Nutritionist Lola Berry lost 20 kilograms in 20 weeks, wrote a book about it (2012's The 20/20 Diet) and was suddenly being invited onto television studio sets around the country to share her tale.
Her mantra is "wholefoods", a close relation of the fashionable paleo diet - and her recipes exclude processed grains, legumes and dairy - instead looking to alternatives such as quinoa (a seed rather than grain), nuts and nut milks (in place of dairy) and raw honey and dates rather than refined sugars.
While the anti-diet brigade may heave a collective sigh, cookbooks such Berry's recent release, The 20/20 Diet Cookbook: Transform your life and body with high-energy wholefoods, are good news for the growing number of people advised to adhere to gluten-free or low-GI food plans. And for the rest of us, there's arguably fun to be had (surely no harm, at least) in throwing some alternative ingredients and flavours into the mix, especially when they produce the likes of crunchy choc-mint smoothies (made with banana, mint, cashews, almond milk, maple syrup and cocao).
Best bit: Discovering new ingredients that make you feel virtuous, like cocao nibs. And Berry is a chilli-lover.
Spicy sweet potatoes with kale and brazil nuts
This one is an all-round winner; it's got nut protein and stacks of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It's a meal in itself, or a tasty side for a roo steak. Sweet spud and cinnamon are a match made in heaven!
2 sweet potatoes, washed, skin on
3 tablespoons coconut oil
200g kale, stalks removed, roughly chopped
1 red chilli, finely diced
70g (1/2 cup) roughly chopped Brazil nuts
1 large avocado, diced
olive oil, to serve
pinch ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 180C. Place the whole sweet spuds on a baking tray. Poke each one a few times with a fork then rub each with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. (The oil will be solid at room temperature, but will melt as soon as it's in the oven.)
Roast in the oven for 40-50 minutes. Check at the 20-minute mark and turn over to ensure they cook evenly. When they've got 10 minutes to go, get your kale topper ready.
Place the remaining coconut oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. When melted, add the kale and saute for 4 minutes. Add the chilli and cook for another minute. Remove from the heat and toss in the Brazil nuts (reserving a teaspoon for garnish).
Pop each sweet spud on a serving plate, slice it in half, and top with half each of the spicy kale mixture and avocado. Garnish with a sprinkle of the remaining Brazil nuts, a drizzle of olive oil and a good pinch of cinnamon.
Pecan and pumpkin spice smoothie
I love pumpkin pie spice! It's so warming and jam-packed with health benefits. Cinnamon helps to balance blood sugar levels and ginger stimulates the circulatory system, has an anti-infl ammatory eff ect on the body and is great for settling an upset tummy. This is another one of those recipes that feels like you're having a dessert, but you're actually giving your body all kinds of goodness!
For pumpkin pie spice
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground giner
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teasopoon ground cloves
A pinch of ground cardamom
1 frozen banana
100g (1 cup) pecans
2 tablespoons almond butter
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (above)
2 tablespoons maple syrup
500ml (2 cups) almond milk
pinch pumpkin pie spice, to serve
pecans, roughly chopped, to serve
chia seeds, to serve
Place the banana, pecans, almond butter, spice, maple syrup and almond milk in your blender and process until smooth. Pour into bowls, mugs, glasses, cups (whatever tickles your fancy), and top with a pinch of pumpkin pie spice and a scattering of chopped pecans and chia seeds.
The big green one (smoothie recipe)
When I realised I was a health nerd, green smoothies were one of the first things that became a daily ritual. I'm now certain that there are as many green smoothie combos as there are people in the world! This is my favourite combo, but feel free to tweak ingredients to suit you. I like mine in a bowl, but if you want yours in glass, add some more coconut water.
This one is worthy of a hashtag (#yumbo) and putting up on all your social media pages!
2 frozen bananas
75g (1/2 cup) cashews, soaked and rinsed
170g (4 cups) baby spinach leaves
1 large avocado
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons desiccated coconut
6 medjool dates, pitted
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
500ml (2 cups) coconut water
30g (1/4 cup) pumpkin seeds
30g (1/4 cup) goji berries
15g (1/4 cup) shredded
Place the frozen narnies, cashews, baby spinach, avocado, coconut oil, desiccated coconut, medjool dates, cinnamon and coconut water into the blender and whizz it all up. The longer you process it, the smoother it will be. Depending on the power of your blender, it should take 30-60 seconds to get a nice consistency.
Pour into bowls, top with pumpkin seeds, goji berries and shredded coconut, and drizzle with a touch of maple syrup.
Don't forget to peel your bananas before you freeze them. Also, soaking cashews overnight makes them easier to digest, but no sweat if you don't soak them; they'll still taste amazing. And if you don't have any shredded coconut for the top, desiccated is totally fine. Lastly, if you're not a fan of medjool dates, substitute 2 tablespoons of raw honey, maple syrup or coconut nectar.
These recipes are an edited extract from: The 20/20 Diet Cookbook: Transform your life and body with high-energy wholefoods, by Lola Berry, Plum (Macmillan), $34.99.
- More cookbook reviews and extracts here