Dressings and dips have the magical ability to take a bunch of mixed ingredients thrown together, into a cohesive plate of goodness.
These dips and dressings go especially well if you like to meal plan where neutral flavored ingredients can be jazzed up with different flavor profiles. Simply place on top or mix into your favorite meals.
Roasted Butternut Squash Hummus
Hummus with an antioxidant twist. This roasted butternut squash hummus is incredibly creamy and brings together all kinds of dishes. Pile it high on top of grain bowls, dip into it with fresh carrots and roasted beets or even eat by the spoonful. This is a hummus well worth making in big batches to have throughout the week or to share with friends and family during special gatherings.
- 700 grams butternut squash, peeled and cubed.
- 10 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 3 roasted garlic cloves
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
- Place your squash cubes in a roasting tray and mix with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Roast your squash for 45 minutes to an hour or until soft. The smaller your cubes, the faster they will cook.
- Once your squash is cooked, allow to cool.
- Place your squash and remaining ingredients in a food processor and pulse to desired consistency.
Miso is a fermented soybean paste and gives you a savory option to get your probiotics in. This dressing keeps well in the fridge and is fantastic at bringing in an Asian pallet to your dishes. Swirl it into buckwheat noodles and sautéed vegetables, mix into grain bowls with roasted meat and vegetables, or toss into fresh salad greens.
- 4 tablespoons brown miso paste
- Freshly squeezed lime juice to taste
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2-inch knob of ginger, grated
- In a blender, blitz all the ingredients together. If you find the mixture thick, you can add hot water till you reach your desired consistency.
This garlic cream is so delicious and adds a savory and flavorful punch to anything you top it with. It can be completely vegan by using your choice of plant-based milk. Dollop generous servings on foods like falafels, meatballs, burger patties and baked potatoes.
- 100 grams raw unsalted cashews, soaked overnight and drained
- 10 tablespoons milk of choice (dairy or plant based and unsweetened)
- 4 roasted garlic cloves
- Squeeze of fresh Lemon Juice
- Place in the ingredients in a food processor and pulse with salt and pepper until smooth.
Minty Yogurt Dressing
This dressing is inspired from the flavors of Greece and bursting with fresh and vibrant flavors. This dressing is creamy and cooling thanks to the yogurt and mint and can balance out spicier dishes. Dollop on top of curries and dahls, serve as a dip for roasted potatoes, or go classic and use it as a dip for fresh and crisp cucumbers and carrots.
- 100 grams plain full fat yogurt
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste
- 1 handful of mint, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 clove garlic, grated
- Simply stir all the ingredients together into your favorite bowl and store in the refrigerator when not in use.
Protein Avocado Dip
This hearty dip covers all your healthy fat and plant protein needs. Inspired from guacamole, pesto, and hummus, this ‘tribrid’ dip goes great with tortillas, crunchy pita, potato chips, toasted bread, or roasted veggies like broccoli and courgette.
- 2 ripe avocados, peeled and roughly mashed
- 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste
- 4 large roasted garlic cloves
- 1 handful of basil, washed and dried
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Place all the ingredients into a blender or food processor and pulse until you reach you desired consistency of creaminess or chunkiness.
Peanut Butter Dressing
Peanut butter is a culinary staple, both for sweet and savory dishes. Use the lovely creamy flavor of peanuts beyond your regular PB&J as the star ingredient in this delicious dressing. To use, simply toss this dressing into salads with heartier ingredients such as shredded cabbage and roasted vegetables, dip roasted sweet potatoes into, or toss in with your favorite noodle dish.
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter, unsweetened
- Freshly squeezed lime juice, to taste
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- Whisk all the ingredients into your favorite bowl. If you find the dressing too thick, you can thin out the consistency with some warm water.
Did you know that dressings and dips are not only made to be delicious and to pair well with most dishes? Adding dips and dressings to your meals provides an addition of healthy fats to help your body better absorb fat-soluble vitamins such as Vitamin A,D,E and K. Optimize your body’s ability to absorb nutrients with healthy fats and compliment them with Probiotics and Digestive Enzymes to make the most of your meals.
Meal prepping is easy and isn’t quite the culinary obstacle course people make it out to be. Perhaps the only reason people feel daunted by it is the end result, when we see it done by others, ends up looking like so much effort and kitchen prowess is needed to meal prep. The truth is though, all it takes is time and little bit of planning.
With that said, you’re not alone with the challenges of meal prepping. If you have a busy schedule, don’t enjoy thinking of what to cook everyday for every meal, use this meal prepping basics guide to help ensure that you always have healthy and delicious food on hand.
1. Before you meal prep
Get ready for your kitchen to turn into a major food production. You’ll be bringing out a variety of fresh ingredients, prepping them to be washed, chopped, flavored and cooked. To help things run more efficiently, prep for meal prep by:
- Gathering all the ingredients you plan to use, including your flavorings such as spices, to help give you a clearer view of what you have to work with.
- Having clean cooking utensils at the ready (bowls, pots, chopping boards, knives, storage containers etc.)
- Make space in your freezer as you’ll be storing many ingredients here.
- Cook at the same time. While meal prepping, start with the ingredients that take the longest to cook but need minimal supervision (beans, grains, legumes) and prep other ingredients such as washing and chopping vegetables.
2. Start with a base
A base is usually the fiber in your meal which consists of whole grains, and provide a nutritious yet neutral tasting ingredient that you can easily change up with spices or sauces. Choose to rotate 2-3 bases throughout the week so that you don’t get tired of the same whole grain.
Some healthy bases include:
- Brown Rice
Not only are these grains filled with fiber, they also contain protein, are rich in B-Vitamins and each grain has their own unique texture to help bring alive any dish. To incorporate them into your meal prepping, choose at least 2 grains, and cook them simultaneously according to their package instructions.
All these grains require for cooking is a pot and filtered water and their good to go, allowing you to get on with the other ingredients in your kitchen.
3. Get Your Protein
Protein is a vital macronutrient that provides the building blocks for our muscles and tissues, gives us a full a satisfied feeling, helps to reduce cravings, and helps our body to repair itself from the wear and tear of everyday life and physical exertion. Meal prepping protein will be the ingredient that is most likely to ensure that you keep to your healthy diet as it will ensure you’re satisfied with your meal.
Whether you’re plant based, vegan, or have no dietary restrictions, here are excellent protein sources that you can meal prep with:
- Non GMO Firm Tofu: Marinated in soy sauce, crushed garlic, and chili flakes and pan fried.
- Beans such as white, black and kidney beans, which you can cook alongside your grains.
- Peas: steamed
- Chicken breast: Marinated with lemon, crushed garlic, olive oil, salt and cracked pepper and baked at 200 degrees Celsius for 20-30 minutes or until well cooked
- Pork chops: Marinated in lemon juice, oregano, salt and pepper, baked at 200 degrees Celsius for 20-30 minutes or until well cooked.
- Tenderloin Beef, cubed: Marinated in olive oil, salt, and pepper, sautéed until you reach how well you like your beef cooked.
When it comes to protein, the idea is to marinate or rub them well with flavors that you enjoy. A simply savory mix of garlic, salt and pepper can liven up any ingredient, and we find this one of the easier yet delicious ways to prep protein.
Once cooled, protein, especially animal protein, can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 days so we suggest picking 2-3 protein sources on rotation throughout the week, and putting the rest in the freezer. Simply bring out the night before and place in your fridge to defrost and have ready for the next day.
Veggies, Veggies, Veggies
You’ve heard it before and we’ll say it again, vegetables are vital to your good health and should bulk up the majority of your meals. Fortunately, there are hundreds of vegetables for you to choose from that will make ‘eating the rainbow’ especially easy when meal prepping as you’ll have plenty of variety to choose from.
Take your pick from crisp salad greens like romaine and arugula, to heartier nightshades like courgettis, bell peppers, and aubergines, to earthy roots like sweet potatoes and beets. Denser greens like spinach and kale work great raw or cooked, and cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli are versatile and filling.
On top of eating fresh vegetables raw, try a mixture of one tray oven baking and one pot steaming vegetables to bring out their flavor.
For oven baking, chop and cube your vegetables in even sizes so they cook evenly.
- Sweet potatoes: mix with olive oil, salt, pepper, smoked paprika and thyme
- Potatoes: mix with olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary
- Broccoli and Cauliflower: mix with olive oil, salt, and pepper
- Courgetti: mix with olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano
For one-pot steaming, chop your vegetables in similar sizes as well for even cooking and simply pull out vegetables that are already cooked while waiting for the rest.
- Green beans
- French Beans
- For washing and drying:
- Romaine lettuce
- Kale, destemmed
Mix and Match:
When you’ve meal prepped, the idea is to simply mix and match your macros. Get your protein, fat and carbs on one plate for each meal of the day. Some great combinations include:
- Roasted broccoli and steamed beans with baked chicken breast and Farro
- White Bean, Arugula salad with baked pork chops and baked sweet potato
- Asian pea, tofu and beef bowl on brown rice
- Roasted vegetable salad with quinoa
A healthy and wholefood diet is well worth the effort that your body will thank you for. Make sure you’re getting the most of your food by digesting them properly and absorbing their nutrients. Have our Digestive Enzymes and Probiotic supplements before meals to ensure your digest your food properly and get the nutrients you need.
Digestive enzymes are necessary for life. They act as the bridge and facilitator between turning the food we consume into the energy and nutrition we need. It turns your salad into the fiber you need for regular bowels, that steak you indulged in into the protein in your muscles, the fruits you eat into the antioxidants that protect your body from free radicals, that beloved avocado toast into healthy fats for your body’s hormone balance etc.
Both on a macronutrient and micronutrient level, enzymes are responsible for the chemical reactions that take place in our body, and there are specific enzymes needed for the specific breakdown of nutrients. This benefits your body because enzymes convert food into smaller absorbable molecules which then become useful components for our body. This is how your body builds muscles, creates new cells, grows and repairs itself, and produce and replenish energy.
With so many different kinds of nutrients our body needs to function its best, think proteins, fats, carbohydrates, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, your digestive system needs the right kind and the right amount of enzymes to break down these various nutrients.
To help put it further into perspective, think of enzymes as the thing you need to create. As an analogy, enzymes are what turns bricks and wood into a house, cotton and wool into clothes, paint and a canvas into art.
Do you need more enzymes?
Like mineral and vitamin deficiencies, your body too can suffer from enzyme deficiency. This is an often overlooked or underestimated deficiency because our body naturally creates its own enzymes and often the foremost thought and solution for optimum gut health is solely placed on probiotics (although probiotics are great too!).
Apart from the enzymes that your body creates, we obtain enzymes by consuming raw foods, which again stresses the point for striving for a varied whole foods diet with a lot of emphasis on eating fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. This allows our body to get in a variety of enzymes to help break down the food and get all its nutrient-rich goodness.
When you consume too little enzymes, your body naturally tries to compensate for this by producing more of its own enzymes which is quite taxing on the digestive system and not as efficient at absorbing nutrients. With a chronic lack of fresh food, enzyme deficiency symptoms can crop up indicating that food isn’t being properly digested.
Look out for common enzyme deficient symptoms such as:
- Acid Reflux
- Diarrhea and/or irregular bowel movement
- Brain fog
- Dampened immune system
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, regardless if you eat healthily or not, you could be deficient in digestive enzymes. This is a cause for concern as over time, despite your hard-earned healthy eating habits, you still can be nutrient deficient simply because your body isn’t properly breaking down your food into a form that makes it absorbable and useful.
Food sources of digestive enzymes
As previously mentioned, different foods require different enzymes:
- Amylase breaks down carbohydrates into a variety of sugars
- Lipase breaks down fat fatty acids
- Protease breaks down protein into amino acids
To help your body break down these macronutrients, incorporate more enzyme-rich foods into your diet such as:
- Kefir and other fermented foods like kimchi, miso, yogurt, and sauerkraut (bonus points for also being rich in probiotics!)
- Raw honey
Fortunately, digestive enzymes can easily be incorporated into a healthy diet and supplements are also available to ensure that your body gets all the enzymes it needs.
With the gut playing a key role in our digestive, cognitive, mental and immune health, it’s no wonder optimizing our digestion and finding healthy nutrition-centered solutions to care and heal our gut is always a hot topic.
Why you need to care for your gut:
Our body is a marvel of interconnected systems. Although they have a specific life-sustaining function, our bodily systems are closely linked to each other. Usually if something is off in one part of our body, other areas follow suit.
With your digestive system in particular, any gut issues such as malabsorption, inadequate enzyme secretion, or having an irritable bowel, you can be sure that the rest of your body responds to these issues such as experiencing anxiety, weight problems, blood sugar imbalances, hyperacidity, candida, and a dampened immune system. These are just to name a few issues that stem from an unhealthy gut.
Needless to say, a healthy functioning gut is integral to your overall health and quality of life.
With the goal of having a healthy gut in mind, follow this simple holistic guide to clean up your diet and keep your gut microbiome thriving by removing what’s harmful to your body and swapping it for something that will nourish and restore instead.
1. Let go of negative thoughts and think happy
The gut brain connection is fascinating because they directly influence each other.
Think about it, have you ever had a gut feeling, felt butterflies when you were nervous, nauseous when you were stressed? There’s a reason for this; gut health is very sensitive when it comes to emotions, and emotions are sensitive to our gut health. If you’re having gut issues with no physical cause, consider your emotions to be the culprit. Learn to let go and manage negative emotions accordingly and choose and/or focus on more positive feelings.
Swap stress, sadness, and anxiety for happiness, calmness, and a sense of centeredness to keep your gut happy and balanced as well.
2. Cut out allergens and find alternatives
Whether consuming dairy sends you to the bathroom, eating bread gives you brain fog, or having soy gives you headaches, many people (sometimes unknowingly) have a form of food intolerance or allergy. Fortunately, gut issues such as celiac disease and irritable bowel syndrome have paved the way for more awareness, lifestyle practices, and food alternatives in response to heal and manage these gut issues which can be caused and/or exacerbated by food intolerances.
Take a moment to be more mindful of how you feel after eating to rule out any food intolerances. If you feel tired, nauseous, lethargic, experience stomach pain, etc. you’re likely to have trouble digesting a certain type of food. Stop harming your gut and opt for these alternatives to common food intolerances:
- Swap milk for non-dairy alternatives such as almond milk, coconut milk and rice milk.
- Swap peanuts for almonds or cashews or even sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds if you’re allergic to all nuts.
- Swap gluten-containing grains such as wheat, spelt, and bulgur for gluten-free grains such as rice, quinoa (technically a pseudo grain/seed), and sorghum.
- Swap soy products such as soy sauce and soy milk for tamari and seed and/or nut milk.
3. Ditch artificial foods and consume more whole foods
If there’s one diet that’s applicable and beneficial to any person regardless of health, age, gender etc. it would be a wholefoods diet. This simply means eating all or most foods in its unprocessed, unaltered form.
This covers fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, free-range eggs, pasture raised-meat, and whole grains. Simply put, single-ingredient foods that are eaten in its most natural form.
Our modern world gives us all the instant conveniences to keep up with our on-the-go lifestyles. Unfortunately, many of these conveniences are detrimental to our health, namely being processed and packed foods which contain, for a variety of economic reasons, artificial additives, preservatives, chemicals and fillers. Often these ingredients are linked to increasing the chances of lifestyle-related diseases such as diabetes, hormonal imbalances, cancer, heart disease, etc.
Although it takes commitment to eliminate processed foods all together, here are a few simple and healthy swaps you can make that your health will thank you for:
- Swap candy and other sweet treats for fresh fruit.
- Swap fast food take out for freshly made home-cooked food
- Swap white rice and white bread for brown rice and wholegrain/multigrain bread
- Swap store-bought salad dressing for homemade dressing
- Swap margarine for butter or olive oil spread
- Swap low fat dairy products for full fat
The exciting thing about cleaning up your diet by focusing on eating wholefoods and cutting down or eliminating on processed foods is all the feel-good benefits that come from eating simple, clean and natural ingredients. A whole foods diet should be the foundation of any healthy lifestyle.
If you’re eating a clean, varied, and wholefoods diet, yet you’re still not feeling your best after meals, it may be because you’re not digesting your food properly.
Optimize your digestion with these simple practices and make the most of your healthy diet.
P.S optimizing your gut health means stronger immunity and better moods too!
1. Look out for a food intolerance
Food intolerances are often not as dramatic as they play out in movies. A food intolerance doesn’t have to be an uncontrollable bowel reaction to be merited as an intolerance.
Food intolerances indeed cause some form digestive inflammation. This can range from bloating, brain fog, gas, reflux, headaches, nausea, fatigue and diarrhea. To find out if you have a food intolerance, you can have yourself checked with a doctor to rule out any intolerances (and even allergies) or you can simply be more mindful and observe how your body reacts after eating certain foods.
Here is a list of the most common food allergens, that you could be intolerant to:
Modern studies have discovered some more common food allergens/intolerances that people are less aware of such as:
- Gluten (okay, this is a well-known one!)
- Salicylates – the natural chemicals found in plants that are used to protect the plants from the environment such as insects
- Amines- the most common known amine is histamines. This is the bacteria found in food when it has been stored and fermented
- Foods high in FODMAPS such as apples, soft cheese, lentils, beer, beans etc.
- Sulfites- a chemical used to preserve food
Keep an eye out as well for artificial ingredients used in fast food and packaged food such as:
- Sodium Nitrite
- Artificial food coloring
- Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame
While this may be a long list of food intolerances to look out for, most people tolerate most of these foods/ingredients well. If you’re experiencing indigestion, do an elimination diet to pinpoint exactly what food or ingredient is giving you indigestion, and cut it out.
2. Incorporate Probiotics
We can’t have a gut-health article without mentioning probiotics! These tiny living microorganisms bring so many health benefits to our bodies. Particularly for digestion, these microorganisms literally help us to break down our food, which leads to better digestion and more efficient nutrient absorption.
If you haven’t incorporated probiotics in your diet yet, this may be all you need to optimize digestion.
3. Incorporate Digestive Enzymes
A lesser known digestive aid than probiotics, (although we’d say is just as important!), digestive enzymes are key in breaking down food.
Did you know that you need a different enzyme to break down your macronutrients? Fats, carbohydrates, and proteins all require different enzymes in order for them to break down into a digestible and absorbable form for our body to use as nutrition.
Although our bodies naturally make its own digestive enzymes, coming from our salivary glands, stomach and pancreas, factors such as age, stress, and genetics affect our body’s ability to produce an adequate amount of digestive enzymes every single time we have a meal.
This is where digestive enzyme supplements come in. Think of them as your secret weapon to battle bloating, indigestion, and constipation. Best taken 20-30 minutes before meals in order for the enzymes to be ready and available for your food. Optimize your digestion with the very substances that you need to digest it.
4. Proper food combining
Although a debatable topic, proper food combining can prove to be beneficial for those eating a healthy diet yet still experiencing digestive issues. It may be a matter of pairing the right foods together. Here are a few basic tips for proper food combining. Give them a try and see if they help with your digestive issues.
- Eat fruit alone, or with other fruits from the same family. For example, only eat blueberries with strawberries, blackberries, raspberries etc.
- Consume beans and legumes with other types of beans and legumes. They can be eaten with whole grains and vegetables but not with dairy or fruits.
- Avoid eating raw foods all together and don’t mix raw food with cooked food.
While these aren’t strict rules, or rules that most diets can consistently adhere to, consider food combining as an option to try if you have digestive issues amidst an otherwise healthy diet.
Nurturing your own individual healthy digestion is a process of trial and error. Find what works for you by taking notice of how you feel after you eat certain types of food and the how and when of it. It may take time, but good digestion and all its benefits is well worth the effort!
The gut is responsible for all kinds of bodily processes. If you experience bloat, abdominal pain, indigestion, leaky gut, irritable bowel syndrome etc. you’re likely to have some form of gut issue. Check out the signs below for poor gut health and consult with a doctor for the best treatment.
Signs of poor gut health:
- Pain after eating
- Your poop floats
- Regular diarrhea
- Constant fatigue
- Blood or mucus mixed in your stool
Regardless if you have any gut issues or don’t, everyone can benefit from taking better care of their gut microbiome.
What is the gut microbiome?
Your gut microbiome refers to the trillions of microorganisms that live in your digestive system. The majority of these microorganisms are bacteria and they determine healthy digestive functions which in turn influence metabolism, immunity, and brain health. Lifestyle habits such as what you eat, drink, how often you exercise, take medication etc. all affect your gut microbiomes balance and healthy function.
Follow this gut-healing plan to promote your healthiest gut microbiome ever.
1. Keep a clean mouth
Keep up your dental hygiene by brushing and flossing your teeth daily and visiting a dentist at least twice a year for a thorough cleaning. Your oral health isn’t the only thing that benefits, but also your gut health. Bacteria from the mouth can go directly into the digestive system so it’s important to maintain a clean mouth.
2. Eat a variety of plant-based foods
Studies have found that people with the best gut health are people who eat a wide variety of plant-based foods and kept eating meat to a minimum. Make the majority of your diet consist of plant-based ingredients to give your gut a host of fibers, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. This goes beyond eating your leafy greens, plant-based foods also count as nuts, wholegrains, plant oils, herbs, spices, roots, seeds, and fruits.
3. Cut down on sugar
Cutting down or eliminating refined sugar from your diet is perhaps the single best thing you can do to your gut. Sugar inflames the gut and alters your gut microbiome feeding and promoting the growth of bad bacteria.
4. Sleep, reduce stress, exercise
Prioritize your most basic needs of quality sleep, regular exercise and proper stress management and reduction. Any time you fall short on these aspects, your body suffers and your gut health is no exception.
Prioritize a schedule for these things the same way you would prioritize other important things in your life. Set a bed time, carve out time to exercise for even just 30 minutes daily, and give your body the time to unwind from the days stresses. Your gut health will thank you and the benefits come quickly.
5. Don’t overeat
Overloading your digestive system by overeating changes the way your gut perceives fullness. While the occasional overindulgence is enjoyable, constantly overeating stretches your stomach and makes your gut have to work harder to digest all the excess food, not to mention overeating promotes indigestion and obesity.
6. Get your probiotics
Probiotics help balance the friendly, otherwise known as ‘good’ gut bacteria, in your digestive system. A good balance of good gut bacteria affects our health ranging from healthy digestion, weight loss, immune function, and even help to regulate moods. Get your probiotics by consuming fermented foods or through a quality probiotic supplement.
7. Add digestive enzymes
While probiotics are the typical addition for digestive health, digestive enzymes, although lesser known, are highly recommended to take for digestive health as well. Not only do digestive enzymes promote the good bacteria in your gut microbiome, digestive enzymes also provide the following benefits:
- Reduces gas, bloating, constipation and other digestive discomforts
- Helps control acid reflux, reduce heartburn, leaky gut, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Enhances nutrition absorption and supports weight management
- Promotes healthy bacteria to fight off diseases and improve digestion
Find a quality digestive enzyme supplement to complement and enhance your gut health, and to help heal any issues.