Maecenas sed diam eget risus varius blandit sit amet non magna. Sed posuere consectetur est at lobortis. Donec ullamcorper nulla non metus auctor fringilla. Curabitur blandit tempus porttitor. Sagittis lacus vel augue laoreet rutrum faucibus dolor auctor.

Let's cook, eat & enjoy with Mary Wills

The Wholesome Collective is passionate about creating simple, wholesome recipes AND showing people through interactive groups and presentations just how easy it is to cook, eat & enjoy in a healthy way.

That is why we have recruited the skills and talents of the passionate and energetic Mary Wills! Mary is a Home Economist with a wealth of experience in the food industry and we just love her approach to food and cooking. From recipe writing for The Australian Women's Weekly to enabling people living with disabilities to independently cook, she has done it all! 

So you can all get to know her, I asked Mary a few questions about her career path, her inspirations in the kitchen and her food & cooking mantra.


KERRYN: Can you please tell us a little about your yourself, your profession, and your career so far. 

MARY: I am a Home Economist, which usually takes some explaining or people laugh, thinking I am saying that I am a house wife. The term Home Economist is quite old fashioned and yet we have such a vital role to play in the community. No, I am not a chef, I don't have commercial cooking skills. What is the difference you ask? A Home Economist works in the community educating people to increase their cooking skills in the home, developing recipes for books, magazines and publications, food styling for photography and working in the health system as assistants to Dietitians.

Mary's AMAZING seafood paella

Mary's AMAZING seafood paella

KERRYN: Do you have any career highlights that you want to share? 

MARY: I have been lucky enough to work at The Lodge in Canberra (home of Australia's Prime Minister) where I have served Prime Minister John Howard his dinner. I have worked alongside many celebrity food presenters to host fabulous cooking classes. But I think my most iconic moment as a Home Ec was to see my name in print as a contributor to many Australia's Women's Weekly cook books. I felt like I had really made it!

KERRYN: Why did you decide to work in the field of food and nutrition?

MARY: Mum may not be too happy with my answer. So sorry mum, I love you dearly. I never liked mum's cooking except for a few pieces of brilliance that I still use. I wanted to cook the meals myself and use foods that I read about in The Australian Women's Weekly cook books (the only resource I had!) Mum graciously handed over the kitchen to me with the proviso that I cleaned up...fair enough!

Mary's vegetarian chilli con carne with polenta dumplings!

Mary's vegetarian chilli con carne with polenta dumplings!

The love of nutrition came later as I studied Home Science at school. I was hooked but wanted to combine my love of cooking and nutrition and in the 80's, the answer was a Home Economics certificate.

KERRYN: Is there anything that continues to inspire or motivate you to work in this field?

MARY: I love the buzz of showing someone new ideas who takes that idea into their home and increases their skills. We all eat and we all have to prepare food to some degree. To have someone tell me that they find that task easier, more interesting or more enjoyable as a result of something I have shown them is such a thrill.

KERRYN: What is the best part of your job?

MARY: The retention of knowledge by people who have come to me. I have taught children who won't eat vegetables, I have taught 93 year olds new ideas, I have taught disabled people how to have confidence in the kitchen (best ever reward) and people who use my recipes in their weekly repertoire of meals. To feel you have helped or made a positive impact elates me.

KERRYN: What is a simple way to describe your food and cooking manta?

Keep it simple.

KERRYN: What are 5 must-have ingredients in the house at all times and why?

MARY: olive oil, lemons, parsley, Dijon mustard & lentils. I can cook it, flavour it and add a protein in a flash. SIMPLE!

KERRYN: What are the key things that you focus on in order to stay healthy and well?

MARY: Count my blessings every morning as I wake up...fair dinkum I really do. Make a choice, fresh or processed - fresh will win every time. That very simple philosophy will keep us healthy. ALSO, the sharing of food made with love cannot be over rated. 

You can see from this interview that Mary is the perfect fit for The Wholesome Collective. A food and nutrition consultancy that is passionate about enabling everyone to cook simple, heathy and delicious meals. If you are interested, we can tailor an interactive cooking presentation or hands on class for any group (whether that be a sporting club, school, workplace, private or community group). This option will show you how uncomplicated it is to prepare nourishing meals, using fresh and familiar foods that still taste great. 

If you would like to spend some time with myself and Mary as we teach you the foundations of nutrition and cooking please SAY HELLO and see how we can help you. 

Kerryn x

Fuelling the football finals

So this week is FINALS week! My husband’s team will take on Brisbane Roar at Adelaide Oval on Friday night for the semi-finals of the A-league.

I often get asked what Nigel likes to eat before games and during a  training week. You just have to look at Instagram to know this one, and many people close to us know how much I dislike spaghetti bolognese after 10 years of having this the night before a game! But I did get asked if this had changed being such a big week, so I thought that I would share.

When I was planning our evening meals for the week, I did have FINALS WEEK in the back of my mind. I wanted to make sure that every night we had good quality protein (and a good variety of sources), lots of vegetables for immune support, healthy fats and carbohydrates at every meal. This is pretty standard, although I often ask Nige which nights we need more carbier meals and what nights we can go easy (this depends on his training load).

This week, being a heavy week and nearing the end of the season when fatigue starts to set in, I made sure every meal had a decent amount of carbs.

So this was our weekly menu:

Sunday night

  • Vegetable soup for entree
  • Spiced lamb back-strap with a zucchini, pomegranate and almond couscous salad for main
  • Honey and cinnamon baked pears with ricotta and pistachios for dessert

Monday night

  • Baked eggs in a kidney bean and vegetable mix served with zesty guacamole and corn wraps

Tuesday night

  • Cumin spiced salmon with sweet potato chips and stir-fried greens

Wednesday night 

  • Chicken and vegetable curry with brown rice for main
  • Baked pears for dessert

Thursday night (you guessed it)

  • Spaghetti Bolognese (I’m having leftover curry) for main
  • Ice-cream for dessert (part of the tradition)

There is also lots of weet-bix, fruit, sandwiches, yoghurt and a couple of pasta lunches to fill in the gaps.


What is your favourite pre-game / competition meal?

Slow it down for fast food

My go to 'slow meal' one pot veggie lentils

My go to 'slow meal' one pot veggie lentils

My recent wedding vows meant that I officially declared, in front of the ones that I love, that “I Kerryn, promise you Nigel to continue to cook you delicious meals…” Yes its true (along with loving him unconditionally and so on)… My husband and I are busy, active people and so my delicious meals that I solemnly promised also need to be healthy and quick. Now we all lead busy lives. Whether you are a single lady or man, a stay at home mum or dad or balance work life with family life, we are ALL busy people. So lets look at how we can get a nourishing meal on the table without the day devoted to our culinary eats.

Our house holds just the two of us, however we are often home late from training, work or study so for me to keep my word and ensure we continue to enjoy healthy, delicious meals, I need to be organised. I am lucky that I love food and love to devote the spare second I may have to food preparation. However, I know too well that there are many of you out there who want to prioritise healthy eating without the time spent in the kitchen.

My mantra is to keep it simple. Focus on fresh foods and basic nutrition principles without the complication of inspiring to be the next master chef or following the recent fad.

Eating well during a busy week for us starts with a shopping list and food shopping. If this sound boring to you, seek out your nearest fresh food or farmers markets and make a morning of it, you may discover a new love and enjoy a nice coffee while you’re at it. Opting for online shopping is also an option if you really can’t get to the shops or markets.

However you seek out your produce, try and aim for it to arrive on a day or an afternoon that is generally free for you to devote some time to cooking.

Here are a few tips that help me continue to put healthy meals on the table:

Slow it down - Currently our palates are calling for winter warmers, which is perfect for preparing easy meals for the week ahead. My slow cooker is my new best friend as it can help me plan ahead our healthy eats. While I may be running or boxing after work, my slow cooker is getting its own workout after throwing all of the ingredients together before heading to work. If my slow cooker is not being used, I will cook up a 'one pot' meal where everything can get thrown in a bubble away on the stove (just like the one pot lentil dish featured in the image) while i'm at home getting things done!

Two for one - Dedicate an afternoon to food preparation (if you naturally despise this piece of advice you may be surprised with the satisfaction you feel after preparing your own meals). Think about  two meals that you can cook on one afternoon that may last two or three nights. I tend to prepare a soup that can be reheated for lunches and a slow cooker meal, curry or chilli con carne that can also be used for a couple of different meals. If you aren’t in love with leftovers, just change up the dish by serving it with a different side. For example, you can serve a curry with rice one night and on a spud with extra veggies the next. These are the types of meals that you can freeze for another busy week or enjoy leftovers for lunch.

Bulk it up - Add canned legumes such as lentils, chickpeas or kidney beans to your dishes to increase the nutritional density and to make the meals go further. I usually add leftover veggies and dried lentils to a classic beef vindaloo to bulk it up and make it go further, you can do this with any curry or casserole.

Quick and healthy - Each week I always cook a 'quick dish' - usually a stir-fry. It takes no time to chop up a heap of your favourite veggies and add a source of protein such as chicken, prawns, fish or pork to any stir-fry. If you thinly slice your chicken or pork you can throw all of the ingredients together which will take no time to cook. There is no need to buy pre-prepared sauces just use your pantry basics. My favourite is a little garlic, honey and soy sauce. To balance your meal simply add some rice or hokkien noodles that just need stir-frying to prepare.

These are just a few of my tips and I can’t wait to share more…

If you have some more tips that keep you healthy while leading a busy life, I would love to hear them!