You don't have javascript enabled! Please download Google Chrome! BAKED LEMON & HONEY CHICKEN WITH FREEKAH PILAF - The Wholehearted Cook


Dani VennMeat Lover

I was recently asked by one of my lovely Instagram followers if I am a vegan? I do realise I post a lot of #plantbased photos and recipes, but the answer is no. If my mum’s roast chicken or Meredith Dairy goat’s cheese didn’t exist then perhaps I’d consider it? But I definitely think we all need to reduce the amount of animal based products we consume, not just for our own health but also for the planet. If you haven’t watched Cowspiracy, pretty please check it out as it illustrates just how much damage pollution from animal agriculture is causing, more than the pollution of all fossil fuels combined! But, call me a hypocrite, for now I still am a meat-eater, however there are things that I always take into consideration when buying meat and animal based products that I thought might help you too!

LOOK OUT FOR LOCAL: Try and find a good butcher that sources their meat direct from local farms, or at least can tell you where their meat comes from. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, if your butcher can’t tell you where their meat is from then I’d try and find a butcher who can. Farmer’s Markets are a mecca for local and ethically raised meat and dairy products. At first prices may seem higher, but think about what you are getting for your money, usually a superior tasting product that’s hormone and antibiotic free, has been raised on green pastures and is supporting local farmers, I’d call that value for money. Shout out to my local Hurstbridge Farmer’s Market and to Craig from Little Cattle Creek Co who is my fave local butcher in Coldstream.

GO FOR GRASS FED: Cows are supposed to eat grass but majority of farmed beef in Australia eat grass for most of their life and then are finished off on grain to fatten up. I understand why they do this as it increases the meat yield plus makes the meat fattier and arguably tastier (think Wagyu) but when animals are finished on grain it changes the omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acid ratio meaning that beef fed on grain contains higher omega 6 and lower omega 3 than beef fed on grass (check out my recent post about vegetable oils and fat). To stay healthy we should be eating more omega 3 than 6. If you can afford it, then I’d suggest buying grass fed beef where you can and generally eat smaller amounts of meat.

BUY ORGANIC: When you mention the word organic, the first thing a lot of people think of is expensive. But there’s a way that you can buy organic meat that won’t make you take a second mortgage out on your home! Look for cheaper cuts, like chicken drumstick or wings, beef chuck or cheeks and load up on bones for broth. Often when you look for cheaper cuts, they require long and slow cooking, which is great coming into the cooler months, and also you can generally make a massive batch and freeze. These days organic meat is available at the supermarket and I always look out for when it has a special discount sticker, then pop it into the freezer or use straight away. Sometimes you can get an organic chicken for the same price as factory farmed, and I know which one I’d prefer! If you’re in Melbourne you can also buy direct from Cherry Tree Organics who raise their own animals on their farm, and if you buy in bulk they have very reasonable prices.

STICK TO SUSTAINABLE SEAFOOD:  Buying seafood can be tricky, but one of the best thing about buying fresh seafood in Australia is legally it has to tell you where the seafood has been sourced, which is unlike meat and I wonder why this is? So the number one rule is always buy Australian. But then you have to take into consideration the species and if it has been caught in a sustainable way, this is where it can get tricky. Fortunately there is a great free app you can download called the Sustainable Seafood Guide which is very handy when you are facing a conundrum of what to buy at the fish shop.

I’ve put together a recipe for chicken drumsticks, one of my favourite cuts of chicken as they are cheap, tasty and come to life using some simple ingredients like lemon, honey and garlic to create a family-friendly meal. I’ve used freekah in this dish, but if you can’t get your hands on any or you’re think what the freak is freekah?! you can substitute with any other wholegrain like brown rice, quinoa or even barley. It’s nice to swap up your wholegrains, they all have different flavours and textures as well as nutritional benefits so if you can try something new. I hope you enjoy!


Serves 5

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 45 minutes



½ cup lemon juice

¼ cup local honey

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

1 teaspoon of salt

10 organic chicken drumsticks

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 brown onion, sliced thinly

1 cup freekah, rinsed

1 teaspoon allspice

1 cinnamon stick or ½ ground teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup roughly chopped parsley or whatever fresh herbs you have


A few good handfuls of washed and chopped dark leafy greens like kale, spinach or silverbeet


Preheat fan-forced oven at 180 degrees

Combine 1 cup of water with lemon juice, honey, thyme, garlic and salt in a medium sized saucepan and bring to a simmer, allowing the flavours to infuse for about 10 minutes.

Add chicken drumsticks into a baking dish and pour over the warm stock. Place in the oven and bake for 30 – 40 minutes, turning the drumsticks once so that they brown evenly. In the last 5 minutes of cooking, add chopped up greens and stir through.

Meanwhile, add olive oil to the saucepan over medium heat, add onion and fry until lightly golden. Add freekah, all spice, cinnamon and a little salt, give the mixture a stir then add 2 cups of water, when water starts to simmer turn heat to low, cover saucepan with a lid and allow the water to evaporate. This should take about 20 minutes. Turn off heat and allow grains to sit with the lid on for a further 10 minutes. Before serving stir through chopped parsley.

To serve I like to remove the drumsticks from the baking tray then add the freekah into the baking dish so that it soaks up all the yummy juices, give it a good mix then place the chicken drumsticks back on top and let your family dig in!

TIP: To get some extra veg in their you could add in some carrots, parsnips or sweet potato into the oven when baking your chicken and load up your dinner with these too!


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