Wholefood Cooking

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Photography ©Harriet Harcourt
Photgraphy ©Harriet Harcourt

When​ ​I​ ​was​ ​recently​ ​asked​ ​by​ ​Organic​ ​Times​ ​to​ ​develop​ ​a​ ​recipe,​ ​I​ ​jumped​ ​at​ ​the​ ​opportunity​ ​to use​ ​their​ ​chocolate​ ​as​ ​my​ ​primary​ ​ingredient​ ​(you​ ​can​ ​read​ ​more​ ​about​ ​why​ ​below).​ ​But​ ​what​ ​to make​ ​?!!!​ ​So​ ​I​ ​went​ ​to​ ​you, my ​ ​readers​ ​on​ ​Instagram​ ​and​ ​Facebook​ ​and​ ​overwhelmingly​ ​the​ ​request was​ ​for​ ​a​ ​SIMPLE,​ ​EASY​ ​AND​ ​QUICK​ ​TO​ ​MAKE,​ ​NOURISHING,​ ​MIGHTY​ ​GOOD,​ ​CHOC DROP​ ​SOMETHING​ ​for​ ​school​ ​lunches,​ ​afternoon​ ​tea​ ​and​ ​something​ ​an​ ​adult​ ​might​ ​love​ ​as well, please Jude !!!!​ ​I’m​ ​thrilled​ ​with​ ​the​ ​end​ ​result.​ ​Whilst​ ​the​ ​adult​ ​and​ ​child​ ​version​ ​are​ ​slightly​ ​different, they​ ​have​ ​enough​ ​common​ ​DNA​ ​allowing​ ​for​ ​them​ ​to​ ​made​ ​together,​ ​and​ ​it’s​ ​super​ ​easy​ ​and quick​ ​to​ ​do.​ ​Both​ ​last​ ​brilliantly​ ​in​ ​an​ ​airtight​ ​container​ ​for​ ​up​ ​to​ ​-​ ​well,​ ​I​ ​was​ ​still​ ​eating samples​ ​after​ ​2​ ​weeks​ ​(but​ ​obviously​ ​they​ ​are​ ​at​ ​their​ ​best​ ​within​ ​7​ ​days).


What’s so good about Organic Times cacao/cocoa / chocolate?
Chocolate,​ ​as​ ​we​ ​know​ ​it,​ ​is​ ​the​ ​result​ ​of​ ​a​ ​long​ ​process.​ ​Seeds​ ​from​ ​the​ ​cacao​ ​tree​ ​are​ ​firstly scooped​ ​out​ ​of​ ​the​ ​large​ ​pods​ ​and​ ​left​ ​to​ ​ferment​ ​and​ ​then​ ​spread​ ​out​ ​to​ ​dry.​ ​At​ ​this​ ​stage,​ ​the beans​ ​are​ ​considered​ ​to​ ​be​ ​raw​ ​—​ ​the​ ​full​ ​flavour​ ​that​ ​is​ ​chocolate,​ ​is​ ​yet​ ​to​ ​be​ ​realised.​ ​The seeds​ ​are​ ​then​ ​roasted​ ​and​ ​shelled​ ​to​ ​become​ ​what​ ​we​ ​call​ ​nibs,​ ​which​ ​can​ ​be​ ​left​ ​whole​ ​or broken​ ​into​ ​pieces.​ ​During​ ​roasting​ ​the​ ​flavour​ ​of​ ​cocoa​ ​is​ ​developed.​ ​Within​ ​the​ ​Raw​ ​Food movement,​ ​a​ ​view​ ​is​ ​held​ ​that​ ​raw​ ​cocoa/​ ​cacao​ ​ (​both​ ​names​ ​are​ ​correct,​ ​and​ ​either​ ​can​ ​be​ ​used​) nibs​ ​and​ ​(and​ ​thus​ ​all​ ​chocolate​ ​products​ ​that​ ​come​ ​from​ ​them)​ ​are​ ​more​ ​nutritious​ ​and preferable but​ ​this​ ​is​ ​highly​ ​contentious​ ​and​ ​not at all ​necessarily​ ​true,​ ​as​ ​that​ ​desirable​ ​mineral​ ​and nutrient​ ​bounty​ ​is​ ​only​ ​made​ ​bio​ ​available​ ​during​ ​the​ ​fermentation​ ​process. ​Whilst​ ​the​ ​raw product​ ​does​ ​have​ ​higher​ ​levels​ ​of​ ​phytonutrients​ ​they​ ​also​ ​have​ ​higher​ ​levels​ ​of​ ​antinutrients such​ ​as​ ​phytic​ ​acid​ ​(and​ ​indeed​ ​are​ ​along​ ​with​ ​coffee,​ ​one​ ​of​ ​the​ ​high​ ​phytic​ ​acid​ ​seeds)​ ​which makes​ ​very​ ​little​ ​bio​ ​available.​ ​​ ​Fermentation​ ​plays​ ​a​ ​primary​ ​role​ ​in​ ​breaking​ ​these​ ​anti nutrients​ ​down,​ ​where​ ​high​ ​temperatures​ ​are​ ​reached​ ​during​ ​this​ ​process and this is the traditional wisdom of cacao.
The​ ​nibs​ ​are​ ​then​ ​ground​ ​to​ ​form​ ​a​ ​thick​ ​paste​ ​—​ ​this​ ​is​ ​known​ ​as​ ​​cocoa​ ​liquor​,​ ​​ ​made​ ​up​ ​of​ ​fat (which​ ​we​ ​call​ ​cocoa​ ​butter)​ ​and​ ​cocoa​ ​solids​ ​(which​ ​we​ ​call​ ​cocoa​ ​|​ ​cacao​ ​powder)​ ​—​ ​do you remember the movie Chocolat (yes with the gorgeous Johnny Depp) – where she would grind the nibs into the liquor on the old stone ? – and​ ​in some​ ​cases​ ​vanilla​ ​and​ ​sugar​ ​is​ ​also​ ​added​ ​at​ ​this​ ​stage.​ ​The​ ​cocoa​ ​liquor​ ​can ​then​ ​pressed​ ​to remove​ ​most​ ​of​ ​the​ ​fat​ ​(cocoa​ ​butter),​ ​and​ ​the​ ​remaining​ ​solids​ ​are​ ​ground​ ​to​ ​what​ ​we​ ​know​ ​as cocoa​ ​|cacao​ ​powder.​ ​Cocoa​ ​is​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​like​ ​coffee,​ ​quite​ ​acidic​ ​—​ ​this​ ​varies​ ​with​ ​the​ ​variety​ ​of bean,​ ​and​ ​is​ ​also​ ​increased​ ​when​ ​the​ ​fat​ ​is​ ​removed.​ ​Organic​ ​Times​ ​chocolate​ ​products​ ​are grown​ ​and​ ​processed​ ​to​ ​the​ ​highest​ ​traditional​ ​standards,​ ​and​ ​because​ ​they​ ​are​ ​not​ ​raw​ ​you​ ​are assured​ ​of​ ​a​ ​delicious,​ ​health​ ​supportive​ ​​ ​and​ ​​ ​nourishing​ ​end​ ​result.


Natural​ ​cocoa​ ​powder​ ​and​ ​dutched​ ​cocoa​ ​powder
Most​ ​natural​ ​cocoa​ ​powders​ ​are​ ​tart​ ​and​ ​acidic, especially if they are not of high quality. ​One​ ​of​ ​the​ ​methods​ ​devised​ ​to​ ​reduce​ ​this problem​ ​was​ ​that​ ​of​ ​alkalising​ ​the​ ​cocoa​ ​powder​ ​by​ ​soaking​ ​the​ ​nibs​ ​in​ ​an​ ​alkaline solution,​ ​commonly​ ​potassium​ ​carbonate,​ ​which​ ​neutralises​ ​the​ ​acid​ ​and​ ​softens​ ​the​ ​flavour (by a Dutchman, hence the term Dutching or Dutched cacao/cocoa). This​ ​process​ ​also​ ​changes​ ​the​ ​colour​ ​of​ ​the​ ​cocoa​ ​to​ ​a​ ​deep​ ​chocolatey​ ​red.​ ​I​ ​do​ ​love​ ​using Dutched​ ​cocoa​ ​powder,​ ​with​ ​Organic​ ​Times​ ​as​ ​my​ ​first​ ​choice.​ ​In​ ​baking,​ ​you​ ​must​ ​know​ ​which type​ ​of​ ​cocoa​ ​powder​ ​you​ ​are​ ​dealing​ ​with,​ ​as​ ​the​ ​acidity​ ​of​ ​a​ ​natural​ ​or​ ​undutched​ ​cocoa​ ​will interact​ ​with​ ​whatever​ ​leavening​ ​you​ ​are​ ​using.


Organic​ ​Times​ ​Dark​ ​Choc​ ​Drops
Dark​ ​chocolate​ ​set​ ​in​ ​bars​ ​or​ ​as​ ​drops,​ ​is​ ​a​ ​mixture​ ​of​ ​varying​ ​%​ ​of​ ​cocoa​ ​liquor,​ ​sweetening, flavouring​ ​(such​ ​as​ ​vanilla),​ ​and​ ​an​ ​emulsifier,​ ​commonly​ ​soya​ ​lecithin.​ ​The​ ​proportions determine​ ​the​ ​mouthfeel,​ ​flavour​ ​and​ ​use​ ​of​ ​the​ ​end​ ​result​ ​.​ ​Most​ ​organic​ ​brands​ ​use​ ​raw​ ​sugar, but​ ​​Organic​ ​Time​s​ ​uses​ ​rapadura​ ​sugar,​ ​and​ ​it​ ​makes​ ​for​ ​a​ ​beautifully​ ​wholesome,​ ​​ ​sweetened chocolate.


If you would like to read further about the lowdown of the Organic Times Cacao | Cocoa | Chocolate go HERE, it’s well worth the read.

I’d love to hear how you go, and how you like them… I do hope you enjoy both recipes…. x Jude 


Recipes ©Jude Blereau and Organic Times 2017


Smoky Beetroot, Lentil and Millet Burgers


This recipe is a bit of an out take from my new book WHOLEFOOD From the Ground Up (which I can excitedly say, is out 1st June). It was one of the very first recipes I toyed with and it evolved on to become something else, but I wanted to see it come to realization. I do love a nice, deeply flavoured and toothsome vegetarian pattie (too many are just mushy) to put in a burger, or just as happy without. This pattie follows the path of one of my favourite principles – try and be prepared for the week, cook a pot of grain (in this case hulled millet) and cook a pot of legumes (in this case green lentils), to use in any number of ways – but here, as the smoky beetroot burger. I’m writing this up for the Easter break as I think it would make a perfect lunch, or dinner over this most wonderful break.


There are a few things I need to tell you about this recipe. These are really quite quick to throw together, especially if you have lentils already cooked. I would suggest you cook the millet (and make extra if you would like for another use) just before you need it – the warmth will make it a little stickier, which is helpful here (you will have a little left over, but it’s far easier to get the liquid ratio perfect with 1/2 cup millet, so use it for a stuffing, or a salad !). Also, the lentils need to be well cooked – once drained, it will help the whole sticking together thing if they are mashed just a little bit. In the end however, they will stay together, no matter how unlikely you think that will be – the 2 eggs will do the trick. I also absolutely recommend that you soak your millet and lentils (this will make them more digestible), but if you forget or run out of time, cooking them in a bone stock such as chicken will buffer any nutrient losses, and make digestion just that bit easier. Also – the smoked paprika. I can tell you that all smoked paprika’s are not equal. Many of them can be quite bitter, especially when you have to add a fair bit to get a good smoky flavour. I use one that is a dulce (sweet) smoked paprika, and in Perth, Western Australia this is the brand I use. And a word in regards to the miso – both shiro (white) or chickpea are fine, and in Australia I have a preference for this brand (though, to be fair it is only available in limited places, and only on the east coast), otherwise this brand.



I’ve served it here with great organic, wood fired sourdough that has been grilled, avocado, and homemade sweet chilli and sultana sauce. The greens you see there are the beetroot greens, but take note beetroot (especially the greens) are a high oxalic acid food. Heat breaks down oxalates, so I have cooked them gently in a little ghee – this way you will get all their goodies. Pile it all on the bread, slather it and it’s a hearty and delicious meal. A bit of goat curd would not go astray. And, finally if you are after a cake for the (hopefully) cooler Autumn weather over easter, can I suggest this Walnut and Yoghurt Cake. It’s an old post, so not brilliant photos, but I can guarantee, the cake is very good.

Wishing you all a restful, safe and heartfelt Easter… x jude

All photography ©Harriet Harcourt

My new book is available for pre order – in Perth, Western Australia here, Australia wide here and worldwide Book Depository here

My New Kitchen

Hummingbird cupboards
IMAGE SOURCE: HUMMINGBIRD HIGH, Kitchen Renovation Copyright Michelle Lopez | Hummingbird High

A lot of people ask me about kitchens – what is the best design ? What oven is best etc ? So I thought I’d share the new kitchen I’m building with you.  After many years of renting, I’m finally able to be able to buy my own home. I took the road less travelled around 25 years ago, wanting to walk a path that was true to me, so to be able to have lived that truth and now be able to buy my own home is quite special. First up, that is not my kitchen in that photo above !!! It’s the renovation done by Hummingbird High ( a favourite blog) as is the picture below.

Hummingbird Kitchen
IMAGE SOURCE: HUMMINGBIRD HIGH Copyright Michelle Lopez | Hummingbird High

I am restricted by budget, so primarily I have gone for space. The kitchen will be an L shape at one end of a very large room that will be home to the living area and my office space, with lots of light flooding in.  At the kitchen end of the long wall will be a large window above the sink, with workbenches, dishwasher and fridge finishing that off. Along the smaller L wall, will be the stove and bench space. I dislike fixed island benches, preferring to use the green free standing bench you can see in the picture below. This has been with me for around 28years and was made from an old jarrah wood desk. Everything  you can see that is green, is brand new pine, painted and distressed (and now worn from years of use). This bench has seen such  love, laughter, heartbreak and tears, plans hatched, businesses born, friendships formed and broken, and a family built around it – it’s seen it all. It’s been in just about every kitchen my daughter and I have lived in and for me, it is the heart and soul of my kitchen. I believe in and love LOTS of big, wide and long bench space – there is no such thing as too much in my experience, so I will also have my stainless steel benches (great for rolling pastry)  to extend the work space, and for classes.


The floors will be large grey tiles (no budget for wooden floors), I’ve chosen this colour as primarily they won’t show the dirt as much and will be easy to keep clean. Whilst I love the black and white check lino in my current kitchen, it would be too much for such a large space. My cupboard choice is heavily influenced by those in Hummingbird High, and in the picture you see below.. from the January 2016 issue of the Living Etcetera Magazine. I’m going for a slightly off white (just so that it is not white white, but not cream white), and I’m thinking that the grey floors, along with the white cupboards will create a beautiful back drop for the colours I love (well, that is pink for one). Did you know that Santa gave me a  pastel pink Smeg fridge for Christmas ? Yes truly. I was beside myself with shock and excitement – the generosity of one beautiful soul. So I’m thinking the beautiful grey floor, white cupboards, white ceramic sink, white oven (we will talk about that in a minute) with the pop of the soft pink will work a treat. I’m using Essastone for the benchtops, made from quartz and incredibly hardy and easy to keep clean – colour will be white, with tiny grey fleck in it. Splashback will be matte white subway tiling.


I’ve chosen the classic Ikea ceramic sink – it’s the same one you can see above in the Hummingbird High kitchen – really though, I suspect this was a choice of the heart, and not as practical as I’d like. But alas, it’s done. I’m concerned that as it sits above the bench top, it’s going to make draining and wiping down a bit tricky, but there you go..the heart wants what the heart wants.

Let’s talk about the oven – I’m a cook, and specifically a baker, so the oven choice is mighty important. I am firm on the choice of gas stove top, I don’t like electricity, and I really don’t like induction. I like a flame, and believe the energy imparted from a flame is far more vital than electricity, but I also don’t like the way electricity and induction pulse. I like a flame, I like to see what’s going on. The stove/oven I’ve chosen is the beautiful, beautiful, practical and extremely functional Smeg Victoria Cooker in cream. I’ve always wanted a vintage stove, seen them in the United States, had pictures of them pinned up on my wall for years. I love Smeg products – they are beautifully designed, they are still made in Italy, still family run but mostly, they are functional. They work. They bake beautifully (they are very true to temperature). Oh and did I say, the Victoria is beautiful? It looks a bit yellowish in the photo below, but when it’s next to the white, it softens up (you can see it set in a kitchen in that little web grab photo too). It’s going to look gorgeous with the stunning Smeg pink fridge (again, gorgeous + functional) and that white sink. I’ve chosen it also because I believe that if you cook for a family, you are going to need more than one oven.


Smeg Stove

You might be wondering about my pantry ? Well that is currently a work in progress. I hate most of the dinky little cupboard pantries that are built these days, I really like to see what I’ve got and just love seeing all of natures goodies there, alive, not hidden away.   There is no pantry built on either of those two kitchen walls I spoke about. On the opposite side of the kitchen sink, so the opposite wall of the rectangle that is that large room, is a large 2 metre x 500 ml depth, floor to ceiling space for the pantry. The picture below is what I’m thinking, but right now I’m just going to move in (well not for a few weeks yet) and leave exactly how the pantry will unfold alone for a bit. I actually love the whole house that this pantry is from, and if you click on the link here, I’m sure you will see a theme in my kitchen cupboards emerging. :)

IMAGE SOURCE: DESIGN SPONGE, Photo copyright | by Amy Azzarito

Are you renovating your kitchen or building a new one ? What choices have you made ? I’ll keep you updated as to how it’s looking – right now, it’s looking like a whole lot of concrete !! But it won’t be long. I’m hoping it will be a kitchen that is light, easy to work in, easy to keep clean, is functional but also is beautiful and makes my heart sing.







White Chocolate Mousse and Strawberry Cake

White Choc Mousse Cake ClearWhite Choc Mousse Slice 2White Choc Mousse Slice

This little baby has been in my head for sometime as a distant image – I kinda knew what I wanted, but didn’t have time to work it out and thus it missed going into the new book. So you are getting it for Christmas dear reader. As I began to slow down last week, I finally could see (in my mind) how to go about this recipe. As it happened I had a play date set with my gorgeous friend  Emma Galloway (My Darling Lemon Thyme) as a chance for us to really catch up before she heads back home to New Zealand. What a truly beautiful soul is Emma – and talented. Given photography is not my strength, and it most certainly is Emma’s, I asked her if she would mind bringing her camera and take some shots. These gorgeous shots you see here are hers, and the making of it was a joint effort :) Needless to say, we did not stop talking from the second she arrived to the second she left. Thank you for the beautiful photos Emm!

It’s very easy, gluten and dairy free. Now I say that not because I think gluten and dairy free means something is wholesome and healthy, but because I like my sweetness a little less rich and lighter when the weather is 40c (as it is want to be on a Perth Christmas Day). For those of you that follow my work, you will see it’s pedigree in the Vanilla Bean Almond Cream and Creamy Cocoa Butter and Vanilla Frosting from Wholefood Baking. Just a couple of things:

  1. You will need to soak the almonds for the milk overnight to make the almond and coconut milk (and please don’t be tempted to use tetrapak almond milk, it will be watery and not nice. You can however make the almond and coconut milk the day before, so you are ready to go the next day.
  2. You will really only need about 3/4 of the chocolate biscuit base, but I’m too tired to work that out. I would make it up, and perhaps make little tartlets with the left over !
  3. This really is best eaten the day it is made -it will also look it’s best. I know that’s not optimal for Christmas, but you could have the milk made, and the strawberry juice made and it really doesn’t take that long to put together.
  4. Use a good vanilla – I like Heilala 
  5. Dont use a generic agar powder, go to a Natural or Wholefoods store and buy it there. Two good brands are Honest to Goodness  or Lotus
  6. If you are wondering about kudzu, you can find it here (in Australia) here in the U.S

I’d like to ask you something here though…  enjoy this recipe and I would love you to share it  but please respect the copyright of both myself and Emma. There’s a lot of craziness going on in the blogging and instagram world. I (and others I know) will now often see a recipe that is mine (or theirs) directly posted with no acknowledgement, or a few small changes with no nod to it’s source. I would ask that you please respect this.

It’s been a big year for me, with lots of blessings and challenges. I didn’t run the Whole and Natural Foods Chef Training Program this year as I was exhausted, and with a book to finish. That new book is just about put to bed, my family are well, I am loved and supported by that wonderful family and true friends, I have wonderful neighbours, I’m finally able to own my home and am building, I’ve been doing public classes again and I have the absolute blessing of doing work I love – and I hope, making a positive difference. I got the flu badly (twice), I didn’t balance work and rest too well and I’ve learnt a lot of about false friendships and those that are true – lessons are blessings in their own way as they free you for the new growth, deeper friendships and all that really matters.  I go into the new year grateful, loving with arms open wide to embrace the new year with joy.

I wish you and your loved ones a joyful, peaceful and safe Christmas, may you be richly blessed with everything that really matters.

x Jude

On Beans and Being

Beans Picture

I’ve just arrived back home after nearly 5 weeks away on the east coast of Australia, teaching and I think a pot of simple beans are in order. This post on beans began some weeks ago, but is ending up somewhat differently to what I envisaged. It was to be a discussion on cooking beans, but now – well it’s more about being, how grounding a simple meal of beans can be and how they can remind you that simple is sometimes all we need. This is happening a lot for me lately – you will see it also reflected in the new book (due June, 2016) – elemental flavours, simple wholegrains and legumes, fundamental animal foods, simple vegetables, simple fruits – foods that are local, seasonal, ripe, and grown in great soil with great ethics. It’s the elemental that gets me, and it’s this elementality (yes it’s my made up word) that is the key. It connects you immediately to what is real and true, and what really matters in life – it takes us into our core, our heart and soul. I have been privileged in classes – especially the 4 day intensives – to see that when simple, good, organic and/or biodynamic food is around (and a lot of it) and when people are supported, something exceptional happens – they cry, they open, they connect to each other and to themselves.  It is never ever just about the food, it’s always about the energy that food carries and the context in which we eat it.  And good, real food ? Well that’s mighty powerful stuff, and it seems the simpler it is, the more powerful it is. There’s a lot of crazy food out there right now, and whilst it might suit the latest fad, or marketing campaign it doesn’t seem to suit many humans, or nourish on that deeper level.

But, sometimes we do have to know how to prepare that food, how to make it optimally digestible for our human tummies, especially that grounding bowl of simple beans. Beans are part of the legume family, and require a bit of attention. First up, a bit about how they grow – they are ridiculously easy to grow. In Australia, I often find organic beans impossible to cook properly (they are really old, and | or they are heat treated for entrance to Australia and thus never cook), so I try and grow what I can. This year I’ve added the Christmas Lima Bean and Bean Frost to my repertoire of Borlotti, they are easily available online from Diggers, or some wonderful person may share a seed with you (Belinda Jeffrey shared her Christmas Lima with me). But if you live in the U.S you will easily be able to access the glorious Rancho Gordo beans, which offer a huge range of young, heirloom beans.

I know you may have heard that you need to soak your beans, but when you look at the picture above you can see that when they are fresh of the bush, how moist they are (you can also see how lush the pod is, and how bright the colour when fresh, too). They don’t need soaking, as those sugars have not yet begun to convert to very long chain carbohydrates that are hard for us to digest. Once they begin to dry though, you will need to soak them. In lots of water to cover them by about 10cm, and for Borlotti, Frost and Christmas Lima, you will need to add an alkali – many people use a pinch of baking soda, but I prefer Kombu sea vegetable, with contributes minerals, and has a special enzyme that helps to break those long sugars down. A 2cm piece is plenty for 1/2 cup of beans, which when cooked will give you around 1 1/4 cups cooked beans. Leave the beans to soak for 12 – 24 hours in a warm place. Warmth is important as it will help encourage lacto fermentation, which will also help to make the bean more digestible, and help with getting rid of anti nutrients such as phytic acid.  Then drain and rinse, add to a pot with fresh water or stock with the soaking kombu, or use a fresh piece. Using a bone stock will help to make them even more digestible. Cook until they are done. The time they take depends on how old they are – beans under 1 year tend to cook from 45 – 1 hour | older – around 1 – 2 hours |older still – much longer, around 2 1/2 – 3 hours. If they are not cooked by then, they most likely never will.  They are ready when gentle pressure yields a creamy centre  – no pebbly bits. Pebbly bits are not digestible. I hear you saying ‘but where can I get kombu, as it’s not available in Australia?’ Kombu has been banned in Australia due to high iodine levels (crazy as we are a low iodine country, but go figure) – I buy mine online here, but you can also use Wakame which is freely available, it’s good, but it’s not quite as effective. (just a caveat about kombu, it’s great, but use it in small amounts, don’t go nuts with it).

Even though the weather is warming up, I hope you find time for this simple pot of beans in a cooler moment. But, you could always simply cook them as I have just described and use them to add to a salad with a delicious dressing. It was so wonderful to meet you all people in classes, thank you for enriching my life.  I’ll be back with some Christmas treats shortly…. x Jude








A Sensible Discussion About Sugar (and a sponge cake)

Photography by Jess Shaver | Copyright  Jude Blereau and Jess Shaver

There are an awful lot of hyped up conversations about sugar going on and sugar free is in, big time – another book, another movie, another fractionalised approach to food.  I’ve stayed out of this debate, preferring to run a conversation in my books and classes about a wholefoods and wholistic life, but after reading this great article by Jess Cox, I felt it was timely to put forward what I consider a sensible conversation about sugar. This also coincided with the passing of my dear friends Denise and Julies’ mum – Shirley –  but more about that later.

When I started out on my wholefood path some 25 years ago, I too saw things from quite a black or white perspective – I had not yet learnt that things are always far deeper and more complex than at first glance and that it is generally not what the food IS that makes it good, or wholesome and healthy, ethical or sustainable, but how we grow it, process and prepare it that is. And, the context in which we source it, eat it and the life we live. And my, but is sugar a great example of this, and of a wholefood philosophy and a wholistic lifestyle in general.

From a wholefood perspective, we could say that cane sugar juice in its natural state is a rich source of vitamins, minerals enzymes, fibers and phytonutrients, which the body requires to digest the sucrose and provide a slow release of fuel. Indeed the minerals calcium, phosphorous, chromium, magnesium, cobalt, copper, iron, zinc and manganese are absolutely essential for this process. To store over long periods and stop it from fermenting, cane juice is boiled to evaporate water and this end product is known by many names – for example Rapadura or Panela (they do the same thing, for the same reason to maple syrup and coconut palm nectar). In its traditional homes (Central and South Americas) it is consumed within the context of a whole and balanced diet  and is considered a healthful and nourishing food – this is what we should be referring to when we use the words cane sugar. But, I do understand that in most cases, when we say the word sugar, we are referring to what we know as refined sugar  – the cane juice instead is boiled under vacuum to achieve high enough temperatures for crystallisation, with all nutrients removed or at the very least with a few left in, during the refining process. It is a very different thing because of the way it has been processed and now, without the wealth of nutrients and polyphenols to aid the digestion of sucrose and slow down its release, it will hit the blood stream too quickly. I also understand very well that our bodies have not evolved to handle this, however will do it’s best – pulling nutrients from elsewhere in the body leading to depletion.

Which brings me to Shirley. One of the things that came through so clearly and strongly at the funeral of this very beautiful woman (both inside and out) when people spoke about their memories of her, was that the cake and biscuit tin was always full – made with refined white flour and sugar – and in the profound words of the CWA (Country Womens Association), ‘it’s not just about the scones and tea’. Shirley was always there, her door was always open, with a cup of tea and comfort. Somehow (according to the current fractionalised views on sugar) with this refined sugar in their diet Shirley and Ralph raised exceptional, healthy, wonderful children that contribute so much to our community. Somehow Shirley and Ralph lived full, happy and rich lives. Now I could also be talking of my mum (and indeed much of this generation now in their late 80’s and 90’s), who still makes biscuits and muffins for when people drop in, or to give to others. She uses white flour and refined white sugar. From a wholistic perspective (the one that fascinates me the most) is that I honestly don’t think that this bit of white sugar in a whole and balanced diet is evil, or cause disease, or indeed is going to kill you.  But eating a lot of refined white sugar and flour, low fat, processed vegetable oil, nutrient deficient, additive laden food in a stressful life possibly will. From this wholistic perspective, I think we are looking in all the wrong places for salvation (hello green smoothie).I think it is far more important that we focus our attention on the fundamentals which you can find here, and when these are strong and in place (as they most certainly have been and in many cases still are in our very older generations) the issue of refined white sugar diminishes. And of course the elephant in the room always is that whilst people might be ditching refined white sugar, but they are most certainly not ditching sweetness – sweetness is always about balance and context.

Personally, my choice is for less refined sweeteners, I like the flavours and nuanced sweetness they give, but when I eat my mum’s muffins I am partaking in powerful love medicine. I love rapadura sugar, but when I do want a cane sugar with less impact I will choose the semi refined (but still crystallised) sugars such as the Billingtons range, where less goodness is taken out in the beginning. I also love maple syrup, maple sugar, coconut palm sugar and brown rice syrup (but take note all brands of BRS are not equal and in Australia I choose Spiral), and of course fruit. I dislike and do not advocate products such as Agave or Xylitol – both highly refined products.

Shirley was known for and for her love of a good sponge cake and for the time she took to sit down with others. Afternoon tea is a great way to slow down on the weekend and stop, and for some to lay their burdens down. I thought you might like to make one for a weekend in the warmer spring weather. A sponge is certainly my favourite cake too –  I love it with passionfruit and banana. If a sponge is not your thing, there’s plenty more delicious options in my book Wholefood Baking (and don’t forget to check out the yummy Choc Peanut Truffles on Jess’ post. Vale Shirley.