I think we’ve all heard of the idea of using food as medicine, but let’s be honest, doesn’t that sound like you’ll be eating concoctions that have the texture of hay? If you have Celiac disease, food allergies, diabetes, are trying to lose weight, or just want to eat healthier, aren’t you sick of eating foods that are “good” for you but taste like hockey pucks?
Part of eating healthy isn’t just what you are eating, but how you feel when you eat it. As someone with multiple food allergies, I completely understand that even though I should feel like a saint while I’m eating my gluten free, dairy free, flavor free, packed with nutrition but totally tasteless chicken salad at lunch, in reality I’m totally jealous of my friend who gets to have her piece of chocolate cake for dessert (and eat it too!) She may be eating something “bad” for her, but I bet she feels pretty darn good while she enjoys it. This is a key piece that’s missing in a “limited” diet … the feel-good factor.
Well, guess what? You can eat foods that will help heal and soothe your digestive tract, and it can be the most fantastic food that has ever passed your lips (obviously, Zing Bars are a fine example of this!) My mission in life is to make people who can eat whatever they want, with no restrictions, be utterly jealous of my meals, instead of the other way around.
Try introducing the following three foods that can help soothe your gut, and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the flavor party that will be happening in your mouth:
- Fresh ginger: Used for centuries as a digestive tonic, ginger is essential for reducing nausea, and soothing an upset stomach, or an irritated digestive tract. Ginger can be steeped in hot water for a soothing tea, or added to meals for a somewhat spicy zing. You’ll find it fresh in the produce section of your local grocery store.
- Turmeric: This is a time-tested remedy that is ideal for anyone with gut issues, as it has strong anti-inflammatory properties. This spice is most often found in curry powders, and has a warm, gentle flavor. I always add extra turmeric to any recipes that call for curry powder, since it doesn’t overwhelm any other flavors, but adds a significant soothing effect.
- Coconut milk and coconut oil: These are really two separate powerhouse foods from the same nut. Coconut oil makes a fabulous butter replacement for anyone who can’t tolerate dairy products, and is the one oil that I recommend for moderately high heat cooking, since it doesn’t break down at these temperatures (think damage to your body!) like other oils can. Coconut milk is super easy to digest, especially for people with a compromised digestive system, who need all the nutrition that they can get.
Great, you’ve got your list and are ready to go shopping, but how do you magically introduce all these foods when you haven’t used them before? Do you really think I would leave you hanging like that? Check out the fantastic recipe below that has all three ingredients. It’s also gluten free, dairy free, egg free, happens to be vegan, and is full of flavor.
Coconut Cashew Curry
Prep time: 30 minutes (longer if cooking brown rice)
3 tsp coconut oil
2 carrots, chopped into thin coin shapes or half moons
1 red pepper, chopped approximately the same size as the carrot
1 medium onion, chopped (I prefer red onion, but use whatever you have)
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 fresh jalapeno peppers (use less or more to adjust spice level to your taste)
2 tsp curry powder
2 tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp chili powder
1 can unsweetened, organic coconut milk
1 cup unsalted, toasted cashews
2 cups fresh spinach
A handful of fresh basil leaves, torn into smaller pieces
1-inch piece of fresh ginger (less or more as desired)
1. Start cooking whatever you want as a side dish, which is usually rice. I highly recommend using brown rice or quinoa for extra nutrition. This will cook while you work on the curry.
2. When preparing the jalapeno peppers (if using any), split them open lengthwise. Remove the white insides and the seeds if you want less heat, or include them if you want more heat. Mince into very small pieces so you don’t end up with a huge chunk of spicy jalapeno.
3. In a large non-stick skillet or wok over medium heat, add the coconut oil. Once melted, add the carrots and the red pepper to the pan, and cook for about five minutes until they start to soften.
4. Add the onion, garlic, jalapeno, curry, turmeric, salt and chilli powder to the pan with the carrot and pepper, and continue cooking for another couple minutes until the kitchen smells fantastic (and yes, like curry).
5. Add the coconut milk, and stir until all the spices are combined evenly. Reduce the heat so that the coconut milk is slowly bubbling, and let cook until the carrots are fully softened and the coconut milk has thickened, which will take about 10-15 minutes.
6. When the curry is thickened to your desired texture, add in the cashews, spinach, the torn basil leaves, and grate in the ginger. Stir to combine everything. For the ginger, I like to use my microplane grater, which grates it very fine, but if all you have is a box grater, that will work too! Make sure to add in all the delicious ginger juice that may be released when you grate it.
7. Let the curry cook for another minute, so that the spinach can wilt down and the ginger has a chance to mellow out.
8. Serve over the rice or quinoa that you’ve prepared, and sit back to receive compliments on your delicious meal!
Ashley Srokosz, HBSC, RHN, is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist based out of Chatham, Ontario, Canada. After learning how to live with her own food allergies to wheat and gluten, dairy, and eggs, she now coaches other people with food allergies or Celiac disease on how to make the transition to an allergy-free life. Ashley loves to share tips and tricks, review allergy-free foods (like Zing Bars!) and restaurants, and any other tidbits on living allergy-free on her website www.lovewhatyoueat.ca