Tropical Fruit Chia pudding

IMG_5354 (Medium)

Yesterday I ran a workshop, with a focus all about making sensational sides from Tropical fruit that we can grow right in our backyards, with a focus on Mango, Jackfruit and pawpaw, both ripe and unripe and both cooked or raw.

We actually made this Chia desert with Jackfruit- chopped up and added into layers, after also making a young Jackfruit Vietnamese salad and roasting Jackfruit seeds!

The combination of JAckfruit and coconut (and lime) really is lovely and balances the quite pungent rich flavour of

This great pudding, which I actually eat for breakfast, is super healthy and can use any delicious tropical fruits. I was inspired by a friend who made this camping earlier in the year with some other yummy ingredients.

IMG_5356 (Medium)

This morning I made these for myself and work colleagues and layered ripe red pawpaw from my garden, ripe mango from a local (spray free) farmer in Humpty Doo, Chia and coconut and toasted coconut. If you can get fresh coconuts this is always best- then you can scrape and toast and make your own milk, but this is of course a bit more time consuming. I popped it into old cleaned jars to set. (Now I know that this is trendy- but I have been an old jar hoarder for years and it also makes many things look great and super easy to take to work/ on outings)

Chia is a pretty awesome seed, native of South America, but now grown in Australia (including Athelton tablelands)  and world wide. It is packed with nutrients, low in calories, high in fibre and protein. Check out more info here – Health Line Chia benefits

Greenies Real food (in Rapid Creek) sell these seeds in bulk – Greenies Chia 

The basic recipe to fill about 4 Jars is-

1/2 cup of Chia seeds
2 cups of coconut milk (about a tin, or use fresh!)- you can add a little water if you wish
A splash of real vanilla essence
A pinch of salt
A tablespoon of rice syrup or local honey.

Mix the above together in a bowl. Wait a few minutes until the chia starts to puff, then spoon it into a jar, layering chopped fruit in between.

You can add the toasted coconut into the layers or at the end when served.


You can puree the fruit and put in layers
You can whizz up fruit with the coconut and have it as one big chia fruity thing.
You can add cocoa and make a choco dream…




Upcoming “TOTE” workshops Late 2017

I have 3 upcoming workshops all about our wonderful seasonal produce; which are delivered in partnership with City of Darwin’s Healthy Darwin program.

These workshops hope to connect the Darwin community to our local produce and climate here in the Top End, inspiring attendees to buy from local farmers, grow their own and make local produce into healthy every day dishes.

The workshops are hands on and look at the tropical plants that feature in the recipes, how to grow them and what some look like in a garden setting. Demonstrations of how to prepare the ingredients are given and then in groups the recipes are made and the delicious dishes are shared together-

Seasonal Sides using Tropical fruits

Sunday 1st October
2pm- 5.30pm
Alawa Primary School Garden Kitchen

A cooking class that explores why September and early October is a sensational time of year for local produce in The Top End, with the most diversity on offer both in your own garden and at our local produce markets.

We will look at the produce plants and their origins, how to grow them/ source them and make them into some wonderful healthy savoury salads with a focus on fruits- with an interesting twist on how to define a salad and unusual ways to incorpate fruits and roots. We will also look at side dishes and snacks.. These workshops are presented through the Healthy Darwin program (City of Darwin).

Seasonal sides rustic banner

$25/ $20 Conc. Book here-

Know Your Tropical Roots

Sunday 12th November
2pm- 6pm
Alawa Primary School Garden Kitchen


A cooking workshop focusing on Local Tropical Root Veggies that can be found at the market or grown in your garden.Find out the stories behind our Tropical plants where the recipe is in the root! Featuring roots that can grow all year- Jicama, Cassava, Sweet Potato and Taro, with a little turmeric to spice things up!

Find out information on how to grow them/ source them and then take part in a hands on session of making them into some wonderful healthy and delicious dishes to share.Including cooked roots, raw roots, sweets and a drink- interesting and unusual ways to incorporate roots into your all year round cooking.The menu will be mainly vegetarian. This class is presented through the Healthy Darwin program (City of Darwin)

Jicama and watermelon salad

$25/$20. Tickets at

Build Up Beverages

Early December TBC
A Darwin Kitchen Garden TBC

Come and discover the delicious refreshing drinks than you can make from plants in your back garden or find at local markets.

Learn about the amazing herbs, fruits and roots that can be incorporated into healthy drinks for this hot time of year. A tasty alternative to reaching for a beer or alcoholic drink. Including iced teas, tonics, slushies and more.


$20/ $15. Ticket link to be released nearer the time.

For more info please feel free to get in touch Contact Me



Seasonal sides for a Festive Feast

Back by popular demand – Seasonal Sides for a festive feast; plus Gifts from the Garden.


Are you sweating it out in the Top End this festive season? Well come along and learn how to make the most out of local produce, growing now in gardens or in Darwin region farms and turn it into delicious seasonal sides and gifts from the garden for your festive feast…

The session will be lead by Emma Lupin of Taste of The Top End at Karama Primary School kitchen.

The session will go through delcious ingredients growing now and ideas how to use them and then you will get to prepare dishes in the workshop to share and taste. These will include healhy and tasty side salads and veggies, drinks, tasty root dishes and more. There will also be a session of creating home gifts from the garden using seasonal produce..

The cost is $20 ($15 concession)- bring this along. There are limited spaces. So book by emailing or phone 0448 214 716

Drinks ideas and more posts about the awesome content of this workshop coming soon……

Pickled fish- Darwin deviants of Namas

So Namas, nummus, or pickled fish is a bit of a Darwin classic and many people have their favourite recipe. In Darwin its origins seem to come from SE Asia or Japan and is another great influence into Darwin cuisine.

Well I don’t eat fish too often, and only if it is caught by a friend or local fisherman, as I also like to keep a lot of fish in the seas, but man this has to be my favourite dishes and I keep it for special occasions- like Christmas and birthdays!

This is also called Ika Mata, Kokonda (Fiji), Poison Cru (Tahiti and surrounds) and Ceviche in South America. I first came accross it in the PAcific Islands when I worked cooking on sailing boats and it came drenched in coconut milk- I loved it. I have since adapted a Darwin version with pawpaw, cucumber, mint and onion in.

Earlier this year a very talented Ashleigh, a travel food and blogger stayed with us and was more into cooking and photographing our local produce than I have been and it was also her favourite dish- so we had a pickled fish “namas off” for a twist on  this Territory favourite. We tried to make as many of the plant ingredients as local as possible.

all namas 3

I am inspired to write about it as I am just about to run a cooking class in Darwin “Season sides for a Tropical Christmas” and couldn’t go without including this indulgent gem. We also came up with 4 different local roots to accompany and styled it all in the backyard!

namas all oo

So in Ash’s words- “Here are just some ideas for the endless flavour combinations for pickled fish. So many cultures and countries around the world have their own versions, and it’s so easy to make up your own using your favourite flavour combinations and the accompaniments are also exciting. It’s all about the balance between the acidity of whatever you use to pickle the fish, along with some fresh elements, some sweetness, heat, spice, salt, and a yummy side.”

All namas 2

Basically the fish is cooked in limed juice or vinegar or a combo or both, so raw but marinated- the acidity “cooks” it. It changes white in colour but stays firm, then the iquid is drained off. I have always covered the fish with lime juice or vinegar for a few hours, but it can be perfectly cooked through- if you leave it too long it will start to fall apart. Fresh fish is best and a firm fish like Jew fish-

Soy, ginger and coriander- Darwin classic

served with Breadfruit wedges 

Soy namas

Marinated with half white vinegar, half lime juice

Combine- Sugar, Garlic Chives, Ginger, Coriander, Chilli, Spring onion, Salt and Pepper

Coconut and Lime served with a pineapple salsa-

served with Taro cakes

Coconut namas

Marinated with- lime juice

Combine-  Coconut Cream, Chilli, Coriander, Sugar, Salt and Pepper

Salsa- Pineapple/Mango/Avocado, capsicum, red onion, chilli, lime juice, salt and pepper

Coriander, onion and chilli-  South American style

with a side of tortillas

Soth American for real namas

Marinate with lime juice


Red Onion, Chilli, Coriander, Tomato, Salt and Pepper

Mango, cumber and mint

with a side of cassava wedges

Pawpaw cucumber namas

Marinated with lime juice


Papaya, Cucumber, Mint, Chilli, Coriander, Red Onion, Salt and Pepper

All Namas 4

What an addition to a seasonal feast- and using practically 100% local ingredients, including friend caught fish and garden produce.

Wet Season salad mix

So for those of you that thought growing salad mix in the wet season just wasn’t happening, here is some inspiration… (maybe the wet season is what isn’t happening, so I don’t want to be too confusing, but hey you know what I mean, that humid sticky time of year that many plants don’t like, like rocket, that often it rains a lot and sometimes it doesn’t- that time of year- you can still grow these awesome greens!!)

Wet season leaves boardA while ago I always bought “interstate” salad mix in the wet season – things like rocket, baby spinach and baby kale. These and so much more grow well here in the dry season, but what about the wet?

Well I discovered with the help of a very good green grower (Aweganic Dan) that lots more leaves can be used as tasty greens in salads and lots of them grow in our wet season, in fact were my garden already!

Here are some wonderful and easily grown greens that grow all year and are great mixed together to make a salad mix or add into any delicious local salad…

From left to right-

Amaranth (purple)- Amaranthus sp. – Popularly grown as a grain. Great leaf, loved in Indonesia.

Amaranth (green)- Amaranthus sp.

Egyptian spinach or salad mellow- Corchorus olitorius Watch this one, it has popping seeds and comes up everywhere! Very popular in the Middle East (hence the name)

Kangkong (baby leaf)- Ipomea aquatica (TOP) Water spinach- loves a bath and thrives in the wet season. It is used in stir fries as a larger leaf or with the stem. From South East Asia.

Cosmos– Cosmos caudatus- (BOTTOM) A tropical cosmos, often planted as a companion plant or ornamental with pretty orangey flowers turing yellow, fresh and slightly bitter taste. Native to South America.

Purple Basil- Oscimum basilicum  (TOP) Basil- the easiest grown wet season herb in the world- adds a little floral zing to the salad, also can use Thai basil.

Sweet Leaf- Sauropus androgynus (BOTTOM) A wonderful bushy plant that is perennial and can be shaped into hedges. It has a sweet pea tasting leaf, grows easily from cuttings and is originally from SE Asia. It has high levels of Vitamin A, B and C. It is also cooked in Asia, but is so good raw I don’t know why you would- makes great pesto too!

Wild Pepper Leaf- Piper Sarmentosum (TOP) This is a great ground cover and certainly wild- it can take over if you don’t watch it. It is not the same species as the pepper used as spice (Piper nigrum, which grows more upright) and nor is it Betel leaf (Piper betel) although the leaves are very similar. This leaf, when young is great in salads and gives a fragrant peppery taste. It is also used to wrap food, as the leaves get large (4-5cm)  and can be added to rice for flavouring.

Young sweet potato leaf- Ipomoea batatas  (BOTTOM) is also really fantastic as an uncooked salad green- pick the youngest leaves, you will have heaps in the wet season.

And finally the flower of  Cosmos– Cosmos caudatus- petals can be used in salads and add coulour too!

Also you can use Gota Kola, Ceylon spinach and Brazilian Spinach

pesto omlete landsc 2

True Top End style- Buffalo Burger and breadfruit fries with banana ketchup

OK, so I haven’t posted for ages, a combination of not being able to think clearly through the heat and being busy cooking and working on GULP (Growing and Using local produce) Banana projects, community worshops and more!

We try and use as much local food as possible at home and during the wet season this often means a lot of ingredients lending themselves to curries and Asian dishes. Now personally I could eat curries everyday, but for some people (like my partner) that is a bit much and he prefers some more, lets say European style dishes like pizza and pasta, oh and burgers!

burger meal far

So to appease the wish for food diversity, I created a burger meal- as local as possibly. It was inspired by the banana festival (which I will be writing about) and becoming the keeper of a whole bunch of very ripe bananas which I wanted to make into something for later and decided Banana ketchup would be awesome, and then pondered what would to go with it!

The chips are made from Breadfruit (click here for more breadfruit info)  which is a tree fruit and used more like a root veggie- it is a very beautiful (but large) tree. The fruit is starchy and pretty damn tasty! These chips were from firm fruit, cut into wedge shapes and par boiled and then coated in oil and baked in the oven until soft with a golden crunchy coating. This makes them more healthy (and just as yummy) as frying.

Breadfruit chips

The burger is made from Buffalo that is very very free range- pretty much wild, from Gunbalanya station– just inside Arnhem Land, an indigenous enterprise assisted by The Indigenous Land Council and currently the only abattoir operating in the Top End. The burgers have been made at Fannie Bay butchers (A locally owned business at Fannie Bay shops).

The salad mix in the bun is a mixture of sweet leaf, Brazilian spinach, Thai basil, Pepper leaf and sweet potato leaf. There are some awesome greens to make up wet season garden grown salad mix.

burger close good

And finally the banana ketchup! Sounds crazy? Well apparently this became very popular in the Philippines, when there were many many bananas but a shortage of tomatoes! I rearranged a recipe that i found after tasting a version of this from a once only market stall at Rapid Creek Markets and thinking it was quite lovely! It involves onions, garlic, vinegar, honey, nutmeg, cloves and of course bananas and banana chillies. I will post the full recipe soon, so you can bottle your bananas or other local bananas before they disappear in the awfully unfair eradication. (more about that too soon)

There is a ciabatta  bread involved and yes we can’t grow wheat flour it is true, but the bread was made in Darwin and sold at Fannie Bay shops. I am trying to think of bread alternatives, and Kate has made a bread from Cassava, but a flat bread not a burger bun, so this may have to be from wheat style flour.

The obvious choice of beverage for this drink is a nice cold beer and luckily this is accompanied by some 99 home brew (locally brewed in Darwin, under our house using Alawa rain water from our roof), other beer ingredients obviously not from our roof- but hey the contents of beer is a lot lighter to transport without water!

jon eats burger bestThe meal went down very well and bits were saved for later in the locally grown beard!

Uplifting Tumeric tonic

Tumeric tonicWow, it has been so long since I last posted. I am now working with the conservation of our incredible native landscapes and seem to be quite absorbed in it! It is quite the fight in a place where the Government seems to be pushing their own growth agenda, with little community engagement or respect to our amazing environment. Anyway, that is all a bit depressing, so instead I will post an uplifting few posts and an uplifting health tonic!

Sophie and tumeric drinkThis health tonic was demonstrated by the fantastic Sophie Edwards, as part of GULP (Growing and Utilising Local Produce) back in the sustainable living festival and I have been making versions of it ever since…

Tumeric is amazing and has great anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and is wonderful for settling an upset tummy. Interestingly, when served with black pepper the  bioavailability of curcumin – its active ingredient – is enhanced 1000 times.


It can also be very easily grown- it does prefer a sunny spot and plenty of water and really thrives in our wet season.

 So here it is-

1 tsp powdered turmeric or 2 Tbsp fresh grated turmeric
3 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
A handful of freshly cut lemongrass (2 Tbsp of dry lemongrass tea would work too)
1 tsp pepper corns
2 Litres boiling water

Place all ingredients in a large bowl or glass jug. Pour over boiling water and allow to seep until cool. You will end up with a rich tonic that you can then store in the fridge. To serve, add around 2 shots of tonic to 1 cup cold water or mineral water and squeeze in some fresh lemon or lime.

Also found on the recipe page here

tumeric sm