Want your child to perform better?

Hot of the press today the evidence that shows if your child’s school puts in a breakfast club or you can provide a healthy breakfast at home they may well perform twice as well at school.

Its a no brainer Australia. Stop serving trash to your children in school canteens, sort the rubbish so called standards and guidelines out. They are open to the vaguest of interpretations.

Do it before your double burden obesity and malnutrition brings your health services to its knees. Its really not rocket science, education, productive policy leadership, enforcement and off course award and celebration. Do it by bringing your communities with you rather than forcing it upon them but do it before its too late.

Healthy Breakfast the evidence – READ ON

Easy Summer Pudding – for kids to make

There are some really lush fruits coming into the greengrocer shops and farmers markets at the moment. In just the month that we have been living here in Melbourne the price of Raspberries have dropped by nearly 50%.

The recipe below is a very simple one. Its not mine but comes actually from a recipe book produced by a former Secretary of State for Education in the UK. Its a shame that it takes MPs who happen to just care to get food education on the agenda when actually it should be every MPs agenda.

We certainly know if you have the skills to cook you are more likely to buy the better choices and prepare food from scratch.

Anyway have a go at this simple pudding during the forthcoming Summer and enjoy.




Box Hill and Lilydale Community Precinct

Fantastic spending some time at Box Hill this afternoon. What and exciting TAFE environment that I was lucky to be a guest chef dinner representing the Cotswolds and South West England at back in 2007.

Today we brainstormed some ideas based on my UK work and the knowledge Box HIll has of vocational training and its communities.

Then we got talking about Lilydale Community Education Precinct. Wow – be fantastic to run the Bistro there and inspire the childrens food activities and offers. What an idea!

Here is their video and glorious vision for it:


Stir up Sunday – A Christmas Pudding Delight

The most amazing time of year is upon us again – just so fast!

Stir up Sunday is the traditional day (the last Sunday before the start of Advent) to gather the family in the kitchen and get together to prepare one of the most traditional Christmas delights.

A great combination of dried ingredients and fruits all mixed together and slowly cooked ready for the big day. The mixture is stirred from East to West representing the journey of the Three Wise men as they travelled to find the baby Jesus. Upon each stir you make a wish!

Below is my recipe  that we have utilised for many years and a tradition in the Rees household. Its a pleasure to share with you in Australia this year.

flaming christmas pudding2


From ‘The Cotswold Chef – A Year in Recipes and Landscapes’

Portions: makes approx five 2pint pudding basin size puddings


225g local self-raising flour

450g artisan white breadcrumbs

450g suet

450g dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon allspice

325g currants

650g raisins

175g mixed peel

50g ground almonds

Grated rind of 2 lemons

¼ grated nutmeg

8 “Cotswold Legbar” or other local eggs

2 tablespoons black treacle

Juice of 2 Oranges

1 grated carrot

1 grated cooking apple

3 cans of Guinness or bottles of Ale or other local beers!


Mix all ingredients together in large bowl and allow to soak overnight. Note: when adding the alcohol only add enough to create a mixture that is of dropping consistency, but remember that the dried fruit will soak up some of the liquid overnight so it doesn’t matter too much if the mixture is a little wet.

  1. Divide the mixture between 5 buttered pudding basins filling to an inch from the top. Place buttered greaseproof paper cut to fit the top, wrap in either muslin or tin foil and tie ready for steaming.
  2. Steam for 10 hours. Re-heat on Christmas day by steaming for a further 5 hours. The key to a dark, moist and rich pudding is in the steaming – the longer you can do it the better it becomes. 

Youth Mental Health – #DontLetouryoungdown

I was lucky enough today to spend some time with the CEO of one of Australias leading organisations dealing with Youth Mental Health.

Its an issue so close to my heart in the UK ,where with a variety of projects and amazing support and partnership from organisations like Barnwood House  we have been able to focus on people and community strengths to overcome challenges.

The key is to listen to an individual and use strengths to go on and do better and to search out solutions to problems you may well face.

1 in 5 x 15 – 17 year olds in the survey below show they are at risk of a serious mental health issue. Yep that’s huge.

Alongside People and Places Gloucestershire and indeed Barnwood and The Wiggly Worm we developed a COGS solution that takes individuals away from being continual consumers of mental health services but into careers and other parts of our lives so many take naturally.

1 in 4 people at some point suffer from mental health issues – you, your friend, your family, your child. Lets make a change and start to talk and listen and do things better. In particular lets not let our young down.

The survey below is interesting reading:

Youth Survey Mental Health Report 2015




QuoLux – Leadership on a global scale

Thanks to fab recommendations by Chris Creed from Creed Food Service in Gloucestershire I have found myself since March 2015 taking part in a high level leadership programme. Currently I am 2/3 of the way into it and I have to say I’m finding it awesome. I am inspired by the presenters and indeed the amazing cohort of talented professionals taking part in the same cohort. Its a real privilege to have access and insight into such bright and leading minds. The ongoing network is starting to define and reshape my strategic thinking whilst enriching my desire for social change.

The development programme #LEAD is  created, developed, reviewed, organised and delivered by QUOLUX

I’m very lucky that they have allowed me to continue the course having moved to Australia and thanks to technology , huge patience from the group and amazing technical and practical support from Rachel  last night I took part in my first long distance interactive #LEAD session.

More to follow on #LEAD at another time but do check it out and lets see it grow into a global project developing inspiring leaders in every corner of the world.

Here is the laptop all set and talking with Brickhampton Golf Course Conference Facility, Gloucestershire.


quolox QuoLux Hi-Res jpeg

The History of Brussel Sprouts

Some great information from “Eat the Seasons” on a product so lush in the Winter but available all year around and off course a favourite on the UK Christmas Menus! So different from here in Australia in the Summer Decembers…

Brussel sprouts are a somewhat divisive food, although most people who claim to hate them have probably been scarred by encounters with horrible overcooked monstrosities in their formative years.

When prepared with a little care, sprouts are a wonderfully satisfying vegetable with a delicious, fresh, green flavour and just the right amount of crunch. They can be served simply as a side vegetable (perhaps with some chopped chestnuts or a sprinkling of sesame seeds), added to casseroles or sliced and stir-fried (try them with beef and oyster sauce).


Some sources trace sprouts back to ancient China whilst others claim they originated much later and were grown in the area around Brussels in the thirteenth century. It is known that they were not introduced to France and England until late in the eighteenth century.

Today they are eaten in N. America and Australia but remain a much more common sight on dining tables in N. Europe, and Britain in particular.


Brussels sprouts belong to the Gemmifera group of the cabbage family (Brassica oleracea). The sprouts grow as head buds around a central stem.


Cruciferous vegetables – such as sprouts, broccoli and cabbage – are linked with a wide range of health benefits. Brussels are a good source of vitamins A and C, iron, potassium and fibre.


BUYING Look for firm, compact sprouts with green unwithered leaves. The base end discolours quickly after harvesting and will often be slightly yellow-brown but should not be dark. Fresh sprouts have no odour or a delicate smell. Those sold on the stalk are likely to stay in better condition for longer. Choose small, evenly-sized sprouts for ease of cooking.

STORING Sprouts should be kept cool at all times and eaten before the leaves discolour or they develop a strong smell.

PREPARING Soak in lukewarm water for 10 minutes to draw out any insects in the leaves, then rinse under running water. Trim the ends but not right up to the base or the leaves will fall off during cooking. Remove any tired looking outer leaves.

If cooking sprouts whole, cut crosses in the bases around a quarter deep to help the centre cook at the same rate as the surface. Simmer uncovered in an equal volume of salted water (alternatively steam or slice and stir-fry). Overcooked and undercooked sprouts are unpleasant so it’s important to check for doneness by inserting a knife tip into the stem end and removing the sprouts when they’re just tender (typically between 6 and 12 minutes when simmering; the off-putting sulphurous cabbage smell is a sign of overcooking). Drain, return to the hot pan and shake for a few seconds to remove excess water. Serve immediately (the flavour suffers if sprouts are kept warm for long).

Pear and Almond Tart – a Rob Rees MBE DL Classic


The Pear is a lovely fruit, delicious served in a sweet dessert such as in the recipe below or as an accompaniment to savoury food, such as strong cheeses.

Pears are very similar to Apples in looks and shape; however there are a couple of ways to distinguish them apart. The pear has a grainy textured flesh which is produced by small clusters of lignified cells. Apparently if dropped into a bowl of water a pear will sink where as an apple will float! Pear wood is often used as preferred firewood as it produces a very aromatic smoke ideal for smoking meats and fish.

Ingredients for the filling

1        sweet pastry tart case, blind baked

250g  soft unsalted butter

250g  caster sugar

2        egg whites

250g  ground almonds

100g  plain flour

3 or 4 pears




Begin by making the almond filling. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Slowly add the egg whites bit by bit until well combined. Fold in the ground almonds and plain flour. Mix everything together well.

Peel the pears, cut in half and remove the core. Arrange the pears in the tart case. Spoon over the almond mix and bake in a pre heated oven (180°C) for about 30 minutes until pears are soft and the almond mix is light golden in colour. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Dust with icing sugar and serve with some freshly whipped cream.

Copy Right Rob Rees MBE DL – www.robrees.com.au