Real meals reloaded

Five years af­ter the pub­li­ca­tion of the now leg­endary Real Meal Rev­o­lu­tion, orig­i­nal co-au­thor Jonno Proud­foot is back with a se­quel (and no Noakes). So what’s the next cau­li­flower rice?

Woolworths TASTE - - Cook The Books -

A lot has hap­pened since the first book was pub­lished. How has your phi­los­o­phy changed?

So much has hap­pened. The big­gest change in my phi­los­o­phy is around diet in gen­eral. I’ve seen peo­ple com­pletely trans­form their lives fol­low­ing our ad­vice, but I am a lot more fo­cused on diet in gen­eral than on just one diet. Real Meal Rev­o­lu­tion is only the tip of the ice­berg. My be­lief (as em­bod­ied in this book) is that what­ever you’re eat­ing – low-carb or not – you would ben­e­fit most from eat­ing real, un­pro­cessed foods, prefer­ably cooked by your­self or a fam­ily mem­ber. Cooking re­ally is the key.

How does the new book dif­fer from the first one?

I’d say the big­gest dif­fer­ence is that there is zero sci­ence and zero di­etary ad­vice. Low-Carb Cooking (LCC) is an unadul­ter­ated cook­book. The big­gest frus­tra­tion with any change in eat­ing is run­ning out of ideas of things to make. On av­er­age there are three dif­fer­ent recipes per in­gre­di­ent and each recipe dif­fers in tex­ture, flavour and level of dif­fi­culty. Cab­bage, for ex­am­ple, has a clas­sic slaw, sautéed spicy cab­bage with In­dian spices and Aus­tralian-in­flu­enced roasted cab­bage wedges tossed in sun­dried tomato vinai­grette. You’ll also find ba­sic cooking lessons, a drinks sec­tion, and a big kom­bucha splash.

One un­ex­pected up­shot of the first book is the pop­u­lar­ity of cau­li­flower. Which other veg­gies do you think are un­der­rated?

I’m a huge fan of green beans. There’s a spicy green bean dish called gar­lic fried beans that has tons of caramelised gar­lic in it, and to­wards the end of the recipe you chuck in chilli flakes, soya sauce and pa­prika. The pa­prika thick­ens ev­ery­thing so you get this rich, spicy, gooey, sticky, gar­lic glaze all over the beans. I’ve never tasted beans like that be­fore. The other killer bean recipe is the fa­so­lakia ladera.

It’s a tra­di­tional Greek bean dish where the beans are braised in a light tomato sauce for about an hour. They come out far from al dente but they taste like a warm

hug. But turnip sko­rdalia was the big­gest sur­prise to me in this book. If that recipe gets trac­tion, turnips could be the next cau­li­flower …

How strictly do you stick to the diet?

I’m so glad you asked this ques­tion.

I hate the idea that any­one needs to be “on a diet”. In this frame of mind, you are ei­ther be­ing “good” or be­ing “bad”. I see low-carb eat­ing as a tool, or a tech­nique that we can use to lose weight. I found that once I learned enough about my body and its re­sponse to var­i­ous foods, I had bet­ter con­trol over ev­ery­thing.

For ex­am­ple, I know that if I eat gluten, it will hurt and if I eat su­gar, it will make me hun­grier. But that doesn’t stop me from eat­ing ei­ther of them, be­cause I also know that if I stay away from the carbs for a cou­ple days I’ll be back where I started. I eat gluten and su­gar ev­ery week­end, but I’m quite strict from Mon­day to Fri­day.

So, my phi­los­o­phy is that peo­ple should use di­ets to ed­u­cate them­selves about what works for their bod­ies.

What’s the best way to add a bit of sweet­ness to a dish that needs it for bal­ance?

Start any recipe with some form of caramelised onions. I add a lot of onions and caramelised gar­lic to ev­ery­thing

I cook. Caramelis­ing any­thing brings out the nat­u­ral sweet­ness, so I like to grill and BBQ as much as I can. It’s a tough one be­cause sweet­ness ac­tu­ally in­creases your ap­petite, so it’s some­thing we should stay away from if we’re try­ing to eat less.

Which recipes should we make im­me­di­ately?

Def­i­nitely all three sausage recipes in the pork sec­tion. There’s one with pep­pers and sal­s­ic­cia, bang­ing mus­tard bangers, and an epic stewy soup with chorizo, blood sausage and pork belly. They’re warm, rich and all packed with flavour. Ber­bere roasted cau­li­flower with tara­tor is a win­ner. I’d serve that with roast lamb or falafel. My favourite fer­mented dish is the all-nat­u­ral fer­mented pick­led cu­cum­bers. There’s a nat­u­ral salty, sweet and sour flavour you get from a real pickle that can’t be man­u­fac­tured, and it is next level.

Do you have any tips for stick­ing to a diet when pressed for time?

At the top of the list would be – make more time. If you want to make your health a pri­or­ity, you ac­tu­ally have to

I HATE THE IDEA THAT ANY­ONE NEEDS TO BE ON A DIET. IN THIS FRAME OF MIND YOU ARE EI­THER BE­ING ‘GOOD’ OR ‘BAD’ – JONNO PROUD­FOOT

pri­ori­tise it. Se­condly, I would say plan well. And, when you’re dish­ing up, dish up all the plates, then dish up an­other round straight into lunch­boxes. That has been life-chang­ing for me and my wife.

Any tips for get­ting kids to eat more veg?

The best ad­vice I got was from the par­ent­ing pop clas­sic Bring­ing Up Bebe by Pamela Druck­er­man. Ap­par­ently you need to taste a food 10 times be­fore you get used to eat­ing it. So I would say per­sis­tence and pa­tience are key. I’ve seen my three-year-old daugh­ter change her mind on a few things. We of­ten just leave the room al­to­gether when she’s be­ing re­sis­tant. That said, some­times we come back in and the dog is cov­ered in food, so it’s not an ex­act sci­ence!

How do you thicken a sauce with­out flour?

Even out­side the health sphere, I am strongly against thick­en­ing with flour or corn­flour. Thick­en­ing sauces by re­duc­ing them, or stir­ring in lots of cold but­ter is the only way you should do it. It comes down to flavour.

What's your next chal­lenge?

I'd like to keep writ­ing a book a year un­der the Real Meal Rev­o­lu­tion brand. But I've got am­bi­tions to get into com­postable pack­ing and ve­g­an­ism. And I’d like to take RMR global. And ob­vi­ously do that while rais­ing my kids and en­joy­ing my mar­riage. That’s more im­por­tant than any­thing.

Some of Jonno's in­spired ideas for turn­ing green beans into he­roes

Three ideas with sausages

Jonno Proud­foot

Pan-fried had­dock with olivesand toma­toes

Real Meal Rev­o­lu­tion: Low Carb Cooking by Jonno Proud­foot, Lit­tle Brown, R365

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