How cooking your meals can improve your acid reflux and IBS symptoms

Did you know that something simple like cooking your own meals can actually help your digestion?

Imagine this: you decide to make a stew. You start sauteing onions, adding spices, roasting some seeds for your salad, chopping vegetables, washing some greens…. Your kitchen starts filling up with lovely aromas.

What then happens in your body is that this thinking about food, the hands-on preparing and the mouth-watering aromas set off a cascade of processes. And they are key for proper digestion.

Let’s get a bit technical: the hypothalamus in your brain starts signaling to the medulla oblongata in the brainstem: there’s food coming! The medulla’s response is sending out nerve impulses, which travel down the big, wandering nerve – the vagus nerve – to your digestive organs saying: Hey, let’s prepare and be ready for some good food! Your salivary glands start producing more saliva. The cells in your stomach wall ramp up the secretion of stomach acid. Your pancreas and your liver also get the message: start make some enzymes and bile. Together, they help with optimal digestion.

Something else is of course that when you cook your own meals, you decide what’s going in. You’re probably not going to add sugar, low quality oils, emulsifiers and preservatives to your cooking pot. It will be more likely honest whole foods that your body loves and knows how to deal with.

So how does this help your acid reflux and IBS?

Well, when the body is prepared for eating, you will break down your nutrients much better. And you will be able to absorb those nutrients and use them to build tissues and make energy.

Undigested foods can cause an imbalance in the bacteria in your gut. Those critters can produce quite a lot of gas and the result is you feel the bloat and your stomach gets pushed up because of the pressure in your unhappy tummy. And that can result in acid reflux and IBS symptoms like pain, gas and constipation or diarrhea.

Also, for many people low stomach acid is the cause of their acid reflux. I know, that’s not how it feels! When you eat a ready meal or a quick bite on the go and your body is not in ‘digesting mode’, you will have less stomach acid and more chances of experiencing acid reflux.

Is your life very busy and do you struggle to eat healthily because of that?

I wrote down some handy tips that take you out of overwhelm. You can download my free ‘Healthy Eating on the Go’ guide by clicking here.

Turmeric milk made my way

Golden or turmeric milk is a cow’s, nut or coconut milk, heated with a good amount of turmeric in it. I shouldn’t be saying this as a nutrition and herb expert because of it’s great properties, but… I didn’t like to drink it! The reason was that I used turmeric powder. That leaves you with quite a lot of bits in your milk and it has quite a strong bitter taste.

But now they’re selling fresh turmeric root in my local shop, so I decided to try again. Delicious! I loved it! Maybe you want to have a try as well.

Anti-inflammatory

Turmeric is well known for it’s anti-inflammatory properties. And this is not something woo woo to brush aside:  there are currently over 10,000 peer-reviewed articles published proving turmeric benefits, especially one of its renowned healing compounds, curcumin.

In several of those papers  the researchers  compared turmeric to conventional medicine, and found out it worked equally well or even better than the  pharmaceutical medication!

Recently turmeric has even been recognised for helping with depression!

Turmeric milk recipe

I like to use fresh ginger root in my turmeric milk as well, as it makes it nice and warming. And I do add a tiny bit of sweetener.

One warning: turmeric can stain your clothes yellow, so don’t wear your new white shirt and make sure you put on a apron!

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp grated fresh turmeric
  • Optional: a teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/2 mug of coconut milk from a can, full fat
  • 1/2 mug of water
  • Or; 1 mug of home made nut or seed milk
  • A tiny bit of sweetener: 3 drops of liquid stevia or a teaspoon of raw honey or maple syrup, optional

Steps

  • Put all your ingredients except for the sweetener in a saucepan
  • Heat gently until hot but not boiling
  • Leave it on a very low heat for 5 minutes
  • Pour through a tea strainer and add the sweetener if you want
  • Enjoy!

A basic hummus recipe: easy, delicious and versatile

Hummus is such a versatile and easy to make dish! I make this hummus recipe nearly every week because it’s a great one to have in my fridge in case of a snack attack. Or when the lunch of dinner I made is a bit bland or low in protein and healthy fats. This one is great for blood sugar and hormone balance!

It’s lovely as a snack with carrot, cucumber or bell pepper cut in sticks. A great one to bring with you when traveling as well!

Dried chickpeas vs cans

I use dried chickpeas, as ‘they’ use hormone balance disrupting Bisphenol-A (BPA) for the lining of the cans. Even the organic ones. Yikes! And I can’t find any beans in glass near to me. Anyway, cooking your chickpeas is easy peasy and cheap.

I start with a cup of dried chickpeas and soak them overnight with two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. This makes them a lot easier to digest. In the morning I rinse them well and discard any dark ones. Then I gently cook them with some salt until they are firm and not mushy. It depends on their age how long it takes! If they are too firm, let them simmer for another half hour with the lid on.

This would give you enough to store some in the freezer so you’ll have enough for 3 or 4 batches of hummus!

 


Recipe

Serves 4
Ingredients:

  • 1 heaping cup of cooked chickpeas
  • 1 tbsp of fresh lemon juice. You can add more after tasting.
  • 1 big or two small garlic cloves
  • 1 level teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp of salt
  • ½ cup of tahini
  • 4 tbsp of water
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • optional: smoked paprika powder

You can use a small or big a food processor or a hand held blender for this. Don’t have any of these? No problem. You can also use a fork. Make sure you cut the garlic very finely or use garlic powder (1/4 tsp) to avoid having a big clump of raw garlic…

How to do it:

  1. Strain chickpeas
  2. Press or finely cut garlic
  3. Put chickpeas, salt, tahini, garlic, 1 tbsp of olive oil, 2 tbsp of water, cumin in food processor or container for blender.
  4. Blend and then taste! Make thinner with water and add salt, lemon, garlic or cumin to taste.
  5. Put in a bowl, drizzle the rest of the olive oil over it and shake some (smoked) paprika powder on for taste and beauty.

Oat and banana (or pumpkin. or sweet potato) bars

Going gluten free meant we had to re-think our snacks. My husband Hugo works as a handyman and gets hungry very easily. If he doesn’t have a good snack on him he will grab something that doesn’t work for him and suffer later.

Oat and banana bars

These bars are free from gluten, dairy and refined sugar and easy to make. We love them and usually make a double batch because they tend to disappear quickly.

We make them with bananas, but they work with steamed or roasted squash or sweet potato as well.

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:
. 2 cups of (gluten free) oats
. 2 tbsp ground linseed
. 1½ tsp cinnamon
. ½ tsp ginger powder
. ¼ tsp grated nutmeg
. 1 tsp ground fennel
. ¼ tsp salt
. 2 mashed ripe bananas (or 1 cup of steamed or roasted and then pureed pumpkin or squash)
. ½ cup almond butter
. 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
. 8 pitted medjoul dates
. 1 tsp vanilla extract
. 10 drops liquid stevia or 2 tbsp coconut sugar or date syrup, optional
. ½ cup raisins
. ½ cup walnuts (optional but very nice)

Oat and banana bars 2
How to do it:
. Cover the dates with hot water and let them soak for 10 minutes
. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl (oats, linseed, spices, salt, raisins, nuts)
. Blend the wet ingredients with a fork or use a stick blender: (dates, water, bananas, almond butter, vanilla extract, coconut oil)
. Line a 20-20 cm square tray with baking paper and spread evenly
. Bake for 20 – 30 minutes on 180 degrees C
. Cut and cool on a cooling rack

Enjoy as a nutritious snack!

How to make a really nice soup

I love making soup. I feel it sustains me and warms me in winter – and that’s what it feel like right now!

Over time I have learned that it takes five tastes to make a really nice one: salt, sweet, sour, spicy and fat. The salt can come from a good quality salt, like a sea salt or a pink salt. Or a good quality bouillon powder. The sweet part for me often comes from caramelising onions or leeks (my husband can’t eat onions!) or from using sweet vegetables such as carrot, sweet potato, beetroot, parsnips or squash. Adding a bit of sour often makes the taste come alive: I mostly use tomatoes or lemon juice. Just a bit of the latter.

I don’t like hot spicy food but I do like a soup having a little ‘kick’. Fresh ginger is great for that, or a pinch of cayenne or black pepper. And a bit of good quality fat makes a soup SO much better. That could be a lump of butter, some ghee or coconut oil or some coconut milk. Using a bone broth with some animal fat is the best. Don’t be afraid of using good quality fat: we need it, it’s healing and it doesn’t make you fat.

Eat your weeds: chickweed pakoras

Because of the mild weather there’s still lots of chickweed growing at the moment! It has been said that there is no part of the world where Chickweed is not to be found. It’s one of the first greens available in winter and the tenderest of wild greens. It’s available most of the year round, but gets stringy around midsummer. As the name suggests, poultry love it.

Chickweed is readily distinguished from the alike plants by a line of hairs that runs up the stem on one side only, which when it reaches a pair of leaves is continued on the opposite side. As you can see in the picture.

Chickweed can be eaten raw. Most obvious is eating it as a salad. Or how about liquidised in a green smoothy? It makes a nice pesto as well. But the best recipe I’ve come across is chickweed pakoras

Chickweed pakora
From: Hedgerow – John Wright

Makes 8

Don’t be too precise on quantities: it’s hard to get this one wrong…

100 gr gram (chickpea) flour
1 tbsp medium curry powder or to taste
½ tps baking powder
½ tsp salt (or more)
About 120 ml water
50 gr chickweed, washed, dried and roughly chopped
1 small onion
1 clove of garlic or a handful of wild garlic
Vegetable oil for shallow frying

– Mix flour, curry powder, baking powder and salt
– Slowly stir in enough water to form a paste with the consistency of mustard
– Mix in chickweed, onion and garlic
– Heat a thin layer of oil in a heavy-based frying pan
– When hot, spoon in heaped spoonfuls of the pakora mixture to form little cakes. Space them well apart
– Cover with a lid and cook over a medium heat for about 5 minutes until crisp and golden brown on one side.
– Turn over the cakes and brown the other side
– Drain on kitchen paper and serve!