Prebiotics: Feeding Our Gut Bugs

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Our gut microbiome can be ‘poetry in motion’ or a horror story. It needs to be fed with care.

The system is dynamic.  Residues of our digestion, including complex carbohydrates, soluble fibres and cell walls arrive in the large intestine to be fermented by a host of bacteria.  This active environment of anaerobic fermentation exists in a fine balance. When all goes well, the right mix of bacteria receiving the right prebiotics, will produce a benevolent microbiome.

The Poetry

A happy microbiome will:

  • Hundreds of species of bacteria continue the process of digestion, both of food products and cells rubbed off from the gut wall.
  • Feed on excess mucous to keep the gut epithelial wall peachy. This icky sounding feature is the key to enabling the gut lining to transport nutrients into the blood stream, while blocking access to anything harmful.
  • Synthesize vitamins, particularly the B vitamin Biotin and two thirds of our intake of vitamin K.
  • Short chain fatty acid synthesis. Omega-6 fatty acids are converted to omega-3 fatty acids which are associated with a reduced vulnerability to inflammatory bowel disease.

The Motion

Extremely important for a healthy biome is keeping the system moving. Our gut needs lots fibrous food and fluid to produce the malleable substrate that can be happily moved along.

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The Horror Story

We can feed our gut bugs a junk food diet and expect a refuse pit microbiome.  We can also be unlucky and have a system that doesn’t easily tolerate some fairly common foods.  Many of us know that if we eat certain foods, maybe gluten, or complex sugars in raw onions, or inulin, the commonly added pre-biotic in ‘health’ foods and drinks, certain bacteria over-react.  Bloating or excess gas production is uncomfortable, but worse is possible.  It’s unlikely that bacteria cause irritable bowel syndrome but they can certainly exacerbate it.  A reduction in the diversity of bacteria in the microbiome is associated with a diseased colon.

The problem with solving horrors is that our bacteria population is unique to ourselves and even within ourselves, is constantly changing. Added to this, bacteria are extremely complex, a variety of bacteria will have many strains.  A quality probiotic supplement, with zillions of bacteria of a few varieties, can have a beneficial effect if our biome has been compromised, but there is no guarantee.

Eat Fibre, Drink Fluid, Keep Active

The best we can do is encourage a microbiome of pure poetry.

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Linseeds

Eat whole foods, grains, fruit and veg, oats and linseeds are brilliant prebiotics.  A low to moderate intake of caffeine and alcohol helps, plus avoiding foods high in salt, fat and sugar.

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The pectin in apples is an excellent prebiotic

Prevent dehydration by including water in our choice of beverages.

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Encourage gut motility (the ability of an organism to move independently, using metabolic energy) by being active.

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Happy gut, happy mood!

 

 

 

Happy Easter! 🐣

It’s the time of the year to indulge so here’s a delicious and easy table decoration for your Easter lunch… chocolate nests filled with yummy treats!

Easter eggs in a nest!

Ingredients

1 packet of fried noodles

250g good quality milk or dark cooking chocolate

Your choice of eggs, chocolate, almond, nougat, yoghurt covered nuts or whatever takes your family’s fancy.

Baking Paper

Instructions

Melt chocolate in a bowl over a water-filled pot at low temperature. Stir often to avoid burning the bottom. Pour noodles into melted chocolate and stir until fully coated. Line another bowl with baking paper and transfer chocolate covered noodles to this bowl. Then place another piece of baking paper on top of this and press into the centre of the chocolate noodles to form a well.

 

     

Place in the refrigerator for around half an hour to harden. Remove noodles from bowl and fill the nest with colourful eggs.

 

Decorate with an Easter chick if you have one.

Cheep Cheep!

Dosas For Dummies!

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We love the crispy Indian Dosa and we want to have a go at a proper, full-monty fermentation – no tinkering around the edges for us, we want the real thing. These are also vegan and gluten free!

Fermentation takes time – we start our fermentation the day before we want to eat dosas. I started this at lunch time day 1, to eat for dinner day 2. The preparation is easy.

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Dosas are usually eaten for breakfast in India but Westerners like them for dinner

 

The Dosa Batter

1 cup (180g) basmati rice

¼ cup (45g) urad dal (black split lentils)

Rinse basmati rice in a sieve. Put in a bowl and cover with 2 cups (280ml) cold water. Rinse the lentils and put in a cup and cover with cold water to 1cm over the lentils. Leave both to soak for several hours. Drain the rice. Place in a blender with ½ cup (120ml) water and blend to a smooth paste (about 4 minutes). Drain and rinse the lentils and add to the blender. Blend together for a further two minutes. Pour contents of blender into a bowl. Add ½ cup (120ml) water to blender, swill around and add to bowl. Cover with a tea cloth and leave until the next day. (Any left over batter can be stored in the fridge for a few days.)

Topping For Dosa

400g sweet potato – cut into small cubes, boiled and drainedIMG_6338

2 tablespoons canola oil

½ teaspoon cumin seeds

½ teaspoon mustard seeds

1 large onion, chopped

1 green capsicum/pepper, de-seeded and chopped

2 cloves garlic – crushedIMG_6337

1 thumb tip size piece ginger, peeled and grated

½ teaspoon garam masala

¼ teaspoon dry chili flakes

1 tablespoon lemon juice

½ teaspoon salt

 

This can be made ahead and re-heated when required. In a large wok or frying pan, heat canola oil and when hot, add cumin and mustard seeds. When seeds pop, after a minute or two, add onion and capsicum. Fry for a few minutes until onion starts to soften. Add crushed garlic and ginger, chili and garam masala. Fry for a few minutes more. Add sweet potato and salt, mix well and cook for a further 5 minutes on a low heat.

 

Prepare Dosas

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Add ¼ teaspoon salt to dosa batter and stir. Heat a non stick frying pan with one teaspoon canola oil. Use a ladle or ¼ cup measure, pour batter into centre of pan and spread with a swirling action. As the dosa starts to cook and edges brown, ease away from the pan with spatula. I flipped mine – the real deal dosa cooks very hot on one side and filling is loaded while the dosa cooks. Mine’s a wimps dosa but it cooked well, had a fresh, crisp texture and tasted great. These are best eaten fresh. If you can keep frying dosa batter and keep adding filling, people will love your meal. A little coconut chutney or extra veggie curry is wonderful with this. A little plain yoghurt worked for me.

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The Fuss About Fermentation

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Pickles stall at the Krabi Markets, from Carol’s recent visit to Thailand

Is it a load of rot?!?  

Well to some extent it is.

Food spoilage can be the first stage of fermentation, for example, bacteria causing milk to sour. However, there is nothing haphazard about the many fermentation processes used in our food.

We often don’t even notice how the foods we eat have been altered by fermentation.

Obvious fermented foods are pickles, beer and bread, but cocoa beans for chocolate, leaves for tea, olives too, wouldn’t be the food we know without fermentation.

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Fermentation can:

Preserve foods – in acid or alcohol as in pickles and beverages

Develop flavours – in coffee beans and tea

Improve the digestibility – in sough dough fermentation alters the carbohydrate and protein, in yoghurt lactose has been converted to lactic acid

Reduce cooking time – fermented rice batters used for idli and dosa cook very quickly

Often the fermentation is over when we consume the food. The bread is baked and the yeast with it, or yeast in wine has turned the sugars in grape juice to alcohol, or the tea leaves are heated and dried or the sauerkraut is too acidic for the bacteria to thrive. Some fizzing drinks like beer are still active, some yoghurt has a live culture and there is a new zest for ancient fermented drinks like Kombucha. A great commercial opportunity has been sparked by this fermentation craze.

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Beyond this is our own gut flora and the balance of getting foods in our diet that encourage a healthy bacteria population to flourish and avoiding the foods that in sensitive people cause bloating and discomfort.

At Moodilicious, we’re going to report on the fact and have a go at some fermentation recipes of our own.

Stick with us if you want to see some fermentation fun!!!

 

Coconut Pancakes with Blueberries and Creme Fraiche (gluten free)

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It’s Shrove Tuesday, a great excuse for yummy pancakes and they are pretty healthy. Those winter Olympic athletes could be having them for breakfast with bananas to get a low fat, high carb plus protein start to the day.  Here’s our delicious recipe to try with coconut flour which is gluten free, perfect for those of us who are gluten intolerant or sensitive or who just like the coconut flavour for something different.

Ingredients

½ cup (20g) coconut flour

¾ cup (95g) gluten-free plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon caster sugar

1 egg

1 cup (240ml) milk

Small handful of blueberries

Dollop of crème fraiche

Directions

Sieve dry ingredients into mixing bowl. Whisk 1 egg with milk and add to flours. Mix well. Spoon dollops of batter into buttered hot frying pan. Spread a little, turn after a few  minutes. Serve warm with blueberries and crème fraiche.

Enjoy for breakfast or a delicious dessert or snack.

 

Moodilicious Christmas Cake ….simple to make, delicious to eat!

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400g sultanas
4 tablespoons brandy (or orange juice)IMG_20171211_153737873
200g self raising flour
1/2 a nutmeg finely grated
150g soft dark sugar
150g butter
200g walnuts, chopped apart from a few for decoration
200g glacier cherries
3 large eggs, beaten

Put the sultanas to soak in the brandy for a few hours.
Heat oven to 180 C
Line the base of a 20cm round, lose bottomed cake tin with greaseproof paper and butter.
Put the flour, nutmeg and sugar in a large mixing bowl, chop butter in to lumps and mix together using finger tips to produce a bread crumb consistency.
Add the soaked sultanas with any remaining liquid, walnuts (apart from a few for the top) cherries and beaten egg.
Carefully mix and combine.
Put the mixture in the cake tin, smooth to give a slight hollow in the middle. Arrange whole walnuts on the top. Wet finger tips with a little water and lightly dampen the cake surface to avoid it becoming too dry.
Place in the middle of the oven for half and hour.
Lower the temperature to 150 C, cook for a further hour.
Check after thirty minutes and if the top looks too brown, cover with a piece of greaseproof paper.
Use a fine skewer inserted deep into the cake to see if the mixture is cooked through. The skewer should be clean if the cake is cooked, allow a further 15 minutes and check again.
Leave in the tin to cool.
Remove when cold. Double-wrap in greaseproof paper and store in a cool, dry place.

 

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Enjoy!

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Pumpkin Scones

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These delicious scones are remarkably light and fluffy.

Like all scones, they are best eaten the day they are made, but freeze well and liven up with a little warming when thawed.

 

Makes 8 large scones or more little ones

250g pumpkin

40g butter

75g/ 1/3 cup castor sugar

300g/2 cups self-raising flour

1/3 nutmeg finely grated or ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 egg, gently whisked

Milk for brushing

1 tablespoon sunflower seeds for sprinkling.

 

Heat oven to 180 C, line baking tray with greaseproof or baking paper.

Boil the pumpkin for 15 minutes, drain well and place on a double layer of absorbent kitchen paper to cool and remove excess fluid.

Beat butter and sugar in a mixing bowl.

Add egg, beat well.

In a small bowl, mash pumpkin with a fork.

Combine pumpkin with mixture, fold in flour.

Turn dough onto floured surface and gently mould with rolling pin to give a layer 2cm thick.fullsizeoutput_23fc

Cut disks using pastry cutter or small wine glass, arrange on lined baking tray.

Re-mould and cut left over pieces.

Brush surface with a little milk and sprinkle with sunflower seeds.

Bake in centre of oven for 15 minutes

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Cool on rack. Serve buttered with jam.