Four ways to boost your probiotic pals

Veggie-based foods are good for the planet and better for animals. Yep, we all know that. But did you know it’s also better for the animals that live inside you?

We’re talking about the 100 trillion microbes that live on and in you – and particularly live in the intestines. And just like you need to eat, so do your gut bacteria.

 

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A delicious way to boost your probiotic pals!

 

 

More and more research is proving what ancient cultures have known since history began. That feeding the right bacteria can have profound effects on your health – from your body weight to your mood , reducing the production of compounds that trigger with inflammation and a vital part of your immune system. Plus, certain foods, the ones that contain resistant starch, are favourite foods for your probiotic people. Resistant starch might even help the body absorb more minerals .

Fibre only comes from plant foods – it is a range of plant materials that your body can’t digest. So, they reach the large intestine virtually unchanged and here, they provide food for gut bacteria.

Here’s how you can boost the fibre and the nourishment for your little guys:
1. Eat fewer white flour foods (which have had the fibre and nutrients removed from the unprocessed, natural flour). These don’t feed your probiotic microbes. And without food, they won’t survive and this can have major effects on your health and mood.
2. Love your legumes. Pulses and lentils contain soluble fibre, which probiotics love to eat . Add lentils and beans to your salads, soups and more.
3. Treat your probiotics with special starch. Some foods are especially rich in resistant starch including artichokes, asparagus, leeks, chicory, onions, garlic, bananas, oats, wheat, lentils and pulses – chickpeas and beans.
4. Love chocolate Dark chocolate (fair trade and organic please) are rich a great snack – rich in antioxidant flavonoids for you, rich in resistant start for your probiotic pals.

Okra sabsi

Okra may have originated in Africa West Africa or Ethiopia) or south Asia and history tells us that the ancient Egyptians cultivated it in the 12th century BC. Known as ladies fingers (or gumbo in the Americas), okra is a member of the mallow family. You can find dishes that feature in the cuisines in many counties around the world.

 

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Okra sabsi – lovely and a little bit different

Ingredients

400g fresh okra

6-8 tbsp light olive oil

1 large onion, finely sliced lengthwise

1 tsp red chilli powder

½ tsp turmeric

½ teaspoon fennel seeds ground

1 tsp cumin seeds, ground

Salt to taste

2 green chilies, sliced lengthwise

Wash the okra, drain and dry really well (otherwise the veggies can feel a little slimy – yuck!). Cut off the ends and slice into 2cm pieces.

1 tsp ground pomegranate powder or a splash of lime juice.

Method

In a large pan, heat the oil and add the onion. Stir and cook until golden.

Add the spices to the pan (except the pomegranate powder or lime juice) and roast for a minute or so to allow the spices to become fragrant.

Add the okra, stir to coat and cook, uncovered on a medium heat for about 20 minutes (the veggies should simmer). Don’t add water but do stir occasionally so the mixture doesn’t stick. The dish is done when the veggies are tender.

Sprinkle with the pomegranate powder or lime juice and serve with naan, pitta or roti.

Spicy aloo (potato) tikki

 

The only trouble with these is that you could be cooking them all day since the family keep eating them. Totally yummy and extremely addictive – i dont know anyone who doesnt love these. Honest.

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Ingredients

Light olive oil for frying

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 onion, finely chopped

2 tsp garam masala

2 tsp chili powder

3 tsp salt

Large handful of coriander, finely chopped

Juice of half a lemon

Three or more green chilies, sliced

I kg of waxy potatoes (baked in their skins in a tray with salt added to the tray to draw out the moisture), then peeled and mashed – this helps to ensure that the potatoes don’t get too wet).

1 cup gram (chickpea) flour

 

Method

Fry the cumin seeds in hot oil until they crackle

Add the onions and fry unit golden brown.

Stir in the, garam masala, salt, chili.

Place the potato into a bowl and spoon the onion mixture onto it; stir to combine evenly.

Cover and allow the mixture to chill for half an hour or so to help firm up the mixture and make it easier to work with.

Add the lemon juice and coriander leaves (leaving these until just before cooking helps the leaves to stay fragrant).

To make the coating, pour the gram flour in a bowl and using a whisk, add enough water to form a thick, sticky, smooth batter.

Heat the oil in a large fry pan.

Take a palm size piece of potato and form into a patty.

Then dip into the batter so that the potato mixture is covered as well as possible. If the potato mixture starts to fall apart, place tikkies into the hot oil and pour two or so teaspoons of the batter on each tikki. Cook for around five minutes or until golden, turn and add more of the batter. Carefully tilt the pan from time to time as you cook to make sure that the sides of the tikki are cooked, too.

Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

Serve with fresh lemon juice and chili sauce or mint or tamarind chutney.

Spicy carrot pickle

Enjoy as an accompaniment to Indian breads such as parathas or with rice. Or enjoy on its own or with a cold beer. For me, this spicy carrot pickle is just right when you fancy chips. I go carrot pickle instead!

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Ingredients

2 tsp fenugreek seeds

2 tsp black mustard seeds

Half a teaspoon nigella seeds

Quarter of a teaspoon of asafoetida

Quarter of a teaspoon turmeric powder

1 tsp chilli powder

Half a tsp salt

Three carrots, peeled and cut into batons

1 and a half tablespoons olive oil, heated

1 tbsp olive oil, heated

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

Method

Roughly grind the fenugreek, mustard and nigella seeds in a pestle and mortar then pour into a mixing bowl.

Ad the asafoetida, turmeric, chilli powder and salt.

Add the carrots.

Add the hot oil and stir to mix.

Add the vinegar and stir to combine.

Serve immediately or stop in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

 

Petis pois and cashew nut pesto

This fresh pesto is easy and tastes wonderfully fresh. Enjoy with pasta or rice or add a little more oil and dip it! This recipe make lots of pesto so half it or store half in an airtight jar for up to two day.

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Ingredients

4 garlic cloves

One bunch of basil leaves

One bunch of coriander leaves

1 x 400g frozen edamame (soya beans), thawed

Large handful of cashew nuts

Juice of one lemon lemon juice

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp salt

Freshly ground black pepper

 

Method

Using a food processor, pulse the garlic, basil and coriander. Spoon into a large bowl.

Now crumb the cashew nuts in the food processor and add to the herb mix.

Stir in the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Add more olive oil if you like a little more moisture.

Serve as a sauce or a dip.

 

Whole fresh garam masala

Need a little spice in your life? Everyone does! Homemade garam masala doesn’t just bring a bit of spice to your veggies dishes, it brings a whole new depth of layered flavour. Try this roasted spice mixture once and you’ll be a fan for life!

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In Punjabi, garam means hot, and masala means blended spices. So,garam masala literally means warm/hot spice mix.

But that doesn’t mean that garam masala is hot in terms of spice. It refers to the way it is said to raise metabolism. It’s also why you should use it sparingly and at the end of cooking or preparing veggie dishes such as salads, soups, bread, dahls and vegetable curries.

 

Ingredients

1 tbsp cumin seeds

2 tsp black cardamom

1 tbsp green cardamom

2 tbsp coriander seeds

2 tsp fennel seeds

2 tbsp black peppercorn

1 tsp cloves

1 x 2.5cm cinnamon sticks

1 tsp mace

4 dried bay leaves (Indian if possible)

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp dried ginger

1 nutmeg

 

Method

Roast the spices (except the black cardamom (to release the fragrant essential oils in a heavy based pan, stirring to ensure they are all roasted event.

Allow to cool and then grind in a clean coffee grinder.

Use a teaspoon or two at the end of cooking your dishes to enjoy the fragrant flavour. Store in an airtight container but try to use quickly – the essential oils lose their potency fast.

Rum and coconut bananas

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Cooking bananas brings about a caramel sweetness

Although this dessert dish doesn’t use a great deal of sugar, you can reduce it further – just choose sweet ripe bananas for a natural sweetness. It’s also full of potassium – which helps to balance sodium in your body (too much can raise blood pressure).

 

Ingredients

2 tbsp desiccated coconut

2 tbsp vegetarian margarine or coconut oil

1 tbsp brown sugar

2 small bananas, peeled and sliced as thinly as you can

Pinch of ground cinnamon

Splash of rum (optional) or use Cointreau

 

Method

Heat a large pan and gently toast the coconut until lightly golden.

Heat the bananas in the coconut oil and using a wooden spoon, stir in the brown sugar – allow to melt.

Add the bananas and coat with the coconut oil and sugar mix. Pour in the alcohol if using and cook for five minutes until softened (the heat will burn off the alcohol or you can flambé it if it’s safe.

Finish with the cinnamon and coconut and serve with coconut ice or nice cream.

Cinnamon and raspberry doughnuts

OK, not the healthiest of dishes ..

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An occasional vegan and gluten free treat

Ingredients

¼ cup + 1 tbsp caster sugar

1 cup warm water

½ tbsp dried yeast

2 tbsp margarie (e.g. Nuttelex, Earth Balance)

3 cups plain or buckwheat flour

1 tsp salt

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp cinnamon

½ cup caster sugar to roll

Jam to fill (try the raspberry chia fruit spread (https://lillysethicaledibles.com/2016/06/27/easy-raspberry-fruit-spread/)

Peanut oil to fry

 

Method

Mix 1 tbsp sugar with yeast and water and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and ¼ cup sugar.

Mix in melted margarine and the yeast mixture (which should be foamy by now). Set aside the soft dough in covered bowl to rise for two hours.

Gently roll dough to 2.5cm thick, cut out rings about 5cm across and leave to rise for another twenty minutes.

Heat the oil and drop in the doughnuts two or three at a time, making sure they don’t touch. Turn once.

When golden browned remove and lay on a plate covered in kitchen paper.

Roll the doughnuts in sugar and set aside. Repeat until all doughnuts are cooked and sugared,

Make a small hole on the side of each doughnut and pipe in the jam. If you don’t have a piping bag, just cut in two and sandwich them together with jam.

 

Best eaten that day.

 

Turmeric: the spice that could benefit your life!

 

In 2010, scientists examining ancient pottery from the site of an ancient civilisation near Delhi found traces of eggplant with ginger and turmeric in clay pots. They dubbed it the world’s first curry. So, Ayurvedic medical practitioners have used the vibrant yellow spice, currently starring in teas, smoothies and dinner dishes in café and homes near you, for four thousand years or more. So what did the ancient food doctors in India know about turmeric that we’re only just learning? And can this flavour and colour boost also come with health benefits?

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Amazingly effective anti-inflammaotry action

Botanist Dr James A. Duke, writing in Alternative & Complementary Therapies, has reviewed around 700 studies examining the benefits of turmeric (curcuma longa). He found that in some studies, turmeric has been show to be even more effective than a number of pharmaceutical where it comes to anti-inflammatory action – and with virtually no adverse effects.

 

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Turmeric gives a vibrant colour to mustard and curry powder and has powerful anti-inflammatory effects

 

Here’s where ancient wisdom and modern knowledge combine and just a few fast facts about this surprisingly beneficial spice …

Turmeric contains over 20 active medicinal compounds called curcumunoids; the most important of these is curcumin and this may have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and antioxidant properties according to Harvard University[i].

  1. The plant compound in pepper (which gives pepper its bite) is called piperine and this boosts your body’s ability to absorb turmeric by 2000 times[ii].
  2. Because curcumin is fat-soluble, it needs fat to dissolve in before it can be absorbed. Could be one reason why many curries begin with the frying of onions and garlic in oil? Try using olive oil – it contains a unique range of beneficial phenolic compounds that aren’t found in any other food.
  3. Turmeric may have a role to play in the prevention of dementia. It does this by reducing the formation of a substance called beta-amyloid (responsible for the formation of plaques that obstruct brain) in Alzheimer’s disease.
  4. Curcumin fights oxidative damage and inflammation which both contribute to dementia. This may be especially important since curcumin can cross the blood-brain barrier – i.e. it can pass from the blood into the brain helping to keep blood vessels clear and in this way, allow for oxygen and nutrients in blood to nourish the brain.
  5. Turmeric contains six different COX-2-inhibitors. COX-2 enzymes promote pain, swelling and inflammation but COX-2-inhibitors selectively block this enzyme. Because of this, it may be able to play a role in keeping blood vessels clear. In one study of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, curcumin was even more effective than an anti-inflammatory drug[iii].
  6. Powdered turmeric root contains around three per cent curcumin[iv]. Many of the newer studies examine the effect of 1gram of curcumin extract so you may want to consider a supplement as well as upping your intake from dishes that contain turmeric.
  7. Turmeric may have a role in fighting depression, again due to its potent anti-inflammatory action. In one small study of 60 people, one group took a selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI), called Prozac (fluoxetine), another took a 1g dose of curcumin daily while a third group took both the SSRI and 1g curcumin. After six weeks, the results showed that the group that took both curcumin and fluoxetine displayed the best results where it came to mood and depression[v]. The severity of depression was assessed using a common test for depression called the Hamilton Rating Scale (HAM-D). This evaluates mood, guilt, suicidal ideation, sleep problems, agitation anxiety, and more. Results showed that overall, the average change in the HAM-D scores was similar for curcumin and fluoxetine i.e. curcumin worked as well as fluoxetine in terms of improvements in the severity of depression. One of the ways in which curcumin may exert its effect is by boosting the feel-good brain transmitters serotonin and dopamine[vi].
  8. Raw turmeric may have greater anti-inflammatory effects than cooked turmeric.
  9. Cooked turmeric may have greater antioxidant effects than raw.

 

Convinced?

Ready to give it a go? The University of Maryland recommends a dose of 1.5 to 3 g cut root per day, 1-3 g dried turmeric or 400 to 600 mg standardised powder (curcumin) three times per day[vii].

Buy fresh turmeric from groceries and dried ginger from grocers and supermarkets.

Five ways to enjoy turmeric:

  1. Yellow curry https://lillysethicaledibles.com/2016/05/15/zucchini-and-cashew-red-curry/
  2. On vegetables such as cauliflower and Brussels sprouts (which contain the powerful anti-cancer compound sulphurophane) https://lillysethicaledibles.com/2015/05/28/zesty-kale-and-quinoa-with-tasty-turmeric-cauliflower/
  3. In soups and dahl https://lillysethicaledibles.com/2014/06/23/coconut-and-ginger-dahl/
  4. https://lillysethicaledibles.com/?s=yellow+curry
  5. https://lillysethicaledibles.com/2016/05/15/zucchini-and-cashew-red-curry/

 

 

[i] Harvard Health Publications. Harvard Medical School. Can everyday spice make you healthier? http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/can-everyday-spices-make-you-healthier

[ii] Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human volunteers. Planta Med. 1998 May;64(4):353-6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9619120

[iii] A randomized, pilot study to assess the efficacy and safety of curcumin in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis. Phytother Res. 2012 Nov;26(11):1719-25. doi: 10.1002/ptr.4639. Epub 2012 Mar 9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22407780

[iv] Nutr Cancer. 2006;55(2):126-31. Curcumin content of turmeric and curry powders. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17044766

[v]Efficacy and Safety of Curcumin in Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Phytotherapy Research. Volume 28, Issue 4, pages 579–585, April 2014

http://tinyurl.com/zf43q89

[vi] Psychopharmacology December 2008, 201:435. Antidepressant activity of curcumin: involvement of serotonin and dopamine system. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00213-008-1300-y

[vii] University of Maryland Medical Center. Turmerichttp://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/turmeric

Mummy’s saag

Spinach is a great source of nutrients – the darker the leaf, the more concentrated the nutrients. Spinach is particularly rich in eye-protective pigment including lutein and zeaxanthin.

The traditional spinach dish is fast and delicious.

Serves four to six

Ingredients

Olive oil for frying

I onion, sliced

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tsp turmeric

3 fresh tomatoes, chopped

2-4 chilies, sliced

1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated4 x 12g packs of spinach leaves

 

Method

In a large pan, fry the onion until golden brown.

Add the garlic and fry for another five minutes taking care not to burn the onions

Stir in the turmeric, tomatoes and ginger and cook for another five minutes.

Add the spinach leaves, one pack at a time – the leaves will wilt quickly allowing you room to add more. Then add 250ml water.

Using a stick blender, blend until the puree is smoothish.

Serve with roti or flatbread or as a main or as a side veggie for your Indian feast.