The Immunity Flatbread
Updated: Sep 2
Taking the bioavailability-enhanced turmeric concept beyond general cellular defenses, this flatbread brings a powerful protective ally to the table, medicinal mushrooms, to prime the immune system for improved, appropriate, immune response.
Curcumin & β-Glucans: Your Immune-Loving Allies
When I initially started thinking about how I could help clients affordably achieve a therapeutic dose of bioavailability-enhanced turmeric in their diet, I conceived my Turmeric Flatbread recipe. If you have not seen my previous post that introduces this concept, I recommend you have a read. That initial idea has sprouted and is now growing into a range of options to suit everyone’s therapeutic needs and taste palates!
The Turmeric Flatbread was tailored towards supporting people with metabolic and chronic inflammatory health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. This involved incorporating an array of pungent, or otherwise strong-tasting spices like fenugreek (to enhance curcumin bioavailability), nigella seed, cumin seed and mustard seed. While I and many I know enjoy the taste of these strong flavours, they do not appeal to everyone’s palate.
My Immunity Flatbread has a milder taste profile with a therapeutic focus on medicinal mushrooms yet still retains the benefits of bioavailable turmeric plus the additional benefits of medicinal rosemary leaf.
Mushrooms are some of nature’s most powerful medicinal foods for supporting optimal immune system function! They contain a variety of unique polysaccharides called β-glucans, and these molecules have an astounding capacity to interact with our immune cells and modulate the performance of our immune system. Some mushrooms have more medicinal capacity than others. I selected two of my tastiest favorites and most potent immune modulators to incorporate: shiitake and maitake. Both have long been revered in Asian traditional medicine systems.
How Much Do You Love Shiitake?
Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) are likely the more familiar of the two and many people use them as part of their regular diet without even knowing of their profound medicinal value, which is well-supported with clinical trials.
A recent human study (parallel, double-blind, randomized) demonstrated that as little as 5 g of dry shiitake daily provides immunomodulatory capacity! The already healthy adults in this study experienced many signs of improved immune function, likely via direct priming of innate immune cells, so that they were better able to respond when needed. Simultaneously, shiitake dampens the inflammatory response. Even mucosal immunity was determined to be enhanced .
Other studies suggest Shiitake’s health benefits are driven by its prebiotic effects on gastrointestinal microbiota [2,3]. These elements combined, probably contribute to various promising immune effects being explored in shiitake research including oromucosal protection, antioxidant support, and specific antiviral, antibacterial, antiadhesion, antibiofilm, and antifungal activities, anticancer properties and more ! I have become quite grateful that such an amazing medicinal mushroom is so readily available!
Meet Mushroom Marvel, Maitake
[Polypore en touffes (CC BY-2.0) by Thierry Bissonnette, Flickr, cropped & enhanced]
Maitake (Grifola frondosa) is less well known. It is a beautiful polypore that grows in a rose-like cluster on decaying hardwood. Another medicinal marvel of the fungal world, maitake famously translates as dancing mushroom because their worth was so high, that finding one in the wild would evoke a celebratory dance! This mushroom has a particularly high polysaccharide content, including the presence of a specific type of β-glucan, distinct from most other mushrooms.
Traditional use indicates its value to strengthen qi/energy, tonify generally, calm the mind, protect the liver and lungs, and improve spleen function . Again, the immunomodulatory activity is extensive in preclinical literature thus far, and includes microbiotal modulation, some antibacterial and antiviral properties, and even reduced allergic response . A particularly vast slice of the experiments on this mushroom are investigating anticancer/antitumor potential. Further, work is uncovering protective aspects including against irradiation , and some heavy metal chelation thanks to the unusual polysaccharide structure in maitake [8,9]. I am not even going to mention the plethora of metabolic balancing and organ protective effects!
Well, no surprise that I want to incorporate these beauties into my everyday diet, and my flatbread is the perfect vehicle!
To improve the flavor profile of this flatbread version, I swapped out the pungent tasting fenugreek seed for flax seed which produces an equal amount of mucilaginous soluble fiber to enhance the bioavailability of the turmeric and hold the flatbread together. This is highlighted in the video.
The dry shiitake and maitake are ground to a powder in a blender and used as the main ‘flour’ ingredient and I added a therapeutic amount of medicinal rosemary to improve antioxidant defences and give it a great flavor.
As for the mushrooms, each slice contains 2.5 g shiitake and 1.6 g maitake, making a couple of pieces a day capable of hugely significant medicinal and immunological intervention.
What about reishi you may be asking? Reishi is an awesome mushroom with amazing medicinal properties however it has a very bitter flavor which is not suitable for this application. I do love and recommend reishi daily for immune system support but in clinic I use a tablet and tea made with a dry extract.
IMMUNITY FLATBREAD RECIPE
· 200 g flax seed (whole)*
· 600 mL water (20 Fl oz), extra as required
· 20 g turmeric powder (organic)
· 120 g dry sliced shiitake
· 80 g maitake powder or dry sliced**
· ¼ cup onion powder (or 4-6 fresh garlic cloves)
· 10 g dry rosemary leaf
· 100 g hemp seed
· 100 g sunflower seed
· 120 g extra virgin olive oil
· 2 tsp salt
*Avoid buying pre-ground flax if possible as it goes rancid very quickly.
**If maitake powder or dry mushroom is unavailable use 200 g Shiitake
· Spice grinder
· High-powered blender
· Large mixing bowl, wooden spoon
· 2 large baking trays, with baking area roughly 38 x 30 cm each (15 x 12 inches)
· Baking paper
· Large metal spatula
Soak 100 g flax seed: Add 100 g whole flax seeds to 600 mL of water, stir well, cover, and let soak overnight or ideally for 2 days. No need to refrigerate. It is okay to skip the soaking step to save time.
Powder shiitake: Grind dry shiitake (and dry sliced maitake if using) until it becomes fine flour. Pour into a large mixing bowl.
Blitz the flax seed: Blend the soaked flax seed (I use a Vitamix). Start slow and gradually increase the speed until the texture is thick and gooey (like mayonnaise). It will take a few minutes. Add as much of the of the oil as required to achieve a good consistency. Additional water may also be necessary. The mix should flow evenly with the blender on high.
Incorporate turmeric and remaining oil: Add the turmeric powder and any remaining oil to the flax seed and blend on a high speed for a further 3 - 5 minutes. The mixture should be warm to hot when finished. This step is important because the emulsion created with the turmeric enhances the bioavailability of its active constituents, the curcuminoids.
Clear the blender: Pour contents over the ground mushroom and mix thoroughly (you will probably need a silicon spatula to scrape as much of the sticky contents out as you can).
Add onion/garlic: Sift onion powder (or blitz in grinder to remove lumps) into dry mix. If using fresh garlic, add the crushed garlic.
Powder rosemary: Grind the rosemary to a powder and add to the dry mix
Grind the flax: Grind the remaining flax seed to a powder and add to the dry mix
Add all remaining dry ingredients.
Rest the mixture and prepare to bake: Leave the mixture to rest for 5 minutes to allow the dough to firm up, though it should still be quite wet. Heat the oven to 150°C (300°F), and line two large baking trays with baking paper.
Spread out the dough: Divide the dough equally between the baking trays and spread it out to cover the surface, achieving an even thickness and a rectangular shape. Use a long metal spatula to smooth it out and give it straight sides. I flick water onto the dough to make the spatula slide over the surface without sticking, or you can dip the spatula in some water. For those who have used a food processor, the dough may not be quite so sticky. This may be the most challenging step of the whole recipe.
Cut the dough: Divide the now spread dough into 24 equal potions for each tray (4 x 6) by marking/scoring through the dough with a wet knife. Make sure you score the dough, with a light touch, all the way through to the paper. Once it is baked it easily breaks along these lines to give equal sized pieces.
Bake: Bake in a fan-forced oven for 45-50 minutes (possibly longer without fan-force), or until the desired texture is reached. If you needed to add significantly more water to the mixture before, you may need to extend your bake time as well.
Finish: Remove from the oven and allow to cool until able to be handled. Then break along the score marks to get 24 separate pieces per tray. Making 24 pieces of bread from each tray makes it simple to calculate the dosage of the herbs used. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for a soft texture.
Suggested use: 1 - 3 pieces per day
· Spread with a generous amount of humus or avocado
· It is lovely simply spread with organic butter
· Use it as a bread/cracker replacement
· Crumble like croutons over a salad or soup
© Lee Carroll 2020
A printer-friendly PDF of this recipe is available for download:
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