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How to Cook Gut-friendly Meals

We’ve all experienced those infamous ‘gut feelings’ that tell us instinctively and intuitively how to respond towards a person, situation or decision. These feelings are crucial in helping us better navigate our world and the people in it. However, you might be surprised to know that what may seem like an entirely metaphysical process is, in fact, influenced by some trillions of microbes that live in your gut. This collective of ‘mini minds’ is called the gut microbiota, and it is increasingly being recognised as playing a vital role in maintaining our mental, as well as our physical wellbeing.

In Happy Gut, Happy Mind nutritional therapist Eve Kalinik explores the powerful gut-brain connection and the diet and lifestyle steps that can support both the gut and the mind, complemented by easy-to-make, gut-nourishing recipes. This mouth-watering chicken dish is a delight for the senses, the mind and the microbiome. Chicken is a good source of tryptophan, the precursor to the ‘happy hormone’ serotonin, while the celeriac and leeks offer abundant fibre – fuel for your microbiome.


Harissa Chicken with Lemon and Pomegranate Dressing


Serves 2


2 teaspoons harissa paste
2 tablespoons organic butter, melted
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Juice of ½ lemon
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 organic free range chicken breasts, each sliced into 6 pieces
1 small–medium celeriac (about 450g), peeled and cut into 3.5cm cubes
2 leeks, sliced on the diagonal, around 1 cm thick
1 small bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 small bunch dill, roughly chopped


For the lemon and pomegranate dressing

2 tablespoons goats’ or sheep’s milk yogurt
Juice of ½ lemon
¼ teaspoon garlic-infused olive oil (or ½ crushed garlic clove and ¼ teaspoon extra virgin olive oil)
½ tablespoon filtered water
1 tablespoon pomegranate seeds




  1. Mix together the harissa, butter, cumin, coriander, lemon juice and salt to create the marinade. Put the chicken in a large bowl, add the celeriac and leeks and pour over the marinade. Massage well and leave for at least 20 minutes to an hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas 6. Line a large baking tray with baking parchment. Place the chicken, celeriac and leekson the baking tray and bake for 40 minutes, tossing halfway through cooking time so that everything bakes evenly.
  3. To make the dressing, combine the yogurt, lemon juice, garlic oil and water in a small bowl with a pinch of sea salt.
  4. Remove the baking tray from the oven and sprinkle over the chopped herbs, haphazardly dollop over the dressing and top with the pomegranate seeds. You can serve at the table in the pan or divide between two plates.


Enjoy this dish with a white Assyrtiko or a Languedoc red such as Corbières, Minervois or St-Chinian.