Just in time for the season of fresh foods and healthy eating, the summer has brought with it a whole new collection of diet-focused cookbooks promising to change your life and body for the better. Luckily, Tony Chiodo’s latest publication, Feel Good Food, is little different. Forget misery-inducing elimination diets or fasting plans, Feel Good Food promises to help readers eat well and feel good whilst simultaneously expanding their wholefoods knowledge and cookery skills.

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Chiodo’s background is as colourful as his brightly hued book. Born into an Italian family, he was trained in classical French cooking in Melbourne before accepting a scholarship at La Guida Italiana di Cucina in Italy. It was here that Chiodo learnt about cooking that was ‘earthy and real, yet still refined and complex in flavor…I was shown a deep respect for ingredients,’ a skill that’s certainly evident in Feel Good Food. On his return to Melbourne, Chiodo experienced poor health and as a result became more interested in the relationship between food and health, turning his attention to Japanese cuisine. After travelling to Japan to study and explore the national cuisine that used ‘ingredients chosen for their healing qualities as much as their flavour’ Chiodo moved to India to cook in an ashram. His time abroad cemented his belief in the power of food to improve health, both physical and spiritual, and he decided to qualify as a macrobiotic and wholefoods teacher.

My immediate impression of Feel Good Food is how cheerful it looks, colour coded and pack full of lively photos, just looking does actually make me feel good. Not to mention Chiodo’s tone which is refreshingly positive rather than sanctimonious. I also particularly like how the emphasis is placed on a more vegetarian diet, making use of a wide range of fruit and vegetables which many cookbooks would simply overlook. In fact, the overall variety of recipes is great, bringing together Tony’s knowledge of French, Italian, Japanese cooking – there’s certainly a dish to suit every taste.

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However, the first obvious problem is the frequent occurrence of specialist ingredients which are unlikely to be stocked in your local corner shop or supermarket. Unless you’re already well practiced in wholefoods and have a pantry stocked accordingly, a rather expensive trip to a health food shop will be required. To save time and money, I opted for the recipes with the easiest ingredients to find – my first effort was the Multi Grain Bircher, the ingredients of which I found in a small local health store. Easy to assemble, although it did require a little pre-soaking over night, the result was a filling breakfast that’s perfect for summer mornings and also pleasingly adaptable depending on what fresh fruit you use.

For lunch, the buckwheat noodles with creamy avocado dressing sounded fast and flavoursome. I cook soba noodles regularly but was grateful for Tony’s tip on ‘shock’ cooking them which resulted in a perfect consistency. The dish was light and delicious, ideal packed lunch fodder during the working week. Feeling more confident, I opted for Tony’s faro risotto with three mushroom ragout which sounded like a healthier alternative to my beloved mushroom risotto. A lot of tiresome pre-soaking was required and having dutifully sourced dried porcini and shitake mushrooms beforehand, I had high hopes for this recipe. Whilst the faro was a great, healthy alternative to rice, my attempt lacked flavor – something of a disappointment after so much soaking and stirring.

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Feel Good Food is a vibrant tome packed full of diverse recipes that are both nutritious and tasty. It would be ideal for someone with a little wholefoods knowledge, who knows their quinoa from their chia, and particularly for those who don’t eat red meat. I loved its an emphasis on feeling good for the duration, welcome relief in the season of bikini body diets.

Published by Hardie Grant, Tony Chiodo’s Feel Good Food is available to buy online here.