Because I think you should learn to cook (if you haven’t already), I’m giving my top 10 tips for cooking with colitis.
Get a dozen healthy, whole-food recipes under your belt, and your life will be forever changed.
Start by mastering one.
Do you like to cook?
I mean cook; not bake, not throw snacks in a bag, but cook?
I was never a cook growing up. I wasn’t even really a baker. Kitchen lingo was foreign to me, like picking out flowers were for my wedding. Sounds strange, but like the flowers for my wedding, I had no interest in learning about food, ingredients, parts, techniques or substitutions.
Even when I first learned my gut was a holy mess, I relied on simple techniques like baking chicken, sautéing vegetables and eating whole fruit to get me by.
I was too afraid to really dive into the kitchen and cook.
You know how for so many things in life you have that “ah-ha moment,” where everything falls into place? You remember these moments forever.
With cooking, I never had this.
Cooking just sort of happened.
Then it happened more frequently, and then I began to expand my kitchen. I started researching substitutions. I bought tools, gadgets, books (HERE are some of my favorites) and equipment that would help me even more. After awhile, I found myself wanting to be in the kitchen for entire afternoons without end.
When asked the question,
If you could spend a rainy afternoon doing one thing, what would you get wrapped up in?
My answer is usually,
Being in the kitchen….creating….playing….photographing.
I guarantee that if you learn to cook, even just a little, dealing with your Colitis (or any other form of IBS/IBD) will be much easier.
And with that, I have my top 10 tips for cooking with Colitis.
Top 10 Tips for Cooking with Colitis
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Rock the plain Jane.
Start simple, like I did. Pick out a few ingredients that you like and think might taste great together. Try something like turkey or salmon sautéed with olive or coconut oil and de-seeded, de-skinned zucchini and squash. You don’t have to become a rock star overnight.
There are so many spices and herbs that are great for the digestive system. I’m guessing that by now you know that ginger is one of them. You might not know that Turmeric is another. Turmeric is bright yellow, and it is used in many Indian dishes. It is anti-inflammatory, and it is used as an effective treatment for irritable bowel disease.
Turmeric is a staple in my diet, and it is part of my everyday table setting. Whenever I’m cooking turkey or slow cooking chicken, I tend to sprinkle a liberal amount of Turmeric in. Do note, though, that Turmeric will stain so be careful when using it. You can also mix Turmeric in with a rice or quinoa dish. Look it up, and give it a try!
Slow and go.
The slower you cook food, the easier they are to digest. For example, I typically broil vs. bake or steam vs. fry. You can do this with almost everything, not just meat and vegetables.
If your stomach is having a hard time digesting the sugars and skin of an apple, try removing the skin and then boiling the apple to soften. If raw nuts are too hard for you to digest, soak them in water overnight and then eat them. Or if you are craving beans, refer to how to digest beans.
Say “no” to pan spray.
Most pan sprays include ingredients like; soy lecithin, dimethyl silicone, and propellant. None of those are good for the gut. And furthermore, some pan sprays even contain the dreaded gluten. I learned the hard way. You don’t have to. Choose instead the only pan spray I use –THIS ONE, or “coaters” such as; olive oil, coconut oil, or ghee butter.
As I mentioned in #3, broiling is better than baking or frying. Slow cooking is even better. I highly recommend a slow cooker. Bonus: you’ll be a multi-tasking wizard! (Updated in 2018 to add that the same can be achieved for almost all things with the Instant Pot. Ahem – Apple Cider anyone?)
If you are going through a flare up, you will likely need to cook with very bland things. Think meats, broths, and coconut oil vs. spices and sauces. Pay attention to the state of your gut when preparing to cook.
I use this in some recipes and in a lot of baking. But for many people with digestive problems or Celiac in general, Xanthan Gum (gums and thickening agents in general) is not digested properly. One idea is to try substituting it for flax or chia seeds. For the ultimate gut-healing alternative, turn to Gelatin!
White Rice and Potatoes.
I am a huge fan of Jason Ferruggia, but when I stumbled across his post, “Nutritional Knowledge with Nate Miyaki” this week, I became an even bigger fan. Scroll to the bottom. Read the information. ‘Nuff said.
Sugar is sugar is sugar.
Be very careful with sugar. I don’t care if it’s “organic sugar” or agave or even honey. When I cook and bake with sugar, I try to use honey, since honey contains natural digestive enzymes. And yet still, to me, sugar is sugar is sugar. Your digestive system won’t care what kind. If you have a yeast overgrowth or leaky gut, sugars, in any form, will not do you any good.
Some people with digestive intolerance say they cannot handle fried food and that fat doesn’t work for them. I would argue that it’s the overly processed diet and fried food vs. the fat. That said, if you can’t tolerate fat at all, you can’t tolerate it (i.e. those without a gallbladder). Fat can be very therapeutic for the gut, though, the good fats. Try cooking with things like; avocado, fish, olive oil, coconut oil and raw nut butters.
Disclaimer: Everybody who lives with Colitis reacts differently to foods. There are many forms of Colitis, and we are all unique. Just because these are my top 10 tips for cooking with Colitis, does not necessarily mean they will work for you. Bio-individuality reigns. Need help? Work with us to help you dial it in.
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You will heal. I will help.