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spiced eggplant with farro-3

This time 5 years ago I was staying in a tiny apartment in the beautiful city of Barcelona, trying to pretend I was Spanish. Without much success.

The main purpose of the trip was to have dinner at El Buli – at the time the best restaurant in the world.

As often happens when I travel, there was lots to think about.

To cut a long story short, I made the decision to leave my safe fun job designing chocolate biscuits (cookies) and have a go at turning my blog into a business.

I had no idea how I was going to do it. But that was part of the fun!

I did know WHAT I wanted to do.

I wanted to help people by sharing my knowledge of food science and my passion for simple healthy food. I was bursting to help people like you discover what I had – that delicious healthy meals need not be complicated or time consuming.

I wanted to share that by reducing the number of ingredients and using simple techniques, cooking can be amazingly easy, healthy AND tasty.

I had no idea what lay ahead. Not even the possibility that I could and would start an online cooking school helping students from places as far flung as Mozambique, Iceland and Peru.

It’s been so much more rewarding than I ever dared to dream.

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quick fish salad-2

Back in September, I ‘outed’ myself here on Stonesoup by revealing my 3 worst cooking habits. A bit of a brave move for an introvert like me.

Anyway, I promised to report back on my progress. So here we are!

BAD HABIT 1. Picking While I Cook

This is easily the toughest habit for me to break. So don’t be surprised that I still pick from time to time. But I do feel like I’ve made progress.

I’ve been tracking whether I feel ‘full’ or ‘hungry’ when I sit down to dinner in my habit tracking app on my phone (it’s called ‘habit keeper’). Usually it’s only one or two nights a week I’ve been over doing the ‘picking’.

Having more of a focus in this area has helped.

But the biggest change is that Fergal moved to having one nap a day. So we now have lunch at 2pm rather than midday. This means I’m much less hungry in the evenings.

It’s amazing how changes to your schedule can have a knock on effect to how much food you eat.

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beet caviar

Recently, my Irishman came across a fascinating documentary called ‘Gut Reaction: What You Eat Could be Making You Ill‘.

To cut a long story short, the program focused on the latest research on gut bacteria and health.

It boils down to this…

Eating processed food = unhealthy gut bacteria = unhealthy person.


Eating lots of fiber from fruit and vegetables = healthy gut bacteria = healthy person.

I was surprised at the number of diseases linked to poor gut bacteria. They include emphysema, inflammatory bowel disease, MS, autism and asthma.

The clear message was healthy gut bacteria calm the immune system and reduce inflammation.

So even if you aren’t suffering from these diseases, your health will benefit from eating more veg and encouraging the growth of ‘good’ gut bacteria.

How do you eat more veg?

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super moist zucchini & tuna salad-2

I often get asked where I get the ideas for my recipes and blog posts. And the truth is I find inspiration pretty much everywhere… magazines, restaurants, online, my veggie garden, when I’m looking in my fridge…

But one of my favourite places is the Stonesoup by request survey I set up to capture your questions or ideas for future blog posts.

It’s been a while since I took a request, so today I have a great one for you…

“How do you balance out saltiness? I liked your post on vinegar, and would like more of the food “sciency” posts!”

For me, seasoning is the most important skill when it comes to making your meals taste delicious.

I’ve already written about ‘How to Season to Taste‘ and the ‘2 Most Common Seasoning Mistakes‘. If you need help with seasoning in general, they would be great places to visit.

But what happens when you add too much salt?

This isn’t a cooking mistake I make often. Basically, over salting is very difficult to rectify so I’m paranoid about not adding too much.

I always err on the side of under seasoning and have a jar of salt at the table for everyone to do the ‘fine tuning’ themselves.

But on the odd occasion I find myself with an excess salt situation, there is only one reliable method I turn to…

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asparagus bread torta-4

When I was studying biotechnology, (as part of my Food Science Degree) if you had asked me whether eating healthier could change your genetics, I would have automatically responded ‘no way’.

I used to think that our genes are something we’re born with. Something we can’t change.

So you can imagine my surprise when I happened across a study which showed the opposite.

Yes, changes in our lifestyles such as diet, exercise and stress levels actually change which genes are expressed in our bodies.

Amazing stuff.

In the study 30 men with low level prostrate cancer were tracked over 3 months where they changed their diets, exercised for 1/2 hour every day and engaged in stress management practices such as meditation.

As expected, the men all improved their health with lower blood pressure and weight loss. The surprising thing was they also changed the expression of around 500 genes.

Disease prevention genes were turned on and genes known to be linked to disease were turned off.

So next time you feel like getting pizza instead of cooking something fresh for yourself, remember this study.

Any positive changes you make to your lifestyle aren’t only going to impact your external health, it’s making a difference at the genetic level!

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roast cauli with chorizo

Recently I’ve been reading a fab little book by one of my blogging friends. It’s called ‘The Butcher and the Vegetarian’.

It chronicles my friend’s journey from vegetarian to occasional meat eater for health reasons. And it’s a great read.

Tara talks about growing up, when her mother was all about making everything as healthy as possible. They often ate steamed veg with brown rice and NO oil or salt. Not exactly tasty.

It made me a little sad because I think there is often a misconception that healthy food can’t be pleasurable.

The thing is, if you eat broccoli and actually enjoy it, you get the same health benefits as if you ate it like it were a badge of honour.

So today I wanted to share my favourite tricks for making veg taste amazing… Because aren’t we all more likely to eat more veg if we actually enjoy them?

6 Ways to Make Vegetables Taste as Good as Potato Chips*

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h&t 3D cover

OK, I’m super excited and a little nervous because it’s been almost 2 years since my last new eCookbook.

Anyway, here goes…

‘Healthy & Tasty Meals Made Easy’ is now ready!

For all the details go to:

With love,
Jules x
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slow roasted lamb shoulder-6

I love this time of year.

Here in Oz, Summer is just around the corner and the lure of long lazy days on the horizon. Yay for holidays.

Even though we don’t officially celebrate Thanksgiving here, I love the concept of this holiday.

When I lived in California, I really embraced it. Taking the time to get together with your loved ones and give thanks with a big feast thrown in.

What’s not to love about that?

But the holidays can come with their fair share of stress.

So I thought I’d talk about the 2 biggest mistakes most people make when it comes to entertaining. And of course my tips for avoiding them…

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Zucchini Mac & Cheese

Today I have a bit of a favour to ask…

In a few weeks I’m going to be releasing my new eCookbook called ‘Healthy & Tasty Meals Made Easy‘. I’m super excited about it because it’s been almost 2 years since my last new book.

But before I put my latest ‘baby’ out into the big wide world, I’d love to get some feedback on it.

That’s where you come in.

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yogic green salad

This time 5 years ago I was at a big crossroads.

I loved my job designing Tim Tams (chocolate cookies) for Australia’s largest biscuit manufacturer. I mean who wouldn’t love working with chocolate?

However, earlier in the year I’d had a glimpse of another life. Writing my first cook book was an experience that I’d loved so much.

Maybe it was my calling to write about food?

At first I dismissed the idea. How on earth could I earn as much money as I did in the corporate world?

But like most good ‘scary’ ideas, it kept coming back.

About the same time I’d discovered the blog, Zen Habits. I was getting deeply into the concept of simplicity in life. As I read about Leo’s own transition from a job he hated to full time blogger, it dawned on me…

I didn’t need to match my 6-figure corporate salary. If I put my mind to it, and really simplified my life, I could live on a fraction of the amount.

All of a sudden the change seemed within reach and in January 2010 I quit my job.

I haven’t looked back.

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easy fish curry-2

Do you ever feel ‘too tired to cook’ after a long busy day? Well you’re certainly not alone!

A few years ago I surveyed Stonesoup readers for their biggest cooking challenges. The number 1 response was being ‘tired at the end of a long day’.

We all know what that feels like.

But how do you make it easier to cook when you’re tired AND hungry?

Or as one of my students calls it…’HANGRY’.

So here’s my simple 2-step process to make it easier to get into the kitchen and cook the delicious, healthy meals you and your family deserve…

STEP 1. Have actual food in the house

If there isn’t food in the house we’re all more likely to pick up takeout than go to the store, buy ingredients, come home and cook. Food in the house gives you a HUGE head start.

I find there are 2 parts to this.

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moroccan meatball tajine-3

When I was getting into cooking, one of the few things I found really intimidating was working with spices. I’m not sure what caused my ‘spice phobia’ but I do remember only using spices if the recipe called for them. I’d always use exactly the types and amounts listed.

Talk about restrictive.

Over the years, with a lot of trial and a little bit of error, I’ve adopted a more liberated approach to cooking with spices.

Why Use Spices?

If you’re ever short on time or short on space in your pantry, spices can be an absolute life saver when it comes to making food taste amazing.

Not only that, using different spices is by far the quickest and easiest way to make a boring old dish taste new and exciting.

What’s not to love about spice?

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easy chinese chicken

If I mention the words ‘mindless eating’, what thoughts pop into your head?

Probably nothing healthy, right?

For me ‘mindless eating’ normally evokes thoughts of chowing down on junk in front of the TV or computer. Big bags of chips or pop corn at the cinema. Or shoveling ice cream straight from the tub.

While I’m a huge fan of the concept of MindFUL eating, I’ve also come to appreciate that there’s a place for mindLESS eating in a healthy lifestyle.

Really? Mindless eating = healthy?

Mindless Eating for good is a concept I discovered via the lovely Darya Rose. It was coined by researcher Brian Wansink in his awesome book, ‘Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think’.

Basically Wansink’s research team have found that our bodies aren’t very good at accurately keeping track of how much food we eat. Most people can eat 20% less and not actually feel like they’re missing out on anything.

Wainsink calls this the ‘mindless margin’. It’s basically a ‘buffer zone’ where our brains don’t detect whether we’ve eaten more or less.

Over time, the extra (or less) food eaten in the mindless margin adds up to weight gained (or lost!).

So today I wanted to share some tips from Wainsink’s book that I’ve found helpful.

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kale 'cabonara'-4

I‘m a huge believer in the power of habits for helping to put everyday decisions on autopilot, making it much easier to live a healthy life.

One of the things I’ve learned in my study of habit formation over the years is the power of public commitment.

Earlier in the year, I joined Febfast and committed to a month without alcohol.

It was tough. Especially the night we were staying with friends in Sydney and everyone else was drinking really lovely wine.

One of my friends tried to persuade me to have some. They weren’t going to tell anybody…

It was tempting.

But you know what kept me from caving?

The thought of having to sit down here and admit to you that I had broken my promise.

While Febfast is long gone, I have a few bad cooking habits that I’ve been trying to kick on my own. And if truth be told, I haven’t been having much luck.

So today I’m ‘outing’ myself on my 3 worst habits. I’ll report back in a month or so to let you know how I’ve gone.

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bacon & cabbage-2

A few weeks ago, my Irishman was in a lift with a family with a sick baby. He mentioned that he has a one-year-old and the other parents were like, ‘Oh you must be used to him being sick’.

My Irishman was a little taken back by this.

Over dinner he told me about his encounter with the sick child.

We both realized we’ve been very lucky with Fergal. Apart from the odd runny nose, he hasn’t ever been really sick. (Excuse me while I just go and touch some wood!)

But is this just good luck? Or good genes? Or something we’re doing or not doing?

In all likelihood, it’s a combination. However, our habits and lifestyle must be having an impact.

4 Ways I Keep My Family Healthy

1. We eat real food.
The rate of obesity has increased at the same rate as our consumption of processed food. Coincidence? I think not.

What do I mean by ‘real food’?

Basically, it’s anything without a complicated ‘ingredients list’ on the pack. Or better yet, food that doesn’t come in packages. Like vegetables, fish, meat etc.

While most of our food falls into the ‘real’ category, we don’t obsess. I’m happy for occasional processed conveniences like commercial curry pastes or tomato ketchup.

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kale with pistachios-3

You know when you come across someone who is a kindred spirit? Someone who has similar philosophies to your own?

I love when that happens.

Like when I discovered Darya Rose from the fab little blog summertomato.com.

Darya and I share a lot in common including a love of vegetables and legumes, a background in science (Darya has a Ph.D) and a firm belief in the power of healthy eating. We’ve both written guest posts for Tim Ferrissblog, which is how I discovered her.

Anyway, Darya’s book Foodist: Using Real Food and Real Science to Lose Weight Without Dieting is one of the best books I’ve read on healthy eating.

Actually I love it so much I’ve read (listened to the audiobook version) about 5 times in the last year.

If you’re at all interested in how to use real food and healthy habits to control your weight, or even just after some inspiration to help you eat healthier, I can’t recommend Foodist enough.

But in case you need more convincing, I contacted Darya and asked her a couple of questions…

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red velvet brownies-3

Can you believe it’s September already?

I know!

I really love this time of year. Spring is just beginning to make an appearance both in the weather and the produce available at the farmers market. The days are getting longer.

And it’s my birthday(!)

This year, I’m continuing my birthday traditions of sharing a new cake recipe with you and having a birthday sale. So let’s dig in!

The Birthday Cake!

In case you’re new to my Stonesoup birthday tradition, previous celebrational treats have included a lemon delicious cake, a croissant surprise cake and last year’s birthday ice cream sandwich.

I actually started developing this year’s recipe over 12 months ago because I take my Birthday cake very seriously. I wanted to make a sweet treat using one of my favourite vegetables, beetroot.

Most baking recipes that use beets just call for grated beets, similar to carrot cakes. But I’ve always found the results disappointing. As much as I adore the earthy flavour of beets, it’s too much for me when used raw in a cake.

So the solution?

Easy, just used cooked beets.

And combining them with dark chocolate in a rich squidgy brownie doesn’t hurt. At all.

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The FREE Training is No Longer Available


Like to win one of 5 FREE places in the
Healthy Meal Method program?

Here’s how to enter…
1. Watch the FREE training videos above.
2. Leave a comment below the video telling me the story of how the Healthy Meal Method could make a difference to your life.

UPDATE: The Competition is NOW CLOSED.
The winners are:
James Barrett
Siri Jostad
Amanda Pierce
Susan Stone

Entries will be judged by me. I’ll be looking for creativity and enthusiasm!
Entries close Tues 8th September 2015.
Winners will be notified by email.




So I was very pleasantly surprised with the response to my previous post on fermenting vegetables.

It made me super happy to hear that so many of you are interested in fermentation and put in a request for my sauerkraut recipe.

So today that’s exactly what I have for you.



Simple Sauerkraut

I was never a huge fan of sauerkraut until I started making my own. Being able to control how fermented or ‘funky’ your kraut gets makes a huge difference. If you’re new to fermenting vegetables though I’d really recommend starting with fermented carrots which are much much easier!

This method is called dry brining and when you read through the method it’s hard to imagine it working. I know I always thought that when looking at kraut recipes. It wasn’t until I actually saw Sandor Katz make kraut that I ‘got it’. So I recommend checking out the video as it’s much easier to show you rather than write.

makes 1 medium jar
1/2 head cabbage

1. Day 1. Cut cabbage in half lengthwise and trim the surfaces that were already cut. Remove outer leaves and discard. Finely slice the cabbage as well as you can. I use a knife because I like it rustic. But you could use a mandoline if you want really fine kraut.

2. Place sliced cabbage in a large bowl. Sprinkle with a few generous pinches of fine salt as you go. You want at least 0.5% salt. I just add and mix and taste as I go. When the cabbage tastes slightly salty but still really fresh I leave it at that. (See notes below for more detailed quantities).

3. Massage cabbage with your clean hands. Sandor recommends 10 minutes but I usually do it for a few minutes and then leave it to stand so the salt can work its magic. You want the moisture from the cabbage to come out.

4. Pack the cabbage into a clean glass or ceramic jar. Press down firmly as you go to really release the moisture and pack it as tightly as possible. I like to use the back of a spoon. You want enough liquid to just cover the cabbage. If it looks too dry add a little filtered or boiled and cooled water. But be sparing as water will dilute the final flavour.

5. Seal with the lid and leave on the kitchen bench.

6. Day 2. Open the jar to release any gas buildup. Push the cabbage down to re-submerge. Taste.

7. Day 3+. Repeat as per day 2 and taste again. If the cabbage tastes tangy enough for you, pop it in the fridge and start eating. If not leave it out of the fridge and continue to taste every day until you’re happy. Depending on the temperature and how funky you like your kraut it can take from 3 days to months.

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Notes / Variations

Different Veg – I like savoy cabbage but recently made a mix of savoy and red cabbage that was really pretty. Turnips, carrots, apple and cooked spuds can all be added.

Flavourings – I haven’t tried any but celery seeds, curry spices, caraway seeds, or chilli can all be used.

Quantity rule of thumb – 1kg veg will fill a 1L vessel and will need about 0.5% – 1% salt so about 5-10 grams.

If in doubt when tasting – pop it in the fridge because this will slow the fermentation down and you can always pull it back out if you decide later that it’s not strong enough for you.

Different containers – Don’t ferment in metal due to corrosion. Plastics can be OK but I prefer glass or ceramics so you can be certain there are no plastics leaching into the ferment.

Floating veg – you can put a weight to hold down the veg as they tend to float. I usually don’t bother.

Fill levels – Don’t fill to the top due to expansion

Light degrades some nutrients but generally light is OK. It doesn’t need to be in a dark cellar and is better in the kitchen where you won’t forget about them. Plus UV rays from the sun act as a mould inhibitor.

White Mold – just skim and discard they’re not toxic.

Bright Coloured Molds – are toxic – discard the project. But don’t stress about this too much. No one has died from eating fermented vegetables.

Video Recipe

Or view video recipe over here.

With love,
Jules x
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ps. I’ve also recently uploaded a video for making fermented carrots (much easier than kraut!). It’s available over here.


fish with asparagus & goats cheese-2

Without a doubt, the saddest day of the year for me is the 20th August.

You see it’s the day that nine years ago my family huddled in a little hospital room and watched my Mum breathe her last breath.

I still really miss her.

This year I’m feeling it even more than usual. I think it’s because now that Fergal is getting more interactive I often imagine how much my mum would have delighted in spending time with him.

I also wish she was around so I could ask her questions about this whole motherhood thing.

But I didn’t sit down today to make myself or you cry.

I just wanted to share a trick that’s really helped me deal with the loss of someone so special.

Whenever I’m feeling lost and wishing I could call Mum and ask her for help, I ask myself a question instead. ‘What would June do?’

The funny thing is as soon as I ask it, I usually feel exactly what the answer is.

Just something that I’ve found useful. If you’re ever missing someone, try it. It might just help you too.

And of course I wanted to remember my Mum. So I have a little June-friendly recipe that includes some of her favourite things (asparagus and fish) and lots of her favourite colour (green).


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