This recipe is inspired by the Middle Eastern dish made from spicy peppers and onions topped with eggs. In this version courgettes are spiralised and stir fried with sunflower seeds and herbs. The sunflower seeds are a powerhouse of nutrients and together with the courgettes provide dietary fibre to feed the microorganisms in the gut. Most people in the UK do not eat enough dietary fibre but adding vegetables and seeds to everyday meals increases the fibre content of the diet and helps to keep the gut healthy.
Preparation and cooking time 20 minutes
- 4 medium sized courgettes
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 tbsp sunflower seeds
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 16 piccolo or cherry tomatoes, halved
- Juice from ½ lemon
- 4 free range eggs
- Small bunch mint (or parsley)
- Cut each courgette into lengths that will fit the spiraliser. ‘Spiralise’ the courgettes to form lengths of curly courgette. Place the lengths of spiralised courgettes in a large frying pan that has a lid and drizzle with a little olive oil. Begin to stir fry the courgettes over a medium heat. When the courgettes begin to soften add the sunflower seeds, garlic and tomatoes. Cook for about 8 minutes moving the ingredients around the pan to ensure even cooking. Season well with salt and pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon.
- Make four little wells in the courgette mixture. Break the eggs into a cup, one at a time, and drop them carefully into the wells. Cover with a lid if you have one and cook for five minutes or until the whites are just set and the yolks are still runny.
- Serve sprinkled with a little chopped mint or parsley.
Cooks tip: You might find it hard to make enough space for 4 eggs in one pan. If so, divide the courgette mixture between two pans and cook two eggs in each.
Variation: This dish would be lovely with small pieces of chorizo or bacon tossed through the courgette mixture to suit meat eaters.
Socca pizza with prosciutto, broccoli and mozzarella balls
Socca is a gluten free Italian pancake dish made with chickpea flour. Chickpea flour contains plenty of dietary fibre and galacto-oligosaccharides that provide food for beneficial microorganisms in the gut to feed on. Broccoli contains polyphenols. Polyphenols are thought to stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria and inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria. This can help to keep the lining of the gut wall healthy. Eating a diverse range of plant based foods promotes a varied range of beneficial gut bacteria which helps to keep the gut healthy.
Preparation and cooking time 20 minutes
For the socca pizza bases
- 150g chickpea (gram) flour
- 50g grana Padano cheese, finely grated
- ½ tsp salt
- 70ml olive oil
- 375ml cold water
For the topping
- 3 red onions, peeled and quartered
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 clove garlic crushed
- 200g tender stem broccoli
- 80g prosciutto
- 16 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 125g mozzarella pearls
- small handful basil leaves
- To make the bases. Put the chickpea flour, grated cheese and salt in a large bowl and slowly whisk in the olive oil and enough of the water to form a thick pouring batter. Leave to rest for half an hour.
- For the caramelised onion, put the onion, a drizzle of oil, sugar and salt in a large pan and cook over a medium heat for 7 minutes or until the onions are soft and beginning to brown. Remove from the heat and stir in the crushed garlic. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- To cook the socca pizzas. Heat a drizzle of oil in the frying pan and pour in enough batter to cover a 20cm (8 inch) non-stick frying pan. Fry gently on a medium heat for 5 minutes and then flip over and cook for five minute more. Transfer the socca pizza to a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining batter to make four bases.
- Turn the oven on to 180oC/Gas mark 4.
- Meanwhile cook the broccoli in a pan of boiling water for 3 minutes and drain. It will still be a firm.
- To assemble the pizzas. Dollop each base with caramelised onions, broccoli, prosciutto, cherry tomatoes and mozzarella pearls. Place in the hot oven for 5-10 minutes until the cheese is melted. Serve sprinkled with torn basil leaves.
Cooks tip: The batter can be made by placing all the ingredients in the goblet of a liquidiser and processing for 30 seconds. This creates a smooth easy to pour batter.
Variation: The bases can be topped with spinach and ricotta, or mushrooms and slices of butternut squash.
Frozen berry yogurt cake
Fat in food can cause discomfort in the gut and trigger symptoms, so it is important not to include too much in the diet. This low fat alternative to cheesecake contains a high proportion of fresh and dried fruit and seeds which are all important sources of dietary fibre. The seeds also contain polyunsaturated fatty acids which are good for overall health.
Preparation time: 20 minutes plus 2 – 3 hours to freeze
- 300g sunflower seeds
- 14 medjool dates, stones removed
- 2 tbsp coconut oil, warmed slightly to soften
- 450g fresh strawberries, raspberries or mixture of berries
- juice of 1/2 lime
- 120ml clear honey
- 500g Greek yogurt
- edible flowers to decorate
- Preheat the oven to 180oC/Gas mark 4. Place the sunflower seeds on a baking sheet in the oven for 5 minutes or until the seeds begin to brown. Remove the seeds from the oven and pulse in a food processor for a few seconds so they roughly chopped. Add the dates, coconut oil and process until the mixture resembles a thick paste. Press the date and seed mixture into the base of a 20cm (8in) spring form cake tin.
- Purée the strawberries with the lime juice and honey in a food processor and add the Greek yogurt. Mix well and pour onto the date and seed crust in the cake tin. Place in the freezer for 2-3 hours to freeze. Remove a few minutes before serving. Decorate the top of the cake with berries and edible flowers.
Cooks tip: Some examples of edible flowers are violas, lavender, oxalis, marigolds, chamomile, rose petals.
Variation: For a vegan version use a vegan cream cheese. Raspberries, blueberries and blackberries can all be used instead of strawberries.
Full English vegan fry up
This fabulous vegan fry up is tasty and filling and contains a wealth of gut-friendly ingredients. Black beans are a great source of dietary fibre which helps to keep the gastrointestinal tract moving and also contain galacto-oligosaccharides, which act like a fertiliser in the gut and provide material for beneficial gut microorganisms to feast on. Ginger is a soothing spice and gentle on the gut.
Preparation and cooking time: 40 mins
- 200g mixed small peppers
- 3 tbsp olive oil for drizzling
Tomato and tamarind ketchup
- 1 banana shallot, finely chopped
- 40g fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
- 2 tbsp tamarind paste (available form large supermarkets)
- 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp of palm sugar
Avocado and black bean mash
- 1 large ripe avocado, mashed
- 200g black beans, crushed slightly
- squeeze of lemon
- ½ clove garlic, crushed
- 1 tsp cumin, ground
- 200g wild mushrooms, brushed clean and roughly chopped
- 200g spinach, washed and roughly chopped
- Preheat the oven to 200oC/Gas mark 6. Place the peppers on a roasting tray and drizzle over a little of the olive oil. Roast for 20 minutes or until the skins begin to blister and turn brown. Remove from the oven.
- To make the ketchup. Drizzle a little more of the olive oil in a pan, add the chopped shallot and sweat until soft. Add the grated ginger and tamarind paste to the pan and cook gently for 2 minutes before adding the chopped tomatoes and palm sugar. Simmer for 20 minutes until the sauce is thick. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- While the ketchup cooks make the avocado mash. Simply mix the mashed avocado with the black beans, lemon, garlic and cumin to form a rough paste.
- Place the mushrooms in another pan with a drizzle of olive oil. Cook over a moderate heat for 5 minutes or until the mushrooms are soft. Move the mushrooms to one side of the pan, add the spinach and cook until it wilts.
- Serve the mushrooms, spinach, avocado and black bean mash with the tomato and tamarind ketchup. This would be lovely served with fresh toast.
Cooks tip: Palm sugar adds caramel flavour as well as sweetness to a dish. It is great for balancing the acidity of dishes containing tamarind, lemon or lime.
Variation: This dish would be great topped with a poached egg for vegetarians and a rasher or two of bacon for meat eaters.
Recipes by: Dr Joan Ransley for Love Your Gut