Anyone for soup?

This week I am going to start with a confession – I love soup!

Soup is my go-to food when I don’t know what else to eat. It reminds me of my childhood when my mum in winter use to make big potfuls of soup especially pea and ham. Its a quick, easy, healthy meal. And when you start looking into the world of soups the possibilities are endless. From all of the world each cuisine has soup on its menu.

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Soup is all great for your gut health. If you can make your own bone broth then you will have a very happy gut. Sarah Wilson gives bone broth tips here – http://www.sarahwilson.com/2012/01/how-to-make-bone-broth-and-why-you-should/

This week on the menu there is a roasted tomato, pumpkin, red lentil and thai white lipstick soup.

I will also look at what is in a can of soup and hopefully inspire you to make your own.

Roasted tomato

Ingredients
  • 5 large fresh tomatoes cut into quarters
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 onions cut into quarters
  • some extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • Handful of chopped fresh basil for garnish (optional)

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Method

  • Place tomatoes, onions, and garlic on an oven tray and cook on 180 degrees for around 30 minutes.
  • Remove roasted tomatoes, garlic, and onion from the oven and transfer along with any roasting juices into a large stock pot. Add the vegetable stock.  Bring it to the  boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until liquid has reduced by a third.
  • Puree the soup until smooth.
  • Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Garnish in bowl with chopped fresh basil or parsley.

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Pumpkin soup

Ingredients
  • Fresh pumpkin cut into cubes – I used half a butternut pumpkin
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 onions cut into quarters
  • 2 small potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable stock
  • Handful of chopped fresh parsley

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Method

  • Place pumpkin, potatoes, onions and garlic and stock into a saucepan and cook until tender.
  • When tender blend until smooth
  • Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Garnish in bowl with chopped fresh parsley.

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Red lentil 

Ingredients

  • 500g red lentils
  • 1.5 litres of chicken stock
  • 1 fresh tomato cut up
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • cumin for seasoning
  • salt and pepper for seasoning

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Method

  • Wash lentils until water runs clear
  • Place lentils, onion and tomato in a saucepan
  • Add stock and cook until lentils are soft
  • Puree
  • Add salt, pepper and cumin to season
  • Serve with a small amount of fresh parsley on top

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Thai “White Lipstick” – Tom Kha Gai

(recipe from Pum’s Lazy Cuisine )

  • 100ml Coconut milk
  •  1 Handful of Chicken thinly sliced
  •  170ml Water
  • 4-5 slices of Galangal
  • 1/2 stalk lemongrass
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 Thai shallot
  • 2 small red chilies (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon rice malt syrup
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice

Method

  • In a saucepan add the coconut milk and bring to half boil then add in the chicken and stir until the meat is half cooked
  • Add the fish sauce, sugar, and lime juice.
  • Mix well
  • Add in all the herbs and wait until it boils.

If you like a creamer soup then add more coconut milk and less water

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Canned Soup Anyone?

Now that I have made you all hungry I want to look at why you should reach for your knife and chopping board instead of the can opener. In my research I came across this article entitled “The dangers of eating canned soup” I thought I would share a few highlights from this article that really shocked me. I do realise that it is not Australian based but it did make me wonder what is  hiding in our cans of soup.

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  • Most soups come in cans, and most cans contain BPA.
  • MSG is often used to flavor canned soups – while a brand may not be directly putting MSG inside your soup, MSG can be found in other ingredients and can hide under names.
  • Many soups are high in sodium, with upwards of 400mg in a can.
  • Canned soup likely contains GMO’s

You can read the whole article in full at – http://mamavation.com/2015/03/dangers-of-eating-canned-soup.html

So What Is The Best Choice?

Make Your Own Soup!

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Breakfast idea.

It was Sunday morning. We had already finished morning cup of tea number 1 and now we were thinking… food! Since we have been limiting fructose, it can sometimes be a challenge to find something different to eat for breakfast besides eggs.  This Sunday morning was particularly challenging as we only had one lonely egg. Necessity is the mother of invention and after scanning my cupboards inspiration struck.

Lets call it my Sunday Sensation!

There are 4 parts to my breakfast idea – Yoghurt, pancakes, granola and stewed fruit (which could easily be substituted for fresh fruit.

Yoghurt

The yoghurt is  the easy part as mine was some greek natural yoghurt from the fridge. (Just a quick tip – my kids aren’t so keen on the natural yoghurts as they find them too tart so we mix in a small amount of rice malt syrup and then they are happy.)

natural-yoghurt

Pancakes

I’m not sure if I have shared this recipe with you before but it is our standard pancake recipe. (hint – they are great for the kids as after school snacks)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of SR flour
  • 65g melted butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk

Method

  1. Place flour and salt in a bowl
  2. Mix milk and egg together
  3. add to the flour
  4. Add in the egg and mix well
  5. Let the batter rest for at least 5-10 minutes
  6. Heat a fry pan with ghee or oil and cook til golden brown

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Granola

This is completely made up, seriously, I just threw in what I thought was right.  Just put in any amounts that work for you.  I make up a batch and then stored the rest for another breakfast treat.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup Pepitas
  • Sprinkle of flax seeds
  • Sprinkle of sunflower seeds
  • Handful of almonds – chopped
  • 1/3 cup coconut
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons of rice malt syrup
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • You can add any other bits that you have in your cupboards – chia seeds, different nuts, sesame seeds etc.

Method

  1. Place all of the dry ingredients into a bowl
  2. Place the rice malt syrup and oil into a saucepan and warm
  3. Add rice malt syrup and oil into the bowl and mix well
  4. When all the dry ingredients are coated spread them out on a baking tray
  5. Heat under the grill until golden
  6. Store extra granola in an airtight container

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Stewed fruit

I had some pears that were not looking lonely so I used these for my breakfast but you can use any type of fruit for stewing. Fresh fruit could also be used .

Ingredients

  • Pears – as many as you have
  • Water

Method

  1. Peel your pears (I have to in Jakarta but you may not need to)
  2. Cut into small wedges
  3. Place them in a saucepan
  4. Add enough water to just

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Now that you have all the elements for your Sunday sensation you just need to put it together. I placed 2 small pancakes on the bottom then added on the  yogurt and  stewed fruit. On the very top I added a good helping of the granola on top.
SENSATIONAL !!

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Back into the kitchen – Lebanese Tasting Plate

This week I thought it was time to get back into the kitchen and cook a healthy gut meal that the whole family can enjoy. I am going to try my hand at a Lebanese tasting plate.

I first fell in love with Lebanese tasting plates when we were in a little beachside town in NSW Australia. I wrote down all the things on the plate and took photos so that I could have a go at making it.

My  Lebanese tasting plate is going to consist of – hummus, tabouli, tzatziki, falafels and flatbread. You could add some lamb to the plate but mine was all frozen!

Hummus recipe

 (based on a Jamie Oliver recipe)

INGREDIENTS

•1 x 400g cans of chickpeas

•4 tsp tahini (I leave this bit out)

•1 garlic cloves, crushed

•1/2 tsp crushed sea salt

•3 tbsp quality extra virgin olive oil (plus extra for drizzling)

•1 1/2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

•Coriander or parsley leaves (if I happen to have them)

Houmous recipes might include spices such as cumin, coriander seeds, paprika, dried chilli flakes, sumac. 

 METHOD-

•Rinse chick peas in water.

•Add  all the ingredients to the food processor and blend until smooth. If you want a less dense mixture add some more oil.

•Taste and adjust as it suits you or add in some other spices.

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Tabouli recipe

INGREDIENTS

•1/2 cup of couscous cooked as per packet directions (or burgher )

•1 tomatoes, finely chopped

•1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves (you can mix in some mint leaves if you have them)

•5 small red shallot onions, thinly sliced

•salt and pepper if you like

METHOD

•Place all ingredients together in a bowl.

•Stir to combine. Serve.

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Tzatziki recipe

INGREDIENTS

•1/2 cup greek natural yoghurt

•1/2 a cucumber 

•1 small garlic clove chopped finely

•small amount of mint (if you have it)

•small amount of red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar

•salt and pepper

METHOD

•Coarsely grating the cucumber and squeeze out excess water

• Pour the water away, then tip the cucumber into the empty bowl and add the yoghurt.

•Add the finely cut or crushed garlic into the bowl

•Add the dried mint and red wine vinegar and mix really well.

•Taste to see if the balance right. fullsizerender

Falafel recipe

INGREDIENTS

•1 packet of falafel mix (I found some in Grand Lucky!)

•Cold water

METHOD

•Follow packet instructions on how to make falafels.

Jamie Olivers falafel recipe if your up to it –

•1 x 400 g tin of mixed beans 

•1 x 400 g tin of chickpeas 

•1 lemon 

•1 tablespoon harissa

•1 heaped teaspoon allspice

•1 heaped tablespoon plain flour 

•1 bunch fresh coriander 

•olive oil
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Flat bread recipe

 (based on a Jamie Oliver recipe)

INGREDIENTS

•350 g self-raising flour , plus extra for dusting

•sea salt

•1 teaspoon baking powder

•350 g natural yoghurt

METHOD

•Add all the flatbread ingredients to a mixing bowl and mix together with a spoon, then use clean hands to pat and bring everything together. 

•Dust a clean work surface with flour, then tip out the dough.

•Knead for a minute or so to bring it all together

•Put the dough into a floured-dusted bowl and cover with a plate, then leave aside.

• Dust a clean work surface and rolling pin with flour, then divide the dough in half, then divide each half into 6 equal-sized pieces (roughly the size of a golf ball). 

• With your hands, pat and flatten the dough, then use a rolling pin to roll each piece into 12cm rounds, roughly 2mm to 3mm thick. 

•Place a pan on a high heat, then once hot, cook each one for 1 to 2 minutes

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I also add a green lettuce mix with coarsely grated zucchini,  you can put it all out on a large chopping board or in separate bowls.

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Now you have all of the different components

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 It is an easy, fun, messy meal which should be eaten with your fingers.

The kids will love both the mess and the excuse to eat with their hands.

 Your guts will love this meal because of the yoghurt, chick peas, couscous, herbs, beans, green leaves and raw veg.

Everyone should be happy!!

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Probiotics and Prebiotics

This week I delve into the world of probiotics and prebiotics

 to find out what they are, how they help us and how to best consume them.

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Probiotics

  • Living good bacteria
  • Known to aid gut health
  • Make up your microbiome and balance out any bad bacteria you might have 
  • They are thought to help restore the natural balance in the gut, especially after a course of antibiotics
  • Found in fermented foods
  • Prebiotics nourish and feed probiotics
  • Are nutrients

 

blog-probiotics

Prebiotics

  • Prebiotics nourish and feed probiotics
  • Naturally found in our bodies 
  • Found in fibre
  • Are digested by our gut microbiota, and they flourishes on them, causing them to grow and multiply improving our gut health
  • Increase mineral absorption
  • Increase levels of good bacteria and reduce levels of bad bacteria
  • All those amazing benefits of probiotics, like decreased anxiety, immunity system boosts, weight maintenance, reduced risk for disease, improved digestion…those wouldn’t exist without prebiotics

 

probiotics-vs-prebiotics

In my previous post I looked at how we have both “good” and “bad” bacteria in our guts. “In a healthy gut, the number of bad bacteria are limited and tightly controlled by the good bacteria. If, however, the good bacteria are weakened, the bad bacteria can get out of control and wreak havoc on our overall health and immunity.” (Sarah Wilson)

After learning a little about what they are, undoubtably my next question was  – where can I get some of these??!!

Experts recommend eating a variety of the following foods, as each offers unique fibers, and different microbes like to munch on different types. This way, you also increase your microbial biodiversity, which researchers have found is crucial to a healthy gut. And even if you haven’t jumped on the probiotic bandwagon just yet, you should probably introduce these foods into your diet anyway; studies show that just adding prebiotic veggies to an unhealthy diet can begin to alter the composition of our gut by strengthening our good microbes.

http://www.eatthis.com/prebiotics

Probiotic foods

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You can also take probiotics in the form of shop-bought yoghurt drinks, some of which contain up to billions per millilitre (just be wary of added sugars), and as tablets, capsules and powder.

Prebiotic foods

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Other foods naturally high in prebiotics include beans, beetroot, cashews, corn, grapefruit, sweet potato, peaches, nuts and oats.

 

As you can see, most of these are fairly common ingredients that I know I can find in Jakarta, so by starting to include them into my meals I will be making my gut very happy – are you up for the challenge?

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A final thought that I found in my research –

You can load up on all the probiotic supplements you can get your hands on, but without prebiotics it won’t be of much benefit. A diet rich in fruits, whole grains, vegetables will give your flora food to feed on and keep it thriving.

Elissa Goodman

 

Feature image – elissagoodman.com/…/whats-missing-prebiotics

Happy gut image – smileygut1.jpg

Probiotic food image – probiotic-foods.jpg

Prebiotic food image – foods-high-in-prebiotics.png

Probiotic and Prebiotic image – probiotics-vs-prebiotics.jp

Prebiotic image – blog-probiotics.jpg

Probiotic image – 13-400-species-probiotics.gif

What does your poo say about you?

This week I was going to look at  probiotics, prebiotics, fibre and poo. But after my research I think I may have to do probiotics and probiotics next week as there is so much to learn about our POO!

So what does your poo say about you?

I still remember many years ago, Oprah had someone on her show and they were talking about turning around on the toilet and seeing what came out as an indication of what is going on inside your body. For some reason that episode has stuck with me and I believe it is a great way to judge your body health on the inside. So what is poo? Poo is made up of water, fibre, bacteria, bile and sloughed-off cells from the inside of your intestinal tract.

You may be amazed, delighted, or shocked to know that there is a chart that lets you know, according to your poo, how your insides are going.

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On Sarah Wilson’s website she explains it like this :-

Floaters, stinkers, and skid mark leavers.

Floating poos, poos that leave skid marks, or poos that leave a shameful stench are an indicator that your body isn’t digesting or absorbing fats properly. The liver is the culprit here. It’s also one overworked organ so it’s important to care for it daily.

Tip: Flush out the liver with water and support its function with lemon juice, green veggies and bitter foods like endive, rocket, alfalfa, and dill.

Hard and dry.

This means it’s not moving through your digestive system fast enough. Even if you go everyday but your poo is consistently hard and comes out in pieces rather then a soft, single piece, you are constipated.

Tip: Drinking enough water is crucial, but you can also try including chia seeds, slippery elm, and fibrous veggies. These can include green vegetables, avocado and cabbage (why not try to make your own sauerkraut?).

Sloppy or falls apart.

This means your poo is moving too fast through your digestive tract and water isn’t being absorbed and used by the body. This could be due to food intolerance, infection or artificial sweeteners. Tip: Increase soluble fibre, which will absorb extra fluid and increase roughage. You’ll find this in legumes, oatmeal, ground nuts and seeds and psyllium husks. Note: Remember to soak your legumes, nuts and seeds, this breaks down the phytic acid and makes them easier for your gut to digest.

Here is another way to look at it – 

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So what is the perfect poo?

It is the shape of a banana, not too hard or too soft. It should be regular brown, easy to pass and not smell horrendous. Normal pooping frequency can range from three times a week to three times a day. However, most people feel best with one or two nicely formed poos a day.

Giulia Enders author of ‘GUT: The Inside Story Of Our Body’s Most Under-Rated Organ’, explains that we may be pooing all wrong. Enders tells about various studies that show that we poop more efficiently if we squat. This is because the closure mechanism of the gut is not designed to “open the hatch completely” when we’re sitting down or standing up: it’s like a kinked hose. Squatting is far more natural and puts less pressure on our bottoms. She says: “1.2 billion people around the world who squat have almost no incidence of diverticulosis and fewer problems with piles. We in the west, on the other hand, squeeze our gut tissue until it comes out of our bottoms.” 

But not to worry. Although you can climb on your toilet seat and squat (“It might be fun!”), we can iron out the kink by sitting with our feet on a little stool and leaning forward. The book even has a helpful drawing by Enders’ sister.

Alternet

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So what relationship does fibre have with poo?

Lets start by looking what fibre is. Fibre isn’t digested by your body like fats, proteins, or carbs. in fact, it stays pretty much the same until it hits your colon. There are two types of fibre: those that don’t dissolve in water (insoluble fibre) and those that do (soluble fibre).

Insoluble fibre – This is found in the seeds and skins of fruit (so always eat your peels) as well as whole-wheat bread, legumes and brown rice.

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Soluble Fibre -Can be found in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley and psyllium husks/hull.

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Both types of fibre are beneficial to the body and your gut.

Why is it important?

The principal advantage of a diet high in fibre is in improving the health of the digestive system. The digestive system is lined with muscles that massage food along the tract from the moment a mouthful is swallowed until the eventual waste is passed out of the bowel. Since fibre is relatively indigestible, it adds bulk to the poo.

Soluble fibre soaks up water like a sponge, which helps to bulk out the poo and allows it to pass through the gut more easily. It acts to slow down the rate of digestion. This slowing down effect is usually overridden by insoluble fibre, which does not absorb water and speeds up the time that food passes through the gut.

Better Health Vic Govt

You do need to be careful with your fibre intake as to much can cause problems and so can too little. For more information read here – https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/fibre-in-food

The Australian recommendation of fibre intake a day is more than 30grams.

Some ideas to increase your fibre intake – 

  • Go with whole fruit instead of juice. Whole apples and whole oranges are packed with a lot more fibre.
  • Break the fast with fruit. Get off to a great start by adding fruit, like berries or melon, to your breakfast every day.
  • Check the label for fibre-filled whole grains. Choose foods that list whole grains (like whole wheat or whole oats)
  • Eat more beans. It’s easy to forget about beans, but they’re a great tasting, cheap source of fibre, good carbs, protein, and other important nutrients.
  • Try a new dish. Test out international recipes that use whole grains, like tabouli or whole wheat pasta, or beans, like Indian dahls.
  • Psyllium husks/hull are a wonderful source of fibre and can be easily added to your morning smoothie.

 

high-fibre-foods

Catalyst

If you found the first part interesting you will love this second! –

Part 2 – http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/4511643.htm

 

Gut Health

We have all heard the famous saying –
“you are what you eat”.
But when we talk about gut health it would be more accurate to say –
“you are what you absorb”.

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The gut is our gastrointestinal tract, and is integral to our overall health, affecting everything from our metabolism to our immune system function and even our mood. (Jamie Oliver)

I have spent my summer break trying to learn more about gut health.  My girlfriend spent many years fighting lyme disease and in the process she has learnt a lot about her gut. She has inspired me to take a look into my gut health.  I have started to read about things that I never knew existed!  It has been such an interesting journey already and I have only just scratched the surface. To negotiate my way through the complex jargon and topics of this new area of health research is going to be quite tricky for a junior primary teacher!!

When I typed ‘gut health’ into a google search about 88,500,000 results come up..!

Where do I start???

I decided to hit the book shops and found this:

Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Under-rated Organ by Giulia Enders.

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Giulia writes in a really  entertaining and easy-to-read way and it is captivating from start to finish. I must admit there are a lot of words I had to google but overall it gave a great insight into the function and importance of our gut.

Here are a couple of reviews about it.

Enders argues that even scientists like her – a 24-year-old doctoral student at Frankfurt’s Goethe University – have only in recent years started to explore the possibility that the health of our bowels could have a more direct influence on our mental wellbeing, our motivation, memory and sense of morality than our DNA…

From – The Guardian

The key to living a happier, healthier life is inside us.

Our gut is almost as important to us as our brain or our heart, yet we know very little about how it works. In Gut, Giulia Enders shows that rather than the utilitarian and — let’s be honest — somewhat embarrassing body part we imagine it to be, it is one of the most complex, important, and even miraculous parts of our anatomy. And scientists are only just discovering quite how much it has to offer; new research shows that gut bacteria can play a role in everything from obesity and allergies to Alzheimer’s.

From – Scribe

I have almost come to the end of her book and I have enjoyed learning so much about gut health.   She answers questions like : Why does acid reflux happen? What’s really up with gluten and lactose intolerance? How does the gut affect obesity and mood? Communication between the gut and the brain is one of the fastest-growing areas of medical research—on par with stem-cell research. Our gut reactions, we learn, are intimately connected with our physical and mental well-being.(Good reads)

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This is a link to a great interview with Giulia Enders that helped me to understand more about her book and her area of research.

http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2015/s4266602.htm 

It is an area that intrigues me and I actually can’t wait to find out more.

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Jamie Oliver has also taken on this new area of research and on his webpage he explains it like this.

GUT MICROBIOTA

Microbiota is the name given to the trillions of microorganisms or bacteria living in our gut, made up from thousands of different species. It’s about 50% of our total bodily cells, and two-thirds of our gut microbiota is completely unique to us, similar to DNA.

When we’re in our mother’s womb our gut is sterile, meaning it’s completely free from these bacteria. During labour we acquire gut microbes from our mum’s body, as well as from the environment we’re born in and the air around us.

WHAT GUT MICROBIOTA DOES

When we feed our gut microbiota it increases in numbers, helping us to have a happy gut. As well as helping us to maintain a healthy digestive system, it:

•Helps us to break down foods that we cannot digest, specifically fibre, into energy that we can actually use

•Helps our immune system to fight infection and helps to prevent harmful bacteria from transferring into our bloodstream

•Helps with the production of some vitamins, such as:

◦Vitamin B12 – for healthy metabolism, immune and nervous system function, and red blood cell formation, keeping us awake and alert

◦Vitamin K – for strong healthy bones

◦Folate – preventing tiredness

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Another interesting clip that I found on gut bacteria is a two part episode from an Australian television program called Catalyst.

Catalyst : Gut reaction pt 1 – http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/4067184.htm

(part 2 next week)

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Phew… I think I have stumbled upon a subject that will take me quite some time to understand.

So, next week I am going to look at –

PROBIOTICS VS. PREBIOTICS

&

FIBRE and POO!

Until then, take a look in the toilet bowl and be amazed and what your gut has produced!!

poop

FEATURE IMAGE – What Does Your Gut Has To Do With Your Mood?