The Final Chapter: Lifebox X Happy Bread Company Gut Health Series….Part 4


25 May 2016

As is life, all good things must come to an end and thus we arrive at the final chapter of our fabulous Gut Health Series with…..


Throughout May we have been posting a weekly blog from the ridiculously wonderful Karen Collins, founder of the Happy Bread Company, to coincide perfectly with the inclusion of her inspirational HBC Happy Tummy Mix into some of our Lifebox range this month! (Shop for our Everyday Lifebox which focuses on healthy digestion and everyday energy here or treat a loved one to the gift of health with one of our decadent Luxury Lifeboxes)

Over the four week series Karen discusses in detail the link between bacteria and its food of choice to enable optimal gut health, featuring how to best use grain, plant-based foods and meat to treat digestive issues and maximise your overall health and wellbeing.

Part One got straight into the nitty gritty, explaining how The Happy Bread Company came about and how Karen herself overcame her own personal IBS and digestive issues through self education, trial and error and a moment of magic where the HBC was born! The Second instalment Part 2 focused on the relationship between gut health and bacteria / fibre and the third segment Part 3 explored fibre and bacteria and their vital importance in the journey to optimal gut health.

What have you got for us in the final episode Karen? We think it might just be a belter, read on Lifeboxers……

Hello lovely LifeBoxers!

Welcome to the final post in our Gut Health Series.

So, you’ve followed the gut health rules so far. You’re eating high fibre foods, you’re consuming
probiotic foods, you’re eating dietary protein with carbs present and you’re consuming good fats
but you feel as though your gut health could be better. Add a little salt and see if that’s what makes the difference.

Low levels of stomach acid are behind many of the gut problems Doctors see. High-quality
unprocessed sea salt, such as Himalayan salt, will not only provide you with the chloride your body needs to make hydrochloric acid, it also contains more than 80 trace minerals necessary for
optimum biochemical performance. Sauerkraut or cabbage juice is also a strong, if not the
strongest stimulant for your body to produce stomach acid. Having a few teaspoons of fermented
kimchi or sauerkraut before eating will do wonders to improve your digestion. Or do like the
Koreans do and have kimchi with lots of your meals!

When I give talks on gut health lots of people ask me what’s the one ingredient I would absolutely avoid as a trigger for bad gut health. There isn’t really an answer to this question as we all have different triggers. However, as it’s my final blogpost and with everything we now know I would like to highlight one of our most used ingredients at the bakery. The one ingredient I would encourage everyone to start working with. Its name is TEFF. Beyond all other ingredients TEFF is the one grain that significantly changed my life and if I could recommend an ingredient that I feel everyone should include in their diet it would be teff! In Ethiopia Teff makes up 80% of the Ethiopians diet and their long distant runners put their success on the track down to this incredible grain!

Why I love Teff

1. TEFF has the highest amount of insoluble fibre when compared with any other grain meaning
it’s a great choice for those with constipation. It’s a grass seed which means it’s super small
and mostly bran.

2. Teff is high in resistant starch, a type of prebiotic fibre which is now considered the third type of dietary fibre. This means it encourages the growth of healthy bacteria in the bowel and maintains regularity.

3. It metabolises fat whilst digesting in the gut.

4. It’s a huge source of magnesium, a mineral needed for digestion.

5. Teff has a high calcium content. Great for people avoiding dairy.

6. Teff benefits blood sugar management.

7. Teff’s bran and germ make up a large percentage of the tiny grain which are both too hard to process.

This means it is always sold in its whole form which is great for us as consumers. If you want to start experimenting with teff at home I thoroughly recommend Tobia Teff. Over the years I have tried a lot of teff flours and this one is by far the best in terms of taste. Also, Tobia’s Founder Sophie is awesome and has been one of the reasons teff came to London in the first place. Injera which is an Ethiopian pancake made with teff is a super easy way to start experimenting with this awesome grain and you’ll find a bunch of injera recipes across the web.


Why we ferment all our bread at The Happy Bread Co.?

As mentioned in blogpost 2, phytic acid present in all grains, nuts and seeds is beneficial to the body but can be much harder to digest. Especially for those in bad digestive health to begin with. Through fermentation we reduce the amount of phytic acid thereby making it easier on our gut bacteria to digest. Eating fermented foods is particularly valuable in the early stages of addressing IBS.
Outside of fermenting our food to make it easier to digest we also cook our food for the same
reason. Raw food takes one and half times more energy to break down than cooked. In a healthy
gut that’s fine, but if your digestion is taxed it can trigger problems. Anytime I’ve ever juiced I’ve been left constipated for days. This is partly due to the fact that I find it much more difficult to digest raw food but also due to the fact that our gut bacteria needs to get fibre on a daily basis from grain to keep our tummies happy.
Lots of people have an issue with raw apples. So do I. However cooked apples I can handle
perfectly and actually have a positive impact on my gut health. And this point leads me nicely into our recipe/food combo section.



If you’re not eating our Chia Teff Loaf for breakfast then here are 2 breakfast combos I
recommend for a happy tummy:

• Everyday HappyTummy Mix, dates, banana and kefir yoghurt. You can soak these the night
before and keep them in the fridge.
• 2 stewed apples with a probiotic yoghurt, chia and flax. (also great in the evening if you had a dinner lunch and want a light supper)

Personally I find it best to start the day with fermented grains high in fibre with lots of fat and much the same again at lunch incorporating more protein in the evening meal to allow one’s body to use the protein to repair cells overnight.


If you’re trying to rectify tummy issues then eating foods which contain healthy quantities
of soluble, insoluble and prebiotic fibre as well as probiotics altogether is a superhero way
of getting over gut issues fast. I love mixing homemade hummus with high-fibre grains at lunchtime to maximise the fibre content in my meal.

Hummus Recipe


• 1 or 2 avocados
• 1 tin of chickpeas or lentils (I always use lentils has they’re higher in insoluble fibre)
• 1 lemon, freshly squeezed
• 4 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes
• 2 cloves garlic
• A pinch of sea salt and black pepper


1. Whizz together until as smooth as you like it.
2. Keep in your fridge for up to a week.
You can change it up every week by picking a new pulse or bean or even adding different nuts and
seeds each week. The main objective is to make sure the mix is varied and includes lots of
different ingredients high in fibre. Always include garlic if you can as your prebiotic food.
So you’ve now got an awesome hummus recipe that you can spread on wholegrain, fermented
bread or mix through a quinoa salad. To that, add an egg for your easy to digest protein and if you want to go all out add some cheddar cheese or avocado for more fat.
You can mix up the variations of this lunch each day but if a particular one starts working for you then stick to that as much as you’d like to. I personally never bore of what keeps my tummy happy!


• Choose grains high in insoluble fibre, add loads of veggies, cook in butter if stir-frying, season with salt and pepper, add meat or other dietary protein source.
• Canned lentils and beans offer good, fast bases for veggies to be mixed through with fish,
chicken or sausages.
• Buckwheat, Quinoa & Corn pastas all offer good quick bases for healthy dinners.
• Cooking the classics like a bolognese, risotto or stew again offer you a great way to bulk dishes out with greens, mushrooms and other prebiotic foods.
• Adding leftover hummus from your lunch to your dinnertime meal is always a good idea!
Particularly if accompanying sweet potato wedges or for mixing through a lentil or quinoa
based meal. Amaranth is a total wonder grain super high in fibre but can be difficult to cook and get flavour into. We use an amazing amaranth flour in one of our sweet potato baps which is a great way of upping the fibre content in the bread. For dinnertime amaranth is best used as a sort of risotto base.

Amaranth Risotto

What you’ll need

1 saucepan
1 heavy based lidded pan
1 wooden spoon
1 cup

Ingredients (makes enough for two portions)

1 cup amaranth
2 shallots, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup peas
40g dried porcini mushrooms + more freshly foraged mushrooms
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
Salt & pepper
Meat of your choice if adding (I use gluten-free sausages)


1. Bring 1 + ¾ cups of water to the boil in a saucepan. Once the water has come to the boil switch off the heat and stir in the dried mushrooms.
2. Add a tablespoon of butter to the pan and melt at high heat.
3. Once the pan is hot add the garlic and shallots and fry until the shallots are almost transparent.
4. Then add the amaranth and stir so that everything is mixed well. Allow the amaranth to pop for
about 1 minute.
5. Add the soaked mushrooms and soaking liquid to the amaranth, stir thoroughly, then turn down
the heat and cover with a lid. Cook for 10 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, grill or bake whatever meat you’re going to add at the end. However, if you’d rather
not, then just add more frozen vegetables at the end.
7. After 10 mins add the thyme and season with salt and pepper. Add another half cup of water
and stir.
8. For the next 15mins add more hot water as needed but continue to cook with the lid on. You’re
aiming for a porridgy mixture. (Tender amaranth should still be crunchy, but shouldn’t taste hard
or gritty.)
9. Once the amaranth is tender, add the frozen peas and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add more
veggies if you like.
10. To finish, add your chopped up meat to the amaranth polenta and serve. Season again as you
see fit. Goats cheese is also amazing crumbled on top if you want something a little more

This dish keeps really well in the fridge so ideal for lunch or dinner the next day too!

Dinner Combos high in dietary fibre from highest to lowest

To these add ingredients that you think will bring more flavour and season with salt & pepper.
Garnish with seeds or nuts for an extra fibre boost if you feel like it. Introduce healthy fats like avocado and uncooked olive oil where you feel appropriate.

• Amaranth, carrot and pea mix
• Lentils, peas and mackerel
• Sweet potato and lentil mix
• Wholewheat or buckwheat noodles, spinach, prawns (or meat) and a half cup of peanuts
• Quinoa, cabbage and chicken mix (served hot or cold)

Feeling happy and feeling full are for me tightly linked. As soon as you make food an issue the
enjoyment is gone and your plate of food just becomes another instagram shot.
We’ve all had friends who’ve come back from a trip home or a vacation glowing. We tell them how
great they look and they look back at us surprised, regaling in everything they ate. Eating happily works. I recently came back from a food trip to San Sebastián where I was almost eating around the clock. I put on what I thought must have been a stone but on weighing myself it was only 2 pounds. It’s very important to remember that being in good gut health doesn’t necessarily mean skinny. It means feeling happy and comfortable in your own body.
When in good gut health you should like the shape of your tummy. If you’re chasing skinny first, gut health after you’re going about it the wrong way. Chase good gut health first. Your smile everyday is much more beautiful than a great bikini shot you were depressed in achieving.
When you find what works for you stick to it. Our bowels love routine. For some, that’s having a
different colourful bowl of seeds and fruits for breakfast every morning. For others, like me, it’s sticking to what works like having two slices of wholegrain Chia Teff Loaf toasted with varying toppings each morning. If you suffer with IBS upping your grain, nut and seed consumption should have an impact. And remember, if it’s constipation you’re trying to manage like me up your
insoluble fibre, if it’s diarrhoea up the soluble.

One of the biggest changes I made to my diet when beginning to tackle my IBS was how I
consumed grain. Fermented wholegrains high in insoluble fibre has been crucial to the
management of my IBS.

And on that note I wish you huge best of luck with your Happy Tummy journey! Life’s made shorter
through bad gut health. Let’s all live longer and happier! 🙂


Big bread love,
Karen, Founder of The Happy Bread Co.

P.S. If you’d like more recipes that are great for gut health I’ll be posting a recipe a week on our instagram account @happybreadco throughout the summer.

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