This week marks Love Your Gut Week, and to celebrate, we’re sharing six new gut-friendly recipes by Dr Joan Ransley, ideal for everyday enjoyment, from breakfast and lunch, to weekend dinner parties.

We’re all looking for easy ways to help support our gut health, and there’s nothing simpler (or more delicious) than doing so with food, which in turn may benefit our overall wellbeing. However, with so much information out there on what to eat for gut health, it can be difficult to know what’s best to eat and cook.

Dr Joan comments: “Looking after your gut doesn’t have to be tricky. Many foods that are an integral part of a gut-healthy diet, such as oats, beans, vegetables, and nuts, are likely to be in your cupboard or fridge already. It’s these ingredients that can form the base for nutritious meals, which don’t only taste great, but can also assist your everyday wellbeing.”

From Tofu Scramble – an easy meat-free option for a weekday breakfast – to French Toast with Wild Mushrooms, Sweet Potato and Orange Soup, Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables and more, the recipes are suitable for everyone who’s looking to eat for better gut health.

For further information and recipe inspiration, please visit Love Your Gut or Facebook @loveyourgut

Gut friendly recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner

Tofu Scramble

Tofu is a bean curd made from liquid produced from soaked dried soya beans. It is suitable for vegetarians and vegans and can be added to many delicious dishes as a high-quality protein ingredient. A great alternative to scrambled egg and a fabulous gut friendly recipe.

Tofu has a creamy, soft texture that compliments both eastern flavours such as turmeric and coriander and South American ingredients such as sweet peppers and avocado.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • pinch mild curry powder
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 400g firm tofu[2], drained and mashed with a fork
  • 4 slices light rye sourdough bread, lightly toasted
  • 2 ripe avocados, cut in half, stone removed and sliced

Method

  1. Place the chopped red onion, tomatoes, and coriander into a bowl, reserving a little of the chopped coriander to serve. Add the turmeric and curry powder and mix well.
  2. Warm the olive oil in a frying pan and swirl to ensure the base is coated. Add the onion, tomatoes, coriander and spices to the pan and let the mixture sizzle for two minutes, stirring regularly until soft.
  3. Add the drained and mashed tofu to the pan and cook on a low heat for five minutes until the tofu is heated through. Serve the scrambled tofu on a slice of warm sourdough toast, topped with slices of avocado and a few chopped coriander leaves.
  4. Alternative serving suggestion
  5. Warm a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and add a finely chopped red onion, a sliced red pepper, and a clove of crushed garlic. Sweat gently for five minutes until the vegetables are soft. Add 400g of silken tofu to the pan and mash it with a fork until it has the look of ‘scrambled’ eggs and has warmed through. Serve the scrambled tofu on toast, sprinkled with chopped parsley and a few slices of avocado on the side.

Cooking tips

  • Tofu, by itself, has very little flavour however it absorbs the flavour of herbs and spices very well. Tofu can be marinaded to give it more flavour. Try marinading tofu in a mix of soy sauce, garlic, rice wine vinegar and sesame oil before adding to a stir fry.

French Toast with Wild Mushrooms, Spinach and Sweet Tomatoes

This is a savoury version of French toast with added herbs and vegetables. Slices of wholegrain bread are dipped in beaten egg, mixed with chopped chives, and cooked in a hot pan with a smear of olive oil. While the French toast is cooking it is given a dusting of grated Parmesan cheese which delivers a delicious savoury crunch to the finished dish. Who said gut friendly recipes had to be boring?

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4 large free-range eggs, lightly beaten
  • 50ml semi skimmed milk
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 8 small slices of wholegrain bread
  • 4 small tomatoes, cut in half
  • 200g mixed mushrooms e.g., chestnut, shitake, oyster, sliced
  • 25g Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 2 springs of thyme
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 50g baby spinach leaves

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 100°C/Gas mark 1/4
  2. Whisk together the eggs and milk and stir in the chopped chives. Pour the mixture into a shallow dish for dipping the bread.
  3. Drizzle a little olive oil over a non-stick pan and heat gently.
  4. Using tongs, dip a slice of bread into the egg mixture, flipping it over so both sides are soaked. Pick up the bread with the tongs, place it into the frying pan and cook for 3 minutes each side, until the surface is golden brown. While the bread is cooking, sprinkle a little Parmesan cheese over the bread to get an extra crisp, cheesy surface.
  5. When one piece of French toast is cooked, place it on a baking tray to keep in the oven while the other pieces of toast are cooking.
  6. Cook the remaining slices of bread in the egg mixture as above and keep warm in the oven until ready to serve.
  7. Take a second non-stick pan and add another drizzle of olive oil. Add the sliced tomato halves face down to one side of the pan and mushrooms to the other. Strip the leaves from the thyme, chop finely, and scatter over the mushrooms. Stir the mushrooms gently in the pan for 5 minutes until soft. Cook tomatoes until the cut surfaces are just beginning to brown.
  8. Serve the French toast with the wild mushrooms, tomatoes, and baby spinach leaves.

Alternative serving suggestion

Unsweetened plant milk such as oat, soya or hemp can be substituted for cows’ milk

Baked beans can be served with savoury French toast for a quick nutritious breakfast/brunch dish.

Try chopped spring onions instead of chives

Cooking tips

  • Wholemeal, granary and light rye sourdough bread are suitable for making French toast and they add extra dietary fibre to the dish.
  • Try using other vegetables to accompany this dish. Steamed asparagus would be a lovely.

Green Salad with Edamame Beans and Fresh Ginger and Lime Dressing

This recipe can be made in advance and packed up in a lunch box for eating out of the home. Edamame beans are a vibrant green and can be mixed with other green fruit and vegetables to create a stunning looking, delicious salad. Some wholegrains and a few nuts and seeds make this a filling and nutritious lunch.

Edamame beans are whole, immature soybeans, sometimes referred to as vegetable-type soybeans. They are bright green and are stocked frozen by most supermarkets. They are a rich source of vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin K and folate, and dietary fibre.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: none

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 250g frozen edamame (soya) beans, defrosted
  • 130g precooked mixed wholegrains e.g. wheatberries, red rice, freekeh, barley and quinoa[3]
  • 50g mangetout, thinly sliced
  • 40g almonds chopped
  • 1 small green apple, sliced
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 20g baby spinach leaves
  • 160g hot smoked salmon (optional)

Dressing

  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 35ml olive oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 35g fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp of coriander leaves finely chopped

Method

  1. To make the dressing: place the vinegar, lime juice, olive oil, soy sauce and grated ginger and sugar into a jar with a lid and shake well. Finally add the chopped coriander and give the jar another quick shake and set aside.
  2. To assemble the salad: Place the cooked wholegrains in a large bowl and scatter over the defrosted edamame beans, followed by the thinly sliced mangetout and chopped almonds.
    Core and slice the apple and place in a small bowl with the lemon juice. Remove the apple pieces form the lemon juice and add to the salad. Finally add the baby spinach leaves.
  3. Spoon over the dressing and mix well. Serve the salad either on its own or with smoked salmon.

Alternative serving suggestion

Cooked and cooled green beans could be substituted for frozen edamame beans.

Smoked mackerel, trout or cooked chicken could be substituted for hot smoked salmon.

Cooking tips

  • Adding lemon juice, to the sliced apple stops the cut surfaces from turning brown.

Sweet Potato and Orange Soup

Vegetable soups are a great way to introduce more vegetables into the diet. This simple to make recipe is a great introduction to soup making. It can have a garnish of toasted mixed seeds and finished with a swirl of tahini

Lentils are a type of pulse (an edible seed that grows in a pod). Pulses are an important food in the diet because they contain dietary fibre and galacto-oligosaccharides (a type of carbohydrate which acts as a prebiotic) where they travel through the gut and are fermented by the colon to provide the nutrients used by healthy gut bacteria. Healthy gut bacteria help to keep the immune system functioning efficiently and the cells lining the gut healthy and free from disease.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 15ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 stick celery, chopped
  • 600g sweet potato, scrubbed, peeled and roughly chopped
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • 700ml vegetable stock
  • juice from ½ orange
  • 50g red lentils, rinsed in cold water
  • 250ml semi skimmed milk

To serve:

  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds, dry roasted in a pan
  • zest from ½ orange
  • 1 tsp chopped parsley

Method

  1. Warm the olive oil in a large pan and add the chopped onion and celery. Cook gently for three minutes until they are soft. Add the chopped sweet potato and stir around the pan until it is coated with a little oil. Add the ground coriander and cook for a minute stirring the vegetables in the saucepan to prevent them burning. Add the vegetable stock and orange juice followed by the red lentils. Bring the soup up to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes until the red lentils are beginning to soften and breakdown. Take the pan off the heat and allow to cool slightly. Add 220 ml milk to the soup reserving 30ml to mix with the tahini. Liquidise the soup in batches.
  2. Add enough milk to the tahini to make it pouring consistency.
  3. Serve the soup in bowls scattered with a swirl of tahini, toasted pumpkin seeds, chopped parsley and the zest from the orange.

Alternative serving suggestion

Butternut squash is a good substitute for sweet potatoes.

Unsweetened plant milk such as oat, hemp or soya can be used instead of cows’ milk

Cooking tips

  • For a more rustic soup liquidise half of the soup and add it back to the remaining soup.
  • This soup freezes well and can be stored for up to two months.
  • To add more fibre to the soup, leave one of the sweet potatoes unpeeled.

Platter of Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables, Buffalo Mozzarella, Tapenade and Pesto

This is the perfect gut friendly recipe for a relaxed al fresco meal. A tray of colourful roasted vegetables can be prepared in advance and looks wonderful laid out on a large platter. While the vegetables are still warm, pieces of mozzarella can be tucked in between the layers so they begin to melt. A drizzle of pesto can be served over roasted vegetables and a dish of tapenade, a delicious paste made from crushed black olives, adds a finishing touch.

This recipe is the Mediterranean diet on a plate. The colourful Mediterranean-style diet is characterized by a high intake of vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, fish and extra virgin olive oil. It has been shown to be a template of a diet that supports a healthy gut.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 red, yellow and orange peppers, seeds removed and cut into 2cm chunks
  • 2 medium aubergines, cut into 2cm chunks
  • 2 medium courgettes, cut into 2cm chunks
  • 2 red onions, peeled and cut into 8 wedges
  • 125g buffalo mozzarella, drained and torn into small pieces
  • 130g ready made fresh pesto
  • 100g black olive tapenade
  • 8 – 10 small, fresh basil leaves

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C Fan/gas 6. Mix the olive oil with the chopped peppers, aubergines, courgettes, and onions. Tip the vegetables into a large roasting tin then cook for 30 minutes.
  2. Check the vegetables after 15 minutes and toss them well so that they can cook evenly. Remove the roasted vegetables from the oven when they are soft and just beginning to caramelise.
  3. Lay the roasted vegetables on a warmed platter. Tuck the torn mozzarella pieces between the warm roasted vegetables and scatter over the basil leaves. Drizzle a little of the pesto over the roasted vegetables serving the rest in a bowl alongside a bowl of tapenade.

Alternative serving suggestion

Omit mozzarella and pesto to make this dish vegan

Roasted Mediterranean style vegetables are delicious served with slices of warm focaccia and/or bowls of bulgur wheat or pearled spelt dressed with a little extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice, chopped tomato, red onion and parsley.

Cooking tips

  • It is important to cook aubergines well. Check they are soft and beginning to be caramelised before taking them out of the oven. Undercooked aubergines give the vegetable a bad name! They are delicious when cooked correctly.
  • Mozzarella pearls can be used in this recipe

Chicken with fennel, olives, capers, and thyme

If you’re looking for a gut friendly recipe that’s ideal to cook for a special occasion for family and friends, this is a great option. It can be prepared in advance and left cooking slowly as guests arrive, leaving you hands free to entertain!

This recipe contains a good mix of gut friendly ingredients and can be adapted to suit individual guests who cannot eat one of the ingredients, for example onions.

The ingredients in this recipe are high in dietary fibre. In addition, leaving the skin on small potatoes adds another shot of dietary fibre to the recipe. Dietary fibre has two important roles. It helps digested food pass through the gut by bulking the stool. It also provides a substrate for the bacteria in the colon to ferment and thrive and aids gut health.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 30 – 40 minutes

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 400g small potatoes, scrubbed and sliced thickly
  • 2 red onions, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 1 bulb of fennel, cut into wedges
  • 2 unwaxed lemons
  • 2 tbsp capers, rinsed and dried
  • 150g large, green, queen olives
  • 8 skin on, bone in, chicken thighs, excess skin and fat trimmed
  • 5 thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 small heads of garlic, cut in half around the middle
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C Fan/gas 6. Place the sliced potatoes in a roasting tin, followed by the wedges of red onion and fennel.
  2. Finely grate the zest of one lemon over the vegetables. Squeeze the juice of half of the lemon into the roasting tin and scatter the capers and olives over the vegetables.
  3. Place the trimmed, chicken thighs skin side up on top of the vegetables. Slice the second lemon and tuck the lemon slices, thyme and bay leaves under the chicken and the vegetables. Place the cut garlic in with the chicken and vegetables.
  4. Drizzle the olive oil over the contents of the roasting tin and turn everything over with your hands. Make sure the chicken pieces are skin side up on top of the vegetables and there are no lemon slices sticking out as they will burn quickly in the oven.
  5. Roast in the oven for 30 – 40 minutes until the vegetables are cooked through and the skin of the chicken is crisp and golden. Make sure the chicken is cooked well by stabbing with a skewer and checking the juices run clear.
  6. Serve this dish straight from the roasting tin to plates or transfer everything to a large, warmed serving dish to serve at the table.

Alternative serving suggestion

Other vegetables such as parsnips, or butternut squash could be used instead of fennel.

Fresh salmon fillets could be used instead of chicken in this recipe. Roast all the vegetables for 20 minutes, or until soft. Place the salmon fillets on top of the vegetables and cook for 10 minutes or until the salmon has cooked through.

Cooking tips

  • Fennel can be steamed or boiled for 5 minutes before roasting if you have time. This softens some of the fibres present near the stem of the plant and makes it a little softer to eat.

Gut friendly recipes from Dr Joan Ransley for Love Your Gut Week (19-25th September 2022).

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