Gill Stannard is celebrating her 20th year of being in practice as a naturopath. She is passionate about nutrition and herbal medicine, and is an experienced counsellor. Her approach is down-to-earth; being practical about food is a big part of that.
Describe your dish
Almost vegetarian nasi lemak—a simple Malaysian inspired meal with the mandatory white rice (even better with coconut rice), vegetables including the wonderful Asian staple Kang Kung, eggs, roasted peanuts and a spicy tomato sambal.
How does your dish portray your relationship with food?
I concocted this dish after visiting Malaysia in 2009, borrowing the sambal from a cooking class I’d done in Bali a couple of years earlier. It’s a bit of a hotch potch but comes together well. What’s more it always looks impressive when you plate it up.
Like me it’s “almost” vegetarian and reflects my diet well (a dairy-free pescetarian) and my burgeoning love of Asia. I cook instinctively, using what’s on hand, rather than slavishly following recipes. I enjoy making stuff up. I cook this when the weather is hot and there’s tomatoes in the garden
What inspired your food behaviour?
Growing up my mother was my kitchen mentor. She died earlier this year and I talked of this in her eulogy, She taught me how to bake cakes and begin every savoury dish by sautéing onion and garlic. Even when my diet changed those basics continued to served me well. I’d developed the confidence to know how a recipe should taste and the techniques necessary to make it happen.
Eleven years of living in numerous shared houses, in three different countries, helped me develop my new way of eating. My home in London was particularly extraordinary, far from being a starving kiwi, I ate the best wholefoods diet ever! I’m sure it was living with naturopaths and how well they ate, that inspired me to become one.
What I eat took a sharp turn when I began listening to my body. This was when I stopped eating emotionally and began observing how food made me feel, I had to get over my denial and give up dairy. I’ve felt so much better since.
When I moved to Melbourne in 1987 to study naturopathy I was lucky that the communal house I moved into was one of market worshippers. I’ve more or less shopped at Vic Market ever since. It’s the closest thing I have to a religion in my life.
In 1991 I was part of a group of houses that set up a food co-op, buying from one small, family run, organic farm in the Grampians. It revolutionized my relationship with what I ate and changed my attitude to food for life. Though at the time I remember being sad to learn that avocados didn’t grow in Victoria at the best of times, let alone year round!
These days, bloggers have replaced the role of housemates, as they continue to inform the way I view food, cooking and eating. I’m also loving having my own garden, however small. At the moment I’ve fallen in love with sorrel. My octogenarian neighbour grows it and got me hooked, now I’ve got my own stash. My latest discovery is how the citrus-y green flavour can transform a fresh veggie juice.
What do you wish for the future of food?
The disparity of food scarcity in some corners of the world and abject waste in others, distresses me. My greatest wish is that everyone, regardless of income or geography, has access to fresh, nourishing food.
Of course for this to happen a whole new consciousness around resources generally needs to change. I believe the personal is political. Every person who becomes aware of what they’re eating, how it’s grown and how their body responds to it, is participating in a revolution.
In my utopia the manufacturers of sugary brown drinks and fast food chains go broke, communal vegetable gardens replace the space currently occupied by major supermarket chains and “organics” are no longer an issue because all food is grown this way.
If you’d like to tell your food story, hit me up @flavourcrusader or email me at info AT flavourcrusader DOT com