Food for taking care of yourself

Caralee Fontenele. Photos: Jo Anderson
Caralee Fontenele. Photos: Jo Anderson
Wellbeing is essential, if not the most important, aspect of people’s lives, author and lawyer Caralee Fontenele says.

Yet often in busy stressful lives, nourishment is the first thing we let go.

‘‘During busy times, fresh grocery shopping, home-cooked meals, nourishing lunches and healthy breakfasts are replaced with grab-and-go items from the service station, lunch on the run and takeaway on the way home.’’

THE BOOK: Nourishing You, by Caralee Fontenele, distributed by Bateman Books, RRP$39.99.
THE BOOK: Nourishing You, by Caralee Fontenele, distributed by Bateman Books, RRP$39.99.
This leaves people feeling sluggish and lifeless, but often while knowing they need to look after themselves it can seem selfish to do so.

Fontenele says it is of the utmost importance that people do so, as sooner or later those bad habits will catch up with them, possibly jeopardising their health.

‘‘Changing up your diet and eating nourishing food is a simple process. Nutritious food is all about eating quality, natural foods that serve your body.’’

In her latest book Nourishing You, Fontenele says all that it takes is a shift in mindset and buying and cooking real food instead of processed foods.

‘‘I believe in eating food that is made by nature rather than in a factory. This is the way people used to eat before factories were invented ... our bodies are not designed to thrive off processed foods.’’

Her recipes use fresh, real ingredients and as she is a working mother of three kids, the recipes are quick and easy and have been tested by her family. The recipes are all gluten, grain, refined sugar and dairy free.

She includes advice on nourishing the mind, emotions and spirit as well as the body.

‘‘Being intentional as to what we allow into our lives and recognising how it serves us on all levels, is just as important as eating quality, natural and nourishing foods.’’

Fontenele urges people to choose to identify those things which are nourishing them and let go of the ones that are not.

Mex taco soup

This is a delicious, filling and nutritious dinner. Not only is it full of flavour, but its also a quick meal to cook when you are low on time but still want something comforting and healthy. Bring Mexico home!

Serves 4

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 30 minutes

500g beef mince

1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 capsicums, diced

2 carrots, diced

5 ripe tomatoes, diced

1 x 420g can black beans

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cumin

½ tsp turmeric

½ tsp thyme

1 tsp dried chilli (optional)

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 cups of water

To serve

fresh coriander


Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and saute the onion and garlic. Add the mince and brown for five minutes. 

Add the salt, cumin, turmeric, thyme and chilli and stir until combined.

Once the mince is brown, add all the diced vegetables and black beans. Add the water and allow to simmer for 25 minutes. Add more salt and chilli to your taste.

Serve with fresh coriander.

Tip: If you love spicy food, add more chilli to the dish. To make this dish extra special, serve with guacamole, real corn chips and sour cream!

Ginger and lime chicken meatball broth


500g chicken mince

1 onion, diced

2cm ginger, grated

½ tsp dried coriander

½ long red chilli, finely diced

½ tsp salt

Ginger and lime broth

½ onion, sliced

2 cloves garlic, grated

2 tsp ginger, grated

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 litre chicken stock

1 cup water

1 Tbsp coconut aminos

1 Tbsp fish sauce

2 kaffir lime leaves

½ stalk lemongrass

juice of 1 lime

1 lime to serve

1 bunch coriander to serve


To make the broth

Saute the sliced onion and grated ginger and garlic in olive oil in a large saucepan for 1 minute. Add the chicken stock, water, coconut aminos and fish sauce.

Crush the lemongrass with the back of a knife and break the lime leaves in half. Add them to the broth and bring to a simmer.

To make the meatballs

Place the diced onion, grated garlic, grated ginger, dried coriander, chilli, salt and chicken mince in a large bowl. Mix together with your hands or a fork.

With two dessert spoons, create the meatballs and drop them into the broth, repeating until the entire mince mixture is used up.

Simmer for 5 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked. Turn the heat off and add the juice of one lime. Serve in 4 bowls with a quarter of lime and some fresh coriander.

Maple seed bark

This is so yummy and a perfect sprinkle for soups or salads. It is gorgeous on carrot or pumpkin soup and will jazz up any salad. It adds a little bit of crunch, sweetness and flavour to your dish.

The problem with this is that it is so moreish that you will end up eating it all before it makes it to your dish.

½ cup sunflower seeds

½ cup pumpkin seeds

½ cup sesame seeds

4 Tbsp maple syrup

sprinkle of sea salt


Heat the oven to 180degC and line an oven tray with baking paper.

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Cover the oven tray with the mixture, pressing the mixture down.

Place in the oven for 10 minutes or until the edges start to brown.

When you take it out of the oven, gently press down on the mixture with the back of a large spoon.

Allow to cool and break into pieces. Store in an airtight container.

Bacon, sweet potato and corn chowder

This recipe reminds me of my childhood. Mum would make sweet corn chowder on a Sunday night if she didn’t feel like cooking or didn’t have many ingredients in the house.

It is a really easy and filling meal to make. Mum’s version was with potato, and she would throw in whatever she had on hand.

This recipe uses sweet potato and has tons of yummy flavours, textures and nutrients. You can adjust this recipe to white potato if you prefer.

Serves 4

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 40 minutes

4 rashers bacon, diced

4 cups sweet potato, diced

1 onion, diced

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 corn cobs (or 1 can corn kernels)

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp dried rosemary

1 tsp salt

4 cups water

1 Tbsp cornflour

2 Tbsp olive oil

½ cup water

To serve

1 spring onion, chopped


Dice the bacon, fry in a pan on medium heat until cooked and set aside. Peel and dice the sweet potato and onion, chop the celery and cut the corn off the cob (or, if you are using canned corn, drain the water off).

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Saute the onion and garlic for 3 minutes.

Add the thyme, paprika, rosemary and sweet potato and saute for about 5 minutes to caramelise, stirring every minute or so.

Add the corn, bacon (keeping some spare for garnish), celery, salt, pepper and finally the water.

Stir all the ingredients and allow to come to the boil. Simmer for 25 minutes. In a cup, mix the cornflour and half a cup of water.

Add to the chowder and stir until the chowder thickens.

Serve with chopped fresh herbs, spring onion and extra fried bacon.


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