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Grilled summer swordfish with grilled pineapple salsa.Linda Pugliese/Handout

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For years, Lindsay Maitland Hunt could not figure out why she felt so lousy. She had joint pain, migraines, weight gain, thyroid problems and was depressed. She went to doctors who treated her ailments with a slew of different medications.

“Here’s a prescription for heartburn. Here’s one for your thyroid, and another for depression,” says Maitland Hunt. “I was asking questions. ’Should I be cutting out gluten, or sugar or dairy?’ No one could figure out what was going on,” says the cookbook author and recipe developer based in Jackson, Wy. “It was so frustrating. I was definitely not a normal late-20s woman.”

Finally, one doctor suggested there might be something wrong with her gut. However, his recommendation was to slash and burn through all the food groups, eliminating things until she felt some relief. “I’m against seeing food as the enemy so I started to research healing myself through food, instead of eliminating it, and I slowly began to find the right balance in my diet of whole food plants [and some sustainably grown meats].”

Within weeks Maitland Hunt was feeling better.

Maitland Hunt’s new cookbook, Help Yourself: A Guide to Gut Health for People Who Love Delicious Food, is full of recipes that nourish the community of microbes that live in the entire digestive tract, but specifically the ones in the gut that thrive on a whole variety of whole food plant sources.

“I keep it as simple as I can by making sure I get 30 whole plant foods in my diet each week,” she says. A whole food, plant-based diet is one that centres on whole, unrefined and unprocessed foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds.

The recipes in Help Yourself are diverse, easy to follow and the ingredients are readily accessible. Maitland Hunt says she wanted to take the stress and work out of making delicious meals jam-packed with nutrients that the gut thrives on.

“I don’t believe some foods are good and some foods are bad,” she says. “Food should never have guilt attached to it. This book isn’t about restrictions, it’s about abundance, and knowing where your base line presides.”

Summer swordfish with grilled pineapple salsa

Serves 4
  • 1 pineapple (about 3 pounds), cored and quartered
  • ¼ large red onion, cut into 2 wedges with the root intact (this makes the onions easier to manage on the grill and prevents any petals from falling through the grill grates)
  • 2 limes, 1 halved, 1 peeled and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ¾ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1½ pounds swordfish steaks, about - inch thick each
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

Heat a grill to high. (Place a mesh grilling mat on your grill if you have one.)

Put the pineapple wedges, onion, and halved lime on a rimmed baking sheet and brush with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Season with ½ teaspoon of the salt. Grill, covered, until charred and tender throughout, 10 minutes for the lime and 20 minutes for the pineapple and onion.

Chop the pineapple and onion into bite-size pieces and transfer to a medium bowl. Add the chopped lime, cilantro, 1 tablespoon of the oil, the cayenne, ½ teaspoon of the salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Squeeze the grilled lime over. Set aside to marinate while you cook the fish.

Brush the swordfish with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and season with the remaining ¾ teaspoon salt and the black pepper. Grill the swordfish until just opaque throughout, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Serve hot with the pineapple salsa spooned over the top.

Excerpted from Help Yourself: A Guide to Gut Health for People Who Love Delicious Food by Lindsay Maitland Hunt (C) 2020 Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.