Our immune system is an amazing, complex system that changes and develops throughout our lives. It’s impacted by everything from the foods we eat to the environment we live in and is our body’s way of keeping us healthy and thriving.

The role of the gut in supporting our immune system has had a lot of attention in recent years as more and more research shows just how important it is. Scientists now believe that around 70% of our immune system is based in our gut*, yet there is still so much to learn about it.

One thing that is agreed is that our diet is key to a healthy gut, but how does it work and what should we be doing to help? We’ll give a simple overview of the evidence below.

 

Our gut is a first line of defence

It’s easy to take the digestive process for granted, after all, it happens without us thinking about it! But it’s actually quite marvellous – our gut lining is an incredibly thin line of cells that create a barrier between what enters our bloodstream and what gets eliminated as waste.

Behind this lining are cells that are directly linked to our immune system. These cells continually monitor what’s in our gut and tell our body to make antibodies to fight anything that could make us sick.

This is where ‘gut health’ comes in.

 

Gut health and the ‘microbiome’

Our gut contains billions of bacteria that make up what is known as the ‘gut microbiome’. If we have too many ‘bad’ bacteria, it can confuse our immune system into attacking its own cells, including the healthy ones.

Not only does this make it easier for us to get sick, but it also makes it harder to recover.

As well as supporting our immune system, a healthy gut has other health-enhancing benefits too. When we have gut issues, we may experience bloating, cramps or IBS. It even affects our mood! The gut is where our body makes most of its serotonin, the happy hormone.

 

How to support a healthier gut

The key to a healthy microbiome is diversity – our bodies are at their best when we have lots of different types of bacteria. Here are five simple lifestyle changes that can have a big impact on creating this diversity:

1. Eat a variety of plant-based foods

Our healthy gut bacteria love to feed on fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds and legumes that are full of healthy fibre and phytonutrients. Eat a rainbow of colours to help your body feel light and vibrant! And don’t forget the fibre, a vital ingredient of digestive health; most of us are not getting the recommended daily 30g we need.

2. Get plenty of fresh air

Not only does it make you feel good, but spending time outdoors exposes your body to bacteria that are good for your body! It’s not good to spend too much time in sanitised environments, so go outside and walk barefoot, do some gardening and have a picnic in the park – when we’re allowed, of course!

3. Exercise

When we get our heart pumping it circulates blood through every organ in our body, including the gut. Some light exercise every day will help get things moving!

4. Reduce processed foods

Refined carbohydrates, sugar and fried foods can lead to an imbalance of bad bacteria in the gut and cause inflammation that your immune system has to spend precious resources fighting against. Do your gut a favour and reduce processed foods in favour of fresh, wholesome and tasty meals.

5. Eat mindfully

The act of chewing sends signals to our stomach to prepare for digestion, so sit down and enjoy your food! You’ll make it easier for your body to digest and you’ll be less likely to overeat.

 

We’re all looking for ways to support our immune system and maintaining a healthy gut has been proven to be one of the best things we can do to help. Every single one of us has a unique gut microbiome that is influenced by our lifestyle and diet, and the power is in our hands to improve our own health.

The diet and lifestyle recommended by Alfred Vogel in his Guiding Principles is completely supportive of a healthy gut and immune system. Vogel was certainly ahead of his time in his understanding of health, and science is now bringing to light even more information to support this!

 

*Dr Megan Rossi: “Eat Yourself Happy”

GORGONZOLA AND PEAR ON TOAST

Looking for an idea to liven up your midweek lunch, or for a special brunch? How about taking cheese on toast to the next level with our simple gorgonzola, pear, walnut and honey recipe.  

Method

  1. Toast your Vogel’s bread and spread with gorgonzola dolce
  2. Add thinly sliced ripe pear
  3. Break over a few walnut halves and drizzle with honey

Antipasti Strata

Looking for a new recipe to try? Fancy mixing things up a bit in the kitchen? Why not give our Antipasti Strata recipe a go and surprise the family with a new dish on the menu. This versatile dish is ideal for a filling snack, lunchtime meal, or accompaniment to other antipasti dishes.

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 loaf Vogel’s Original Mixed Grain

150 g fresh pesto

250 g mixed vegetable antipasti (eg. sundried tomatoes, stoned olives, roasted peppers, preserved artichokes), drained of oil and chopped if large

2 balls mozzarella, sliced

3 large eggs, plus 3 extra yolks

300 ml double cream

600 ml whole milk

2 tbsp Pecorino or Parmesan, finely grated

Method

  1. Toast all the bread slices in a toaster or under the grill until lightly browned.
  2. Spread each slice with pesto, then cut in half on the diagonal.
  3. Layer the pesto toast with the antipasti and mozzarella in a 30 cm x 20 cm baking dish.
  4. Whisk the eggs, egg yolks, cream and milk together, then pour all over the bread.
  5. Cover the dish with foil, then weigh it down with a second baking dish. 
  6. Chill in the fridge for 2 hours, or make it the day before and chill overnight.
  7. Preheat the oven to 200°C (180 fan) / gas 6. Remove the top baking dish, but leave the foil on.
  8. Bake the pudding for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle with Pecorino and return to the oven, uncovered, for 25 minutes or until crisp on top and just set in the centre. Leave to cool for 20 minutes before serving.

Salmon, Egg & Asparagus Breakfast

Is there anything better than spending the time making yourself a delicious breakfast at the weekend? If you’re looking for something new to make, why not give this salmon, egg and asparagus recipe a try for your next brunch.

Serves 2

Ingredients

16 asparagus spears, woody ends snapped off

2 slices Vogel’s original mixed grain

4 slices smoked salmon

100 g butter

2 large eggs, plus 2 egg yolks

1 tbsp lemon juice

½ tsp Dijon mustard

1 tbsp tarragon or parsley, finely chopped

cayenne pepper

Method

  1. Steam the asparagus for 4 minutes while you toast the bread. Spread the toast sparingly with butter, then top with the asparagus and smoked salmon.
  2. Poach the eggs in simmering water for 3 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and blot on a piece of kitchen paper. Sit them on top of the salmon.
  3. While the eggs are cooking, heat the rest of the butter in a small saucepan until sizzling.
  4. Put the egg yolks in a narrow measuring jug or mug, just a bit wider than your handheld stick blender. Stir in the lemon juice and mustard, then season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  5. Put the stick blender into the egg yolk jug and turn it on, then pour in the hot butter in a thin stream. 
  6. As soon as all of the butter has been incorporated, spoon it over the eggs and serve immediately, sprinkled with herbs and cayenne pepper.

Cranberry & Walnut Stuffing Balls

The perfect roast dinner accompaniment, these cranberry and walnut stuffing balls are deliciously versatile. Why not try them with some bread sauce for dipping, made from our very own Soya and Linseed loaf. Alternatively, try making mini versions as a light bite or tapas dish!

Makes 16 Sunday roast balls 

Ingredients

3 slices Vogel’s soya & linseed

1 tbsp butter

1 large onion, finely chopped

150 g streaky bacon, finely chopped

300 g pork sausagemeat

6 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped

40 g dried cranberries, chopped

35 g walnuts, chopped

Method

  1. Tear the bread into pieces, then whizz to crumbs in a food processor.
  2. Heat the butter in a frying pan with a splash of oil and fry the onion over a low heat for 15 minutes or until soft and sweet. Stir in half of the breadcrumbs and sauté for 10 minutes until crisp and browned.
  3. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and leave to cool. Add the rest of the breadcrumbs with the bacon, sausagemeat, sage, cranberries and walnuts and scrunch everything together with your hands to mix.
  4. Shape the stuffing into balls. You can either chill them in the fridge until needed, or bake straight away.
  5. Preheat the oven to 200°C (180 fan) | 400°F | gas 6 and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
  6. Spread out the stuffing balls on the baking tray. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.

Bread sauce

Serves 6

Ingredients

2 large shallots, peeled

6 cloves

1 bay leaf

2 blades mace

1 tsp white peppercorns

700 ml whole milk

5 slices Vogel’s Soya and Linseed

2 tbsp double cream

freshly grated nutmeg

Method

  1. Stud the shallots with the cloves and put in a small saucepan with the bay leaf, mace, peppercorns and milk. Bring almost to a simmer over a low heat, then take the pan off the heat and leave to infuse for 45 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, remove the crusts and tear the bread into small pieces.
  3. Strain the milk into a clean pan and add the pieces of bread. Cook over a low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thick and creamy.
  4. Stir in the cream, then taste and season with salt. Pour into a bowl and grate a little nutmeg on top.

Fig & Goats Cheese on Toast

A quick and easy snack doesn’t have to mean bland and boring. This fig and goat’s cheese on toast recipe is the perfect combination that makes a great healthy lunch for those busy days. Add a few drops of balsamic vinegar to really give it the wow factor.

  1. Toast your Vogel’s bread and top with slices of ripe goat’s cheese.
  2. Arrange sliced fresh fig on top.
  3. Add a few drops of balsamic vinegar and scatter with lemon thyme leaves.

Breakfast just got even more fun! These pizza fingers add an extra bit of excitement to boiled eggs with an added bonus of hidden vegetables in the tomato sauce. There will be plenty of sauce left from this recipe which freezes really well and creates multiple servings to be used in lots of other dishes.

Tomato Sauce (serves at least 8)

Ingredients

1 onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 sticks celery, diced
1 red pepper, diced
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil

Method

  1. Cook the onion, celery and carrots in the olive oil for around 20 minutes, or until soft.
  2. Add the pepper and cook for a further 10 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes, sugar and seasoning. Simmer for half an hour.
  4. Whizz to a smooth sauce using a hand blender, or leave chunky if you think your little ones will eat it.

Pizza Fingers

Ingredients

Homemade tomato sauce (above)

Vogel’s bread

Grated cheddar cheese

To Serve – boiled eggs

Method

  1. Toast slices of Vogel’s bread on one side until golden
  2. Once reached a golden colour remove bread from grill, cut off crusts and into soldiers
  3. Spread tomato sauce evenly on soldiers, top with grated cheese
  4. Pop under the grill under cheese is melted
  5. Serve with boiled eggs

Looking for an easy but healthy pudding alternative? We’ve got just the trick, our sweet banana and cinnamon dessert dip.

The perfect accompaniment with sugar and cinnamon dusted toast tortillas for family time in the evenings or even a breakfast treat! 

Toast Tortilla

Ingredients

Vogel’s Bread

Cinnamon, to serve 

Icing sugar, to serve 

Method

  1.  Toast your favourite Vogel’s bread
  2. Cut into triangles and sprinkle with cinnamon and icing sugar. 

Banana Pudding

Ingredients

2 bananas, peeled 

250g mascarpone

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

  1. Add mascarpone, both bananas cut into slices and vanilla extract into blender
  2. Mix all ingredients together until smooth paste is created
  3. Top with extra banana slices and serve with toast triangles dusted with icing sugar and cinnamon. 

The old classic given a healthy boost with blended cauliflower and butternut squash. Perfect way to get those extra veggies into meal time with a delicious disguise of crunchy breadcrumb topping – great for using up crusts from the freezer! 

Fills an 11” x 8.5” baking dish 

Ingredients

450g macaroni 

300g cauliflower florets

300g butternut squash, cubed 

500ml milk 

200g cheddar cheese, grated plus a little extra for topping 

100g cream cheese

Breadcrumbs from 6 slices toasted Vogel’s bread (no crusts), blended into crumbs

Method

  1. Cook the macaroni in salted water until slightly undercooked then drain and set aside
  2. Cook the cauliflower and butternut squash with 150ml water in a lidded pan, until soft
  3. Whilst the vegetables are cooking preheat the oven to 180C.
  4. Once vegetables are soft, drain from pan and whizz to a smooth puree using a food blender
  5. Add the vegetable puree back to the saucepan with the milk and cheeses and whisk over a low heat until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper
  6. Mix the sauce with the macaroni and pour into a baking dish. Top with the crumbs and a little extra grated cheese
  7. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden and crunchy. 

 

The perfect cosy dish for those darker autumn evenings.

Fun, cute and super tasty! These mini pizza cups are packed with nutrients, easy to make and the perfect lunchbox size.

This recipe will make more homemade tomato sauce than you need but it freezes well and it great in lots of other dishes, win-win!

For the tomato sauce 

Ingredients

1 onion, diced 

2 carrots, peeled and diced 

2 sticks celery, diced  

1 red pepper, diced 

2 tins chopped tomatoes 

1 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon olive oil

Method

  1. Cook the onion, celery and carrots in the olive oil for around 20 minutes, or until soft
  2. Add the pepper and cook for 10 minutes more
  3. Add the tomatoes, sugar and seasoning. Simmer for half an hour
  4. Whizz to a smooth sauce using a hand blender

For the pizza cups

Ingredients

300g tomato sauce (as above)

60g diced pepperoni 

60g cheddar cheese, grated  

Oil spray, for baking the cups  

6 slices Vogel’s Bread

1 egg, beaten 

Method

  1. Preheat oven 180C 
  2. Roll bread out thinly using a rolling pin
  3. Spray both sides of bread with oil, then use it to line a muffin tin. Don’t worry if it looks messy – that’s part of the fun! 
  4. Brush the bottom of each cup with the beaten egg, then bake for 10 minutes 
  5. Fill each cup with tomato sauce, top with pepperoni pieces and grated cheese
  6. Return to the oven to bake for 20 minutes. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before removing from the tin. 
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