Naughty and nice!

chocolate brownie

Cooking is the new cool

Master Chef has brought on a new renaissance of cooking in Australian homes. Being a chef or cook is so hip right now. If I tell someone Im a chef, they say ˜oh cool. Yes its cool but whats even cooler is teaching people to cook. In Australia, we dont have the social or cultural connection to food and history like the Europeans and really the rest of the world does. Asia, the Middle East, Africa, India the list goes on “ all these countries have one thing in common with food and that is, home cooking in the kitchen is a normal everyday activity of growing up; and spices, herbs, locally grown seasonal produce is also interwoven with daily food routines.

Baking Betty 

When I was growing up in the western suburbs of Sydney, my mum was baking Betty, she baked cookies, slices, cakes and for dinner parties she would bring out her famous choux pastry recipes for profiteroles so this was my connection to food. I loved the smell of sugar and burnt biscuit bottoms and had a curiosity about baking, even though I didnt have the rich culture that some of my friends may have experienced while growing up, my mothers baking started my journey with food and Im very thankful for it.

Home cooking = old school

When I cook for my clients and meet with friends and family Im still surprised home cooking is a thing of the past. My girlfriends have mixed opinions. They are all passionate about food but some would rather eat out and have a dining experience rather than cook for themselves at home. With longer hours at work and burgeoning social pressures we can be too tired to make a meal. Suddenly its become old fashioned to cook at home and many women  prefer to meet friends at a café.

Intimate relationship

My friends that do cook at home more often are usually concerned about health, make conscious choices when shopping for produce and care a great deal about what they fuel there bodies with. What we need to realise is cooking for ourselves is nurturing and such an intimate experience. Food is the most intimate relationship we can possibly have. When we go to the market, touch and smell the produce and become aware of what is in season, we are then interacting with nature.

Passion & obsession

Its dead easy for me, I have been cooking really since I was a child and seriously in commercial kitchens the last eight years. I wake up planning breakfast, lunch and dinner before I leave the house. I often dream about recipes and eating particular delicious morsels in my sleep! The passion and obsession fills every cell of my body as my friends and family will testify. I also believe because I cook for myself and others, sometimes 12 hours a day, I have a strong sense of self and a firm understanding of my health. If Im sick with a fever or congestion I might fast on lemon water for 12 hours, and also make a therapeutic Jewish chicken soup to nourish my immunity and bones.

One week challenge

Im lucky to love my work and be able to share it with others through teaching and working with my clients. I want to be able to encourage everyone to try a new recipe, go and visit a community garden, take a trip to the weekend organic market, interact with our food plant world and try just for a week to cook at home and notice the immediate benefits. You will delightfully discover more energy, more creativity in everyday life and feel a sense of pride and accomplishment to be able to produce a beautiful meal with produce that has been hand picked, touched and felt in the palm of your hands.

Free recipes

In the next few weeks Im going to feature a health product, give you a rundown on local and seasonal produce at the markets and also you will get  a free recipe to try at home from my kitchen to yours with love. Today we are checking out the coconut, you may have been hearing quiet a bit about this gorgeous plant. In fact the coconut is the largest seed in the plant world, it has a long history of folklore and is portrayed as an item of great value in many cultures from Asia and the Pacific.

Go (coco) nuts!

In northern India, it is the fruit of the œTree of Life, where coconuts are kept by priests to dispense as a fertility symbol to women who wish to conceive.On the other hand, in Bali, women are forbidden to touch coconut palms for fear of draining the fertility of the tree into the woman. In New Guinea, it is believed that the palm sprouted from the head of the first man to die. On some South Pacific Islands, discs were carved from the hard shell to be used as currency. And of course its nutritional value is outstanding; it is a low digestible carbohydrate (low in carbs) contains no gluten, and is a high-fibre food ideally suited for low-carbohydrate diets. It is also one of the few plant sources that contains lauric acid. This medium-chain fatty acid, is also found in human milk and enhances brain function and the immune system. I use coconut oil for baking cookies, muffins, sautéing, and I even eat a spoonful every now and then!  The flour is trickier but I encourage you to experiment and I will include a brownie recipe using coconut  oil for you to try out at home. I could go on and on about the coconut, so I encourage you to research it or ask your alternative health practitioner for its amazing health benefits.        

Dark Chocolate Brownies with Raspberries

  • 150g coconut oil
  • 200g dark chocolate, chopped coarsely
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  •  3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup spelt flour
  •  1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries


 Preheat oven to 180C. Grease 19cm x 29cm rectangular slice pan; line with baking paper, extending paper 5cm over sides. Stir coconut oil and chocolate in a bowl over a medium saucepan of water over low  heat until smooth. Stir in maple syrup, eggs and vanilla then sifted flour and raspberries. Hand stir gently until well mixed  Spread mixture into pan; bake for 40 minutes. Cool in pan then cut into small pieces and serve with cream.

Keep warm, happy and healthy.

Love Belinda

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Profile: Belinda Randell is the owner and director of The Organic Cook. Belinda is a chef, cooking teacher and food educator She is inspired and passionate about ethical, sustainable biodynamic and organic food sources, fresh seasonal produce, health, nutrition and education. Belinda has recently appeared on the SBS Food Investigators designing a range of natural foods for children, she has also appeared in Madison and Harpers Bazaar magazine. Please go to Belinda's website for more info


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