In the first of our two-part series chef Georgie Soskin and nutritionist Jo Saunders take a look at digestion and offer some gorgeous recipes to keep your little ones fighting fit…
Did you know that as much as 70 to 80% of our immune system is located in our gut? It is referred to as our ‘second brain’ yet we often regard it as an independent system. The bacteria in our gut plays a vital role in our health, helping to digest food, make vitamins and protect us from bad bugs that may make us unwell.
Cooking them Healthy’s Top Digestion Tips
Use Brown not White
Simple changes in our diet, such as switching to brown pasta and bread, will help to increase fibre intake. This is super important as both soluble and insoluble fibre is required for maintaining a healthy digestive system and the elimination of toxins from the body. Fibre is also helpful for slowing down the release of sugar into our bloodstream, helping stabilise blood glucose levels, and therefore energy. In comparison, white flour is more processed and as a result is devoid of many nutrients and goodness, such as fibre.
Water is essential for helping to keep things moving in the digestive system, not drinking enough can lead to constipation and discomfort. Dehydration is a common side effect of the vomiting and diarrhoea associated with a stomach bug.
Taken as a probiotic supplement, after a tummy bug or constipation, this may help restore the balance of beneficial bacteria supporting both digestion and immunity. Also try to increase digestion-friendly foods like live natural yogurt, stewed apples and dried fruit such as apricots and figs, which are naturally rich in fibre to help get things moving.
COLD BUSTING CHICKEN BROTH
Bone broths are a highly nutritious food, gentle on the digestive system and rich in valuable nutrients to help repair gut health. Add carrots, peas, celery and any other vegetables you fancy, plus shredded pieces of chicken and white jasmine rice – after a tummy upset this is more gentle on digestion than brown rice. This recipe is crammed with immune-boosting properties from the chicken bones and antibacterial garlic and ginger. It is rich and warming, yet refreshing and incredibly cleansing.
100g white rice, cooked
2 celery, cut into large chunks (this will cook through until very soft)
2 to 3 carrots, large chunks (they will cook through until soft)
1 white onion, cut into wedges
2 garlic cloves, leave whole
3cm ginger, cut into large slices
1 or 2 spring onions, sliced
1 chicken carcass from a roast
Shredded chicken (taken from the carcass of the chicken)
Start by cooking the rice as per your usual method or the follow the packet instructions. Next, make your fresh chicken stock or broth by taking the chicken carcass and placing it in a large saucepan. Add the onion, carrot, celery, ginger and garlic and cover everything with water.
Place onto a high heat and bring the water to the boil. Once boiling, simmer and leave for a couple of hours (or longer if you have the time). Then turn off.
When cooled slightly, remove the chicken carcass (making sure you get any small bones that might have fallen) and discard. You now have a wonderful, rich and wholesome stock. If you want the flavour to be more concentrated then increase the heat and reduce the stock by evaporating it down.
Add the chicken pieces, peas, sweetcorn and spring onion.
When serving, take a portion of the cooked fluffy white rice and add in ladles of your stock and the soft carrot, peas, sweetcorn, and ginger. You want to create a chunky soup. Alternatively you can just add the rice straight into your stock mix. Serve warm and watch it disappear. You can keep any leftover stock and freeze for another time.
If you feel the stock would benefit from more seasoning, stir through 1 tsp of Marmite to provide even greater depth of flavour.
SPRING CHICKEN WITH A HERBY YOGURT AND GARLIC BUTTER DIP
These are a great alternative to breaded chicken and are very simple and quick to cook. Flattening the chicken in this way makes it much more tender and also reduces the cooking time. Adding the lemon zest and thyme creates a delicious freshness but it also works well without if you don’t have them to hand. We have included three different dips that can be used with the chicken fingers. Changing the dips is a good way of adding a variety of tastes and ingredients to your child’s diet.
400g chicken breast
Zest of 1 lemon and teaspoon of thyme (optional)
40g white spelt flour (although
gluten-free works well too)
Knob of butter
Take the chicken and lay on some cling film to prevent it from sticking to your chopping board, then place another piece of cling film on top. Using the side of a rolling pin gently, but firmly, tap down on the breast and flatten it until its about 2 to 3cm in thickness all the way across.
On a plate, mix flour, lemon zest, thyme and seasoning. Place the breast into the flour, coat on both sides, tap off any excess.
Meanwhile, heat a knob of butter in a frying pan until it is foaming and add the chicken. Cook for 3 minutes per side, until it is cooked through yet still moist.
Finally, slice into chicken fingers and serve with bulgur wheat, roasted baby carrots and the dip of your choice.
GARLIC BUTTER DIP
Herbs can be incredibly soothing for the digestive system and garlic is wonderful for immune-boosting. It is worth making some extra as it is really handy to have in the freezer and it will last a few months.
80g butter, softened
1 clove garlic, pasted
A handful of parsley
Place your butter in a bowl and mix in your garlic paste, chopped herbs and seasoning. Next, take a piece of cling film and pop your butter in the centre. Using the cling film to protect your hands, roll the butter into a cylindrical shape and place in the fridge. When the chicken is ready, either cut a slice from your cylinder of butter and allow it to come to room temperature or put the butter into a small pan and melt so the fingers can be dipped.
Children love this unusual, sweet sticky sauce. Miso paste is widely available nowadays and as it is a probiotic food it is really supporting for your digestion.
1 tbsp miso paste
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 to 2 tbsp honey
Simply stir ingredients together. It will last in your fridge for at least 2 to 3 days and is great with steamed vegetables too.
This is a great sauce to have in your fridge to throw on pasta or dip pitta in. It is energy and immune boosting as well as fantastic for digestive function.
140ml live yoghurt
3 tbsp sour cream or crème fraîche
1 to 2 tsp lemon juice
1 clove of garlic
A large handful of parsley, mint and coriander (light herbs such as dill, tarragon, chervil would all work well too).
Use a hand blender to blitz everything together to get this incredibly vibrant sauce. This will last in your fridge for 2 to 3 days.
Check out their healthy twist on sweet treats here