Updated: Jun 23, 2019
Winter is well and truly here, and what better way to fuel our bodies than creating a nourishing stew!? Even better - this stew is vegetarian. Vegan even. I can hear the groans from here. Ewwwww. No meat? What's the point, Emma? Let me tell you... it might just change your thoughts on the multiple meat dishes you eat per week.
Since studying the gut microbiome a lot more, I have come to notice a lot of things, however one major standout is the amount of animal protein-loving bacteria that are thriving in many guts. The major strain of animal-protein and fat loving bacteria is bacteroides; which are absolutely necessary for the human gut, however they are often found in extremely high amounts. This could be due to a variety of reasons, including an increased intake of antibiotics, high intake of animal protein and low intake of plant fiber.
Research has shown that a diet high in animal protein can lead to increased levels of bacterial strains in the gut, such as Biophilia and excess Bacteroides which can produce Lipopolysacharides (LPS) which are toxic waste products of some bacterial strains. The LPS can then permeate the gut membrane and enter the blood stream, even crossing the blood brain barrier. An overgrowth of these species tend to drive down really anti-inflammatory, protective species such as Lactobacillus.
Meanwhile, a diet that contains good amounts of plant protein helps drive up protective species Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, and drive down pro-inflammatory species such as Bacteroides and Clostridium.
The bottom line? A rich plant based diet with small amounts of good quality meat is a great balance. This will help reduce inflammation, regulate the immune system and even help produce more energy, via increased short chain fatty acids (SCFA).
This dish is an excellent source of plant-based protein, as well as anti-inflammatory herbs and spices such as turmeric, ginger and coriander. I recommend making a big batch of this and enjoy for 4-6 meals throughout the week.
I created this easy warming recipe for all to enjoy on a cold winters night. This recipe is a macronutrient balanced meal with a source of protein from the chickpeas and buckwheat. It also contains a source of complex carbohydrate from the sweet potato, which will help keep you full for hours. It is also full of phytonutrients and fiber from the abundance of vegetables and is fantastic at feeding the good bacteria in our microbiome.
Sweet Potato, Chickpea and Pear Stew with Fresh Herbs and Pomegrante
Time: 40 minutes
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cm piece ginger, finely chopped
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
800g sweet potato, cut into 2cm squares
1 bulb fennel, diced
1 capsicum, diced
3 pears, diced, skin on
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1L organic vegetable stock
150g buckwheat groats
4 leaves kale, stems removed, roughly chopped
2 pomegranate, jewels removed
1 lemon, sliced into quarters
Fresh herbs for serving: mint and coriander
In a large pot, heat the olive oil to medium/high heat. Add the onion, ginger and garlic and saute for 2 mins or until the onion becomes translucent. Then add all the spices, and saute for 30 seconds.
Next add in the sweet potato, fennel, capsicum, chickpeas, buckwheat, canned tomatoes and vegetable stock. Stir until mixed through and then bring to the boil on high heat.
Reduce heat to medium and let simmer for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are almost tender. Keep an eye on it, and stir occasionally. You may need to add more water if needed.
When the potatoes are almost done, add in the diced pear and cook for another 10 minutes.
Add in the fresh kale 2 minutes before serving, and stir to combine. Season with additional salt or according to taste.
Serve the stew with fresh herbs on top, 2 tablespoons of pomegranate seeds and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Store in the fridge for 3 days; freezes well.