But if you're one of the millions of people with irritable bowel syndrome, gut-friendly recipes avoid ingredients that can lead to constipation or diarrhea. If you experience digestive distress on a regular basis, you should definitely book some time with your gastroenterologist to get to the root of it That said, eating for gut-health doesn't have to focus on restriction, says registered dietitian Alicia Romano, MS, RD, the consultant for America's Test Kitchen's new book Cook For Your Gut Health: Quiet Your Gut, Boost, Fiber, and Reduce Inflammation ($19).
All the high-fiber recipes in the cookbook are customizable to support people following low-FODMAP and gluten- or dairy-free diets as not to exacerbate any digestive distress. Full of recipes for every meal of the day, Romano's gut-friendly recipes are "gentle" and flavorful choices for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
An all-day menu of gut-friendly recipes
Breakfast: Power smoothie
In the battle of juices versus smoothies, Romano says smoothies are a clear winner when it comes to nutrient density. "With smoothies, you actually get the fiber from the fruits and vegetables you're blending and not just the sugars," she says. This power smoothie recipe offers gut-healthy fiber from the kale, banana, avocado, and pineapple. The addition of avocado provides healthy fats and the hemp seed hearts up the protein content.
"The combination of fiber as well as healthful fats from avocado and hemp seed hearts makes this the perfect day starter because fiber moves food through the digestive system to keep you regular, and good fats support your body's anti-inflammatory pathway," Romano says. "Both also keep you full and focused until lunch so you're likely to make gut-healthy decisions all day."
1 cup baby kale
1 cup frozen pineapple chunks
1 cup water
1 ripe banana, peeled and halved lengthwise
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1/2 ripe avocado, cut into quarters
2 Tbsp hemp seed hearts
1/8 tsp salt
1. Process all ingredients in blender on low speed until mixture is combined but still coarse in texture, about 10 seconds.
2. Increase speed to high and process until completely smooth, about one minute. Serve.
Watch the video below to learn more about the health benefits of avocado:
Lunch: Super cobb salad
"Classic cobb salad isn't the best choice for your gut, but this version makes clever changes to the norm to turn it into a gut nutrition powerhouse," says Romano. Using kale and radicchio instead of iceberg lettuce increases the nutrient density while still providing a fair amount of fiber. "I sauté shiitake mushrooms with smoked paprika and chili powder to make mushroom marvels that are smoky and packed with umami meatiness," says Romano.
The chicken and eggs—core cobb ingredients—give this lunch great protein ensuring it actually keeps you full until dinnertime rolls around. Everything is topped off with a homemade yogurt-based salad. "The probiotics found in yogurt increase the good bacteria in your gut and therefore your gut function," she says. That's something a bottle of blue cheese dressing just can't claim!
Watch the video below to find out why a registered dietitian calls eggs "nature multivitamin":
12 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
3/4 tsp salt, divided
1/4 tsp pepper, divided
4 tsp olive oil
10 oz. shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced thin
1/8 tsp smoked paprika
8 oz. (8 cups) kale, stemmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 small head radicchio (3 oz.), cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 hard-cooked large eggs, quartered
2 avocados, halved, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
6 oz. cherry tomatoes, halved
1. Cover chicken breasts with plastic wrap and pound to uniform thickness as needed. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and sprinkle with a quarter teaspoon sald and an-eighth teaspoon pepper. Heat one teaspoon oil in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown chicken well on first side, about six minutes. Flip chicken, add a quarter cup water, and cover. Reduce heat to medium0low and continue to cook until chicken registered 160°F, five to seven minutes.
2. Transfer chicken to cutting board, tent with aluminum foil, and let rest for five minutes. Cut chicken into half-inch thick slices, set aside.
3. Heat two teaspoons oil in now-empty skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add mushrooms and a quarter teaspoon salt, cover, and cook and increase heat to medium-high. Stir in paprika and remaining one-eighth teaspoon pepper and cook until mushrooms are golden, four to six minutes. Transfer to plate and let cool.
4. Place kale in a large bowl and cover with warm tap water (110°F to 115°F). Swish kale around to remove grit. Let kale sit in warm water bath for 10 minutes. Remove kale from water and spin dry in salad spinner in multiple batches. Pat leaves dry with paper towels if still wet.
5. Whisk yogurt, blue cheese, lemon juice, remaining two teaspoons oil, and remaining quarter teaspoon salt in bowl until well combined. Adust consistency with water and season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Toss kale and radicchio with half-cup dressing to coat. Transfer to serving platter and mound in even layer. Arrange chicken, cooled mushrooms, egg, avocado, and tomatoes in rows over greens. Drizzle remaining dressing over salad. Serve.
Dinner: Miso-ginger soup with halibut and zucchini noodles
This nourishing soup full of plants, which means lots of fiber. The starring ingredients, miso and ginger, boast their own gut-healthy benefits, too. The miso is full of probiotics while the ginger stimulates digestion and is an anti-inflammatory herb. Both ingredients also bring a ton of flavor to the soup, too.
1 lb zucchini, trimmed
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
4 cups fresh water
4 carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 cup frozen edamame
1 Tbsp soy sauce, plus extra for seasoning
1 lb. skinless halibut fillets, 1 inch thick, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 Tbsp white miso
8 oz. daikon radish, peeled and cut into 2-inch-long matchsticks
4 scallions, green parts only, sliced thin
2 tsp sesame seeds, toasted
2 tsp toasted sesame oil (optional)
1. Using spiralizer, cut zucchini into one-eighth inch thick noodles, then cut noodles into six-inch lengths; set aside.
2. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add ginger and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in water, carrots, edamame, and soy sauce and bring to simmer. Stir in zucchini noodles, then submerge halibut in soup and return to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until halibut flakes apart when gently prodded with a pairing knife, five to eight minutes.
3. Transfer one cup hot broth to liquid measuring cup and whisk in miso. Gently stir miso mixture into soup, return to simmer, then immediately remove from heat. Stir in radish and season with extra soy sauce to taste. Sprinkle individual portions evenly with scallion greens and sesame seeds and drizzle with sesame oil, if using. Serve.
Watch the video below to learn more about the benefits of ginger:
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