Cookbook Review: Eat Happy

Eat Happy | 30-Minute Feelgood Food by Melissa Hemsley

Published by Ebury Press
Eat Happy
Food on the table in 30 minutes is a life-saver on busy weeknights and this cookbook shows how to do it without opening packets or jars of pre-prepared ‘things’.   With a zero-waste approach to food, Melissa provides plenty of ideas on how to use up ingredients such as swapping out cabbage with pak choi, broccoli or other leafy greens for Monday miso noodle soup or replacing half the grated apple with grated carrot for a more ‘carrot cake’ flavour in the ‘Apple Pie’ buckwheat porridge.

The last recipe in the ‘Bowl Food’ chapter is the ‘Waste not, want not bowl’ which is more guide than recipe and a wonderful way to use up bits and pieces to make a delicious nutritious meal.  Melissa’s Filipino heritage is evident in the panoply of flavours and yet most ingredients are readily available from the supermarket.  Our dinner-in-a-hurry repertoire will be expanded with some new flavours beginning with Korean chicken with sesame sprinkle and Filipino-style steak and onions.

Other recipes by Melissa Hemsley and by Hemsley and Hemsley can be found on their websites.

Recipes from the book that we’ve tried:
Easy granola - Eat Happy | Melissa Hemsley

Easy granola

Granola is toasted muesli in NZ (Kiwi) lingo.  Homemade muesli/granola is a staple in our house and I have a handful of recipes that I make again and again as I can be sure the kids will eat them.  I had committed to making Melissa’s easy granola before I realised I didn’t have all the ingredients, and by committed, I mean I had already started measuring out the ingredients.  And that’s the great thing about granola and muesli recipes, they’re very easy to adapt to what you do have in the pantry.   Instead of all quinoa flakes, I had to use some rolled oats, and in place of maple syrup, I used Wild Kithul Treacle.  That might sound a bit flash but I used it simply because I’d bought it a while ago thinking it sounded interesting and then never used it.  The flavour is similar to a burnt toasty caramel coconut.  I also didn’t have enough coconut flakes so threaded coconut came to the rescue.  With all the adaptations, it could be argued that I didn’t really make Melissa’s recipe but I did keep to the 400 g mixed nuts and 400 g mixed seeds.  I’m glad I did as the end result is deliciously nutty – my regular recipes err on the ‘no nuts’ side to keep the kids happy so this is a breakfast The Anster and I can eat all to ourselves.  The recipe can be found here.
Easy granola - Eat Happy | Melissa Hemsley

Veggie cottage pie with cauliflower mash

For a recent potluck dinner, my dishes of choice were one vegan (Buckwheat and mushroom risotto) and one vegetarian.  A local lad and friend of ours, who lives in a family that eats predominantly vegan food, asked me what had gone wrong when I mentioned what I had made.  I’m guessing he was hoping for a meat-feast and was sadly disappointed.  However, with cottage pies such as this one, the minced meat versions are decidedly second rate.  I’m thinking of making this my go-to cottage pie recipe, it’s that good.  I pretty much stuck to the recipe on this one apart from the courgettes.  Being as it is winter and courgettes cost about $5.00 each, I used some grated frozen courgette left over from summer.  And I cooked the lentils from scratch since I had the time and energy.  Another note, our farmers-market cauliflower’s must be monsters as the ingredient list calls for 2 cauliflowers, about 800g in total.  One cauliflower weighed more than that in itself and the stall owner charged me less as he deemed it to be a bit on the small side.