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Quirky Cooking

QUIRKY COOKING

ISSUE 1 | FEATURE STORY

Well known food blogger Jo from Quirky Cooking, invites the Confetti Team into her family home in The Tablelands to talk about her food journey and how to cook delicious wholesome foods the simple way.

WORDS BY:

KAREN LOCKE

PHOTOGRAPHY BY:

INSIGHT CREATIVE

DESIGN & LAYOUT BY:

VERVE DESIGN

I will admit that I’m not the healthiest person around – I have a sweet tooth, love pasta, wouldn’t give up my skim lattes for anything and… dare I say it… didn’t know what quinoa or stevia was a week ago. If someone told me I could no longer eat dairy, sugar, wheat or gluten I would probably have just laid down and died. Ok, I’m being dramatic. But seriously, I don’t know how I would have coped. But… that was last week.

Since then the Confetti team took a trip up to the glorious Atherton Tablelands where it was our absolute pleasure to meet Jo.

Jo Whitton – for those of you as baffled as I was about what on earth to do with quinoa – is the voice behind the Quirky Cooking blog.

With a Facebook following of more than 31,000 people, Jo’s blog is an absolute must-read if you want to live a healthier life; and don’t we all want that? (AN UPDATE: at last check, Jo now has almost 123,000 Facebook followers – woah!)

Graciously, Jo invited us into her home to talk food intolerances, family life and changing your eating habits…

Arriving at Jo’s home we receive a warm welcome. Jo already has the kettle boiled and within minutes we’re sitting at the dining table sipping tea and chatting as if we are old friends.

“I’ve always been interested in healthy food and cooking. Our family was never into TV, we did a lot of reading, art, cooking and making up recipes. We didn’t have much money so all our meals were made from scratch – no boxed cereal or muesli bars. I’d go to friend’s homes and they would offer me store bought biscuits and I’d always think they were awful compared to mum’s homemade baking.”

“My friends were always asking “what’s in your lunchbox today?”. It wasn’t that mum was trying to be a gourmet chef; it was just her cooking what she had in the pantry. Cooking just with what’s available to you forces you to be more creative. I’d choose a recipe and Mum would help me change it to suit what we had.”

These early recipe adaptations served Jo well when she was diagnosed with several food intolerances.

“After I was married my interest in healthy eating really grew – I started grinding my own grains, making my own bread, I would add spinach to the lasagne and avoid dairy. I was trying to be healthy the best way I knew how, but I really wasn’t well. I was getting constant chest infections, headaches, low blood sugar, low blood pressure, tummy upsets, and I couldn’t gain weight. I couldn’t figure out what the problem was.”

“Finally I saw a naturopath. He told me to avoid most dairy, wheat and sugar, and helped me completely change my diet. Within weeks my headaches were gone, my constant colds went away, and that year I gained 5 kilos. I then took it further and went off gluten and dairy completely, and my hay fever went away for the first time in my life.”

The Quirky Cooking blog came into existence because Jo was constantly being asked for advice and copies of her recipes.

‘It was quicker and easier to just start a blog than to write out recipes whenever someone asked for one!’

Jo’s style of eating and recipes are based around whole foods that are allergy- friendly and mostly dairy, gluten and sugar free.

“It’s actually quite freeing to eat so simply… food like that is so quick and easy to prepare, and just so good for you.”

The Quirky Cooking website is described as having ‘creative, delicious, allergy- friendly Thermomix recipes and menu plans’. But it is so much more than that.

It has also become an online community of like-minded people who are all striving, for a multitude of reasons, to lead healthier lives.

Jo is a big fan of the Thermomix ‘because it saves me a lot of time and effort’ but most of her recipes can also be used with more traditional kitchen appliances.

So what would Jo’s advice be for others trying to change their eating habits?

“Keep it simple. Think wholefoods – eat fruit or nuts for a snack, and meat and vegies for meals. Food doesn’t have to be made into something all the time.”