Hello, heartburn. It’s been a while.

Heartburn is one of those irritating problems we’ve given a name that doesn’t match what it actually is, much like the funny bone, which isn’t even a bone. It’s a nerve, and it is not one bit funny.

Heartburn isn’t about the heart. The “burn” comes from the burning sensation in the chest that’s caused by stomach acid bubbling up into the esophagus, where it most certainly is not welcome.

As much as we wish our stomach acid would stay down where it belongs, dissolving nearly everything we swallow, sometimes it sneaks up for a visit. Much like the rest of us, the ring around the bottom of the esophagus can become a little floppy with age, allowing stomach acid to leak up and in. Heartburn is a painful reminder of what that acid is capable of.

Respect the stomach acid by not abusing its powers — the foods we choose directly affect the amount of acid our stomach produces. It can handle whatever you throw down, but you’ll pay the price, especially if you’re already prone to heartburn. Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is painful stuff, but there are known trigger foods to avoid.

It’s not a coincidence that most of the foods known to trigger heartburn are unhealthy anyway. If you don’t suffer from chronic heartburn, you can probably pinpoint what you ate to cause the unpleasantness. It was likely something spicy or fried — and probably too much of it.

Overeating is a common cause. But there are also a slew of known triggers like coffee, alcohol, citrus, carbonation and chocolate that just aren’t fair.

Pay attention to what triggers heartburn for you — keep a food journal if chronic heartburn is an issue, and see a doctor. The list of foods known to relieve heartburn are all good to eat regularly anyway: ginger, vegetables, oatmeal, fruit (not citrus), healthy fats and lean protein. Try these recipes with ingredients known to relieve heartburn.

--------------------------------------------

Butternut squash, coconut and ginger muffins

2 large eggs

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2/3 cup buttermilk

2 teaspoons grated peeled ginger (from a 2-inch piece)

2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 cups grated, peeled butternut squash

3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with liners.

Whisk eggs, butter, buttermilk, ginger and 2/3 cup brown sugar in a medium bowl. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Mix egg mixture into dry ingredients with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until just combined. Mix in squash, coconut, and pecans.

Divide batter among muffin cups, filling to the brim (about 1/2 cup batter per muffin). Sprinkle remaining brown sugar on top.

Bake muffins, rotating pan halfway through, until golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer muffins to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Recipe adapted from www.bonappetit.com.

-------------------------------------------

Blueberry baked oatmeal

2/3 cup roughly chopped pecans

2 cups old-fashioned oats

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt or 1/2 teaspoon regular table salt

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 3/4 cups milk

1/3 cup maple syrup or honey

2 large eggs

3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter or coconut oil, divided

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

12 ounces or 1 pint fresh or frozen blueberries (or 2 1/2 cups of your preferred berry/fruit, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces if necessary), divided

2 teaspoons raw sugar (optional)

Optional toppings for serving: plain/vanilla yogurt or whipped cream, additional maple syrup or honey for drizzling, and/or additional fresh fruit

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9-inch square baking dish. Once the oven has finished preheating, pour the nuts onto a rimmed baking sheet. Toast for 4 to 5 minutes, until fragrant.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine oats, toasted nuts, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Whisk to combine.

In a smaller mixing bowl, combine milk, maple syrup or honey, egg, half of the butter or coconut oil, and vanilla. Whisk until blended. (If you used coconut oil and it solidified in contact with the cold ingredients, briefly microwave the bowl in 30 second increments, just until the coconut oil melts again.)

Reserve about 1/2 cup of the berries for topping the baked oatmeal, then arrange the remaining berries evenly over the bottom of the baking dish (no need to defrost frozen fruit first). Cover the fruit with the dry oat mixture, then drizzle the wet ingredients over the oats. Wiggle the baking dish to make sure the milk moves down through the oats, then gently pat down any dry oats resting on top.

Scatter the remaining berries across the top. Sprinkle some raw sugar on top if you’d like some extra sweetness and crunch. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the top is nice and golden. Remove your baked oatmeal from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes. Drizzle the remaining melted butter on the top before serving.

Recipe adapted from www.cookieandkate.com.

--------------------------------------

Seared salmon and chickpea salad

16 ounces salmon fillets

2 large carrots, peeled and diced

2 ribs celery, diced

1/2 large green bell pepper, diced

2 medium yellow squash, seeded and diced

2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon dried mint

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

Place a large skillet in the oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees. When the skillet is hot, spray the pan lightly with olive oil and add the salmon fillet skin side down. Cook for about 4 to 5 minutes and then turn. Cook for another 4 to 5 minutes and remove from the oven. Place on a plate and let cool for about 5 minutes. Place the plate in the fridge.

While the salmon is cooling, mix together the carrots, celery, green pepper, squash, chickpeas, paprika, peppermint, oregano, salt and pepper. Place in the fridge to chill.

After about 15 minutes remove the salmon from the refrigerator and peel the skin off. Cut the skin into thin strips. Add the strips to the salad and fold. Flake the salmon into medium pieces. Add the flaked salmon to the salad. Fold gently. Add the olive oil and vinegar and fold gently. Chill.

Recipe adapted from www.drgourmet.com.

Amanda Stone works in educational services, marketing and special features at the Globe. Contact her at 417-627-7288 or email her at astone@joplinglobe.com.

Amanda Stone is a food and gardening columnist for The Joplin Globe. Email questions to amandastone31@gmail.com or mail her c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.

Recommended for you