WELLNESS is one of those words that seemed to enter modern parlance before it made the dictionary. But wellness is simply a holistic approach to physical and mental health and wellbeing, says Hobart chef and food and wellness coach Penni Lamprey.
And it’s an approach in stark contrast to the single- focus and often contradictory dietary, mental self- help and fi tness advice we are bombarded with today.
Wellness through food is what Lamprey is about with her A Method of Cookery business.
“Food is a lot more than just fuel,” Lamprey, an award- winning chef with 15 years’ experience, says.
“Its provenance and the way it is prepared and presented have as profound an effect on your mood and mental state, as they do on your physical wellbeing, health and energy levels.
“Hippocrates said, ‘ let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food’.
“Yet today, while eating more, we’re nutritionally defi cient.
“It’s about lifestyle choices. Of course you can get by on chips, potatoes and white bread but the over- consumption of refi ned, processed and packaged convenience food eventually catches up and results in the dramatic increase in obesity and chronic disease we see today.”
This is probably not news to any reasonably informed person these days.
But what Lamprey is doing about it in her own small way is quite exciting.
At home, she’s preparing for this week’s class on different lactic acid- fermented products and their health benefi ts.
Her kitchen table looks like an alchemist’s workbench.
And, as fast as she works, the mother of three young children talks even faster.
“Lactic acid fermentation is one of the oldest and easiest ways to naturally preserve food and to support healthy human immunity and digestion,” Lamprey says. “It’s what turns milk into yoghurt, makes your sourdough breads rise, and makes pickled vegetables and a whole pile of specialty foods in different cultures around the globe.”
“Here, try this fermented mayonnaise,” she says as she offers an unusual but OK mayonnaise – no doubt better on a salad than by itself.
Then there’s a delicious fermented beetroot and apple “digestif”, great as a relish with ham.
And her fermented apricot jam, again delicious on her fi nely textured sourdough bread. “Why do Germans eat sauerkraut with their sausages?” she asks. “Because the bacillus in the cultured sauerkraut starts the digestion process before your own stomach acids kick in, making the heavy sausages so much more digestible.”
She talks passionately about kefi r fermentation, similar to that used to produce yoghurt, but a process involving both bacteria and yeasts with results that are nutrient dense, thinner than yoghurt – “what you might imagine if yoghurt and tofu were to have a baby” – and perfect for her family’s breakfast smoothies and her mayonnaise.
“And its probiotic properties allow the body to more easily and quickly take up minerals and vitamins,” she adds.
Which is about where I get lost and retreat to another slice of her bread and apricot jam.
In addition to her own small- group cooking classes – which extend well beyond such specialties as fermented foods – Lamprey provides personalised menu planning and dietary advice for people or groups wanting to change to healthier lifestyles.
She also runs corporate workplace wellness programs for clients such as RBF Superannuation and the Glenorchy and Hobart city councils.
As well as running A Method of Cookery, Lamprey works as a project offi cer in the public sector. She has a Cadence Health-accredited certifi cate in nutrition, as well as certifi cates in food psychology, childhood nutrition and food and wellness. For more information on Lamprey’s cooking classes, go to amethodofcookery.com