Not only does the olive oil makes your veggies taste better, it makes them healthier!

So we all know vegetables are nutritious and I’m pretty sure we all know extra virgin olive oil (evoo) has health benefits…

But did you know that cooking your vegetables in extra virgin olive oil increase the health properties of the olive oil?

Cooking in evoo conserves and increases the phenolic compounds of vegetables. Cooking veggies in fat also increases absorption of some of other compounds important to health.

If you’re anything like me and find steamed veggies a bit boring, then this is a win win win!

Not only does the olive oil makes your veggies taste better, it makes them healthier!


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My tips for cooking your veg in extra virgin olive oil…
Oven baking – chop up veggies into bite size pieces, add generous amount of evoo (at least 4 tbls for 2 people, but you can use more), some spices (cinnamon, paprika, cayenne pepper work well), a little salt and if you have them, fresh herbs such as oregano, rosemary and thyme.
These veggies work well in the oven: Cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, pumpkin, carrot, sweet potato, potato, corn, beetroot, asparagus, whole cloves of garlic, onion.
Pan frying – chop up veggies into bite size pieces, add generous amount of evoo (at least 4 tbls for 2 people, you can use more), a little salt and any herbs or spices to your liking.

These veggies work well in the frying pan: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, green beans, asparagus, corn, onion, spinach, capsicum, mushrooms, snow peas, zucchini, eggplant, tomato and just about any other veg (maybe not cucumber…)

Fried broccoli and oven baked cauliflower are my favs, what will yours be?

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Legumes. Perhaps the one true “superfood”

How to get half a kilo of legumes into your diet each week as per the Mediterranean diet.
*See post on the Mediterranean diet

The word “superfood” gets thrown around a lot, especially buy unqualified “health experts”. 

And while, in the words of ABC’s The Checkout, “there is no such thing as superfood, just super-marketing”, legumes are one food source that really are SUPER!

Legumes (this includes lentils) pretty much tick the box for everything. They are an excellent source of dietary fibre, phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, protein and are free of cholesterol and saturated fats. They are also an environmentally sustainable food and very cheap!

Tinned legumes and lentils are just as good as dried ones and can be added to salads, soups, pasta sauces, casseroles, stews or pies. Replacing ½ the meat with legumes in your meals will reduce the cost, calories and saturated fat whilst increasing dietary fibre and phytonutrients.

To eat 1/2 a kilo per week, you need 70g per day which is just the right amount to add to your lunch or dinner, be it a salad, soup, stew, pasta dish etc. So it’s actually not that hard. If 1/2 a kilo seems way too much, start with 250g per week.

If you feel legumes and lentils upset your digestive system, try the tinned ones (rinse well) and just stick to 1-2 tablespoons at a time. It’s also not unusual to experience tummy symptoms when you first introduce them to your diet, but in time this disappears for most people.

legumes and lentils

A delicious legume soup with fresh herbs!

Butter, margarine or… Olive oil!

Do you worry about using margarine because of its processing or butter because of the saturated fats?

The solution is simple… Just use extra virgin olive oil! If you haven’t tried drizzling olive oil over your toast, I challenge you to try it. It even works with vegemite.

I am a convert since reading about all the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet and first trying it a month ago. My partner and several of my clients are now doing it too and delighting in the taste and the fact they are putting powerful nutrition into their bodies!

Of course there are other healthy spreads such as nut spreads and avocado (also great with vegemite), but avocado can be expensive (and go brown quickly) and won’t keep as long. 

So go on, give it try today! I suggest using a dense grainy or rye type sourdough toast and a good quality EV olive oil which you’ll find in any deli or food market (I prefer to keep the supermarket stuff for cooking).

I would love to hear from you as to whether or not you enjoyed it, so please send me a message/post on Facebook what you eat

Extra virgin olive oil - Australian is best!

Extra virgin olive oil – Australian is best!

How to follow the Mediterranean diet, or “way of life”

No doubt you have heard people talking about the Mediterranean diet and how good it is for your health.

There is mounting research to show how the Mediterranean diet can be protective against heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

You can access all the research papers through this website.

Food enjoyed on a Mediterranean diet

Food enjoyed on a Mediterranean diet













So how do you follow a Mediterranean diet?

Associate Professor Catherine Itsiopoulos, from La Trobe University has published a book titled “the Mediterranean diet” explaining the diet in detail and providing many wonderful recipes.

Key ingredients are:

Extra virgin olive oil (40-60ml per day)
Legumes, ~500g per week
Vegetables, ~400-500g per day
Fruit, 2-3 pieces per day
Nuts, aim for 30g per day 
Wholegrain breads, 3-4 slices per day
Fish, especially oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel at least twice per week
Natural or Greek style yoghurt and feta cheese

Smaller serves of meat (beef, lamb, chicken, pork) eaten less often (1-2/week) is recommended, as is limiting sweet foods and drinks to special occasions. 

Red wine is encouraged in moderation, 1-2 glasses per day, only with meals and never to get drunk.

In addition to food, the Mediterranean diet also encompasses a way of life, including growing some of your own produce, home-cooking, food sharing and eating meals sitting down at the family table together. 

Stay tuned as I post tips on how to incorporate these key ingredients into your diet, starting with 40-60ml of olive oil, which is quite a lot!