Recipes to try by the bowlful

HEALTHY COMFORT FOOD: Anna Lisle has just released her new cookbook, Whole Food, Bowl Food.
HEALTHY COMFORT FOOD: Anna Lisle has just released her new cookbook, Whole Food, Bowl Food.

Author, foodie and former My Kitchen Rules contestant Anna Lisle has just released her latest cookbook, Whole Food, Bowl Food. All the recipes are gluten free, and many are sugar and dairy free, so it has plenty to offer the whole family. Now based in London, Anna shares her thoughts on her new book, eating well and more.

Q: Your first cookbook was named Bowl & Fork, and your new book is called Whole Food, Bowl Food. What is it about bowls that appeal to you?

A: To me, there's something quite comforting about eating a meal in a bowl.

The way you can happily nurse a bowl on your lap and scoop up just the right amount of each component of the dish - a slice of protein, a mound of leafy greens and a scrape of dressing.

I find eating out of a bowl practical because you can just pick it up and enjoy, wherever, whenever.

But it's also a relaxed way of cooking and eating.

There's no formal "plating up”, you just pile your ingredients together to create a gorgeous, tasty medley of textures and flavours.

Of course, I suggest to people to eat mindfully but you don't need to be sitting formally at a table to do


You can perch on a park bench during your lunch break or curl up on the couch after a busy day at work.

Q: What is a whole food diet?

A: Eating a whole food diet is simply to quit eating processed food.

This means we're left with real food; that is, ingredients in their most natural state.

Whole grains, full fat dairy, lean meats, seafood, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables.

Honest food, without hidden salts, sugar and additives.

In many ways, eating a whole food diet is a calling back to the kitchen.

You learn how to make things that you'd normally buy - like ricotta, mayonnaise, nut butters (like peanut, almond) and chicken stock - and once you taste your home-made versions of these, I promise, you'll find it difficult to reach for the store-bought variety again.

Anybody can try a whole food diet. I believe that this is what makes it is a popular way of eating.

Not only is it easy to start but, more importantly, it's easy to stick to.

It doesn't require any "special” or expensive ingredients; it is a back-to-basics approach to your health.

I personally find that eating unprocessed foods helps to avoid getting sucked into the quick-fix promises of fad diets, detoxes and cleanses.

I don't count kilojoules, I just focus on eating a diverse range of healthy ingredients and I find that inevitably leaves you satisfied.

It's easy to get caught up in buzz words like "super foods” and "clean eating” but at the end of the day, a diet rich in whole foods is just common sense.

Q: Out of the more than 100 recipes in the book, which is your favourite?

A: I always answer this question suggesting one recipe, then I add another and another...

Right now, the recipe that I'm loving is my Salmon San Choy Bao, it's so quick to make and is ridiculously tasty.

I also love, love, love my "summer in a bowl”, which is a simple salad of quinoa, mango and avocado, tossed with a handful of fresh herbs and generously drizzled with a delicious lemon and sesame dressing.

Speaking of that, I think I'll have that for dinner now.

Q: You're clearly passionate about food and cooking. First your role on My Kitchen Rules and now you're living in London working as a food writer. How are you finding life in London and what do you think of the food over there?

A: There are fantastic restaurants in London but, in terms of health food cafes and restaurants, poor old London is a bit behind.

You really have to do your research to find great health-conscious cafes.

It's certainly not like walking around Bondi or Surry Hills in Sydney or South Yarra in Melbourne where you have delicious, healthy cafes at every corner.

Q: Do you have a personal food philosophy and what inspired it?

A: My food philosophy is simple: eat real, whole foods. I have always been a health- conscious person however it was only until I was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome that I really started to question my lifestyle choices.

Despite being told that there were many options, the possibility of not being able to have children was devastating.

It was after this that I began eating a whole food diet. I started ordering full fat milk coffee (no more soy lattes), eliminated gluten from my diet and quit refined sugar.

After just a few weeks, I stopped craving foods, started sleeping better and naturally cut back on my coffee intake.

For me, this was exactly what my body needed, however, I want to be clear, I don't believe in setting up guidelines for others.

I don't preach that everybody should follow this way of eating - it's important to find out what works for you. If a food makes you feel lousy, don't consume it.

Whether it's wheat, kale, dairy or holy water - listen to your body. There is no one single lifestyle that will suit everyone. I believe in an intuitive eating philosophy.

Q: And back to the bowls ... Do you have a favourite bowl you like to eat from, and why is it your favourite?

A: Ooh! Tough question. I have so many favourites but, at the moment, I am obsessed with my pastel pink and blue Mud Australia bowls.

As we head into winter in London, I'm loving big leafy salads with roasted vegetables and my Mud bowls are the perfect shape.

Published by New Holland Publishers and available online at

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