Happy gut, happy guests
Treat your guests to more than just a delicious meal.
Why don’t you prepare a delicious feast for your family and friends with wholesome ingredients that will support their gut microbiome and overall health? By including a variety of foods that contain probiotics, prebiotics and specific gut-loving phytochemicals, your guests’ tummies will leave happy having been served up just what their gut microbiome needs to flourish for better health and wellbeing.
Adding a good dose of garlic to dips, sauces and savoury dishes will not only add plenty of flavour but it will also give them a boost in prebiotic goodness. Garlic is rich in fructan, a type of soluble fibre that acts as a prebiotic in the gut. Prebiotics are extremely important as they provide food for our beneficial gut microbiota or bacteria, so that they can grow and survive in the gut.
Garlic contains an active compound called allicin, which gives garlic its immune-boosting properties. Garlic acts like a natural antibiotic, killing off pathogenic bacteria while at the same time promoting the growth of our beneficial microbiota. Eating garlic regularly is a great way to help keep disease-causing bacteria at bay.
Garlic should be prepared and cooked in a certain way to retain its many health benefits. Allicin is activated when you cut or crush garlic. Heat destroys some of garlic’s allicin content, so eating garlic raw when you can is ideal. You can add it raw to salad dressings, dips, pesto and bruschetta, or add it nearer to the end of cooking when possible.
Legumes including lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans and black beans are naturally rich in galacto-oligosaccharides. These are a type of soluble prebiotic fibre that is fermented in the large intestine by our gut bacteria. The by-product of this fermentation process is the production of valuable short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), namely butyrate, which play an important role in protecting our gut health. SCFAs encourage the growth of our beneficial microbiota, and they reduce inflammation and help maintain the integrity of the gut lining.
Legumes are a protein staple in many vegan and vegetarian dishes such as curries, nachos, salads, hummus, falafels, veggie patties and dals. Legumes and legume flours can also be used in grain-free sweet treats like cakes, brownies and cookies.
Globe artichokes make a tasty starter served with dips, or as a healthy addition to meze plates. Globe artichokes benefit the gut microbiome as they contain
a type of soluble fibre called inulin, which has prebiotic effects. Consuming inulin-rich foods like globe artichoke has been found to increase bifidobacterial and lactobacillus species in the gut. Adding more inulin into the diet can also help increase the production of SCFAs, which helps promote healthy microbiome and intestinal barrier function.
Globe artichokes can also help improve digestion and enhance liver function. Globe artichokes contain cynarin, a phytochemical found mostly in the leaves, which stimulates the production of bile and strengthens liver and gallbladder function to aid digestion.
Globe artichokes can be boiled, steamed, baked and marinated. They’re delicious added to pasta dishes, pizza and salads, as well as stuffed and baked. The steamed leaves are tasty dipped in hummus, baba ghanoush or tzatziki.
Miso is a traditional Japanese food made from fermented soybeans. This functional food is typically made by fermenting soybeans with salt and a type of fungus called koji or Aspergillus oryzae, along with a grain such as rice, wheat or barley.
Including fermented foods like miso in the diet is a great way to boost your gut health and support healthy digestion. Fermented foods are considered probiotic-rich foods as they contain live bacteria that help increase beneficial microbiota in the gut. It’s important that we have a good balance of these beneficial gut microbiota for a strong functioning immune system, and for the healthy production of our “feel good” neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine.
The koji mould in miso has been found to help reduce the risk of inflammatory bowel disease.
Another reason miso can benefit our gut microbiome is by providing prebiotic fibres. Soybeans are rich in prebiotic fibres called oligosaccharides that help support our health by stimulating the growth of beneficial microbiota in the gut.
Look for an unpasteurised organic miso and be careful when cooking as these probiotics are killed off by prolonged cooking at high temperatures. Try to add your miso paste to dishes just before you take them off the heat to preserve its probiotic goodness.
Miso comes in a diverse range of colours and flavours, ranging from creamy white miso with a milder sweet taste, red and brown miso which has a richer flavour, and mild and earthy yellow miso. Miso is commonly used in miso soup but it can be used to give extra flavour and health benefits to a variety of dishes including sauces, salad dressings, marinades and glazes for fish, chicken and meat. Try adding some miso to your next pesto. Miso adds a lovely umami flavour to dishes such as stir-fries and noodle dishes.
Oats are really versatile and can be used in healthy cakes, fruit crumbles, slices and cookies for a healthy gut-loving dessert or after-dinner treat.
Oats are a great source of resistant starch. This is a type of fermentable prebiotic fibre that provides fuel for the good bacteria in the gut and ensures the health and integrity of the gut lining. For optimal gut health you should be aiming to include a variety of fibre-rich sources in your daily diet including resistant starch found in whole oats.
Seaweed is an excellent source of prebiotic fibre that helps enhance the population of beneficial bacteria and supports normal gut and immune function. Seaweed is rich in polysaccharides and polyphenols, which are prebiotic compounds that benefit the immune system and have been found to enhance the production of SCFAs, which nourish the cells in the gut.
There are many different types of seaweed including kelp, kombu, wakame, nori and dulse. Seaweed is a popular ingredient in Asian dishes, particularly Japanese cuisine. Seaweed adds a rich, salty umami taste to savoury meals like soups, stir-fries, salads and fermented veggies. Seaweed flakes can be used on oven-baked chips or to season meats, chicken and fish.
Apples make a delicious addition to salads, cheese platters, fruit crumbles, pies and cakes. Apples are an excellent source of pectin, which is a type of soluble fibre with prebiotic health benefits.
A study published in the journal Nutrients found that pectin from apples could improve gut microbiome health and decrease inflammation. Including pectin in the diet has also been shown to help increase the production of SCFA butyrate and decrease levels of pathogenic bacteria in the gut.
4 delicious microbiome-loving recipes
Globe Artichoke with Tzatziki
2 globe artichokes
Juice 1 lemon
Cold-pressed olive oil
Small handful fresh thyme
Pinch sea salt
2 cloves garlic
⅔ cup organic Greek yoghurt
1 tbsp lemon juice & 1 tsp zest
1 small cucumber, de-seeded & grated
Small handful mint leaves, finely chopped
- Preheat oven to 200°C.
- Wash artichokes, trim the stem and remove any tough outer leaves from the bottom of the artichoke.
- Cut the top off and trim the ends of the leaves to remove any sharp ends.
- Cut the artichoke in half down the middle and scoop out the furry choke from the centre. Drizzle top and bottom of the artichoke in lemon juice and olive oil, thyme and sea salt.
- Place a garlic clove in the centre of each artichoke and bake for around 45 mins until a knife goes through it or the leaves pull off easily.
- To make the tzatziki, combine all ingredients and serve in a small dish.
- Serve artichoke with a drizzle of tzatziki.
Lentil & Miso Honey-Baked Salmon Topped with Seaweed Salad
2 tbsp raw honey
2 tbsp miso paste
1½ tsp tamari
2 wild salmon fillets
Small handful kelp flakes
2 shallots, chopped
1 small Lebanese cucumber, halved
Handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
Cooked quinoa, to serve
Steamed greens, to serve
- Preheat oven to 200°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
- In a small bowl whisk sauce ingredients until well combined.
- Brush sauce over salmon pieces. Save half for later.
- Bake salmon for 25 mins then place under the griller until the salmon starts to go golden.
- Brush salmon with some of the remaining sauce and then top with shallots, cucumber, coriander and kelp flakes.
- Serve with cooked quinoa or brown rice and some steamed greens. Enjoy.
Lentil & Mushroom Spaghetti Bolognaise Sauce
1 onion, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, diced
1 stick celery, finely chopped
200g mixed mushrooms, finely chopped
2½ tbsp balsamic vinegar
4 cloves garlic, crushed
400g tin diced tomatoes
1 cup vegetable stock
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp ground cumin
Pinch chilli flakes
1 tsp smoked paprika
Good pinch sea salt & pepper
¾ cup cooked lentils or 1 400g tin
Handful chopped parsley
Spaghetti (gluten-free or wholegrain)
Grated parmesan, to serve
- In a large pan over medium heat sauté onion in olive oil for 3 mins.
- Add carrots, celery and mushrooms and cook for another 5 mins.
- Stir through balsamic vinegar, garlic, tomatoes, vegetable stock, tomato paste, spices, salt and pepper and lentils. Reduce to a simmer and cook covered for 20 mins. Add more vegetable stock if the sauce is too thick. Remove lid and cook for a further 5 mins.
- Serve with spaghetti topped with grated parmesan and fresh basil. Enjoy.
Tip: Make a big batch and freeze leftovers in an air-tight container.
Apple & Vanilla Oat Cake
1 organic egg
½ cup milk of choice
1½ tsp vanilla essence
⅓ cup smooth 100 per cent almond butter
⅓ cup raw honey or pure maple syrup
¾ cup gluten-free rolled oats (blended into flour) or oat flour
1⅓ cup almond meal
1½ tsp baking powder
¾ cup grated apple, peeled and loosely packed (approx. 2 small apples)
- Preheat oven to 180°C and grease and line a 20cm round cake tin with baking paper.
- In a large bowl whisk the egg with milk, vanilla, almond butter and honey or maple syrup.
- In another bowl combine oat flour, almond meal and baking powder. Mix well.
- Pour wet ingredients into dry and gently combine. Stir through grated apple.
- Spoon mixture into the cake tin. Bake for 35 mins or until a skewer comes out cleanly from the centre.
- Remove from tin, decorate and serve. Enjoy.
photography LISA GUY