Digestion Thanking Salad

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. While this is an event not normally celebrated by Brits, with a Grandma born and bred in the New York, and other family members of US birth or residence, it’s a meal we always mark. For my family it’s a great excuse to get lots of people we love together around a table eating lots of good food, drinking nice wine and giving thanks for all we have in our lives.

This is all well and good, but the thanksgiving meal is like the Christmas day meal: epic and gluttonous. So to pre-empt this gluttony I’ve decided to introduce a starter to the meal that combines a number of foods and condiments that prep the digestion and support liver function. They work by sending a signal to the brain to get the whole digestive tract (stomach, intestines, pancreas, liver) ready, which makes the meal and its aftermarth a little more comfortable.


  • 100g rocket
  • 100g watercress
  • 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and finely sliced
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and sliced into rounds


  • 5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 tablespoons of organic apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Mix the rocket, watercress, fennel and cucumber in a large bowl.
  2. In a separate, small bowl combine all the ingredients for the dressing and whisk together.
  3. Just before serving pour the dressing over the salad and mix well.

Serves 4 (as a starter)

The Digestive Benefits

Rocket & Watercress – These are both ‘bitter herbs’ that stimulate the bitter taste buds on your tongue and in doing so start to stimulate all the digestive organs. This is vital in helping to digest effectively the various components of your meal. If you feel that eating fatty foods can cause you some discomfort, these leaves are perfect as they help to activate the liver and gall bladder, which in turn helps with the breakdown of fat.

Lemon juice – For proper digestion it is vital that our stomach acid is at the correct level. It helps to breakdown protein and stimulates further digestive processes. A common misconception is that indigestion is due to the stomach acid being too high. Often the symptoms are due to low stomach acid. Lemon juice may help to improve the acid level and promote the production of other digestive juices.

Fennel – In all its forms fennel has long been used to help with digestive function and upset. Whether the seeds are chewed after a meal (as in India), made into a tea or the bulb eaten it can help to reduce a myriad of discomfort from gas, bloating and cramps.

Apple cider vinegar – Like lemon juice, apple cider vinegar also helps ensure your stomach acid is high enough. This type of vinegar has also been shown to help in various ways with insulin function and blood sugar balance. A much needed aid when you’re indulging in a high-carb meal! Specifically it’s been shown to help us to respond much better to the insulin hormone.

This salad is probably not going to prevent all the effects of the pecan pie and red wine but it may help to make the meal a more comfortable experience. If it goes down well I’ll be rolling it out again for Christmas!

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