Gut health. It’s not a glamorous topic of conversation. But gut microbiota – the community of micro-organisms that live in our gastrointestinal tracts – are critical to our health and impacted by what we choose to eat and drink.

It’s why yoghurt brands tell you what bacteria they contain, why we’re more likely to get sick when eating our regular diet overseas, and why there’s been a rise of foods thought to help balance our body’s community of micro-organisms. A balanced gut helps with immunity and metabolism – and when the ecosystem is thrown out of whack, the impact can go beyond the gut and affect the rest of the body.

“The awareness of what gut health does is getting bigger and bigger,” says Bowls Baby co-owner Diana Caruso. “And how if your insides are right, then your outsides are right.”

Caruso and her partner Dominic opened the first Bowls Baby cafe in Essendon in 2018, delivering quick and flavoursome food that was also nourishing. “People are time-poor these days, and our body and mind suffer as a result,” said Caruso prior to opening. The success of the store led to a second outlet on Collins Street in the Melbourne CBD. “We put so much effort and research into all our ingredients,” Caruso says now. “If we don’t put it in our body, then we don’t want it on our menu.”

One ingredient that comes up time and again when discussing gut health is turmeric. Used in Ayurvedic medicine as a digestive healing agent, turmeric – and in particular a chemical compound it contains called curcumin – is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties and help restore the balance of the gut microbiome. Though the specifics on how turmeric might work aren’t yet scientifically known, you probably have a mate or two who swears by the stuff.

But turmeric can be tricky to work into your diet. Drinking it in teas and lattes is the most common solution, but Caruso says it also works in salads. To prove her point, try this turmeric-roasted carrot and cauliflower concoction. Developed by the Bowls Baby team, it takes special care to complement the turmeric with citrus, herbs and other spices. “People will have a different opinion about turmeric after they’ve had this,” says Caruso.

Turmeric roasted carrots and cauliflower salad
Serves 3
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:
Salad
1 medium cauliflower, cut into florets
2 medium carrots, halved and cut into 10mm slices
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 cup whole almonds
1 tbsp cumin powder
1 ½ tsp turmeric powder
3 tbsp vegetable oil
Salt, to taste

Dressing
2 lemons, juiced
3 tbsp tahini
1 clove garlic, microplaned
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tsp cumin powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
Water

To assemble
1 cup parsley, picked
1 cup coriander, picked
3 cups kale, chopped
2 cups spinach, chopped
3 tbsp cranberries
3 tbsp sultanas
Salt
Hummus (optional)

Method: Pre-heat oven to 180C. In a mixing bowl, combine cauliflower, carrots, almonds and chickpeas and coat with vegetable oil. Once evenly coated, sprinkle the turmeric and cumin powder over the cauliflower and mix thoroughly. Put the seasoned mix in an oven tray and roast for 15–20 minutes, or until the carrots are tender. Once cooked, allow to cool.

To make the dressing, in a mixing bowl combine lemon juice, tahini, garlic, maple syrup, cumin and turmeric. Adjust the dressing by adding a small amount of water at a time until you achieve a runny yoghurt-like consistency.

To assemble, combine the roasted ingredients with the parsley, coriander, kale, spinach, cranberries and sultanas, and dress with the tahini dressing. Mix thoroughly until all ingredients are coated evenly and season with salt, to taste.

Smear hummus in the bottom of the serving bowl before placing the salad in it or alternatively, spoon dollops of hummus on top before serving

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with the new Twinings Live Well Digest: Turmeric, Orange and Star Anise herbal infusion.