We often take our senses for granted until we get poorly. A fortnight ago, I caught a passing tummy bug which wiped me out entirely. I lost every energy to function properly, and was completely put off food for a couple of days. It’s easy to forget how much the gut affects our feelings. Once the gut microbiome is out of balance, it sends signals to the rest of the body to shut down my appetite. This, I’m sure, was to let the body rest to recalibrate.
I was ‘lucky’ to have fallen sick over bank holiday weekend so the other half was there to help out with chores around the home, including cooking. However, as soon as school resumed, there was again the need to think and prepare her meals. Having just about recovered from a bad tummy bug, the thought of food was just off-putting.
Congee, or rice porridge, is something my mum would feed me when I was feeling ill as a child.The idea that it provides nourishment yet easier to digest (around 6:1 water: grains) makes it the ideal ‘healing’ food. It’s also a popular weaning dish for babies. To make my own version this time, I added some chicken gizzards from the Asian supermarket H Mart that we froze earlier. The thought of eating offals at a time when the gut is not well can probably make one feel more nauseating, its mild flavour and rubbery texture reminds exactly the congee my grandmother cooked for all of us when we were young. She would make it with duck kidneys – unfortunately not available at our local butcher as he said, all of these are taken by the Chinese shops!
Thanks to cupboard and frozen ingredients, this pasta dish is another go-to option when I’m short for time (and energy) to make something quick and nutritious for Audrey. It’s highly versatile with other types of canned fish, pulses or chopped veggies too.
Tuna and sweetcorn pasta
100g pasta shapes (cooked according to packet instructions)
1 small can tuna in spring water, drained
1 small can sweetcorn, drained
1 spring onion, snipped into small pieces
1 tbsp cream cheese (or mayo)
Black pepper, optional
In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together. Add a few twists of black pepper to taste.
Two medium portions
Per 100g: Energy 498kJ 118kcal | Fat 1.2g of which saturates 0.4g | Carbohydrate 15g of which sugars 2.2g | Fibre 1.7g | Protein 11g | Salt 0.3g
Per portion (300g): Energy 1494kJ 353kcal | Fat 3.6g of which saturates 1.3g | Carbohydrate 45g of which sugars 6.6g | Fibre 5.2g | Protein 32g | Salt 0.9g