Make hay for healthy, happy cooking in January

Published: Friday 1st January 2016 by The News Editor

Comments (0)

If learning to cook healthy, wholesome meals is number one on your New Year’s resolutions list, then help is at hand in the form of Donna Hay – Australia’s answer to Delia Smith.

Hay, whose bestselling cookbooks are famously filled with crisp, mouth-watering images, has just published The New Easy, which comes with the promise of “simple meal ideas that are big on flavour but low on fuss”.

The mum-of-two has managed to incorporate “all the superfood ingredients” – like quinoa, chia seeds and kale – into her recipes, which are split into ‘Weeknights’ and ‘Weekends’, so they’re perfect for those who are hoping to get back on the low-calorie wagon after indulging at Christmas.

“Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a bit of overindulging, so there’s no need to beat yourself up about it,” says 45-year-old Hay, who lost three dress sizes by switching to healthy eating and an exercise regime that includes running and stand-up paddle boarding.

“I’m all about balance though – I know that if I’ve enjoyed quite a lot of great food and drink over the festive period, then I need to balance it out a bit in the New Year, with a few extra kilometres on my run or a few more salads and meat-free days.

“I don’t believe in extreme diets or cutting things out completely – just simply enjoying a great range of food that’s fresh, light and packed with vegetables and nutritious foods.”

As a busy working mum, Hay knows how tough it can be to cook from scratch during the week, so she’s used “lots of great time-saving tricks” in the new cookbook.

“A lot of the sweets are made with a dough or batter you can make in a food processor, or cakes you can make using a simple batter in just one bowl,” she says. “My food-processor carrot cake has become one of my go-to desserts.

“In my recipes for weeknights and casual weekends, I’ve used clever store cupboard ingredients, like store-bought puff pastry to make gorgeous tomato tarts, or caramelised onion relish in a super-easy marinade for lamb.

“There are lots of easy pastas with new flavours and a delicious chicken curry that you can leave to bake in the oven – just really easy but delicious meals.”

Hay’s foodie career began as a writer and food stylist when she was 19. By 25, she’d become food editor for Marie Claire, and in 2001, she launched Donna Hay magazine. Another decade on and she’d landed her first TV series and launched a cookware range, which she developed with Royal Doulton.

She’s just opened a pop-up shop in Sydney selling her homewares, filming is under way for a new show, and Hay has plans for another cookbook later in 2016.

All these demands on her time have been the driving force “to create cookbooks and recipes that are more about spending time with your family and not your kitchen stove”.

But exercise is also an extremely important element in her daily routine.

“No matter how busy I am, I always try to make sure I still find time for exercise. Most mornings or evenings I go for a run – it really helps me relax, de-stress and focus on the things I need,” she says.

But when she has time, Hay enjoys nothing better than cooking a relaxed meal for close friends at home, as long as it involves a little of her favourite guilty pleasure…

“I enjoy cooking their favourite dishes for them, and taking the time to all sit down together, preferably outdoors, to chat, share the meal and a few drinks. My perfect meal would usually also involve ice-cream in any form – it’s like happiness in a bowl!”

Copyright Press Association 2016

Published: Friday 1st January 2016 by The News Editor

Comments (0)

Local business search