Good Gut Recipes. Chicken Pho, Pickles and Lashings of Ginger Beer, hurrah!

 

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…

9ffdb971-4b7d-478c-9b1d-35c1749aa3ca

GINGER POP

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.

Jolly hockeysticks!

INGREDIENTS

large root of ginger (about 5 thumbs in total)

1 tbsp unrefined sugar
spring water

METHOD

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

100g beansprouts

small bunch roughly chopped coriander

1 lime

1 red chilli, chopped

2 spring onions, finely chopped

soy sauce

METHOD

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.

 

PICKLED VEGETABLES

img_7061

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!

INGREDIENTS

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

METHOD

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…!

 

 

 

 

 

Spinach Sweet Potato and Pea Seasonal Supergreen Soup

image

I had the perfect excuse to make my favourite soup today, as my organic veg box this week contained leeks, sweet potatoes and spinach.  It’s quite worrying how happy this made me. Anyway, I have to pay homage to baby food guru Annabel Karmel for this recipe, as this in fact started off life as one of her baby food purees. See Annabel Karmel for more inspiration.

This was yet another failed attempt to get The Boy With The Sweet Tooth to eat something nutritious. Predictably, small boy wanted nothing to do with this purée, but it smelt amazing, so I added some seasoning and found I had a pretty life-changing soup on my hands. Thank god one of us liked it!  I can’t say I have ever tried a baby purée before (OK, well, apart from the ones I use to make my Paleo Porridge, obvs)  I find there is something a bit repulsive about blended food, I’m a bit squeamish about anything coming out of a nutribullet, even.  So, I promise you, this had to be something special to get me to try it.

I’ve played around with the original recipe, and as with most of of my recipes it’s all very free and easy so just adjust to how many leeks you need to use up or how many peas are at the bottom of the bag lurking in your freezer. This cries out for thickly buttered fresh brown bread to be dunked into it, but is equally nice as a virtuous snack on its own, or bulked up with some protein on the side. If I have a batch in the fridge I tend to have it as a mid-afternoon snack to keep the 4pm slump away. I always feel wonderfully wholesome after I have eaten this.  And ready to tackle the mayhem of kids teatime and witching hour. Well, maybe…

image

RECIPE (serves about 4)

2 large sweet potatoes

large bag of spinach

3 leeks

about 200g frozen peas

water, stock or bone broth (about 200ml depending on how thick you like your soup)

1 tbsp butter or coconut oil

 

METHOD

1. Warm the oil or butter in a heavy based pan with a well fitting lid. Wash leeks well, chop and sweat on a low heat with the lid on for about 4-5 minutes.

2. Peel and chop sweet potatoes into roughly 1 inch chunks. Add to pan and sauté for a further minute or two.

3. Add approx 200ml bone broth/water or stock, I always add less as I like thick soup, and you can always top it up if it needs more when you blend it.  Season well and simmer for 10 mins or until potatoes are lovely and soft.

4. Wash spinach and gently squeeze out excess water, add to pan along with peas and simmer for a further 3 minutes or so.

5. Blend to desired consistency and tuck in!

imageimage

This is will keep well in the fridge for about 3 days and also freezes beautifully. You could always even try and give it to your baby (minus the salt), you may have better luck than me!

 

 

Brilliant Bone Broth

So I keep reading about the benefits of bone broth.  We often have a roast chicken and I always have odds and ends of veg languishing in the bottom of my fridge, so I figured I have nothing to lose in making some. My writing is so inspiring, I know! Anyway, I think it’s fairly well established that chicken soup is ‘nature’s penicillin’, so I think there has to be some merit in the claims of bone broth. It differs from ordinary stock in that you boil it for much longer (24 hours), until the bones crumble.  This releases gelatin and collagen, which are good for your joints, skin and gut health.  Why is bone broth so amazing?

img_5424 Continue reading

I carried a watermelon…

I love watermelon. Its so refreshing and sweet. But I hate picking out all those fiddly seeds. Covered in juice, holes in my melon 😮, seeds all over the flipping place, I had an epiphany… can you eat the seeds? Surely if pumpkin seeds and all those other seeds are nutritious, then watermelon seeds might be too? And it turns out they are! Yippee! They are full of magnesium, folic acid, iron, protein, amino acids and omega 6.  Sprouted roasted watermelon seeds are even being touted as a superfood.  Yes, really.  That sounded like way too much hard work, so instead I nutribulleted them, and the result was AMAZING. Just add a couple of cubes of ice to thicken the texture up a little and you have a delicious and nutritious drink.  It would be particularly nice with a slug of vodka in it, too.

More about the health benefits watermelon seeds  and  watermelon seeds the new superfood  You can also try my super easy Watermelon Ice lollies here.

A perfect mid-afternoon pick-me-up, with or without the vodka.

img_5349