Welcome to the latest edition of my Friday Foodie series, where each week I feature my favourite health and wellness stars. Each week, they share their tips for healthy living and their favourite recipe.
This week I am featuring the amazing and inspiring Daniel Churchill. I first discovered Daniel in the 2013 season of Masterchef. Daniel is the author of several cookbooks, as well as regularly appearing on TV in Australia and the US. I am pretty excited about the recipe that Daniel is sharing with us today. Enjoy :)
Tell us a little bit about yourself, your family, what you do and what inspired you to lead a healthier lifestyle?
I have always been really active, growing up on the Northern Beaches and being the middle of three boys who grew up playing rugby, that side was kind of expected. I started cooking at the age of 12 when Dad began putting up a roster and by the time I was 19 I was integrating my Undergraduate knowledge with my cooking, then after my Masters it was habitual as i just loved it.
What tips would you give to someone who has just commenced living a healthier lifestyle?
Dont overcomplicate it… There are three things to remember:
-rule number one it must be delicious otherwise it is not healthy
-keep it colourful; don't ever do maths working out what to have on your plate, just have plenty of colour and avoid white starchy foods. The more colour there is in food the more pigmentation and thus more nutrients
-treat your pantry and fridge like a restaurant… prep a few things at the start of the week so you cut the cooking time to a third
Do you have any tips for eating well on a budget?
Begin to use your imagination in your cooking so that when the specials are on you can learn to work with fewer ingredients to come up with some amazing creations. I am a big believer in buying things in bulk and if you live near a market, those things can definitely help you save some serious coin and they are generally organic too :) Use secondary cuts of meats for slow cooks which are much cheaper and go further
What advice can you give to parents who are experiencing food struggles from their children?
Our palettes are constantly changing and no one is the same in terms of what we like. My advice to parents is to continue provide plenty of colour on their childs plate being very supportive in terms of what they are likely to eat… I believe they should always try something at least once… but I don't think force feeding is the right answer… and over time what we like changes… e.g. i never like mushrooms, corn, peas and plenty of other awesome wholesomeness when i was younger and now i cant get enough of them.
Be supportive and try to empower your children to make their decisions whilst making sure they are open to what is out there. Its also important to understand dietary impairments too, eg. some members of the family may be celiac or have trouble dealing with dairy… so be supportive and where it applies provide tasty alternatives :) But remember to always be realistic in what you are doing and it must taste great!!!
What is your favourite food?
I have Italian in my blood so everything about them i have a soft spot for and that includes food. However I don't have a lot of pasta but it is something i love to make and it brings out so many positive hormones for your well being so should never be missed completely
Who is your favourite foodie and why?
I started cooking because of Jamie Oliver, so it would be rude not to say this legend :) He has inspired people to get behind the pans more in a simplistic wicked manner
What is something that you enjoy doing when you have some ‘me’ time?
Believe it or not cooking hahahah I love it… if its not that I love going for a wave, or stand up paddle, so good being out there. Even just grabbing a coffee reading the paper, or being with the friends and family is amazing
What is your favourite recipe to cook? Can you share the recipe with us?
I love making things by hand… so there will always be pasta, but on the cleaner side my sweet potato gluten free gnocchi are pretty wicked…
Seafood marinara with Sweet Potato Gnocchi
- 1 Large Sweet Potato, Peeled & Cubed
- 1 cup Buckwheat Flour
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 Egg Yolk
- 5 Roma Tomatoes, halved
- 2 Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
- 3 Tbsp Olive oil
- 1 Onion, finely chopped
- 1/4 Black Olives, pitted & roughly chopped
- 5 Anchovies finely chopped
- 3/4 cup Fish stock
- 1/2 bunch Flat Leaf Parsley, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup Lemon juice
- 500g Seafood marinara mix
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
2. Bring a pot of water to the boil add the salt along with the potato then turn heat to medium and allow to cook for 10-12 minutes or until a knife penetrates easily.
3. Drain through a colander and let stand for 5 minutes to release as much moisture as possible.
4. Line a baking tray with baking paper and spread potato out. Place in the oven to further dry our for 8 minutes, making sure they do not change colour.
5. Remove from the oven and pass through a sieve or a ricer. If you dont have either you can just use the back of a fork in a mixing bowl.
6. Add the yolk and half the flour and begin to combine the mixture into a dough. Keep adding the rest of the flour until you reach a strong dough consistency.
7. Bring a pot of water to the boil and drop a little portion of the dough in. If it separates you will need more flour. If it doesnt you are right to continue.
8. Divide dough into quarters and then roll each in the shape of a snake on the bench to a consistent 1cm thickness. Using a knife dvide the length into 1 1/2 cm portions.
9. Bring the pot of water back up to the boil, turn the heat to medium and add the gnocchi in portions as to not overcrowd the pan. Cook for 90 seconds before removing to a paper towel. Repeat with remaining gnocchi.
10. Add 1 tbsp of oil to a frypan on high heat and cook gnocchi on each side for 1-2 minutes or until golden and crispy. Set aside to serve.
11. Line an oven tray with baking paper and place the tomatoes cut side up on the tray. Sprinkle the tomatoes with garlic and pinch of salt before drizzling over one tablespoon of olive oil. Put in the oven for 15-20 mins or until tomatoes are well shrivelled, and remove and put in a blender to blitz until smooth.
12. In a large frypan on medium heat add a tbsp of olive oil before adding the onions. Allow them to caramelise for 8-10 mins then stir in the blitzed roasted tomatoes and combine. Turn the heat to low and mix in the olives, anchovies and fish stock. Simmer for 30 minutes (you can do it for less time if you are in a hungry, just the flavour won't be as strong).
13. From the marinara mix first add the fish pieces into the sauce. Be sure to bury them and once they start to turn opague add the rest of the contents. Stir through for a final 2 minutes before removing from the heat ready to serve
14. To serve spoon the sauce into the middle of a plate ensuring to dish out the marinara mix evenly. Top with the gnocchi and enjoy.
NB- To get a cool pattern on the gnocchi, once divided into portions roll them down a downward facing fork. This will give them line indents which look great for presentation.
A little more about Daniel and where you can find him
Daniel Churchill is ‘The Healthy Cook’. The creator of ‘DudeFood’ which is released in Australia in September 2015. Daniel has revolutionised the way we look at healthy food. “My aim is to educate and inspire people to bring delicious healthy cooking back into the home. The power of food is epic in what it can do to bring people together.” He received international recognition with a worldwide book deal with Simon & Schuster in New York and a sensational career making appearance on Good Morning America in April of this year. Dan will soon announce of own television series.