For the past week, I’ve been hosting a few intimate cooking masterclasses on gut health at The Healthy Chef headquarters in Surry Hills, Sydney. Helping people with their digestive health has been a lifelong interest of mine, as I’ve had to deal with my own digestive issues for years. For those not familiar with my journey, you can read more in my book, Perfect Digestive Health.
FOODS TO HEAL + NOURISH
Throughout my masterclass, I showcased delicious foods that help heal and nourish the gut. Some of these included my Polish sauerkraut, kimchi, dairy and coconut yoghurt, zucchini bread from my cookbook Healthy Baking, as well as my new ‘Mint Slice’ smoothie. Guests sipped on my gut healthy Relax + Renew Tea, which is known for its calming properties as it contains lemon balm and peppermint.
PROBIOTICS VS PREBIOTICS
It’s no secret I strive for a fresh wholefoods diet, which is full of probiotics and prebiotics. Both probiotic and prebiotic foods feature heavily in my Perfect Digestive Health plan and the foods I’ve demonstrated in the past week.
Probiotics are live microorganisms (good bacteria) that reside in the gut. Probiotics support our immune system, aid digestion and assist with nutrient absorption into our bloodstream.
Probiotics play an integral role in maintaining healthy gut function by preventing the invasion of harmful microbes. Probiotics are also involved in the synthesis of important nutrients such as vitamin K and short chain fatty acids.
The word ‘probiotic’ actually means ‘pro-life’ so, where possible, choose the foods that are life-giving to your health. Examples of probiotic foods include sauerkraut, cultured yoghurt and kimchi.
Prebiotics, on the other hand, are food for our probiotics. Prebiotics refer to natural soluble fibres that feed the good bacteria in our large intestine, helping to promote balanced gut flora and healthy bowel function. Examples of prebiotic foods include fruits and vegetables such as apples, oranges, leeks, cabbage, carrots, broccoli, kiwi fruit as well as resistant-starch such as cooked and cooled potatoes. I have included many pre and probiotic rich foods into my smoothies and soup dishes.
MY DAY FOR PERFECT DIGESTIVE HEALTH
Guests enjoyed the below drinks and dishes, which were broken up into breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. Almost all the recipes can be found in my book Perfect Digestive Health.
+ PUMPKIN SEED MILK W/ MATCHA + COCONUT
+ PROTEIN ‘MINT SLICE ‘SMOOTHIE
+ HOMEMADE YOGHURT (GRASS-FED DAIRY + COCONUT MACADAMIA)
+ ZUCCHINI BREAD
I love to focus on making my own nut milks and yoghurts for breakfast. There is nothing like making your own homemade cultured yoghurt as it has so many health benefits. Many store-bought kinds can contain added flavours, emulsifiers or thickeners which can disturb the balance of your gut bacteria.
A great addition to yoghurt is mixing in a tablespoon of Healthy Chef Superfood, which is full of prebiotics to help support your gut bacteria. It's got a lovely berry taste that I simply love.
For my new protein smoothie recipe that tastes exactly like a Mint Slice, I included Healthy Chef Green Smoothie, which is a great probiotic combining the benefits of organic greens.
+ SAUERKRAUT W/ KALE + GREEN APPLE
+ ORGANIC CHICKEN BONE BROTH
+ ORGANIC CARROT SOUP
The key to gut-friendly lunch for me is adding fermented vegetables. Fermented vegetables are a delicious way to keep your gut healthy. They are full of digestive enzymes, probiotic bacteria, vitamins and minerals. The sour flavour comes from the process of lacto-fermentation. This process requires only salt and the lactic acid bacteria already present on the raw cabbage.
Sauerkraut produces amazing amounts of lactobacilli, a probiotic that helps with digestion, nutrient absorption and a healthy immune system.
It’s incredibly easy to make your own, and the main ingredients are only cabbage and salt. For every 1 kg of cabbage use 15 g (1 tablespoon) of unrefined salt.
Fermented vegetables are a delicious way to keep your gut healthy. They are full of digestive enzymes, probiotic bacteria, vitamins and minerals.
For dinner, I tend to have a small meal and often focus on nourishing and restorative ingredients. Warming foods do wonders for my gut health so I love to make my Pan-Roasted Cauliflower with Turmeric and Ginger or even have my 3-ingredient organic carrot soup from lunch. I also have the option of adding a piece of steamed or smoked salmon on the side for added protein and Omega-3s.
+ TURMERIC LATTE – MADE WITH ALMOND MACADAMIA MILK
+ VANILLA + COCONUT ‘RAFFAELLO’ BALLS
Having digestive issues doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in a bit of dessert. In fact, most of the desserts I make are made from nutrition-rich and anti-inflammatory ingredients. My Turmeric Latte, for example, contains loads of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that make it very healing to the body.
Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric, responsible for the distinct yellow colouring and possesses an impressive list of health properties. Turmeric has been linked to the management of inflammatory conditions such inflammatory bowel disease.
The perfect accompaniment to this healing drink is my healthy 'Raffaello' balls which are full of nourishing protein coming from ground almonds and Healthy Chef Pure Native WPI.
Turmeric Latte, for example, contains loads of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that make it very healing to the body.
All guests also took home a Digestive Health Wellness Pack that consisted of my Perfect Digestive Health Cookbook as well as goodies from Pepe Saya, Buchi Kombucha and Green Kitchen Kimchi. A perfect night!
ADDING A TOUCH OF CHILLI TO THE CAULIFLOWER
TEAM HEALTHY CHEF - CRYSTAL AND KLARA MY 2 LOVELY ASSISTANTS
EVERYONE HAD A NOURISHING SERVE OF MY CAULIFLOWER W/ TURMERIC, GINGER AND DUKKAH
WE FINISHED OFF WITH RAFFAELLO PROTEIN BALLS + MY NEW VEGAN ORANGE CAKE FROM HEALTHY BAKING