The secrets of healthy home cooking

Emily Rose Brott lets us in on her secrets for simple yet nutritious home-cooked meals.

Finding a balance between delicious taste, good nutrition and simplicity can be a challenge. For Emily Rose Brott, the constant search for healthy treats to give her children lead to a mission to create her own.

With her kids as her taste-testers, she began experimenting with healthy recipes the whole family could enjoy – without added sugar, artificial sweeteners, butter and margarine or white flour. The results became her first cookbook, Have Your Cake, which was published in 2011, followed by Healthy Home Cooking for Kids in 2013.

Emily’s latest book, My Secret Ingredient, brings together over 120 recipes, made from wholesome ingredients and using simple, easy-to-follow methods. Here, she shares a few tricks of the trade.

Apple, oat, cranberry and chocolate muffins from My Secret Ingredient by Emily Rose Brott

“I like to be able to taste the actual ingredients in the dish without overpowering it. By using fresh ingredients, and cooking from scratch you can make delicious dishes.”

So tell us – what is your secret ingredient?

My secret ingredient is to pour lots of love into your cooking. It makes everything taste better.

The recipes in this book are a collection of my favourite dishes that I have created over the last three years. They cover every meal of the day – brekky, snacks, lunch, afternoon tea, soups, salads, sides, dinner and desserts.

It took eight months to put the book together, as I do most stages of the process myself, including the photography and styling and the layout and page design.

How do you find the balance between making dishes simple, and making them exciting and delicious?

I think it’s important to make sure that dishes are simple, with easy to follow instructions, using ingredients that are accessible and that people are familiar with. Lengthy ingredient lists are too overwhelming when you are trying to follow a recipe.

I also like to be able to taste the actual ingredients in the dish without overpowering it with too many herbs, spices and sauces. By using fresh ingredients, and cooking from scratch you can make delicious dishes.

What are some of your favourite healthy foods and ingredients to work with?

A lot of my ideas for my recipes are inspired when I’m at the fruit shop. Vegetables make so many delicious soups, salads and side dishes to go with a meal. Add a few different vegetables and a herb to a meal and you can create a delicious, creative dish.

Chicken sliders with paprika wedges from My Secret Ingredient by Emily Rose Brott

“Including your kids in the cooking process is a great way to get them to try new foods. I always find if they’ve helped to prepare it, then they’ll try it.”

What are your go-to dishes when you’re short on time?

I make a vegetable and lentil soup nearly every week. It’s great for when the kids get home from school, to keep them going until dinnertime. We also love pan-fried John Dory with salsa – it’s so quick to make and looks gourmet!

Homemade baked beans are a weekend regular. I can serve them for breakfast, lunch or dinner and everyone’s happy. On the weekends, my kids also love to make rice paper rolls with tuna, avocado, cucumber and aioli, and pesto and tuna toasted parcels.

Can you share some secrets for getting kids involved in healthy cooking?

Including your kids in the cooking process is a great way to get them to try new foods. I always find if they’ve helped to prepare it, then they’ll try it.

I also give them a choice of some options – if it’s what they’ve chosen, then they eat it. Last weekend my son was fussing over what to have for brekky, so I handed him my cookbook, opened to the ‘What’s on the menu’ section and told him to pick something from the breakfast options and I’d make it for him. He picked the sautéed mushrooms and avocado on toast and the other kids then wanted it too. It was a great breakfast.

What would your perfect day on a plate look like?

I would start with sautéed mushrooms and avocado on toast. I would have a coconut ball for a mid morning snack. For lunch I would have a cannellini bean and tuna salad. A bowl of broccoli, potato and split pea soup when we get home from school. For dinner, eggplant and zucchini pasta and a pear and macadamia crumble for dessert. I think I would sleep pretty well!

What’s next for you?

I’ve just started making short cooking demonstration videos (roughly 1- 2 minutes) to show just how easy it is to make my recipes. I’m posting them on my Facebook page and will also put them on my website, so that people can prep their ingredients and cook along with me.

My Secret Ingredient by Emily Rose Brott is available now.

Recommended reading - Delicious soup recipes

Recipes

Butternut pumpkin and parsnip soup recipe

A rich and creamy pumpkin soup, infused with a blend of cumin, paprika and chives.

Read more
Recipes

Broccolini and Cauliflower Soup Recipe

This creamy soup is as filling as it is flavoursome

Read more
Recipes

Coconut roasted pumpkin and apple soup recipe

A hearty, belly-warming soup to rejuvenate and nourish

Read more
Recipes

Fish soup recipe

A surprising blend of flavours makes this Turkish soup a cosy delight

Read more
Recipes

Cauliflower and broccoli soup with sweet potato crisps recipe

Warm up with this creamy, nourishing soup which is packed with nutrients from cruciferous veggies.

Read more
Recipes

Curried cauliflower soup with toasted chickpeas recipe

The nutty goodness of chickpeas takes this creamy soup to delicious new levels

Read more
Recipes

Chicken soup with parmesan, rice, peas and lemon recipe

A soothing soup with rich veggie flavours and a touch of fragrant parsley.

Read more
Recipes

Spicy pumpkin and lentil soup recipe

Spice up your soup ideas this winter with a pumpkin and lentil soup inspired by Indian flavours.

Read more
Recipes

Lentil soup recipe

Lentil-based dishes like this red lentil soup are not only delicious but are packed with goodness.

Read more
Recipes

Lamb shank and vegetable soup recipe

Need a new soup recipe? This hearty lamb soup beckons with bursts of fresh vegies.

Read more
Recipes

Pea and ham soup recipe

Try this take on a classic soup by seasoning with Himalayan pink salt.

Read more
Recipes

Simple kohlrabi soup recipe

A creamy, comforting soup, perfect for the cooler months.

Read more
Recipes

Thai pumpkin soup recipe

Creamy smooth pumpkin soup with a kick of hot chilli, fragrant lemongrass and coriander.

Read more
Recipes

Lean green vegetable soup recipe

Get your green fix with this zucchini and spinach soup, infused with fresh coriander.

Read more
Recipes

Light pumpkin soup recipe

Looking for a lighter alternative to traditionally creamy pumpkin soup?

Read more
Recipes

Minestrone soup recipe

This minestrone by Dani of Fitness, Food and Style is packed full of antioxidants.

Read more
Lifestyle

Pumpkin soup recipe

This simple winter favourite is spicy and fragrant with ginger, nutmeg and cumin

Read more
Recipes

Roasted beetroot soup with macadamia sour cream recipe

Brightly coloured and full of flavour, this rich, warming soup is a deliciously satisfying.

Read more
Recipes

Vietnamese pho soup recipe

Fresh, healthy Vietnamese Pho soup recipe you can make at home.

Read more
Recipes

Trippy tie-dye soup recipe

Brighten up your winter with this rich, tasty and oh-so-wholesome soup from My New Roots

Read more
Recipes

Vegetable and lentil soup

A nourishing soup for a cool winter's day

Read more
Recipes

Chipotle sweet potato soup with black bean salsa

This spicy, fragrant sweet potato soup will banish any thought of the winter chills.

Read more
Recipes

Vegetarian laksa recipe

Fill up on colourful winter veggies in a light, creamy laksa

Read more

For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are instructions on how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.