Jane Kennedy
0 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
Mark Roper

I love food. And I love eating food, but I can’t eat whatever I want because I get fat.

And here’s a confession: I love food like lasagne and moussaka and pizza and fried rice. Food we generally refer to as comfort food. But it sure doesn’t love me. And it seems to have it in for my arse. But do without it forever? Um, is there an option B? I think there is.

When I started on this ‘mission‘, one important realisation came early: comfort food has been hijacked. Our notion of what comfort food is has changed and it‘s making us huge. What used to be an occasional treat has become a super-sized everyday indulgence. It’s become discomfort food. The minute you’ve eaten it you feel guilty, bloated, miserable and overweight.

In my first book, 'Fabulous food minus the boombah', I wrote about the years of trying every fad diet out there and finally realising I couldn’t do white carbohydrates on a regular basis anymore. Rice, pasta, bread, potatoes — they’d make a beeline for my stomach. Some women can get away with it, possibly because they’re training for the Olympic Games. Some people get there on genes, coffee and cigarettes, or whatever else they’re doing. And then there’s the rest of us. So I embarked on a quest to create dishes that were basically low in carbohydrates and low in calories but big on flavour. Food you can look forward to.

I used the same approach with comfort food. I wanted to find ways to get that hit without the boombah. So I went back to the lab.

After lots of experimenting, I gradually developed versions of all those creamy, cheesy, crispy, crunchy foods we think we can’t live without.

You’ll find there are heaps of recipes with all those comforting elements, but without much boombah in them. In fact not a lot of boombah at all! (I reckon my version of fried rice is bloody unbelievable.)

I guess I’m asking you to weigh it up like this: if you’re serious about changing your boombah ways, you can go hard-arsed and eat a lettuce leaf and a carrot stick a day, or you can get 80 per cent of the hit of what your tastebuds enjoy and be I guess I’m asking you to weigh it up like this: if you’re serious about changing your boombah ways, you can go hard-arsed and eat a lettuce leaf and a carrot stick a day, or you can get 80 per cent of the hit of what your tastebuds enjoy and be satisified and happy and healthy.

Buying exercise equipment off TV is absolutely ridiculous

Trust Auntie Janie here. Buying equipment off the telly is really, really silly. You will not use it.

I know. I’ve bought it myself. I too was a big fat sucker handing over my credit card details in search of a miracle cure or a quick fix in a delivery box. One of the great selling points about the piece I bought was that it could ’easily store under the bed’. And that’s where it stayed. Unopened. Until we moved house.

I know that when I don’t exercise I feel lousy. And when I do, I feel pretty good. For me it can simply be a (pacey) 30-minute walk. But exercise alone won’t make you thin. You have to be accountable for what goes in your gob as well. Exercise is not an excuse to reward yourself with one of those monster muffins. Add to that a milky ‘skinny’ latte and congratulations, you’ve eaten your fourth meal of the day.

You are not seven anymore

After releasing my first cookbook I hit the publicity trail. There were a lot of questions about the recipes. Most were good. Others were like this:

‘You know your cauliflower rice recipe? I can’t stand cauliflower, what else can I use?’ (Um, rice?)

Or, ‘I don’t like pumpkin or broccoli or zucchini’. What else can I eat? (Er, potato?)

And, ‘I don’t like fish’ (yes, but you like it battered).

Here is my answer to those questions:

Grow up.

It’s time to get over the histrionics. It’s time to start cooking and tasting and enjoying all sorts of foods you’ve avoided. Thinking you don’t like something just won’t cut it. In that world, boombah wins. In a face-off between fragrant spicy roasted pumpkin and a bowl of crispy fried potatoes, it’s game over. You know the spuds will win. So get rid of the spuds. You know they’re boombah.

Try the spicy roasted pumpkin. It’s delicious. Take the time to add flavour to broccoli, or zucchini, or cauliflower with sesame seeds, garlic and olive oil.

You’ll really start looking forward to these meals and it won’t feel like dieting.

Spooky stuff

You know the olden days when people like our grandparents ate three meals a day? And that was it? Look back at old photos… not a lot of fatty boombahs beaming back at you. Well it doesn’t take a medical degree to work it out. Quite simply, people ate to satisfy their hunger and indulged occasionally. We now eat and indulge all the time.

We eat whenever, wherever we want. We eat standing up in a bar, sitting down on a bus, walking down the street, sitting on a beach. Family mealtimes are rare. We’re constantly bombarded with food cues — billboards, magazines, TV, newspapers, radio, food courts and fast food restaurants with their flashy eye-catching colours, continuously sending signals to our brain suggesting we need to eat. Except we’re not hungry.

So why do we crave those sugary, fatty, starchy, crispy combinations if our stomachs aren’t grumbling? There’s a truckload of writing and research on this but I came across one book that spoke to me. It’s by the former head of the US Food and Drug Administration, David Kessler. It’s surprisingly simple. He suggests in his book, The End of Overeating, that the reason we overeat and why we find dieting near impossible is thanks to this dirty little secret recipe: FAT + SUGAR + SALT. Those three elements combined are so intense, we just can’t resist. And that’s why we find dieting so hard. Once our brain is sent the ‘I want junk’ signal, we can’t concentrate on anything else.

Kessler suggests we have to rehabilitate our brains. It’s a long bow, but if we re-train our brains we’re in with a chance. And that’s the core of the non-boombah philosophy. Yes, we want food with flavour we can look forward to. But you don’t have to add sugar and crappy fats to achieve that. I reckon it’s important to use, enjoy and savour good food elements like citrus, spice, herbs and chillli — all flavours with impact, telling our brain ‘hey, this tastes good’.

How to live longer (and adopting your new mantra: hara hachi bu)

I discovered a very basic trick along the way. Its simple and it works: stop with the huge serving sizes. No more piling up your plate buffet-style.

I’ve been banging on about the smaller servings theory for a while now. And I’ve adopted the practice of not polishing off everything on my plate. Little did I know there’s a name for this. It’s a good news story!

There are plenty of tales about long-lived communities, but here’s my favourite: the Okinawans from Japan. And they don’t just live longer than anyone else in Japan, they live better.

The Okinawans have traditionally kept to eating a low-calorie diet: they practise a form of ‘cultural’ calorie control known as hara hachi bu, which basically means they eat only until they are 80 per cent full. (The opposite of hara hachi bu is the feeling at about 4.45 pm on Christmas day.) Their low-calorie, mostly plant-based diet also includes wholegrains, fish, a little meat and eggs.

Okinawan centenarians remain lean and have an average body mass index (BMI) of less than 23. Being physical is part of their everyday lives and includes Tai Chi, walking and gardening.

I’m sure there’s a killjoy out there waiting to prove it’s due to something else but it makes sense to me. Eating proper portions of non-boombah food combined with staying lean and fit seems like the right lifestyle choice.

What to have in your pantry and fridge

I love quoting Dr Phil when he says, ‘remove temptation’. Do it. Chuck out anything or everything you know is bad. No one’s a saint. So remove the bait. Those cheesy corn chips? You were friends once but now it’s over. That packet of Tim Tams hidden in the pantry? You know it’s there and it knows you know. Remove at once.

Changing the way you eat shouldn’t cost a fortune. You can find good, cheap produce everywhere from supermarkets to shopping strips, and weekend farmers’ markets to the larger, more traditional markets. The following ingredients are handy to always have on hand and will also help you cook the dishes in this book. Take your time and get to know your market stall holders, grocers and local butchers.

It may look like a long list but it takes about 20 minutes to gather and you’re ready to go.

extra virgin olive oil

sesame oil

light soy sauce


Worcestershire sauce

balsamic vinegar

jar of horseradish cream

Dijon mustard

seeded mustard

hot English mustard

canned tomatoes and passata (tomato sauce — try organic)

whole-egg mayonnaise

marinated goat’s feta cheese

Greek yoghurt

parmesan cheese

free-range eggs




continental cucumbers


red and white onions



snow peas


spring onions






fresh herbs

fresh bay leaves

kaffir lime leaves


sea salt

Kitchen notes

When I refer to olive oil, I mean extra virgin olive oil. I buy big tins, usually on special, and just keep refilling a large glass bottle with a cork pourer.

Keep everything handy – don’t put the oil, pepper, salt, chillies or lemons away. They must stay out on your kitchen bench. Salt is always sea salt. Pepper is always freshly ground pepper, unless stated otherwise. Mayonnaise is always good-quality, egg-based mayonnaise. Greek yoghurt is always thick, natural yoghurt.

You’ll also need a microplane grater and at least one really good, sharp knife.

Invest in a non-stick frying pan that has food safety approval. I love cooking with a non-stick frying pan but I’d rather not cook with a pan that’s susceptible to its surface scraping off into my (or my kids’) food. It’s generally the cheap pans that don’t last and end up being scraped and battered and lose their non-stick magic. There are great ones on the market that you can go from stovetop to oven. It’ll last for years!

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