In a great Australian book, a chef and an academic share their recipes for life and health for the soul. So much of our lives is about food – buying it, preparing it, cooking it and eating it. but what of our lives? is there such a thing as a recipe for a good life?
It’s a topic celebrity chef Gabriel Gate and academic Rob Moodie tackled in their first book together, Recipes for a Great Life: Simple Steps to Wellbeing and Vitality. The men met ten years ago through their sons, who went to the same school, and discovered in each other a shared passion for health, wellbeing and respect for food.
As the friendship deepened, so did their commitment to creating a wholesome recipe for life. It’s a recipe that has found a place at the table of all age groups. Gate brings to the collaboration his formidable knowledge of food and presents recipes that re both healthy and interesting. Moodie, who is professor of Global Health at the University of Melbourne’s Nossal Institute, former CEO of VicHealth and 2005 Victorian Father of the Year, has drawn on his experience as a doctor to create a lifestyle recipe.
Moodie says the book started as a way of helping busy people who are physically and emotionally exhausted from leading frustratingly busy lives. Gate admits he was surprised by the reaction of teenagers and young adults to the book also. “They were interested in the importance of their relationships with parents and partners and activities like yoga or learning to play a musical instrument – enriching their cultural lives. So we realised we needed to devise recipes for all those sections of their lives.”
Moodie had specific hurdles to overcome. “Gabriel has done recipes as he has done in 19 other books, but I’ve never done this – never put it into recipe form. So it a while to come around to how I was going to put health and wellbeing in the context of all the good stuff. How are you going to turn a fairly complex situation into something that is relatively simple to follow in the sample way as a recipe? You take a recipe book off the shelf and you look at it and you’re inspired by it and you say, ‘Well, I’ll have a go at this one.’ ”
The most impressive aspect of this book is that it’s doable in a marketplace where a marriage between glib and gormless is the norm as ho-to books appear in bookshops daily. Moodie felt it made sense to take a scientific approach to his part of the book. The book is divided into eight sections – seven of which are the main ingredients and the last which is made up of 10-week action plans.
The seven main ingredients are:
1. Making good connections
2. Good food, good fun
3. Embracing the arts
4. Exercising your brain
5. Finding hope and meaning
6. Getting physical
7. Working to live
Each ingredient is then broken down into methods, accompaniments and tips. The chapter with Gate’s recipes, Good Food, Good Fun, has temptations that range from gazpacho and vegie soup for children to pasta, fish, meat and desserts.
Moodie maintains his inner peace through sleep, exercise and meditation – and it’s the latter that he has brought to Gate’s life. Gate says, “Meditation has been part of his life for years, but Moodie has consolidated my understanding of its importance. The concept of putting some calm in our life is so important to being equipped for everything that comes our way.”
So what are the ingredients for a great life? Moodie says it’s a life that embraces good relationships, compassion, physical activity, a sense of spiritual belief or an understanding of why we’re here, an intense curiosity about the world and understanding that reality goes up and down.
“Having a great life doesn’t mean it’s a happy one or that bad things aren’t going to happen. They are going to happen, but it’s how you deal with them that counts.”
Recipes for a Great Life is available in all good bookstores.