaki.

Do you have a favorite homemade marinade or salad dressing recipe? Or additive free brand that you like? Please share it in the comments and it might become someone else's favorite too!

Friday, May 02, 2014

weekend wholefood reading

Peaceful Mothering - a beautiful yoga mama blog find.

I'm excited about meeting the creative team behind Confetti magazine in real life today!

5 ways to simplify the school week - amen to that!

Pete Evans new book Healthy Every Day is on my radar can't wait to take a look at it.

Have you entered The Healing Feeling giveaway yet? Get in quick the winner is announced 5pm today.

Be Part of the Healing is a sensitive and important campaign my husband Pete has been working on with Elders across Australia to end unprecedented rates of youth suicide in Indigenous communities. A great step forward was taken this week when we heard that the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion has read the Elders' Report and said that it provides great insight into the circumstances and solutions to this tragic loss of life. The next step is for Government to support grassroots healing initiatives.

Wishing each of you a happy wholefood weekend. I'll see you back here next week with the next step in the step-by-step series, a yummy recipe with figs and details of my upcoming family road trip! Thanks for visiting xx

Thursday, May 01, 2014

giveaway: the healing feeling ebook and 3 DVD set

It's been a while between giveaways here and I'm excited about this one! 

One lucky winner will receive The Healing Feeling ebook created by my friend Samantha Gowing Australia's leading spa food chef, nutritionist, passionate organic advocate and business mentor extraordinaire. Plus her 3 DVD set that covers: food as medicine, recipes, health tips and for those in business the DVD's include Sam's social media and online marketing secrets. 

Some of you will remember I went to the Melbourne launch of the print version of The Healing Feeling late last year at the Sustain natural and organic expo. I was so happy to buy my copy hot off the press because I know this book represents a lifetime of work for Sam and for its great, nourishing content!

Anyone who is a sucker for a cookbook that tells a story will love The Healing Feeling. With her trademark humour and positivity Sam shares her story of going from being an award-winning restaurateur and publican to becoming a therapeutic chef as a result of losing her beloved father Dennis Gowing to cancer. For the past 15 years Sam has been teaching and celebrating the ancient wisdom of food as medicine and this book is an extension of that. You'll find beautiful full colour photos, health giving recipes and remedies on every page.

Here's how to enter: 

1. Like Sam's Food Health Wealth facebook page and leave a comment here to let us know you've done so. 

2. Like The Wholefood Mama facebook page and leave a comment here to let us know you've done so (if you are already a liker of my page, thankyou! You are still in the running just leave a comment below)

3. Share the giveaway on social media and leave a comment here to tell us you have.

And for those sensible people who want nothing to do with facebook (it's not as bad as you think, really it isn't! I am a late adopter who is a convert!) simply leave a comment below.

The winner will be chosen by random number generator this Friday May 2nd at 5pm and announced on this page. Good luck!

This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Melanie! Please email me so I can forward your prize. Thanks to everyone who entered.


While I'm here, Sam is hosting two great events one in Melbourne and one in Sydney that I thought might be of interest, particularly as I know many bloggers are writing ebooks and one of the events covers just that topic.

Samantha Gowing, Dr. Nat Kringoudis and Andrew Watt are successful self-published authors and experts in their respective industries of food, wellness and entertainment. In this four hour seminar they team up to share their self-publishing know how. Promising plenty of fun and inspiration, but importantly they pack in loads of practical information about:

-        the process of self-publishing your passion both online and in print
-       the pitfalls and how to avoid them
-       marketing essentials for promoting your book and maximising sales opportunities

Saturday 14th June 2014
10am – 2pm
Venue: Donkey Wheel House, 673 Bourke Street Melbourne

An evening for entrepreneurial women who want inspiration, motivation and practical advice about health, wellness, the organic industry, self-empowerment and leadership. 
Wednesday May 21st
6pm - 9pm
Venue: Hub Sydney, Darlinghurst

thursday recipe: egg free carrot and cinnamon & chia loaf

How did it get to be the first day of May?! It feels like just a couple of weeks ago we were having beach days. The countdown is on in our house as we prepare to hit the road in a couple of weeks and travel to the top of Australia. I'll be writing more about that next week, for now let's get on with today's recipe...

I was out of homemade lunchbox 'snacks' and planned to bake Georgia's carrot slice until I realised that I was also out of eggs. And, as Sol was home from kinder with a temperature and sore throat, popping out to the shops wasn't an option. I decided to try making an egg free carrot cake recipe and I am happy to share the successful result with you here today. It is super easy, moist and nourishing.


2 cups white spelt flour
1 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup organic panela (unrefined cane sugar) you could use rapadura or stevia if you prefer
2 tsp aluminium free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup milk of your choice
1 tbsp black chia seeds

To make

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C
Grease and line
Place flour, baking powder, cinnamon and sugar in a mixing bowl and stir to combine.
Add in carrot and apple cider vinegar and stir until carrot is mixed through flour.
Add in coconut oil and milk and stir until combined. The mixture will be quite wet.
Pour into prepared tin (I used a small loaf tin 22cm x 12cm) and sprinkle top with chia seeds (and/or sunflower seeds and pepitas).
Bake for 40 minutes or until golden and when skewer is inserted it comes out clean.

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