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MasterChef Australia star Julie Goodwin’s overflowing with love for her granddaughter

Little Delilah has her famous granny wrapped around her little finger

Julie Goodwin lets out one of those belly laughs that put an instant smile on the faces of all in her orbit as she sheepishly admits that one of the first words her two-year-old granddaughter Delilah uttered was “cookie”.

“She’s just burst into our lives,” Julie, 52, tells Woman’s Day. “I couldn’t have foreseen what she has done to our hearts. You love your children so much, you feel like you’re going to bust with it, then a grandchild comes and a whole new part of you opens up.”

She and her husband Mick, 53, recently returned from a week holidaying on the coast south of Sydney with the entire family – including Delilah, her parents Tom, 26, and Crystal, eldest son Joe, 27, and youngest son Paddy, 25, and his girlfriend Brooke.

“It was fricking unreal,” says Julie. “We’re all very close. It’s like herding cats. We’ve all got different commitments and it took months to nail them down. We have dinner together all the time, but to have a whole week together was just beautiful.”

There’s never a dull moment with her adorable granddaughter!

Julie unashamedly loves that Joe and Paddy still live at home on New South Wales’ Central Coast, in the same house she and Mick bought long before she beat Poh Ling Yeow to win the inaugural season of MasterChef Australia in 2009.

“I’ve never thought, ‘I can’t wait until they leave home’. I dread them all being gone,” she admits, explaining that Tom and Crystal live only five minutes away, allowing her precious daily time with Delilah.

“She was a beautiful surprise, and not for one second were Mick and I taken aback by it. I feel like there’s a hum in my body and that’s joy.”

Julie credits Delilah with helping her with the mental health battles she has so bravely shared with her fans to promote awareness and understanding.

“Little kids are the best at being present and that’s one of the things they tell you all the time about anxiety,” explains Julie. “You’re either thinking about what’s happened or worrying about what is going to happen and the best thing you can do is be present.

“When you’re with a child that age, they don’t know how to worry about what’s happened in the past or how to worry about what’s going to happen in the future.

Precious Family Time

“I’m learning from her,” she enthuses. “I’m not going to spend time with her and worry about what’s for dinner, whether I have to get to the shops or that I need to get the washing machine emptied. If she can be that present, then I can be that present and, my God, they are the best hours.”

Julie doesn’t blame MasterChef for the anxiety and depression she’s battled for many years, but admits the “weirdness” of fame may have “exaggerated” mental health issues, which led to a nervous breakdown three years ago.

“When I had three babies under the age of three, I was worried about everything – the mortgage, the bills… I was worried about what other people thought of me.”

But with her three boys now grown up and living successful lives, Julie says she learned not to sweat the small things or worry about being judged. She laughs about just how different she is as a grandmother.

“I don’t care if her socks match and I don’t care if anyone looks at her down their noses. I just care so much less about the opinions of people who don’t matter to me. What I care about is my relationship with her and her grandfather’s relationship with her.

“We’re never bored. She’s busy. She opens cupboards and gets everything out, and I just don’t care. She loves being squirted with the hose. She loves picking the mandarins off the tree.

“When she’s in our home, the laundry can go to hell – everything can go to hell! It’s all about her. If she wants to roll around the grass, then that’s what we do. Watching my own child be a parent is a gift. He’s a beautiful dad and I get to be present to her in a way that you just can’t be present to your kids because of all the other things you have to do.”

Julie credits the love she shares with Delilah for helping heal her, but fully acknowledges that her recovery is also down to her psychologist, medication, meditation, time in nature, physical movement, lifestyle changes and good-quality sleep.

“I want to be the best I can be for that little girl,” she says.

Delilah already shares her grandmother’s appreciation for good food, loves Julie’s take on Lebanese cooking – and adores cookies!

Julie has just released her seventh cookbook, Classic, which contains lots of favourites – including the lasagne she wooed Mick with all those years ago – and retro recipes fans may remember cooking with their own mums.

“I’m writing a memoir at the moment, which will be out next year.”

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