Sophie Manolas is a clinical nutritionist, whose country childhood taught her the importance of the home vegetable patch and fresh produce from an early age. She was inspired to study Nutritional Medicine after a long struggle with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome — a change in diet proved to be the only effective treatment. After qualifying as a clinical nutritionist, Sophie established her own practice, specializing in women’s health and hormonal issues, and has achieved great success with her down-to-earth approach and comprehensive understanding of how we can use food as our medicine. Her own property is established on permaculture principles, with Sophie and her partner growing and producing the majority of their food themselves.









heal yourself from the inside out









First published 2016

Exisle Publishing Pty Ltd
‘Moonrising’, Narone Creek Road, Wollombi, NSW 2325, Australia
P.O. Box 60-490, Titirangi, Auckland 0642, New Zealand

Copyright © 2016 in text: Sophie Manolas

Sophie Manolas asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.

All rights reserved. Except for short extracts for the purpose of review, no part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, whether electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission from the publisher.

A CiP record for this book is available from the National Library of Australia.

Print ISBN 978-1-925335-16-3
ePub ISBN 978-1-77559-304-1

Designed by Tracey Gibbs








This book is a general guide only and should never be a substitute for the skill, knowledge and experience of a qualified medical professional dealing with the facts, circumstances and symptoms of a particular case. The nutritional, medical and health information presented in this book is based on the research, training and professional experience of the author, and is true and complete to the best of their knowledge. However, this book is intended only as an informative guide; it is not intended to replace or countermand the advice given by the reader’s personal physician. Because each person and situation is unique, the author and the publisher urge the reader to check with a qualified healthcare professional before using any procedure where there is a question as to its appropriateness. The author, publisher and their distributors are not responsible for any adverse effects or consequences resulting from the use of the information in this book. It is the responsibility of the reader to consult a physician or other qualified healthcare professional regarding their personal care. This book contains references to products that may not be available everywhere. The intent of the information provided is to be helpful; however, there is no guarantee of results associated with the information provided.

Photo credits

Copyright © in photographs as listed below:

Tracey Gibbs: cover photo
Sophie Manolas: pp. 161, 167, 190
Troy Roberts: pp. ii

Shutterstock: pp. viii, 6–7, 8, 13, 16, 18–19, 20, 22, 28, 31, 34, 38–9, 40, 42, 45, 48, 53, 56, 58–9, 60, 62, 65, 67, 70, 74–5, 76, 78, 82, 84, 86, 88, 91, 94, 96, 100, 102–3, 104, 106, 110, 112, 115, 117, 120, 123, 125, 128, 131, 134, 136, 139, 142, 144–5, 146, 148, 150, 153, 156, 158, 160, 162, 164, 166, 168, 170, 171, 174–5, 176, 178, 180, 182, 184, 186, 189, 191, 194, 196, 198–9

Kat Wray: pp. 10, 12, 15, 24, 26, 33, 37, 47, 50, 55, 64, 69, 72, 81, 87, 90, 93, 99, 107, 114, 119, 122, 127, 132, 138, 141, 152, 155, 172, 179, 188, 193, 197






For Susan Chapman, Keaton Manolas and Troy Roberts for their unconditional love and support.



Sophie is extremely down to earth, with ‘tried and true’approaches (quite literally) to maintaining a healthy and yummy lifestyle. Thank you for all your wisdom — offering organic, healthy and realistic options for me to adopt in my everyday life!

Eliza C.


I had an interest in and respect for the role of nutrition in health, but I was lost and confused with all the information out there and felt I was getting unhealthily fixated on certain ideas. I am so thankful I came across Soph! She has such deep knowledge that is balanced with the recognition of the influence of other lifestyle factors on nutrition for health. The insights she offers consistently help me step back and see the bigger picture, and present so many ‘ah but of course’ moments. The information and strategies she offers are always presented in a very accessible, balanced and realistic manner. And you can’t help but be enthused by her happy, energetic passion! I have limitless appreciation for her, for the care and time she has given me. I treasure any titbit of knowledge I get from Soph (her Facebook and Instagram in particular are amazing!) and this book will be no exception.

Josh R.


Consumed by an abundance of free health advice offered on the Internet, I often find myself confused by every opinion I see. Luckily, after my first consultation with Sophie Manolas, I immediately warmed to her friendly, non-pretentious take on health and nutrition. I now seek out Sophie’s advice on a regular basis and would highly recommend others do the same.

Romain D.


I tell you what … [Sophie is] the food goddess! Informative in a sense that people like me can understand food and its benefit in simple terms. [She’s] a legend!

Cherie R.


[Sophie] changed my life, [she is] one in a million. Thank you for all of your time and effort; I look forward to my healthy active life ahead.

Nathan N.


Sophie Manolas is a wonderful talent who has helped me on multiple levels. Her writing is engaging, extremely funny and personal. The woman behind The Essential Edible Pharmacy has a heart of gold, she is down to earth and truly cares for people around her.

I am so pleased that she has published her first book, it is a huge acquisition for society. Sophie is a nutritionist who provides her readers with thought-through recipes and gives us an insight to why certain foods can change our health in both positive and negative ways.

Emma H.




Rocket (arugula)

Nin’s Zesty Zoodles


Spinach, Sweet Potato and Quinoa Burgers

Mustard greens

Peppery Pesto



Kale Chopped Salad


Simple Special Stir-fry


Cauliflower Mash

Cauliflower Fried Rice

Brussels sprouts

Honey Roasted Brussels Sprouts





Carrot Cake


Fish Tacos with Radish Salad

Beetroot (beets)

Home-cured Beetroot (beets) Salad


Parsnip Chips (fries)


Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

Sweet Potato

Very Simple Spanish Omelette


Chickpeas (garbanzo beans)

Harissa Chickpeas (garbanzo beans)


Refried Beans


Wholesome Lentil Dahl

Green beans

Thai Bean Salad



Spanish Baked Eggs


DIY Sprouts

Zucchini (courgettes)

Stuffed Zucchini (courgettes)

Pumpkin (winter squash)

Comfort Salad


Chocolate Avocado Mousse

Capsicum (pepper)

Super Seed Antioxidant Salad

Eggplant (aubergine)

Pan-fried Eggplant (aubergine) with Tahini Dressing


Chicken, Mushroom and Ginger Hotpot


Lemon Mustard Green Salad with Poached Egg



Chimpdad’s Genuine Sri Lankan Fish Curry


Torta Gianduia


Gluten-free Bread


Chilli Chocolate Pie

Brazil nuts

Decadent Brazil Nut Truffles

Cashew nuts

Vegan Lemon Cheesecake

Macadamia nuts

Baked Apples with Macadamia Nut Crumble

Pistachio nuts

Raw Turkish Delight

Chia seeds

Ginger and Pear Chia Puddings


Flax Crackers


Chilli Maple Pepitas

Sesame seeds


Sunflower seeds

Sunflower Seed Crusted Lamb

Poppy seeds

Crunchy Poppy Seed Gremolata



Blueberry Pancakes


Fig, Thyme and Goat’s Cheese Tart

Kiwi fruit

Kiwi Quinoa Porridge


Prawn (shrimp) and Papaya Salad


Turkish Salad


Strawberry and Salted Coconut Semifreddo


Grapefruit and Fennel Salad


Pisang Goreng


Gluten, Dairy and Refined Sugar-free Cherry Cake


Barbecued Pineapple with Chilli and Lime


Preserved Lemons



Japanese Carrot and Ginger Dressing




Turmeric Milk

Chilli (chili peppers)

Bajan Seasoning


Refreshing Mint Mojito Pops


Raw Vegan Cinnamon and Chocolate Cake


Watermelon and Basil Granita


Garlicky Greens

Fennel seeds

Digestive Fennel Tea







Good nutrition is the cornerstone of good health. Regularly eating various, abundantly nutritious foods is the single most important thing you can do to prevent risk factors for major diseases, as well as looking and feeling your absolute best throughout life. And it tastes incredible too! Eating lots of ‘living’ foods full of important macro and micronutrients makes you feel alive and is one of the most valuable things you can do for yourself, and teach your family and children about. Eating well is the starting block for anything we do in our lives. As Grandma always says, ‘health is wealth’, and there is plainly nothing more important than that. But this needn’t mean routine drudgery or a boring diet; eating really, really well can be a tasty adventure. This book is designed to educate and inspire you to get into the kitchen and eat your way to being the greatest, healthiest and most sustainable version of yourself.


For millennia, people have been using medicinal foods to influence their health. More recently, evidence-based research has been able to break down the exact nutrient elements of foods in order study precisely what the mechanism is that contributes to the prevention and management of human diseases and ailments. What we now know about the influence diet can have on health is mind-blowing, and the best part is that nutritional sciences are advancing all the time.

What you put in your mouth can have an enormous influence on the digestive tract and the balance of healthy gut flora, which has been scientifically proven to affect all kinds of conditions from mental health to immune response (80 per cent of our immunity comes from the gut) and how you break down and digest your food, making its nutrients available for the body to use. Numerous studies into the prevention of cancer have pointed to naturally occurring nutrients in foods, and it is widely scientifically acknowledged that vitamin C can have a huge effect on the immune system, as can the allicin compound in garlic. Vitamin A is proven to be essential for great skin. The beauty of these nutrients occurring abundantly in our commonly available foods is that often, nutrients are packaged together and work synergistically to have positive effects on the body.

Whether you have an ailment you’d like to manage with the help of nutrition, or you’re just looking to live your best life full of energy and vital health, nutrition is always the starting point.


I am a clinically trained nutritionist fanatically passionate about food: the growing and production of food, the failures and triumphs and alchemy of cooking food, and most importantly, of course, the consumption of food!

After completing my qualifications, I now manage my own nutrition clinic. As well as my clinical clients, I also develop corporate wellness programs and run workshops for different community groups, from new mums to the elderly.

My own experiences with health through nutrition have been life-long, growing up mainly as a vegetarian and seeing how one kind of diet affects people differently nutritionally, and then struggling with the symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and managing my condition easily with some basic dietary changes despite conventional medical treatment detrimentally affecting my health (with no reduction in symptoms). Nutritional science is constantly evolving. Every day new breakthroughs are being made and developed in human health and it is not only my job but my passion to keep up to date with the latest developments, as well as researching and debunking new diet trends and weighing up their pros and cons for the individual. What we now know about human health and its relationship with diet is phenomenal, and there is nothing I would rather spend my time doing than reading up on developments and analyzing the latest studies.

The Essential Edible Pharmacy?

The Essential Edible Pharmacy takes a broad and comprehensive look at commonly available foods and examines how they can contribute to maintaining great health and preventing the onset of disease. This is aimed at simplifying the process of making the best dietary choices, and to show you that all whole foods, in their own way, are ‘superfoods’. The book identifies the available nutrients in these common foods and what conditions they can be helpful for. Treat this book as a guide on the most nutrient-dense common foods and exactly why they are so good.

The foods selected herein represent the most widely available foods at local supermarkets or growers’ markets all over the western world. The aim is to fully understand the nutritional value of easily recognized foods and to guide you towards eating the humbler vegetables again because their nutritional power is phenomenal! We all know leafy greens are great for us (and I explain exactly how), but it is mind-blowing how nutrient-dense plain old green beans are. How incredibly nourishing root vegetables are. And I explain the best way to prepare the foods in order to get the greatest nutrient value from them, as well as how foods can be combined to increase their nutrient content.

My own experiences with these foods are documented in the book: my absolute love affair with cooking and the different treatments of food, learning about how the cooking process can enhance or deplete the nutrient content of the food, and growing my own vegetables in my permaculture garden at home including interdependent vegetable crops and animals (such as chickens and Muscovy ducks), which is self-sustainable and for the most part is where my partner and I source our food. This is, in my opinion as a nutritionist, an extremely important factor in gaining the highest nutritional value from food, and I would love for food production to be a seed within the minds of everyone who reads this book. But it doesn’t have to be that complex; my philosophy is always to grow what you can, especially herbs, which are a cinch to grow (for the record, I’ve grown carrots and celery in pots on an apartment balcony), but it is perfectly okay to source your fresh fruits and vegetables from the growers’ market or supermarket too.


The Essential Edible Pharmacy is an easy-to-understand look at the differing nutrient profiles of common foods, walking through separate fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, herbs and spices, grouped into classifications for ease of reference. Each ingredient is highlighted individually with what makes it special, and a simple recipe is included for each ingredient. You can use this information in any way you wish: hopefully it inspires you to incorporate at least a few of these wonderful ingredients in your everyday cooking, if not all of them!

As you make your way through the recipes, here are a few points to keep in mind.

Always adjust the amounts for seasonings to your own particular taste.

Where possible it’s best to use organic ingredients, including fruits, vegetables, honey, eggs and meat.

When buying maple syrup, make sure it is 100 per cent maple syrup (not ‘maple-flavoured’ syrup).

Eggs, meat and fish should ideally be pastured, free range or sustainably sourced. This is not only for the wellbeing of the animal, but it also has an effect on the nutrient content of the food. For example, pastured eggs typically have greater levels of omega-3 fatty acids than their pellet-fed caged counterparts.

Use fresh herbs and fresh lemon juice when you can.

Oven temperatures
°Celsius (C) °Fahrenheit (F)
120 250
150 300
180 355
200 400
220 450
Volume equivalents
Metric Imperial
20 ml ½ fl oz
60 ml 2 fl oz
80 ml 3 fl oz
125 ml 4½ fl oz
160 ml 5½ fl oz
180 ml 6 fl oz
250 ml 9 fl oz
375 ml 13 fl oz
500 ml 1½ fl oz
750 ml 1½ pints
1 litre 1¾ pints
Weight equivalents
Metric Imperial
10 g ½ oz
50 g 2 oz
80 g 3 oz
100 g 3½ oz
150 g 5 oz
175 g 6 oz
250 g 9 oz
375 g 13 oz
500 g 1 lb
750 g 1½ lb
1 kg 2 lb
Cup and spoon conversions
1 teaspoon = 5 ml
1 tablespoon = 20 ml
¼ cup = 60 ml
⅓ cup = 80 ml
½ cup = 125 ml
⅔ cup = 160 ml
¾ cup = 180 ml
1 cup = 250 ml

The following standard baking tins have been used for the recipes in this book:

Cake – 20 cm (8 in.) diameter

Tart – 25 cm (10 in.) diameter

Loaf – 28 × 13 cm (11 × 5 in.)





Leafy greens will save your life.

There is almost no ailment that a daily dose of leafy greens won’t help remedy in the long term. It was a long-standing joke back in my university days that the first dietary prescription for almost every client was ‘increase leafy greens’… it is one of the most powerful dietary bases for a preventative diet.

When choosing your leafy greens, no matter the variety, look for bright, fresh, vital colouring, and leaves that are slightly ‘crunchy’. Limp leaves will have started to oxidize and won’t contain the same high levels of antioxidants and nutrients.

I have found leafy greens the easiest perennials to grow at home, some even in pots.

The bitter varieties — rocket (arugula), chicory (witlof/Belgian endive), dandelion, radish and mustard greens — are invaluable to your health, aiding digestion by increasing hydrochloric acid levels in the stomach, reducing heartburn and aiding the second phase of liver detoxification. They are also an essential addition to a self-sustaining organic permaculture garden, as they deter pests and vermin from eating your crops. Talk about multi-talented.


the benefits

healthy reproductive system, pre-conception & pregnancy


immune function


cancer protective


skin health


Let’s start things right with my old friend rocket. Rocket is a gorgeous perennial leafy green of the brassica family that I eat almost every day, both because it is hugely abundant and overgrown in my garden, and because it is a superstar ingredient packed head-to-toe with essential nutrients.

Rocket is a peppery, slightly bitter leafy green, and if the taste is a little strong for your preference, try eating the younger leaves. The more mature the rocket grows and the larger and darker green the leaf, the more bitter and peppery the taste.

A powerhouse of nutrition, rocket contains beta-carotene (the precursor to vitamin A), vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, and B vitamins including folate (vitamin B9), which is critical for healthy conception and the early stages of pregnancy and is essential for the activation of its other friends amongst the B-group vitamins.

Rocket is also very high in antioxidants responsible for cancer prevention, particularly in the prevention of cancers of the reproductive organs like cervical, ovarian, breast and prostate cancers.


2 large zucchini (courgettes)

juice of 1 lemon, but have another ready, just in case

sea salt and pepper, to taste

2 red chillies (chili peppers), thinly sliced (deseeded if you prefer it not too hot)

3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely grated

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus a little extra for sautéing

100 g (3½ oz) parmesan cheese or 50 g (3 tablespoons) nutritional yeast

100 g (3½ oz) rocket (arugula) leaves — tender baby leaves are best for this recipe

Nin (Nate) is my eldest brother. He and his wife are easily the best cooks who ever walked this Earth. I’m talking about the kind of kitchen wizards who butter toast and it is the greatest thing you ever put near your face. Nin has never cooked anything that ever tasted bad, even when we were kids — he couldn’t if he tried. His skills are definitely not genetic, because I can cook exactly half as well as he can.

This is my attempt at healthifying his incredibly simple chilli (chili pepper), rocket (arugula) and lemon pasta. His version uses traditional wheat pasta (which he makes himself) and a bucket of parmesan cheese as big as his head. My version uses a little more restraint and a serious increase in vegetable content. Both taste amazing. Rocket adds an irreplaceable peppery freshness to the dish.


First, make ‘spaghetti’ out of the zucchini. This can be done with a commercially available spiralizer; alternatively, slice the zucchini into long, thin strips to resemble ‘noodles’ or pasta with a kitchen machine or mandolin, or with a vegetable peeler and a light hand.

Next, in a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, salt, pepper, chilli, garlic and half the olive oil. Taste often and adjust if desired. When the four main ingredients of oil, lemon, chilli and garlic are in the right balance, this basic dressing will really sing. It shouldn’t be too mild or oily, not too tangy garlic, not too zingy lemon … to use a Goldilocks cliché, each must be just right. If it doesn’t taste great with your finger dipped in the bowl, it won’t taste amazing as a completed dish. Now, warm your zucchini noodles in a hot pan with a little oil to stop them burning (1 tablespoon will be more than enough). Once warm but not cooked to the point of falling apart (they should have the texture of al dente pasta), take the pan off the heat, add the dressing and stir through. While still off the heat, stir through the parmesan cheese, then add rocket leaves and stir through again. Ensure all ingredients are very well combined.

Serve while still warm.


the benefits

healthy bones and joints


energy production


heart health




A regular nibble of spinach helps so many conditions in some way, due to its sheer abundance of nutrients and the body systems they are indicated in assisting (i.e. all of them).