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First things first. I just want to wish you a very Happy New Year! I hope you have some exciting things planned.

I have a heap of projects I’m super excited about including buying a little farm house. And hopefully later in the year ‘finding’ a baby brother or sister for Fergal.

So I thought we’d start the new year in a big way! I’m super excited about an idea I got from one of my students the lovely Katie Lee. Katie took my very first online cooking class, solve your dinner dilemma back in 2010. Any she had the brilliant idea to do a series of posts focusing on different ways to prepare different vegetables. Such a great idea!

So I thought I’d kick things off with one of my all time favourite veg. That also happens to be one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet.

Yes my friend today it’s all about kale!

What’s so great about kale?

As I mentioned above kale is one of the most nutrient dense foods. Apart from the obvious vitamins (A, C, B6, E) and minerals (manganese, calcium, potassium, iron) it has a relatively high level of protein (for a vegetable).

Even better, it contains a number of chemicals that are thought to reduce the risk of cancer.

And did I mention it’s delicious?

How to choose kale

There are hundreds of varieties of kale. The most common are curly kale and the darker coloured black Tuscan kale (also known as cavolo nero, lacinato kale or dinosaur kale).

Mostly sold in bunches or as loose leaves of baby kale. Pretty much you’re looking for vibrant green leaves with no signs of wilting. Smaller leaves tend to have a milder (less bitter) flavour so if you’re trying to turn a fussy eater into a kale-lover best to stick to the baby leaves.

How to store kale

It will last for 1-2 weeks in the fridge wrapped in a plastic bag.

Mise en place

To store for longer, rinse kale and slice crosswise into ribbons. You can remove the stems if you like but I don’t usually bother. Cook over a medium heat with a little oil or butter in a large pan. Keep the pan covered so the kale can steam and stir every few minutes. Will take about 5 minutes. Keep refrigerated in a container for 3-4 weeks.

9 kale recipe ideas

1. Raw in a salad
One of my favourites, just finely slice and toss in your favourite salad dressing. I particularly like this green chickpea salad if you need a recipe.

2. Wilted with lemon
See below for my latest kale-centric obsession.

3. Kale Curry
Wilt kale into your favourite curry. Or use instead of the spinach leaves in this lamb saag.

4. Soup
The Tuscans have a famous soup called ribolitta with is basically minestrone with some stale bread and kale wilted through it. I love how the kale adds its beautiful dark green colour. I also often use kale in my refrigerator soup.

5. Kale ‘chips’
Perfect for when you feel like a healthier salty snack than potato chips. Toss kale leaves in a little oil and bake on a tray for 10 minutes or until crisp. Also good with parmesan grated over.

6. Topping for pizza
A favourite in our house is this kale and onion pizza.

7. With poached eggs for breakfast
Something I have at least once a week. Just serve the kale leaves whole if small or sliced. Fergal is a fan of ‘gumming’ raw kale with a little egg yolk smeared on one end. And here’s my poached egg recipe if you need some tips.

8. Kale Stir Fry
Like this ground beef with kale. It’s also great with oyster sauce as a substitute for Chinese broccoli or bok choy.

9. Kale with chorizo
Another all time favourite dinner around here.

How to grow kale

A bonus section for garden lovers. I’ve had heaps of luck growing kale. Just plant the seeds directly in the ground in Autumn (Fall) and it will grow right through the Winter. It will withstand severe frosts and actually tastes sweeter after the first frost.


lemony kale-3

Addictive Lemony Kale

Inspired by my latest favourite YouTube cooking show, Bondi Harvest.

This is the type of thing I love to make when it’s just me for dinner. If I’m not super hungry I’ll just have a heaping bowl of the kale on it’s own because (IMHO) you can never have too much kale. But if I’m ravenous I’ll add some protein in the form of a poached egg or some cheese.

Enough for 1-2
large hunk of butter
1 bunch kale
1 clove garlic, finely chopped or crushed, optional
3-4 tablespoons lemon juice
1-2 handfuls ricotta, optional

1. Heat butter on a medium heat in a largish saucepan.

2. Wash kale. Don’t dry as the water will help it steam. Cut into ribbons about 2cm (1in) or finer across the stem.

3. Add kale and garlic to the pot. Cover and cook stirring every few minutes until the kale has wilted down. Will take about 5 minutes.

4. Remove from the heat and stir in lemon juice. Season and serve with ricotta on top, if using.

dairy-PALEO free – use olive or coconut oil instead of the butter and serve the kale on its own or replace the cheese with a poached egg or some cooked chicken breast or thigh.

vegan – use olive or coconut oil instead of the butter and serve the kale on its own or replace the cheese with a huge handful of roasted nuts or chunks of avocado.

no kale? – will work with pretty much any greens such as spinach, baby spinach, chard (silverbeet), collard greens, beet tops.

different cheese – I’ve used ricotta here but most cheese will work well. Try goats cheese, parmesan, blue cheese, cottage cheese, cheddar, or some pan fried halloumi.

Video Version of the Recipe.

With love,
Jules x
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ps. What vegetable would you like to see me profile next on Stonesoup? Let me know in the comments below :)


I‘m really not a huge fan of the term ‘superfood’. Basically because there tends to be lots of hype and a big price tag for something that may or may not taste any good.

So I was a bit hesitant to jump on the chia seed band wagon. But my curiosity got the better of me.

And you know what?

They are pretty tasty little suckers. Combined with their nutrition credentials they’re worthwhile having around.

So today I thought I’d share some chia seed facts in case you’ve been thinking about trying them yourself…

13 Things You Should Know About Chia Seeds

1. They pack a mean nutritional punch.
A look on the back of the chia seed pack says it all. They’re made up of protein, fat and dietary fibre. Plus there’s a heap of minerals including calcium, magnesium, iron, and phosphorous.

2. They’re high in fibre
So they’re going to keep you regular. And about 20% of the fiber is soluble. The beauty of soluble fiber is that it promotes a healthy digestive system by feeding the good microbes in your gut.

3. They can absorb A LOT of water.
Which means they bulk up and give you a full feeling for longer. Although if you aren’t drinking enough water, this can cause ‘blockages’ if you know what I mean… So make sure you stay well hydrated.

4. They have a crazy texture.
The seeds themselves aren’t too dissimilar to poppy seeds, nothing too crazy there. But add water and you have a completely different beast. Slimy or oozy is probably the best way to describe it. I really like it but I can see why you might be put off (don’t think about snot).

5. They come in different colours.
I’ve had black and white and apart from the visuals couldn’t really detect a difference.

6. They come in different forms.
You can buy whole seeds, chia bran, ground chia and chia seed oil. I’ve used whole seeds in the recipe below. And have been using the bran as my ‘go-to’ fiber source to have on yoghurt or in a smoothie because it’s gluten free and super low carb.

7. You can sprout them.
I haven’t tried it but remember the chia pet? Yes, if you decide you don’t like them you can always turn the rest of the packet into a member of the family.

8. They make a brilliant low carb breakfast.
I love them instead of oats in a bircher-style muesli. Use 1/4 cup chia seeds and 3/4 cup liquid such as milk, coconut milk or almond milk. If you like grated apple you can add that as well. Either soak overnight in the fridge or leave for 20 minutes if you’re short on time.

9. They are pretty expensive.
That ‘superfood’ label comes with a price tag. Definitely not for you if you’re cooking on a budget. But I’m sure as they become more widespread this will moderate itself.

10. They’re grown in Australia.
So if you’re in Oz you can support a local industry.

11. They’re high in Omega-3s
So if you’re not eating enough fish, they are a great alternative. Like the omega-3s in flax seeds, the chia omega-3s are a bit more difficult for our bodies to digest than fish omega-3s. So best to use ground chia seeds to make it easier on your body to get the goodies it needs.

12. They can be used as an egg replacer.
I haven’t tried this because I love eggs. But Sarah Wilson suggests combining 1 tablespoon ground chia seeds with 3 tablespoons water for each egg you’re replacing.

13. They’re not too hard to track down.
I live in a small country town and my supermarket stocks chia seeds. If yours doesn’t, try your local health food store or I’m sure you’d be able to get them online.

chia seed 'risotto'-3

Chia Seed & Mushroom ‘Risotto’

I have 2 warnings with this dish. If you’re not a fan of slimy or gooey textures, this won’t be the best recipe for you. If that hasn’t deterred you, make sure you drink lots of water to keep everything regular.

Enough for 2
3-4 tablespoons butter
4 field mushrooms, sliced
100g (3.5oz) chia seeds
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 large handfuls grated parmesan, plus extra to serve
large handful baby spinach, to serve

1. Heat half the butter in a medium saucepan. Cook mushrooms over a medium heat until well browned and soft. Remove and keep warm.

2. Add the rest of the butter, chia seeds and stock to your saucepan.

3. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes or until the texture is oozy like a good risotto.

4. Stir in parmesan and serve the ‘risotto’ with mushrooms on top and baby spinach on the side.

no chia seeds? – Make a red lentil ‘risotto’ instead. Use (200g / 7oz red lentils and 3 cups stock).

dairy-free / vegan – replace butter with extra virgin olive oil and replace parmesan with brazil nut ‘parmesan’.

no stock – like a regular risotto, we’re really relying on our stock to provide flavour. The only thing I’d consider trying is a mixture of tomato passata and water.

carnivore – cook some crumbled pork sausages with the mushrooms.

Video version of the recipe.

With love,
Jules x
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“Eat all the junk food you want
as long as you cook it yourself”

Michael Pollan

I just love this time of year. The mad dash to get everything ready for Christmas. The promise of lazy Summer holidays looming.

And of course the many opportunities to celebrate with my favourite things: good food, good company, good vino and good music.

But as you know, such celebrations can take a toll on one’s waistline. And with our wedding (!) just around the corner, I’m planning on finding the right balance between indulgence and moderation.

So today I thought I’d share my best tips for enjoying all the season has to offer without the usual regrets.

And I have a real treat of a recipe! It’s not exactly Christmassy but it’s the perfect example of what a difference tip number 1. can make.

5 Clever Ways to Indulge Guilt-Free

1. Make it yourself.
I love Michael Pollan’s quote about junk food. It’s pretty much how I get my indulgences. The beauty of making it yourself is that it limits the amount you can make (and eat).

But more importantly, by cooking at home you aren’t restricted by arbitrary profit margins, like junk food factories. This means you can usually afford to use the best quality ingredients, which are often the healthiest option. Or if you choose not to, at least you know exactly what went into your ‘junk food’ treat.

2. Minimise kitchen ‘picking’.
Don’t you hate when you spend hours in the kitchen, picking at things here and there only to sit down to your meal and not feel like eating anything because you’re so stuffed? This happens to me all the time so I’ve been experimenting with ways to avoid this cook’s treats curse.

My sister Nao gave me a brilliant idea. She always has fresh veg chopped in the fridge ready for emergency snacking. So when she walks into the kitchen to prepare dinner and is tired and super hungry, she chomps on carrots, celery or snow peas instead of filling up on tasting whatever she’s cooking.

I’ve tried it and it makes a huge difference for me when I’m tired in the evenings. So I’m planning to have some veg ready for my Christmas cooking.

My other approach this year will be to make sure I have a proper breakfast before I start cooking so I hopefully avoid having an empty stomach eroding my willpower.

3. Watch your plate sizes.
You know the old ‘dieters’ trick to use smaller plates because the same amount of food will look like a more generous serving than the same amount served on a larger plate. Well, I’ve been testing it out and this simple optical illusion does make a difference. So keep your plates small.

4. Be careful of serving ‘family style’.
When there is loads of delicious food in the middle of the table, it’s so easy to keep going back for more and completely over do it. There are two ways to avoid this old chestnut.

First is to only serve healthy things in the middle like big salads and veggies. And plate up the indulgent items individually. Leave leftovers in the kitchen so it’s more of an effort to go back for seconds.

But if you’re like me and you prefer to let everyone serve themselves, the other approach is to serve yourself everything you want to eat first. Lay it out on your place before you start eating. And then only refill your plate once that food is all gone and you’re sure you won’t be overdoing things by having more. Not as easy to master as the first strategy, but at least this way you can keep track of how much you’re actually eating.

5. Be mindful of your mouthful.
My favourite trick for eating mindfully isn’t counting how many times you chew, although that can work.

I prefer to just check in with myself as I’m eating. Each time I go to load up my fork I ask myself am I already chewing? If yes, I put the fork down and concentrate on fully enjoying my mouthful before I pick up my fork to go in for the next one.

Same goes with speaking when there’s food in my mouth (my mum was on to something!)

mac and cheese

Comforting (Yet Sophisticated) Mac & Cheese

When I was pregnant I really got into exploring the world of hard cheeses. There are so many amazing melting cheeses that really elevate the humble mac & cheese to something comforting yet tasty enough to please the most sophisticated palates.

My favourite is a combo of emmental, gruyere and raclette. But pretty much any cheese is good here. I often add a little parmesan for flavour. It’s a great way to use up any small scraps of cheese floating around your fridge. A touch of blue can be lovely but be careful it doesn’t over power.

Best served with a simple green salad to freshen things up.

enough for 2
1 onion
1/2 cup white wine
200g (7oz) cheese, grated
200g (7oz) short pasta
2 tablespoon double cream

1. Preheat oven to 180C and get a pot of water on to boil for the pasta.

2. Meanwhile cook onion in a little oil over a medium low heat until soft but not browned. Add the wine and allow to simmer and reduce for a few minutes.

3. Cook pasta until almost tender (al dente). Drain well and return to the pot.

4. Quickly stir in onion mixture, 2/3s of the cheese and the cream. Divide between two oven proof dishes. Top with remaining cheese.

5. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden and bubbling.


dairy-free – you’re kidding right? Get your fix for a creamy pasta by making a traditional cabonara with just egg yolks and bacon instead.

grain-free – replace pasta with cauliflower chopped into florettes – about 1/2 head cauli for 2 people. Simmer or steam until almost tender then drain well.

gluten-free – just use a good commercial GF pasta or try the grain-free option above. There are some pretty good ones out there these days. Or replace with a drained can of chickpeas.

alcohol-free / tiny person-friendly – replace the wine with verjuice (unfermented unripe grape juice) or use a small squeeze of lemon juice for freshness instead. The other option is to skip the wine and replace the cream with sour cream.

no cream? – replace with a little butter or olive oil.

onion-free – replace with finely chopped celery or carrot or both. Or just skip it along with the wine.

Video version of the recipe.


red christmas star

I really hope you have a lovely Christmas and wish you and your family all the best for the New Year.

Thanks so much for reading and being a big part of the Stonesoup community in 2013. I really appreciate your support!

Look forward to seeing you when Stonesoup returns on the 7th Jan.

With love,
Jules x
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steak & rocket salad-4Well, I may have just the thing for you! I’m working on a new meal planning service that I’m getting ready to release in the new year.

Of course, I want the new service to be as helpful as possible.

So before I put the finishing touches on it, I just wanted to ask you a couple of questions.

It will only take a minute or so. And they’re all ‘tick the box’ so you won’t even need to do any typing…


This time 4 years ago, I was living in a little apartment in the beautiful city of Barcelona. I say ‘living’ but it was really only a 6 week holiday.

These days when I travel I like to rent an apartment rather than stay in hotels. I try and adopt the everyday life of the locals as much as possible. For me travel is about exploring what it like to live, shop, cook and eat out in a different place. Much more fun than visiting churches and museums.

One of my favourite indulgent tapas discoveries was a dish called ‘patatas bravas’. It’s basically fried potatoes with a hot tomato based sauce that’s sometimes also served with a garlicky mayo. Soo good.

So when I spied the recipe for potato with ‘brava’ sauce in the latest Movida book I had to try it.

Fergal’s cousin Dan (aka ‘Dan the man’) and his parents were over for a BBQ. The plan was to have BBQ chicken with some salad and the potato with the sauce on the side.

But as so often happens, things evolved at the table. Everyone kept going back for more of the ‘brava’ sauce to have with the chicken. Definitely a winner!


seared swordfish with 'brava' sauce-3

Quick Fish with ‘Brava’ Sauce

Inspired by Frank Cammorra’s latest book, Movida. I’ve used swordfish here but most fish will be lovely. If fish isn’t your thing see below for other ideas.

Enough for 2
2 fish fillets or steaks
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
1/2 teaspoon tabasco sauce (or more!)
2 large handfuls washed salad leaves, to serve

1. Heat a frying pan on a medium high heat. Rub fish with a little oil and sprinkle with sea salt.

2. Cook fish for 3-4 minutes on each side or until you’re happy.

3. While the fish is cooking stir together the mayo, ketchup & Tabasco. Taste and add more Tabasco if needed. Or if too hot add more mayo.

4. Serve fish with sauce spooned over and leaves on the side.

sugar-free – replace ketchup (tomato sauce) with tomato paste – add to taste but I’d start with 1-2 teaspoons. And make sure you’re using a sugar-free mayo.

vegetarian – serve with pan fried halloumi or a couple of fried eggs.

vegan – use vegan mayo and serve with roast potatoes or sweet potato, or try it with pan fried eggplant ‘steaks’.

egg-free – use a vegan mayo.

– replace fish with chicken thigh fillet or breast, pork fillet, pork chops, pork sausages or even a thick juicy steak. Also lovely with a simple roast chicken.

different fish – most fish fillets or steaks are good here or you could serve with smoked or canned fish such as tuna or sardines.

no tabasco?
– replace with a splash of sherry vinegar and some dried chilli powder or chilli flakes. Fresh chilli finely chopped will also work.

Video version of the recipe.

With love,
Jules x
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boiled eggs & curried chickpeasI have big news today!

My gorgeous sister Nao and I are working on a new blog dedicated to taking the stress out of family meal times.

It won’t be ready until the new year. In the mean time we’d love to get your opinion to make sure we’re on the right track!

Share your thoughts in our quick survey below…

With love,
Jules x


Looking back the Summer holidays around Christmas 2008 were a huge turning point in my life.

I’d been blogging as a hobby for a few years and loving it more and more.

My mum had died suddenly a bit over a year before and I was finally ready to start writing a cookbook of her recipes as a gastronomic memoir.

The project had been banging around in my head for a while. I was super excited to have some time to focus on the writing, cooking and photography needed to bring the it to life.

Those two weeks of holiday were some of the best in my life. I just loved my days pottering in the kitchen or over the keyboard. I was hooked. A tiny idea began to grow… How much fun would it be to write cookbooks for a living?

The dream was born to make the career transition from chocolate biscuit (cookie) designer to full time blogger and author.

I enlisted the help of my dear friend, Jo ‘Rabbit’ who had experience with career coaching. She encouraged me to set some concrete goals and timings. So I bravely gave myself until the end of 2010 to make the momentous move.

At the same time I’d discovered Leo Babauta’s fabulous blog, Zen Habits and was getting deeply interested in the concept of minimalism and simplicity in life. As I read about Leo’s own transition from a job he hated to becoming an entrepreneur and full time blogger, it dawned on me.

I didn’t need to instantly match my 6 figure corporate salary with my new career. 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 my reach and in January 2010 I left the corporate world.

I haven’t looked back.

These days I feel incredibly blessed. I get to help people all over the world discover that healthy eating doesn’t need to be complicated. I only work on projects that I love. I have the freedom to fit in my work around taking care of my almost-6 month old baby.

Oh yeah, and I’m making way more money than I ever did as a corporate slave.

The thing is, I’m not sure if I ever would have made it here if I hadn’t gotten serious about simplifying my life. That really was the key.

I wonder. What opportunities might open up if you started to simplify YOUR life?

You’re probably wondering why I’m talking about this instead of giving you a new recipe. Well I just wanted to share with you a really exciting project that I’m a part of.

It’s called ‘A Simple Year’ and basically it’s a year long program of guided simplicity that focuses on simplifying a different area of your life each month.

If it sounds like something you might benefit from go to:

Registration is only open for another week or so.

With love,
Jules x

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My Dad has never been much of a cook. Tea, toast and the odd batch of porridge (oatmeal) on a frosty winter morning is all I can ever remember him preparing in the kitchen.

So after my Mum died, needless to say, I was worried about him on many levels. How was he going to cook for himself?

To make sure he didn’t fade away to a shadow, I’d drive down to the farm from Sydney every few weeks. I really enjoyed those weekends pottering about in our big country kitchen cooking up soups and stews, tajines and curries. Basically anything I could freeze in single servings.

Dad would sit in the kitchen with me mostly just chatting but sometimes asking questions about what I was doing. I took his interest as a positive sign and tried to get him involved in the chopping and stirring.

We had a few attempts at teaching him to make things he loved to eat. Like lamb shanks or how to roast a leg of lamb and some veggies. But looking back now, I realise our lack of success was more my fault.

Basically, I was trying to teach Dad things that were too complicated…

You see, I hadn’t discovered the joys of minimalism and it would be another year or so before I developed my 5 ingredients philosophy. If only.

Fast forward 5 years. Dad has sold the farm and moved into Canberra. He has lunch in a cafe or the local club most days. I suspect that the rest of his meals are pretty random (he mentioned having 4 oranges for dinner the other day). But he’s healthy and happy and hasn’t wasted away.

Even though I stopped worrying about him, I have still harboured the hope that he might give this cooking thing another try.

So when I gave him an advance copy of my print book ‘5 Ingredients 10 Minutes‘ back in January I was like…

‘Dad, this is about as easy as cooking can get, I’m sure you’d be able to make most things in the book. How about you surprise me and cook one?’

And Dad would reply ‘Yes Jul, I should be able to do that’.

As the months passed, I occasionally inquired as to whether Dad had had any luck with trying something from my book.

‘No not yet, but you’re right I should do that’

So you can imagine my surprise when I got a call from my Dad early one Monday morning…

‘I made one of the recipes from your book Jul… The butter chicken curry.

I cooked it. I ate it and I’m still alive. I even enjoyed the experience

It was just so damn simple.

I mean you’ve just got the shopping list there. It’s only 5 things. you go to the supermarket and get what you need… No wandering around aimlessly.

Then bring them home, follow the instructions and before you know it it’s done!

I might try another one soon…’

8. mild & creamy indian curry

Dad’s Butter Chicken Curry

From ‘5 Ingredients 10 Minutes’.

My first casual job at university was waitressing at a local Indian restaurant. It taught me two very important life lessons. First, I am hopeless when it comes to waiting tables. And second, that Indian food is delicious.

‘Butter chicken’ or ‘Chicken Tikka Masala’ was my first Indian food love. In restaurants, butter chicken can be super greasy. So it’s much better to enjoy it at home when you can control the amount of cream you add. I also like having the freedom to turn up the chilli heat.

For a vegetarian version, butter tofu would be great or even butter chickpeas.

Enough for 2
450g chicken thighs
2 tablespoons garam marsala
1 – 2 teaspoons chilli flakes
1 can tomatoes (400g / 14oz), chopped
2 – 3 tablespoons whipping cream (35% milk fat)

1. Bash out thighs a little with a saucepan to tenderise. Chop into chunks.

2. Heat a few tablespoons olive oil in a large frying pan (skillet) over a medium high heat.

3. Brown chicken for few minutes each side.

4. Add garam marsala and chilli. Stir for a few seconds.

5. Add tomatoes and their juices. Simmer for about 5 minutes.

6. Stir in cream and bring back to a simmer.

7. Taste and season with salt, pepper and a little sugar if you like it sweet.


dairy-free – Replace cream with coconut milk.

vegan – Replace chicken with tofu, or a drained can of chickpeas or 1/2 head of cauliflower and replace cream with coconut milk.

vegetarian – Replace chicken with tofu, or a drained can of chickpeas, lentils, 1/2 head of cauliflower, or even some button mushrooms.

change the spicing – Garam marsala is lovely here but for a different take, try a different curry powder or think about making your own spice blend.

try real butter – I like the slight milkiness that cream brings, but you could always do super decadent and use butter instead.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Looking for Christmas gift ideas?

Then check out my two PRINT BOOKS.
Perfect for wrapping and popping under the tree!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

5 ingredients 10 minutes cover image

Delicious, healthy meals for tired & hungry cooks…

’5 Ingredients 10 minutes’ is designed to come to the rescue when the ‘What’s for dinner?’ question crosses your mind. It’s about fresh, healthy delicious food that also happens to be fast.

To LEARN MORE: (including FREE sample recipes) click here.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

3D cover2

Mum, a life with recipes…

A celebration of the Mums who bring so much joy to our lives, ‘And the Love is Free’ is a collection of stories and reliable no-fuss Australian family recipes.

To LEARN MORE: click here.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

With love,
Jules x
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* Thanks to my no-so-little brother Dom for inspiring this title with a text message he sent to my Dad’s new iPad.

5|10 online classes logops. To say THANK YOU to those of you who purchase extra copies of ‘5 Ingredients 10 Minutes’ to give as gifts, I’ve created different packages of ‘bonuses’.

These will only be available for a limited time to help encourage you to get your Christmas shopping done early!

All the details are over here:


One of the most common questions I get asked from Stonesoup readers is to include measurements for cups and spoons with my recipes.

My response is always to politely suggest that they invest in a set of kitchen scales.

If you’re already one of the kitchen scale ‘enlightened’ then skip on down to this week’s recipe. I have an unusual and super delicious cake for you. And the star ingredient?

Yep. It’s parsnips.

But if you’re yet to start baking with grams or ounces, here are 3 reasons to invest.

1. Quicker and easier.
Just pop your container on the scales, hit the zero button and add your chosen ingredient. Too easy.

2. Less mess!
No need to get all your cups dirty. Just weigh directly into your bowl / saucepan / food processor.

3. Weight is much more accurate.
For baking it’s important to get your measurements right. Using cups (volume) can be really variable especially for flours which can lead to variable baking results. And not in a good way!

Are you with me?

And best of all they don’t take up much space. Plus these days they aren’t very expensive. Just go for digital scales that are easy to ‘zero’ and a design that’s easy to wipe clean.

Happy baking!

parsnip cake

Spiced Parsnip & Chocolate Chunk Cake

Inspired by the boys from Three Blue Ducks in Bronte. Love their new cookbook!

I know parsnip in a cake sounds a little bit weird, but it works just like carrot to keep everything moist. And there’s something about the spices, parsnip and chocolate together that makes me keep finding excuses to bake this.

300g (10.5oz) parsnips
200g (7oz) oil or melted butter
200g (7oz) brown sugar
250g (9oz) almond meal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 eggs
100g (3.5oz) dark chocolate smashed into chunks

1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F). Line a loaf pan with baking paper.

2. Grate the parsnip using your food processor (or a grater). Remove the food processor blade and add the oil or butter, sugar, almond meal, baking powder, cinnamon, cumin, eggs and chocolate.

3. Stir until everything is mixed. Transfer the mixture to your prepared tin.

4. Bake for 1 hour or until the cake is deeply golden and feels springy in the middle when you touch it.

5. Cool in the tin or serve warm.

different veg – if parsnip in a cake is a bit too weird for you try carrot or zucchini (courgette) instead.

nut-free – replace almond meal with plain (all purpose) flour. Be prepared to reduce the baking time to make sure the cake doesn’t dry out.

chocolate-free – replace the chocolate with roasted nuts. Pecans, almonds or walnuts are all good.

vegan – replace eggs with a large ripe banana and increase the oil a little. I haven’t tried it for this recipe, so if you do please let me know how you get on.

sugar-free – I really love brown sugar here so if you’re using a sugar replacer like stevia or xylitol I would add in 1-2 tablespoons molasses for the flavour.

Video version of the recipe.

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With love,
Jules x

5|10 online classes logops. To say THANK YOU to those of you who purchase extra copies of ‘5 Ingredients 10 Minutes’ to give as gifts, I’ve created different packages of ‘bonuses’.

These will only be available for a limited time to help encourage you to get your Christmas shopping done early!

All the details are over here:


About a month before Fergal was born we decided to have a few friends around for dinner. And even though it was a lovely evening I was kicking myself, metaphorically, for most of the night.

You see, I’d broken my own cardinal rule of entertaining. And boy did it come back to bite me!

I found myself 8-ish months pregnant, trying to rush to get everything prepared in time. And failing miserably. I’m afraid to admit I was stressed out and frazzled.

It was all my fault.

So what is this Number 1. rule of Stress-free entertaining?


Where did I go wrong?

I’m sharing this so you can learn from my mistakes AND as a reminder to myself not to fall into the same trap this silly season…

1. Serving a hot starter
(potato rosti) that had to be pan fried at the last minute.Especially problematic for 10 people.

2. Last minute changes.
Choosing a dish for our one vegetarian (spiced fried halloumi) that needed to be pan fried at the last minute.

3. Having two meat based main courses.
For some reason I got it in my head there wouldn’t be enough food so I decided to cook some chorizo at the last minute to go with the slow roast lamb.

4. Too many sides!
I couldn’t decide between a cauliflower and pomegranate salad, good old potato salad (to showcase our freshly picked home grown spuds), and some sort of leafy salad. So I decided to serve all three. Crazy.

5. Too many condiments.
Not only were there all those salads, I also went overboard with the condiments. Serving a red onion and coriander (cilantro) chutney as well as hummus.

Where did I go right?

It wasn’t all bad. And it’s a good reminder that you can still enjoy yourself even if you do get stressed along the way…

1. Enlisting help.
When the guests arrived, I admitted I was behind schedule and accepted all offers to help. Someone set the table. Someone squeezed lemons for the hummus.

2. Serving everything in the middle.
Much faster than plating up individual serves.

3. Relaxing as soon as all the food was on the table.
I had to remind myself that it was about the company and to forget about the food and focus on my guests.

4. Not pointing out the problems.
As a cook it’s easy to see every little mistake, but as I learned when I was designing chocolate biscuits (cookies) and running taste tests, if you tell someone about a flaw, they will notice it. But if ya don’t, they won’t.

5. Do-ahead dessert.
I’d made a lovely pear and chocolate tart that just needed to be sliced and served. Which I got one of our guests to do at the table so there was no need for me to disappear into the kitchen.


A stress-free entertaining menu

A big bowl of Roast Pistachios
Succulent Slow Roast Lamb with Spicy Beet Sauce
Moorish Baby Spinach & Pine Nut Salad
Fudgy Chocolate Cake recipe here


slow roasted lamb shoulder-5

Succulent Slow Roast Lamb

Lamb shoulder is my favourite cut for this because it’s less expensive and tends to be fattier so it stays super moist. Don’t be put off by the long cooking time, as you really don’t need to actually do anything 95% of the time.

Enough for 3-4
1 lamb shoulder (also called forequarter) bone in
A few dried chilli flakes, optional

1. Turn your oven to 180C (350F).

2. Sprinkle lamb with chilli, if using, and a good few pinches of sea salt flakes. Wrap lamb in two layers foil, sealing well. Place on a roasting tray.

3. Pop lamb in the oven and set your timer for 1 hour.

4. After the first hour, reduce the heat to 150C (300F). Continue to cook for another 4 hours or longer until the lamb is so tender you can cut it with a spoon (literally). You can cool and refrigerate.

5. Remove foil from the lamb and cook at 180C (350F) to brown. Carve and serve warm.

short on time – fast roast at 180C for about 2 hours total.

vegetarian / vegan – slow roast some field mushrooms instead. About 1 hour at 150C / 350F.

extra flavours – 2 tablespoons ground coriander seed, or finely slice 2 lemons and pop in the foil or a big bunch of thyme or rosemary.


slow roasted lamb shoulder-4

Spicy Beet Sauce

Roast beets are one of my all time favourite veg and so I just adore this sauce. If beets aren’t your thing serve the lamb with hummus instead.

This was inspired by the fabulous book ‘Jerusalem’ by Yotam Ottolenghi.

4 large beets, scrubbed
4-6 tablespoon creamy Greek style yoghurt
2 tablespoons za’atar
1 clove garlic
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1. Wrap beets in foil individually and bake for about 1 hour at 180C (350F). Or until tender.

2. Cool beets and purée in your food processor with the yoghurt, za’atar, garlic and olio. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

vegan / dairy-free – replace yoghurt with 3 tablespoons each tahini and extra virgin olive oil.

can’t find za’atar – use 1 tablespoon each ground cumin and sesame seeds.

different veg – lovely with roast carrots or sweet potato instead.


slow roasted lamb shoulder

Moorish Baby Spinach & Pine Nut Salad

I love to serve a salad as a side because I can get it all ready in advance and just toss at the last minute. If you’d like to stretch your lamb further and keep costs down, serving with something carby like warm flat bread or roast potatoes is a good idea.

I don’t normally use a lot of dried fruit, but love the little bursts if sweetness from the currants here.

Enough for 4
2 tablespoons sherry or rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
small currants or raisins, optional
2 packets washed baby spinach leaves (about 200g / 7oz)
2 handfuls pine nuts

1. Combine vinegar, soy sauce, currants, if using, and 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a large salad bowl. Season.

2. Toss in leaves.

3. Serve with pine nuts sprinkled over.

different leaves – feel free to use any salad leaf here. Finely sliced kale is also good.

nut-free – skip the pinenuts or replace with toasted bread crumbs.

warm salad – warm the olive oil in a small saucepan before tossing in the dressing.

can’t find sherry vinegar? – use white wine vinegar or lemon juice instead.

With love,
Jules x

ps. Do you have any tips for stress-free entertaining? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below…


For the longest time, I’ve dreamed about buying a little farm. I can see it in my mind so clearly. There will be an olive grove, a little vineyard, an orchard of nut trees and another of citrus. And pride of place will go to a big walled veggie garden.

We’ll have chickens of course. And maybe my Irishman will even get into some bee keeping. I can’t wait!

The plan is to buy a place next year but luckily I have my little veggie patch here to play with in the meantime.

Since I’ve been growing some of my own veggies, I’ve been really interested in eating as much of the plant as possible. I hate throwing food away at any time, but when it’s something you’ve nurtured from tiny seeds, the urge not to waste is even stronger.

This has made me realize just how much edible food I used to throw away because I didn’t think to eat it.

So today I wanted to share my favourite edible discoveries. And if you have any others I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

7 veg you might be wasting…

1. Carrot tops
You know when you buy baby carrots, there’s no need to waste the lovely leaves! Because they look like flat leaf parsley and taste pleasantly ‘green’, you can use them most places you’d use leafy herbs.

2. Beet leaves and stems
Baby leaves are great served raw in salads but once the leaves get larger I find they need cooking to soften the texture and flavour.

I usually chop the stems finely so they’ll cook faster. My favourite method is to wash the leaves and stems and chop. Then pan fry in a little oil with some garlic just until everything is tender.

3. Chard (silver beet) stalks
I either keep the stalks to cook separately or I chop and sauté them in oil with a little garlic until they’re almost tender and then add the leaves.

4. Broccoli & cauliflower stems

Mostly when I’m cooking broccoli or cauliflower I finely slice the stems and just treat them the same as the florettes.

5. Broccoli leaves
Sometimes you can buy broccoli with tiny leaves attached. I just treat these the same as the rest of the head.

But if you’re growing your own you’ll have access to the mature leaves. I treat them the same as I would kale.

6. Broad bean leaves
I was very late planting my broad beans this year so I doubt we’ll get any actual beans. But it won’t be the end of the world because we’ll still have some broad bean leaves. They have a super fresh broad bean flavour that I adore. The texture can be a little limp though so I generally don’t use them alone in salads but will mix with other leaves.

They are lovely cooked in a pan until just wilted with a little garlic, oil and a splash of water.

7. Skins / peels
There aren’t many vegetables I bother to peel, apart from broad beans and sweet corn. Basically because I’m lazy but I tell myself it’s because much of the flavour and nutrition is in or just under the skins.

My Irishman and I once did a taste test of potatoes roasted with and without skins. The unpeeled ones were just bursting with potato flavour and we haven’t looked back!

I also love roasting pumpkin or butternut squash with the skins on and then eating the skin. So good as long as they’re well cooked!

carrot top pesto-4

Carrot Top Pesto

Inspired by the very good looking boys from Three Blue Ducks in Bronte. Love their new cookbook which my Irishman gave me for my birthday.

1 bunch baby carrot tops
1 bunch flat leaf parsley
1 small clove garlic
2 handfuls pine nuts
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large handful grated parmesan

1. Whizz carrot tops, parsley, garlic and nuts in a food processor until finely chopped.

2. With the motor running pour in the oil. Stir in parmesan. Taste and season if needed.


different herbs – feel free to play around. Basil, mint and coriander (cilantro) are all excellent additions or replacements.

budget / different nuts – I often use cashews instead of pine nuts. Almonds are also lovely in pesto.

garlic-free – replace that garlicky sharpness with a squeeze of lemon.

vegan / dairy-free – replace the parmesan with extra pine nuts or other nuts.

Video version of the recipe

carrot top pesto-2

Roast Chicken with Carrot Top Pesto

Since the arrival of Fergal, I’m a big fan of meals you can just pop in the oven to cook while you do the laundry or catch up on emails.

Enough for 2
4 chicken thigh fillets
1 bunch baby carrots
1 head garlic, broken into individual cloves, skins still on
carrot top pesto (above) to serve

1. Preheat oven to 200C (400F).

2. Place chicken, carrots and garlic in a roasting pan. Drizzle with some oil and sea salt.

3. Roast for 25-30 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink.

4. Serve hot with pesto on top.

short on time – use a commercial pesto instead.

can’t find baby carrots?
– use regular carrots and chop them in half lengthwise so they cook in the same amount of time.

different meat – you can use chicken breasts, drumsticks or thighs on the bone. Duck would be lovely as would lamb chops or sausages. You’ll just need to adjust the cooking time.

vegan – roast large field mushrooms instead of the chicken and use the dairy-free pesto version.

vegetarian – roast the carrots and garlic and serve with the pesto and a fried or poached egg.

Video version of the recipe.

With love
Jules x


I grew up on a sheep farm. My mum was an awesome cook and definitely passed on her sense of adventure in the kitchen to me.

But all in all we were very much a meat-and-three-veg type of family.

I’d never even heard of lentils until I saw Neil from the ‘Young Ones’ talking about them. Not exactly a great endorsement.

It wasn’t until I was in my 20s that I started to experiment with these delicious little legumes. It was love at first bite and since then I’ve been a dedicated lentil evangelist.

So I was super happy when I got the following request from Vicky…

Lentils!! I know that lentils are a great food that currently isn’t in my personal cooking repertoire but I know that they should be. For some reason figuring them out seems intimidating to me…

Let’s talk lentils! And make sure you check out this week’s recipe. Red lentils make an amazing ‘risotto’ style dish – it’s an idea I came up with myself… You can say you saw it on Stonesoup first!

6 reasons to love lentils

1. Lentils are delicious!
For me food has to taste good above all else. I just love the earthy flavour of lentils. The trick to remember is that they need seasoning to bring out their flavour. If you’re trying to convert a lentil-skeptic, start with red lentils because they have the mildest flavour.

2. Lentils are cheap
So cheap in fact that when I took the challenge to feed myself for $2 a day, lentils were my first choice.

3. Lentils are nutritious
They’re a great source of veggie protein, fiber and also folate, vitamin B1 and even iron.

4. Lentils don’t need soaking
Unlike beans and chickpeas, lentils don’t need soaking so you don’t need to be super organised to enjoy them.

5. Lentils are easy to cook
All you need to do is tip them into a pot of boiling water and let them simmer until they aren’t crunchy any more. Then drain and season and they’re good to go.

The only trick is to remember that they turn to mush when overcooked so it’s important to start testing early and keep an eagle eye on them. Red and brown lentils tend to have a small window between crunchy and mush. Puy (French-style green lentils) and Persian red lentils are more forgiving.

6. Lentils are quick
Most lentils cook in about 15 – 20 minutes. Red lentils require the least. Puy lentils (aka French-style green lentils), Persian red lentils and Beluga black lentils all take less than 20 minutes. Larger brown lentils can take up to 30 minutes but this is still much quicker than beans or chickpeas which can take hours!

My favourite Stonesoup lentil recipes

Parisian lentils
Lentil balls
Rice & lentils
Quick sausages & lentils
Lentil ragu with zucchini ‘noodles’
Lentil granola
Lentil tabbouleh

sausage & red wine lentil 'risotto'-3

Oozy Red Lentil ‘Risotto’ with Red Wine & Sausages

I love a good red lentil ‘risotto’. All the oozy goodness with lots more protein and fibre than your boring old rice risotto. And not only that, no need to stir constantly!

Enough for 2
1 onion, peeled & diced
2-3 thick pork sausages, skins removed and meat crumbled into chunks
1 cup red wine
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
200g (7oz) red lentils
2 handfuls grated parmesan + extra to serve

1. Heat a little oil in a medium saucepan and add onion. Cover and cook on a medium low heat, stirring occasionally for 5-10 minutes or until onion is soft.

2. When the onion is soft, increase the heat to medium high, add the sausages and cook for a few minutes until browned.

3. Add the lentils. Stir for a minute.

4. Add red wine and the stock. Stir well then simmer for 15-20 or until the stock is absorbed and the lentils are tender and oozy. If it gets too dry before the lentils are cooked, add a little water.

5. Add cheese and stir until combined. Taste and season. Serve with extra parmesan shaved over.

dairy-free / vegan – to be honest I can’t imagine risotto without the butter and cheese. But if you’re willing to give it a go use olive oil to fry the onion and finish with a tablespoon of tomato paste and more olive oil.

vegetarian – mushrooms are lovely instead of the sausages and replace the chicken stock with veggie stock.

use your imagination – pretty much any rice risotto can be adapted to the lentils. Just remember the lentils don’t need quite as much liquid as arborio rice.

different lentils – red lentils are best here because they break down to give that lovely oozy texture. Good old brown lentils will be fine but save your expensive Puy or French-style green lentils for other dishes.

– just skip it.

short on time – skip the onion and bring the red wine and stock to the boil in a separate saucepan while the sausages are browning.

Video version of the recipe

With love,
Jules x


When I was little, I remember being in awe of my mother’s cooking talents. And while I loved her lamingtons and her legendary lemon meringue pie, the thing that used to really amaze me was the nights we’d have meat and veg for dinner.

Getting so many parts ready so they were all cooked at the same time. The peas, the potatoes and the chops or sausages. I was sure I’d never be able to do that.

And so I didn’t. We at least not initially.

I learned to make sandwiches. I learned to make salads. I learned to bake cakes and cook pasta and make a curry with rice and roast a chicken.

But it all came from one thing. Being willing to try.

And why am I telling you this?

Because I recently got a request from Christopher asking me give him some pointers for how to get started cooking.

So here they are…

How to get started cooking for yourself

1. Decide that you can cook.
Like anything in life, if you don’t think you’ll be able to do it, it’s probably not going to happen. So this first, is deceptively simple yet all important.

And if you’re not sure, trust me. You can cook. And one day you might even be able to say you love to cook.

2. Accept that failure IS an option.
Last year, I had my birthday lunch at Noma in Denmark which was at the time, the best restaurant in the world. One of the things Rene Redzepi, the head chef, is passionate about is for his chefs to ‘fail’ or have disasters from time to time. His philosophy is that if you aren’t failing then you’re not trying hard enough.

So here’s the thing, people that love to cook (that includes you now) know that there are going to be things that don’t work out. It’s expected. Surely if it happens to the best chefs in the world, it’s OK for it to happen to you? Right.

3. Make a salad for yourself.
Now that we’ve got you in the right headspace it’s time to actually touch some food! And the good news is you don’t need to invest a small fortune in a new set of knives. You don’t even need a kitchen really. A knife and a chopping board can be helpful but aren’t essential.

Try either this tuna and chilli salad or a chickpea and parmesan salad for starters.

tuna saladchickpea salad

4. Make a salad for someone else.
One of the things I love about cooking is the opportunity to nurture my loved ones. There’s nothing as rewarding as sharing something you’ve made with your own two hands.

As one of my students in my online class, the Healthy Meal Method put it… ‘I love making someone smile with a piece of my lemon tart’.

But it doesn’t need to be anything fancy. A lovely fresh salad will suffice. And once you’ve had that feeling, it will motivate you to keep cooking. All cooks love the praise on some level.

Here are some salads that you might like to try for company:

bok choy & mustard salad-2
bok choy & mustard salad
chickpea feta & pinenut salad
chickpea & feta salad

shaved veg salads-8
shaved snowpea & ham salad

5. Try some soup.
So once we’ve got you hooked on the rewards of cooking, it’s time to actually apply some heat! Soup has to be one of the most underrated meals. And one of the most forgiving. Which makes it the perfect place to start playing with fire, so to speak.

All you need is a pot to cook in and some sort of heat source.

And the best news is a tasty soup doesn’t need to be simmering on the stove all day. In fact you can get a really lovely soup on the table in as little as 10 minutes.

I’d recommend starting with one of the following…

simple minestrone
simple minestrone soup
pea & pesto soup-2
pea & pesto soup

green curry of broccoli soup-2
addictive green curry of broccoli soup

white bean & tomato soup

And then…

And when you’re ready for more, explore the rest of the recipes on Stonesoup. I’ve been posting at least one recipe a week for almost 8 years so that’s over 400 recipes. Should keep you going for a while…

Like to learn more?

Let me know in the comments on Stonesoup. If there’s enough interest I’ll do a follow up post.

With love
Jules x


There’s something I’ve been meaning to share with you for a while. It’s about my policy when it comes to freebies.

You see, as my blog readership has grown, so has the number of emails I get from PR and other companies offering to send me free samples of ingredients, books and kitchen equipment.

In the early days I’d accept on the proviso that I wouldn’t be obliged to write about the product on Stonesoup. This was OK but I found most of the time I didn’t appreciate the freebies and I would often end up donating them to charity or the garbage bin. So over the last few years I’ve changed my policy.

Why am I telling you this?

Because I want you to know that anything I recommend here on Stonesoup is something I’ve made the conscious decision to spend my hard earned cash on. Same goes for anything you see in my videos or the props I use in my photos.

OK so now I’ve got that off my chest…

Let’s talk garlic presses!

First, I’m not a fan of ‘single-tasking’ kitchen utensils. I got rid of my cheap old garlic crusher back when I was simplifying my kitchen and my life.

It wasn’t a tough decision. I’d read somewhere that crushing garlic can make the garlic taste bitter and that chopping by hand was the way forward.

Then I think it was in the Kitchen Diaries II, Nigel Slater (still my all time favourite food writer) spoke about his love for his garlic crusher. I was curious. Apparently the bitterness was a problem with old aluminium garlic crushes but not so with modern stainless steel.

I had been toying with the idea of finding a good quality garlic crusher. But hadn’t got around to it when my Irishman came back from a trip to Canberra with the beauty pictured above.

So is the ‘Dreamfarm Garject’ the best garlic press in the world?

It’s easily the best garlic press I’ve ever encountered.

My favourite feature is that there’s no need to peel the garlic. Just pop your clove in and squeeze. Garlic comes out. Skins stay inside. Brilliant!

This makes it so much quicker and easier to get garlic ready. As a result I’ve found myself adding garlic to my cooking far more often.

So yes the Dreamfarm garlic press has earned its place in my kitchen.

Here is one of my latest stir fry recipes that gives you a great chance to go a bit garlic crazy. Sorry vampires!

snowpea & chicken stir fry-3

Crunchy Snow Pea & Garlic Stir Fry

This stir fry came about because I had a bag of snow peas lurking in the fridge and had been struggling for inspiration. So I thought I’d ‘use them up’ as a side dish to the Kung Pao Chicken my Irishman was making…

We were both blown away with how delicious the sweet crunchy veg were. The next week I gave it a whirl as a main course. Here it is!

Of course, if you don’t have a garlic press, just peel and chop finely with your knife.

Enough for 2
4 chicken thigh fillets or other protein (see below), sliced
2 really large handfuls snow peas (mange tout), topped
2-4 cloves garlic
3-4 tablespoons oyster sauce
large handful cashew nuts, to serve

1. Heat a little oil in a wok or large frying pan. Cook the chicken, stirring often for about 5 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink when you cut into a piece.

2. Place chicken in a clean bowl.

3. Quickly add a little more oil to the pan. Add snow peas and cook, stirring often for about 2 minutes.

4. Crush garlic into the wok and keep cooking and stirring until the snow peas are a little charred but still crunchy.

5. Return chicken to the pan. Add oyster sauce. Taste and season with more sauce if needed.

6. Serve ASAP with cashews.


vegetarian – use vegetarian oyster sauce (it does exist) or replace with soy sauce. Skip the chicken and serve the stir fry with 2 fried eggs per person.

– as above for the oyster sauce. And replace the chicken with firm tofu or a drained can of cannellini beans.

side dish – skip the chicken.

nut-free – replace cashews with finely chopped red capsicum (bell pepper) for colour and crunch.

garlic-free – just skip it or replace with finely chopped red chilli and/or ginger.

– serve with a few handfuls of coriander leaves (cilantro) or mint or basil.

hot! – add in a few chopped red chillies.

different protein – chicken breast, white fish fillets, salmon, fresh tuna, pork fillet, lamb back straps or lamb fillet, steak, beef fillet, any minced (ground) meat or poultry.

Video version of the recipe.

With love,
Jules x

ps. My favourite tiny person turned 4 months on Monday!
Time sure flies.


So I have a bit of a weird fetish. I’m always interested in experimenting with different diets.

Mainly because I’m curious to understand how changing what I eat changes the way I feel. But also because I want to understand what it’s like for people with allergies who have no choice in the matter.

When Fergal was first born, like most new mothers I was super vigilant in observing his every move. So when I noticed he was having a bit of reflux, I did some research.

One suggested solution was to try eliminating dairy from the mothers diet. So I decided to have ‘dairy-free week’.

While I love cheese way too much to ever voluntarily avoid dairy long term, it wasn’t too difficult just for the week. It didn’t really seem to make a difference to little Fergal. But on the upside I made some great discoveries…

12 Clever Ideas for Eating Dairy-free

1. Grated nuts as ‘Parmesan’
Finely grating Brazil nuts with a microplane has been my ‘go-to’ dairy-free option for ages. While it looks the part, the flavour isn’t as good as real parmesan. But recently I’ve discovered an alternative. See below for the recipe!

2. Whipped Coconut Cream
Desserts are easily the most difficult area to go dairy free. My favourite whipped cream alternative is to chill a can of coconut cream (the higher the fat content the better) then spoon the solid cream into a bowl and leave any watery liquid in the can. Whisk until thick just like regular whipping cream.

3. Roasted pine nuts instead of goats cheese
Where you have a cheese being used as a flavour highlight, for example in a salad of roast beets and goats cheese, roasted pinenuts or other nuts can work as a replacement by providing richness and visual interest.

4. Cashew ‘Sour Cream’
You need a super high-powered blender for this to work. Soak cashews in water for a few hours, then drain and keep the soaking water. Whizz cashews in your blender adding in a little water as you go. Add lemon juice until you’re happy with the taste and keep adding water until you’re happy with the consistency. You can use a food processor but it won’t end up as creamy.

5. Cashew ‘cream cheese’ or ‘ricotta’
As above but skip the lemon juice.
And keep the water to a minimum so it’s nice and thick.

6. Coconut Yoghurt
See the recipe over here.

7. Nut milks
Home made almond milk is easy and really delicious. But it’s a bit too time consuming for me on an everyday basis.

There are some pretty tasty almond milks on the market. Some are very sweet though so you might need to try a few brands. Skip any sweetened with agave as this is almost pure fructose ( and if you’re wondering why this is a bad thing see here)

8. Nut butters in sauces
I recently made a butter chicken (aka chicken tikka marsala). The recipe called for cashew butter to finish the sauce. It was amazing the difference the cashew butter made to the curry adding lovely nutty complexity. So I’m planning on experimenting with using other nut butters in sauces. Think sate and beyond.

My supermarket stocks cashew, peanut, and almond butters in the health food section. All are worth playing with.

9. Coconut oil or copha in sweet baking
It’s hard to go past real butter in baked goods. The next best option is coconut oil or copha. But these make everything taste coconutty so be warned!
UPDATE: thanks to QB for alerting me to the fact that copha is hydrogenated and actually not a healthy choice. Stick to coconut oil please!

10. Vegetable or nut oils in baking
When a coconutty flavour isn’t an option just sub in a neutral flavoured oil like rice bran oil or peanut oil.

If the recipe instructs you to cream butter and sugar the oil won’t cream up and trap as much air as butter would. So add a little extra baking powder to make up for it. 1/2 teaspoon should do in most cases.

11. Clarified butter or ghee
Most dairy dietary problems are a reaction to the sugars or proteins in milk products. Clarified butter or ghee has had these removed so can be fine for most allergy situations. To make your own just melt butter in a saucepan. Skim off and remove any white foam from the top. Keep the lovely buttery oil in the middle and discard the white solids from the bottom.

This also makes the ghee or butter oil more stable so great for cooking at higher temps.

12. Coconut sorbet
My go to ice cream replacement. When I used to have an ice cream maker I would just churn a can of coconut cream with a little icing sugar for sweetness. I’m afraid I haven’t cracked a good coconut sorbet recipe that doesn’t require a machine. Watch this space though!

brazil nut 'parmeasn'

Brazil Nut ‘Parmesan’

I was going to call this ‘I can’t believe it’s not Parmesan’ but of course you won’t mistake this topping for freshly grated parmesan.

The good news is, even though it tastes different, it’s actually really delicious and even though I’m back to eating dairy, I often reach for this topping to give crunch and extra depth of flavour to salads and other dishes.

Nutritional yeast and onion powder are two new ingredients for me. They’re actually wonderful ways to add savoury or ‘umami’ flavours to foods without adding animal based ingredients. And I’ll let you in on a secret: they’re often used in commercial salty snacks for that very reason

Nutritional yeast is also a great source of B group vitamins.

Enough for about a cup.
1 cup brazil nuts
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes

1. Whizz everything together in the food processor. Store in an airtight jar in the fridge.

short on time / yeast & onion-free – just grate whole brazil nuts with a microplane.

nut-free – use real parmesan :) or try with sunflower seeds.

Different nuts – also great with pine nuts or almonds or cashews.

With love,
Jules x


I just want to preface this by saying there are many excellent reasons to become vegetarian. Especially cost and not wanting animals to die in order for you to live. I get it. And I fully respect you if you choose not to eat meat for any reason. So if you’re happy not eating meat. As you were. (Oh and you might enjoy the vegan variations in the recipe below.)

But I’ve known many people over the years who have chosen not to eat red meat in favour of fish or chicken because they think its healthier. If you fall into this camp, this post is for you!


When I was pregnant I found myself getting incredibly tired. And even though I was sleeping a good 10 hours+ a night I couldn’t seem to shake it.

Then something made me think about iron, and that lack of energy is a typical symptom of iron deficiency. Which of course made me think of red meat. So I decided to conduct an experiment and have a week of eating red meat every day.

And the result?

My tiredness vanished. I was still sleeping like a trooper but I felt great! Now when I get that feeling of being just so tired (which doesn’t happen very often even with a 3 month old in the house) I plan a few more red meat meals. Easy.

6 reasons red meat is good for you.

1. It’s high in ‘heme’ iron.

This is important because heme iron is the easiest for your body to use. But not only that, it makes it easier for your body to use non-heme iron from plant sources as well. So you get and extra boost .

Of course there are other ways to get iron. For the pescetarians go for molluscs such as mussels, clams and oysters. And all liver (think) pate is even higher in iron and tends to be much cheaper than a steak!

2. Red meat also contains other minerals.
Such as zinc, selenium and magnesium. And as with iron, the form of these minerals is easy for our bodies to use.

3. Red meat contains lots of vitamins.
You may already know that meat contains. Vitamin B12 but it also contains significant amounts of other vitamins including thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, folate, niacin, and vitamin B6. It also has Vitamin D, which important if you aren’t exposed to enough sunlight.

4. It can contain ‘good’ fats.
Red meat from animals that have been fed grass or ‘pastured’ actually contains good levels of omega-3 fatty acids (you know the ones so found in fish that are good for your brain among other things).

5. It doesn’t increase the risk of heart disease.
Remember how we were told to reduce our intake of saturated fat to avoid heart disease? Well turns out as saturated fat intake has decreased over the years, the amount of heart disease has actually gotten worse.

I know. This is because what you replace the saturated fat with is important. It’s actually better from a heart disease perspective to stick to saturated fat than replace it with refined carbohydrates or processed oils.

The other thing to remember not all fat in red meat is saturated. A significant proportion is monounsaturated (like olive oil).

6. It’s a great source of protein.
But you probably already knew that. :)

Surely eating large quantities of meat can’t be a good thing…

I agree!

Eating large amounts of anything tends to cause problems.

I’m not suggesting that you need to eat steak 24/7. Nor is it a good idea to chow down on factory farmed and processed meats.

Just that red meat can be included in a healthy lifestyle. And can make it easier to get many nutrients we need to be happy and healthy!

beef, broccolini & basil

Beef, Broccolini & Basil

I love using ground (minced meat) because it’s more forgiving to cook and tends to be more affordable.

Enough for 2
2 bunches broccolini, chopped
450g (1lb) minced (ground) beef
1-2 small red chillis – fresh or dried, chopped, optional
1-2 lemons
1 bunch basil, leaves picked

1. Heat a little oil in a large frying pan or wok. Cook broccolini, stirring until no longer super crunchy.

2. Remove veg from the pan. Add a little more oil and cook the meat and chilli, if using on a high heat until well browned.

3. Return the broccolini to the pan. Taste and season with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon.

4. Serve with basil leaves on top and lemon halves.

vegan / vegetarian – replace meat with cooked lentils – I especially like French-style or ‘puy’ lentils here. And serve with a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to stop it being too dry. A splash of soy sauce will also help give more complexity.

different veg – replace broccolini with broccoli, zucchini, asparagus, green beans or even cauliflower.

different meat – most ground (minced) meat is good here. Even chicken or pork. And sliced tender cuts such as beef fillet, lamb backstraps or chicken breast can also be used – just be careful with the cooking time.

budget – serve on a bed of cooked lentils to make your meat go further.

different herbs – replace basil with flat leaf parsley or coriander (cilantro).

Video version of the recipe.

With love,
Jules x


At least once a week or so I get an email from a reader requesting the calorie count of one of my recipes or a suggestion that I include it at the bottom of all my recipes.

My response is always the same. Thanks for your suggestion, but I don’t believe in counting calories. And then I suggest they find one of the many websites that can calculate these things for them.

But I’ve been thinking a bit about my reasons for not buying into the counting of calories, carbs, fat or whatever. So I thought it was about time I put pen to paper – or fingers to the keyboard, to be more accurate.

6 reasons to NOT count calories

1. Counting calories takes the joy out of eating.
This is the biggest reason for me. Food, especially sharing it with loved ones, is one of the great pleasures that should enrich our lives.

2. Counting calories encourages you to eat packaged processed food.
I was talking to a friend recently who mentioned her teenage daughter has become very interested in nutrition and has started to keep an eye on her calories. But the sad part is she’s noticed that her daughter is more likely to choose food out of a packet than something fresh because she can easily tell how many calories she’s getting from the pack.

3. Counting calories doesn’t guarantee you’re getting the nutrients you need.
As with most of life, getting the quantity right doesn’t mean the quality is also where it should be.

4. Counting calories teaches you to ignore your natural satiety cues.
We’re all equipped with a system for our bodies to tell us when we’re hungry and when we’ve had enough. The problem is it tends to be quite subtle. Especially the ‘I’m full’ signals.

Wouldn’t it be better to slow down and relearn to let your body guide you?

5. Calorie restriction doesn’t work for maintaining weight loss in the long term.
In the book ‘Why we get fat’ Gary Taubes mentions study after study showing that limiting calorie intake doesn’t lead to lasting weight loss. But if you’ve tried calorie restriction for any amount of time, you probably already know that.

6. Counting calories doesn’t address the root cause of your problem.
We don’t just eat because our bodies need fuel. Sometimes it’s boredom. Sometimes it’s emotional stuff or one of countless other reasons.

Trying to use willpower and counting every calorie isn’t going to fix what’s causing there to be a problem in the first place. Talk about setting yourself up to fail…

So what’s the alternative?

For me the easiest way to make real lasting changes to how you eat and how you feel is to put it on autopilot. What do I mean by that? I’m talking about adopting a new habit of eating mindfully. It’s about slowing down. It’s about focusing on eating so you not only enjoy your food more, you can tell when you are full.

I’ve recently read an excellent book called ‘Foodist’ by Darya Rose. One of the biggest lessons I’ve had from the book is to focus on eating mindfully. Darya has a few tips for this but my favourite is…

How to eat mindfully

When you start to load up your fork for the next mouthful, check to see if you’re already chewing. If there’s food already in your mouth, put your fork down and focus on chewing and enjoying your mouthful. There’s no need to rush to swallow. Then once you’re done you can pick up your fork and get the next bite ready.

It’s actually harder than it sounds but it’s the best technique I’ve come across for fostering real mindful eating AND more importantly, maximum food enjoyment!

slow roast bangers-3

Slow Baked Bangers

These days with a little one in the house, I’m all about meals I can prep in the afternoon without much effort and let them cook away while I focus on feeding Fergal and getting him ready for bed. And even though spring is here, I’m still finding the oven to be my favourite cooking method because I can set and (almost) forget.

These sausages are a big favourite. But if bangers aren’t your thing see the variations below. Or think about trying a new butcher who takes pride in making their own sausages. Quality is key here!

Enough for 2
4 onions, peeled & quartered lengthwise
4 thick sausages
1 cup red wine
1 cup stock or water
a few sprigs of thyme, optional
3-4 handfuls baby spinach to serve

1. Turn your oven on to 150C (350F).

2. Pop onions, sausages, wine, stock or water and thyme, if using an oven proof pot.

3. Bake for about 2 hours turning the sausages about half way if you get the chance to.

4. Serve on a bed of baby spinach.

short on time? – crank your oven to 220C (450F). Should be done in 45 mins.

vegan / vegetarian – replace sausages with vegetables such as a sweet potato, parsnip, carrot, beets, potato, eggplant or mushrooms. You may need to adjust the cooking time. Serve with nuts for extra protein and crunch.

different meat – chicken thighs or drumsticks work well and will cook in about the same amount of time. Osso buco or lamb shanks would be my red meat choices. They’ll need a lot longer, 4-5 hours. And you might need to add more liquid if it’s drying out.

alcohol-free – just replace with stock, water or tomato purée or a can of tomatoes.

onion-free – replace onions with a mixture of other aromatic veg such as celery and carrots.

different herbs – thyme is my fav here but rosemary or sage or a few bay leaves will be lovely too.

Video version of the recipe.

With love
Jules x


HMM2013 square logo large

YOU can win one of 5 FREE places in the Healthy Meal Method program!

Here’s how to enter…

1. Watch the FREE training videos over here: www.thestonesoupshop.com/healthy-meals-free-training/.

2. Leave a comment below the video telling me the story of how you will embrace the Healthy Meal Method and the difference it will make to your life.

Entries will be judged by the lovely Clotilde from Chocolate & Zucchini and me. We’ll be looking for creativity and enthusiasm!
Entries close midnight Tuesday 1st October 2013.

And the Winners are…
Ann Brunner
Lilian Zou
Diane Lambropoulos
JohnandMandy Young
Lisa (with the 9 month old son)

Thanks so much to everyone who entered.
Clotilde and I had a tough time deciding!

the fine print:
* If you aren’t on Facebook you can leave a comment to enter on this page.
* The winning entrants will be notified by Facebook or email.
* The winners will be announced here on Stonesoup Wednesday 2nd Oct.
* The judges’ decision will be final and no other correspondence shall be entered into.


With love,
Jules x

ps. If you know of someone who might be interested, please share this page with them because I’d really appreciate it!



This week I’ve got something a little different for you…

When I started preparing for my upcoming program, ‘The Healthy Meal Method’ at the Stonesoup Virtual Cookery School, I took the time to interview some of my existing students.

One of the things I love about online classes is that my students are literally from all over the world. From Australia to the US to Iceland to Peru and many places in between. But it does have some limitations…

As much as I’d love to be giving out free samples of the food I cook, unfortunately the Internet doesn’t allow for that possibility yet.

The other thing is that even though there are plenty of opportunities to ask questions and interact via the comments and the live coaching webinars, we don’t get any old fashioned face to face time.

So I wanted to do the next best thing and just have a chat over the phone or Skype. My aim was to get feedback and find ways to make my next class as useful, fun and easy to digest as possible.

But I got so much more than I was expecting…

Time and time again I found people wanting to thank me for the difference the SVCS had made to their cooking and eating. And in some cases even other aspects of their lives. So I was really glad I’d recorded some of these conversations (with permission of course!)

So today I thought I’d share two of my favourites with you… Enjoy!

Emma from Wollongong Australia

With a young baby and a partner who works late, Emma found herself becoming resentful of having to cook. Until she signed up for online cooking classes last year. Now she not only appreciates the benefits of a streamlined pantry, her whole attitude to cooking has changed. And her meal time anxiety is gone.

Watch Emma’s story over here:

Emma’s Story video link

Miriam from Tweed Canada

Widowed with a grown up family, Miriam’s diabetes gave her a new reason to focus on taking better care of herself. The good news is, she is not only healthier and happier, she’s lost some weight and has even started creating her own recipes!

Watch Miriam’s story over here:

Miriam’s Story video link

Prefer audio?

Click HERE to download the mp3 for both interviews in the one file.
(you may need to ‘right click’ and ‘save link as’)

Would you like to make a real difference to your meals?

Unfortunately the doors to the Stonesoup Virtual Cookery School are closed at the moment. But you can enter your details OVER HERE to be notified when they reopen.

smoked salmon chickpea salad-4

Smoked Salmon & Chickpea Salad

Now that I’m no longer pregnant it’s lovely to be able to indulge in things like smoked salmon and prosciutto. This salad is my latest favourite in a long line of chickpea salads.

Enough for 2
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 can chickpeas, drained (400g / 14oz)
3-4 handfuls salad leaves or baby spinach
100g (3.5oz) smoked salmon
2-3 tablespoons good quality mayonnaise, optional

1. Whisk lemon juice with 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a large bowl. Season.

2. Toss in chickpeas and greens and divide between two bowls.

3. Top with smoked salmon and mayo, if using.

vegan – replace smoked salmon with avocado chunks. Skip the mayo or use a vegan friendly mayo.

vegetarian – replace smoked salmon with boiled or poached eggs or some fresh goats cheese or parmesan shavings.

– replace smoked salmon with smoked chicken or prosciutto.

paleo / chickpea-free
– skip the chickpeas and double the salad leaves and triple the salmon.

different legumes
– replace chickpeas with cooked or canned beans or lentils. Cooked quinoa is also lovely (you need about 250g / 9oz).

Video version of the recipe.

With love,
Jules x


I‘ve been thinking about sugar lately. A lot. When Fergal’s Irish grandparents were here I was fascinated by how much sugar his grandpa ate.

One morning granddad polished off a bowl of rice bubbles (krispies) with 3 teaspoons of sugar. Washed it down with some tea with another 2 teaspoons and finished it all off with a club milk (chocolate biscuit). We were on holidays but still…

So I wasn’t surprised to learn that his doctor had said he was on the path to diabetes. And had given orders to cut down.

Not an easy task after a lifetime of lemonade and sugary cream buns.

Anyway it reminded me of a question I got from Stonesoup reader Brianna…

Curious about sugar free recipes and ways to reduce sugar intake when one has a terrible sweet tooth…

So what’s the best way to reduce sugar intake?

Sugar is highly addictive so just cutting down can be incredibly difficult. If that’s the case for you, the best plan is to find an alternative.

The best I’ve found is Stevia. You can get stevia in liquid form but I’m not a huge fan. I prefer to use granular stevia that has been mixed with erythritol because it bakes and tastes more like sugar.

I usually use the Natvia brand because my local supermarket stocks it but I’m sure there are other good ones out there.

Why stevia?

It’s natural.
And so is sugar, so natural doesn’t necessarily mean good for you. But much better than the potential problems associated with artificial sweeteners.

It looks like sugar and tastes almost like sugar.
We got Fergal’s grandad (the sugar aficionado) to try out some stevia and he gave it the thumbs up. And Paddy has very high standards when it comes to the sweet stuff.

It can help improve your sensitivity to insulin.
I know this sounds a little too good to be true. A sugar substitute that actually reverses some of the damage of eating too much sugar? According to Mark’s Daily Apple, the Japanese have been using stevia extracts to treat Type 2 diabetic patients for years and years. He also quotes studies where stevia improved insulin sensitivity in diabetic rats.

How do I use it?

You can substitute granular stevia for sugar in most baked goods. Because stevia tends to be sweeter I tend to halve the amount of sugar and go from there. For example in the cheesecake recipe below the original has 175g sugar. So my starting point was 87.5g stevia but since I like round numbers I upped it to 100g.

Just be aware that it isn’t as soluble as sugar so you may find some things end up with a gritty texture. I found when I used stevia instead of sugar to poach some quinces that they were great when still warm, but after the leftovers were refrigerated the stevia had crystallised. Not the end of the world but something to keep in mind.

If you’re substituting for icing or ‘powdered’ sugar in a recipe, just grind the stevia in a coffee grinder until you can’t see any big crystals.

Need more help?

When I think of reducing sugar intake or ‘Quitting Sugar’ it’s hard not to think about the lovely Sarah Wilson and her ‘I Quit Sugar*’ books. You might find this interview I did with Sarah earlier in the year useful.

Or if you just need help with sugar-free baking, have a read of ‘Can desserts be guilt free?‘.

* This is an affiliate link so if you do decide to buy one of Sarah’s products you’ll be supporting Stonesoup too :)

sugar-free cheesecake-2

Super Easy Cheesecake (with or without sugar)

This has been my go-to baked cheesecake recipe for ages. I’ve only recently played around with a no added sugar version and am very happy with the results.

Enough for 8
200g (7oz) almond meal
100g (3.5oz) butter, melted
750g (1.5lb) cream cheese (3packets), softened
300g (10oz) sour cream (1 tub)
100g (3.5oz) granular stevia OR 175g (6oz) white sugar
4 eggs

1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F). Line a 24cm (9in) spring form pan with baking paper and grease the sides with some of the melted butter.

2. Combine almond meal and butter then smooth into the base of the prepared tin with the back of a spoon.

3. Bake base for 10 minutes or until starting to brown.

4. Whizz cream cheese, sour cream and stevia or sugar in a food processor until smooth. Scrape down the sides.

5. Add eggs one at a time and whizz between each.

6. When the base is ready, decrease oven to 160C (300F). Pour filling on top of the base and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. It’s done when the top is golden brown and the cheesecake feels springy when you touch it.

7. Cool in the tin.

nut-free – replace the almond meal with cookie crumbs or just skip the base.

dairy-free – are you kidding? Actually I have seen recipes using silken tofu but haven’t ever tried it.

different nuts
– feel free to replace the almonds with other nuts.

egg-free – I think you might get away by replacing the egg with an extra tub of sour cream. I haven’t tried it though so if you do please let me know how you get on!

– sometimes I add the scraped seeds of a vanilla bean to the filling.

A quick update on my favourite tiny person…

Untitled Untitled
Fergal was 12 weeks on Friday. He’s still a champion sleeper and eater and is getting very interactive with his smiles and little laughs and super cute cooing noises.

And I’m still working on my baby photo skills. The one on the left of me and Fergal was taken by Melissa Kingham and the one on the right by Glen Brennan.

With love,
Jules x