Thursday, May 11, 2006


Autumn has become winter this week in Melbourne! So it's time to do a bit of cold-weather thinking and some cold-weather cooking.

I think it is important at this stage that I should define what I mean by Wholefood. It's probably easier to explain as natural food; food that is as far from fast food as you would undoubtedly expect, but also food that includes whole grains, legumes and pulses cooked from dried and lots of fresh fruit and veggies. With little bit of full-fat yoghurt, organic butter and occasionally some goats cheese. Even the odd bit of full-fat, unhomogenized and organic milk. Fish and on rare, special occasions, good organic meat. This kind of food should be seasonal, healing, nurturing but above all exquisitely beautiful and delicious.

I enjoy cooking and am convinced that if you are so inclined that you should share food as the gift that it is. So few people have time to cook. Fewer people find that time spent cooking is NOT time wasted. This is why we are faced with so many food-related allergies (all that inedible gunk they put in packaged food makes me shudder), obesity and diabetes. Not to mention the way that food affects women and our self-image. Who hasn't looked at those gossip magazines and thought oooohh, hasn't such-and-such gained weight? As though it were either interesting or important! This translates to bad relationships with eating. But food is a healer and nourisher - it's not the enemy.

But so-called health food has an image with a kind of beige-ness to it - so politically correct, so time-consuming to prepare and it often looks unappetizing or too healthy. I reckon that it can be made sexy! It's time for an image change...

So here's a quick meal that is beautiful, warming, health-giving and will make you happier and fuller without gaining weight.

Buckwheat with mushrooms and walnuts

Serves 2

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 cup of whole, un-roasted buckwheat (from health food shops)

2 cups of water or veggie stock

500g of mixed mushrooms, sliced - include some shiitakes

2 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped

1 tablespoon of tamari or soy sauce

1 tablespoon or more of chopped, toasted walnuts or pine nuts

1 tablespoon of finely chopped parsley

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan and fry the buckwheat, stirring all the time, until slightly browned and aromatic. Pour in the water, bring to the boil and then clamp the lid on tightly and reduce the heat. Simmer very gently for about 15 minutes until the buckwheat is very soft and all the water is absorbed.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a frying pan and fry the mushrooms until dark and chewy (about 10 minutes). Add the garlic and tamari and continue to cook for a couple of minutes before stirring into the cooked buckwheat. Garnish with the chopped walnuts and parsley.

Serve, hot, with some steamed broccoli and lemon wedges.

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