The lovely nutritionist Sarah Bell shares two beautiful recipes packed full of immune-boosting ingredients and spices. We think they're the perfect remedy to winter's freezing weather!
Recipe, photography and words by Sarah Bell.
Cardamom, Rose & Coconut Gut Healing Pana Cotta
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Set Time: 4 hours
With the subtle flavours of rose and cardamom, this pana cotta is a delight to the taste buds while also promoting a healthy gut. Coming into the cooler months, gut health is of utmost importance as it has a great impact on our health overall and more specifically, on our immunity. It may come as a surprise but 70% of the immune system is directly located surrounding the gastro intestinal system. Choosing foods that promote good gut health and gut healing will help to promote a strong immune system, helping us to fight off any bugs that come our way.
The medicinal properties in this dish come from the gelatin used to set the pana cotta. Gelatin is a protein that contains the essential amino acid glycine. Glycine has many benefits, including promoting the production of collagen, increasing the integrity of the gut wall and reducing gut inflammation while also having a calming effect on the nervous system.
This calming effect on the nervous system promotes good and restful sleep. Good sleep is essential to a healthy gut as it provides time for the digestive system to heal as well as to digest and assimilate nutrients.
Refined sugar is highly inflammatory and provides the perfect food for bad bacteria to thrive. That is why this dessert has been made refined sugar free, using only a small amount of pure maple syrup to sweeten. I say dessert, but really this could be eaten for a fun take on yogurt and fruit for breakfast. Top with some berries and some crushed pistachios and you have yourself a balanced, gut-healing breakfast.
2 cups coconut milk (drinking, not canned)
500g coconut yoghurt, natural
2 tbsp pure maple syrup (not maple flavoured syrup)
12 cardamom pods
2 tsp rose water (preservative free)
5 gelatin sheets
In a medium sized saucepan, add the coconut milk, coconut yoghurt and rose water and bring to a boil.
While mixture is coming to a boil, place cardamom pods into a stainless steel tea steeper and place in coconut mixture.
Once the mixture has come to a boil, reduce heat to medium.
Place gelatin sheets into a bowl with cold water and let soak for 2 minutes. Once soft, remove from water and squeeze to remove excess liquid.
Place gelatin into coconut mixture and whisk until completely dissolved.
Remove tea steeper with cardamom pods and divide mixture between 4 glasses or pana cotta moulds (each mould needs to hold at least 300mL of liquid).
Place glasses on a tray and refrigerate for approximately 4 hours, or until pana cotta is set.
Serve topped with crushed pistachios, rose petals and a little maple syrup.
Immune Boosting Lamb Curry with Buckwheat Flatbread
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Set Time: 90 minutes
Nothing says winter like a warming lamb curry. When the temperature starts to cool, it’s time to start listening to your body. Eating more warm and slow cooked foods is just the way to give your body what it needs. In traditional Chinese medicine, winter is a time where Yin is dominant, being inactive, cold and damp. These are the months to slow down and to look inward to replenish our energy. It is a time to nourish our kidneys, promoting our Qi (the source of all energy in our body). To do this, we need to eat seasonally - eating soups, broths, curries and stews while choosing ingredients like root vegetables and spices including cardamom, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon is ideal at this time. During these months, avoiding raw foods as much as possible is important (so it’s time to ditch that smoothie bowl for a while). Raw foods cool the digestion, making it harder to assimilate and digest nutrients.
Using spices in cooking not only help to nourish our internal energy, but they provide a great deal of nutrients and antioxidants. Turmeric in particular, contains a compound called curcumin. This compound has been thoroughly researched in recent years due to its medicinal properties. It is a potent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial. Because of these actions, curcumin has been shown to boost mood, aid in weight loss, improve brain function, reduce inflammation in the body, improve immunity, promote youthful and radiant skin and support a healthy cardiovascular system.
Other beneficial compounds in this dish include lycopene, an antioxidant from tomatoes, vitamin C from the lemon juice, detoxifying sulfur compounds from the onion and garlic as well as omega 3 from the lamb (this is present in much higher quantities in grass-fed, organic lamb and in negligible amounts in grain-fed lamb).
Lamb Curry Ingredients
1 tbsp ghee, butter or coconut oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp curry powder
2 tsp turmeric powder (or fresh & finely grated)
1/2 tsp cardamom, ground
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp cumin, ground
1/2 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp chilli powder (add more or less depending on personal preference)
1kg diced organic lamb
2 x 400g tin crushed tomatoes
2 tsp tamarind paste
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt to taste
200g baby spinach
Buckwheat Flatbread Ingredients
1 cup buckwheat flour
2 tbsp tapioca flour
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp water
Pinch of salt
Fresh coriander, roughly chopped
Steamed green beans
Add ghee, butter or oil to a large casserole pan and bring to a medium heat. Add onions and sauté until onions are transparent.
Add garlic, curry powder, turmeric, cardamom, garam masala, cumin, coriander and chilli to pan and stir over heat for a few minutes or until spices become fragrant.
Add the diced lamb, stirring to cover lamb in spices.
Once lamb is browned, add crushed tomatoes and stir to combine.
Add tamarind paste and the juice of the lemon and stir to combine.
Taste some of the curry mix and add salt according to taste. Reduce heat to the lowest heat and simmer for 90 minutes.
In the meantime, add buckwheat flour, tapioca flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt to a bowl and stir to combine.
Add oil and water and stir with a spoon to combine. Once the dough is well mixed together and slightly sticky, turn out onto a floured bench top and gently kneed.
Roll dough into a log and cut into 4 even amounts. Roll each dough into a ball and then using a floured rolling pin, roll each ball into a thin circle, about 1/4 cm thick.
Add a tbsp of coconut oil to a frypan and bring to a medium-high heat. Add a flatbread to the pan and cook for a few minutes on each side. It is time to flip the flatbread when the top starts to become bubbled.
Repeat this step with remaining flatbreads and place to the side until ready to serve.
Once the curry has cooked for 90 minutes, add baby spinach and stir through until wilted.
Serve curry with flatbread, topped with yoghurt and fresh coriander and with a side of steamed green beans.