Author and Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian (AAPD), Sue Radd, has fond memories of climbing sour cherry trees, and watching her grandmother at work in her kitchen and garden in Croatia. She says her grandmother always taught her the value of homemade food and "unsprayed" produce.
Learning about food from the family matriarch put her in good stead for a career in teaching others how to enjoy a plant-based diet, and use food as medicine. For years after graduating as a dietitian, Ms Radd prescribed medical nutrition therapy to her patients, and started running cooking workshops from a demonstration kitchen at her Sydney clinic.
When scientific reports indicated that clinical trials showed the amazing health benefits of whole plant foods, she became even more passionate about teaching people how to use food as medicine in a practical way.
"Often at my cookshops, doctors excitedly say they have learned more in one night about how to eat to fight chronic disease than in their entire medical training, and [they] leave inspired to improve their lifestyle," she writes in her new book, Food as Medicine: Cooking for Your Best Health.
It's a big, beautifully-presented, informative book full of recipes that are not only beneficial for your health, but are delicious and can easily be achieved by home cooks. Topics covered include foods that harm, foods that heal; food as medicine in your kitchen; food rules to live by; meal ideas that heal; information on why a single meal matters, why diets don't work and the power of diet versus drugs. There are also seasonal menu plans, along with page after page of plant-based recipes, such as the one featured below.
Many of the recipes are based on simple peasant fare from countries the author has visited and "aunties" who invited her into the kitchens. The recipes are now low in fat (because "fat carries flavour"), but they are low in saturated fats from animal products ("which are linked with chronic disease").
Those who have been following my culinary adventures over the years will know that my own health has improved significantly since changing my diet, so I cannot recommend this book highly enough for anyone who cares about the food they eat, and particularly for those suffering ill health or chronic disease.
Re my featured recipe, the author writes that this Moroccan-style dish will impress with its vibrant colours and fragrant dressing. Adding liberal amounts of herbs and spices can significantly boost both the flavour and antioxidant content of your meal. Enjoy.
ROASTED VEGETABLES ON COUSCOUS WITH MOROCCAN DRESSING
For the Roasted Vegetables:
2 small Spanish onions, peeled and quartered
2 medium Desiree potatoes, scrubbed well and quartered
500 g (17½ oz) butternut pumpkin (butternut squash), peeled and cut into 2.5-centimetre (1-inch) chunks
1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into 2.5-centimetre (1-inch) chunks
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1½ cups whole wheat couscous
For the Dressing:
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon hot paprika
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons coriander (cilantro) leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons passata (tomato puree)
5 tablespoons lemon juice
For the Salad Topping
80 g (3 oz) mixed green leaves, washed and drained
100 g (3½ oz) fetta cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
Pre-heat the oven to 200°C (390°F). Prepare vegetables and spread on two oven trays lined
with parchment (baking) paper. Brush with olive oil. Place trays in hot oven and roast vegetables for 45 minutes, removing onions after about 30 minutes or when browned.
Place couscous in a glass bowl and pour over 1½ cups of boiling water. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes, then fluff up with a fork. Prepare dressing by combining all ingredients and mixing well.
Pile up ingredients on a serving platter in the following order: couscous, roasted vegetables, green leaves, crumbled fetta, pepitas. Pour over the salad dressing. Serve immediately. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for several days.
PREPARATION: 20 MINUTES, COOKING: 45 MINUTES, SERVES 6.
Per serve: 1786 kJ (427 Cal); protein 10 g; fat 29 g; saturated fat 6 g;
cholesterol 11 mg; carbohydrate 31 g; sugars 9 g; fibre 6 g;
calcium 102 mg; iron 1.6 mg; sodium 231 mg
For a dairy-free version, use Almond Cream Cheese in “fetta” form. Variation: Substitute the couscous (which is an instant type of pasta) with cooked white quinoa, which is a pseudograin and much more nutritious.
Food as Medicine by Sue Radd AAPD, $55, Signs Publishing. With thanks to the publicity team at DMCPR Media for giving me the opportunity to showcase this title. The recipe and all images appear from Food as Medicine, with kind permission of the author and publisher.
It's your turn now. Do you see food as medicine, and agree that it's possible to eat for BOTH pleasure and longevity? Is this the kind of eating plan and lifestyle you follow?
Cooking and writing have been a lifelong passion.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.