Healthy Lunch Recipes

This 2-Ingredient Salad Base Is Full of Calcium and Gut-Friendly Goodness

Photo: Stocksy/Darren Muir
Let's be honest: Arugula and sauerkraut are both relatively polarizing foods... you either love 'em or you hate 'em. But thanks to dozens of TikTok dietitians and recipe developers, this duo is becoming a popular (and dare-we-say delicious) microbiome-boosting salad base. "This salad is so weirdly good... The base is arugula and sauerkraut, and the fermentation on the sauerkraut really softens the arugula," says TikTok creator Paige Lindgren, whose arugula and sauerkraut salad recipe has already garnered nearly two million views.
@paigelindgren if this salad goes viral, my therapist needs full credit #salad #easyrecipe #healthyrecipe #saurkraut #healthyfood #healthy ♬ original sound - Paige Lindgren

Ready to try it out? We asked two dietitians for their take on the health benefits of these ingredients, especially when it comes to the all-important microbiome. Here's why this is one health trend we can really (actually!) get behind.

Arugula and sauerkraut salad benefits

According to Vanessa Rissetto, MS, RD, CDN, the CEO and Co-Founder of Culina Health, arugula is a dark, bitter green that comes from the same family as dandelion greens. "Similar to dandelion greens, arugula is a natural diuretic and it's great for digestion, but arugula is a lot less bitter and still offers the same amazing nutritional benefits," Rissetto says. “Arugula has a ton of vitamin K, which can help with blood clotting and bone health. It also has way more vitamin C than an orange.” Rissetto also notes that arugula is a good source of B vitamins like folate, potassium, and fiber.

Alyssa Pike, RD, senior manager of nutrition communications for the International Food Information Council (IFIC) says that determining sauerkraut’s gut-boosting benefits is a tad trickier. While sauerkraut may contain plenty of probiotics thanks to the process of fermentation required to make it, the “good” gut bacteria it offers can get lost through any cooking and pasteurization processes that companies may undergo before the product hits the grocery store shelves. The solution is simple: Read nutrition labels when purchasing sauerkraut.

“Check for specific strains of bacteria on the ingredients list of sauerkraut, which is often found on the back or side of the product’s packaging near its nutrition information,” says Pike. “Look for the number of colony forming units, or CFUs, that are present at the end of a product’s shelf life.” Pike shares that one billion or more CFUs per serving is typical, although some products may have much higher counts. Regardless of CFUs, she adds that this salty-sour food still offers major nutritional value as it's a great source of fiber, vitamin C, K, iron, and manganese.

If sauerkraut seems a tad too adventurous to eat on its own, Rissetto says trying it out in a salad first is actually the perfect place to start: "This is precisely why the arugula and sauerkraut salad has become so buzzy of late—it's unquestionably a delicious combination." She suggests just adding a tablespoon of sauerkraut to an arugula base, then piling it with ingredients you already love: Think roasted chicken, parmesan cheese, fresh veggies, and/or toasted almonds or walnuts. This way, the sauerkraut won’t overpower your meal. Rissetto also suggests swapping in kimchi for sauerkraut on occasion, as it will still offer the same health benefits (both are fermented cabbage products) but it'll bring a totally different flavor profile.

Pike adds that adding prebiotic foods—like onions, tomatoes, or whole grains—to your bowl will give you the ultimate microbiome boost. "This is because prebiotics are the food that probiotics feed on to boost your gut health," she says.

Below, find a few deliciously simple recipes to inspire your next gut-boosting arugula and sauerkraut salad.

Arugula and sauerkraut salad recipes to try

Bitter Greens and Sauerkraut Salad

Photo: Siri Chand

This gorgeous dish features herbs and edible flowers to up the aesthetic, plus some quinoa to give the salad some staying power. Top with a favorite protein to make it a meal or serve it as a show-stopping side. The salad also features a probiotic vinaigrette made with the juice from sauerkraut so there’s no waste and you get to reap extra health benefits.

Get the recipe: Bitter Greens and Sauerkraut Salad

Good Gut Health Salad

Photo: Melissa Wood Health

Olives, cucumbers, and an easy-peasy lemon salad dressing brings a Mediterranean vibe to our newfound salad base. Prep the dressing for a week’s worth of salads to streamline lunch time or make it that much easier to serve some greens with dinner.

Get the recipe: Good Gut Health Salad

Tempeh Bacon, Avocado, Arugula, and Sauerkraut Sandwich

Photo: Always Eat Plants

Turns out, sauerkraut and arugula also make a great base for a veggie-packed sandwich. Here, the two are paired with tempeh bacon, avocado, pickles, and a spicy tahini mayo for a satisfying and flavorful plant-based meal.

Get the recipe: Tempeh Bacon, Avocado, Arugula, and Sauerkraut Sandwich

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