How to Eat Better—Not Less

cauliflower fried rice
Photo: Nadia Damaso
Healthy food definitely doesn’t have to be boring.

In her new cookbook, Eat Better Not Less, food blogger and photographer Nadia Damaso proves that healthy and nutritious food can also be exciting and totally delicious. From banana ice cream to creamy and hearty zoodles, Nadia shares with us how you don't have to sacrifice flavor or portion sizes when eating healthily. Check out some of her delicious recipes below.

Cacao & Banana Porridge

Peanut butter, chocolate and bananas make this bowl of porridge the best breakfast ever.

What You'll Need

Serves 1
Porridge

  • 7 fl oz. water
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4-5 tbsp oatmeal
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 7 fl oz. milk of choice
  • 2 tsp peanut butter
  • 2 tsp maple syrup or sweetener of choice
  • 2 tbsp raw cacao powder

Chocolate Sauce

  • 2 tsp water
  • 1 tsp coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tsp raw cacao powder
  • 1-2 tsp maple syrup or sweetener of choice

Toppings

  • 1/2 banana, sliced
  • Blueberries
  • Crushed nuts of choice

Directions

Step 1: First, make the porridge. In a saucepan bring the water to the boil, add the salt and oats and cook for 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile, mash the banana with a fork.

Step 2: Turn down the heat, then add the mashed banana along with the milk, peanut butter, maple syrup and cacao powder. Stir well and let it cook for about 4-5 minutes. Stir from time to time.

Step 3: For the chocolate sauce, mix all the ingredients in a small jar until smooth.

Step 4: Add another splash of milk to the porridge if desired, take off the heat and pour into a bowl.

Step 5: Top with fresh banana slices, blueberries and, of course, the chocolate sauce. Finish off with some crushed nuts.

Baked Berries Topped with Oat & Cornflake Crumble

This sweet, tart and rich crumble is perfectly healthy to have for dessert or breakfast— or even both.

What You'll Need

Serves 2
Crumble

  • 3 tbsp oats
  • 3 tbsp sugar-free cornflakes
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • 2-3 tsp rice syrup or sweetener of choice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Filling

  • 2 cups fresh or frozen mixed berries
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar or sweetener of choice, e.g. maple syrup

Toppings

  • Fresh figs
  • Berries of choice

Directions

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Step 2: To make the crumble, put the oats and cornflakes into a bowl and crumble them with your hands. Add the coconut oil, almond butter, rice syrup and vanilla extract and stir until well combined.

Step 3: For the filling, put the berries into a baking dish (about 4 × 8 in), sprinkle coconut sugar on top, give it a quick stir and equally distribute the crumble on top. Cut the figs into quarters and place on top of the crumble.

Step 4: Place the crumble on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown.

Step 5: Remove the baking dish from the oven, let it cool for a few minutes so that the crumble gets crunchy and serve warm with some fresh berries.

Brown Rice Noodles with Crispy Vegetables & Peanut Soy Sauce

This nutty noodle dish makes the perfect lunch or dinner meal. The sauce is totally addicting, and you'll feel good knowing you're eating lots of vegetables.

What You'll Need

Serves 2

  • 5 1/2 -6 1/2 oz brown rice noodles
  • crushed peanuts, to serve

Vegetables

  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 4 tbsp edamame
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp crushed peanuts

Peanut Soy Sauce

  • 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 2-3 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp milk of choice, e.g. soy, almond, rice milk
  • 2-3 tsp maple syrup or sweetener of choice
  • 1/2-1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions
Step 1: Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add the brown rice noodles, bring back to the boil, then reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 5-6 minutes, drain, rinse with cold water and set aside.

Step 2: For the vegetables, cut the pepper and carrots into thin slices. Heat up the coconut oil in a frying pan, add the edamame, carrot and pepper slices and fry for 5-6 minutes. Add the sesame seeds and crushed peanuts, lower the heat and let it cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring from time to time. Take off the heat when they still have a slight crunch.

Step 3: In the meantime, prepare the peanut soy sauce by blending all the ingredients into a smooth and creamy sauce.

Step 4: Add the noodles and sauce to the fried vegetables, heat up again and stir until well combined.

Step 5: Serve topped with some crushed peanuts.

Zoodles with Dreamy Creamy Pumpkin Bolognese

All the delicious benefits of rich and hearty bolognese without the guilt of pasta. Do we need to say more?!

What You'll Need

Serves 3-4
Bolognese

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 14 oz. ground beef or soy meat/vegetables of choice
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 7 fl oz red wine
  • 4 large tomatoes, diced
  • 7 oz. tomato purée (paste)
  • 12 oz. pumpkin, peeled and diced
  • Bunch of parsley, chopped
  • Chili powder (optional)
  • 3 1/2 oz. grated Parmesan or vegan Parmesan/cashew cheese

Zoodles

  • 4-5 zucchinis
  • 10 ½-14 oz. kale, sliced
  • 1 tsp vegetable stock

Directions

Step 1: For the bolognese, heat up the olive oil in a frying pan, add the onion and garlic and fry until golden brown. Add the minced beef, stir, season with paprika, salt and pepper, and stir for 1-2 more minutes. Pour in the red wine, bring to the boil and lower the heat.
Step 2: Add the tomatoes, tomato purée, 3 1/2 oz. of the pumpkin and the parsley. Cook over a low-medium heat for 25-35 minutes and stir from time to time.
Step 3: In another pan, heat up a good splash of water, add the remaining diced pumpkin and cook until the pumpkin pieces fall apart. Drain, add to a food processor and blend until smooth.
Step 4: In a frying pan, heat up 3 1/2 fl oz. of water with the stock. Cut the zucchini into noodles with a spiralizer or julienne peeler. Steam for 1-2 minutes until they have softened, then take out of the pan, reserving the stock. Don't leave them in the pan for too long—they should keep their crunch!
Step 5: Add the kale to the pan with the remaining vegetable stock and soften for 2-3 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Step 6: Pour the pumpkin purée into the bolognese, stir well and season with salt, pepper and chilli if you like it a little spicy.
Step 7: Tip the zoodles and kale into the bolognese, add half of the Parmesan, stir well and divide onto plates. Top with the remaining Parmesan and serve.

Cauliflower Rice with Sweet Thai Sauce

The sweet thai sauce all over this dish will totally mask the fact that you're eating cauliflower!

What You'll Need
Serves 3

  • 1 large cauliflower
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 medium carrots
  • 1 medium sweet potato or 7 oz pumpkin
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 4 oz peas
  • 4 oz sweet corn
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce, plus extra to serve
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup or sweetener of choice
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp mild or spicy paprika
  • 6-8 kaffir lime leaves (available at every Asian store; otherwise add some lime peel and juice instead)
  • Chili powder (optional)

Directions

Step 1: Cut the stalk off the cauliflower, tear it into smaller pieces and grate by hand or with a food processor. Season with salt, stir and set aside. Peel and dice the carrots and sweet potato.
Step 2: Heat up the coconut oil in a large frying pan or wok, add the carrot and sweet potato and fry for about 5-7 minutes. Stir in the grated cauliflower, peas and sweetcorn and fry for another 5-7 minutes.
Step 3: In a small bowl, whisk the egg, egg white and 1 tablespoon of tamari. Add to the vegetables, stir well and lower the heat. Stir in the remaining ingredients one by one. Before adding the kaffir lime leaves, remove the stems, finely crumble the leaves and then add. Turn up the heat again and fry for 2-3 minutes, add some more tamari or chili if you like it spicy, stir well, take off the heat and serve into bowls.

Divine Nougat Cheesecake Topped with Chocolate Sauce

This cheesecake is worth the wait. It's super chocolatey and nutty—you won't be able to have just one piece.

What You'll Need

Makes 1 10-in. cake
Filling

  • 5 oz. cashews, soaked
  • 3 1/2 oz. peanuts, soaked
  • 8 ½-10 fl oz. plant milk of choice, soy/almond or rice milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup or sweetener of choice
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped

Base

  • 6 Medjool dates or 12 small dates, pitted
  • 3 1/2 oz. pecans
  • 5 oz. ground almonds
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup or sweetener of choice
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil

Chocolate

  • 5 tbsp coconut oil
  • 6 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 5 tbsp rice syrup or sweetener of choice
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2-2 1/2 fl oz soy, almond or rice milk

Toppings

  • Handful of nuts, roasted
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup

Directions

Step 1: In a large bowl, soak the cashews and peanuts for the filling in water overnight or for at least 2-3 hours.
Step 2: Line a 10 in round cake tin with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 320ºF.

Step 3: For the base, put the dates into a bowl, cover with boiling water and soak for at least 10 minutes. Roast the pecans in the oven for about 20 minutes. Take out of the oven and cool slightly. Transfer the nuts to a powerful blender or food processor and blend with the rest of the ingredients for the base into a slightly thick and sticky mixture. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and press down evenly with your hands. Put the base into the freezer.
Step 4: For the filling, drain the soaked nuts and add to a food processor with the remaining ingredients. Blend to a smooth and creamy mixture for at least 6-8 minutes. Take the base out of the freezer, spoon the filling on top and smooth out evenly. Freeze for another 2 hours.
Step 5: Once the cheesecake is frozen, start making the chocolate. Heat up the coconut oil over a medium heat until completely melted, take off the heat and add the raw cacao powder, sweetener and salt. Stir until it reaches the consistency of thick melted chocolate. For a more bitter chocolate taste, add 2-2 1/2 fl oz. of milk and stir again. If you prefer the taste of milkier chocolate, add 3 1/2 fl oz. of milk instead.
Step 6: For the topping, put the nuts into a small saucepan together with the maple syrup and caramelise over a low-medium heat. Stir well, set aside and let it cool completely.
Step 7: Take the cheesecake out of the freezer, spread the chocolate on top, garnish with the caramelised nuts and freeze for another 30 minutes. Remove from the freezer, rinse a knife with hot water and cut into slices. (If the cheesecake is still too hard, thaw for a few minutes and then slice.)

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Recipes excerpted with permission from Eat Better Not Less by Nadia Damaso, published by Hardie Grant Books 2017, RRP $24.99 hardcover.