Wondergut Winners

Whilst I am no longer publishing Wondergut Week up here, it is still my method of planning our weekly menu. I only have to think about what we are eating once a week and that works for me! These are the factors I consider when planning what we are eating:

  1. maximise consumption of unprocessed or minimally processed foods;
  2. maximise vegetable intake (organic if possible);
  3. maximise diversity of foods whilst respecting 1 and 2 above;
  4. cook from scratch as much as possible;
  5. try new recipes;
  6. try new foods;
  7. be realistic on busy days – there is always room for beans on wholewheat toast.

Out of all the dishes we try, some winners naturally emerge and then become a part of our repertoire. I realised that it may be useful for you to have all the Wondergut Winners in one place. The Winners are those dishes that aren’t too annoying or too time-consuming to make and that everyone (including the all-important Food Critics) eat happily. I will keep adding to this list as we continue to find good recipes that help us to keep our diet diverse.

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Food Critics’ Verdict, if worth listening to

September 2017 Cavolo Nero, Onion & Potato Hash with Poached Egg accompanied by runner beans & corn on the cob. Autumn & Winter Veg p132 by Guy Watson – Riverford – here is the link. Boil the potatoes in advance. This was delicious and EVERYONE cleared their plate. We didn’t use the Chorizo.
September 2017 Squash & Cinnamon Soup with Roasted Seeds accompanied by sourdough and unpasteurised butter River Cottage A-Z p183 – This has disappeared online but here is a link to a similar recipe – instead of the peanut butter, you can dry roast 2 tbsp sunflower seeds & 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds with 1 tsp chilli flakes & 1 tbsp olive oil in the oven in a small baking tray at the same time as the squash but only for 5 minutes or so until sizzling. Scatter over the soup when it is ready. So, I used more squash than the recipe said (a medium and a small butternut and some random little green one I picked up at the market) so the soup was nice and thick. I skipped the seed roasting as I already had some Dukkah I  could sprinkle on it. It was divine – thick, glossy & very tasty. Remember though, cooking the squash takes an hour but the rest of it is very quick so either do the squash cooking the night before or shove the squash in the oven as soon as you get home.
October 2017 Stuffed Peppers (different colours) with New Potatoes, Feta & Pesto accompanied by courgettes & cavolo nero. River Cottage Veg Every Day p349 – here is the link. This was really tasty & pretty quick to make – & would have been even quicker if I had made the pesto on Sunday night (or bought some). AND Toby actually ate some cooked pepper (he normally only eats it raw). FCs – thumbs up
October 2017 Whole Earth Baked Beans on Sourdough I made during the day accompanied by grated unpasteurised cheese (Keens this week), an eclectic collection of the salad leaves still alive in the garden, grated beetroot & Wondergut red cabbage kraut (here is the link to the Kraut recipe). A good day. Making and then eating my own Sourdough bread. The kids so enjoyed the bread, with the beans wedging themselves in the air bubbles in the sourdough (created by the gas given off by microbes) that I am determined to master making sourdough at home & weave it into my routine.
October 2017 Mushroom Soup with Sourdough bread accompanied by sorrel & rocket salad. Sarah Raven’s Garden Cook Book p345 – here is the link. I LOVE homemade mushroom soup. I didn’t bother with the milk in this recipe – I just used 1,200ml of stock & I had crème fraiche in the fridge, so I used that instead of cream. I also skipped all the faff of cooking half the mushrooms in the milk – I threw them all straight into the stock. And it was delicious. 3 out of 4 of the FCs have, in the past, hated mushrooms with fervour. They nevertheless had at least 5 spoonfuls of this soup (the minimum requirement here for consumption of things we don’t love) so I consider that to be real progress. My eldest FC ate the whole bowl and the friend who was here for a sleepover did too!
October 2017 Pea & Basil Tart with a Buttery Oat Crust accompanied by boiled potatoes & a mixed garden salad with sorrel, rocket, radicchio, celery, cucumber, tomatoes & radish. Food For A Happy Gut p88 by Naomi Devlin – here is the link. I kid you not, this was literally WOLFED down. It was not too time-consuming to make. I whizzed the oats up a couple of days before. I made the pastry the evening before. It rolls out between cling film easily & the filling is a doddle to put together. I used leeks instead of spring onions since it is no longer Spring.
November 2017 Bonfire Soup (Bonfire Night tradition) accompanied by sausages & fried red onions in seedy buns

Chocolate Bark


Here is the link
to the soup recipe
Here is the link
to the Bark recipe
This soup is just delicious, popular with all the FCs & a little out of the ordinary to help with our diversity levels. It is too tasty to only have on Bonfire Night but I do love it from a thermos flask in front of a fire in the garden. Since we moved into town, we have less room for a Bonfire Night inferno & having one involves scorching most of the lawn. Anyway, last night I had a brainwave – have the fire on a vegetable bed. This led to a rapid and complete harvest of our beetroot to make room, but the fire was wicked. We now have quite a lot of beetroot to get through…
November 2017 Squid Stuffed with Butter Beans & Tomatoes accompanied by broccoli & Brussel sprouts. Eat by Nigel Slater p285 – here is the link. Samuel chose this recipe a while ago now & having seen squid in the market for the last few weeks, I put it on the menu. Squid is not cheap, so I just got two to feed 6 of us & I used butter beans. The squid, the tentacles, the beans – all of it was FABULOUS. Everyone ate well, although 2 FCs didn’t eat many of the beans.
November 2017 Tomato & Halloumi Bake with by Sourdough Bread Online recipe – here is the link. I hoped that the halloumi on the top would get some cooked tomatoes past those FCs who are less keen. It did – not much, but some, at least & Georgia & I thought it was very good indeed. I shoved the left-over potatoes, swede & parsnips in from yesterday too & I enjoyed it so much, I had it on toast for lunch on Tuesday too.
November 2017 Jerusalem Artichoke & Leek Soup with Sourdough accompanied by pepper, fennel & carrot crudites & hummus dip. Riverford Autumn & Winter Cooking p117 – here is the link. This is a BLINDER of a soup. We all agreed. Silky smooth, full of flavour, a doddle to make & packed with prebiotic goodness – what more can you wish for? Plus I, somehow (unintentionally), managed to make the sourdough so that it had just come out of the oven in time for dinner. We dipped warm sourdough with melted butter into our soup.
December 2017 Spelt with Parsley-Almond Pesto, Tomatoes & Parmesan accompanied by Brussel tops & carrot sticks. 26 Grains by Alex Hely-Hutchinson p178 – here is the link.


Georgia cooked for me as my day had rather gone to rat poo. She used pine nuts instead of flaked almonds in the pesto & cooked the tomatoes with the onions & garlic for longer than the recipe suggested (because she prefers cooked tomatoes). Whenever we make our own pesto, it reminds me just how much nicer it is than shop bought – it tastes so unbelievably fresh. The overall result was wonderful.
December 2017 Crumbed Pesto Fish with Roasted Cherry Toms accompanied by potatoes, broccoli, spinach & beans. Every Day Super Food by Jamie Oliver p184 – here is the link. Pesto again! This was easy, delicious & packed herbs, tomatoes, pine nuts & vegetables into one meal. The fish haters ate some of the fish because of the pesto topping – result!
December 2017 Macaroni Cheese with Red Onion & Fennel accompanied by broccoli & spinach. I use whole wheat pasta now. It has taken us 2 years, but we now no longer buy white pasta & pasta has become an occasional dish rather than a staple. I hid red onion & fennel in this & the FCs love having Macca (as it is known affectionately here).
January 2018 Smashed Salmon Hash accompanied by white cabbage & greens Sainsbury’s Magazine – here is the link. This is popular with all here. A very satisfying & comforting dish that contains oily fish, prebiotic onions plus some capers & dill. I normally mix some milk kefir in with some labneh for mixing with the dill at the end.
January 2018 Fried Fish Fillets with Herbs & Lemon accompanied by lots of Greens River Cottage Every Day p146 – here is the link. Similar in a way to the one above but equally tasty.
February 2018 Jamie’s Chicken Jamie’s Dinners p222 – here is the link. This is actually a very old favourite, introduced to me by my cousin, Lisa. I love tray bakes because they are so quick to put together. We add any number of vegetables to this & even though we now eat meat only once or twice a week, the meat portions are smaller & I try to ensure that the meat is only part of a bigger picture within the meal rather than the focal point.
 March 2018  Frying Pan Spinach Souffle Riverford Spring and Summer Veg p190 – here is the link. This was very simple & amazingly resulted in ALL the FCs eating a load of spinach. I know there are those that fret about oxalate levels in spinach but with no underlying health issues, the joy of eating a diverse & healthy diet is that we are unlikely to get an excess of anything, which means taking the benefits of the many nutrients in spinach without worrying about the oxalates. The chooks are laying again too, now they sense that Spring is nearly here, so all the eggs we used were from our own girls.

© Jo Webster February 2018

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