Jo’s Story

Hi, thanks for stopping by! Here’s a little bit about me, and why I started on this ‘quirky cooking’ journey…

My mum taught me to cook from a very young age, using basic ingredients, and cooking ‘from scratch’.  We gathered food from the markets, our backyard garden, and local producers, and cooked mostly with what was in season and locally grown. We still used some refined ingredients and sugars in our homemade baking (and ate way too much of them!) but I learnt a lot about cooking with whole foods, and am thankful for all mum taught me in my early years. 

When I grew up and started my own family, I worked hard to cook healthy, delicious meals – although I didn’t quite understand at first that healthy eating is more than just ‘homemade’. I ground my own grains, baked my own breads, cakes and biscuits, cooked with fresh veggies, and tried to avoid junk food – but my cooking still included plenty of sugar and refined oils and flours, and I didn’t realise this was damaging our health. 

Despite my best efforts at healthy eating, I always seemed to be fighting exhaustion, headaches, food reactions, recurring colds, tummy upsets, skin issues and low weight problems. My kids had similar health issues, and my last two babies struggled with breastfeeding and cried constantly. I eventually decided it was food intolerances that were the problem.

My first attempt to ‘fix’ things was to cut out the foods that didn’t agree with us.

We got rid of dairy, wheat, sugar, and refined foods as much as possible. This seemed to help, and we saw improvements in our health. After eating this way for a couple of years I really wanted to share what I was learning, so I decided to start a blog. Quirky Cooking was born in December 2008, and quickly grew into a ‘go-to’ site for allergy friendly, healthy recipes, tips and meal plans.

In May 2014 I released my first cookbook, Quirky Cooking, which helped many people with cooking for allergies and intolerances, and taught how to substitute ingredients to suit their individual diets. It became a best seller, and is still a great favourite with Thermomix cooks!

Quirky Cooking by Jo Whitton

However, in July that year we had a major setback with my son Isaac’s health.

He plunged almost overnight into depression, anxiety and severe OCD. (You can read his story here.) After much research we realised the importance of healing the gut as opposed to just avoiding problematic foods, so we began the GAPS diet. Within a couple of weeks we saw improvements. Within six months he was speaking to large crowds about how to heal from anxiety and OCD. Within less than a year he was off all medication. 

Isaac Whitton, speaking on anxiety and OCD

Isaac, sharing his story

I realised that all this time we had just been treading water, avoiding foods that made us feel bad, and eventually Isaac’s ‘bucket’ overflowed. 

What we really should have been doing was dealing with the root cause of poor gut health!

We spent a couple of years working through the GAPS diet, and are now back to eating wholesome, traditional whole foods that have stood the test of time, and are perfectly suited to building up and nourishing the human body. How did our society stray so far away from these foods that have always been the mainstay of life and health? It seems crazy to me now, and I’m so glad we found our way back to eating the way our bodies were designed to eat.

Whole food cooking at Quirky Cooking


Quirky Cooking, meanwhile, has grown up! 

Quirky Cooking is now more than just a blog – it is a beautiful, supportive community which I look after with my good friend, whole food chef and food writer Fouad Kassab. (You can read his story here.)

Alongside the blog, we have a podcast called A Quirky Journey, a lively Facebook community (which includes the main page plus chat groups and private support groups), the Quirky Cooking for Gut Health online program, and our best-selling cookbook, Life-Changing Food. We run gut health retreats and seminars around Australia, and love getting to know our Quirky Cooking tribe both online and in person. You can also find us on Instagram at Quirky Cooking and Life-Changing Food.

Thank you for joining us at Quirky Cooking, we hope you find here the help and encouragement you need on your journey to good health.

Jo xx

Jo Whitton and Fouad Kassab, authors of Life-Changing Food