As body parts go, the bowel might not be the most fashionable of the lot, but let’s face it: we’ve all got one – and it’s integral to the process of ploughing through puddings. If only for that, it’s well worth paying attention to.
See, although this blog is usually more concerned with what enters the body, this month is Bowel Cancer Awareness month. And as someone who lost a close aunt to the disease a couple of years ago, this is one cause that the Pud-Hog can’t ignore.
Maybe you’re already clued up on the subject (as the UK’s second biggest cancer killer, it may well have affected somebody you know or you care about).
But for those of you who don’t know the score, the most important thing to note is that, if caught in time, bowel cancer is generally very treatable.
So, Ogglers. If you pay attention to NOTHING else on this blog, then at least pay attention to the following list from Bowel Cancer UK:
Early warning signs for bowel cancer are
- Bleeding from the bottom, and/or blood in your poo
- A change in bowel habit lasting three weeks or more
- Unexplained weight loss
- Extreme tiredness for no obvious reason
- A pain or lump in your tummy
If you notice any of these things, then for crying out loud, don’t be embarrassed: GO AND TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR.
As well as keeping an eye out for changes like this, you can also reduce your risk of bowel cancer with exercise and a healthy diet.
That means cutting down on red or processed meats, eating your 5-a-day, and generally upping your fibre intake.
Thankfully, this risk-reducing doesn’t need to mean abandoning your pudding, as eating – or baking – treats made with whole grains and fibre is one of the ways you can keep things hunky-dory.
You could make your Summer Pudding with brown bread, pack your Flapjacks with oats, nuts and seeds, or substitute normal flour with one of the wholemeal or Spelt varities (like that Ginger Cake I made for my first Bakeroo).
If you’re still short of ideas, you can also check out Sharpham Park’s new website – Great British Spelt Recipes – which was launched in conjuction with Bowel Cancer UK in order to get people more clued up on bowel cancer awareness.
I’ve tried out a few of the cakes on there already, and can whole-heartedly recommend the Rhubarb Tart (like a juicy, fruity Frangipane – but better). The Spelt Bran and Raspberry Muffins are pretty darn awesome too…
My stand-out favourite so far, however, has been a recipe donated by Sophie Dahl: an extremely easy – yet beautifully textured – rendition of Spelt Banana Bread.
A version of it is listed below and is well worth having a go at. Sweet, moist, and full of fibre, your bowel and your taste buds will love it.
Spelt Banana Bread (serves 6 for a hearty breakfast or tea)
Click here for the original recipe
- 170g Wholegrain or Bakers Blend Spelt Flour
- 75g soft butter, plus extra for greasing and serving
- 4 ripe bananas, mashed up
- 200g soft brown sugar
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
- 1 pinch of salt
- Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas 4. Grease a 30 x 23-cm/12 x 1- inch bread tin
- Pour the mashed bananas into a big mixing bowl. Mix in the butter, sugar, egg and vanilla extract
- Add the bicarbonate of soda and salt and mix in the flour last [as thoroughly as you can manage or the bicarb might sit in a lump]. Pour into the prepared tin
- Bake for 1 hour [approx – my oven did the job in 50 minutes], remove and cool, then serve in slices with a little butter. [You can also toast it for breakfast, and serve with Natural Yoghurt, Crème Fraîche, or Mascarpone]
With thanks to Sophie Dahl and Sharpham Park’s Great British Spelt Recipes campaign – in partnership with Bowel Cancer UK