Pete Evans might be an internationally renowned chef, but above all else he is a father of two, which means he knows the importance of serving up quality meals. “Eating nutrient-dense food is very convenient and very cost effective for families and the options are endless as to what can be put on the table,’’ he says. “I am an advocate for all human beings to be able to choose to include the most nutrient-dense food in order to live a long, healthy and sustainable lifestyle which includes children and adults. Meat, seafood, fruit and vegetables are the nutritional foundation for achieving this, along with the other elements of health that include sun exposure, clean water, clean air, great sleep, movement and emotional wellbeing.” This is one man who can dish up five-star food. Winter conjures up thoughts of hearty soups, slow-cooked chicken casseroles and aromatic curries. We can almost smell the deliciousness! So, what are you waiting for? Take some inspiration from the best, throw on your best chef’s hat, grab a ladle and start dishing out the goodness.
PETE’S ITALIAN-STYLE MEATBALLS
Meatballs cooked in tomato sauce is a mid-week winner that will have the whole family rejoicing. Any leftovers make a delicious breakfast or lunch the next day. If you want to shake things up, serve with paleo buns for your own take on a sub sandwich. Serves 4.
3 tbsp coconut oil or good-quality animal fat
½ onion and 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
450g pork mince and 200g beef mince
3 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 tsp almond meal
¼ tsp chilli flakes (optional)
Tomato and basil sauce
1 tbsp coconut oil or good-quality animal fat
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp tomato paste
400g whole peeled tomatoes, crushed
400ml chicken bone broth or water
1 tsp dried oregano
6 basil leaves, torn, plus extra to serve
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
To make the tomato and basil sauce, heat the coconut oil or fat in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for five minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic and tomato paste and sauté for one minute, or until fragrant.
Add the tomatoes, broth or water, oregano and basil and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 30 minutes, or until the sauce is rich in flavour. Season with salt and pepper, then blend until smooth with a hand-held blender and mix in the olive oil.
Meanwhile, to make the meatballs, heat half the coconut oil or fat in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for five minutes, or until translucent. Add the garlic and fennel seeds and cook for one minute, or until the garlic starts to colour.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool. In a large bowl, mix the pork and beef mince with the cooked onion mixture, the parsley, egg, almond meal, chilli flakes (if using) and some salt and pepper until well incorporated. Place the bowl in the fridge for 30 minutes so that the meatball mixture will be easier to roll.
Roll the meatball mixture into walnut-sized portions.
Heat the remaining coconut oil or fat in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs, in batches if necessary, and fry for about three minutes, or until golden. Pour in the tomato and basil sauce and bring to a simmer.
Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 15 to 18 minutes until the meatballs are cooked through. Spoon sauce over the meatballs and serve with the extra basil leaves and a grind of black pepper.
Serve with cauliflower mash
This recipe is just one of more than 70 simple and delicious recipes in Pete’s latest cookbook, Easy Keto. Focusing on the ketogenic diet – a style of eating that is low in carbs and rich in healthy fats – the book highlights benefits of the popular diet, plus guidelines on common carbohydrates, eating, shopping and pantry tips. As a home cook, I find the recipes easy to follow and feel as though I’m dishing up restaurant-standard fare to my family. That’s always a win! All of the meals are shaped on fresh, wholesome produce, and although we do not follow the keto diet, I’ve found the book is a staple in my kitchen. -Candice Holznagel
Sunshine Coast Hotels group executive chef Damien Grimes shares his tips for winter cooking.
- For winter get out the slow cooker, crock pot or heavy casserole dish. It’s easy to create simple one-pot dishes that are full of flavour and that you do not need to fuss over.
- Winter is the best time of year to use the cheaper cuts of meat. Long, slow cooking helps to break down the tough fibres and sinews resulting in rich, soft-textured full-flavoured meat.
- Add cinnamon, cloves and star anise to your stews and casseroles. They have beautiful warming winter aromas and turn a simple everyday dish into something exotic.
- Stock up on pulses and grains. Dried beans, lentils and quinoa are hearty, filling substitutes for our normal carbs. All of these take on great flavour and are filling and warming.
- Don’t forget your vegetables – cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, carrots and parsnips are in peak season and sweeter in the colder months. Cut up these vegetables, toss in olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme and garlic. Roast in the oven or barbecue.
Sweet Potato, Chickpea and Pear Stew with Fresh Herbs and Pomegranate
IGA Marketplace Wises Road’s go-to clinical nutritionist Emma Morris shares this easy warming recipe. Serves 6.
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3cm of fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp turmeric
½ tsp ground ginger
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
800g sweet potatoes, cut into 2cm squares
1 bulb fennel, sliced
1 capsicum, diced
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes
1 litre vegetable stock
3 pears, diced
4 kale leaves, stems removed, roughly chopped
Fresh mint and coriander
2 pomegranate, jewels removed
1 lemon, sliced into quarters
In a large pot, heat the olive oil to medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and sauté for two minutes or until the onion becomes translucent. Then add all the spices, salt and pepper and sauté for 30 seconds.
Next add in the sweet potato, fennel, capsicum, chickpeas, buckwheat, canned tomatoes and vegetable stock. Stir until mixed through and then bring to the boil on high heat.
Reduce heat to medium and let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until the sweet potatoes are almost tender. Keep an eye on it and stir occasionally. You may need to add more water.
When the potatoes are almost done, add in the diced pear and cook for a further 10 minutes.
Add the fresh kale two minutes before serving and stir to combine. Season with additional salt or according to taste.
Serve with fresh herbs on top, two tablespoons of pomegranate seeds and a squeeze of lemon juice. This stores in the fridge for three days and freezes well.
When it comes to staying active and healthy during winter, it can feel like an uphill struggle. Who doesn’t love a warm blanket and Netflix binge? It may take some extra mental and physical strength, but taking care of yourself is vital. Read on.
Those hot chips and gravy may be calling your name, but resist the urge. Instead, opt for seasonal winter fruit and vegetables such as mandarins, oranges, pumpkin, carrots, cauliflower and broccoli.
A steaming cup of Milo might seem (and smell) like a good option to warm your tummy, but drink tea instead. From green to white, fruit and ginger, there is a tea to suit all tastes. Plus, it’s full of antioxidants.
Did you know that the human body can last weeks without food, but only days without water? Water carries nutrients and oxygen to cells. So while you may feel less thirsty during the colder months, it’s still important to drink plenty of water. Better Health recommends children aged nine to 13 drink 1.4 to 1.6 litres a day. Women should drink 2.1 litres, and men 2.6 litres.
A balanced and healthy diet is the best way to ensure your body receives all the vitamins and minerals it needs. Talk to a health professional before loading up on bottles of pills, but echinacea, zinc and vitamin C are some of the popular winter-time boosters.