How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I have been lucky enough to be a Gold Coast resident since 2003. This is where I have raised my kids, created my career and business and I could not be happier to now be a Gold Coaster, even if I do still have a slight kiwi accent.
What do you love most about living here?
Of course, I love the beaches and lifestyle, but the biggest thing that I’ve come to love and appreciate is the incredible community we have on the Gold Coast. Especially now, as these weeks unfold, it is amazing to be part of such a generous and supportive business community.
Tell us about your new cookbook, Nourishing You…
I was invited to be part of a campaign in Queensland called Dancing CEO’s to raise awareness and funds for domestic violence. The commitment to raise funds is large, so I got my thinking cap on and came up with the idea to create a third cookbook where I could donate the pre-sale proceeds to the campaign. I wanted to tie the theme of the book into issues that busy women have. Particularly that as women, we tend to place our own nourishment at the bottom of our priority list. As a lawyer running a medium-sized law practice in a difficult area of law, separation and divorce, I see all too often how women put their own needs last. We simply cannot pour from an empty cup to nourish our minds, bodies and spirits, we need to have more fuel in the tank for ourselves and our families.
Nourishing You has a focus not only on the foods that we eat to nourish ourselves but also elements of how to nourish your mind, body and spirit. I share lots of tips and strategies on how to carve out time, so that you can make your own nourishment a priority. There are also 100 amazing gluten, dairy and refined sugar-free recipes, that are made with real ingredients. The recipes are different because I am a busy mother and lawyer, rather than a chef so my recipes are simple, using easy to source everyday ingredients. My favourite chapter is called, ‘better than take-aways’. This is where I share recipes of take-away favourites that you can cook at home in less than 20 minutes. Things like healthy versions of pad thai, butter chicken, fish tacos or green curry. Perfect now in times when we are needing to be cooking more at home. More than ever, we need to be nourishing ourselves and getting back to the basics of life.
What are some of the most nourishing foods we should be eating right now?
Right now, more than ever before, we need to be looking after our wellbeing both physically and mentally. Along with eating loads of real foods including lots of veggies, we also need to be feeding our minds with positivity, moving our bodies even if it is in front of a youtube dance or yoga class and being out in nature when we can. In terms of foods, with extra time at home, we can get back to the basics of life, focus on home cooking using real ingredients.
Can you talk to us about some of the quickest, easiest recipes available in your book?
The book has tons of recipes for breakfast that are vegetable loaded. There are soups made from simple, humble ingredients that are nutritious and super tasty. Salad bowls for lunches or main meals, again with simple but delicious combinations of ingredients. I show you how to make an at-home salad bar so that creating bowls is a breeze. For dinner, there is a chapter full of dishes that are better than take-away and include all of your favourite dishes that you normally order, but I show how they can be made in less time and for a fraction of the cost. Of course, no recipe book is complete without sweet treats. Many of the sweets have hidden veggies in them such as the Zucchini Brownies and Spiced Carrot Cake Balls.
What is the process of creating a cookbook?
It is quite the process and commitment, but it is fun and creative which is the part that I enjoy! I lay out what each chapter in the book will be and then dream up different recipe ideas to suit each chapter. Then I get cooking, testing and trialling — my family love this part. Once I have nailed down the dishes I want to include, I get in touch with my incredible food photographer and stylist, Jo Anderson, who is also a local. I go to her studio over many days and cook all the recipes for her to style and shoot. Every single recipe in the book has an image because I love recipe books where you can see exactly what the meal looks like. In creating Nourishing You, I wrote the first chapters that teach you how to nourish your life, not just with food but in mind, body and spirit, and once all the text was complete, the book went to an editor. This all then went to the graphic designer, local Belinda Chatfield, who did an incredible job. Once the book is finally put together, it goes off to the printers which is roughly around a 4-month process of getting proofs, finalising everything and getting the book shipped. Right now, I am excited to get a hard copy in my hand! I am so proud of how the book has turned out and can’t wait to share the recipes and the incredibly important message with everyone.
Do you have a favourite recipe to cook from home?
I go through phases. Because I am so creative in the kitchen it is hard to stick to one recipe. I will make one thing five times over a few weeks and then not make it again because I move on to my new favourite creation. Right now, I have been making a beautiful simple Indian Dahl recipe which you can find on my website here: https://caraleefontenele.com/easy-home-made-indian-dahl/
Where can we find your new book?
My cookbook is online for pre-sale right now here. If you buy a pre-sale copy, I will sign it for you and you will be the first to get your hands on it! Once the book is released, you will be able to find it where all good books are sold and on my website here.
Tell us your favourites on the Coast:
Coffee spot: I love Merlo at Ferry Road Markets or Roost in Southport. These are both local to me and make great coffee.
Cafe for breakfast: I mostly make breakfast at home, but if I do go out I love Darkk at Chirn Park for a lovely breaky.
Restaurant for dinner: There are so many great places on the Gold Coast, honestly, we eat home a lot because I love to cook. But if we do go out it is somewhere simple like the local Korean BBQ, where we cook together as a family and eat simple real food.
How does your weekend usually look: We have a small yacht, so every moment we can we go sailing to enjoy nature, visit secluded spots and view the amazing wildlife that we have here on the Gold Coast. Boat living, cooking, swimming and hanging out as a family in nature, these are all the things that I love.