Digestive Al Fresco Bowl

recipes salads Jul 25, 2017

My Digestive AF (Al Fresco, silly!) Bowl is just what the holistic nutritionist ordered for gut and summer friendly nutrition.

My heart goes out to everyone who fears eating a salad due to getting gas, bloat, pain, distention, loose stool and/or constipation after eating what is thought to be a healthy dish! Salads are healthy, there's no doubt about that - they're packed with nutrients and fibres that fuel energy, immunity, detox and great digestion.

Though, that's in people who have a healthy functioning gut. For those who suffer from dysbiosis, leaky gut, SIBO, IBS etc., salads can be a serious disappointment.

What's up with all of those people eating a salad, walking around with flat tummies and raving about how being a raw vegan was the best decision they ever made??

I'll tell you: they have great digestion and a healthy microbiome.

So, what does this mean for you? The person who fears a green smoothie or a buddha bowl? It means you can have your healthy salad and eat it, too - just make sure it's this one to
start, then reach out to use to learn more about how you can restore your gut health and eat healthy veg, hand-in-hand with your fellow healthy food enthusiasts, as you walk into the sunset.

As always, I love to talk about the nutritional benefits of the dishes I create. For those suffering from digestive issues, getting your daily doses of antioxidants and powerful immune boosting nutrients is key in avoiding energy crashes, inability to focus, etc. because where there is IBS and poor gut health, there is room for improvement with nutrient absorption in the gut.

Let's talk Digestive AF (Al Fresco) Bowl goodness!

Health Benefits

Arugula and Frisée: This is such a great base for salads for those who have difficulty digesting vegetables. They are both considered a bitter food and bitters are incredibly helpful at stimulating the body's own production of digestive enzymes.

This is very important because a sluggish pancreas, gallbladder and liver means proteins, fats and carbs (sugars) may not be digested well, leaving nutrients available in the gut for microbes to feed from. The waste products from the microbes are what leads to symptoms such as gas, bloat, pain, distention and/or loose stool and constipation.

When I first learned that I was shocked. I hated thinking of microbes releasing waste into my gut! Bitters also help to stimulate the release of bile from the gallbladder and liver. Bile is necessary
to bind to toxins and remove from the body, as well as digest and assimilate healthy fats. Fats are needed for every cell to function optimally in the body as well as produce and detox hormones
and hormone byproducts.

Feeling sluggish, toxic and gaining inexplicable weight? Sluggish bile
production may be at play.

Let's get those digestive juices flowing by eating bitters with your meals!

Other great bitter food sources: bitter melon, dandelion greens, dill, jerusalem artichokes, kale, collard greens, romaine lettuce, rapini.

Basil: Contains antioxidants which help to fight free radical damage and protect DNA. Free radicals enter the body via toxins in diet (refined foods, non-organic foods), environmental toxicity (air pollution, hormones and drugs in water) and radiation (cell hones, fluorescent lamps, X-Rays).

In North America, we come in contact with these toxins daily. It's important to incorporate antioxidant rich foods, daily, to combat the negative effects that can lead to aging and illness. Basil, it ain't just a pretty herb!

Zucchini: Aside from boasting a boatload of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, zucchini also helps to balance blood sugar levels due to its high pectin content. Pectin is a soluble fibre that is also found in apples and pears, and since those fruits are commonly
disruptive in those with dysbiosis, IBS, and SIBO, let's rotate in zucchini until you've completed our 12-Week Gut Restore Program.

Roasted Peppers: They have about 1g of fibre and protein in a serving, not bad considering the other ingredients in this salad that are rich in those ingredients.

The real stars of this vegetable are the antioxidants vitamin C, vitamin A. These are so welcomed in a body that is having a hard
time digesting foods because in that situation the body is often also having a hard time detoxing. Improve gut function, digestive lining health, and open up detox pathways (we can show you
how!) but in the meantime, eat your foods rich in antioxidants!

Walnuts: This al fresco salad isn't just about antioxidants, vitamins and detoxing. It's also about balance, satiation and flavour. Fats and protein are necessary to make this a well-rounded meal and walnuts help to achieve that.

These (healthy) fatty nuts are rich in protein, necessary for proper liver detoxification, neurotransmitter production (think mood balance and focus) and immune cell formation. They add a welcomed texture into the mix and help it to not feel like you're a rabbit munching on pure fibre.

Walnuts, partnered with the hemp seeds in this recipe are where you'll get the majority of your protein and healthy fats. Add in the fact they are both Low FODMAP and this makes for a perfect meal for both our Detox and low FODMAP phases of our 12 week program!

Artichoke: This vegetable is surprisingly one of the most nutritious foods in this salad. Some even consider it a superfood! It packs more antioxidants per serving than both blueberries and cranberries, its also rich in fibre (feed the beneficial bacteria AND detox. Yes!).

German doctors have long been prescribing artichoke leaf extract as
a remedy for indigestion and an upset tummy. It is also a bitter food (we heart bitters!) and is believed to be incredibly liver supporting by supporting bile production and liver detoxification - something we ALL need more of in this day and age.

Digestive AF Bowl

I was inspired to create an easy salad recipe that boasts all of the fibre, fats, protein and nutrients needed to be on the ball nutritionally.

I also wanted it to be refreshing and cool since the hot
summer days are on our heels. I wanted it to be inspiring and maybe spark a fantasy of eating outside of a villa in the hills of beautiful Italy.

I always want you guys to feel capable in the
kitchen, empowered with information about how your food is serving you, as well as sprinkle in some eduction about IBS and gut health to hopefully inspire you to take control of your

This recipe is great for both the Detox and Low FODMAP portions of our 12 Week Gut restore Program. It is gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian and processed sugar free.


  • 1 Cup arugula
  • 1 Cup frisée, chopped
  • 3 Basil leaves, torn by hand
  • 1 Roasted red pepper, sliced
  • 1 Zucchini, spiralized
  • 2 Artichoke hearts, sliced
  • 1/8 small red onion, sliced (if on low FODMAP diet, use green onion tips or chives)
  • 1 Handful of walnuts, broken into pieces
  • 2-3 Olives
  • 1T of hemp seeds
  • Sprig of cilantro or parsley


  1. Choose a big, pretty bowl - One that hopefully reminds you of your last trip to Italy :)
  2. Place the bitter greens at the bottom, and layer each ingredient in its own place. Drizzle the dressing over top and toss a pinch of sea salt and pepper over top. See, easy!


  • 4T Olive Oil
  • 2T Vinegar
  • 1T Mustard (If on low FODMAP diet, beware of mustards that contain apple cider vinegar, it could cause irritation in the gut.
  • Stick with mustards that contain white vinegar until you have
    completed the program)
  • 1/2 T Maple Syrup

Put all ingredients in a glass jar, and shake well. Pour over salad when ready to eat.

From my warm kitchen to yours - I hope you enjoy this salad as much as me and my family did last weekend. As always, I wish you the best on your journey toward achieving incredible health and digestion.

Cassandra Hope, RHN
Founder of The IBS Academy

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