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Six ways to improve your gut health + Vegetable Marrakesh Casserole

Written by Lee on . Posted in Blog, Blog Dinner, Blog Lunch, Flavour of the month, Golden Gut Blend, gut healing, gut health, Heal Your Gut, Learn, microbiome, Seasonal, Vegetarian

You know that old saying: ‘happy life, happy wife’? If you want my personal opinion, I think it should be changed to ‘happy tummy, happy mummy’.  As many of you know, the gut is the cornerstone to health and linked to many other bodily systems and parts. It can affect your hormones, immune system, your emotions and mental capacity and of course the way that you absorb and digest food. If your gut isn’t happy, there’s a fairly good chance that you won’t be happy either.

Today I’m sharing six of my favourite tips to improve your gut health, so you can get on with life!

Include Fibre

When considering the health of your gut, consider fibre! Getting the right type of fibre into your diet will help you to create a healthy and diverse community of gut bacteria and regulate your digestion. There are two types of fibre. Insoluble fibre this is the one that doesn’t dissolve in water and helps speed up the passage of food and keep you regular, like some grains, nuts, seeds, beans, fruit and vegetables. The other type of fibre, soluble fibre, dissolves in water and helps form a gel in the body. Foods rich in soluble fibre include oatmeal, psyllium husks, berries, lentils, fruit and vegetables. Insoluble fibres are wonderful for flushing out the body but an excess of these fibres can be irritating. Soluble fibres on the other hand, are the ones you can also focus on for improved gut health.

When you eat the soluble fibres from whole plant foods, your gut bacteria ferment these fibres into short chain fatty acids which act as prebiotics to feed the good bacteria in your gut. When you eat adequate levels of soluble fibre, they pass through the stomach and small intestine and land up in the large intestine where they help grow your probiotic bacteria.  This helps maintain the lining of the gut, improves digestion, increases absorption of minerals and can even increase immune system function.  You can read more about probiotics and prebiotics here or learn abut it in my new book Supercharge Your Gut.

Some foods rich in soluble-fibre include sweet potatoes, carrots and root vegetables, green leafy vegetables, berries, nuts and seedsgrass fed, organic butter and ghee. Some of these delicious prebiotic and probiotic-rich foods can be found in my Marrakesh Casserole below!

Glowing skin is an inside (and outside) job

The skin is the largest and arguably, one of the most important organs in your body, it’s the barometer to measure and notice what is really going on inside. Dry skin brushing is an easy and calming technique that looks after your skin, stimulates the digestive and lymphatic systems, liver and adrenal glands, and assists these organs in decongesting. It also helps to give the body a gentle internal massage to stimulate circulation. Whenever I suggest dry skin brushing to someone when they’re suffering from gut health issues, they often look at me as if I’m crazy – how does brushing my skin make my stomach work properly? Well, by performing this technique you’ll actually be assisting the gut, by stimulating the digestive system, nutrient absorption and detoxification!

All you need to do is invest in a long-handled bath brush which contains natural bristles. Use long strokes, in a circular motion towards the heart. Before you dive straight in to brushing, ensure both your skin and your brush are dry. Begin with the soles of your feet and continue brushing upwards on both sides of your legs, then move to your back, then around to your abdomen where you can work in a clockwise direction following the direction of your colon and then head up towards your heart being careful with the chest region. Then, have a shower to remove debris and dead skin cells. Turns out you CAN brush your way to good gut health – who knew? 

Keeping stress levels at bay

Coming into one of the most frantic seasons this time of year, stress can be at a high. Long-term stress lingers for weeks and can be incredibly damaging to the gut. Evidence shows that our gut bacteria respond in a damaging way to negative emotions and stress out our bodies! When you’re stressed, your body produces hormones that can contribute to the proliferation of bad bacteria in the gut, sending it off kilter and this can lead to cravings, skin disruptions, fatigue and weight gain. In order to keep our guts happy and humming, keeping stress at bay is key. Obviously, decreasing stress can look a little bit different to everybody, so find out what works best for you. A few good stress-busting techniques include calming yoga, walks, ocean swims, meditation, spending time out in the sun, good talks with friends and connecting with nature. I guess it’s time to get your ‘om’ on!

Goodbye sugar-free sweeteners

Of course, there’s more to gut health than the practices we do – it’s also important to look at what you’re feeding your gut. Unfortunately for some of you, this may mean saying sayonara to sugar-free sweeteners. Sugar-free sweets, snacks and diet soft drinks can aggravate the gut and cause bloating because of all the artificial chemicals they contain. These chemicals, that our DNA doesn’t recognise or can’t digest properly, get completely swept up in the digestive tract and end-up in the colon, which is not what you want to happen when healing the gut! Large amounts of these additives can also cause flatulence; definitely another reason to stay away. There are far better ways to blow someone away.

Hydration

I know what you’re thinking, if I hear another nutritionist talk about hydration being the key to good health, I’ll roll my eyes so far backwards they won’t come back to place! But, the simple technique of staying hydrated helps flush out negative bacteria within the gut and balance out the digestive system. This helps your body undergo all the complicated biochemical mechanisms to keep your gut happy and functioning. So yes, drinking water may be simple, but it does remarkable things for your gut health.  I usually stir a tablespoon of my Love Your Gut powder in the mornings into a cup of warm water.  It helps to clean the debris and keep my insides happy.  If you want to stay hydrated throughout the day, my Golden Gut Blend is a great way to mix it up- just add a tablespoon to warm milk of choice; it makes a gorgeous and tasty golden latte!

Stop gulping!

Eating is not a race. And yet, we all tend to scoff down our food so quickly you’d think we were going for gold at the Olympics! Our modern lack of mindful, slow eating and our forever on-the-go approach has a definite link to our gut heath issues. Gulping down food, guzzling down drinks and moving while eating inhibits your body’s ability to digest nutrients properly. Chewing more thoroughly while sitting down to a meal mindfully helps you tune into your body more and send your body into rest and digest mode. You’ll be less likely to overeat when you know you’re full! Plus, when you chew properly, your food is able to mix with saliva and increase the ease of digestibility before it reaches the stomach. This means it’s less hard work for your gut and less chance of that food-baby feeling. 

Getting hungry? Enjoy this prebiotic-rich Marrakesh Casserole, from my book Eat Clean, Green and Vegetarian, slowly and mindfully. If done correctly, it'll nourish your gut, your body and your soul! 

Marrakesh Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 60 ml (2 fl oz/1/4 cup) cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cm (3/4 inch) piece of ginger, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
  • 2–3 teaspoons dried harissa
  • 400 g (14 oz) tin diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon rice malt syrup
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup coriander (cilantro) leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped mint leaves
  • 1 small pumpkin (winter squash), peeled and cut into 5 cm (2 inch) pieces
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 5 cm (2 inch) pieces 
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 5 cm (2 inch) pieces
  • 1 zucchini (courgette), cut into 5 cm (2 inch) pieces
  • 400 g (14 oz) tin chickpeas
  • cooked quinoa, to serve
  • coriander (cilantro) sprigs, to serve
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest, to serve
  • mint leaves, to serve
  • 80 g (23/4 oz/1/2 cup) almonds, to serve

Directions:

  • Heat the olive oil in a flame-proof tagine pot or casserole dish over medium heat and sauté the onion for 5 minutes, or until translucent.
  • Add the garlic, ginger and spices and stir well to combine.
  • Add the harissa, tomatoes, rice malt syrup, lemon juice, coriander and mint, bring to the boil and then reduce the heat.
  • Add the pumpkin, sweet potato, carrot and zucchini, stir well so they are all well covered in the sauce and simmer, covered, for 1 hour.
  • Add the chickpeas and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  • Serve on a bed of quinoa topped with the coriander, lemon zest, mint and roasted almonds.

Repurpose a halloween pumpkin + five delicious recipes

Written by Lee on . Posted in Blog, Flavour of the month, Golden Gut Blend, Halloween, Seasonal, Summer, Thanksgiving, Vegetarian

Halloween is here, and with it comes jack 'o' lantern making and trick or treating. Once the hullabaloo of halloween is over, the question is, what to do with the leftover pumpkins?

I'm taking the horror out of your carved to perfection creations with some not so scary repurposed pumpkin recipes.

At midnight your cinderella coach can be transformed into the crunchiest crisps, spiced up porridge, raspberry studded pie, golden loaf or a hearty salad for the whole family.  

And if you're keen for more recipes and ways to understand your pumpkins better, read my spotlight on pumpkin here.

Here are five delicious tricks for pumpkin treats!  Let me know how you chose to repurpose yours?

 

 

Pumpkin Porridge Recipe here.

Pumpkin Pie recipe here.

Golden Gut Pumpkin and Nut Loaf recipe here.

Lamb and Spiced Pumpkin Salad

Serves 2

Warm salads are colourful, packed with nutrients and wonderful for digestion. The slow-roasted baby tomatoes and spiced pumpkin can be prepared in advance and warmed prior to serving to allow for quick assembly. For a dairy-free option, omit the goat’s cheese.

  • 150 g (5½ oz/1 cup) cherry tomatoes
  • 1 butternut pumpkin (squash), skin on and cut into small wedges
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted, plus extra for pan-frying
  • Celtic sea salt and freshly ground
  • black pepper
  • 3 large handfuls of mixed baby mesclun
  • 250 g (9 oz) lamb backstrap
  • 1 handful of basil leaves
  • 60 g (2¼ oz/½ cup) goat’s cheese

DRESSING

  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • good pinch of Celtic sea salt and freshly
  • ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F/Gas 2).
To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a jug. Whisk thoroughly, gradually adding a little warm water until the dressing is smooth, thick and creamy.

Place the tomatoes on a baking tray and cook for 2–3 hours, turning every hour or so, until they are shrivelled and bursting with sweetness. This step is best done ahead of time to allow for a very quick assembly. Reheat the tomatoes slightly before serving.

Increase the oven temperature to 200°C (400°F/Gas 6). Place the pumpkin, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and ginger in a bowl and use your hands to mix well. Place the pumpkin on a baking tray, drizzle with the melted coconut oil, and season with salt and pepper. Cook in the oven for 30 minutes, or until golden and crispy.

Season the lamb. Add the coconut oil to a frying pan over medium heat and pan-fry the lamb for 3 minutes on each side (it should still be pink in the centre). Let it rest for
a few minutes before slicing into 5 mm (¼ inch) pieces.

To assemble the salad, make a bed of salad leaves and top with the warm pumpkin, lamb and tomatoes. Drizzle the tahini dressing generously over the top, scatter with the basil leaves and goat’s cheese and serve warm.

A Supercharged Tip
Lamb backstrap is a tender, grade-A cut of lamb that can be prepared simply and easily. Try pan-frying, searing, grilling (broiling), or oven roasting.

Oven-roasted pumpkin crisps

The best way to achieve evenly thin pumpkin slices is by using a mandoline, or the slicing blade on your food processor.

1/2 small pumpkin (winter squash) extra virgin olive oil, for brushing

Preheat the oven to 150oC (300oF/Gas 2). Cut the pumpkin into two or three chunks, then peel, if desired, and seed each chunk. Using a mandoline or the slicing blade on your food processor, cut the chunks into very thin slices, about 2 mm (1/16 inch) thick. Dry the slices on paper towels. The tail ends and odd sizes can be used for other recipes, such as mashed pumpkin.

Place the pumpkin slices in a single layer on two
lined baking trays. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with a good pinch of sea salt. The salt helps draw moisture from the vegetables, so let them sit for 5 minutes before placing in the oven.

Bake the pumpkin slices for 25 minutes, or until crisp and golden.

Remove from the oven to cool completely — the slices will crisp up as they cool. The crisps will stay fresh in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Makes lots!

*Supercharged tip If you’re ever buying commercially prepared vegie crisps, check the packet for added flours such as corn and potato, along with artificial colourings and flavourings.

Happy Halloween!

Golden Gut Oatmeal Cookies

Written by Lee on . Posted in Blog, Blog Snacks, Dessert, Gluten Free, Golden Gut Blend, gut healing, gut health, Heal Your Gut, Heal Your Gut Powder, Heal Your Gut Powder, Seasonal, Snacks, Sugar Free, supercharged food, Vegetarian, Wheat Free, Yeast Free

I don't know about you, but sometimes, when I go to do my weekly grocery shop I'm in such a rush that I'm running around and miss a few vital foods on my list. 

What can I say? I'm only human.

So, I often have to make my embarrassing way back to the shops and, I must admit, get a little distracted and often deviate from my list. Who can walk past brightly-coloured raspberries and not buy them?

I often think to myself, hmmm, did I buy enough zucchini for the week? Are there any avocados left? Do we have enough bananas?

The answer is no. Always no. 

In my house, you can never have enough bananas. I always think we need more. So obviously, I listen to my gut, and buy a few more bananas. 

And that is the story behind why I always end up with one too many bananas.

But anyway, back to food blogging... 

When these potassium-rich fruits start to go a bit brown, don't panic! You can always freeze bananas for a smoothie bowl, or my famous mint choc chip smoothie

This time, instead of just freezing my bananas, I experimented with something a little different.

I've used a few extras to create something I’ve been craving of late:

Golden Gut Oatmeal Cookies.

You know when you're drinking a cup of tea (or chai in my case) in the afternoon and you longingly wish for the perfect, crunchy, yet chewy cookie to dunk in your cup? These are the cookies. They're full of the wonderful spices cinnamon, ginger and of course, turmeric (if you can’t tell… it’s my favourite) because of their anti-inflammatory properties and delicious tastes. 

To make adding ALL of these spices, plus my Love Your Gut powder, to recipes, as easy as possible for you and, to add a little bit of bang for your buck, I've created a beautiful product that I'm so excited to share with you. I just knew these cookies would be the perfect way to do it! Because I mean... cookies... hello?. 

I’m using my brand new, golden gut blend to make these cookies as simple to throw together and as good for you as possible! Golden gut is a raw whole food powder that’s gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, low in fat, paleo and vegan. It contains organic food-grade diatomaceous earth naturally de-bittered organic turmeric, certified organic ginger, certified organic cinnamon and certified organic black pepper! It can help improve nutrient absorption, digestion and regulation PLUS it’s full of anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties because of my favourite golden spice. It’s basically magical fairy dust, you can read more about it's magical powers and ambidextrous nature in the kitchen here

These cookies also contain gluten-free rolled oats which help lower your cholesterol levels, keep your bowels regular and your blood sugar levels low. Instead of regular white flour, we're using almond meal. Almond meal acts as a great alternative to normal flour because it’s gluten-free, low in carbohydrates, high in fibre, rich in good fats and adds a hefty source of plant-based protein.

Lo and behold, I’ve combined my love of sweet foods with my adoration of spice with these golden gut oatmeal cookies.

These cookies are high in fibre, healthy fats, protein and anti-inflammatory properties.  Looks like I'm going to have to keep buying one too many bananas more often... 

Golden Gut Oatmeal Cookies

Makes 12 

Ingredients:

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius
  • Place baking paper on baking tray 
  • Place oats, almond meal, golden gut blend, and sea salt in a bowl and mix
  • In a separate bowl add egg, banana, honey, butter and vanilla and stir
  • Add wet ingredients to dry and mix with a wooden spoon adding more almond meal if mixture is a little wet.
  • Scoop handfuls of dough together and roll into balls
  • Place them onto baking sheet then press down with a hand or spatula to make a biscuit shape about 5 cms thick 
  • Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 mins until golden (longer if you are making bigger cookies).
  • Once ready place on a wire rack to cool.

Give them a try and let me know what you think in the comments section below.

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