Fire in the belly

Article taken from Psychologies Magazine (January 2020)

Eve Kalinik explores the link between our gut and mood and how the health of our microbiome plays a role in our emotional wellbeing.

Research and a greater understanding of depression have highlighted that it is not solely a disease of cognitive origin. Indeed, studies reveal the role of inflammation as an underlying pivotal development factor. This management process is one that, in part, relies on the health of the gut. Having a healthy microbiome – the trillions of microbes in the gut – helps keep the barrier of the gut functioning well. This means allowing substances that should be moving in and out of the gut to pass by without hassle, while blocking those that should stay within the confines of the gut. If this is breached, it can lead to substances such as bacteria and proteins from food sneaking out of the gut and creating a wide inflammatory reaction from the immune system, which has a more systemic effect.

Somewhere, over the rainbow

That can mean an almost constant state of inflammation which, it is thought, can result in mood disorders. The other way our microbiome manages inflammation is via the production of butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid that has an anti-inflammatory effect but also provides energy for the cells in the lining of the gut to help maintain a healthy gut barrier. Further to this, it is also important for the blood-brain barrier and butyrate can enter the brain and act as an antidepressant. Mood disorders are multifaceted, so gut health is just one consideration. However, supporting the gut positively contributes to wellness and the more heterogenous our microbiome the better.

A rich, colourful and varied collection of microbes leads to a healthier, stronger and happier gut. Reflect this on your plate with colour and diversity of fibre sources, including vegetables, fruit, whole grains and nuts and seeds. It sounds like a cliche, but eating the rainbow can provide bountiful joy for your microbes. Try one new veg, fruit and / or whole grain a week. If you usually have potato mash, swap it for sweet potato; mix up your berries, frozen are great as they keep for longer, or have buckwheat or quinoa instead of oats for breakfast. The possibilities are endless and with variety comes the spice of life, not least for our microbiome.

Feelgood food:

A pioneering look at the role of inflammation in mood disorders.

*The Inflamed Mind: A radical new approach to depression by Edward Bullmore.

Eat to treat Endometriosis

Article taken from Psychologies Magazine (October 2019)

Henrietta Norton*, author and leading expert on women’s wellbeing, helps us find the best ways to nourish ourselves to combat disorders of the reproductive tract.

Endometriosis and Adenomyosis are complex disorders of the female reproductive track whereby cells, similar to those found in the lining of the womb, are found elsewhere in the body. However, they develop differently and can have varying symptoms: In adenomyosis, rogue cells grow within the wall of the uterus; in endometriosis they grow outside the uterus. Endometriosis is more common in adolescents and women of reproductive age and adenomyosis in women who have had more than one child. You can have one or both of these disorders and, in fact, 42.3 per cent of women with endometriosis have a dual diagnosis.

You can help yourself

Endometriosis and adenomyosis are both progressive and oestrogen-dependent, influenced by the fluctuation in hormones during the menstrual cycle, which stimulates these cells to grow, then break down and bleed as they would in the lining of the womb, leading to inflammation and pain. Studies demonstrate that nutritional therapy is an effective approach to both conditions – in fact, research shows that it can be more effective at obtaining relief of pain and improving quality of life than medical hormonal treatment after surgery for endometriosis.

Nutrient deficiencies occur if you are not having enough food or having too much of the wrong food. You may be eating well, but not well enough to provide the specific nutrients you need to heal from a specific condition. Some gentle changes can help you make strides in your experience of endometriosis.

Lifestyle support

Consider these tweaks to help your body deal with the symptoms of endometriosis and adenomyosis

  • Eat colour : Women who ate green vegetables 13 times or more a week (roughly twice a day) were 70 per cent less likely to have endometriosis. Carotenoid-rich foods, especially citrus fruits, also positively affected symptoms. Use smoothies, juices and soups to nourish.
  • Befriend your gut : Beneficial gut bacteria can reduce production of beta-glucuronidase, an enzyme that remakes oestrogen in the gut and can contribute to its dominance. Add natural, organic yogurt to your diet, either on its own or in dressings and sauces. Fermented foods, such as sauerkraut and kefir, are excellent sources of beneficial bacteria, or take a pribiotic supplement (minimum 10 billion CFU, or colony forming units).
  • Keep up your minerals : Zinc and magnesium are used up in states of physical imbalance. Women can lose up to half their supply of magnesium during menstruation. Women with endometriosis often suffer from heavy bleeding, which reduces their iron stores.
  • Be conscious of intimate products : Tampons use bleached paper products that contain dioxins, proven to have an adverse effect on the hormonal system.
  • Rethink gluten : Research that categorises endometriosis as an autoimmune condition documents an improved response in those following a gluten-free diet. Three quarters of women on a gluten-free diet for a year reported a significant decrease in symptoms.

*Henrietta Norton is a nutritional therapist, women’s wellbeing writer and co-founder of food-grown supplements brand Wild Nutrition. wildnutrition.com; @wildnutritional.

Omelette Wrap with Satay Sauce

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (April 2021) and taken from The Right Carb by Nicola Graimes.

This is a great alternative to a wheat tortilla. The right carbs come in the form of brown jasmine rice, with veg, peanut sauce and an onion pickle as a nutritious filling.

Serves : 4

Ingredients :

165g brown jasmine rice, rinsed
1 tblsp toasted sesame seeds
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 tblsp apple cider vinegar
100g red cabbage, shredded
2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
1/2 cucumber, deseeded and cut into ribbons
1 large handful coriander leaves
8 eggs
40g butter
Sea salt and black pepper

For the satay sauce
150g peanut butter
Juice of 1 lime
2 tsp light soya sauce
2 tsp toasted sesame oil, plus extra for the salad
5 cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
1 large garlic clove, grated
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes, plus extra to serve

  1. Cook the rice according to the packet instructions. Leave for 5 minutes, then stir in the sesame seeds.
  2. Meanwhile, put the onion in a bowl and pour over the vinegar. Set aside to pickle until ready to serve.
  3. Blend together all the ingredients for the satay sauce with 4 tablespoons of just-boiled water in a blender.
  4. Put the cabbage, carrots and cucumber in a bowl, drizzle over a little sesame oil, season with salt and pepper and toss until combined.
  5. To make the omelettes, beat 2 eggs in a bowl and season. Heat a quarter of the butter in a medium frying pan over a medium-low heat and add the beaten eggs. Tip the pan to coat the base with the eggs and cook for a minute or two until set. Keep the omelette warm, covered, in a low oven while you make the remaining three omelettes.
  6. To serve, top the omelettes with the rice and the vegetable salad. Spoon over the satay sauce and finish with the onion pickle, coriander and a sprinkling of chilli flakes.

White Fish with Butternut & Ginger Mash

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (April 2021) and taken from The Right Carb by Nicola Graimes.

Mash doesn’t have to mean potatoes. Try carrot, sweet potato, parsnip, celeriac or beans. This recipe celebrates Asian flavours of coconut, ginger, chilli and coriander.

Serves : 4

Ingredients :
2 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
3 cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
4 thick hake fillets, or other sustainable firm white fish, such as haddock
20g butter
Sea salt and black pepper
Steamed long-stem broccoli and lime wedges, to serve

For the mash :

1kg butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
4 whole garlic cloves, peeled
5cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
2 red jalapeno chillies, deseeded and diced
115ml unsweetened drinking coconut milk
Juice of 1/2 lime
2 handfuls of chopped coriander

  1. First make the mash. Put the squash in a saucepan with the garlic and ginger, cover with water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until tender. Drain and pick out the ginger. Return the squash to the pan and add half the chilli, most of the coconut milk and the lime juice.
  2. Mash until smooth, adding coconut milk as needed. Season with salt and pepper and stir in three quarters of the coriander leaves. Taste and add more lime juice, if needed.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, add the ginger and fry for 2 minutes until crisp. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.
  4. Season the fish with salt and pepper. Add the remaining oil and the butter to the pan and heat over a high heat. Place the fish in the pan, skin-side down, then reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the skin is crisp and the flesh has cooked two thirds of the way up. Turn the fish, baste and cook for a further 2 minutes until just done.
  5. Spoon the mash onto plates. Top with the broccoli and fish and scatter over the ginger, chilli and coriander leaves.

Spiced Roasted Vegetables with Lime Raita

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine and taken from The Right Carb by Nicola Graimes.

This fibre-rich, nutritious one-pan meal is loaded with veg and doesn’t need any extras. If you’d like to top up the protein content, add cubes of smoked tofu, paneer or halloumi at the same time as the cauliflower.

Serves : 4

Ingredients :

1 small butternut squash, about 650g, peeled, deseeded and cut into 2.5cm chunks
3 parsnips, cut into batons
2 red onions, each cut into 6 wedges
400g chickpeas, drained
5 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tblsp cumin seeds
1 tblsp coriander seeds, crushed
1 tblsp garam masala
300g cauliflower, broken into small florets
250g brussels sprouts, peeled
Sea salt and black pepper
1 handful toasted, flaked almonds and coriander leaves, to serve

For the Lime Raita
250g plus 2 1/2 tblsp plain yoghurt
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Finely grated zest of 1 and juice of 2 unwaxed limes

  1. Preheat the oven to 180oC Fan / 200oC / Gas Mark 6. Put the squash, parsnips, onions and chickpeas in a large bowl. Pour over 3 tablespoons of the oil and turn the vegetables with your hands until coated. Tip into a large roasting tin, or use 2 smaller ones, and roast for 20 minutes, turning once.
  2. Meanwhile, mix the remaining oil with the spices and season well with salt and pepper.
  3. After 20 minutes, add the cauliflower and sprouts to the tin or tins. Spoon over the spiced oil, add a splash of water and turn until everything is combined. Return to the oven for a further 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and starting to caramelise.
  4. Meanwhile, make the lime raita. Mix together the yoghurt, garlic and lime juice and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Before serving, top the roasted vegetables with the lime zest, almonds and coriander leaves and serve with raita on the side.

Zingy Greens Tortilla

Recipe taken from the Lidl Easter brochure – April 2021.

Serves : 4; Preparation time : 10 mins; Cook time : 30 mins

Ingredients :

500g new potatoes, large ones, halved
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely sliced
1 garlic clove, finely sliced
200g baby spinach
8 eggs
Small bunch of mint, leaves picked and finely chopped
2 courgettes, peeled into ribbons
30g parmesan, finely grated
1 pot of red pepper hummus
100g mixed salad leaves
1/2 lemon, juice only
Salt and pepper

  1. Cook the potatoes in salted boiling water for 15 minutes, or until easily pierced with the tip of a knife. Drain, cool slightly, then chop into thick slices to add bulk to the tortilla.
  2. Heat the olive oil in an ovenproof, non-stick frying pan and fry the onion for 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Preheat the grill to high.
  3. Add the spinach to the pan and allow to wilt for a few minutes, stirring regularly. Beat the eggs in a jug and plenty of seasoning, stirring in most of the shredded mint for extra zing.
  4. Scatter the potato slices into the pan and pour over the eggs, swirling the pan so the mixture reaches the edges. Shred the courgettes into ribbons for bite and lay in the pan in loose swirls. Cook for a little longer, just 3-4 minutes, then sprinkle over the grated cheese and slide the pan under the grill for five minutes.
  5. Allow the tortilla to cool then spread the top with the red pepper houmous to bring a smokiness to the dish. Toss the salad leaves and remaining mint with the zesty lemon juice and some seasoning and scatter over to serve.

Tangy Feta and Spring Vegetable Tart

Recipe taken from the Lidl Easter brochure – April 2021.

Serves : 4; Preparation time : 15 mins Cook time : 40 mins

Ingredients :

125g feta
100g Greek-style yogurt
1 garlic clove, finely grated
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 sheet ready rolled puff pastry
200g asparagus
200g radishes, halved
5 spring onions, cut into thirds
1 tbsp olive oil
100g frozen peas
80g pomegranate seeds
240g mixed salad leaves
Salt and pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 C / 180 C Fan / Gas Mark 6.
  2. To make your creamy base even more flavourful, use feta for Tang and crush 100g of it in a bowl with a fork. Stir in the yogurt, garlic, lemon zest and half the juice, seasoning with plenty of black pepper.
  3. Unroll the pastry and score a border 1 cm from the edges. Spread the feta mix over the pastry to cover up to the score line.
  4. For the spring veg, use asparagus for earthiness and combine with crunch radishes and sweet spring onions. Toss together in a bowl with the olive oil and some seasoning, then scatter over the top of the tart. Transfer to a lined tray and bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, toss the frozen peas in the leftover oil in the bowl and scatter them over the tart for the final 5 minutes of cooking time.
  6. Bring an extra hit of fresh flavours before serving by crumbling over the remaining feta along with pomegranate seeds for fruitiness and a squeeze of lemon to add zing. Dress the salad leaves with another good squeeze of lemon and plenty of seasoning.

Lamb and Crispy Couscous Pie

Recipe taken from Lidl Easter magazine April 2021.

Serves : 4; Preparation time : 10 mins; Cook time : 65 mins

Ingredients :

2 packs Moroccan couscous
3 leeks, approx 450g, sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
2 x 400g tins plum tomatoes
1 tin chickpeas, including the liquid
400g leftover roast lamb, shredded
200g frozen peas
Small bunch parsley, stalks finely chopped, leaves roughly chopped
200g tenderstem broccoli, steamed to serve
Olive oil

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large casserole dish and fry the leeks for 10 minutes over a gentle heat, until soft, golden and sweet (they’ll bring a real creaminess to your pie filling). Add the garlic, ginger and cinnamon for warmth and cook for 1 minute to bring out the flavours of the spices.
  2. Pour in the tinned tomatoes, fill one tin back up with water and add this in too, stirring well and lightly crushing the tomatoes with the back of the spoon to break down.
  3. To give the filling some bulk tip in the chickpeas and mix through the shredded lamb. Season well, bring to a simmer and leave to cook gently for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Preheat the oven to 200 C / 180 C Fan / Gas Mark 6.
  4. Add the peas, parsley stalks and a good handful of leaves to the lamb mix, stir and remove it from the heat – if you’d rather serve this in a pie dish, now’s the time to tip the mixture in.
  5. Stir the remaining parsley through the couscous and spread this over the top of the lamb in an even layer – once baked, the couscous will add welcome crispiness to the dish. Drizzle with 1 tsp oil and bake for 20 minutes, serving with the broccoli on the side.

3 Ways to : power your pastries

Article from Lidl Easter brochure April 2021.

Add zing to spring brunches with these easy pastry twists, perfect for weekend feasting.

Crispy Bacon and Egg Slice

Makes : 6; Preparation time : 10 mins; Cook Time : 28 mins

  1. Unroll a sheet of pastry (use puff for crispiness), cut into 6 even squares and arrange on a parchment lined baking tray. Stamp out the centre of each square with a 6.5cm ring cutter, replacing the circle back into the middle, and brush with beaten egg for colour.
  2. Bake at 220 C / 200 C Fan / Gas Mark 7 for 10 minutes, then push the centres in a little and crack in 6 medium eggs for richness. Bake again, covered in foil, for 15 minutes.
  3. Remove the golden pastries from the oven and garnish with a rasher of crispy bacon to bring smokiness.

Fruity Banoffee Bunnies

Makes : 12; Preparation time : 25 mins; Cook Time : 35 mins

  1. Using 2 sheets puff pastry for crispiness, trim each into a 25cm square. Spread one with a generous layer of banoffee sauce for richness (leaving a border) and top with the other sheet. Seal along the border and slice into 12 even strips.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180 C / 160 C Fan / Gas Mark 4. Fold the strips into a U-shape, then twist twice. Brush with beaten egg for colour and bake for 30-35 minutes.
  3. Once cool, dot with banoffee sauce and garnish with banana for fruitiness and broken waffle for whiskers.

Crunchy Lucky Dip Croissants

Makes : 6; Preparation time : 20 mins; Cook Time : 5 mins

  1. Slice open 6 croissants. Fill 2 with a generous layer of almond butter for richness. Melt 70g milk chocolate or drizzle over, topping with a handful of chopped pistachios and hazelnuts for crunch.
  2. Fill another 2 croissants with strawberry jam, blueberries and raspberries for fruitiness. Top with 1 tbsp natural yogurt mixed with 70g melted white chocolate and decorate with flaked almonds.
  3. Fill the last 2 croissants with chocolate orange spread for sweetness and zingy satsuma segments. Warm through and loosen extra spread to drizzle on top, garnishing with another segment.

Spiced Salmon Pilaf

Recipe taken from the Lidl Easter Brochure – April 2021.

Serves : 4; Prep Time : 10 mins; Cook Time : 35 mins

Ingredients :

1 tbsp olive oil
4 salmon fillets
2 onions, finely chopped
A thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
2 garlic cloves, finely grated
1 tsp cumin
300g basmati rice
800ml vegetable stock
300g baby spinach
200g frozen peas
Small bunch of coriander, stalks finely chopped, leaves roughly chopped
1/2 lemon, juice only
2 tbsp flaked almonds, toasted
Onion and garlic dip

  1. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan (one with a lid) and add the salmon fillets skin-side down. Fry over a medium heat for 8-10 minutes, turning to cook each side, until just cooked through. Remove the fillets from the pan onto a plate, instead adding the onion to fry for 8 minutes. While the onion is cooking, discard the salmon skin and gently flake the fillets into large chunks.
  2. Add the garlic to the pan and stir in the ginger for kick, cooking for a further minute, then stir in the cumin and rice. Stir well, then pour in the stock to give the rice added richness. Season and cover the pan with its lid, cooking for 15 minutes or until the rice is tender.
  3. Add the spinach to the pan and cover with the lid, allowing it to wilt for 2 minutes, then stir through the peas, coriander stalks and most of the leaves.
  4. Gently fold through the salmon flakes, squeeze over the lemon juice and serve scattered with the toasted almonds for crunch. Add a contrasting creaminess with some generous spoons of the garlic dip, garnishing with a final pinch of coriander.