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Colourful food for your Gut

Prep Time
Cook Time
90 minutes

Following on from my article about the wonderful benefits the Mediterranean diet can bring, here is one of my favourite recipes which encompasses everything this way of eating is all about – beautiful colours, fresh flavours and bursting with anti-inflammatory nutrients. Caponata is a Sicilian dish made of aubergines, celery and other colourful veggies in a slightly sweet and sour sauce, though the exact recipe varies across the Mediterranean – in fact, there are over 30 variations in Sicily alone!

How can the Mediterranean diet support with inflammation?

The Mediterranean diet is based around the consumption of predominantly plant-based foods–think whole grains, pulses, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds and nut and seed oils (especially olive oil). Moderate amount of some animal foods including fish, seafood, cheese, eggs, yoghurt and poultry are permitted, while red meat and highly processed foods are limited (1). The variety of whole, natural foods is the key to its success; the wide array of colourful fruits and vegetables provide a host of phytonutrients and vitamins (including A,C and E) known for their anti-oxidant properties. Anti-oxidants work to reduce oxidative stress in the body by neutralising the action of free radicals, unstable molecules which can damage nearby healthy cells, thus reducing inflammation (2).

The diet is also teaming with fibre; fibre is incredibly important for keeping our gut healthy and increasing the diversity of our gut microbiome – the collection of bacteria, fungi and yeasts in our gut which work in synergy with our body to keep us thriving. Our gut communicates with our brain constantly and a diverse gut microbiome is crucial for limiting systemic inflammation (3). Finally, the healthy fats abundant in the Mediterranean diet, sourced from nuts, seeds and olive oil, support the body to reduce levels of inflammatory chemicals including C-reactive protein, interleukin 6 and fibrinogen (4).

The beauty of this dish is in its simplicity; a few minutes of preparation is all it takes, before it can all be thrown into a pot and left to do its thing – leaving you the time to do yours.

Enjoy along-side grilled fish, feta stuffed chicken breast or grilled halloumi, and don’t forget a slice of sourdough for mopping up the juices.


  • 2 aubergines, cut into chunks
  • 4 large tomatoes
  • 3 shallots or 1 large white onion
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey (optional)
  • 1 handful pine nuts
  • 1 celery sticks with leaves, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • Pitted olives


Step 1: Soak the aubergine in cold water for 5 minutes whilst you sauté the onion and celery in the olive oil over medium heat.

Step 2: Once softened add the aubergine, salt and pepper and sauté for 3-5 minutes.

Step 3: Add the remaining ingredients and stir over the heat until mixed

Step 4: Simmer over low heat for 20 mins or pop in the oven on a low heat (160C) for an hour or so.

Step 5: Garnish with flat-leaf parsley, basil or for an interesting twist mint.



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Sureda, A., de Mar Bibiloni, M., Julibert, A., Bouzas, C., Argelich, E., Llompart, I., Pons, A., Tur, J.A. 2018. Adherence to the Mediterranean Diet and Inflammatory Markers. Nutrients,10, e62Casas, R., Sacanella, E., Estruch, R. 2016. The Immune Protective Effect of the Mediterranean Diet against Chronic Low-grade Inflammatory Diseases. Endocrine, Metabolic Immune Disorders Drug Targets,14 (4), 245-254Del Chierico, F., Vernocchi, P., Dallapiccola, B., Putignani, L. 2014. Mediterranean Diet and Health: Food Effects on Gut Microbiota and Disease Control. International Journal of Molecular Sciences,15 (7), 11678-11699Estruch, R. 2010. Anti-inflammatory effects of the Mediterranean diet: the experience of the PREDIMED study. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 69 (3), 333-340