Spanish Eggs Frittata Baked Beans Stuffed Squid

March 21, 2013

Spanish Eggs

September 24, 2012


September 22, 2012

Baked Beans

September 20, 2012

Stuffed Squid


Food system analysis: A personal reflection

As I mentioned last week, I am currently undertaking a unit called Food Ecology. For my first assignment, I was asked to analyse my personal food system with context to my study. I thought I would share this with you in two parts, as it is a 1600 word assignment. I hope you will enjoy it!


Food is vital for life (Campbell et al., 2009). It is the nourishment that sustains us, and if you are like me, it can also be something that defines us. But I digress, for I can not explain that statement without starting at the beginning. This paper attempts to draw parallels between my own life’s experiences and the food choice process model as seen in the literature (Connors et al., 2001, Furst et al., 1996).


40 Years Ago


In 1971, food was not a conscious choice. I was a baby, and food was something that happened to me. When, where and what I ate was within someone else’s control. Food was a managed affair of parents and offspring, a task designed around meeting basic needs while developing relationships.

Being the daughter of a Maltese migrant, food had a cultural flare and it was during my toddler-hood that I would live in Malta. Food, suddenly, had a new approach as Maltese cuisine has many influences (Billiard, 2006). The availability of fresh produce during the early 1970s was very limited and most produce was bought in from abroad (Ellul and Ellul, 1985). What was on the family table became a matter of chance; what was in the market today? Those minute but deft decisions enacted daily by my grandmother (maternal figure) would start my life long fascination with food.

Fast forward several years to an Australian schoolyard. The tuna, olive oil and tomato paste sandwiches that were common in my lunch box did nothing but alienate me from the other kids. Canteen money was never an option for me. The economic and political climates of the era made my lunchtimes an uncomfortable foray.

A family meal: circa 1971

Family gatherings occurred often, and food always consisted of fresh, home made Maltese foods. This photo from 1971 features my family at a typical weekend family gathering. (L to R) My Aunty Lorraine, Uncle Joe, Dad, Uncle Rick, Nana (who was my maternal figure) and me as an infant smile at my camera wielding Grandfather.

The first decade of my life was heavily influenced by culture and society. Personal food value systems consisted of managing relationships, cost and an emphasis on food availability all of which limited food choices. The established food strategies were heavily steeped in culture.

30 Years Ago


I was a teenager now and could exert some power over my own diet! A part time job afforded me 3 doughnuts a day on the way to school. The hot, sweet treats from CC’s at Rockdale would become my first addiction.

During this time in my life, I ate at home as little as I could. While other kids enjoyed their Sunday roast lamb, we had “stews”. I was embarrassed that my “pet” rabbits were often a part of our dinner plate. I was ashamed of the cultural cuisine that was all that ever graced our table. I longed for things regular kids ate; chips with gravy, Henry’s at Kogarah and McDonalds. It was certainly the overwhelming advertising imagery of the day, but little was known then about the consequences (Dixon et al., 2007, Keller and Schulz, 2011).

The only thing I could remember eating regularly during this phase of my life was an apple. I always loved a good crisp apple. My grandmother would make sure she always had ample, so that I would never go hungry. Hungry: an odd notion as I abstained from food and wasted away to 40kgs and size 7 jeans (Koruth et al., 2012).

The decade of my teens was shaped by social factors. Personal food choices, therefore, became associated with cost and culture, often resulting in negative health outcomes.

20 Years Ago

I was now a young adult, out of home and struggling to make ends meet. I had found some balance with my eating habits and had adopted a “meat, 3 veg” diet (Magee, 2009, Wongkaew, 2013). My (then) fiancé was a butcher, so quality meat was an everyday occurrence. I learned to cook just as my mother in law cooked. Stews four nights a week were common place. Haphazard cooking became an art form, and I relished in it. A can of this, a chunk of that, add a little Gravox™ powder and dive in with a roll and spoon! This traditional British style of eating was a stark contrast to my Maltese heritage.

The relationship had soured, but it was not long before I was married to another man and had moved to the cosmopolitan of inner Melbourne. I was suddenly craving the very foods which just 20 years earlier had been my embarrassment. Within this multicultural paradise, smacked full of Mediterranean influences, I would explore foods from all walks of life. Perhaps it was my inspiration, because I started to learn how to cook the way my grandmother did – via expensive long distance phone calls!

Melbourne was the fresh food centre of the world to me, and how I thrived within it. Several times a week, I would catch the tram to the fresh food markets and indulge in all the luxuries on offer. Fresh fish, vegetables, goat cheeses and handmade pastas all waiting for my loving touch. Food, for me, would become my expressive art form, and I was now in the master class.

Victoria Markets in North Melbourne was a wealth of multicultural food stuff and quickly became a haven for me. It was here that I would become reacquainted with my own cultural cuisines. (Photo credit:

 Figure 2: Victoria Markets in North Melbourne was a wealth of multicultural food stuff and quickly became a haven for me. It was here that I would become reacquainted with my own cultural cuisines. (Photo credit:

My beautiful daughter, Brittany, was born in 1993. The relationship with her father had ended, and I moved to Ballina. Times, and money, were tough as a single mother with a young child. Adjustments had to be made. I suddenly had to learn how to make ends meet and food would once again be what could be afforded, rather than what was enjoyed. Food became carbohydrate intensive; pasta, rice and potatoes were cheap.

The decade of my 20s was one of extremes, mostly influenced by personal factors such as cost, taste and heritage. Personal food system choices, therefore, revolved around learning how to prepare food, value negations, cost and convenience.


Part 2 next week!


AUSTRALIAN INSTITUTE OF HEALTH AND WELFARE 2012. Australia’s food and nutrition 2012, Canberra, ACT, Commonealth of Australia.

BILLIARD, E. 2006. When tradition becomes trendy: social distinction in Maltese food culture. Anthropological notebooks, 12, 113.

BLACKTHORN, R. 2012. Rhi-Thinking Food [Online]. Available:

CAMPBELL, N., REECE, J., TAYLOR, M., SIMON, E. & DICKEY, J. 2009. Biology: concept and connections, San Francisco, CA, Benjamin Cummings.

CONNORS, M., BISOGNI, C., SOBAL, J. & DIEVINE, C. 2001. Managing values in personal food systems. Appetite, 36, 189 – 200.

DIXON, H., SCULLY, M., WAKEFIELD, M., WHITE, V. & CRAWFORD, D. 2007. The effects of television advertisements for junk food versus nutritious food on children’s food attitudes and preferences. Social Science & Medicine, 65, 1311-1323.

DÖRING, R. & EGELKRAUT, T. 2008. Investing in natural capital as management strategy in fisheries: The case of the Baltic Sea cod fishery. Ecological Economics, 64, 634-642.

ELLUL, J. & ELLUL, K. 1985. Personal Communication to BLACKTHORN, R.


FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS 2010. State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture. Rome, Italy.

FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS 2011. The state of the world’s land and water resources for food and agriculture. Rome, Italy.

FURST, T., CONNORS, M., BISOGNI, C. A., SOBAL, J. & FALK, L. W. 1996. Food Choice: A Conceptual Model of the Process. Appetite, 26, 247-266.


Sustainable Table: what’s on your plate?, 2005. Directed by HEDGES, M.

KELLER, S. & SCHULZ, P. 2011. Distorted food pyramid in kids programmes: A content analysis of television advertising watched in Switzerland. The European Journal of Public Health, 21, 300-305.

Food, Inc, 2008. Directed by KENNER, R.

The Future of Food, 2004. Directed by KOONS, D.

KORUTH, N., NEVISON, C. & SCHWANNAUER, M. 2012. A Grounded Theory Exploration of the Onset of Anorexia in Adolescence. European Eating Disorders Review, 20, 257-264.

LEFROY, T., BAILEY, K., UNWIN, G. & NORTON, T. (eds.) 2008. Biodiveristy: integrating conservation and production: case studies of Australian farms, forests and fisheries., Collingwood, Victoria: CSIRO Publishing.

Fast Food Nation, 2006. Directed by LINKLATER, R.

MAGEE, A. 2009. Meat and three veg is still Australia’s favourite meal. Herald Sun, 29 July.

MILLSTONE, E. & LANG, T. 2013. The Atlas of Food, Brighton, UK, Myriad Editions.

The End of the Line, 2009. Directed by MURRAY, R.

SAVENKOFF, C., SWAIN, D. P., HANSON, J. M., CASTONGUAY, M., HAMMILL, M. O., BOURDAGES, H., MORISSETTE, L. & CHABOT, D. 2007. Effects of fishing and predation in a heavily exploited ecosystem: Comparing periods before and after the collapse of groundfish in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence (Canada). Ecological Modelling, 204, 115-128.

SCIPPS INSTITUTE OF OCEANOGRAPHY 2008. John Dayton: The environmental cost of fishing.

Super size me, 2004. Directed by SPURLOCK, M.

VADAL, J. & REES, A. 2012. The true cost of industrial fishing in west Africa – video. Guardian UK, 2 April.

WONGKAEW, S. 2013. An Introduction to Australian and New Zealand Food [Online]. Available: [Accessed 4 March 2013].


Spanish Eggs

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to brunch at a small local café with some friends from interstate. One friend, Fi, ordered the Spanish Eggs from the breakfast menu. It looked very appealing, but the inclusion of chorizo made me shy away.

A month later, I decided to take Joe there for his birthday breakfast. I asked the chef if he could do the Spanish Eggs vegetarian style, and he agreed to experiment. SUCCESS! It was pretty darn good. So good, in fact, that I have tried to replicate it a few times now.

Spanish Eggs - as delicious as they look!

Spanish Eggs – as delicious as they look!


1 dozen free range eggs
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
½ to 1 packet frozen spinach (to taste)
½ to 1 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped roughly
½ to 1 cup parmesan cheese
½ cup olives (optional)
1 onion (white or red)
2 carrots
3 sticks celery
½ red cap
½ punnet cherry tomatoes
½ cup olives (optional)
2 – 4 cloves garlic (to taste)
1 chilli (to taste)
1 teaspoon cumin (to taste)
1 teaspoon turmeric (to taste)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (to taste)


  1. Dice the vegetables into small bite size pieces.
  2. In a sauté pan, add the spices to a little oil over a medium heat and cook until fragrant. Do not burn.
  3. Add the onion and cook until transparent. Add the carrot and tinned tomatoes and cook over a moderate heat until carrot is tender. The sauce should be slightly thicker, but do not allow it to become too thick.
  4. Add the remaining vegetables, parsley and spinach. Stir to incorporate and remove from the heat.
  5. Place ramekins into a baking tray for ease of handling. Fill the baking tray slightly with water, to form a bain-marie. Once the mixture is a little cooler and easier to handle, spoon the mixture into the ramekins until each is roughly ½ – ¾ full.
  6. Sprinkle the top of the mixture with parmesan cheese before cracking two eggs on top. Season the eggs with salt, pepper and a sprinkle of parmesan.
  7. Cook in a moderate oven for about 15 minutes until the eggs are cooked. Serve hot with crusty bread.


Diabetic Note:

  • The danger here is the cholesterol from the eggs and the carbohydrates from the bread. I personally avoid eating the bread – the dish itself is more than adequate to fill me up.

Kitchen Tip:

  • I make up a large batch of this and freeze some of the excess in single serve size lots. I defrosted mine overnight in the fridge as needed. They reheat in the microwave for 2½ minutes without any noticeable decline in quality or taste.
  • I think you really need to use smoked paprika in this dish to have the right impact. While it’s a little more difficult to get, smoked paprika is quite different from the sweet kind and is worth the effort.

Ethical Note:

  • Consider using free range eggs and investigating the source of your cheese to add ethical value to your meal.

I’m back!

Back in November 2012, with my major undergraduate thesis looming, I decided to hold off blogging until it was done. It’s now March and somehow, five months has gone by without my noticing. Good news: I’ve finished my paper. Bad news: I haven’t blogged for a very long time! Are you guys still out there? I have news for you!

In October, I took the big step in my food journey and became a vegetarian. I have not missed meat and have found some recipes have adapted really well from my old meat versions. I am looking forward to sharing these with you over the coming weeks.

The other big news is this semester is my final as an undergraduate. I should have finished in January, but I decided to do one more unit. It is entitled Food Ecology. The unit description reads:

Provides a sociological perspective of how food has shaped human civilisation and how it has influenced our lives from the hunter-gatherers to present day. It looks at the contemporary food landscape and examines the relationship between food production and consumption and the biological/ecological, economical/political, and social/cultural environments. A range of issues related to the current food system and the future of food are explored.

We are now three weeks into the 12 week course, and I have to say, I am enjoying it quite a bit! My first assignment, an analysis of my personal food system is due next week. I have decided to share this paper with you as my first post back. Stay tuned!

I am hoping to have a post published every week, hopefully on a Monday. I am looking forward to creating new and interesting things in the kitchen again. Exciting times ahead, dear readers! My absence from this arena is something that needs to be remedied!

Side note: My undergraduate paper was entitled: A survey of microbat habitat use within the urban landscape of Lismore, New South Wales. If you are interested in my paper, let me know and I’ll post an exert.

Product Review: Luv-a-Duck Duck Shanks

Its been quite a while since I’ve done a product review. Life has been kinda busy lately and I haven’t had time to focus on much other than the usual frantic end of semester assignment writing. (For those that didn’t know, I am in my final six months of my undergraduate degree in Environmental Science. Come 2013, I’ll be starting honours!)

When life is hectic, a little pre-packaged food is sometimes a welcomed option. As you would expect, I am quite fussy about what I will put on the family table, so sometimes the choice for me is not straight forwards. As I have mentioned previously, I am totally in love with the Luv-A-Duck product. You might remember my smoked duck breasts, duck soup and roast duck legs with cherry and ginger glaze recipes recently? So it was an easy no brainer when I spotted these roast duck shanks in the supermarket meat fridge recently. I was glad to grab a packet to try.

Keeping to the simple and fast theme, I have teamed up these gorgeous shanks with some rice cooked in chicken stock, steamed snow peas, oven cooked baby tomatoes and pan-fried baby potatoes (recipe below).

Joe says: “The meal was an interesting combination of eastern and western flavours. I thought the meal would be heavy with two carbohydrate heavy foods in the potatoes and rice, but the dish was well-rounded and left me wanting more. It was good.”

I can’t say I disagree with Joes assessment. For me, the flavours were just perfect. Clean, simple and subtle. The duck was not the intense gamey flavour that duck can sometimes be. In fact, it was smooth, subtle and almost understated.  When cooked to the instructions on the packaging, it was moist and tender. It is definitely something I would have again. And again. (and again…)

Product Review: Luv-a-Duck Duck Shanks
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 4
  • Serving size: 1 – small new potatoes
  • Fat: 10g
  • Sugar: 22g
  • Fiber: 3.5g

Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

  • 6 new potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

  1. Boil the potatoes until just cooked. When pieced with a fork, the potato should slide off the fork but not break apart. If it is resistant, leave it for a few more minutes.
  2. Drain and dry the potatoes well.
  3. In a frying pan, add a little butter, a splash of olive oil and the pan juice / duck fat from the duck shanks. Gently add the potatoes and cook for several minutes on each side until crispy.
  4. Remove from heat, season well and serve hot.

When using new potatoes, wash well and cook with the skin on for enhanced flavour.

Diabetic Note: This is quite carbohydrate and fat heavy, so take care not to use other carbohydrates with the main such as pastas / rices / breads.

Verdict: I love all of the Luv-a-Duck products I’ve tried so far. I can highly recommend them for taste and quality. To date, the meat has always been flavourful, tend and juicy. While it can be slightly pricey, the product is often pre cooked and expertly sealed. Ask yourself, what would you pay for a restaurant quality duck meal? I wager it would be more than this products asking price. Go ahead, treat yourself. You will be back…
Ethical Note: I feel obliged to mention the ethics of this product. Sometime ago, I had the opportunity to talk to the head chef and manager of Luv-a-Duck about how these birds are farmed. They are barn raised not caged. Originally I baulked at this, but they took the time to talk to me about it at length. While I would have preferred free range, I do understand the decisions of the management on this point – ducks take time to mature and a loss of > 20% was being experienced when they attempted the free range option. Foxes and birds of prey would run the ducks ragged and they would lose their condition and become highly stressed. In the end, it was a wise choice, both economically and ethically.

News Article: Vegans are Glam!

Written By: Graham Osborne
Published inSydney Morning Herald
Dated: 4 September, 2012

An expanding list of celebrity vegans is transforming the popular image of the “no meat, no dairy” lifestyle that has often been seen as the choice of holier-than-thou tree-huggers in plastic shoes.

Bill Clinton and his daughter Chelsea, Michelle Pfeiffer, Alec Baldwin, Demi Moore, Ben Stiller, Ellen DeGeneres, Portia De Rossi, Tobey Maguire, Betty White, Joaquin Phoenix, Pamela Anderson, Mike Tyson, Ted Danson, Venus Williams, Woody Harrelson, Rosie O’Donnell, Robin Williams, KD Lang, Russell Brand, Alicia Silverstone, Carl Lewis, Casey Affleck, Erykah Badu, James Cromwell, Alanis Morissette, Russell Simmons, Fiona Apple, Sandra Oh, Bryan Adams, Jessica Chastain, Moby, Carrie Underwood, Ed Begley Jr, Daryl Hannah, Thom Yorke (Radiohead), Abbie Cornish, Erik Roberts, Andre 3000 (Outkast), Chrissie Hynde, Grace Slick, Daniel Johns (Silverchair) … the list of TV and movie stars, musicians, politicians and athletes who have stopped eating meat and dairy products continues to grow.

The latest celebrity to make the switch to a vegan diet is US talk-show host Rosie O’Donnell, who suffered a potentially fatal heart attack on August 14.

rosie-o-donnell_narrowRosie O’Donnell has become vegan and slimmed down after suffering a heart attack in August.

O’Donnell was admitted to hospital and doctors inserted a stent to clear her coronary artery, which was 99 per cent clogged. Almost immediately, 50-year-old O’Donnell cut all animal products from her diet and nine days later tweeted: “nine pounds lost – eating a plant based diet #likebillclinton.”


O’Donnell also spoke to Dr Caldwell Esselstyn, author of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, in which the former surgeon and Olympic rowing champion argues that a vegan diet can reverse cardiovascular disease.

Former US president Bill Clinton read Esselstyn’s book before switching to a plant-based diet following his quadruple bypass surgery.

“I had been playing Russian roulette,” says Clinton, who now consumes no meat, no dairy and no eggs.

“I like the vegetables, the fruits, the beans, the stuff I eat now,” Clinton told CNN.  “All my blood tests are good, my vital signs are good and I also have, believe it or not, more energy.”

Actress Michelle Pfeiffer (ScarfaceDangerous Liaisons) recently stopped eating meat and dairy products after reading the same book.

Seven-time Grand Slam tennis champion Venus Williams switched to a raw vegan diet last year after being diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome – an autoimmune disease which left her with fatigue so overwhelming that “sitting in a chair was a huge effort.” Williams told CBS, ” I’ve made huge improvements since I was first diagnosed … changing my diet has made a big difference.”

Comedian Russell Brand, a longtime vegetarian, became a vegan last year after watching Forks over Knives - a documentary about the health effects of eating animal-based and processed foods.

One of the more unlikely converts to veganism is former world heavyweight boxing champion, “Iron” Mike Tyson – notorious for biting off part of the ear of rival Evander Holyfield during a 1997 title fight. Tyson turned vegan in 2009 and last year told Fox News that he feels “awesome, incredible.”

“When you find out about all the garbage you’ve been eating … no wonder I was crazy all those years,” he says. “The drugs didn’t help either,” Tyson jokes.

Others including actor Robin Williams and musician Ozzy Osbourne also switched to a vegan diet because of health concerns, but many celebrities cite moral and ethical grounds for their veganism.

(Ethical vegans avoid all animal products including honey, gelatine and rennet. They also avoid leather, wool and other animal by-products.)

Michelle Pfeiffer has joined swelling ranks of A-listers by giving up all meat and dairy products.

“Around 450 billion animals are factory farmed on our planet every year,” says talk show host Ellen DeGeneres. “Dairy cows are kept constantly pregnant to produce milk, while their calves, considered by-products, are put to death almost instantly.

“Animal farming is the number one cause of climate change in the world and has a 40 per cent larger carbon footprint than all global transportation – every car, truck, bus, train and plane combined,” says DeGeneres.

Spiderman star Tobey Maguire created headlines in Sydney last year when he sent back a new Mercedes he was given for use during the filming of Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby because he objected to the car’s leather seats.

Academy Award nominee Alec Baldwin (30 RockThe Departed) this week is the public face of a new People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) campaign calling for a boycott of circuses that use animals.

Fellow Oscar nominee Joaquin Phoenix (Walk the Line, Gladiator), who became a vegan after a fishing trip as a 3-year-old, narrated the confronting 2005 documentary Earthlings, which examines the suffering of animals for food, fashion, entertainment and medical research.

“Of all the films I have ever made,” says Phoenix, “this is the one that gets people talking the most.”

“Chickens, cows and pigs in factory farms spend their whole lives in filthy, cramped conditions, only to die a prolonged and painful death,” says Casey Affleck (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert FordOcean’s 1112 and 13) in a PETA public service announcement that was banned by US television networks.

“Our inability to communicate with each other and everything that’s happening in the world is all a symptom of our greater inability to deal with nature appropriately,” says Academy Award nominee Woody Harrelson (The People vs. Larry Flynt), a vegan for more than 20 years.

Cricket legend Greg Chappell, one of the first high-profile Australians to embrace a vegan diet, told Vegan Voice magazine in 2001 that “while the myth of dairy being a ‘health food’ and meat being necessary for nutrients is allowed to be foisted on an unsuspecting public, most people will continue to ignore the impact that their eating habits have on their health.”

Lynda Stoner, star of 80s TV drama Cop Shop and current CEO of Animal Liberation NSW, says she “threw out all my leather products, makeup that had been tested on animals and never ate animal or fish flesh again,” after reading Australian philosopher Peter Singer’s groundbreaking 1975 book, Animal Liberation.

“Despite being a vegetarian for decades I had always, somewhat bizarrely, kept my head in the sand about the suffering of cows and calves and the trillions of male chicks gassed, macerated or just left to die simply because they had no financial value,” says Stoner.

Hollywood’s “favourite grandma”, 90-year-old Betty White (The Golden Girls, Hot in Cleveland), is a long-time vegan activist who continues to campaign on behalf of several animal rights organisations.

The 20-time Emmy nominee admits she prefers animals to people.  “They never lie to you.  You know that when they tell you something they mean it. They just love you, it’s that simple.”



Ahh eggs. Glorious, tasty free ranged eggs. How I love thee, let me count the ways.

I could possibly survive fine without meat, but eggs on the other hand. Well, lets just say that love affair is a life long partnership.

I have to admit up front that I am not a fan generally of frittatas and for whatever reason, I’ve recently decided that I like the and must eat them. Having never made one in my life, I sorta just… winged it.

Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: French
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

  • 2 – 3 Zucchini
  • 1 Leek
  • 6 – 8 free ranged eggs
  • 1 cup soy milk or similar
  • ½ cup grated tasty cheese (optional)
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons goats curd (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • splash of olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

To prepare the leeks:
Remove the root section from the leek. Cut the leek in half and discard any course green parts of the leek. Fan the leek leaves and rinse well under running water to remove any dirt.
  1. Slice the zucchini into 1 cm thick slices on the diagonal. Dry the zucchini slices and season well. Slice the leek into thin slices.
  2. In a frying pan, melt a tablespoon of butter. Add a splash of olive oil to the butter to stop the butter from burning. Add the leeks and toss well, cooking until soft and fragrant. Remove from the pan and place aside.
  3. While the frying pan is still hot, add another tablespoon of butter and a splash of oil. Sauté the zucchini gently until just coloured and soft.
  4. Layer the zucchini and leeks in a baking tray and set aside to cool.
  5. In a large boil, whisk the eggs and milk together until light and airy. Season well and pour over the zucchini mixture, ensuring the milk fills all the gaps between the vegetables.
  6. Cook at 180oC for 20 – 30 minutes until the centre has set.

Diabetic Note: What a delicious meal. There is nothing at all in this meal to upset your blood glucose levels.

Ethical Note: As always, please chose free ranged eggs. Better for you, for the animals and for the environment.


News Article: Would you like tofu with that?: McDonald’s to open first vegetarian outlet

Written By: AFP
Published inSydney Morning Herald
Dated: 5 September, 2012

US fast food giant McDonald’s, famed for its beef-based Big Mac burgers, says it will open its first ever vegetarian-only restaurant in the world in India next year.

The world’s second-biggest restaurant chain after Subway already tailors its menus to suit local tastes – which in India means no beef to avoid offending Hindus and no pork to cater for Muslim requirements.

It will open its first vegetarian outlet in the middle of next year near the Golden Temple in the Sikh holy city of Amritsar in northern India, where religious authorities forbid consumption of meat at the shrine.

“It will be the first time we have opened a vegetarian restaurant in the world,” a spokesman for McDonald’s in northern India, Rajesh Kumar Maini, said.

After the opening in Amritsar, the US chain plans to launch another vegetarian outlet at Katra near the Vaishno Devi cave shrine in Indian Kashmir – a revered Hindu pilgrimage site that draws hundreds of thousands of worshippers a year.

It sees the potential for many more vegetarian restaurants across the country.

McDonald’s in India already has a menu that is 50 per cent vegetarian.

Its McAloo Tikki burger at 28 rupees or US50 cents (49 cents) – which uses a spicy fried potato-based patty – is the top seller, accounting for a quarter of total sales.

Among the chicken-only meat offerings, the Maharaja Mac is also a favourite.

Currently India, with its population of 1.2 billion, is still a “very small market for McDonald’s”, said Maini.

“We have just 271 restaurants in India and across the world we have nearly 33,000,” Maini said.

The chain serves half a million customers a day in India, out of 50 million people it serves daily in over 100 countries.

“When you look at the potential of the country, it’s one of the top priority countries and we’re laying the groundwork for capturing the market,” said Maini.

“We plan to nearly double the number of outlets to 500 plus within the next three years,” he said.

McDonald’s realised soon after it entered the country that it had to rework its international menu to Indian tastes.

“The reasons were very compelling – cow slaughter is not allowed because of religious reasons and we couldn’t do pork either,” Maini explained.

Hindus, who account for 80 per cent of India’s population, regard cows as sacred. For Muslims, the consumption of pork is prohibited in the Koran.

McDonald’s is not alone in “Indianising” its offerings. Domino’s Pizza, another leading fast food chain in India, has created pizzas with extra spicy toppings.

But growing consumption of food high in fat is spurring concern that India is importing the Western disease of obesity, creating a ticking public health timebomb.

Baked Beans

Some time ago, I made baked beans for the first time. Experimentation hasn’t stopped, just because it was delicious.  Oh no, dear reader – I am in search of the ultimate baked bean! Perfection is a difficult state to achieve, and while I don’t think I’ve reached it just yet, this is quite close. Mouth-wateringly close. Excuse me while I look for a tissue to wipe my chin…


Baked Beans
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

  • 1 cup dry lima bean
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 4 slices free ranged bacon (optional)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red capsicum, chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons BBQ sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard powder
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the beans 24 hours before needed
Soak the lima beans over night in ample water with a pinch of bicarbonate soda. An hour before use, boil the beans in clean hot water for 20 minutes, and allow to cool before using them.
  1. In a saucepan (or a slow cooker with a sear function) sauté the bacon until cooked. Remove from pan.
  2. In the bacon fat (or some olive oil if bacon is omitted) fry off the onion and garlic until it is fragrant. Add the diced vegetables and sauté lightly.
  3. Add all ingredients back to the pot and cook at a low simmer for 4 hours on the stove top. If you are using a slow cooker, cook on low for 6 – 8 hours. The longer the better.
  4. Serve hot.

Lima beans are a good size for this dish. I love the buttery texture of them. Because they are a much larger bean than their smaller cousins, they require a lot more cooking or they will remain hard and starchy. Make sure you allow them plenty of time to soak and give them a pre partial cook before use.

This meal could easily become vegetarian by omitting the bacon. The flavour loss shouldn’t be too dramatic.

Diabetic Note: I have to admit that I shudder just a little at the amount of pre made sauces I used here. The brown sugar, BBQ sauce and Tomato Sauce are all exceptionally high in sugar. Those six tablespoons are divided amongst six serves, making that about a tablespoon of sugar per serve. Monitor your blood glucose levels accordingly.

Ethical Note: I love using dried beans. Although canned beans are much more convenient, they have a much higher carbon footprint. Consider planning your meals ahead of time and utilising dried stocks where possible.


New Article: The anti-ageing recipe

Written By: Paula Goodyer
Published inSydney Morning Herald
Dated: 5 September, 2012

What does a specialist in anti-ageing medicine eat for breakfast? Hint: there’s no streaky bacon or snap, crackle and pop.

Most mornings Dr Joseph Maroon, senior vice-president of the American Academy of Anti-Ageing Medicine, sits down to porridge made from steel cut oats – the least processed of all oats – with ground flaxseed and blueberries, all washed down with the first of three daily cups of green tea. It’s a portfolio of foods with a reputation for cooling inflammation – not the inflammation that erupts in response to infections and ingrown toenails, but the chronic low grade kind that sticks around in the body, setting the scene for problems like cardiovascular disease and dementia. Many researchers now believe this systemic inflammation is the body’s reaction to 21st century lifestyles featuring denatured diets, inactivity and pollutants like tobacco smoke.

Young at heart … opt for the least processed foods to avoid inflammation. Photo: Stock image

Too much processed food can prod the body into producing inflammatory chemicals according to Maroon, who was in Melbourne recently to speak at the 6th Annual A5M Conference in Anti-Ageing and Aesthetic Medicine.

“But a Mediterranean style diet with a high intake of vegetables and fruit, lean protein, whole grains and nuts, along with exercise and – where possible – reducing stress and exposure to pollutants will reduce inflammation,” he says.

His own diet mirrors this – lunches are salad with lean protein and wholegrain bread – and more green tea. Fish is on the dinner menu three or four time a week with more vegetables including ‘a lot of broccoli’, followed by three or four squares of dark chocolate. Sometimes there’s a glass of pinot noir.

In health terms it’s a diet you can’t argue with. The controversial bit comes with his inclusion of supplements like curcumin and resveratrol. Curcumin, the pigment that gives the spice turmeric it’s yellow colour, is an anti-inflammatory, which – in animal studies – shows promise against both Alzheimer’s and cancer. Maroon takes it daily, popping open a curcumin capsule, and emptying its contents into a little olive oil with pepper – pepper boosts curcumin’s absorption. Resveratrol, a compound found in the skin of foods like red grapes, is also being studied for its anti-cancer and anti-ageing effects – but again most research has been in lab and animal studies and more human studies are needed.

Maroon, a Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Pittsburgh, became interested in anti-ageing medicine after seeing so many patients whose health problems were a result of lifestyle.

“I realised my job as a neurosurgeon was actually sick care not health care,” he says. “I started to research more methods and treatments and nutritional factors that can contribute to disease reduction and prolonging of life.”

At 72, he’s a good advertisement for anti-ageing medicine. He’s completed 70 triathlons events, including an ironman event only two years ago.

It’s not that vigorous exercise stops you from ageing, he says – but it can put the brakes on things.

“You’re going to lose some strength and endurance with age, but with progressive and consistent training you can markedly slow things down and many studies show this.

“The benefit of exercise to the brain is huge. I think it’s the most important thing for preserving brain function and preventing Alzheimer’s disease,” he says. “Studies show that exercise increases production of a protein called BDNF, short for brain-derived neurotrophic factor which increases connections between brain cells and regenerates new brain cells.”

A few weeks ago Maroon took part in a half ironman event in Indiana – that means a 1.9 km swim, a 90-kilometre bike ride, and a 21.1 kilometre run – and he added supplements of resveratrol, cocoa and green tea to his water bottle. Whether it was the water or his training schedule, he finished the race in a respectable six hours 30 minutes – 13 minutes faster than Tony Abbott’s time in the 2010 Port Macquarie Half Ironman.

Stuffed Squid

I have had a craving for stuffed squid for months! It is not something I make often (once every few years) but when I do make, I enjoy it immensely!

It always strikes me as odd that there is a negative stigma about squid in both Australia and the USA. While in Australia its fine to be crumbed and deep-fried as calamari, it’s not common (or accepted) any other way. Most avid calamari eaters will turn their nose up at the thought of stuffed squid. In America, however, the idea of eating it at all is alien and unthinkable!

Meanwhile, in Europe, it’s not all that uncommon. Coastal European communities (Maltese, Italians, French ect) have enjoyed it for eons. And rightly so! Squid is an excellent source of naturally occurring trace minerals, is known to lower inflammation and promotes healthy, shiny and strong teeth, skin, hair and nails. As if that wasn’t enough, it is well-known to stabilise blood glucose levels in diabetics, lower blood pressure, lower the risk of heart disease and boost the immune system.

Stuffed Squid
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Squid is an excellent source of naturally occurring trace minerals, is known to lower inflammation and promotes healthy, shiny and strong teeth, skin, hair and nails. As if that wasn’t enough, it is well-known to stabilise blood glucose levels in diabetics, lower blood pressure, lower the risk of heart disease and boost the immune system.
  • 6 cleaned squid tubes
Squid Stuffing
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 1 onion, diced
  • ½ cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • ⅓ cup pine nuts
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • drizzle olive oil
  • seasoning to taste
  • 1 can tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • ½ cup red wine
  • ½ cup flat leaf parsley, chopped (reserving half)
  • 1 tablespoons fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dry)
  • 1 tablespoon chilli flakes
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Prepare the stuffing ahead of time:
    Cook the onions and garlic over a moderate heat until caramelised and fragrant – about 10 minutes.
    Toast the pine nuts, taking care to not burn them.
    Mix all the ingredients in a bowl before stuffing the squid. Use a soaked wooden skewer to secure the end.
  2. To make the sauce, sauté the onions in a little oil. When starting to caramelise, add the garlic and cook for a few more minutes.
  3. De-glaze the pan with the wine, and cook on a moderate heat until the wine has reduced by half.
  4. Add oregano, tomatoes, chilli and half the parsley and cook at a low to moderate heat until the sauce thickens slightly. This will take about 20 minutes.
  5. (Do not boil it. You want the flavours to infuse through a slow reduction.)
  6. Note: the consistency of the sauce should not be thick, nor watery. You need to retain some liquid state to cook the squid without it being watery.
  7. When the desired consistency has been reached, remove it from the heat and stir through the remaining parsley.
  8. Place the squid tubes tightly in to the bottom of a baking tray. Pour the sauce over the top of the squid, ensuring the sauce covers all the squid.
  9. Bake at 180oC for about 45 minutes. Check the dish about half way to ensure that the sauce hasnt dried out. If the squid still feels too firm after 45 minutes, cook for a further 15 minutes if needed.
  10. Serve hot and garnish with a fresh sprig of parsley.

Burnt pine nuts can become quite bitter and will ruin the dish. I burnt mine slightly, and ended up having to throw away half of the nuts. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough to do a second batch!

Diabetic Note: Although jasmine rice is the preferred rice for diabetics, I can’t tear myself away from indulging in brown whole grain rices. If you are particular conscious, exchange the rices.

Diabetic Note: The real danger zone in this meal for diabetics is the rice. One portion wont break the carbohydrate budget, but be careful if you serve it with additional carbs. Serve it with a side salad if the meal in its self is not enough to fill you.

Ethical Note: Many scientists believe that the state of our oceans and viable fish stocks is well past its zenith. The niche left by collapsed fish stocks is being filled by jelly fish (inedible) and squid species. Some forecasters speculate that squid may end up becoming a future ocean produced staple.

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