Tummy/Intestine-Friendly Recipes & Comfort Food
T/I-Friendly: Kozy Shack Rice Pudding
YEESSSSS! For me, this stuff is like crack. It NEVER hurts while being digested. I eat a lot of it, and have a few spoonfuls when I need something to battle acid-reflux, or to keep all of my nightly medications from crawling back up my throat.
Comfort Food: The Mock Turtle’s Soup
In times of difficulty, I often turn to my favourite childhood friend, Alice, and what she found in Wonderland. I don’t know how many times I’ve read “Alice” through the years, but the book never fails to amuse me. One of my favourite passages as a child was the Mock Turtle’s song about soup (I have always whole-heartedly agreed upon the superiority of soup). It goes something like this:
Waiting in a hot tureen!
Who for such dainties would not stoop?
Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!
(From “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass” by Lewis Carroll. Original illustration at right by Sir John Tenniel.)
Lovely. I learned the secrets of the most delicious soup to ever cross my taste buds from my first Lethbridge roommate, Robin N. G. It started life as a sort of “cleanse” soup. Over the years, I’ve tweaked and tinkered and re-christened it, and here it is. It takes a lot of time in the kitchen and includes everything but the kitchen sink, but it’s well worth your time to make up a big dutch-oven or stock pot of this stuff and freeze most of it in portion-sized containers in your freezer for a quick, healthy meal. The taste is a smoky, subtly “hot-and-sour”, garden-y flavour. I’ve never met anyone yet who didn’t like it. Fair warning, though, if you’re working by yourself, this is going to take about 2 hours to make.
The Mock Turtle’s Soup:
- Get yourself a really big pot. Don’t put anything into it yet, and don’t heat it.
- Take 1 big head or 2 small heads of leeks. ‘Top-and-tail’ them (cut off the ragged tops and rooty bottom). Make a single slice length-wise down the stalk of leek, cutting it in half. Since leeks always have a lot of dirt (and the occasional bug) stuck between the tightly grown “leaves”, you will want to be able to separate these layers of leaves to wash in between them. Once they’re washed, line them up and dice them into small pieces (like you would slice a carrot). Throw it all into the pot. TIP: if your leeks are strong, put your cutting board on the top of your stove and turn on the overhead vent fan. No tears!
- Take as many mushrooms as you like (I use about 20 medium-sized white button mushrooms) and wash them well. Slice those and throw them into the pot.
- Take 1 red bell pepper, trim it, de-seed it, wash it, chop it up, and put it in the pot.
- Take 3 stalks of celery, trim, wash, and chop. Into the pot!
- Wash 3 or 4 handfuls of baby carrots. chop them in half or thirds, and add to pot.
- Get a nice big bunch of fresh parsley (or cilantro, if you prefer – I don’t). Wash well, shake dry, and remove most of the stems. Chop this very finely and throw it in.
- Get a large bundle of fresh spinach or a bag of pre-washed baby spinach leaves. If you’re using a bundle, keep the stems bound together and fill a medium-sized bowl with cool water. Handling the bunch by the stems, plunge most of the bunch into the water and shake vigorously. This will get everything pretty clean. Now, placing the still-tied bundle on your cutting board, cut above the binding, close to the bottom of the spinach leaves, and put the stems into your compost. Paw through the leaves to do a quick check for any rotten bits. If the leaves are large, bundle them together with your hand and apply a few well-placed slices to halve the leaves. Pre-washed baby spinach leaves can go into the pot as they are. You’re aiming for about 4 cups of uncooked spinach.
- Dump in one large can of diced tomatoes, without draining it.
- Clean and chop about 3 cups of bok choy or 1 and 1/2 to 2 cups of green head cabbage. Chop it small! Add to pot.
- Open and drain two small cans of sliced water chestnuts. Throw them in.
- Take some of your favourite gluten-, soy-, sugar-, grain- and nitrate-free sausage (Freybe and Grimms have a few varieties that work well). Chop a goodly amount into bite-sized pieces. Make sure you’re not using a soft, totally un-cooked sausage, or everything will fall apart in the pot, and you’ll get food-poisoning when you taste-test your soup. Try to find a sausage with a nice, smoky flavour – it really makes a difference. If you prefer, you can add any pre-cooked meat that suits you – turkey, chicken, pork, a little diced bacon, beef, fish, scallops, shrimp – whatever. If you want to maintain that smoky flavour, but use something other than sausage, you can add just a few drops of “liquid smoke”, which you can find at your grocery.
- Now, look at your pot. It’s probably full almost to the rim – but don’t panic. That mountain-esque appearance is a good thing, as many of your ingredients are going to shrink down in size by more than half, since we have so many leafy bits in there and so many mushrooms.
- Time for spices. Dump in what will seem to be a crazy amount of dried dill. I’m talking a small handful here – maybe 2 or 3 full tablespoons. Now add 1 tablespoon of smoky paprika, and about 1/2 of a teaspoon of garlic. Don’t add salt if you’ve used a salty meat like sausage or bacon. If you haven’t used a salty meat, a little sprinkle of sea salt is good, but do this AFTER you’ve cooked the soup so that you can salt it to your own taste preferences.
- Now add a tiny wee nip of dried cayenne pepper – as in, 1/8 of a teaspoon. You only want a very subtle amount of heat – something that shows up gently and mildly as an aftertaste, not something that could be categorized as “hot”.
- Now you’ve got to add an acidic element. For this, you can choose between lemon juice, lime juice, or a vinegar of your choosing. If using seafood, go for lime – it’s fabulous. If you’re using sausage, I find vinegar to be complimentary. Because the strength, concentration and flavour of these citrus juices and vinegars are so different, you’re going to have to add a bit at first, and then finish up adding this “sour” element after you’ve cooked the soup and can taste it. To give you an idea, when I use plain white vinegar I typically end up adding about 4 or 5 tablespoons to the pot.
- Optional: add about a teaspoon of this concoction called “Kitchen Bouquet”. You’ll find it in the spice aisle and it’s basically just a vegetable-based browning, but adds richness to the soup.
- Time for liquids – this is, after all, a soup. You need broth. If you make your own – great – go for it. If you want to save time, find yourself a good boxed broth – I prefer organic. It can be beef, chicken, turkey or veggie broth – just make sure you read the ingredient label to see if it has any grains, potatoes or sugars in it. A typical large box is what – 1 litre? Add 1 of these boxes. If using seafood as your meat element, go for the veggie or chicken broth.
- Now get out a can or jar of tomato juice. Pour about 2 to 3 cups into the pot.
- If your liquids are still not up to the top of your pot, add some more broth. You want about an inch of space between the top of your pot and the volume of your liquids.
- Now muscle that bad boy over to the stove top – it’ll be heavy! Cook on high for just a few min. – just until it comes to a boil. Stir lots.
- Once it’s come to a boil, reduce your heat to medium-low and simmer for about 10 min. Then, turn it off. You want your veggies to still have a little “crunch” to them.
- Now begin your taste-testing. Not enough heat? Add the tiniest bit of cayenne. Not enough smoke? Add more smoky or Hungarian paprika. Not enough sour? Add more vinegar or citrus. Keep tweaking in small doses and tasting until it tastes just right to you. Then, let it sit. As it cools a little, the flavours are going to do a little happy-dance in that pot, and you’ll love it.
- Eat a bowl. If you’re still happy with it, spoon the majority of it into freezer-safe containers and freeze immediately. A microwave will re-heat a frozen bowl-sized portion of this goodness in about 4 or 5 min.
- A quick tip if you’re using scallops: I don’t know about you, but every time I try to eat a scallop I get that unpleasant “crunch” effect from grains of sand that have remained in the scallop. I hate that. But I have found if you take your scallops (I have only ever used pre-frozen dead ones – I wouldn’t know what to do with a live one) and soak them in salt water for a while, stirring very gently and occasionally, any grit left inside the scallop seems more inclined to wash out. Rinse the scallops and then cook them on medium heat in butter. Trust me on this – butter is definitely the way to go when it comes to scallops. If there’s too much liquid in the pan from water escaping the scallops, drain it a little and add more butter if you need to. If you don’t like the dairy, use clarified butter or ghee. Leave them alone in the frying pan until they’re browning on one side. Gently turn them over. When they’re browned on the other side and firm to the touch, they’re done. If you’ve used a large-sized scallop, cut them in half or quarters before you add them to the soup. They make this soup very rich.
T/I-Friendly: Canada Dry Club Soda
Sometimes fizzy helps my stomach. I don’t know why. But I need fizzy often enough that drinking regular soda like Ginger Ale would mean just too much sugar. So I keep a few cans of these babies chilled in the fridge at all times. Sometimes I drink it as-is, sometimes I add a splash of fruit juice (such as cranberry-pomegranate) for some flavour. Great fizz-factor without the guilt.
T/I-Friendly: Crushed Ice
Now you’re saying “Huh?” Yup. Crushed ice. I’ve always been an ice-eater, but when my stomach feels like it’s literally on fire and about to explode from swelling, I eat ice. The cold feels great on the stomach, and it’s healthier than ice cream. I also eat ice when I can’t eat anything of actual substance. Chewing the ice tricks my mind into believing I’m actually eating food, which seems to relieve the hunger pains somewhat.
T/I-Friendly: Ryvita Crackerbread
K, so in Canada, this product is called “Snackbread” and I guess it’s called “Crackerbread” in the U.S. Regardless, what I’m referring to here is a super-light wafer-like bread that sits like air on the stomach. It tastes good, too! Ryvita has come out with a lot of other snackbreads in various varieties (see bottom pic) but a lot of these have too many seeds and wholegrains to sit well with me, and they’re comparatively heavy. They’re all pretty healthy, though, and they’re a nice alternative to traditional tummy-settling soda crackers. I like my crackerbreads with just a tiny scraping of low-fat margerine.