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GET MORE F&V INTO YOUR MEALS: 4 tips to eat more in-season

Basket with vegetable and fruit, some pots in the urban garden, London city, UK.

Eating seasonal fruit and veg is positive for the environment and our health. Choosing to include seasonal fruit and veg goes hand in hand with eating locally grown produce and this can help reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced in the production and transportation process (Gareth Edwards-Jones, 2010).


From a nutritional perspective, there is no evidence to suggest local foods are more nutritious than non-local food, but eating locally and shopping at the local farmers market has been shown to increase food appreciation, and stimulate positive social networks compared to shopping at the supermarket (O’Kane 2011). Also adding seasonal fruits and vegetables to your diet increase the variety consumed throughout the year. This is a source of different fiber, vitamins, and minerals all required for optimal health and wellbeing.

Extra benefits of eating foods in the season include:

  • They’re often cheaper than out of season options
  • It supports the local economy and our local farmers
  • Food often tastes better when in season
  • Reduces the use of fossil fuels used to run cool rooms

Despite these benefits, seasonal eating can be a little bit tricky especially if you are located in a rural or remote area in Queensland. Often what is grown in the regional food bowls are transported across the Country to central markets in larger cities and the town is left with little fresh produce, and unfortunately, this fresh produce often costs a lot more to purchase compared to the city counterparts.

To eat seasonally here are four top tip


1. Shop at the local farmer’s market:

Chat to the farmers about what is currently in season. If you are in doubt, ask the lovely staff what is currently in season and where it is from. Knowing more about the distance the food has traveled to get to your shopping cart and dinner plate can help to make informed decisions about whether or not you want to make a purchase.

2. Go directly to the farmer: 

Don’t have a local grocer or farmer’s market in your area? Why not go directly to the farmer? There are also some great companies like Aussie Farmers Direct and Food Connect that source local and fresh produce from independent farmers, support seasonal produce and cut out the middleman so more money goes back to the farmer. It supports local economies, farmers and makes seasonal eating a lot easier.

3. Download the seasonal wheel:

A seasonal wheel is an online resource that can be printed and stuck on the fridge. It provides a good summary of what is in season for South East Queensland. Download it here:

4. Start a veggie patch:

One of the best ways to know more about where your food comes from is to grow your own. Although this can require a lot of effort, balcony and pot veggie gardens are still a great way to grow your own fruit and veg and supplement cooking at home with freshly grown herbs and spices. Check out some useful tips and tricks.


Have some seasonal eating tips you wish to share? Comment Below:



Shot of a group of friends making a toast over dinner

Can you believe Christmas is already upon us?

With an abundance of delicious and treat foods available to enjoy over the silly season, often many families over consume sugary drinks during this period. Events in the park with friends on a late Sunday afternoon can result in too many laughs and too many drinks. Additionally, those Sunday BBQ’s at mums can lead to a little too much of the sweet stuff.

The team at QCWA Country Kitchens has put their heads together to come up with some delicious and healthy iced teas. Although some recipes below have sugar in them, compared to a standard bought iced teas which often have upwards of 4.5 teaspoons per standard 300ml glass (equivalent to 15 teaspoons of sugar per 500ml), making your own iced tea is a great way to reduce the amount of sugar consumed over the festive period.

 4 iced tea recipes to keep you hydrated this silly season:


Lemon Myrtle and Raspberry Iced Tea 

Teaspoons sugar per 300ml: 2.4

Serves 6                                Preparation Time:  95 minutes                        Cooking Time: 0 minutes

lemon myrtle iced tea


8 green and lemon myrtle tea bags or 2 tablespoons loose leaf tea

4 tablespoons of a sweetener of your choice

1 bunch of fresh mint shredded

2 litres of filtered water, boiled

1 punnet of fresh raspberry or frozen if preferred, to garnish

A few sprigs of mint, to garnish



COMBINE the tea, sweetener, mint and boiling water in a jug.

SET ASIDE for 30 minutes.

REMOVE the tea bags or strain the tea to remove the loose leaf tea.

REFRIGERATE for an hour until cool.

ADD mint, raspberries, and ice to serving glasses or jug.

POUR the ice tea mixture into the glasses or jug.


Courtesy of QCWA Country Kitchens Team, adapted from Madura Tea Recipes



Pineapple and Thyme Iced Tea 

Teaspoons sugar per 300ml: 0

Serves 8                                Preparation Time:  95 minutes                        Cooking Time: 0 minutes

Pineapple iced tea


2 litres water, boiled

8 teabags of green tea

½ fresh pineapple, skin removed and chopped to small 1 cm cubes

4 sprigs fresh thyme

1 lime, quartered and juiced

2 sprigs fresh thyme, to garnish



COMBINE the tea and thyme in a jug.

SET ASIDE for 15 minutes.

REMOVE the teabags and thyme or strain the tea to remove the loose leaf tea.

ADD pineapple, lime.

REFRIGERATE for an hour until cool.

POUR the ice tea mixture into the glasses or jug and garnish with thyme leaves.


Courtesy of QCWA Country Kitchens Team


Raspberry and Ginger Fizz 

Teaspoons sugar per 300ml: 0.3

Serves 4                                Preparation Time:  60 minutes                        Cooking Time: 0 minutes

Raspberry and ginger fizz


2 handfuls of raspberries, fresh or frozen

1 teaspoon sugar

1 handful mint, roughly shredded

3 tablespoons fresh root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

1 litre of mineral water

1 handful fresh raspberries, to garnish



PLACE raspberries, sugar, ginger, and mint in a bowl or jug.

MASH until well combined.

ADD mineral water.

REFRIGERATE until cool.

SERVE over ice, garnished with fresh raspberries.


Courtesy of QCWA Country Kitchens Team, adapted from Jamie Oliver


Peach and Rosemary Iced Tea

Teaspoons sugar per 300ml: 1.8


Serves 8                                Preparation Time:  50 minutes                        Cooking Time: 5 minutes


Homemade peach and thyme iced tea


2 litre boiling water

4 tea English Breakfast or Earl Grey tea bags or 2 tablespoons loose leaf tea

6 large peaches, peeled and sliced

3 tablespoons sugar

2 stalks of rosemary, rinsed




COMBINE the tea and water in a jug.

SET ASIDE for 10 minutes then remove the teabags/strain the tea to remove the loose leaf tea.

PLACE peaches and sugar into a pot and simmer until the peaches have reduced

PUREE the peaches and sugar until a smooth consistency forms.

STRAIN the peach mixture and add it to the tea.

ADD the rosemary stalks.

REFRIGERATE for 40 minutes until cool.

POUR the ice tea mixture into the glasses or jug.


Courtesy of QCWA Country Kitchens Team

CHECK YOUR PORTION SIZE: Four easy steps to control portion sizes



Serve sizes can be confusing and even if you think you are making the right choice, often the food manufacturer dictates how much of a product they constitute as a serve.

Additionally, how we eat a meal and from what type of plate can also have an impact on how much food is consumed.

With the size of dinner plates around Australia increasing year after year, and take-away portions large enough to feed a family, knowing what to look for and implementing some strategies to check in with your portion sizes is a great way maintain health.


  1. Check in with how big your dinner plates are:

Dinner plates are bigger than they used to be. An average dinner size plate is 28.5cm. Go on, get out the measuring tape and measure your dinner plate you might just be surprised.

To check in with your portion sizes, use a smaller plate for some or all meals. And if you’re unsure of what is actually a healthy portion size, head to


  1. Know your fruit and veg serve sizes:

For general health and well-being, and to reduce the risk of chronic disease, it is recommended Australians consume 5 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruit per day. And remember a serve of vegetables = 1/2 cup or 75g cooked vegetables or 1 cup salad. A serve of fruit = 1 medium piece of fruit 0r 150g fresh fruit. Interestingly, children still require almost just as much as adults when it comes to fruit and veg. From the age of 9, it is recommended children consume the same healthy serve sizes of fruit and vegetables as adults.

 Tip: Based on a family of four, that’s ten cups of vegetables per day.


  1. Know your discretionary foods serve sizes:


Remember discretionary foods are foods that you can eat at your discretion or sometimes. They are not an essential part of the diet because they are often high in saturated fat, sodium, sugar and low in fibre. But how much is too much?

Here are some example discretionary foods and the recommended appropriate serve sizes.


  • Enjoy no more than 2 standard drinks on any day
  • Enjoy 2 alcohol-free days each week
  • Consume no more than 4 standard drinks on any one occasion
  • 1 standard drink contains 10g of alcohol (100ml wine, 285ml full-strength beer, 60ml port or sherry, 30ml spirits)

Soft drink:

  • 375ml (1 can) soft drink


  • 2 scoops (75g) regular ice cream


  • 25g chocolate (a small bar or 4 squares)

Hot chips:

  • 12 (60g) fried hot chips

For more examples go to To work out how many serves of discretionary food you’re eating each day, one serve is 600kJ.


  1. Plate your meal and set the table. 

Although we live in a world that is in love with convenience, making a time to eat and enjoy your meal can help check your portion size.

  • Set aside time for each meal breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Set the table
  • Choose a plate, opt for your food to fill the imaginary line no bigger than your hand span
  • When eating out of a container for lunch or when eating takeaway, plate your meal

Sit Less, Move More: Lessons from Steptember


During the month of September, the QCWA Country Kitchens Team stepped it up a notch and joined Steptember. The team thought it was a great opportunity to increase our daily exercise, and create new healthy habits that align with sitting less and moving more. Plus we also wanted to raise some much-needed money for people living with cerebral palsy who often don’t have the opportunity to walk and move around as much as us.

To learn more about cerebral palsy please visit The Cerebral Palsy Alliance that aim to support people living with a physical and neurological disability.

The goals set by the team behind Steptember were to achieve 10,000 steps per day. So did the QCWA Country Kitchen Team achieve this? And What did we do to get many more steps in each day?

Here’s how we did:

Despite an amazing effort by the team, aiming for 10,000 steps per day was a challenge. Our final number of steps was 819, 979 steps. That’s an average of around 6000 steps per day with a team of five of us.

Here’s what we did:

Bec started getting the train from the Gold Coast just to get some early morning steps in and has started running up some big beachside hills occasionally after work.

Fiona used everyday activities such as shopping and gardening to get her steps up. She also noticed that being on the road and conducting Hands On Nutrition Workshops achieved an amazing 7500 steps!

Alice started a daily exercise routine and would make an effort to put her headphones in when talking to friends and family so she could get stepping.

Chloe started getting the train in the morning to work and added a few extra steps to her morning routine

Connie decided that getting to work early was the best way to get some extra steps on her a morning run. Connie also made a huge effort to do an hourly was in her local area each day.


Lessons from Steptember

Achieving 10,000 steps per day is challenging but it is no excuse not to try. Here are some of the QCWA Country Kitchens teams’ ideas on how we can all bump up our steps every day.


Before work

  • Set the alarm 30 minutes earlier and get out for a crisp morning walk or run
  • Choose to take public transport, bike or walk to work
  • Meet a colleague or friend before work and head to the local park for a chat and walk


During work

  • Set a reminder to get up, get a glass of water and do some steps on the spot
  • Invest in a standing desk
  • Take the stairs at every opportunity
  • At lunch, get the team together, put your walking shoes on and head out for a stroll
  • Keep a pair of walking shoes under your desk and ready to go


After work

  • Get outside, get some fresh air and get those steps up
  • Cook dinner to music and move your body
  • When grocery shopping, choose a carpark furthest away from the entrance and walk the extra distance
  • Join a sports team once or twice a week
  • Call a friend, put your headphones in and get walking


Every day we can all aim for more steps, remember that every little bit counts and investing in a good pair of walking shoes can add motivation. Although Steptember is great, remember to sit less and move more every day not just for the month of September. Setting a goal and aiming for 10,000 steps each day is a great way to stay motivated for the remainder of the year.

For more tips and tricks on how to get more active check out the Healthier. Happier website for easy to do, everyday activities.

COOK AT HOME: Flying solo? Tips and tricks to get you cooking at home.

Woman cooking

Did you know that 1 in 4 Australian households are a one person only households? (ABS Census of Housing and Population, 2011).

Although living alone can depict a picture of loneliness and isolation, some people enjoy living along as the benefit include increased independence, a stress-free environment and taking the time to do what they want, when they want. However, living alone can also be a challenge when it comes to cooking and preparing meals.

Cooking for one whether you live alone or with others can be thought of as a barrier but don’t fret, cooking can still be enjoyable, taste great and be highly nutritious, all without much of the effort. In line with the QCWA’s Cook At Home key message, cooking for one is no excuse not to get back in the kitchen and experiment with old and new recipes.

To make cooking for one more enjoyable and less time consuming, the QCWA Country Kitchens Team have put together some tips and tricks to making cooking for one, easy, nutritious and enjoyable.


Top tips and tricks to get you cooking for one:


  1. Take time to cook a nutritious meal and enjoy experimenting with old and new recipes in the kitchen: We are all living such busy lives these days and the joy of cooking seems to have been replaced with resentment. Take the time to plan your meals, buy the produce, speak to the locals and enjoy the entire process of nourishing your body.
  2. Invite the neighbours over or a friend to enjoy a meal with you: Cooking for one can get a bit boring and lonely at times. To combat this, broaden your social network and invite the neighbours over or reconnect with family or old friends and enjoy great conversation over a tasty meal.
  3. Cook for 2, 3, or 4, pack away and store in the freezer for a later date: Once a month, cook up a big pot of soup or savoury mince and portion these into smaller packs ready for the month ahead. This makes cooking much easier when you simply can’t be bothered, fall sick or have an extremely busy day.
  4. Opt for a nutritious toasty: Cooking a nutritious and tasty meal doesn’t have to be a huge effort. A simple toasted cheese sandwich can do the job. On a slice of bread, add pesto, baked beans, and top with fresh spinach. Slice up your favourite cheese and place over the spinach. Bake until the cheese melts.
  5. Buy vegetables that go with multiple dishes: Choosing vegetables that are versatile and that you enjoy. For example, zucchini is a great veggie, perfect for soups, on toasties, grated into Bolognese or even chargrilled on the barbecue.
  6. Add frozen vegetables to meals: These days frozen meals are a great option. It is better to pull the veggies out of the freezer than to have none at the dinner table. For extra convenience, choose the packets that a pre-portioned and add to any breakfast, lunch or dinner for an antioxidant boost!


If you have any tips or tricks, please let us know. We would love to hear from you and share your ideas with the rest of the QCWA Country Kitchens Community!

COOK AT HOME: Quick and easy tips to making vegetables appealing and easy.



Hands up if you’re frequently too busy or too tired to prepare fruit and vegetables at home? Even when a quick meal is already planned, it too can seem too long.

As you open the fridge looking for inspiration, you’re greeted with a limited number of ingredients, few or no vegetables. This further adds to the potential dinner effort and the desire to cook reduces even more.

If this is a common occurrence or even a random occasion, here are some top tips to ensure preparing vegetables and fruit become easy. Remember, the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating recommends five serves of vegetables each day. One serve is either ½ cup (75g) of cooked vegetables or 1 cup of salad.

List all your families staple ‘go to’ meals:

Once you learn which ingredients suit your tastes, preparing fresh fruit and vegetables will become much quicker and easier than you thought.

 A good place to start is to think about the types of meals that you and your family really enjoy. Most families have a small set of meals and recipes that they rely on, which are prepared regularly across a week or fortnight. For example, it might be lamb chops on Monday, Spaghetti Bolognaise midweek and a take away roast chicken on Sunday.

Match your favourites with a set of colourful veggies:

Alongside your list of meals, make a list of the fruits and vegetables you like. Now think about how you could add these to the family recipes identified. For example, add diced mushrooms, celery, carrot or silver beet to your Spaghetti Bolognaise.

At this point it’s a good idea to write up the families modified recipes and put them somewhere obvious so whoever is cooking that night, knows the plan.

When making a roast, prepare an extra-large tray of pumpkin, potato, carrot, parsnip, onion, and even beetroot and use these in salads, pasta or risotto over the next few days. In my household we use roasted pumpkin as a spread in sandwiches for school. It’s a real hit!

Look at each meal as an opportunity to get added veg:

Increasing the amount of vegetables in you and your families diet is a great way to improve health. If you leave the dinner meal as the only opportunity to eat vegetables, there is no way you are going to each the 5 serves per day. And even so, your meal is likely to just be veggies and not balanced with whole grains and lean proteins. The best way to get added veggies in is to look at breakfast, lunch and dinner as an opportunity increase  your veg intake. Try a vegetarian omelette or baked tomatoes for a savory breakfast.

In the evening and after dinner:

Try substituting chocolate at the end of an evening meal with low fat yoghurt and fruit. The extra serve of fruit will increase your fibre intake and the protein in the yoghurt will fill you up so you’re not tempted to snack more.

Stock up on frozen veg:

When fresh food is difficult to obtain, canned or frozen has almost the same nutrition as fresh.  It’s a good idea to keep some frozen veggies in the freezer for an easy meal that just needs a little meat added, a sauce and some heat applied. Canned tomatoes are a great pantry staple.

Choose different colours:

If children are fussy about certain flavours you can easily sweeten a meal with vegetables such as carrot, cherry tomatoes or jap pumpkin.  Remember we eat with our eyes, so including different coloured vegetables makes a meal visually more appealing, as well as adding a variety of nutrients.


Armed with these simple ideas and your family’s updated recipes, you’ll not only be adding more fruit and vegetables to your diets but you’ll be improving the health of your family as well. Enjoy!


For more information go to



COOK AT HOME: How to make a healthy cheese platter

Cheese platters are a great way to entertain and provide nutritious snacks to your family and friends. It is important however to ensure delicious cheeses which are often high in saturated fat and salt are coupled with healthy snacks including vegetable sticks, wholegrain crackers, nuts and seeds.

Here are some step by step instructions to get you started.


1. Start by choosing your platter. This is an important step as a platter too small will likely end up with the cheese, veggies and other delicious goodies all over the table. A wooden chopping board or plain white plate is also good choices.











2. Choose one cheese and one dip and place each at opposite ends of the cheese board. These cheese and the dip need to be showcased and from this point on the crackers and veggies sticks chosen typically do complement the cheese and dip chosen.












3. Choose an assortment of veggies and use these to decorate the base of the dip container. The more colour the better. Carrot, capsicum, cucumber and celery are great choices and can be chopped in numerous ways including sticks to dunk into the dip.  Choose wholegrain crackers where possible and place these next to the cheese. Different crackers provide a variety of textures and flavours and when the grain can be seen, it also provides a little boost in fibre.












4. Choose at least 1 fruit to add colour to the platter. Slicing green apple thinly and piling up fresh berries is a great way to make a cheese platter that little bit healthier. Go for seasonal fruit where you can or choose canned peaches and pears for something different. Drain these natural juice and place on a hot plate for some extra flavour and texture.











5. Once all the veggie sticks, fruit and crackers are layered around the cheese and dip, choose nuts, dried fruit and even dark chocolate to fill in the missing gaps. Sprinkle a few sprigs of rosemary or thyme from the garden to garnish and provide some greenery, and serve!











COOK AT HOME: Host Christmas in July

Decorative green wreath on a napkin as a part of table appointments, clean white tablecloth background, top view. Christmas table place setting.

If this current cold weather reminds you and your family of warm roasts, mulled wine and snow, then it may in fact be the season to be jolly. That’s right, Christmas in July is a great reason to get the family over, invite some friends and enjoy delicious food, wine and spread some Christmas-like joy.

No-one really knows where the term Christmas in July originated from however, it is thought to have come from the crispy, cool and snowy Blue Mountains in New South Wales. Aside from real Christmas being celebrated on the 25th of December, Christmas in July is the perfect opportunity to celebrate Christmas like our Northern hemisphere families do.

To host a festive July celebration below are some great QCWA Country Kitchen approved recipes to get you started.

Start with a delicious and healthy cheese platter packed with fruit, vegetables and wholegrain crackers. Opt for seasonal varieties in your local area.


fried cutlet in ceramic form on a wooden table

Enjoy pork, apple and sage burgers with a macadamia mustard for the main meal. Pair this with a side of seasonal vegetables coated in fresh herbs and spices.

green salad green beans with pesto.selective focus

For a side of delicious greens, go for this green bean salad.


For dessert, try this warm bread and berry pudding made with blueberries, sultanas on wholemeal bread.

Insights from Janelle Reeves – CK Facilitator at Kingaroy Branch

Janelle Reeves

Janelle Reeves, QCWA Gympie South Burnett Division, Kingaroy Branch.

Why did you decide to get involved with QCWA’s Country Kitchens program?
I was a new member to QCWA Kingaroy Branch and just learning about the different activities offered to members. I enjoy cooking and like putting a healthy spin on old recipes. I also enjoy gardening and cooking with fresh produce. When the Country Kitchens program was introduced, I thought it sounded a great opportunity to combine the things I love and pass this onto others.

What part of the QCWA Country Kitchens program appeals to you the most and why?
It has been great to meet a variety of people wanting to learn how to make meals heathier.

What have you enjoyed the most about becoming a facilitator?
The interaction with our Country Kitchens’ Nutritionists/Dietitians has been fantastic. They have passed on a wealth of information.

In what ways have you been able to reinforce QCWA’s Country Kitchens five key messages within your community?
The five key messages were displayed at the Kingaroy Show and promoted at the cooking program. Ten workshops were held in Kingaroy during 2016 – five workshops in Kingaroy with Kingaroy Branch and another five with Kingaroy Twilight Branch. The hands-on demonstration preparing rice paper rolls was great and it encouraged participants to prepare meals at home and to eat more colourful vegetables in each day. At a recent Fair, fruit salad was promoted as a healthy snack. This helped reinforce what a serve (of fruit) looks like and that fresh fruit tastes great!

Does your Branch have a QCWA Country Kitchens inspired community activity or event planned in the near future?
This year we will be promoting a weekly walking group that would conclude with a healthy snack and some take home information about the five key messages.

Insights from Raymonda Hall – CK Facilitator Blackwater Branch

Raymonda Hall Portrait RW #1

Raymonda Hall, QCWA Central Highlands Division, Blackwater Branch.

Why did you decide to get involved with QCWA’s Country Kitchens program?
The program offers ways of introducing healthier food options for QCWA branches. And I saw it as a great opportunity for younger people to get involved in the QCWA and possibility become members.

What part of the Country Kitchens program appeals to you the most and why?
I really like the five key messages part of the program, I think they are really easy to follow. I also really like how the program teaches people to modify a recipe to make it healthier.

What have you enjoyed the most about becoming a facilitator?
Meeting new people. I am a people person and it was a new way for me to interact with them. Enjoyment! I thought the QCWA Country Kitchens program was a great way to bring the QCWA into the “new age”.

In what ways have you been able to reinforce the Country Kitchens five key messages within your community?
Myself and local personal trainer Natalie Sanderson started the Blackwater Health Movement which focuses on improving healthy eating (cook at home and increase fruit and vegetables) and physical activity (sit less, move more) in the community. Within our branch we have started offering Country Kitchens approved options at our stall at the Blackwater Markets and also we have a greater emphasis on health at our meetings, discussing topics such as safe food handling and physical activity.

Does your Branch have a Country Kitchens inspired community activity or event planned in the near future?
The Blackwater Health Movement held its first event on 6 December at the Blackwater QCWA Hall for local miners who have an interest in improving their health. The day included a physical activity session with a local PT and a hands-on nutrition workshop with myself. In the future I also plan to do some workshops with the PCYC and the local schools.

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