This week, we thought we would focus on improving gut health whilst making the most of the ‘whole’ fruit and veg to reduce food waste, as a guilt free ‘feel good’ combination. As such, we have done some research into the benefits of a lower ‘FODMAP’ diet to improve gut health and improve certain auto immune disorders and digestive conditions. In short, FODMAP stands for ‘Fermentable Oligo, Di, Mono – sachharides and Polyols’ which are small carbohydrates that many people cannot digest efficiently. Reducing the intake of these carbohydrates leads to less stress on the large intestine and better all round health.
Now, our research on this issue and desire to reduce food waste as lead us to the humble leek head. They are low ‘FODMAP’ as per the above definition and a great replacement for flavour in dishes that would normally include the high FODMAP onion and garlic. They are also cheap, full of fibre and very easy to cook.
So, before we move on to the process of cooking with leek heads, what are the health benefits that make including them in our diet so worthwhile? Leeks, like garlic and onions, belong to a vegetable family called the Allium vegetables. They contain many of the same health benefits, but have a less inflammatory impact on the gut and are therefore much easier for many to digest. Benefits include:
- Cardiovascular support – Leeks contain important amounts of the flavenoid kaempferol, which has repeatedly been shown to reduce our blood vessel linings from damage. Their high concentration of vitamin B folate also makes them a great supportive vegetable for the cardiovascular system.
- Anti bacterial, anti viral and anti fungal – Leeks contain allicin, which, as it digests in the body, produces sulfenic acid, a compound that neutralises free radicals faster than any other known compound.
- Lower your risk of cancer and other chronic diseases – Leeks contain kaempferol, a natural flavenol linked to reducing cancer risk and numerous chronic diseases.
- Phenomenal source of vitamins – Leeks contain notable quantities of vitamins A and K, folic acid, niacin, riboflavin, magnesium and thiamin. This may help to reduce neural tube defects in newborns when taken in pregnancy and help support heart health.
- Phenomenal source of antioxidants – their high polyphenol content vs other vegetables helps build the immune system.
So, if we know the benefits, how do we go about using the leek heads? Well, it is easier than it might first seem. They are great pureed and made into a pesto with olive oil and your herbs of choice, another good option is to mince finely and use as a garnish on soups and stews, or use them as a bed for fish ‘en papillotte’ or to wrap and steam fish for extra flavour.
Also, for some inspiration, try the recipes below:
Leek head LOW FODMAP Bolognese:
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Leek Heads finely chopped
- 4 cups chopped spinach
- 500g mince
- Chopped tomatoes
Place the mince in some olive oil in a pan and gently cook. Add the leek heads, spinach and herbs and cook further. Next add the chopped tomatoes, lower the heat and simmer for 40 minutes until reduced. Serve with pasta or zucchini noodles and some parmesan. Enjoy!
Leek head fish ‘en papilotte’ – oven baked for ease:
- 2 cups finely sliced leek heads and remaining leek fined chopped
- Fish of choice (the recipe instructions below are based on 200g of cod)
- Herbs of choice
- Olive oil
- Parchment paper
Cut out 4 pieces pf parchment paper to 30cm*40cm. Lay down half cup of leek heads in centre of paper, with fish on top, salt, herbs, 1tsp olive oil, 1/2 cup of rest of leek chopped. Gather in parchment paper and tie with some twine. Place in 180deg oven for 30 minutes. Open and serve with drizzle of lemon juice.