There can be so much joy and satisfaction gained from consuming delightful mouth-watering morsels of food. That first bite ecstasy followed by furious nodding of agreement that this is the best thing that has passed over your lips. A pause in time would be appropriate to savour both food and pleasure. A half-hearted attempt to share from your plate of bounty too validate your gastronomic glee. And this is only the hors d'oeuvre.
This describes my reaction on numerous occasions over the years. A little of Meg Ryan’s When Harry met Sally café scene and a little of Willy Wonka Factory tour on the passion scale.
I am a foodie. I love food. I love eating.
From an emotional stand point food can have a negative association. We can turn our eating habits into restricted plan of sustenance with little satisfaction. The most prolific negative emotion associated with food has to be guilt. Guilty of eating too much, guilty of eating the wrong thing, guilty for not following the diet, guilty for eating too little, guilty of eating in front of someone, guilty guilty and an extra dollop of guilty on the side.
Having a healthy relationship with food is crucial to being happy. With absolutely no qualification to back me up I have to say that the key for our family is moderation of the not so healthy things, maximise the yummy nutritious items and the 20% gourmet levy.
The 20% gourmet levy is where you eat whatever takes your fancy, not matter how sinful, for the absolute joy of eating. Simple but effective for us.
(We strongly acknowledge the complexity of negative relationships with food, further information should be sort from industry professionals if needed)
Our family diet is pretty great (at least we think so). Since becoming parents, and needing to lose a tonne of baby weight after my son was born, we have a healthy focus most of the time. Yes we are one of those green smoothie families with a cupboard full of cacao powder, coconut oil, every nut known to man, lentils galore and jars of every colour quinoa available (black red and white for the non-quinoa aficionados). Salads are commonplace and seafood is always on the meal plan. We are so wholemeal my son thinks white bread is cake toast.
Then there is our levy.
Indulgent and sensational morsels of delight. Favourites include the decadent selection of cheese, salami and mezze plates accompanied by a cracking glass of Pinot. Sunday afternoon salt & vinegar chips with ginger beer on the deck. Chocolate Soufflé with generous serving of King Island triple cream. Bakery delights with cold brew coffee on a Saturday morning. Our favourite dinner is Pork Belly with Duck Fat roasted potatoes. Then there is the gourmet burger restaurant my husband owns…. yes we have a small burger obsession but they are incredible (absolutely biased but true).
After my full confession to split foodie personality I also must confess that I am really proud of my attitude to food.
No Guilt here baby!
Let’s put a little life philosophy out there.
Be smart and thoughtful. Pursue adventure and diversity. Seek enrichment and enjoyment. Nourish and grow.
Apply this to life first. Then apply this to your outlook on food.
Let’s get to the happy – I mean literally happy from food.
The Science of Happy Food
Research indicates that the majority of people's moods could be positively influenced with simple additions to their diet. Many people find that food does an equal or better job of keeping them happier than resorting to popping a pill.
Enjoying a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, wholegrain cereals, legumes, low-fat dairy, lean meat and oily fish, for instance, is associated with reductions in mood swings, depression and anxiety.
And the opposite holds for a diet based on foods high in refined sugar (think lollies), one that combines high levels of sugar and fat (cakes, for instance, or pastries), or involves high intakes of caffeine or alcohol.
A few examples of Good Mood Food to add to your meals.
Spinach and other leafy greens, such as kale, are high in folate, the natural form of folic acid found in food. Folate is a natural B-vitamin that helps the brain create serotonin, a neurotransmitter closely linked to happiness. There have been numerous studies linking low folate and serotonin levels to depression, and evidence strongly suggests that these chemicals play a pivotal role in mental health [source: Bouchez]
They're rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which play a crucial role in brain function, and have numerous mood-boosting benefits. In fact, one study found that daily doses of the omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish were more effective at reducing typical depression symptoms, including sadness, insomnia, pessimism, lack of motivation and low libido, than many prescription antidepressants [source: Lawson].
These are a rich source of vitamin C, which helps in the production of endorphins and aid the absorption of iron. They are also a good source of potassium, which helps in the generation of nerve impulses. The red colour of strawberries is due to anthocyanidin, a flavonoid known as pecargonidin. These also change our mood for the better.
How do you like your eggs in the morning? With a big serving of happiness, perhaps? Eggs contain a decent amount of the nutrient choline, which has been proven to assist in a number of vital functions, including membrane function and neurotransmission. It’s believed that these contribute to our energy and mood levels. So however you like them served, you’ll always enjoy them sunny side up!
These yellow fruits are not only for athletes. The high potassium levels in bananas can prevent cramps, but it also has tryptophan, a serotonin derivative for a happier disposition. Bananas are jam-packed with magnesium as well for lower anxiety levels and even a better night’s sleep.
This vegetable is one of the top plant-based sources of tryptophan, which serves as a basis for the creation of serotonin, one of the brain's primary mood-regulating neurotransmitters. High levels of folate also add to asparagus's happiness-promoting profile.
There is a huge amount of food out there that can help your mood. For more mood food inspiration visit our Health-Food page.
There are so many sensational food experiences to have, all Bucket List worthy!
After spending many years travelling around the world there is also a healthy respect and love for foreign food. Travel and food go hand in hand for romantic strolls around the globe. The street carts in Thailand, the Stovies in Scotland, mud shacks restaurants in Bolivia, the biltong in Africa, pasta of Italy and the wines in France. As I sit here remembering all of these gastronomic adventures I yearn to grab my passport and depart for further epicurean exploration of our wonderful planet.
Now I love to pour over the lonely planet recipe books, street food journals and TV food channels for knowledge of overseas cuisine. Currently completely enamoured with Jaime Oliver’s Comfort Food right now. (That soundtrack is the perfect food mood music I have ever heard)
Australia has an exceptional array of talent in the restaurant and produce industry. So many notables out there.
My top 5 Australian Foodie Experiences ticked off my Bucket List:
The Rock, Pooles Rock Winery, Hunter Valley - our wedding lunch.
Tetsuya's, Sydney - 10-course degustation with wine match.
Harrisons, Port Douglas – The best Chateaubriand in the country.
Sepia, Sydney - Degustation with wine match.
Newy Burger Co, Newcastle - Cowrie Burger followed by a Salted Caramel Ice Cream burger.
If you need a little inspiration for your own list this one is the best list that I have come across featured on www.Goodfood.com.au by Sally Webb.
Great Australian bites: the foodie bucket list
Sally Webb polled prominent food-loving travellers to hone our pick of Australia's best gourmet experiences, from a Barossa breakfast to a sunset feast in Uluru. How many can you tick off the list?
1 Go back to school. Take a class at Rodney Dunn's Agrarian Kitchen in a 19th-century schoolhouse in the lush Derwent Valley, north of Hobart. You'll pick vegies from the garden, milk a goat, learn how to make bread or pasta, or break down and cook a whole pig. In a class of its own. theagrariankitchen.com
2 Stand thigh-deep in waders in pure Tasmanian water; it's a magical way to eat oysters as part of luxury lodge Saffire Freycinet's Marine Farm experience. saffire-freycinet.com.au
3 Eat salted caramel, straight from the jar, from Burch & Purchese. burchandpurchese.com
4 Reel in a barramundi or mangrove jack and have it prepared for dinner by the boat's stellar chefs while on a True North Kimberley wilderness expedition. Go crabbing and, if the catch is good, the whole boat is treated to sundowners and succulent claws on the deck. northstarcruises.com.au
5 Eat fresh young coconut laced with soy, and fill your basket at the Port Douglas Sunday markets on the shores of the Coral Sea, where everything's made by the stallholders and family. facebook.com/portdouglasmarket
6 Try a glass of Grange. At $684 a bottle for the new '08, few can afford it. But for $150 you can have a taste, with a Great Grange Tour at the home of Penfolds: Magill Estate. penfolds.com
7 Work up a thirst shopping for dinner. Willunga, in the heart of McLaren Vale, is South Australia's longest-running farmers' market, easily followed with an afternoon at wineries such as Coriole, Samuels Gorge and the ever-popular d'Arenberg. willungafarmersmarket.com.au.
Stay over and tuck into fabulous pizza at the quirky and rustic Russell's, open Friday and Saturday only. (08) 8556 2571; or pop into relaxed paddock-to-plate fine diner Fino. fino.net.au
8 Celebrate, or pop the question by sunset on a sand dune at Uluru during the Tali Wiru dinner, from April to October. Limited to 20 guests, with tables for two available. Start with canapes and French champagne; dinner is prepared by chefs from the luxe Longitude 131. It's $295 and wine is included. 1300 134 044
9 Go gourmet tramping in the Grampians and work up an appetite for Dan Hunter's mesmerising degustation at the art deco Royal Mail Hotel, Dunkeld. Stay the night and explore the Grampians and the Great Western wine region, highlights of which are Seppelt's 19th-century underground cellars, and the family-run Best's, home to Bin 0 shiraz. royalmail.com.au, grampiansgrapeescape.com.au
10 Go big. It's more than 40 years since Coffs Harbour's Big Banana stamped itself on the Australian psyche. Its frozen, chocolate-coated bananas on a stick are still bliss. bigbanana.com
11 Grab a post-beach gelato at Massimo's, Noosa, with sand down your bathers and salt on your skin. (07) 5474 8033
12 Bunk down in the Barossa. Taste world-class wines at cellar doors; stay at the Louise, buy food from producers using age-old techniques to preserve authenticity and flavour; shop at the Saturday farmers' market; eat at fermentAsian, the restaurant that's redefining what it means to be Barossan; and tuck into the Barossa Breakfast Rave, a sustainable breakfast that pops up in venues from railway stations to wineries. barossa.com
13 Brunch on a toastie from top chef Alex Herbert at Sydney's Eveleigh Market: The Crooked Madam is her take on the croque-madame, a toastie with ham, gruyere, fried egg, Dijon mustard and barbecue sauce. eveleighmarkets.com.au
14 Have a big night out at Quay, currently Australia's highest-scoring restaurant in the Fairfax Good Food Guides. Peter Gilmore's dishes are as beautifully crafted, original and breathtaking as the Sydney Opera House, bridge and harbour they overlook when served. quay.com.au
15 Take (morning) tea floating in the submerged melaleuca forests of the Top End after an airboat ride across the Mary River flood plain from Bamurru Plains. In the achingly beautiful surrounds, a cuppa never tasted so good. Later, feast on local crays, or buffalo pot pie. bamurruplains.com
16 Discover nature's larder amid the unspoiled bounty of Kangaroo Island. Buy honey from Clifford's Honey Farm with Island Pure Sheep Yoghurt. Eat ‘‘the world's best fish and chips'' at Fish, in Penneshaw. And stay and dine in splendour at Southern Ocean Lodge. tourkangarooisland.com.au
17 Scoff a Four'n Twenty pie at the MCG; it always tastes best when your footy team's in front.
18 Immerse yourself in Tetsuya's 10-course degustation, a virtuosic blend of Japanese and French flavours and techniques. The confit of Petuna ocean trout is an icon to rival the Sydney Opera House. tetsuyas.com
19 Walk up an appetite on the pristine beaches of north-east Tasmania, arriving at the Bay of Fires ecolodge, where four days' hiking is rewarded with beautiful, simple regional food and fine local wines. bayoffires.com.au
20 Learn how to make pot-sticker dumplings from scratch in Cowra, with Anna Wong, whose food at Neila, reflecting her Chinese heritage, is original and completely unexpected. neila.com.au
For the complete list click here.
The best message that I can leave you with is that food has a wonderful place in your life. Don’t be restricted or made to feel guilty by it. Be reminded of the wonderful benefits of food.
Food can provide you with great energy and nourishment.
Food can give you amazing pleasure and delight.
Food can provide experiences that will live with you forever (Bucket List Worthy).
Food can bring friends and loved ones together.
Food can increase happy inducing natural chemicals to the body.
Maybe you need to make a plan to get your Muppet chef on or book that restaurant you have wanted to go to forever.
Your subscription request has been processed. Check your email!