Make hay for healthy, happy cooking in 2016

Donna Hay from The New Easy by Donna Hay, published in paperback by Harper Collins
Donna Hay from The New Easy by Donna Hay, published in paperback by Harper Collins

If learning to cook healthy, wholesome meals is number one on your New Year’s resolutions list, then help is at hand in the form of Donna Hay - Australia’s answer to Delia Smith.

Hay, whose bestselling cookbooks are famously filled with crisp, mouth-watering images, has just published The New Easy, which comes with the promise of “simple meal ideas that are big on flavour but low on fuss”.

The mum-of-two has managed to incorporate “all the superfood ingredients” - like quinoa, chia seeds and kale - into her recipes, which are split into ‘Weeknights’ and ‘Weekends’, so they’re perfect for those who are hoping to get back on the low-calorie wagon after indulging at Christmas.

“Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a bit of overindulging, so there’s no need to beat yourself up about it,” says 45-year-old Hay, who lost three dress sizes by switching to healthy eating and an exercise regime that includes running and stand-up paddle boarding.

“I’m all about balance though - I know that if I’ve enjoyed quite a lot of great food and drink over the festive period, then I need to balance it out a bit in the New Year, with a few extra kilometres on my run or a few more salads and meat-free days.

“I don’t believe in extreme diets or cutting things out completely - just simply enjoying a great range of food that’s fresh, light and packed with vegetables and nutritious foods.”

As a busy working mum, Hay knows how tough it can be to cook from scratch during the week, so she’s used “lots of great time-saving tricks” in the new cookbook.

“A lot of the sweets are made with a dough or batter you can make in a food processor, or cakes you can make using a simple batter in just one bowl,” she says. “My food-processor carrot cake has become one of my go-to desserts.

“In my recipes for weeknights and casual weekends, I’ve used clever store cupboard ingredients, like store-bought puff pastry to make gorgeous tomato tarts, or caramelised onion relish in a super-easy marinade for lamb.There are lots of easy pastas with new flavours and a delicious chicken curry that you can leave to bake in the oven - just really easy but delicious meals.”

Hay’s foodie career began as a writer and food stylist when she was 19. By 25, she’d become food editor for Marie Claire, and in 2001, she launched Donna Hay magazine. Another decade on and she’d landed her first TV series and launched a cookware range, which she developed with Royal Doulton.