We’re bracing for an early onset of the cold and flu season this year and Remedy Drinks Nutritionist Jacqueline Alwill is here to help with some hot tips on how to boost your family’s gut microbiome and immunity this winter.
“Your ‘gut microbiome’ is made up of the trillions of microorganisms that live in your intestine. These microorganisms, mainly made up of bacteria, play a key role in digesting the food you eat, helping you to absorb and synthesize nutrients,” Jacqueline explains.
“But these little critters are even more amazing because they also play a key role in processes extending beyond our gut including our metabolism, immune function as well as our brain and mood.”
“There are many different factors that influence the type and amount of bacteria we have in our gut and diet is one of the key ways we can ensure our microbiome is balanced, active and healthy to ensure our immune function is working as well as it can especially as we head into winter. An imbalance of bad gut bacteria essentially confuses the immune system meaning it won’t correctly identify and fight the bads guys like cold and flu when they arrive.”
“For kids, this is especially important. They actually inherit our microbiome at birth and the first four to five years of life is when their microbiomes are really getting established so fostering a healthy gut foundation now will set them up for life,” explains Jacqueline.
Boosting and supporting your microbiome doesn’t have to be a chore. There are simple and easy ways to give your gut health a boost:
1: Mix it up! Variety is the spice of life.
Maybe your kid went through a ‘white food’ only phase? I hear you. But there are ways to ensure your child still eats a variety of foods. The more diverse their diet, the better their microbiome. A mix of raw and cooked foods is ideal, so try a raw rainbow salad plate, a big bowl of veggie soup (try cauliflower soup. if they’re still in that white food phase), a handful of trail mix, or veggies with hummus.
2: Introduce some easy fermented foods to boost beneficial bacteria
Not sure whether your kids will give fermented foods a go? There are plenty of ‘gateway’ fermented options to try: pickles in a burger, miso soup (or maybe my miso caramel banana muffins), kefir, a kombucha spider made with a kid-friendly raspberry lemonade flavour and ice cream, even good old Greek yoghurt is a winner for upping beneficial bacteria. For the more adventurous you could try a baked sweet potato topped with kimchi and grated cheese. Fermented foods are a great source of probiotics.
3: Pump up the prebiotics
You’ve heard about probiotics but PREbiotics are just as important. Think of prebiotics as the food your good gut bacteria needs to thrive. Plant-based and wholegrain foods are your best source including bananas, watermelon, nectarines, white peaches, onion, garlic, leek, asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, snow pea and green peas. Legumes are also great so aim to incorporate chickpeas, red kidney beans, lentils and nuts and seeds in meals. Try a Mexican night with my Bean Chilli served with either potatoes or wraps.
4. Get dirty
You read that right - get outside and enjoy life outdoors. Outdoor play is vital for a healthy microbiome so whether it’s a bush walk, playground hangs, a game of organised sport or a ride around your neighbourhood make sure you get out and about. Better still, let your child get dirty and play with soil, as soil and plants house trillions of microorganisms. This can help build their immune system so they can fight any germs that come their way.
It’s getting chilly and rightly time to stock up on the GOOD stuff! But before you go out and buy a great wall of bog roll again, make sure you first have the basics on hand to create healthy and affordable meals at the ready this season.
Sadly, there’s only so long you can survive off those 2-minute-noodle wonders, and it’s time to get back to good N-U-T-R-I-T-I-O-N. Remember that crazy word? Rhymes with a beautician (the real heroes we’ve missed).
To help get us back into the swing of things, Remedy Drinks Nutritionist Jacq Alwill has been kind enough to share the multipurpose pantry staples she stocks up on at the supermarkets to make meals FULL of nutrition and flavour. Take notes.
GRAINS & PSEUDO GRAINS
“Grains are a wonderful source of B vitamins, fibre and carbohydrates for sustained energy and to help our brains function at their absolute best, the top grains to have on hand are basmati or brown rice, buckwheat, pure buckwheat soba noodles, quinoa, quinoa flakes, oats and barley.” Jacq explains. Try porridge for breakfast, a salad loaded with quinoa for lunch and hearty dinner with rice or noodles!
LEGUMES & BEANS
Thanks to the popularity of going meat-free (even for one day a week), legumes and beans are key– and they’re cost-effective, versatile and filling. “Legumes and beans will satiate your appetite and fuel your body with plant-based proteins. They provide essential amino acids our bodies need to synthesise proteins and for growth, development and repair.” If you’re not sure which to take home, Jacq recommends brown lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans and butter beans. If you’re buying them dried, try puy lentils, red lentils or split peas.
FERMENTED FOOD & DRINKS
Fermented foods and drinks are the true long-life pantry heroes! Jacq suggests keeping an eye out for kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, yoghurt and fermented drinks at the supermarket AKA Remedy Kombucha, Remedy Switchel, Remedy Sodas and Remedy Kefir. “Fermented goods are some of the most delicious ingredients you can stock up on and store for later. Through the fermentation process, they produce beautiful bacteria best known to us as probiotics to support our immune health. How? They feed the gut flora so it can flourish and absorb the nutrients in our foods.” We’ll CHEERS to that.
OIL, VINEGAR, & CONDIMENTS
Don’t skimp on oils, vinegar and condiments. What you’re cooking with should taste great! “Using high-quality oils not only add flavour to dishes, they can also be a source of high-quality fats. Extra-virgin olive oil, unrefined coconut oil, macadamia oil, sesame oil and ghee are all great to have. Balsamic vinegar and apple cider vinegar will transform any salad while helping curb sugar spikes and aiding digestion” says Jacq. Tamari and fish sauce are great for adding flavour to stir-fries and Asian cuisines. Tahini, almond butter, peanut butter or cashew butter can be used in baking, simple salad dressings, and if you just can’t help yourself, eaten by the spoon!
Finally scraping the barrel of iso-recipe ideas? We're in the same boat. One more curry and we may just have a new turmeric-coloured wallpaper on our hands. It's either that or the beans get a spin in the microwave again. Luckily our main gal and Remedy nutritionist Jacqueline Alwill came in to save the day with this banger of a burger recipe. Plant-based deliciousness which uses simple ingredients and is oh-so easy to make (it also happens to go REAL well with a Remedy Ginger Beer). Get on it!
Deluxe Plant-Based Burgers by Jacqueline Alwill
Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan
- 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
- 1 cup (200g) frozen peas, defrosted
- 1 cup (200g) cooked chickpeas or tinned, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup (70g) cooked brown rice
- 1/2 cup (48g) almond meal
- 1/4 cup (60g) caramelised onion
- 2 tablespoons (40ml) extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander (or your herb of choice)
1. Start by making the flax egg. Combine ground flaxseed with 2.5 tablespoons water in a small bowl, mix and set aside.
2. In a food processor combine defrosted peas, chickpeas, brown rice, almond meal, caramelised onion and oil and pulse to chop a few times. Add flax egg and blitz briefly so the mixture comes together but you can still see small pieces of peas and chickpeas.
3. Shape into 4 even sized burgers approximately 10cm in diameter, pop on a plate, cover and set in the fridge for 20 minutes.
4. Heat the oven to 180°C and line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper. Place burgers on baking tray, spray lightly with extra virgin olive oil and bake in oven for 40 minutes.
5. Team with your favourite burger bun (bread or lettuce) and choice of juicy burger extras - pickles, hummus, mustard, beetroot, tomato, sprouts, onion, kraut and serve with sweet potato wedges for extra delicious trimmings.