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

My friend Fouad Kassab (food writer and whole food chef) and I wrote a cookbook together showing how we eat, and how healing food changed our lives… You can find our Life-Changing Food Cookbook here!Life-Changing Food, Quirky Cooking

Quirky Cooking, meanwhile, has grown up! 

Quirky Cooking is now much more than just a recipe website – it’s a vibrant, supportive community where you can find the resources you need to improve your health, and a friendly group of like-minded people to keep you company on your health journey. 

Listen in to A Quirky Journey podcast, join in conversations on the Quirky Cooking Facebook page and Instagram, as well as in the Quirky Cooking Chat Group and the Quirky GAPS group (for those working through the GAPS protocol). There’s also an online program, Quirky Cooking for Gut Health, to coach you through healing with food with recipes based on the GAPS diet. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and need help planning healthy meals for the week, subscribe to the Quirky Cooking newsletter and receive weekly meal plans with links to recipes in your inbox. And there’s an awesome Quirky Online Store which stocks my favourite healthy cooking and healthy lifestyle ‘must-haves’, including cookware, ingredients, cookbooks, kitchenware, and more.

I also run cooking workshops, health retreats, seminars, and classes around Australia and overseas (keep an eye on my Events page), and offer personal mentoring with tailored meal plans and recipe collections for those facing diet challenges. (Contact me here for more info.)

Thank you for being a part of this community, I hope you find the help and encouragement you need on your journey to good health!

Jo xx

Quirky Cooking menus and meal plans

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