We know that the gut - in particular, our gut microbiome - plays a crucial role in our wellbeing, helping to maintain the health of our immune system, brain and metabolism.
Eating the right types of foods, especially those high in dietary fibre and resistant starch, can support a healthy population of gut microbes and benefit our overall health. In this follow-up to the bestselling Healthy Gut Diet, leading CSIRO research scientists and dieticians share the latest findings on gut health, including:
- the essential role of fibre in creating a diverse and resilient gut microbiome;
- how the gut barrier and microbiome changes as we travel through life;
- the influence of gut microbes on the rest of our body, including our mood;
- and the potential benefits of probiotics, prebiotics and fermented foods.
Also included are go-to lists of good fibre choices for your pantry, fridge and freezer; simple tips and sample meal plans; and 60 delicious fibre-fuelled recipes - all designed to deliver a range of different fibres and nutrients to boost your gut health.
- The CSIRO Gut Care Guide, by Michael Conlon, Pennie Taylor, Dr Cuong D Tran and Megan Rebuli. Macmillan Australia, $39.99. Photography by Rob Palmer.
Berry overload banana muffins
2 medium ripe bananas
80ml olive oil
125g reduced-fat natural yoghurt or plant-based yoghurt
3 large free-range eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
125g green banana flour
55g almond meal
50g rolled oats
2 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp shredded coconut
125g fresh or frozen raspberries
1. Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan-forced) and line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases.
2. Mash the bananas to a puree in a large bowl. Add the olive oil, yoghurt, eggs and vanilla extract and whisk together with a fork. Add the flour, almond meal, oats, baking powder and two tablespoons of the shredded coconut and mix to form a smooth batter. Gently fold in most of the raspberries, reserving a few for garnish.
3. Divide the mixture evenly among the muffin holes, then sprinkle over the remaining shredded coconut and gently push in the reserved raspberries. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden and a skewer inserted in the centre of a muffin comes out clean. 4. Cool in the tin for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Tip: These muffins freeze well. Wrap them up separately and store in the freezer for up to three months. Thaw in the fridge overnight, then reheat in the microwave or in a moderate oven.
Valentine's chicken traybake
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 large bone-in chicken marylands, skin and visible fat removed (see tip)
900g truss cherry tomatoes on the vine, or regular cherry tomatoes
3 red capsicums, cut into 3cm chunks
2 red onions, cut into 1cm thick wedges
2 long red chillies, seeded if you like, cut into 1cm chunks
11/2 tsp capers, rinsed
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch basil, leaves picked
125ml salt-reduced chicken stock
4 thin slices sourdough bread, toasted
1. Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan-forced).
2. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Once the oil is hot, add two chicken marylands and cook for two minutes each side, or until browned. Set aside and repeat with the remaining marylands.
3. Place the cherry tomatoes, capsicum, onion, chilli, capers and garlic in a large baking dish (or two smaller dishes if you don't have one big enough). Add most of the basil leaves, reserving a small handful for garnish. Drizzle over the remaining olive oil and toss to coat well, then nestle in the chicken marylands. Pour over the chicken stock and any chicken pan juices. Place in the oven and bake for one hour, or until the chicken is cooked through and the veggies are very tender and starting to collapse.
4. Take the dish out of the oven, transfer the chicken to a plate and remove the skin. Using a potato masher or fork, lightly crush the vegetables.
5. Divide the chicken and vegetables among four plates and season with a pinch of freshly ground black pepper. Garnish with the reserved basil and serve with the sourdough toast.
Tip: If you can't find chicken marylands, use a butterflied chicken instead. It will cook in the same amount of time.
Mediterranean chickpea stew
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, thinly sliced
3 sticks celery, diced
2 zucchini, finely diced
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
10 sundried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 litre salt-reduced vegetable stock
1.2 kg cooked chickpeas or drained and rinsed tinned chickpeas (choose salt-reduced options)
6 kale or cavolo nero leaves, stalks removed and roughly chopped
1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
juice of 1 lemon
80g parmesan, shaved
1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the onion, celery and zucchini and cook for seven minutes or until the onion has softened. Add the fennel, garlic, sundried tomato and chilli flakes and cook, stirring, for another five minutes, until the garlic is fragrant and the fennel is starting to soften. Add the vinegar and stir through until it has evaporated.
2. Pour in the stock, add the chickpeas and bring to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes to allow the flavours to mingle. The stew is ready when the fennel is soft to the bite.
3. Remove from the heat and stir through the kale or cavolo nero, parsley and lemon juice until the kale or cavalo nero has wilted.
4. Spoon the stew into four bowls and top with shaved parmesan and a good grinding of black pepper.
Tips: This recipe makes four large portions, with plenty of gut-friendly chickpeas. You can divide leftovers among airtight containers and freeze for up to three months, ready for another delicious dinner.
Buckwheat crepes with salmon
160g mozzarella, grated
1 tbsp capers, rinsed
150g hot smoked salmon
1 tbsp horseradish cream
60g watercress sprigs
3 tbsp unsalted roasted almonds, roughly chopped
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
lemon wedges, to serve (optional)
80g buckwheat flour
1 large free-range egg
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1. To make the buckwheat crepe batter, place the flour in a large bowl, crack in the egg and add 250ml water. Mix well to form a thin, smooth batter. Set aside to rest for at least one hour, but preferably for two hours before cooking.
2. Heat half a teaspoon of olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Pour in one-quarter of the batter and swirl the pan to cover the base, making a thin crepe. Place one-quarter of the mozzarella, capers and smoked salmon in the middle. Continue to cook for four to six minutes until the crepe is browned and crispy on the bottom and the cheese has melted.
3. Fold over the crepe and transfer to a plate. Cover to keep warm, then repeat with the remaining batter, mozzarella, capers and salmon to make four crepes.
4. Serve the crepes with the horseradish cream, watercress and almonds. Finish with a light drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of freshly ground black pepper and a lemon wedge for squeezing over, if you like.