Pimp your food with science

POPEYE the Sailor was famous for the super strength he received from a hearty helping of spinach.

We may not be able to toss trains over our shoulders or leap tall buildings but wouldn't it be cool if we could add some super powers to our food?

It turns out that some clever tricks can boost the nutrition in healthy, everyday food.

Plant scientist James Wong has spent two years researching all the ways we can maximise the health benefits of the food we eat and how kitchen science can turn simple food into super food.

In How to Eat Better: How to Shop, Store & Cook to Make Any Food a Superfood, James, along with Dr Emma Derbyshire, reveals such fascinating tips as:

Cooking broccoli with a teaspoon of mustard sends its cancer-fighting potential skyrocketing ten-fold

Storing strawberries on the counter, instead of in the fridge, will quadruple their heart-healthy compounds in just four days

Putting your punnet of mushrooms on a sunny windowsill for one to two hours will give them 100 times more vitamin D2.

There are more than 80 recipes included, such as winter squash and coconut laksa, blueberry and chilli cheese toastie, and mango and saffron pudding.

James has made How to Eat Better very user-friendly and even though it is steeped in science, he has gone out of his way to avoid "geek speak” as he calls it.

This is a straightforward yet exciting book for anyone looking to make some changes to their diet without having to step into the minefield of fancy food fads.

Chickpea and brown sugar pancakes with cherry compote

The breakfast of kings, these pancakes made with protein-packed chickpea flour have an incredible moreish texture and will keep you fuller for longer. A match made in cherry-chickpea heaven.



150g chickpea flour

2 eggs

150g canned sweetcorn kernels, rinsed and drained

1 tbs demerara sugar

1 tsp mixed spice

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange

1 tsp vanilla essence

1⁄2 tsp baking powder

Large pinch of salt

1 tbs melted butter, plus extra for greasing

TO SERVE: cherry compote (see below), fresh fruit


Put all the ingredients in a food processor and blitz until you have a smooth batter.

Grease a large frying pan with butter and heat until hot, then pour spoonfuls of the chunky batter into the pan to make small pancakes the size of a CD. Cook for about 1 minute on each side until golden and cooked through. Remove from the pan and keep warm in a low oven until all the pancakes are made.

Slather the compote over a towering stack of pancakes and serve with fresh fruit.

Cherry compote


300g morello cherries, pitted

1 tbs arrowroot or cornflour

1 tsp mixed spice

1 tbs granulated stevia (baking blend)

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon


Place all the ingredients in a microwaveable bowl and stir to combine.

Cook in a microwave on high for 3 minutes, stirring halfway through the cooking time. Leave to cool slightly before serving. Store the compote in the fridge for up to 1 week.

How to Eat Better by James Wong ($35), published by Hachette Australia.

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