7 Days of gut-healing meals (and why they’re good for you)

Lately I’ve redoubled my efforts to include as many healing, happy-gut foods in my diet. Here are some of my current favourite meals and snacks for health and healing.

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Chopped banana, strawberries and frozen blueberries drizzled with honey

It’s sad that fruit has a bad reputation (mainly due to its high fructose content), because it can really be so healthy. Bananas are easy to digest and they give you energy and heart-supporting potassium. I’ve also always found them extremely soothing to eat, especially when my tummy’s unhappy. Strawberries give me a good dose of vitamin C and blueberries are known to help ease the symptoms of digestive diseases.

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Eggs, baby spinach and music

A lot of healing diets forbid or discourage the consumption of eggs, but I’ve never personally had a problem with them. They’re full of protein as well as important vitamins and minerals. Spinach meanwhile is virtually a ‘superfood’ and I’ve really been trying to get it into my diet as often as possible. I actually feel like I’m slowly healing my body with each mouthful! Spinach is full of vitamins, and it’s even got Omega-3 fatty acids and anti-inflammatory antioxidants. It’s good for digestion and flushing out toxins, and I recently learnt that cooking spinach actually increases its health benefits because the body can’t completely break down its nutrients when it’s raw. Music is good for the mind, body and soul, so include as much of it in your diet as you can.

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Brussels sprouts

I adore Brussels sprouts (I know, it’s unusual!) and I can easily – and often do – eat bowls of them as snacks. Like most other veggies, they offer high doses of vitamins and nutrients, as well as their fair share of fibre. This means they can cause bloating and should be avoided if you’re flaring. Don’t cook your Brussels sprouts for too long or you’ll destroy the healthy bits! Three to five minutes is enough.

 

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ALL THE VEGETABLES!!! (and a little steak)

So this is what my dinner plate looks like most nights. I take the 3/4 veggie rule so seriously that I usually end up with four quarters of vegetables on my plate and no space for the meat – hence the mashed butternut on the side! Starting with the butternut, it’s filling and easy to digest – it’s one of the first vegetables you can introduce on SCD, and I’ve always loved it and found it to be unproblematic. Carrots are the first veggie introduced on SCD, as they’re also generally very easy to break down. They’re also full of vitamins and minerals.

Broccoli and cauliflower are cruciferous vegetables (as are Brussels sprouts, bok choy, cabbage and kale), which means they’re packed with phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals and fibre, and overall they’re just amazingly fabulous for your health. They also help support the functioning of the digestive tract (read this fascinating article about the healthy interaction between cruciferous vegetables and the bacteria in your gut). Most of us know that peas are a great source of protein and fibre – but did you know that they also have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties?

Avocado is one of the healthiest fats you can add to your diet and its Omega-3 helps to reduce inflammation in the gut. My nutritionalist has recommended I eat it every day – that’s how healing it is! Lastly, lean red meat is obviously a protein source, and despite what detractors might say, it’s also one of the best sources of nutrients that you won’t get from plant-based foods.

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Coconut fish curry with cauliflower rice

I’m not the biggest fish fan but I am trying to get it into my diet more often because it’s just so damn healthy. This is hake, which offers Omega-3 acids and a range of nutrients. I’ve cooked it in homemade coconut milk, which is another incredibly healthy fat that my nutritionalist recommends I consume daily, due to the fact that it’s so healing for the gut. As you can see, I’ve tossed in some handfuls of baby spinach for an extra health kick, and it’s seasoned with all the usual ‘legal’ seasonings like garlic and ginger – both of which are also considered ‘super foods’ due to their healing and health-sustaining properties.

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Coconut yoghurt with honey

This is made from coconut milk, and has the added benefit of gelatine and probiotics, which are added just prior to incubating it. Probiotics introduce healthy bacteria to your gut and gelatine is an amazing weapon in the fight against inflammation.  This is one of the healthiest things you can feed a damaged gut. Here’s my recipe for homemade coconut yogurt.

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Oysters and champagne

Okay so this was a bit of a splurge (I was celebrating signing my permanent contract at work), and champagne – or any alcohol for that matter – should be avoided when you’re flaring, or when you’re trying to heal your gut. I was thrilled to discover some time ago that oysters, however, are so so good for you! They’re full of zinc, which is essential for those of us battling digestive diseases as we tend to lose a lot of it. Zinc is essential for healthy functioning and also helps to heal woulds. You’ll find it in pumpkin seeds too.

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Bonus: Cauliflower pizza

Everyone needs to feel like they’re eating something fun every now and then – even those of us with IBD! This cauliflower pizza was made from many of the healthy ingredients listed above, so it has the added benefit of hitting that ‘junk food’ spot without actually being junk food! The olives and mushrooms are also sources of healthy fats and nutrients, and it’s all drizzled with coconut oil for that extra bit of healing.

What are you favourite healing, healthy meals?

Back from Bali and all the things I ate! (Part 1: SCD/Paleo)

 

Yellow watermelon (delicious!) - Kuala Lampur

Malaysian yellow watermelon – super sweet and delicious


GUYS! I’m back from the East and my latest amazing set of culinary adventures, and not only did I survive, but I thrived!

Being on a super restrictive diet can be hard when you’re travelling, so I’ve decided to share with you all the things I ate, safely, while I was away.

Eastern eating for SCD/Paleo peeps

Travelling to the East (we were in Malaysia, where K’s mom lives, and Bali) can seem daunting if you’re on a limited diet, but it needn’t be. In fact, speaking only for myself, my gut fares sooo much better on that side of the world. I don’t know if it’s the weather, the lack of stress or just the fact that I absolutely love the East, but whatever it is, it works wonders for my system.

First of all, let me start by saying that if you’re travelling to the East, there are plenty of safe food options available. While you might have to look harder – and a bit more carefully (I had to bin a bag of cashews that I bought, not realising they were roasted in sugar and a bunch of other bad things – here in South Africa, we get tons of natural, quality products so I never really have to check), you won’t really struggle.

And the food is SO. GOOD. Think curries made from fresh ingredients, seafood, chicken, tons of fresh fruit and veggies, nuts and freshly-squeezed fruit juices.

Sticking to my diet… and then, not

We started in Kuala Lampur in Malaysia, and for the first half of my trip, I ate extremely carefully. I had no gluten or dairy, and I tried my utmost to avoid sugar. About half-way through our holiday, whilst in Bali, we found ourselves at a nature reserve that was actually a 15-minute ferry trip away from the mainland. So when I say we were in the middle of nowhere, I absolutely mean it! We arrived on the island to discover our guest house… and nothing else. So we had to eat what was served, and all resistance crumbled when they brought out a basket of fresh croissants at breakfast!

We returned to Malaysia and I carried on cheating. Guys, it was SO bad. Chocolate – not only the ‘good’ organic/dark kind, but the normal dairy kind too – and even a PIZZA! Okay, it was a teeny one, but STILL! I also don’t even want to think about the breakfast binge I had at the buffet at the Hard Rock Hotel in Bali. Em.BARRASSING! (let’s just say I went back three times – it was a disgusting gorge-fest).

As soon I got home to Cape Town, I got back to my healthy eating, and I’ve stuck with it ever since. It’s more paleo than SCD, just in terms of including spices in my diet and not being fastidious to the point of obsession. But I did gain a kilo or two while I was away, which I’m not ecstatic about. However, it was worth it for the week or two of indulgence!

Holiday BMs and bloating

Interestingly, my BMs were SO much better and more regular over there. I don’t know if it’s because I was eating more oil (Eastern food tends to contain quite a bit of it), or if it was the rice – I practically lived on rice – or whether it’s because I was simply eating more. But my BMs were a daily, twice or thrice-daily occurrence (no diarrhoea) and I had ZERO BLOATING. What an amazing holiday treat, especially because we spent most of our trip in bikinis!

Holiday belly: no bloat, just sunburn!

Holiday belly: no bloat, just sunburn!

I also realise that being on holiday and feeling totally blissed-out and stress free must work wonders for one’s gut. I felt no ill-effects of my naughty binges, except for a few cramps after some Chinese food. I was obviously extremely lucky and I think that eating badly for longer than a week would have some serious repercussions. But for the duration of my holiday, I was fine.

Flying gluten-free

I ordered the gluten-free meal on the plane (my reasoning being that, despite my lactose intolerance, it’s easier to see and avoid dairy than gluten), and it was actually a REVELATION to land, after 24 hours in transit, with NO BLOAT. That’s never happened to me after long flight. I’ve even found myself doubled-over in pain after gorging on airline food (yes, I like it!), so this was so wonderful for me.

And now.. the food!

That’s definitely enough blah from me, so with no further ado, here’s a selection of the paleo/SCD-legal food I ate when I was in Kuala Lampur and Bali: [for SCD/Paleo, avoid the grains/rice]

Breakfast

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Freshly squeezed mixed fruit smoothie (watermelon, pineapple, papaya) and Balinese coffee – Balangan, Bali

Yellow watermelon (delicious!) - Kuala Lampur

Yellow watermelon (delicious!) – Kuala Lampur

Fresh fruit and boiled eggs - Balangan, Bali

Fresh fruit and boiled eggs – hold the toast! Bangalan, Bali

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Freshly squeezed fruit juices – Kuta, Bali

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Fresh watermelon juice- West Bali National Park

Other meals

Red snapper curry - Kuta, Bali

Red snapper curry made with coconut milk – Kuta, Bali

Vegetable stir-fry - West Bali National Park

Vegetable stir-fry – West Bali National Park

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Chicken betutu – spicy chicken steamed in a banana leaf…

... delicious!

… delicious! Kuta, Bali

Fresh salad - avoid the curious salad dressing

Fresh salad – avoid the curious salad dressing

Chicken and lime salad - West Bali National Park

Chicken and lime salad – West Bali National Park

Chicken curry made with coconut milk - West Bali National Park

Chicken curry made with coconut milk – West Bali National Park

Nasi goreng - fried rice with vegetables and chicken - Bangalan, Bali

Nasi goreng – fried rice with vegetables and chicken – Bangalan, Bali

Chicken salad - Bangalan, Bali

Chicken salad – Bangalan, Bali

Fresh salad (at an Australian restaurant!) - Pedang Pedang, Bali

Fresh salad (at an Australian restaurant!) – Pedang Pedang, Bali

Baramundi (fish) - partly SCD/Paleo (not so sure about that sauce, and potatoes to be avoided) - Kuta, Bali

Baramundi (fish) – partly SCD/Paleo (not so sure about that sauce, and potatoes to be avoided). I ordered this because I’d never heard of baramundi before, and it was very tasty – Kuta, Bali.

Snacks

Coconut sorbet...

Coconut sorbet…

... YUMMO!

… YUMMO! Kuta, Bali

Cookies I spotted in a health store. I didn't have any of these but good to know there were 'safe' cheats available!

Organic cashew cookies I spotted at a health store in Kuta. I didn’t have any of these but good to know there were ‘safe’ cheats available!

Dairy-free dragon fruit sorbet - Kuta, Bali

Dairy-free dragon fruit sorbet – Kuta, Bali

Fresh fruit platter

Fresh fruit platter

Papaya and watermelon covered in RAW EGG! I couldn't finish this :-/

Papaya and watermelon covered in RAW EGG! I couldn’t finish this :-/

Probably the healthiest thing we had in Bali - lemongrass, ginger and honey tea, following an incredible massage in Bangalan, Bali

Probably the healthiest thing we had in Bali – lemongrass, ginger and honey tea, following an incredible massage in Bangalan, Bali

Chocolate

I discovered a selection of organic dark chocolate at a health shop in Kuta, Bali, which stocked the most amazing selection of organic, natural products. This chocolate is obviously not SCD, but it’ll definitely suit a paleo 🙂 The Wonder Chocolate is made in New Zealand and the Charly’s is Indonesian.

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While some of these foods are definitely a little borderline when it comes to SCD or paleo, plenty of them are completely legal – and you don’t have to look too far to find them.

But, of everything I ate, the best thing was undoubtedly the slice of fresh English cucumber served on the first leg of my journey, the flight from Cape Town to Doha en route to Malaysia. It was the first time I’d eaten cucumber in more than 100 days (I hadn’t introduced it on SCD) and it was INCREDIBLE! I’d forgotten just how delicious cucumber is.

So that concludes the ‘good’, healthy food choices I made. I’ll follow up in a few days with a few of the naughtier, funnier and stranger things I ate.

I hope your diet’s going well, and that these photos are encouraging you to get busy exploring!