HAPPY GUT Blog

Salmon Cake & Basil Brunch

DF GF SF

Serves: 4

The weekends are a time to unwind, relax and enjoy your free time. The lack of structure can also lead to meals out, indulging in tasty treats…including brunch out with friends and that occasional mimosa.

By Monday, you might be feeling bloated, exhausted and thinking about hitting the gym extra this week. Just because it is the weekend, our bodies aren’t going to give us a hall pass to eat large portions of pancakes and bacon. I do believe that you should always take pleasure in your food and the company that surrounds it though!

So I’ve got the perfect brunch that you can enjoy. No need to feel guilty when Monday rolls around. This meal is gut-friendly, packed with delicious flavor and will keep you fueled and satisfied. It’s free of all added sugar and grains.

Many brunch dishes are loaded with gluten, syrup or unwanted fats that can contribute to imbalance in the gut and have an unfavorable effect on your waistline between the excess bloat and high caloric intake.

This dish is super simple to make, and can be presented as a beautiful entree to guests when the brunch crew comes over. Heading into spring and summer, I’ve even highlighted a few herbs, like basil and parsley. These will have your tastebuds anticipating the summer flavors that are upon us!

Ingredients

(4) 4 oz boneless salmon fillets

4 eggs, poached

1 egg

¼ cup cassava flour

⅓ cup Primal Kitchen mayonnaise

⅓ cup fresh basil

⅓ cup fresh chives & parsley combined

1 tbs olive oil

1 medium sweet potato, baked

2 tbs avocado oil

1 lemon, freshly squeezed

Sea salt and pepper

 

Step 1

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake sweet potato for 40-45 minutes or until soft. Take out of the oven and allow to cool. Once it is cooled, peel the skin.

Step 2

Meanwhile, heat a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tbs avocado oil. Squeeze fresh lemon on the salmon and season with salt and pepper. Then pan sear on each side for 4 minutes. Cover for 1 minute, then remove from heat and allow to cool. Once cool, peel any skin off the salmon.

Step 3

In a blender, mix the egg, salmon, cassava flour and sweet potato. Add a bit of water if needed. Once smooth and sticky, form into patties about the size of a hockey puck.

Step 4

In a clean skillet add 1 tbs of avocado oil over medium heat. Pan sear each salmon patty for 3 minutes on each side.

Step 5

Place a patty on a dish. Then add a poached egg and top with another patty.

Step 6

In the blender, mix mayonnaise with the basil, parsley, chives, olive oil and add 2 tbs of water. Mix until creamy. You may need to add more water. Once finished, drizzle on top of the dish and serve.

National Nutrition Month + Committing to Your Health

Spring is slowly creeping in. If you’re like me, you’re sighing with relief that the short, cold winter days are drifting as the new season is upon us. Taking a pause to reflect and transition to this new month can benefit your mind and body. Oftentimes, a detox, spiritual practice, or spring cleanse can help shed weight or emotional distress.

March is National Nutrition Month. I love to highlight this because it’s a friendly reminder to re-center and ground yourself. This may be a gentle push regarding your New Year’s Resolutions that got put on the back burner as well.

I am also here to share how you can improve your gut health during National Nutrition Month, while saying “so long” to the winter blues and the added weight or bloat that might have come with them.

I am excited to give you some of my favorite go-to options to help you get back on track with your gut health and overall wellness. Trust me, I get that you’re busy. Maybe you’re guilty of ordering take out most nights or ghosting your personal trainer for fear of facing that workout. When life gets the best of me, I always have tools that get me back to feeling grounded and staying resilient during chaotic times.

With these five strategies, you can hit the ground running and kick off National Nutrition Month the right way!

Deep Breathing

When we hear the word “stress” most of us tense up or think of the main stressors in our lives. Stress is a part of life and can even be beneficial in moderate amounts (such as with exercise).

Stress can also lead us to crave bad foods, disrupt the microbiota, weaken the immune system, cause weight gain… The list can really go on and on. Combating stress and creating resiliency is incredibly important to lead a healthy life day-to-day and help you to overcome the losing battle to stress.

One simple and FREE strategy is deep belly breathing. Breathing is something like drinking water. We all know how important it is to drink water daily, but how many of us overlook it as an important component to health and well-being? Taking time throughout the day to breathe is similar.

Try to incorporate deep belly breathing before each meal. This can help to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system via the vagus nerve and get your body out of the fight-or-flight mode. This contributes to all the stress imbalances mentioned above.

In addition, belly breathing can promote proper digestion and increase nutrient absorption at meal time with the release of stomach acid and digestive enzymes. It’s one thing to be eating healthy and a completely other ball game to actually be absorbing everything you’re putting in your mouth!

Even better, this can be done anywhere and only takes a few minutes. Before you eat, inhale through the nose as you stick the belly out and count to four. Hold the breath for four counts and exhale through the nose and pull the belly in for four counts. Repeat this for one to two minutes. Then begin eating, chew your food thoroughly and enjoy your meal in the present moment.

Green Tea Daily

The benefits of green tea are really astounding. The high amounts of polyphenols in green tea can reduce the severity of chronic health conditions. In particular, these compounds can be protective against stroke, heart attack, diabetes, blood pressure, insulin resistance, and overall systemic inflammation.

These polyphenols have been shown to play a favorable role in the composition of the gut microbiome. Specifically, the beneficial bacteria will metabolize the polyphenols into bioactive compounds that have health benefits for the entire body.

Starting the day off with a cup of organic green tea can be a soothing, healing and a delicious way to jump-start your day! I recommend one to two cups earlier in the day to avoid any caffeine consumption close to bedtime. (1)

Eat Living Foods

In most instances, the American diet is loaded with foods that are packaged and could sit on a shelf for days, months, or even years without changing form!

Eating foods with living bacteria can promote better gut health and promote colonization of beneficial microbes. When good bugs are thriving, this can have a positive impact on metabolism, along with reducing overall inflammation.

More specifically, foods that contain live strains of lactobacilli can also improve the severity of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and reduce the colonization of harmful bacteria strains that may promote inflammation and chronic diseases. (2)  

I suggest adding one to two tablespoons of fermented foods to your diet daily. This can be a super easy addition, just by taking one spoonful at a time. For instance, try adding sauerkraut to a salad, kimchi mixed with scrambled eggs or dairy-free yogurt to a smoothie!

Bitter Greens

Most Americans don’t eat enough bitter greens. In fact, you probably won’t find them highlighted at your grocery store, but they are truly a hidden gem. However, they have been eaten and used as plant medicine for years in many cultures.

In terms of gut health, these bitters support the production of hydrochloric acid, digestive enzymes, and flow of bile. Like mentioned above, these are essential for proper digestion of nutrients.

Because of their ability to support digestion and high fiber content, these bitters can help to promote better bowel movements. In addition, their high fiber profile and bitter flavor can help to curve cravings of sugar and other processed foods.

Take a look at some of the options below and how you can start incorporating bitters into your daily meals this month.

Pair a delicious bitter salad and deep belly breathing at meal time for amazing gut benefits. My favorite greens include

Bitter Greens

Arugula

Beet Greens

Broccoli Rabe

Dandelion Greens

Escarole

Endive

Radicchio

Radish Greens

Enjoy Carbs

We hear so much about cutting out carbohydrates in order to lose weight and to address other health conditions. While this is true, it doesn’t mean you have to ban carbs from your diet totally. The key is to pick the right carbohydrates! This can make a huge difference.

For instance, incorporating resistant starch foods can have a positive impact on your metabolism. Because these starchy foods are also packed with fiber they do not spike blood sugar and insulin levels after meals like other processed carbs. These foods are also high in fiber, so they act as prebiotic/resistant starch foods.

They essentially feed the beneficial strains of bacteria in the gut and allow them to thrive. The fiber will also keep you fuller longer and can decrease your sugar cravings or urge to nibble on sweets.

Interestingly enough, carbohydrates can also promote restful sleep at dinner time. Cooked and chilled sweet potatoes (an incredible resistant starch food), contain key vitamins and minerals that act as precursors to neurotransmitters that can soothe you into a deep sleep, such as melatonin and serotonin.

Take a look at some options below that you can incorporate to your diet this month. Start replacing these with any packaged or processed cookies, crackers, or snacks that could be sabotaging you from a healthy body and gut.

Resistant Starch & Carbohydrate Foods to Enjoy:

Cooked & chilled sweet potatoes

Cooked & chilled oatmeal

Cooked & chilled legumes

Sunchokes

Tigernuts

Celeriac

Green Bananas

Green Plantains

Jicama

Citations

1.Fraga CG, Croft KD, Kennedy DO, Tomás-Barberán FA.The effects of polyphenols and other bioactives on human health. Food Funct. 2019 Feb 12.

2.Alvaro E, Andrieux C, Rochet V, Rigottier-Gois L, Lepercq P, Sutren M, Galan P, Duval Y, Juste C, Doré J.Composition and metabolism of the intestinal microbiota in consumers and non-consumers of yogurt.Br J Nutr. 2007 Jan;97(1):126-33.

Veggie Bites & Beet Ketchup

V VG GF DF SF

Serves: 4

February is National Heart Health Month. When I think of heart health, my mind immediately goes to foods and spices filled with color and flavor, particularly beets. Their rich color, earthy taste, and vibrant appearance are rather eye-catching. In addition, beets hold some powerful health benefits.

Keep reading because I’ve got the perfect heart-healthy dish for you this month.

More specifically, beets contain inorganic nitrate and nitrite. Simply put, these compounds can turn into the active form of nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide supports cardiovascular health by maintaining blood pressure, decreasing your risk of oxidative stress, and regulating the immune system.

Beets can be prepared in so many different ways. Juiced, roasted, steamed, or you could pair it with dark chocolate and add it to a healthy dessert. (Yum, right?)

Personally, my favorite way to incorporate beets is with ketchup. It’s the perfect substitute for condiments high in sugar and food additives (not to mention an easy and tasty way to reap the benefits of beets)!

I pair this with some roasted veggies for an added bonus of fiber to support a healthy gut.

This is the perfect side, snack, or modern spin on a game day dish for your guests!

 

Ketchup Ingredients

1 cup beets, chopped

½ small onion, diced

1 tbs pure maple syrup

1 tsp dijon mustard

1 tbs avocado oil

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

¼ cup filtered water

 

Veggie Bites Ingredients

1 head cauliflower, florets

1 head broccoli, florets

1 jar artichoke hearts

1 medium sweet potato, cut into french fries

2 tbs avocado oil

Sea salt and pepper

Step 1

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. On one sheet pan, place beets with avocado oil.

Step 2

On a separate sheet pan place cauliflower, broccoli, and sweet potato fries. Drizzle with avocado oil, sea salt, and pepper.

Step 3

Roast both vegetable trays for 20-25 minutes.

Step 4

Set the pan with cauliflower, broccoli, and sweet potatoes to the side.

Step 5

On the stove top, place beets in a saucepan with mustard, onions, maple syrup, vinegar, and water. Turn to high heat and boil for 1-2 minutes, then lower to a simmer and cook until onions are soft.

Step 6

Allow ingredients in the saucepan to cool, then add to a blender. Blend until smooth and creamy. Serve on the side of the veggie bites.

Photo by Monika Grabkowska on Unsplash