In our fast-paced and busy days the preparation of food for ourselves and our families can take a backseat. Sometimes it’s hard to manage all the family's tastes and dietary needs, our schedules that keep us on the go, as well as other personal factors that we deal with in our daily life. So what can you gain from prioritising fresh, whole food, home cooked and prepared with love and good intentions?  

Nowadays the supermarket shelves are full of products that have gone through many processes and additions of chemicals to become shelf stable, convenient and addictive. The original farm grown produce is further from its original state and further from what our bodies can use for sustenance in the forms of nutrients, energy and enjoyment. These foods affect us negatively in many ways, not in the least by making it harder to maintain a healthy weight, and enough energy or ‘get-up-and-go’.

Whole foods are grown or raised on the land, and exposed to minimal processing before being sold in the shops. They provide us with natural vitamins and minerals, hydration, essential fats, and fibres. Found in fresh plant foods, are compounds known as phytonutrients, which are gaining the interest of researchers exploring how they can be used to target disease. Not that this is a new concept, food as medicine has a long and widespread heritage across the world!  

Although the supermarkets now provide everything we need in one shop, a little search around the internet is sure to reveal suppliers in your local area. We are lucky here in Donegal to have many local producers, their produce can be found at Ballyholey Farm Shop, butchers for locally raised meat, eggs, honey,  and fresh fish, and shops like Simple Simon’s Health Foods in Donegal Town. Of course don’t forget the ease of planting a few seeds in your own backyard for the satisfaction of watching the progress from green shoots to a tasty meal!

Preparing whole food for the nourishment of you and your family requires some investment in time and energy, to plan, shop, store and prepare, but it can be fun as well, exploring the options, and getting the family engaged in where their food comes from.

 In the summer months preparing fresh salads, fresh fruits and smaller portions of meat and heavy starches can be quick and refreshing. Some dishes can be made ahead when you have time, and kept in the fridge for quick and handy meals throughout the week, such as boiled eggs, grain-based salads, stewed fruits, muesli and home baked biscuits and scones.

I will be posting more family friendly bakes and recipes involving whole foods here on the blog, offering suggestions that can replace the easy but less wholesome options on the supermarket shelves.

Most mothers are aware that encouraging children to eat their vegetables is one of life’s challenges! There is so much advice from well-meaning family members, friends and health professionals, not to mention advice available in every corner of the internet, but here my approach is simple and tasty - incorporating vegetables (or fruits) into baked goods. Okay, this isn’t new, think the classic carrot cake, but it’s a tried and tested recipe in my kitchen!

This classic country Australian recipe was made famous in my home land in the 1970’s when the wife of a political figure shared her recipe for a batch of pumpkin scones. Lady Florence Bjelke-Peterson was famous for being a housewife of a long standing Australian Senator, and herself moved into and was influential in the political sphere. To me this is inspirational as I value the importance of women as homemakers and caregivers in the household, with knowledge and wisdom to share outside the home when our children have grown up.

Pumpkin in Australia and New Zealand, and squash in the Northern Hemisphere, is a vine-growing fruit, (not a vegetable) native to North America. It’s pretty common to find included in recipes in Australia, and can be roasted or mashed, made into soup, and added to salads, risottos and curries. It has a natural sweetness, and is nutritionally rich, especially high in Carotenes for Vitamin A, Vitamin C, magnesium and potassium and provides fibre.  

Any orange fleshed squash or pumpkin will do for this recipe, in Ireland the most available variety is the butternut squash, with other varieties making appearances around Hallowe’en. The tough outer skin requires a sharp knife and a bit of elbow action to remove but once cut into chunks with the inner seeds removed, it steams in about 10-15 minutes. Once steamed, a quick mash into a puree and preparation is complete. At this stage I like to divide the puree into ½ cup batches and then freeze (I use glass jars to avoid using plastic) for the next bake.

Made fresh, they are a great addition for school lunchboxes, but are also great for picnics, or quickly prepared to share with guests for morning or afternoon tea. This recipe isn’t dairy or gluten free, but could be adapted to suit these dietary requirements with a little experimentation.

Recipe Ingredients

60g butter, softened

¼ cup sugar

½ cup squash/pumpkin puree

1 egg

2 ½ cups self raising flour, (wholemeal or white)

Up to ½ cup milk


With an electric mixer, beat together softened butter and sugar. When combined add squash puree, and egg, beating well after each addition. Mix in flour, then gradually add a little milk until a soft dough forms. Turn out onto the counter, pressing into a flat disc. Using a small biscuit cutter or a small glass, press out into rounds. Placing on a tray, brush the top of each scone with a little milk, to help them brown in the oven.

Place in a hot 220DegC fan oven for 12-15 minutes, taking out when the tops of the scones are brown and the scone is firm when pressed. Allow to cool slightly before eating. Best eaten on the day of baking, but are still nice the next day too. This is a great recipe as well if you have a budding chef in the family, including children in preparing food can be a good way to encourage trying new flavours.

Homemade oven-toasted muesli


This recipe, not really a recipe, more a process that can be adapted to personal tastes and dietary needs is for muesli baked in the oven until crisp.  One of the things I love about this muesli is that it is totally free form, use whatever grains, seeds or nuts that take your fancy, try different flavourings, and use your choice of oil and sweetener to achieve a lovely crisp texture.

I like to bake the muesli low and slow, but at a higher temperature the process can be sped up, with more regular stirring to prevent over browning.

Another benefit to this recipe is that the kids love it, and I'm happy that they are getting a good bowlful of fibre, protein, healthy fats and nutrients to start their day.

Serving suggestions - add fruit, yogurt, your choice of milk for a nourishing and filling breakfast.

Equipment needed:

Large baking tray, I use a large glass dish

Small saucepan

Large spoon

Oven preheated to 150 C

Ingredients that I’m currently using (measurements are approximate):

3 tbsp Coconut oil melted

1- 2 tbsp Maple syrup

3 cups Jumbo Rolled oats  

1/2 cup Barley flakes 

1/2 cup Rye flakes 

1/2 cup Buckwheat groats 

1cup Coconut flakes 

2 tbsp Chia seed (I like to use ground chia) 

2 tbsp Flaxseeds

2 tbsp Sesame seeds

1/2 cup  Sunflower seeds 

1/2 cup Pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup Almond flakes

 1 tbsp Ground cinnamon, cardamom or mixed spice 

Take all dry ingredients and mix well together in the baking dish. The measurements are for guidance only, add as much or as little of any ingredient to suit.

Combine melted coconut oil and syrup and pour over the dry ingredients and stir through until nicely coated.

Bake in the low oven until lightly browned, stirring occasionally to allow all ingredients to toast evenly. It can take about an hour depending on the heat of the oven and amount of ingredients used.

I like to mix through a handful of dried fruit when it comes out of the oven such as currants, diced sulphur free apricots, dates, dried apple, fig etc.

Other options...
  • other choices of fat could be grass fed ghee or olive oil

  • other choices of sweetener could be raw honey, date syrup, agave syrup or none, depending on taste or dietary requirements

  • Any other grains/nuts and seeds can be added i.e. amaranth, quinoa flakes, chopped hazelnuts/pecans/cashews, more nuts and seeds can be used to reduce grains

  • Any flavour that captures your imagination I've also used raw cacao and orange zest and carob powder, and powdered ginger.
Bulk ingredients can be found at local and online health food stores and online bulk grocery suppliers, I regularly use, here in Ireland.

Welcome to Mind & Nourish! 

I’m Danielle, a newly qualified Naturopathic-trained Nutritionist, having graduated from a 3-year Diploma at the College of Naturopathic Medicine in November 2022. I live in Donegal, in the North West of Ireland with my family, although I hail from Queensland, Australia.  

I have a 20-year nursing background, in varied specialties and environments, and have explored different alternative health options over the years, including chiropractic, massage and reiki, Traditional Chinese Medicine, homeopathy and energetic methods.

My aim for Mind & Nourish is to be able to provide nutritional and lifestyle education and support to people who are interested in making changes to diet, lifestyle and mental outlook, with the goal of improving energy, vitality and enjoyment of life! In this blog, I will explore these themes and put forward my views and findings, and I’m happy to facilitate questions and discussions.

Mind & Nourish offers in-person and online consultations for personalised nutritional and lifestyle advice, based on a comprehensive health review. I also offer bioenergetic testing and remedies that aid in balancing your physical and energetic body, using the QEST system.

So, as 2023 progresses, I am looking forward and making plans to grow Mind & Nourish from a concept to a tangible business, using my naturopathic nutrition training and enthusiasm for education, learning and positive interpersonal relationships.

I’m contemplating that into the new year, in our busy lives, we reflect on our actions and feelings of the year past including personal achievements, learning experiences and issues in interpersonal relationships.  

For me, this last year has been full of deadlines for course work, but alongside that I have cared for my family, enjoyed cooking and gardening, explored the wild and beautiful mountains in Donegal, and indulged my curiosity for many topics, reading books and having discussions with family and friends.

Sometimes we can be hard on ourselves and look back with negativity at the year’s challenges and experiences. We may make promises that in the new year we will eat better, exercise more, or work harder towards set goals. To meet these goals, it is important to attend to factors that may have been preventing us from successfully navigating the challenges and experiences of daily life. 

 Some strategies that I am exploring to do this are supporting energy and wellbeing with diet and lifestyle, reflective journaling, self care, reiki, and emotional freedom techniques.  These a just a few ideas that I hope to highlight and integrate into my Mind and Nourish ethos as I learn more!

Thanks for joining me at Mind & Nourish and I look forward to making connections and working to support the health and wellbeing of us all.

Until next time...