The Norovirus has swept through our house this last 10 days. Daughter and I have both been ill and it will be an absolute miracle if the boys don’t get it too. No doubt small boy will get it over half term so I will spend a third week confined to the house 😫 On the plus side, there’s nothing like a good tummy bug for weight loss and I have lost 4lbs. Hurrah! Sadly, this weight loss seems to be focused almost entirely on my boob area. Why is life so bloody unfair??!!
So, anyway, this weekend I have decided we need a some extra nourishment and I’m going to make plenty of things which are good for gut health. The main one is bone broth, see my recipe for Brilliant Bone Broth Bone broth contains Glutamine which helps maintain the function of your intestinal wall; Glycine which stimulates production of stomach acid and aids digestion and Collagen which can heal the gut lining. Scientists are beginning to realise just how important gut health is to our overall health and wellbeing, and poor gut health is being linked to an increasing number of diseases as well as obesity and even depression. Did you know 80% of the happy hormone serotonin is produced in your gut? Nope, me neither. It is the largest sensory organ in the body and apparently 70% of our immune system is in our gut. So it’s pretty important to look after your tummy.
How do we do that? Taking good quality probiotic supplements will improve your gut microbiome. As will eating naturally probiotic foods, which include garlic, leeks and onions, artichokes, bananas (I’ve been having them on my porridge every day this week), natural ‘live’ yoghurt, and fermented or pickled foods such as miso, sauerkraut and kimchi (they mustn’t be pasteurised though, as this destroys the good bacteria). So, as well as making bone broth and OD-ing on probiotics, I have made a homemade pickle, and for the kids, a fermented fizzy ginger drink.
Here come the recipes…
Enid Blyton, eat your heart out. The famous five would have loved this shit. Fanny and Dick would never have caught the Norovirus if they had drunk this.
large root of ginger (about 5 thumbs in total)
1 tbsp unrefined sugar
This takes about 10 days to make in total. Hopefully it will be worth the ball-ache.
Day 1: You need a clean bottle with an airtight stopper. Rinse through with boiled water to sterilise. Grate about 1 inch ginger into bottle and add 1 tsp sugar and cover with spring water. Leave in warm place for 24 hours.
2. Repeat process for 5 days until mixture begins to bubble. This is your ‘Ginger Bug’. I love that name!
3. You can use your Ginger Bug to make any flavour Pop you like, add some cooked rhubarb, orange juice, lemon… The world is your oyster. I’m just sticking to the ginger to begin with. So, add any extra flavourings, then top up your bottle with water and ferment for a further five days, then it’s ready to drink. It should be slightly sparkling. I will let you know how ours is doing in 10 days time…
VIETNAMESE CHICKEN PHO
Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients, this is actually pretty quick and easy to make.
INGREDIENTS (serves about 4)
2 litres bone broth or chicken stock
2 litres bone broth (or chicken stock, it just won’t have quite the same gut healing capability)
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely grated or crushed
2 thumbs of ginger, finely grated
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 star anise
veg – we like sliced Pak Choi and a mixture of different types of mushrooms, you could also use courgetti noodles or just throw in a bag of pre-prepared stir-fry
To serve –
small bunch roughly chopped coriander
1 red chilli, chopped
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1. Bring bone broth to the boil in a large pan. Meanwhile prepare and chop veg.
2. Add whole chicken thighs and all other ingredients apart from veg. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer on a low heat for 30 minutes.
3. Remove chicken thighs and shred using 2 forks. Whilst you are shredding chicken, pop veg into pan to cook. Return shredded chicken to pan and cook for a further minute or two.
4. Ladle generously into bowls and serve topped with beansprouts, spring onions, coriander, chilli, soy sauce and a wedge of lime.
I’m not a big fan of sauerkraut or kimchi, or anything too pickle-y or fermented come to think of it, so I hope I like these. They look very pretty sitting in the jar, so that’s a good start. Raw garlic and onions are supposed to be brilliant probiotics but can both be a bit harsh on the tastebuds, so fermenting them shound give them a more mellow flavour whilst retaining all their raw benefits. Best of both worlds! PS You must use spring water for this as tap water contains chlorine to kill bad bacteria in the water supply, but that also means it will prevent the very bacteria we are trying to create in this process. Doh!
veg – anything you like… I used 2 cauliflower florets, baby corn, green beans, 1/2 red pepper, small red onion, 2 garlic cloves, 1 small carrot.
1 tbsp sea salt or Himalayan salt
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 star anise
1. Wash a kilner jar and rinse through with boiled water.
2. Fill with veg, leaving a 2cm gap at top to allow water to cover completely and to allow room for the veg to swell up. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp salt. Close lid and shake jar well, this ensures salt fully covers the veg and preserves it and also helps to break down the cell walls of the vegetables, which will accelerate the lacto-fermentation process (I know, get me! 🤓 )
3. Add star anise, pepper and mustard seeds. Top up with spring water until veg is fully submerged (if it’s not, mould can form).
4. Keep in a warm place for 3-4 days and then it’s ready to eat. I’ll let you know how it tastes on Wednesday…!