Introduction

Introduction

By
Kate Bradley
Contains
0 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781742708461
Photographer
Elisa Watson

My first cooking lessons (apart from the ones with my mother and nana) were in home economics, in the first year of high school. To say I was cheeky in that class would be an understatement. If you had asked the teacher then if she thought I would ever achieve anything to do with cooking she would have laughed. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoyed home economics, but it was school and I hadn’t really discovered my passion for cooking yet. I was more passionate about what pranks I could play with other people’s food!

It was probably in the second year of high school that I really started getting into cooking and began making dinners for the family. At first I tried to master the basics. I learned how to make stir-fries, soups, curries, spaghetti and so on. I wanted to know how my mum just came home, threw things in a pot and served us up something sensational. I slowly became addicted to cooking, and would constantly think of new, exciting ideas I could try and changes to what I was already making.

I would pester my nana to write down all her recipes (in a nice little notebook my mum bought me). I wanted to be able to master the favourites that my nana would serve up – everyone loved her cooking and food, and I wanted to make people happy with food the way she did. I would ask her to teach me how to make meringues, cakes, scones and savoury dishes and would carefully watch every little thing that she did. My nana is certainly something special when it comes to food. Even though she is getting older, she still manages to serve me up something ridiculously tasty each time I visit, and every meal is always followed by a beautiful new cake (or two or three) that she has ‘been wanting to test out’. She always puts the recipe cutting in front of me, or shows me the page in the magazine where she found it, and then tells me the alterations she has made. My nana is a cooking genius and, in my eyes, really is unbeatable.

I slowly became more and more determined in the kitchen as years went on. I wanted to be able to cook different cuisines and master various styles. I would set myself little challenges, and attempt different meals, hoping that I could create something magical. Being able to produce a beautiful meal by myself and seeing people’s faces light up when I feed them is a feeling that is better than anything to me.

I became the girl who would flip through food magazines instead of Vogue. I was watching Nigella, Jamie, Nigel Slater and Heston in absolute awe of what they did. I wanted to be able to cook like these people. They were amazing!

I preferred to spend my money on ingredients and beautiful food. I didn’t care about spending money on clothes or if I was in or out of fashion. I didn’t want to go out partying. I cared about my family, cooking and finding a way to be as good as my culinary idols.

Food started to become my outlet. I needed it. If I didn’t make something in the kitchen even for one day I got moody. When I started getting into the later high school years and puberty, when hormones started kicking well and truly into action, whenever I was feeling depressed my mum would order me into the kitchen. It was something I could do to instantly release any bad vibes I had hanging around me. It really was my meditation and the kitchen was my place for letting go. I would open a Nigella or Jamie cookbook, and it didn’t matter what I would cook – at the end of it I would be feeling happy again and I would have something to share with those I loved.

As time went on, I began to change my style of cooking. My family was already healthy thanks to my beautiful mum, but my cooking was becoming a little decadent. I started to become more conscious of what I was eating and how it was affecting my body, which led to me becoming concerned that when I cooked unhealthy dishes, I was not only bringing harm to myself, I was damaging the insides of my family and friends without realising. It made me feel sick. I had been contributing to the health of these people in a negative way. Considering all I ever wanted was for my family and friends to be around, alive, happy and, most importantly, healthy, I knew things had to change. I started to research different diets, lifestyles and the dos and don’ts in terms of healthy eating.

I began by switching sugar with the plant-derived sweetener stevia, wheat flour with no-grain buckwheat flour, and butter with coconut oil. Pretty soon I was glued to my computer, books and television documentaries researching as much as I could about food for optimal health for myself and those around me and what foods were the most damaging and the ones to avoid in my cooking.

For a while I thought I couldn’t cook anything. Everything I used to make contained nasties, but I didn’t know what to do with these new healthier ingredients I now had in my kitchen. And so the experimenting began. I started the easiest way I knew how, which was to look at all my old favourite recipes and adapt them. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it failed miserably, but I never stopped trying.

Growing my own food is another element that is so important to my cooking. Knowing exactly where your food comes from, and knowing there are no harmful chemicals and pesticides all over it is crucial. It is sad that we try to do the right thing by buying fruit and vegetables from the supermarket. Yet they are laden with so many chemicals and have travelled so far, that what we’re buying is not as nutritional as it should be.

Eating whole foods is the only ‘diet’ that I stick by. I don’t eat processed foods and I always like to know where the food I am eating comes from – and what it does to my body. Since switching to a very healthy lifestyle, my family home now has over 80 fruit trees, a huge variety of vegetables and herbs and we even make herbal teas! It is an absolute paradise.

Everyone needs to do their own research on this, and I would not tell someone what they should or shouldn’t eat as I know we are all at different stages and have different needs.

This book is a compilation of some of the recipes that first got me settled into the health world. It contains many of the favourites we know, love and are used to, but in a more nutritional and nourishing form. All the recipes are also extremely simple to make – it’s hard enough having to wrap your head around everything else in life and nobody wants to come home from work and make a three-course fancy meal. It’s hard switching from eating certain foods and changing your lifestyle to a more healthy one, but sometimes even harder convincing the family to eat it! I knew I had to create something that people could cook easily and be able to share with their families, knowing that they will still enjoy it. We sometimes settle for cooking unhealthy foods just because we know people will eat it. However, if it’s not nutritious for their body, are we truly caring for them by feeding them food we know isn’t good for them?

Everything in this book is delicious, tried, tested and beautiful. There is nothing that I have ever had trouble feeding to even the fussiest of eaters. The healthy versions are all very similar in taste to their originals, if not even tastier. Almost everything is refined sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, wheat-free, egg-free and vegan. I have used whole foods that are easy to buy from your local store and items you should find easy and beneficial to introduce into your diet.

In this book you will see the use of some tinned items. This is simply to save you time. I know that tinned items are not always the ideal healthy choice, so look out for tins that say BPA-free. If you are worried about using a tinned ingredient, you can always replace it with the fresh version, but results may vary from the original recipe.

Our health is all that we have, and therefore I hope you find solace in this book, that you can see that healthy food doesn’t mean just a bit of lettuce on a plate and it doesn’t have to be hard or over-complicated. This is about using food at its roots and yet still celebrating our favourite classic recipes.

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