Australian ‘bush tukka’ superfoods you need to know about

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Forget goji berries and quinoa, it’s time to get acquainted with Australian bush superfoods like gubinge (aka billygoat plum), lily pilly berries and lemon myrtle.

While you were busy slurping down acai bowls, with berries flown in from the Amazon, ‘Bush Tukka Woman’ Samantha Martin was penning her cookbook Bush Tukka to introduce Aussies to the Indigenous superfoods in their own backyard.

“Bush tukka is finally being recognised for its natural nutrition and health benefits,” Samantha says. “Our people were very healthy.”

“When I was a kid I watched cooking shows instead of cartoons. We grew up in poverty – there was never anything in the fridge. Our way of eating was to go out and fish and then be creative with how we would cook the barramundi or whatever it was we caught.

“Now I want to introduce bush tukka in a gourmet manner,” she says.

Top 3 bush superfoods

1. Gubinge (billygoat plum)

A single billygoat plum contains an average of 2907mg of vitamin C, compared to just 53mg in an average orange!

“While only found in the tropical woodlands from north-western to eastern Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, and the east and west Kimberley regions in Western Australia, the natural health benefits of billygoat plums are becoming increasingly sought after,” Samantha says.

2. Lilly pilly berries

Lily pilly is used by thousands of Australian households for hedging, but most people have no clue about its substantial health benefits. The little red and pink berries have a huge kick of antioxidants, amino acids and vitamins A, E and C, providing a powerful immune system boost.

“I call it the treasure berry,” Samantha says. “One of my favourite things to do is freeze the berries and add them to salads – it gives it a really unique, lovely tangy crunch. They’re also really great in smoothies and I add them to muffins with white or dark chocolate.”

3. Lemon myrtle

The leaves of the lemon myrtle tree lay claim to the world’s strongest and purest concentration of natural citral – the oil that gives lemon its characteristic flavour. Citral has a natural anti-viral action among a long list of other health benefits. The leaves provide a zesty lemon flavour in both sweet and savoury dishes, including roast chicken, casseroles and cheesecake. They can also be boiled and sipped as an anti-inflammatory tea to treat swollen fingers, toes and joints.

Bush Tukka (available to buy here as well as from bookstores, newsagents and gift shops) contains delicious recipes like this Cheesecake with Conkerberry and Blueberry Syrup and Mountain Bush Pepper and Desert Lime Whole Baked Barramundi.

Where do I buy bush superfoods?

Check out Oxfam Shop, Taste Australia and Astrid’s Bush Tucker.

About Samantha Martin:

Samantha grew up in the east Kimberley region near the Bungle Bungles in Western Australia but has lived in Queensland for 17 years. A descendant of the Kija and Jaru, she was born into a long line of traditional hunter-gatherers and learnt how to eat off the land and surrounding waters. Known as the ‘Bush Tukka Woman’, her four-part documentary My Bush Tukka Adventures with Samantha Martin, has been screened on SBS/NITV (National Indigenous TV station) for the past six years.