Our bodies can handle a lot, but perhaps no organ can handle quite as much as the intestines, which, although not the most showy part of the body, is undoubtedly one of the most important organs in the body because it has the ability to influence everything from digestion to immunity to our mood – so It is necessary to give him the love he deserves. (Talk about being a heavy lifter!).
This year’s Love Your Gut Week takes place from September 18-24, and is an extra special celebration because 2023 marks the initiative’s 25th anniversary. To celebrate this major style milestone, the health experts at Love Your Gut shared plenty of delicious — and easy — recipes you can try along with their tips for improving your gut health.
Before you start worrying that to improve your gut health, you’ll have to make drastic changes that take up a lot of your time, take a breath and rest assured that even small adjustments to your lifestyle will make your gut thank you.
For example, not drinking coffee or alcohol an hour or two before going to bed will help improve your digestive health as well as ensure you get enough hours of sleep. Also, as a rule of thumb, adults need one hour of sleep for every two hours they’re awake, so you should aim for eight hours of sleep a night which is reason enough for us to justify a lie-in next weekend (thanks to the experts at Love Your Gut Week in advance!).
Love Your Gut spokesperson Karen Canning, from the Irish General Practice Nurses National Educational Association (IGPNEA), also highlights that drinking plenty of water will also help improve digestive health as well as slowing down to enjoy your meals and not eating on the run. Good, comfortable digestion only happens if you allow yourself enough time to eat your food, so make mealtimes an opportunity to relax and savor every bite.
With that in mind, why not improve your meal times and enjoy dishes packed with healthy ingredients your gut will love? Each of the recipes we’ve selected for breakfast, lunch and dinner draw on combinations of gut-healthy foods to show how easy it is to cook dishes to support digestive health – whoever said nothing that’s good for you can taste delicious clearly needs to see these!
Breakfast smoothie bowl
Preparation time: 5-10 minutes, Cooking time: Not available
They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so why not start your meal with a delicious smoothie packed with gut-healthy benefits. Thanks to oats, muesli, fruits, nuts and seeds, this dish contains dietary fiber that helps food pass through the intestines and feeds healthy bacteria. This recipe also provides plenty of plant points, as well as calcium, protein, vitamins, minerals and a range of polyphenols – to help support good bacteria in the gut.
· 250 grams of natural yogurt or plain vegetable yogurt
· 2 medium-sized ripe bananas, peeled
· 30 grams of rolled oats
· 120 grams of frozen and thawed mixed berries
· 80 grams muesli (no added sugar)
· 20 grams of mixed seeds such as: sunflower, pumpkin, poppy, and linseed
· 30 grams of chopped walnuts
· 150 grams of fresh seasonal fruit such as blueberries, raspberries, kiwi, blackberries, strawberries
- Place the yogurt, banana, oats, and thawed berries in a blender and blend until smooth. You may have to do this in batches.
- Pour the juice mixture into the base of four plates.
- Scatter the seeds of your choice into a small pan and heat them gently until they begin to brown. Remove the pan from the heat and leave it to cool slightly.
- Sprinkle the muesli between the four bowls, followed by the toasted seeds and walnuts.
- Finish by arranging an assortment of fresh seasonal fruits around the top of the plates.
Smoked beans topped with feta cheese and coriander
Preparation time: 10 minutes, cooking time: 25 minutes
Upgrade your standard beans on toast with this classic version filled with different beans and delicious vegetables to add depth and texture, which helps keep your gut happy. Beans are a good source of fiber and complex carbohydrates, which means they are digested slowly by the intestines. The blend of herbs and spices also increases the diversity of plants in the dish and adds additional micronutrients.
· 1 tablespoon olive oil
· 1 medium-sized onion, cut into slices
· 2 stalks of celery, cut into cubes
· 2 red peppers, seeded and roughly chopped
· 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
· 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
· 1 teaspoon ground cumin
· 2 400g cans of mixed beans, drained
· 400 grams can of chopped tomatoes
· 150 grams of feta cheese, crumbled
· A small bunch of coriander, leaves and stems chopped (or fresh parsley)
- Heat olive oil in a large frying pan and add onion, celery, red pepper, garlic, smoked paprika and cumin. Cook for a few minutes until the vegetables are tender but not coloured.
- Add the beans and chopped tomatoes to the vegetables. Fill one of the empty cans with water and add it to the pan. Add half the amount of chopped coriander. Stir well and leave the pot until it boils. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes until the tomato sauce becomes rich and thick. Add a little water if the bean sauce becomes too dry.
- Divide the beans among four plates, then sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese and chopped coriander. Serve with baked sweet potato slices or whole brown rice.
Peas and shrimp stir-fried with ginger and coconut
Preparation time: 10 minutes, cooking time: 20 minutes
It’s hard to beat a one-pot recipe when it comes to ease on a busy week, and this one is sure to impress when served for dinner.
Peas and sugar snap peas provide soluble dietary fiber. This means that it is a prebiotic, which acts as food for healthy gut bacteria to feed on. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and can help food pass through the digestive tract and soften stool. It also contains ginger, which has been shown to help relieve digestive disorders in clinical studies.
· 6 green onions
· 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
· 1-2 fresh red peppers, seeded and chopped
· Half a lemongrass stalk (optional)
· 20 grams of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
· 1 orange pepper, cut into slices
· 1 – 2 teaspoon olive oil
· 340 grams of frozen and thawed shrimp
· 150 grams of sugar peas
· 100 grams frozen peas, thawed
· 80 ml coconut cream
· 100 ml vegetable stock
· 2 lemons. One juice and one zest. Cut the other into 4 wedges
· 30 grams of coriander, its leaves and stems, roughly chopped
· 1 teaspoon Thai fish sauce
· 4 nests of whole wheat noodles
- Cut the green onions into 2 cm pieces. Remove the outer layer of the lemongrass (if using) and finely chop the bottom of the stem.
- Pour a little oil into a large frying pan or frying pan and cook the scallions, garlic, chili pepper, ginger, lemongrass and pepper slices over medium heat until soft but not coloured.
- Add shrimp, sugar snap peas, sugar snap peas, coconut cream, and vegetable broth to the pan. Add lemon zest and add half the amount of chopped coriander. Bring the pan to a boil over low heat.
- Cook gently for 5 minutes or until shrimp are cooked through (they will turn pink) and vegetables are tender.
- Just before serving, add a little Thai fish sauce and lemon juice to taste.
To cook noodles
- While the vegetables and shrimp are cooking, place 4 nests of whole wheat noodles in a separate bowl and cover with boiling water. Drain the pasta after 4 minutes, then place some of it in the bottom of four warm serving dishes.
- Serve shrimp and vegetables with noodles and a scattering of chopped coriander and lime wedges.