Loving your gut bugs.

The health and happiness of the trillions of bacterial cells that live in our digestive system is a topic that’s so hot right now, and only going to get hotter. That’s because, as understanding grows about the function of the 100,000,000,000,000 (that’s a hundred trillion to you and me) microbes inside us, we see that they have profound effects on our physical and mental health. Between them, these microbes contain around 3.3 million genes, making the human genome’s 23,000 look distinctly paltry. Some scientists suspect that it’s our ability to harness the power of these bugs that helps to explain human evolutionary success.

These guys may be the secret of our success.

Honestly, the more I read about this subject (links to some great, entertaining books below), the more my mind is completely blown and I’ve been making a real effort to factor in gut-friendly food for the last few months.

Modern life. It’s not working for the microbiome.

Sadly for us, the health of the human microbiome has taken a pounding in the modern era, thanks to medical developments like antibiotics and c-sections, nutritional trends that see us eating more sugar, food additives and less fibre, and the move to more sedentary, more stressed and more tired lifestyles. Also, just the fact that we eat a much smaller range of foods than our ancestors has led to a much less diverse collection of bacteria in our ‘inner-garden’.

The host/bug exchange. We provide an all-inclusive food and accommodation deal so what’s the payoff?

  1. Protection for our digestive system. Not only do the gut bacteria make an additional physical barrier along the gut lining, they also produce fuel for cells making the mucous layer that keeps the gut wall lovely and healthy. I know this all sounds vaguely gross, but if erosion happens, and substances that aren’t supposed to get across this barrier start to get through, chronic inflammation and depression can result.
  2. Help to break down and absorb foods. This is a complex process and where the microbiome is thought to exert its influence over weight management. Some really interesting experiments on twins have highlighted that individuals with exactly the same genetic makeup, even when differences in calorie intake were taken into account, can have quite different weight outcomes; then when their microbes were tested, they showed quite different profiles with less varied bacterial colonies linked to greater weight gain.
  3. Support for our mental health. There are several processes via which this happens, but if you think about the ulterior motive for the bugs, namely, to help us be sociable so that we’ll hang out together and spread them around, this feels slightly creepy.
  4. Support for healthy immune systems. 70% of the immune system lives in the gut, so it initially seems weird that it’s happy to co-exist with several trillion bacterial cells in close proximity, but current thinking is that a good balance of gut bacteria ‘primes’ the immune system and prevents over- or under-activity. Some bacteria also produce specific antibacterial substances that fight harmful bugs.

    One of the bad guys: Salmonella
  5. Manufacture of helpful substances. As well as making the butyrate to fuel mucous-making cells, gut bacteria also produce B vitamins and vitamin K, plus neurotransmitters, including serotonin. How good is that!
  6. Handling female hormones. A subset of the microbiome called the estrobolome  assists in clearing oestrogen from the body. This is a vital part of maintaining a healthy hormone balance and therefore helps minimise the humongous list of issues associated with periods, the menopause, and all that fun stuff.

The fact that research in this field is in its infancy means that we can expect many more cool revelations to come. A slightly less appealing prospect is the fact that stool testing is likely to become much more common – so if you’re squeamish about your poo, it’s time to let it go!

Actionables

Back in the day, supporting our health with probiotics meant eating a bit of extra yoghurt during  a course of antibiotics, but now we know of lots of things that we can do everyday to nurture our little intestinal pals. Some are really straightforward, while others (making fermented foods) took me a bit of a run-in but turned out to be easier than expected and totally worthwhile. Here’s a quick summary of the main things that I’ve been doing.

Get some leeks onto your chopping board.
  1. Eating more PREbiotics. These are fibres found in fruits and vegetables that we can’t break down ourselves, but can be feasted upon by our friendly bacteria. You can find lots of lists of great prebiotic foods online, but some of the more common ones that are easy to include in the diet include oats, apples, leeks, onions, garlic, asparagus and my much loved flax/linseeds. If you like unripe bananas, you’re onto a winner.
  2. Eating more PRObiotics. Probiotics are live, friendly microorganisms that challenge harmful bacteria, either by crowding them out, or stealing all of their food. You can get them in ‘live’ foods, like yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut (not the usual stuff in jars in the supermarket) and kombucha. There’s also a whole swag of probiotic capsules on the market as well as the little drinks in the supermarket (which I would avoid due to sugar content and expense).  I’ve started making my own kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi, and although they look like science experiments gone wrong when they’re percolating, and the sauerkraut does stink the cupboard out for a couple of days, they all taste good and I crave them if I have to go without for a day or two. If you are taking, or have just taken antibiotics, you really need to get some probiotics on board!

    Can’t get enough kimchi…
  3. Cutting back on processed food. As ever, sugar is a baddie here, along with emulsifiers (found in ice-cream, cakes, margarine, mayonnaise and…. chocolate) and artificial sweeteners  These are all thought to basically act as fertiliser for harmful bacteria at the expense of our friendly bugs.
  4. Have a generally healthy lifestyle. You know the drill here: more sleep, reasonable exercise, addressing stress before it gets out of control.  Very satisfyingly, the habits that look after your wellbeing are the ones that support a healthy gut profile.

    Good for your mind and your microbiome.

Recipe: Homemade Sauerkraut.

Go on, give it a go! Just remember, don’t cook it or you’ll destroy all of the lovely bacteria (am I selling it to you??). It’s fantastic on top of a salad, or as a way to get your digestive juices going if you eat a tablespoon before a meal. I based this recipe on the instructions given here which you might want to check out. You’d need at least 3 litre-sized jars for this recipe though. 

Warning: Ease your way into incorporating this into your diet, starting with a teaspoon before a meal, then if that goes okay, a tablespoon the next day and so on. I ignored this advice and the resulting biological warfare in my intestines was not particularly fun.

First, choose your cabbage.
  • 1 green cabbage
  • 1/3 red cabbage
  • 1/3 savoy cabbage
  • 2 carrots grated
  • 2 finely sliced garlic cloves
  • Good salt
  • (I also find celery juice a great addition to make the mix more ‘juicy’ and you can either blend about 4 sticks in a blender or nutribullet, or run through a juicer.) This is not essential though.

Method: Finely slice the cabbage (if you have a food processor, it will be very useful here), add in the other ingredients and then weigh. Once weighed, you can work out how much salt to use because for every 800g of vegetables, you need 1 tablespoon of good quality salt. Put all of the vegetables, plus the celery juice and salt into a large bowl and massage vigorously for about 10 minutes until the vegetables have released a lot of juice.

You can now pack the kraut into very clean large jars, it’s important to press down firmly to remove any air and ensure that there’s enough liquid to cover all of the vegetables and some space at the top because it will create some extra juice. If you save some of the large outer cabbage leaves, you can use these as a cover, and then weigh this down to keep everything submerged. There is a useful video guide to packing the jars on the video here  (skip to 16:30 if you don’t want to watch the whole thing). Make sure to set the jars on a plate or something to catch any drips. On no account screw a lid on at this point – we don’t want any explosions! This part of the process is definitely the most fiddly and why I am lusting after one of these snazzy fermentation crocks. (what happened to my life…?)

Place your jars, covered with cloth/kitchen towel to keep contaminants out, into a warm dark place for 4 – 6 days, you can then add lids and keep them in the fridge for up to a couple of months at least.

Book Recommendations:

Gut by Giulia Enders is hugely entertaining, quirky and really informative. The author is a gorgeous young German scientist who is just fascinated by our digestive system. You can watch her in action giving a TEDx talk about ‘Charming Bowels‘! 

The Diet Myth by Professor Tim Spector is a bit meatier than Gut, but really accessible with practical advice as well.

 

Physical Jerks

I feel like I have to write something about exercise because it’s one of the pillars of good health and something that our bodies are designed to do. For ages, it’s key benefit has been sold to us as losing weight. Yes, we hear the odd bit about feel-good endorphins but the take-home message is that we’d better get moving or get fat. Well, on top of making physical activity feel like just another thing to beat ourselves up about, this totally overstates the effectiveness of exercise as a weightloss tool! I bet most of us have had the experience of flogging ourselves on an exercise machine in the gym, only to see on the readout that we’ve burned the calorific equivalent of half a chocolate digestive…

I like to think that I’m capable of the pull-up. Then I try one.

However, exercise (and there are so many flavours to choose from) is 100% essential for a healthy body and mind for tons of reasons that aren’t related to losing weight. The government recommends 150 minutes of cardio each week (brisk walking counts!) plus at least 2 days a week when you are doing strength exercises that work your whole body – both of which sound reasonably achievable. One caveat though for any chat about the benefits of exercise is that once you get into the hardcore side of things, involving serious training programs, the impact of exercise on the body gets more complicated.

What’s it helping?

  1. Healthy Bones. Apart from swimming, most exercise that involves standing up will help to strengthen our bones, and anything involving bouncing or lifting weight will be really beneficial. Keeping our bones strong should be a lifelong goal –  as we build up to maximum bone density in our 20s, and then try to hang on to as much as possible into old age. As usual (sigh), this is a much bigger issue for women, because once our oestrogen plummets with the menopause, bone density can take a really big hit.

    Lift some weights. Your bones will thank you.
  2. A happy gut. ‘Normal’ exercise has been shown to improve digestion with a healthier gut bacteria profile found in active vs inactive people. It’s also fairly common knowledge that it can help with constipation, and in terms of specific exercises, there’s loads of information about yoga for constipation out there. Who knew?! 

    Wow.
  3. Stronger Immunity. Our lymphatic system is highly underrated but crucial for immunity and detoxification in the body, as it sweeps cellular wastes off to our liver and kidneys and matures and deploys immune cells. Unlike blood, lymph fluid hasn’t got a pump to move it around the body, so it depends on the movement of muscles for healthy circulation.
  4. Muscle Mass. Well obviously exercise is good for our muscles but the reasons for this being a good thing are easy to take for granted when you’re young(ish) and relatively strong, but reveal themselves as we age. Decent muscles protect our joints and of course moving them has benefits for our cardiovascular system. Also, and this is a biggie, muscle mass stores blood sugar to use when we exercise, helping to avoid the cycle of insulin release followed by fat storage which contributes to insulin resistance (a precursor to diabetes). Even a 15 minute walk after a meal has been shown to have a significant effect on lowering blood sugar. After we hit 50, muscle mass operates on a ‘use it or lose it’ basis – I’m aiming for the ‘use-it’ option.

    Madonna’s using it for shizz.
  5. The brain. The effects of exercise on the brain are huge, huge, huge and what is increasingly apparent is that activity doesn’t just make us feel good, it also improves cognitive function. For example, aerobic exercise has been shown to stimulate the part of our brains which governs learning and memory. There’s lots of research going on to see if exercise can affect the symptoms of dementia, and I think it’s pretty common knowledge these days that it’s been shown to improve mood in cases of depression.
I tried skiing this year and am desperate to be good at it.

Knowing all of those benefits (and there are more, hormone balance, staying youthful, the list goes on…)  is a source of motivation for me but to be honest, it’s the fact that without exercise I feel really low that’s the biggest driver to get me moving. Thinking about the various things that I’ve enjoyed and all of the activities that my pals do, like Pilates and dancing (maybes) and loch-swimming (never!) there’s no reason to get bored of things. Currently, I love the combination of walking and a couple of full-on gym classes each week but fancy something stretchy just to round things out. There are a few things that help me lodge exercise firmly into my routine.

  1. Go with friends. There’s a chance to catch up on some goss, bask in your collective glory when you’re done, and a bit of pressure to force you out of the house. For anything that involves having to get up before 6am, unless you’re a weird morning person, this is is essential. If you can’t get a pal to join you, group classes offer the same camaraderie.

    It’s more fun with your mates.
  2. Find something that’s fun for you. I know, it’s totally obvious, but if you hate the gym – and I find running on a treadmill sooo much harder than running outdoors –  maybe there’s an outdoor option? 
  3. Build physical inefficiency into your life. This might mean parking in the Siberian section of the shopping centre car park (suits my parking capabilities…), moving your printer away from your desk so you have to keep getting up or getting off the bus a stop early. Have you heard about sitting being the new smoking?
  4. Get a dog! I know I always bang on about having a dog, and it’s a huge decision and totally not for everyone, but there’s no getting round going for a walk, and once you’re out it’s always fab.

    Hector: My Constant Companion
  5. Don’t think that you can change your whole life routine to accommodate exercise – it sometimes works for a short period, but then the wheels fall off and you end up shelling out for an unused gym membership or something equally galling. Thinking creatively about how you can fit activity in without too much upheaval to everything else has always worked best for me.

How do you manage to fit exercise in and what do you do?

Recipe: I was planning to do a chia seed pudding recipe because it seemed like a great option – prepare ahead, full of great nutrients, grab and go, etc, etc, but I tried it and found it slightly reminiscent of frogspawn. I still love chia seeds! Just not in pudding form.

It’s cabbage season!

So here’s another recipe that you can make ahead, and I actually prefer it after a day in the fridge. It contains cabbage which is a nutritional powerhouse, pumpkin and sunflower seeds that are full of minerals, and olive oil with it’s anti-inflammatory and heart protective properties.  I wouldn’t attempt this without a food processor to do the slicing and grating for me. It comes from the website Cookie and Kate which has loads of great recipes:

Super-Healthy Seeded Coleslaw – makes a huge bowlful!

  • ¼ of a finely sliced red cabbage
  • ¼ of a  finely sliced green cabbage
  • 3 large grated carrots
  • Large handful of chopped fresh parsley
  • 6 tablespoons of seeds. Choose any mixture of pumpkin, sunflower and sesame.

Lemon dressing

  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  1. Mix together the cabbage, carrots and parsley in a bowl big enough to give everything a good stir.
  2. Measure out your seeds into a small frying pan and toast until you get a nice toasty smell and the sunflower seeds start to pop. Then add them to the bowl.
  3. Whisk the dressing ingredients together
  4. Add the dressing to the slaw and toss until all of the ingredients are lightly coated in dressing. 

If you are going to make this on the same day as eating it, maybe factor in a couple of hours of marinating time.

Not quite looking insta-fabulous but you get the picture…

Top tip: I was listening to a podcast by fitness trainer to the stars, Vinnie Tortorich (who has an amazing voice and dates Kristen Scott-Thomas’ sister Serena BTW), and his response to the question of which one piece of gym equipment he would buy if he had to stay in his house to train was…. a skipping rope. I have been meaning to get one anyway because my skipping skillz in class are so appalling and now it’s definitely on the shopping list. There are tons of videos on youtube of ridiculously ripped individuals showing you how to get the hang of skipping; I like  this one which is a bit less mental than the others. 

Stressing less

The whole concept of ‘stress’ and how it fits into a healthy life is tricky. We’re increasingly told about how harmful it is, but when you’re already on the ropes, the fact that you’re not finding your inner-zen is just another stick to beat yourself with. As it seems to be such an essential part of good health, finding a bit more calmness is near the top of my current to-do list. 

There’s definitely some calmness to be found here.

What’s so bad about stress?

Basically, our bodies are designed to handle stress if it comes in the form of an immediate danger, like getting chased by a bear. Stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline are released, sugar gets pumped into our blood, the heart starts to pound, blood pressure increases and our immune system gets primed for action. This is fine and dandy presuming it’s an occasional occurrence, and can be a good thing, with nerves before a presentation or exam giving us a sharper mind.

How often do you make this face?

Problems arise when we feel constantly stressed and cortisol/adrenaline are released across the whole day for weeks or months or even years on end. In this scenario, the ‘rest and digest’ mode of our nervous system is overridden in favour of ‘fight or flight’ mode and the background activities that keep our bodies ticking along nicely, like absorbing nutrients, detoxifying our blood, repairing cell damage and making our reproductive and thyroid hormones are put on the back burner.  Chronic inflammation and elevated blood sugar can also result and contribute to major health problems. So unfortunately, even if you are doing everything else right (which you probably aren’t), if you’re suffering from chronic stress, good health is going to be hard to achieve.


But isn’t it just part of life?

It is, so we can’t expect to avoid stress altogether, but can try to improve the way that we respond to those situations that give us that blood-rushing, chest-tightening feeling. For some people, the circumstances that they find themselves in are so difficult that they need to make big changes like leaving their job (or partner…) or moving house-  but for me, just trying to maximise my ‘rest and digest’ time and changing my mindset are the goals. Here’s a list of what’s been helping.

  1. Get enough sleep. My lovely window of child-free time in the evenings has been getting tinier and tinier, so my cunning work-around was just to stay up later. Bad move. The world seems much more horrible when you’re tired and even though I find early nights extremely boring, they’ve got to happen. If you are already chronically stressed, sleep probably won’t be as easy as just going to bed early but there are some great tips here
  2. Enjoy the great outdoors. As a dog owner, getting outside is non-optional and in fact a great bonus to having him around. Lots of studies have shown the benefits of connecting with nature and the other morning after I was lucky enough to watch dolphins leaping around in the bay I really felt on top of the world.   Hanging out with Hector is also (mostly)  relaxing just by itself, so if you don’t have a dog, maybe you know someone who would be happy to share theirs now and again?  

    Some nature.
  3. Mindfulness/Meditation. I felt really calm last year using the Headspace app, but then got lazy and thought that I’d just bin it and go freestyle as required. This hasn’t worked out so it’s time to renew my subscription and start again. You can try Headspace free for a few sessions which I highly recommend if you are interested in mindfulness and would like a well-supported introduction.
  4. Exercise. At the moment I’m doing a couple of high-intensity gym classes each week which I love. There’s something about battering a punchbag that’s extremely cathartic. Exercise is well known to be great for stress reduction, but if you really feel on the edge of burnout, I’d be focusing more on gentle, restorative things like yoga.
  5. Learn to let it go. Trying to live up to unrealistic expectations from other people or the media stresses me out, so these days I just try to disengage.  Happily, this seems to become easier as you get older!

    Example of a healthy mindset.
  6. Epsom Salt Baths. The magnesium in the Epsom Salts helps your muscles to relax and if you haven’t taken a bath for a while, these just feel amazing. You need a good couple of cupfuls of Epsom Salts in each bath and the best place to get them in bulk is amazon
  7. Get into something that isn’t your smartphone. My name is Ellen and I’m a smartphone addict… I can feel it making me restless and squirrely and even though browsing through social media feels like it’s what I want to do when I try to relax, it makes me totally unrelaxed! I love reading so the new goal is to always have a book on the go, and if I start one and don’t like it enough to want to pick it up again, it gets abandoned in favour of one that I’ll actually read. Have just started The Goldfinch which I am loving. For other people perhaps it’s music they can get lost in, or something crafty, the important thing is to focus on something that takes you out of the daily grind. 

    Step away from the smartphone…
  8. Laughing. Whether it’s with friends, at a show, or on tv, it’s the best. I’ve heard a few health-advocate types say that you can’t relax and beat stress by watching tv, but Curb Your Enthusiasm works for me… (also, haven’t they watched GBBO? – it’s televisual prozac).
  9. Going easy on the booze and coffee. Whilst I’m oh so tempted to deal with a stressful day by launching myself at a glass of red, knowing that it’s rarely just the one, and that I’m just making things worse for myself the next day means that I’ve greatly increased my AFDs (that’s Alcohol Free Days…). With each coffee, you are kickstarting your stress hormones and even though I’ve cut down, I am considering a coffee-free experiment just to see if it has a noticeable effect.

How do you chill out and where do you carve out time in the day for it?

Recipe: Pumpkin and Smoked Paprika Soup. For me, making soup is totally relaxing; there’s just something about it that give me the warm and fuzzies, especially now that the Autumn chill has arrived here in Scotland. This makes loads, so there’s hopefully some left over for the freezer but if you prefer to just halve it, it will still work.

The magic ingredient that makes everything taste good.
  • 1 butternut squash.
  • 2 sweet potatoes.
  • 1 white potato chopped into small cubes.
  • 2 onions chopped.
  • 2 large carrots chopped.
  • 1 courgette/zucchini chopped.
  • 2 sticks celery chopped.
  • 500g punnet of mushrooms chopped.
  • 2.5 litres of good chicken or vegetable stock (or bone broth if you have it).
  • 150g quinoa.
  • 2 tbsp butter.
  • 2.5 tsp smoked paprika.
  • Salt and pepper.
  1. Cut the pumpkin and sweet potatoes lengthwise into 4 and deseed the pumpkin. Brush with olive oil and cook in the oven at 170C for 40 minutes.
  2. Melt the butter on a low/moderate heat and sweat the vegetables starting with the onions. Take your time with this and if the mushrooms release lots of juice, wait until this has evaporated before adding the stock.
  3. Add the stock to the pot and simmer for 45 mins. Skin the cooled roasted pumpkin and sweet potato and add these for the last few minutes.
  4. Take the pot off the heat and let it cool slightly before blitzing with a stick blender to get a smooth texture.
  5. Finally, lob in the quinoa and smoked paprika, give a good stir and season to taste with salt and pepper. Put back on the heat and bring back to a simmer just until the quinoa is done (no more than 10 mins). If you love the paprika, just add more to taste.

Listening recommendation: If you’re not familiar with Desert Island Discs, it’s a BBC radio series in which a famous person has to choose what songs they would take with them if they were abandoned on a desert island. There is a huge archive on the BBC website, and if you are trying to escape stress you could do a lot worse than setting yourself up with an episode whilst taking an Epsom Salts Bath. Heaven.

10 a day. Like really?

So pretty.

Really. Back in February 2017, the 5 a day message was challenged by a report by Imperial College to say that for optimum health, we should all be eating double the national guidelines, so 10 portions of fruit and vegetables daily.

 

So, naturally, I’ve been giving that a red hot go and getting close most days, only for a major study called the PURE study to come out last week stating that although there were significant health benefits to eating fruit, legumes and vegetables, these seemed to plateau at 4 portions per day. Have my efforts been a waste of time??!!

They haven’t – I feel good eating more plant stuff and although it’s good to keep abreast of the latest research, there comes a point when you have to follow your instincts and pick your own way through the conflicting reports. On the positive side, my kids are closer to 4 a day than 10 so I might just dial down my maternal guilt in that area…

As a starting point – do you know how much of something counts as one of your 10 a day? I didn’t until recently. The portions are actually smaller than I thought, e.g. 3 tablespoons of peas, ½ an avocado or a large carrot. There’s a handy list here and you might find that your intake is higher than you think. You’re not supposed to count any one item twice though because the goal is for lots of variety and to ‘eat the rainbow’ . I also think that having raw as well as cooked vegetables is a good idea, and that cruciferous vegetables  have so many health benefits that they should be on the menu once or twice a day.

If you are wondering what the hell a cruciferous vegetable is, here’s an example. Also broccoli, cabbage, kale, brussels sprouts.

What worked for me.

  1. Getting off the mark at breakfast. I pretty much always have a smoothie with berries and banana, but other ideas would be to add apple compote, blueberries or other fruit to porridge, have a green smoothie, put avocado and lemon on toast or chuck some spinach into scrambled eggs.
  2. Replace a sandwich at lunch with a salad. It doesn’t take long to throw one together and to fill you up, just make sure that you include something rich on top – some tinned oily fish, some crumbled feta, avocado, you get the picture. Sometimes, the thing that gets to me about this is that actually eating it can be time consuming, but Ali has a great method of attacking the salad in the bowl with a pair of scissors which makes things much quicker. (Yes, I know that we are supposed to allow time and be relaxed and mindful with our meals but….life).  

    Ingredients for the lunchtime salad…
  3. Dress vegetables with something lovely to make them more appealing. I have a recipe for a great dressing below, but whether it’s a vinaigrette or a knob of butter on your carrots, as well as tasting great, the oil/butter in dressings enables us to absorb the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. No fat, no absorption.
  4. Add an extra vegetable at dinner time. We always used to have at least one and it’s not much effort to add another. This might be a good time to try new things that aren’t usually on your shopping list.
  5. Juicing. Juicing is currently out of favour because if you use a big juicing machine all the fibre is stripped out so the sugar is quickly absorbed, and spikes your blood levels. It’s because of this that even if you put tons of hugely nutritious things in your juice it only ever counts as one of your 10 a day. On the other hand, if you don’t put much fruit in, you can get loads of micronutrients in one quick hit and avoid the sugar rush. I crave my daily juice, and credit it with a massive reduction in the headaches I used to suffer from (Note: personal experience only, not recommending this as a remedy for anyone else). Of course if you have a Nutribullet, you keep all of the great fibre, but if you can manage the consistency of a veg-heavy smoothie, you’re a better person than me!

    I could lie and pretend that this lovely white kitchen is mine…

Let me know your top tips for eating more fruit and vegetables, and if you have anything that your kids love, please share them because those recommendations are like gold dust!

Recipe: Tahini Lemon Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons of tahini
  • Juice of ½ a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon miso paste
  • ⅓ american cup (equals 5 tablespoons) of water

If you have a stick blender, just blend all of this up in a cup, or you can whizz it in a blender/food processor. It’s great on salads and just FYI, the tahini will give you minerals, including magnesium and calcium, the lemon juice will help you absorb the iron in your leafy greens, and the miso paste is a fermented food so you’ll be supporting your gut health.
Variation: Add half a clove of crushed garlic and half a teaspoon of cumin for a middle-eastern vibe. Goes really well with roasted veggies.

Book recommendation: How to Eat Better by James Wong. This a gorgeous colourful book full of great information with recipes and storage tips that help to get the maximum goodness from your fruits and veggies.

Love this book.