As those who follow me on Instagram or Facebook recently heard, I was very excited to receive my copy of Vanessa Kimbell's new book, hot off the press. The Sourdough School: Sweet baking: Nourishing the gut and mind, combines an amazing recipe book with the latest microbiome science and an holistic exploration of the interrelationship with the health of our natural world with the health of our gut ecology and emotional wellbeing.
One reason I was so excited to order my own copy was to read more about Vanessa's beautiful idea of “milling the meadow” which means including a diversity of grains, fruits, beans, herbs, seeds, nuts and even flowers in botanical flour blends – from poppy seeds and blackberries, to rose petals and cornflowers. As well as opening up some incredible taste adventures, the range of nutrients added this way nourish the diversity of gut bacteria essential to our health. I was so inspired, I had to make my first blend for a loaf straight away (with cocoa powder, elderberries, red clover and wild hogweed seeds) and am bursting with more ideas to try!
I will never look at a monoculture single-species wheatflour loaf in the same way again! But what a delight to also discover the unique recipes in the second half of the book that will meet a range of ambitions and experience – sourdough raspberry doughnuts with cultured cream is just one delicious example. All recipes have stunning photography and mouth-watering, microbiome-boosting ingredients, and expand my sourdough horizons beyond anything I'd dreamed of.
As a microbiome health practitioner, I often get asked to recommend a good book on the microbiome, and this is certainly one I recommend: for it’s accurate, accessible scientific detail; incredible artistry and invigorating call to our own creativity; as well as it's vital, empowering message to explore our relationship with our health, food, farming and flour.
Gathering common hogweed seeds in the September sunshine: Eating wild foods gives me a more diverse diet, rich in polyphenols, to support a diversity of beneficial gut bacteria. Baking with botanical flour blends are a beautiful way to include more wild ingredients in my food. (Please note: correct identification is essential to foraging safely – the hogweed family includes deadly poisonous plants.)
To hear more about my adventures with fermented and wild foods, together with other microbiome insights and tips, you can follow me on Instagram!
To explore how you can nourish a more diverse, healthy microbiome, please book a coaching session, or for more detailed recommendations tailored to your unique gut bacteria profile, you can book a course of microbiome analysis.