We are well and truly ensconced into January now. For most of us the remnants of our Christmas over indulgence (mince pies, cake and alcohol) have disappeared. Your thoughts may be gliding towards eating more healthily or perhaps even a diet.
Diet, closely followed by Detox, are words I have grown to abhor. Diet’s are invariably wacky short term fixes whose results disappear as quickly as a plate of chocolate digestives at a fat fighters meeting. And who seriously enjoys drinking an endless procession of disgustingly gloopy “good for you” juices in an effort to cleanse their digestive system?
That said, there are obvious benefits in eating more healthily particularly after the seasonal excesses of December. When I received the press release regarding Gut Gastronomy I was sufficiently intrigued by the title to find out more about it.
What is the book about?
In a nutshell, Gut Gastronomy is designed to help revive your digestive system through a series of alterations to your diet, such as the elimination of caffeine, dairy products and alcohol by following a 21 day plan. The aim is to improve your overall health by “cleansing and healing the digestive system to make it more efficient, improving elimination, reducing fluid retention and alleviating bloating and inflammation”.
Crucially it is not a diet book in the common parlance of the word although the authors do claim that the plan can aid in weight loss by improving the function of your gut.
Who wrote the book?
Gut Gastronomy is based on a food plan devised by Elaine Williams and Stephanie Moore of Grayshott Manor (a spa hotel in Surrey). The book has been written by Vicki Edgson, a practising nutritional therapist and Adam Palmer the Consultant Executive Chef at Grayshott Manor.
Who will like it?
Anyone who feels a bit ‘blear’ post Christmas but who doesn’t want to go on an extreme juice diet will probably like this book particularly if you’re a keen cook looking for some healthy, innovative recipes. It will also appeal to you if you have an inkling that you may suffer from a food intolerance which perhaps is preventing you from losing weight.
Who won’t like it?
Coffee addicts and wine connoisseurs will probably take some persuading to follow the plan as caffeine and alcohol are strictly verboten! Vegetarians are unlikely to be wowed by it as most of the everyday recipes contain meat or fish (although there are some lovely veggie based soups like Red Lentil, Apricot & Preserved Lemon). If you dislike cooking with a vengence then this book definitely isn’t for you (the recipes look quite chefy which is not surprising considering one of the authors is a classically trained chef).
What do I like about the book?
This is the kind of cookbook that makes me salivate. The recipes are beautifully photographed, sound delicious and absolutely don’t read like diet recipes. This last point is greatly helped by the fact that no calorie content is listed for each recipe (which granted isn’t going to be very helpful if you are counting the calories). If I’m going to give up my beloved coffee and wine I don’t want to be reminded of the calorific sacrifices I am making to boot! The authors also provide easy to understand explanations for why the gut may be malfunctioning and clearly outline the benefits of the food items you are allowed to eat and the overall tone of the book is not too preachy. The plan also includes an element of fasting which seems a lot more practical than the 5:2 diet (you fast overnight and skip breakfast rather than lunch on two days a week) and there are follow up recipes provided for after you have completed the initial 21 days (see the Pea, Feta and Sesame lollipop recipe below).
What do I dislike about the book?
If you want to follow the plan in Gut Gastronomy to the letter the you need to make sure you have plenty of time on your hands. A lot of the recipes require lengthy preparation such as the fasting broth which literally takes hours to cook. However, many of the recipes can be made in bulk and frozen for use later on, which is a boon.
Some recipes require specialist equipment e.g. a dehydrator like the Beetroot, Horseradish and Seed Crackers although alternative methods for achieving the same results are provided. You’ll also need to invest in some specialist ingredients such as coconut flour which may not be readily available from a supermarket. This could make following the plan an expensive exercise.
Would I cook from it?
Definitely. The recipes sound and look delicious and actually don’t scream abstinence although I would need to make some adjustments to the suggested plan to make it fit into our lifestyle.
Where can you buy it?
Gut Gastronomy officially releases on 15th January and is published by Jacqui Small (@JacquiSmallPub) www.jacquismallpub.com. Available from Amazon price £20.40.
Pea, feta & sesame lollipops with mint yoghurt sauce
For the lollipops:
- 250g (8oz/2 cups) cooked garden peas
- 125g (4oz) feta cheese
- 10g (½oz) mint leaves, chopped
- 1 fresh green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
- 30g (1¼oz/¼ cup) grated Parmesan
- 2 organic free-range egg yolks
- ½ tsp chilli powder 30g (1¼oz/¼ cup)
- gram (chick pea) flour sesame seeds, for sprinkling
- 60g (2½oz) coconut oil
For the radish salad:
- 1 tsp hazelnut oil
- 1 tsp sherry vinegar
- ½ tsp local runny honey
- 60g (2½oz) radishes, thinly sliced
- 10 mint leaves, finely shredded
For the mint yoghurt sauce:
- 100ml (3½fl oz) Greek-style yoghurt
- 1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
- pinch of saffron
- pinch of salt
- 1 tbsp chopped mint
- ½ tsp local runny honey
Use a stick blender to blend the peas, feta cheese, mint, fresh chilli, Parmesan, egg yolks and chilli powder. The mixture does not need to be really smooth – a few lumps are fine. Pour into a large mixing bowl and stir in the gram flour to tighten up the mixture.
With your hands, roll pieces of the mixture into 8 equal-sized balls. Flatten them a little and skewer with a lollipop stick. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and arrange them on a plate lined with greaseproof paper. Keep in the fridge until ready to cook.
Make the radish salad: whisk together the oil, vinegar and honey to make a dressing for the radishes. Toss lightly with the radishes and arrange on a plate. Sprinkle with the shredded mint.
Make the mint yoghurt sauce: gently stir all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Do not whisk them as the yoghurt will break up and become too runny.
To cook the lollipops, heat the coconut oil in a small pan and then shallow-fry them, turning occasionally, until they are golden brown and hot in the centre. Serve the lollipops on the radish salad with the mint yoghurt sauce in a side dish for dipping.