Candice Kumai’s Gut-Healthy Lunch Guide

Photo: Candice Kumai

This year, famed plant-based and classically trained chef Candice Kumai is kicking off Well+Good's (Re)New Year program with five weeks of healthy—and delish—recipes. For the first week, all 25 recipes she's sharing are crafted specifically to give your gut a boost. And no, that doesn't mean just sipping on green juices or eating loads of sauerkraut.

When you're busy crushing it at work, there isn't room on the calendar for dealing with annoying gut probs like bloat. Ain't nobody got time for that! Fortunately, this week of lunch recipes are blessedly designed to not only provide the energy you need to get through that mid-day slump, but contain powers to help heal your gut. (Yes, for real.)

From soups and salads made with miso (a yummy probiotic), apple cider vinegar (the OG digestion-booster), and inflammation-fighting grains like barley, these meals are as nourishing as they are tasty. By the end of the week, you'll have an arsenal of tips at your disposal so you can make gut-boosting meals long past January (and February, and March...).

Keep reading for 5 lunch recipes that will help heal your gut.

Candice Kumai miso salad recipe
Photo: Candice Kumai

Monday: Miso soup and salad

Serves 2

For the miso soup
2 cups water
1 1/2 Tbsp miso paste
1/2 cup firm tofu cubes
3 1/2 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced on a diagonal

For the miso salad
1 Tbsp light mayonnaise or vegannaise
1/2 Tbsp miso paste
1/2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 head tender lettuce
1/2 large carrot, trimmed, peeled, and grated using the large holes of a box grater
1/2 small cucumber, semi-peeled (so it’s striped), halved lengthwise, and sliced crosswise
1/2 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, and thinly sliced
Half of a 14 oz. package firm tofu, drained, halved and sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch thick pieces

For the miso soup:
1. Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the miso and reduce the heat to medium-low.

2. Simmer the soup gently—don’t boil—for five minutes and then add the tofu and turn off the heat. Cover to keep warm while you make the salad.

For the miso salad:
1. Whisk the mayonnaise, miso paste, and apple cider vinegar together in a small bowl.

2. In a large bowl, toss the lettuce with the carrots and cucumbers. Divide the salad among two plates. Top with a few avocado slices and a few pieces of tofu and drizzle with some dressing.

3. Divide the soup between two bowls and sprinkle with the scallions. Serve both for a killer soup and salad combo!

Candice Kumai avocado salad
Photo: Candice Kumai

Tuesday: Apple cider vinegar macrobiotic avocado salad

Serves 3

For the salad
1 cup soaked or reconstituted hijiki seaweed, drained (To drain, measure 1/4 cup and 1 Tbsp dried hijki with 3/4 cup water)
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 can (15 oz.) adzuki beans, rinsed and drained
1 ripe avocado, pitted and cut into cubes

For the dressing
2 Tbsp reduced-sodium tamari soy sauce
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil

1. In a medium bowl, soak and reconstitute 1/4 cup, plus 1 Tbsp dried hijiki in 3/4 cup water for about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain all excess liquid.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the liquid aminos or reduced-sodium tamari soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, and toasted sesame oil to make the dressing.

3. Add the reconstituted hijiki, quinoa, and adzuki beans to the dressing, and toss to coat. Top with avocado cubes and serve immediately.

Candice Kumai avocado grapefruit salad
Photo: Candice Kumai

Wednesday: Avocado grapefruit salad

Serves 2

For the salad
1/2 cup uncooked farro, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups mixed baby greens
1/2 of a 14-oz. can hearts of palm, drained and thinly sliced on the diagonal
1/2 pink grapefruit, peeled and segmented
1/4 ripe avocado, thinly sliced

For the honey "soy" vinaigrette
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp Bragg liquid aminos
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp raw or manuka honey

 1. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the farro and water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes, or until farro is tender. Drain excess liquid and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, Bragg liquid aminos, olive oil, and honey. Add the cooked farro, mixed baby greens, and hearts of palm to the bowl and toss well to coat with the vinaigrette. Gently fold in the grapefruit segments and top with the avocado slices. Serve immediately.

Candice Kumai barley soup
Photo: Candice Kumai

Thursday: Barley walnut soup

Serves 3

1/2 cup pearl barley
1⁄4 cup walnut pieces
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1/2 of 1 leek, white and light green part only, cleaned and chopped
1 thyme sprig
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup finely chopped kale
1/2 tsp sea salt, or to taste

1. Cook the barley according to package directions, until the grains are tender and the water has evaporated. Reserve for later.

2. In a small skillet, toast the walnuts over medium heat until light golden and fragrant. Cool and reserve.

3. In a deep stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the onion until lightly golden and fragrant. Add the carrots, celery, leek, and thyme sprigs, and sauté until soft and brown at the edges, about 12 minutes. Note: If the vegetables begin to stick to the pot, add chicken stock two tablespoons at a time and scrape the browned bits up from the bottom.

3. Add the chicken stock and bring the soup to a simmer. Add the kale and cook until wilted, about 10 minutes. Stir in the cooked barley and walnuts. Finish with the sea salt.

Candice Kumai edamame bowl
Photo: Candice Kumai

Friday: Lemon soy edamame barley bowl

Serves 2

For the barley bowl
2 cups cooked pearl or hulled barley
2 1/2 cups water
3/4 cups shelled, organic edamame
1 cup wild baby arugula
1 block savory, baked, organic tofu (firm or extra-firm), cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 ripe avocado, halved and thinly sliced

For the lemon tamari dressing
2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 Tbsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest (optional)

1. Combine the barley and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 40 to 50 minutes until all of the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, lemon juice, oregano, and lemon zest until well combined. Add the slightly cooled barley to the bowl and toss to coat.

3. Add the shelled edamame and arugula and toss gently to combine. To serve, divide the barley salad among four bowls and top with tofu and avocado slices.

Here are more amazing ways to give your gut a boost. Plus, how to transform other areas of your life this year.

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