Cooking From The Heart

Healthy Eating & Living Guide

Why we need broths in Winter

Broth-based soups are not only good for the soul but good for your immune system. Loaded with vegetables & fibre, these soups also play a big role in maintaining a healthy body. Highly nutritious, low calorie with no unhealthy saturated fats, broth based soups with an assortment of grains & vegetables will keep up your strength while fighting off nasty colds & flus. If bones are included a good bone broth is rich in minerals to support the immune system with collagen & glutamine helping to heal your gut lining & reduce gut inflammation.

So what are the best winter soups to beat those colds & flus?

Chicken soup – has been proven to have anti-inflammatory properties & boosts immunity. It also contains cysteine, an amino acid which can thin the mucous in your lungs so you can expel the mucous easier.

Tomato soup – packed full of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, potassium & iron as well as Vitamin K, this is a nutrient powerhouse. Make sure you look for a dairy-free recipe which will help keep mucous down when ill.


The Secret to a Brighter Smile: Foods and Drinks to Sidestep for White Teeth

The Secret to a Brighter Smile: Foods and Drinks to Sidestep for White Teeth

Have you ever flashed a smile in the mirror only to realize your teeth aren’t as sparkling as you’d like, making you ponder over teeth-whitening options? Often, the answer to a brighter smile doesn’t lie in expensive treatments, but rather on your plate or in your cup!

While we all savor our favorite foods and drinks, some are infamous for casting a shadow over our pearly whites, detracting from the effects of teeth whitening efforts. But there’s no need for alarm, culinary enthusiasts!

In this post, we’re set to reveal the hidden culprits in your diet that might be sabotaging your teeth-whitening goals, and we’ll also introduce tooth-friendly alternatives. So, you can relish your meals and maintain a radiant, white smile, perhaps even delaying or reducing the need for teeth whitening treatments.

1. The Dark Side of Beverages: Coffee and Tea

  • The Culprit: Dark-colored beverages like coffee and tea are beloved for their invigorating effects. However, they contain tannins, which can lead to staining.
  • Real-Life Example: Picture Sarah, a coffee aficionado, who noticed her teeth gradually losing their brightness. A switch to lighter teas and regular dental hygiene reversed the effect!
  • The Solution: Opt for lighter-colored herbal teas or rinse your mouth with water after enjoying these beverages.
  • Authority Link: American Dental Association on Teeth Staining

2. The Sour Truth: Citrus and Acidic Foods

  • The Culprit: Citrus fruits like oranges and lemons, although packed with Vitamin C, are acidic and can erode tooth enamel, leading to discoloration.
  • Real-Life Example: Mark, a citrus lover, experienced increased tooth sensitivity. His dentist suggested balancing his diet with less acidic fruits.
  • The Solution: Enjoy these fruits in moderation and pair them with a cheese course to neutralize the acids.
  • Authority Link: Healthline on Acidic Foods and Teeth


6 Ways to Use Kelp Noodles

Kelp is an edible brown seaweed that is high in nutrients. Kelp noodles are made with kelp, sodium alginate (a salt derived from seaweed), and water. They look similar to vermicelli, and have a mild crunchy texture and neutral taste, making them perfect to add to soups, sauces & salads with tasty dressings. Kelp is a common ingredient in Asian cuisine (Think kombu in Japanese dashi broths).

Nutritionally dense, kelp noodles are high in minerals such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron & amino acids. Kelp noodles are naturally high in iodine, so they are an excellent ingredient to include in your diet if you lack iodine or your low levels. Iodine consumption is ideal for healthy thyroid function, but too much can also suppress thyroid activity, so keep kelp in moderation & consume only once or twice a week.

Need a low-carb alternative to pasta & noodles? Kelp noodles are very low in calories and are gluten & egg free with virtually no carbohydrates. So how do you use them?


Food not Good for Teeth

How to Eat Less Meat

Studies have been showing us for some time now that eating red meat can increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Meat might be delicious, pair beautifully with a glass of wine, and work with a multitude of recipes, but it’s not the best food product for our health.

What’s more, those who eat less meat or none at all often benefit from a lower risk of heart disease and a healthier body weight. Whether you want to decrease your meat intake or cut it out of your diet altogether, the following information might help.

Become a Bean Lover

Almost any meat dish can become a bean dish with one ingredient swap. Even your favourite tacos, soups, and stews can be equally as delicious with beans as they are with meat. Start small by replacing the meat with beans in your favourite recipes. Play around with different beans like chickpeas, cannellini, and lentils.

You will even grow to love the depth of flavour from a bean-based chilli dish that you may have previously loaded full of beef mince.


Light Summer Meals Your Family Will Love

The outside temperature can be a deciding factor in the recipes you look for, the food you eat, and even the wine you drink. The warmer it is, the more you seek out light summer meals your family will love.

As the mercury rises, it’s time to get creative in the kitchen. Here are some standout dishes that are light, delicious, and affordable.

Rice Paper Rolls

You often find that many summer recipes are salads. Not everyone wants to eat a salad every day of the week, which means that rice paper rolls can be a refreshing change. You can add all manner of salad ingredients and sauces, not to mention delectable prawns. Prepare them fresh for lunch or dinner, and enjoy how easy they are to make for everyone in the family.

Corn Fritters

Corn fritters, with delicious cheese, like feta, can be a light and tasty meal option for busy families. You can pair them with a side salad and dressing or eat them on their own as a snack with dipping sauce. Corn fritters are also easy to prepare and affordable.


Sauvignon Blanc

What to Serve with Sauvignon Blanc

Finding wine, either in a restaurant, a bottle store, or online wine provider that you can pair with almost anything is a challenge. Even if you “know” your wines and consider yourself a connoisseur, there is going to be that one time where you made the wrong choice of wine to go with that fish, steak, or a cheeseboard.

Given that Sauvignon Blanc is an exceptionally versatile, far-reaching white wine that’s quite lean in flavour, it becomes most people’s “go to” beverage for a natural pairing. We’ve included a few of the many things you can eat with it below.


If you’ve gathered the girls for a night out, a staple of that night out is undoubtedly wine and cheese. However, if you’re not usually one to dabble in cheeseboards, you may have trouble deciding which wine to pair with it. Even if you have help from a shop assistant, or descriptions on an online wine website, it’s not easy. Sauvignon Blanc is the best answer. Because of its crispness, it matches beautifully with all manner of cheese, making it a great option to serve to your guests. Goats cheese is also one of the best options, as are cheese balls of different varieties.

Green Vegetables

If summer has arrived and you’re at your local restaurant for a meal, or you’re whipping up something at home, you will find salads are a big hit on the menu. Bitter greens, fresh peas, and all manner of salad ingredients work beautifully with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. What’s more, it may have you reaching for that second glass as well…


Tips For Entering A Regional Show Cooking Competition

As the Newcastle Show Cookery & Jams Competition draws closer (March 16-18) I’ve had a number of friends mention they would like to have a crack at entering. Their reasoning is that if Dean can win Best Chocolate Cake then surely it can’t be too hard. And they would be right. With a little preparation everyone has equal standing for a first prize medal. There’s nothing sweeter than victory in a cooking competition, especially if it’s your first time. Of course, Dean and I will both be back defending our titles in 2012.

To help the novices, I’ve drawn up a list of do’s and don’ts. Some of these I learnt as a result of the live judging that took place at the Newcastle Show last year, and some gleaned from speaking with Cookery Steward and medal-winning competitor, Ellice Schrader.

I’d also recommend purchasing The Country Show Cookbook if you intend on entering any classes that don’t provide recipes. These are recipes from successful entrants at Country Shows all around Australia. This is the book from which my award-winning scones came from. I also would never have realised chocolate chip biscuits are different to chocolate chip cookies without the help from this book.


Peach Jam

The Magic of Preserves

For many preserving is classed as one of the dark arts of the kitchen. A mystifying process reserved for those with a supernatural ability to calculate a fruit’s pectin potential by just looking at it. These are people who have the innate ability to mix measured quantities of fruit and sugar in large pots and make the mix miraculously gel. They know the rules, they cast the spells. They collect the resulting concoction in recycled jars with homemade labels to adorn their pantry shelves while they await the inevitable apocalypse, or gift-giving season, whichever comes first.

The truth is, preserving will cast a spell on you. But only once you realize just how easy it is to do. The only magic going on is the simple pleasure of spreading a taste of summer on a piece of toast on a cold, wintery morning. And if you aren’t the kind of family that gets through jar after jar of jam, the feeling of goodwill  as you hand a friend a jar is heartwarming. Homemade always means something more.

Always the pedant, here’s a low-down of the different preserving definitions, just so we are all on the same page. All use the same process which is to heat fruit and sugar which releases pectin, the natural setting agent in fruit.


The Great Decider

My first experience with cider is one that will most likely be shared by many others. It involves being underage, overzealous and out of my depth. ‘Tis the reason I avoided it at all costs…until recently when a friend of mine was diagnosed with coeliac disease. Unable to imbibe his preferred tipple of beer (coeliacs are intolerant to gluten, a protein found in some components of beer such as barley malt and wheat starch), he turned to cider to keep his whistle wet. Any time he joins us for a bbq I case out bottle shops for less lackluster offerings than the one I’d had the misfortune of overindulging in all those years ago. And yes, I’d end up partaking in a glass or two as an act of comraderie for my friend who would otherwise be the only one drinking cider. And I have been enjoying it immensely.

It’s quite apparent that cider has undergone a revival of sorts over the last few years, with growing numbers of cider labels popping up in bottleshops and cideries opening in many regions of Australia. Particularly in the Yarra Valley, Adelaide Hills and south of Perth. While the varieties of cider apples grown in Australia is considerably less than in the UK and Europe, this hasn’t stopped cider being made from more widely available eating varieties such as Granny Smiths, Pink Ladies and Galas.


Chilli Trepidations

Chilli Trepidations

Brrrr! The chill factor is extreme for this time of the year don’t you think? I don’t know about you, but autumn seemed to pass in the blink of an eye. I’m into winter comfort food in a big way already, with lots of recipes popping into my head that involve slow cooking on the stove top or a bit of spice to heat us up from the inside out.

Out of pure ignorance, I was once completely terrified of all foods hot. If there was the slightest hint of chilli I’d got for another item on the menu. Heat in food is just something I didn’t grow up with and with only movie references to practical jokes involving chilli as my reference; I came to the conclusion that it was to be avoided at all costs. Worse, I equated anything with spice or pepper to be ‘hot’ and as such any foods including such items were blacklisted.

Over time, I started to get an inkling that I was missing out. There were just so many delicious-smelling meals I’d refuse all because of an unsubstantiated fear. With the encouragement of friends, I started on working on overcoming my trepidation by introducing some not-so-hot foods, one of which was a mild laksa. It was love at first slurp.