Eat well to live longer with 3 of Maggie Beer’s recipes for life

My recipe for life is to have a healthy attitude to eating – it’s all about balance, variety and choosing foods that give you the best chance of being in good health now and into your future.” 

This is the philosophy behind celebrity Australian cook Maggie Beer’s new book, Maggie’s Recipe for Life. Written in collaboration with Prof Ralph Martins, Professor of Neurobiology at Macquarie University, this cookbook embraces healthy eating as a way of life, rather than a passing diet fad.

Maggie’s Recipe for Life was created with the idea that eating healthy, nutritious meals throughout your life can reduce your risk of disease and improve your energy, health and longevity.

“We know that a healthy diet decreases the risk of problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and many of the most common cancers,” writes nutritionist Rosemary Stanton in the foreward. “We can now add Alzheimer’s to the list.”

Each of Maggie’s 200+ delicious recipes is created with balance and variety in mind, and are packed full of vitamins, nutrients and minerals to keep your mind and body healthy at any age. “It’s about choosing foods that go together, that are good for us and full of flavour,” she explains.

As a teasing taster, here are three luscious and delicious recipes from Maggie’s Recipe for Life.

Tri-colour roasted beetroot salad with thyme, walnut, goat’s cheese and herb salad

I remember the first time I ever served goat’s curd for a lunch. It was a long long time ago after a trip to France where I’d bought a bottle of amazing walnut oil. Gabrielle Kervella from Western Australia was a pioneer in making fresh goat’s curd of such quality and it was available for the first time in Adelaide. I simply made a mound of it, drizzled it with the aforementioned walnut oil and toasted walnuts and served it with some roasted beetroot and leaves from the garden. I have to say it was the equal of anything I had eaten in France. This is just an extension of the simplicity of that dish.

SERVES 4

  • 3 small–medium yellow beetroot
  • 3 small–medium purple beetroot
  • 3 small–medium white or red beetroot
  • Rock salt
  • 18 sprigs thyme
  • 60g walnuts
  • 6 large thin slices sourdough bread, or similar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vino cotto or balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup young beetroot leaves or rocket
  • ½ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 200 g fresh goat’s cheese, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tablespoons walnut oil
  • 2 tablespoons verjuice

Preheat the oven to 165˚C (fan-forced).

Tear 9 pieces of foil large enough to wrap each beetroot. Weigh the beetroot and work out 6% of the total weight (for example, if the beetroots weigh 100g in total, you will need 6g rock salt). Divide the salt among the pieces of foil, top with the beetroot and 2 sprigs of thyme, then wrap up each beetroot to seal. Place on a baking tray and roast for 1 hour or until a skewer inserts easily into the centre of the beetroot. (Remember that the beetroot will continue to cook while cooling.) Remove from the oven and stand until cool.

Increase the oven temperature to 180˚C (fan-forced). Place the walnuts on a baking tray and toast for 8–10 minutes. Pour into a clean tea towel and rub their skins off while still warm.

Brush both sides of the bread with a generous amount of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on a baking tray in a single layer and toast for 8–12 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Unwrap the cooled beetroot and rub their skins off – they should come off easily. (You may choose to wear a pair of disposable gloves to keep your fingers from turning purple.)

Take 2 small bowls and place 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon vino cotto into each. Cut the beetroot into quarters or rounds and place the red and purple pieces of beetroot into one bowl and the yellow into the other. Toss to coat well.

To serve, scatter the beetroot leaves or rocket over a large serving platter. Top with the beetroot, parsley leaves and walnuts. Break the toast into shards and scatter over the top, followed by the goat’s cheese. Place the walnut oil and verjuice in a small jar, season to taste, then seal and shake well. Pour over enough dressing to just coat the salad. Serve immediately.

Nutrition: Walnuts and walnut oil will provide you with protein, polyunsaturated fatty acids, manganese and copper.

Turmeric, soy and ginger chicken

Chicken is quite a staple in our house but then we do have my daughter Saskia’s birds on hand, and the difference a well-brought-up chook makes in flavour and texture is incredible. The great thing is that each state of Australia has wonderful producers and they need to be encouraged as it costs a lot more to grow out a free-range bird to full maturity. The marinade here is definitely ‘finger-licking good’ in the true sense of those words and it adds wonderfully to the caramelisation of the skin. You’re a stronger person than me if you can peel that off before you eat.

SERVES 6

  • 6 x 230g chicken thighs, skin on, bone in
  • ⅓ cup (80ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt flakes
  • Roasted carrots, kale and hazelnuts, to serve

Marinade

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest, plus extra to serve
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, pale end only, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon raw honey
  • Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

To make the marinade, place all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well combined.

Place the chicken in an airtight container, pour over the marinade, then place the lid on the container and shake well. Refrigerate for 2–4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 200˚C (fan-forced).

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade and shake off the excess. Season with salt, then place half the chicken, skin-side down, in the pan and cook for 2 minutes on each side or until golden. Take care not to burn the marinade.

Remove from the pan and place, skin-side up, and spaced well apart on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Repeat with the remaining chicken thighs. Transfer to the oven and bake for 4–5 minutes or until just cooked through.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest in a warm place for 8–10 minutes. Scatter with extra orange zest and drizzle with any resting juices. Serve with the roasted carrots, kale and hazelnuts.

Nutrition: Turmeric contains the polyphenol curcumin which has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and anti-diabetes properties.

Sweet potato fritters with smashed avocado and salmon

The beauty of this recipe is that you don’t need to precook any of the ingredients so it’s a quick process, particularly if you have a helper. The salmon could be cooked, raw or from a tin and well drained. Like all fritters they don’t take long but they need to cook at a low temperature to make sure the raw grated vegetables are cooked through and soft. The best avocados are those that haven’t been refrigerated, but when you consider the logistics of moving food around the country these days that’s more and more unlikely, so my tip is to buy them when they’re still hard and ripen them yourself at room temperature, which can easily take up to 10 days.

SERVES 4 (MAKES 8 FRITTERS)

  • 1 ripe Hass avocado
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
  • 200g salmon fillet, cooked and flaked (see note) or smoked or tinned salmon
  • Dill or chervil sprigs and lime wedges, to serve

Fritters

  • 400g sweet potato, peeled
  • Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large leaves silverbeet, finely chopped
  • 1 spring onion, finely chopped
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 1 teaspoon chopped coriander
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 150˚C (fan-forced).

To make the fritters, coarsely grate the sweet potato, then place in a bowl and mix in 1 teaspoon sea salt. Stand for 10 minutes, then drain the sweet potato and squeeze out any excess liquid.

In a separate bowl, place the chopped silverbeet, spring onion, eggs and coriander. Add the sweet potato, season to taste and mix well.

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Working in 2 batches, place 3 tablespoons of mixture for each fritter into the pan and press down with a spatula. Cook on both sides for 2–3 minutes or until golden, then drain on paper towel. Place on a baking tray, cover with foil and keep warm in the oven while you cook the remaining fritters.

Smash the avocado flesh and lime juice in a bowl until smooth. Stir in the olive oil and season to taste.

To serve, place 2 fritters on each plate. Top with the smashed avocado, salmon and sprigs of dill or chervil. Drizzle with olive oil and serve with lime wedges.

Note: If using fresh salmon, drizzle a little olive oil in a frying pan over high heat. Add the fish, skin-side down and cook for 3 minutes or to the point where it will almost burn. Remove the salmon, then quickly wipe out the pan with paper towel, being careful not to burn yourself. Add a drizzle of oil or a bit of butter to the pan, reduce the heat to low–medium and return the salmon to the pan, skin-side up. Cook for 2 minutes, then rest for 10 minutes. Remove and discard the skin, then flake the fish.


Extracted from Maggie’s Recipe for Life by Maggie Beer with Professor Ralph Martins, published by Simon & Schuster Australia, RRP $39.99.