Science-based diet

CSIRO Protein Plus, by Prof Grant Brinkworth, Dr Jane Bowen and Genevieve James-Martin, Macmillan, RRP $34.99
CSIRO Protein Plus, by Prof Grant Brinkworth, Dr Jane Bowen and Genevieve James-Martin, Macmillan, RRP $34.99
As different diets get bandied about it is hard to work out what to believe, but now there are cookbooks out there based on the latest scientific knowledge.

CSIRO Protein Plus Nutrition and Exercise Plan is one of those. Its information is based on research from Australia's national science agency, which is dedicated to the practical application of knowledge and science.

Written by Dr Jane Bowen, Prof Grant Brinkworth and Genevieve James-Martin, it is the latest in a series of books providing diet and lifestyle plans advocating a high-protein, low-fat, wholefood dietary plan with a moderate amount of low-GI carbohydrates.

The latest book is based on research from CSIRO and other bodies on the benefits of spreading protein consumption throughout the day and the combination of higher dietary protein and resistance exercise.

It also highlights a higher amount of dietary protein than current (Australian) national guidelines suggest may benefit those trying to lose weight or gain muscle mass and notes that animal and plant-based protein foods provide different nutrients and are digested and absorbed by the body differently.

This in turn helps manage appetite, reduce cravings and boost metabolism, helps build and maintain lean body mass and strength and helps people age well.

The book outlines the role of protein in people's bodies, its sources and their qualities and the benefits of consuming it across the day.

It also provides information on high protein foods and menu plans, giving examples on how to achieve a more balanced consumption of protein, nutritionally balanced recipes and includes a programme of home-based exercises.


Photos: Rob Palmer
Photos: Rob Palmer
Sweet potato and haloumi fritters

Serves 4

Prep 15 minutes

Cooking 25 minutes

1.2kg orange sweet potato, peeled and coarsely grated
320g haloumi, coarsely grated (see notes)
2 tsp ground cumin
light olive oil spray, for cooking
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 spring onions, white part thinly sliced into rounds, green part thinly sliced diagonally
120g baby spinach leaves

Avocado dressing
(80g) medium-sized avocado
⅓ cup (80ml) white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

To make the avocado dressing, blend all the ingredients in a jug with a hand-held blender until smooth. Season with black pepper and set aside.

Heat a large non-stick frying pan over low-medium heat. Combine the sweet potato, haloumi and cumin in a bowl and season with freshly ground black pepper.

Lightly spray the pan with olive oil and drop in firmly packed cup measures of the sweet potato mixture, pressing down to form 8cm circles. Depending on the size of your pan, you will probably need to do this in two batches of four.

Cook for 5 minutes each side or until golden and cooked through. Remove and cover to keep warm.

Lightly spray the pan with a little more oil and increase the heat to high.

Add the garlic, white part of the spring onion, spinach and 60ml water. Cook, tossing constantly, for 2 minutes or until the spinach has just wilted. Remove the pan from the heat and season with black pepper.

Serve two sweet potato fritters per person, layered with the spinach mixture. Spoon over the dressing and sprinkle with the green spring onion.

Notes: If you want to reduce the salt content of the haloumi, place the block in a bowl of water for 30 minutes to steep. Drain before use.


Photos: Rob Palmer
Roast herbed chicken and vegetables

Serves 4 with leftovers

Prep 25 minutes

Cooking 30 minutes

½ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 Tbsp finely chopped rosemary
1 Tbsp mixed dried herbs
6 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ cup (60ml) olive oil

¼ cup (60ml) red wine vinegar
1.8kg lean chicken tenderloins
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
7 carrots, sliced into rounds
7 zucchini, thickly sliced into rounds
750g button mushrooms
light olive oil spray, for cooking
1 cup (250ml) salt-reduced chicken stock
lemon wedges and flat-leaf parsley leaves, to serve

Heat the oven to 200degC (or 180degC fan-forced).

Combine the parsley, rosemary, dried herbs, garlic, olive oil, vinegar and chicken in a large bowl. Season generously with freshly ground black pepper and toss well to coat the chicken.

Divide the vegetables among two large roasting tins and lightly spray with olive oil. Toss to combine, then top evenly with the chicken mixture.

Pour half the stock over the ingredients in each tin.

Bake, swapping the tins halfway through and tossing the chicken and vegetables, for 25-30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are soft.

Divide one-third of the chicken and vegetables among four for dinner, with lemon wedges and parsley. Cool the leftovers, then divide evenly between two large airtight containers.

Notes: Store the leftovers in the fridge for up to 2 days or in the freezer for 3 months. Thaw the frozen mixture in the fridge overnight. Transfer the chilled mixture to a baking dish and reheat in a preheated 220degC (200degC fan-forced) oven for 15-20 minutes or until hot and crisp.

Using the leftovers

Warm Moroccan chicken and vege salad

Serves 4

Prep 15 minutes

Cooking 20 minutes

Take one portion of leftovers and thickly slice the chicken, then place the chicken and vegetables in a large baking dish. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Place 2 red onions, cut into wedges, and 1 punnet cherry tomatoes on the tray. Lightly spray with light olive oil and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon Moroccan spice mix.

Place the dish and tray in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Transfer the tomato and onion to the dish with the chicken and vegetables, add 1 cup (30g) baby rocket leaves and gently toss to combine. Serve warm.

Hearty chicken soup

Serves 4

Prep 15 minutes

Cooking 15 minutes

Place the finely grated zest and juice of 1 large lemon, 1 seeded and finely chopped long red chilli, 2 finely chopped spring onions, 2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander and 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley in a bowl.

Mix together well and set aside. Take one portion of leftovers and chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Place the chicken and vegetables in a large saucepan, add 1.5 litres salt-reduced chicken stock and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

Simmer for 10 minutes or until heated through. Stir in 100g trimmed and halved baby green beans and cook for 1 minute or until just tender. Ladle into bowls and drizzle with the reserved herb mixture.



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