Savour Maggie's Recipe for Life by Maggie Beer »

Recipes all about flavoursome and life enhancing, seasonal food (including desserts!)

By Paula Wriedt
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<i>Maggie's Recipe for Life</i> by Maggie Beer

Maggie's Recipe for Life by Maggie Beer [©Simon & Schuster Australia]

 

Who doesn’t love Maggie Beer's passion for producing flavoursome food from fresh, seasonal produce? Her latest book Maggie’s Recipe for Life is yet another demonstrating the joy that food can bring.  But this book is so much more than just the recipes and stories that impart her food ethos.

A collaboration with Professor of Neurology, Ralph Martins, Maggie’s Recipe for Life combines the science behind the foods we need for good health with Maggie’s delicious recipes.

The first pages give readers a simple understanding of the foods that we should eat for better nourishment and brain health, making this book a must-read for those who want to eat for better health, but not sacrifice flavour.

Maggie Beer is one of Australia’s most loved food characters. Her passion for food, her warmth and her seemingly ever-present smile have endeared her to Australians for decades. Believe it or not she is 72 years young and is sure it's good food that means her energy levels now are as good as they were twenty years ago. 

If Maggie’s Recipe for Life is sounding like a diet plan – don’t fear. Maggie is at pains to point out that it most definitely isn’t a diet, but rather, a way of life.  In keeping with this, the recipes are about beautiful, life enhancing, seasonal food and having balance in your eating.

Maggie met Professor Ralph Martins when they were both in Canberra at the Australian of the Year Awards in 2010. After chatting, Maggie realised that they shared an incredible passion for food – even though they were both approaching it from different perspectives – Ralph’s a scientific one, and Maggie’s from being a passionate cook. And so, this book was born. Along with it comes an invitation from Maggie to “Join me in celebrating the joy of food every day”.

Along with the refreshingly easy explanations of the roles played by various vitamins, minerals and polyphenols in our diet, there is also an interesting section on what we can learn from the Mediterranean and Okinawan Diets. Both of these regions can boast residents that have lived longer and healthier lives as a result of the foods they eat.

Accordingly, many of the recipes have both Japanese or Mediterranean influences. 

The former seems to be new ground for Maggie. As someone who has devoured her cookbooks over many years, I can’t recall her venturing into Japanese cuisine very often. I guess it proves that even experienced cooks with high levels of knowledge of nutritious food can always learn more.

It would be a crime to sit down with this book and not read the chapters from Professor Ralph Martins. By the end you have all the knowledge you need to convince you to eat right – for your brain’s health and for your overall vitality. Skipping over these chapters would also mean that you’d miss out on the small recipes peppered through these pages – I’d hate you to overlook Coconut Chook and Sprout Salad (P. 50), Roasted Eggplant and Miso (P. 45) or Chilled Pea and Buttermilk Soup (P 41).  All small, simple recipes, but, still delicious ones.  I made the Chilled Buttermilk Soup, perfect for warmer weather, and the flavours were incredibly vibrant.

The remainder of the book is divided into “meals” – Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Dessert (yes, I did say it wasn’t a diet book didn’t I?), Snacks and Basics. The Basics section covers such delights as Homemade Ricotta, Sauerkraut and several different breads. There are even instructions on how to make your own Almond or Oat Milk, which with the level of lactose intolerance we see today, is a very handy recipe to have in your arsenal.

For me, one of the delights of a Maggie Beer book is actually seeing the dishes she serves up. Maybe it’s a personal challenge but I get great delight in seeing my finished product resemble the photographs. So it’s a bonus for avid cooks like me to have photos of every recipe in the book. It also inspired me to cook more of the recipes – they looked so beautiful!

The breakfast sections offer a huge variety from smoothies such as Autumn Fruit Smoothie, or Orange Almond Winter Smoothie, as well as many different oat based dishes such as granola, muesli and porridges. I can’t wait for winter to kick in so I can try the Pistachio and Orange Porridge or the Diced Pear and Rice Porridge. But for now I’m waiting for a cooler Sunday morning so I can make the Breakfast Baked Eggs – a hearty dish of ripe tomatoes, capsicums, saffron and eggs. 

More treasures await readers in the lunch section – a diverse collection of recipes that could be your weekday work lunches and also fit for a family weekend get together. Like many of Maggie’s recipes the titles give away most of the ingredients so it’s easy to know if you will like the dish before you begin reading it.

Straight away my eye was caught by the Sweet Potato Fritters with Smashed Avocado and Salmon, and the Eggplant, Zucchini, Caramelised Onion and Feta Tart with Brown Rice and Almond Pastry. Several of the lunch dishes could easily be used as side dishes for a dinner party also – the Grilled Zucchini Salad is a simple but effective way of serving zucchinis in season.

But my top pick would be the Verjuice Carrots, Barley and Currant Salad with Persian Feta. It reminds me of the Cypriot Grain Salad made popular by Masterchef Judge, George Calombaris – full of sweet and savoury notes and very moreish. If that’s the only recipe you make from the entire book it will be worth the investment as this dish is sure to become a staple on many tables.

As I mentioned before, this is certainly not a diet book and the dessert section doesn’t disappoint.  After all, I can’t recall ever seeing a Chocolate Cloud Cake with Nut Cream on any diet I’ve ever tried – and there’s been quite a few over the years!

The Coconut Panna Cotta with Raspberries and Toasted Almonds will be sure to appeal to many, but one look at the picture for the Chocolate, Prune and Hazelnut Ganache in Spelt and Cinnamon Pastry has me convinced that it’s all about moderation – and I’d be crazy not to try this!

This collaborative book works well – as a lover of cookbooks I didn’t feel disappointed to discover that the first 50 pages of its contents were the science behind the foods we eat.  It simply puts the recipes in context – that this sort of fresh, nutritious food that doesn’t skimp on flavour, should be part of my life everyday.  And, let’s face it, if we can all look half as good and energetic as Maggie in her early 70’s, you’d be crazy not to try these recipes now.
 

Maggie's Recipe for Life, by Maggie Beer with Professor Ralph Martins and photography by Dragan Radocaj is published by Simon & Schuster Australia (Sydney, NSW; Oct 2017; sc; RRP A$39..99). It is available from all good bookstores.

It can also be purchased online via booko.com.au »

Read the press release here »


Paula Wriedt is a self-confessed foodie. Whilst she loves her job running the small charity Cystic Fibrosis Tasmania, her real passion is food. She lives in Kingston with her two teenage children who have inherited her love of cooking so her house is always filled with the welcoming smells of delicious food. 

As a former State Minister for Tourism, Paula is passionate about Tasmanian produce and our beautiful island state. Travelling is high on her agenda but she enjoys returning to Tasmania and sharing with friends and family the many recipes she discovers on her travels.
 

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February 19th, 2018
 
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