Episode 73: What to Eat? Two Surprising Gut Health Recipes
You get it. Sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt. They’re all good for gut health. But what about some foods that - on the surface - don’t seem like they’d really make a difference on your digestive state?
On this mini-episode, Andrea talks to Meghan Telpner of the Academy of Culinary Nutrition about two recipes that will surprise you with their nutritional punch. Meghan breaks down the ingredients in each recipe and gives a quick overview on how to make each of them in the blink of an eye.
If you ever get stuck in a food rut with no idea about how to change things up in the kitchen, this episode - and Meghan’s incredible course - is for you.
Mentioned On This Show:
- Meghan’s Course: The Academy of Culinary Nutrition
- Recipe: Simple Hemp Chocolate Spread
- Recipe: Grain-Free Flax Crackers
- Free mini-course with Meghan
- Episode 39: Everything You Need to Know About Fiber
- BIOHM’s website (Promo Code: POD15)
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Andrea Wien: Welcome to the Microbiome Report. I'm your host, Andrea Wien. And today, we have one of our very special favorite guests on, Meghan Telpner, and she is here today for a short mini episode. Again, these are 15 minutes. So a quick bite of something interesting that you can sink your teeth into. And today, we're talking about two recipes that show the power of food outside of typical gut healing recipes that we would think about, our gut supportive recipes. On the show, we often talk about things like sauerkraut and kefir and fermented vegetables. Obviously, those are going to be supportive of gut health, but what about all the other foods that we're eating 95% of the time? So that's what we're jumping on today. We're going to go through two really fun recipes with Meghan. Meghan, welcome to the show.
Meghan Telpner: Thank you for having me back. Always a pleasure to chat with you.
Andrea Wien: So I think what I took away from when I took your course was that there's so many different ways that we can use foods that support the body as a whole and then by default, also support the gut and I'm thinking about things like cilantro, for example, being able to pull heavy metals from the bloodstream. What an amazing gift to have guacamole, and then also, such a health benefit there, right? So that's what I really wanted to bring you on the show to talk about is some recipes that people might not even realize what the ingredients can do for them. So what do you have for us?
Meghan Telpner: Okay. Do we want to start sweet or savory first?
Andrea Wien: Let's go sweet first, we don't do dessert very often in the beginning, so let's go sweet first.
Meghan Telpner: All right. So this is a super crowd pleaser. It's one of the recipes we do in the Culinary Nutrition Expert Program. It's also part of something we offer in the free mini training that we offer, and the reason why it's everywhere is because it's so good, and it's one of those recipes that is life changing for people. It's something that when people will eat regular chocolate candy bars, the processed versions then try this, it's like the light goes on that, "Wait a second. I can use whole unprocessed, nourishing ingredients and have it be outstandingly delicious." So this is a hemp chocolate spread. And the reason I love it is because it's five ingredients. It doesn't require any cooking and it can freeze, and you can basically put it on absolutely everything. Do you want me to go through the ingredients, or?
Andrea Wien: Yeah, let's go through ingredient by ingredient and just talk about what they can do in the body.
Meghan Telpner: Sure. Do you remember making this one, Andrea?
Andrea Wien: I do, mm-hmm (affirmative).
Meghan Telpner: And?
Andrea Wien: It was very good. And I think you also mentioned, maybe in the course we had something with hazelnut that was similar to maybe a processed Nutella, maybe that we might talk about?
Meghan Telpner: We might've referred to it as better than, but we don't want to name names necessarily. So the first ingredient in this as the name would suggest is hemp seed. So we use a quarter of a cup of hemp seeds, and the reason I love working with hemp seeds in making almost any smoothie elixir or spread like this is because the seeds themselves are super soft, so they blend up really, really smooth. They also typically are okay for people with nut allergies, because you can usually get them certified in that free, and they are a seed and they also have the optimal balance of omega-3 to omega-6 for antiinflammatory benefit. And those omega-3's are pure healing fuel for the cells that line the intestinal tract.
So we can bring almost any meal or recipe back to the gut and the microbiome, and that's where this one fits in there. The next ingredient is a third of a cup of raw cacao powder. And I like using the raw cacao, because it has lower levels of caffeine. So less of a stimulant, less of that stress hormone triggering that we might find in a roasted cocoa. It's in a purer, purer form. And raw cacao is really rich in magnesium. So again, if we want to think about the gut, that large intestine is a smooth muscle, meaning that we can't work it. We can't strengthen it by lifting weights like we could the muscles in our arms. And so, the smooth muscle of the colon typically requires bulked up stool to grip onto to move something out.
Now, if we're experiencing heightened anxiety, those muscles, that muscle of the colon will constrict, and can lead to constipation. And when we deal with constipation, we end up with a backlog. I call it [inaudible 00:04:58] juice, reabsorbing waste material from the colon, which then can affect the overall health and inflammatory response in the body, and that too can affect the microbiome. So that magnesium in the raw cacao helps relax that smooth muscle and can actually help us eliminate more efficiently.
Andrea Wien: I think an interesting thing to mention too, is that most people are deficient in magnesium. And also, one of the reasons that a lot of women that I've seen in practice crave chocolate when they're getting their period.
Meghan Telpner: Exactly. And the other fun benefits relating to PMS is also the [inaudible 00:05:37] and theobromine, which often when PMS we're dealing with heightened anxiety, cognitive or neuro symptoms, and those phytochemicals in chocolate are natural neurotransmitter enhancers are some happy chemicals, so that's another added benefit.
Andrea Wien: All right. What's ingredient number three?
Meghan Telpner: Ingredient three is going to be a quarter cup of basically your favorite fat that's solid at room temperature. So to be more specific, I would say ghee or coconut oil. I personally love ghee. I eat a lot of it. It should be certified lactose-free and casein-free, so what you get with ghee as a clarified butter is just the pure fat and this pure fat again is really good for the cells of the intestinal tract and also really good for the brain. If you're going on the side of no animal products, coconut oil does the job, and actually, from a taste perspective, I think tastes even better in this because there's that natural sweetness you have with coconut oil, which is also a great fuel for the brain.
The next ingredient is honey, or a sweetener of choice. In the recipe, I've written it with two tablespoons of honey. I go less and less and less because I don't really consume any sweeteners at all anymore and if you're really looking to heal the gut, getting rid of sweeteners is the great approach and way to go. And because this dip itself is so good, with apples dipped into it or strawberries dipped into it, which all have their natural occurring fructose or natural sweetness with them, this actually does work without adding additional sweetener. And then you throw in a pinch of salt.
So to recap, we're doing a quarter cup hemp seeds, third of a cup cacao powder, quarter cup ghee or coconut oil, and I would say a sweetener to taste the recipe says two tablespoons of honey and a pinch of salt. You just process all of those together in a food processor. I actually recommend doubling the recipe because you can freeze it, it'll store in your fridge virtually indefinitely because none of these ingredients are really have a shelf life once they're chill. You don't want to keep hemp seeds around for a year. Well, maybe you could, if they're cold, but it will stay a long time. And for some, depending on your machinery, it could be easier to get a smoother texture if you do a larger quantity.
Andrea Wien: Okay. I love this and I love that it's something that is sweet, because so often we talk about stay away from sugar, stay away from desserts, all these things, but this is something that can be really exciting and nourishing, and also, scratch that little sweet tooth itch, so perfect. Okay, what's recipe number two?
Meghan Telpner: Number two is a grain free flax cracker. So this is going on the savory side and you can also use this as the serving vessel for that hemp chocolate spread. So they go really nicely together. And the flax crackers, I think, are pretty genius. One cup of flaxseed, so we know that flaxseeds, maybe we don't know, I'll tell you. Flaxseeds have this beautiful mucilaginous benefit to them, meaning that when you soak them and they get a little bit slimy or snotty, you can think of the gel in aloe, like in an aloe plant has that same property.
And that gel, that mucilaginous property of soaked flax, it's also in soaked chia seeds is soothing to the lining of the intestinal tract, nourishes the cells of the intestinal tract and it can also bind to and help eliminate excess mucus from the gut, which can directly benefit nutrient absorption through the lining of the intestine. So many benefits to flax. This one is actually done either raw in a dehydrator, or I'll explain how to do it in an oven. So you're also able to preserve some of those omega-3 benefits as well by not cooking it at a high temperature.
Andrea Wien: This is a recipe that when we made in class, I was like, "Oh wait, I can make crackers?" It was so outside the realm and I cook a lot, and I'm a very adventurous cook, and crackers were just not on my radar. So this was a super exciting one for me. And I think too, when you talk about flaxseeds, you mentioned making sure to buy them whole and ground them yourself. Can you talk about why that is?
Meghan Telpner: Absolutely. So flaxseeds have those omega-3's, which I mentioned, and these omega-3's are sensitive to heat, light and oxygen. So one of the worst things you can buy, I mean, there's a lot of bad things you could buy, but one of the less beneficial things you could buy is ground flax. And you'll see it sold as flax meal in a clear plastic bag sitting on a store shelf, and who knows how long it's been there. So soon as you crack that seed, you're exposing those essential fats to first, oxygen. If they're not in a dark container, you've got the light and typically, it's not refrigerated if it's just sitting on a store shelf.
So if you buy them whole and they will keep a lot longer on your shelf, but then you grind them and you're getting that benefit right away, there's no time for those fats to oxidize. So that is the benefit of buying them whole and you can grind them in a spice grinder. So it doesn't have to be a whole dramatic situation. You don't need to be with the mortar and pestle grinding or flaxseeds. In the case of this recipe, we're actually using them whole and soaked.
Andrea Wien: And what is the benefit of soaking?
Meghan Telpner: The soaking of the flaxseeds are going to release that mucilaginous benefit and that's part of what actually binds this cracker together. Because again, it's, grain-free, there's no starches, there's no binding agents in it.
Andrea Wien: Okay, so the flaxseed is the first ingredient, what are we putting in there with them?
Meghan Telpner: So we want to add some flavor. We're going to use half a red onion, we're going to use half a bunch of cilantro, and I know that the world is divided right now in a big way between people who like cilantro and don't, right? That's what we're going to talk about.
Andrea Wien: I'm team cilantro. I got to tell.
Meghan Telpner: I am too.
Andrea Wien: I am totally on team cilantro.
Meghan Telpner: I think that that's one of the questions you should ask on a first date, because it can change everything. You mentioned guacamole at the start of the show and my husband, Josh does not like cilantro and so, our guacamole game is so weak because I got to make it for him.
Andrea Wien: Real life decisions that you're questioning these days.
Meghan Telpner: Seriously, but fun fact, it's an enzyme thing. There's a chemical, a phytochemical in cilantro and people who have a specific enzyme. I don't know if they have it or they're missing it, but it makes cilantro taste and smell, the best description I ever got was opening up a hot soapy dishwasher. That's the taste that people have.
But for some people, when you chop, or juice, or blend cilantro something in it gets deactivated and it's more palatable. So in this recipe, because this is being blended in some way, some people will be able to tolerate just the beautiful flavor and those heavy metal drawing benefits of cilantro. So if someone is adamantly on the team, no, not ever cilantro then omit it, it's that easy.
Andrea Wien: Can you also use parsley here? Would that work?
Meghan Telpner: You could. Parsley also has a strong taste, so it could tend towards a little bit of bitterness, but I would just add another quarter cup of parsley to the recipe. You could put basil in it. You could put Rosemary, you could put any herbs you want. The flaxseeds is the base and then you can just play with it. We're going to add one avocado. So avocado also adds a little bit of fat property to this and improves the texture of the cracker. I add one tomato. And again, that gives it a liquid, so something for all of it to blend together with and it also adds a little bit of that flavor.
Two tablespoons of lime juice, which again, for flavor, for liquid, adds a little bit of that flavor balance and a teaspoon of salt. So to recap, the core of this recipe will be one cup of flaxseeds, one of avocado one tomato, some lime juice, two tablespoons, roughly, one teaspoon of salt. And then for the flavorings, I've used half a red onion and a half a bunch of cilantro, but you can go to town mixing and matching the flavors you want. You could add garlic, you could add chives from the garden. You can add whatever you want to flavor these.
Andrea Wien: And you mentioned that these can be paired with the spread that we talked about from the first recipe. Could you go sweet with these? Could you add maybe some cinnamon, nutmeg, maybe a little bit of coconut sugar?
Meghan Telpner: Absolutely. And I would say leave out the onion and tomato and maybe put in an apple or even some berries and see how that goes. What you'd want to do once you've got all your ingredients is blend it. So you want to blend it not until it's smooth, smooth, smooth like a pulp, but until it's well blended. You might see some of the full flaxseeds, but most of them will be broken up. And then you want to spread it out evenly, either on dehydrator sheets or in your oven. Now I discovered something recently when I moved into my new house because we are redoing the kitchen. So I was shopping for new ovens and I was like, "I have to get an oven with a proof function on it, because I keep seeing this and I bake bread."
And then I discovered in my old house that I had this proof function and it basically sets your oven at around a hundred degrees. So if you have a proof function or can set your oven, basically as low as 150, you can do it in there. You would just spread this mix over a parchment lined cookie sheet, put that in the oven and just keep an eye on it because it's probably going to be three to four, even five hours to really dry it out. You could bake it, but then you're playing with those omega-3's. It's not the end of the world for a nice cracker, but if you can do it on the slow, low method, you're going to get a better result.
Andrea Wien: Yeah. And this was, again, one that I made and was so pleasantly surprised by and have made multiple times since. So I want you to just talk very briefly about your course, which is going on now in terms of people being able to sign up. And I know you don't do admissions all the time, so can you just tell people where they could find that, what it's all about and what's coming next in the next few months?
Meghan Telpner: Absolutely. So every year we run in September, the Culinary Nutrition Expert Program. We run it just once a year and it's a 14 week certification program and it is life changing. So registration is now open, and basically, the objective of this program is to not just impart the knowledge and skills of culinary nutrition, meaning, really good cooking, really solid nutrition education and the practical application of both of these things.
So throw away the textbooks, all the learning is happening in the kitchen. We're also empowering our students and graduates on how to effectively and confidently and inclusively share this information, whether it's in their household, in their own home kitchen with their kids, their parents, or siblings, or friends, or spouse, or in a more professional setting, like on an amazing podcast because I taught Andrea everything she knows. Just kidding.
Andrea Wien: This is true. This is so true. But I did start with you. You were my first course, my first foray into, okay, I want to get into nutrition. Where do I go? And so, you are really the entry point for me in so much of what I do now. So I'm forever grateful for that. And I will say to, what I loved about your course was I am a meat eater and so, sometimes I get stuck in the meat, protein, carb pattern for dinner and I loved that we did so many creative recipes that were vegetarian.
And if you were able to have a meat component, you could add that in if you wanted to do, but it was not a critical piece of the recipe, and it changed the way I cook. And so, for that reason alone, I think the course is so valuable. Even if people don't want to go on and have a career in nutrition just for a home cook, it's such a valuable course.
Meghan Telpner: Well, thank you for that insight. The entire program is gluten-free and dairy-free and we do have options. So if someone is vegetarian or vegan, there's pairings of recipes for that track. If someone wants to eat more paleo style, they can choose that track of recipes, you can mix and match. But ultimately, the reason why it's gluten free, dairy free and heavy on the plant based foods is not because I'm going to dictate the right diet for every human on the planet, but that people who eat meat or dairy, or gluten definitely don't need more ways to eat it, and that was really a big part of the foundation. And we do get into the benefits if someone's using the diet for healing properties or healing benefits, why certain foods are best omitted until we've eliminated some of the symptoms or primary concerns.
Andrea Wien: Absolutely. And we will link to that also in the show notes at biohmhealth.com/pages/podcast. Meghan also has these recipes online. I will link to that and I'll link to some of the course materials. She does a free masterclass that you can look at and some open houses, and just more information on the course will be at our show notes page, which is also linked if you're on an iPhone, it will be in the little description as well. So you should be able to see the link to all of this in the description on our show notes page and in the description for the show. So Meghan, thank you so much for joining us. Again, it's always such a pleasure and good luck with the course.
Meghan Telpner: Thank you so much. Always nice chatting with you and thank you again for having me on.
Andrea Wien: Have a good day. Bye.
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