One delicious veg that's in peak season right now is leeks, an allium vegetable in the same family as onions, garlic, and chives. If their guest appearance on Emily In Paris isn't enough to inspire you to start cooking with them, their nutritional profile just might win you over. Recently, gut health nutritionist Amanda Sauceda, RD, shared on Instagram why leeks are a digestion-supporting all-star.
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- Amanda Sauceda, RD, registered dietitian and gut health expert
"Leeks are a source of soluble fiber which is the type of fiber that helps with easy pooping, feeds your gut bacteria, as well as helping reduce your cholesterol," Sauceda says. Quite the draw, right? "Soluble fiber gets its name because it attracts water kind of like a sponge and it gets fermented by gut bacteria," Sauceda explains. "Insoluble fiber, the other type we have, doesn’t attract water or get fermented by gut bacteria. Insoluble fiber adds weight and bulk to stool. Think of it like a broom helping clean up the digestive tract." Both types of fiber are important; they just have different jobs.
Belonging to the allicin family, Sauceda says that leeks also have many of the same benefits as onions, scallions, chives, and garlic. "Allicin is a plant compound that has been researched as an antimicrobial, for anti-cancer effects, and is also being looked at for its potential with helping heart health," she says.
When it comes to actually figuring out what the heck to make with leeks, Sauceda says there are a lot of yummy ways to cook them up. "Using leeks in a soup or snacking on them as chips can be yummy ways to eat a bunch," she says, adding that she also likes to add them to vegetable stock. "[When you're cooking leeks], make sure to wash the white parts of the leeks really well," she says. "The way they grow in the ground dirt and debris can get stuck in between the layers. Swish it around in water after you’ve cut it to clean it all away."
Inspired to get cooking? Rounded up here are 8 leek recipes. Keep reading to check them out and get ready to reap all their gut-supporting benefits.
1. Buttered leeks
If it's your first time cooking with leeks, this is the perfect recipe to start with. All you need besides your leeks is butter and sea salt. You can also use it as a base recipe, incorporating in your favorite spices.
Get the recipe: buttered leeks
2. Vegan potato leek soup
Leek and potato soup is a classic for a reason—it's downright delicious. Normally, it's made with heavy cream, but in this vegan version, coconut milk is used instead. You get the same uber creamy end result you're after.
Get the recipe: vegan potato leek soup
3. Leek stew with black olives and wine
This stew is a little more unexpected than other leek recipes and is full of nutrient-rich ingredients (and, hey, wine). Dill, tomato paste, and onion all add layers of flavor that complement the slightly sweet taste of the leeks perfectly.
Get the recipe: leek stew with black olives and wine
4. Asparagus and leek frittata with goat cheese
Not only is this brunch dish full of fiber, it's a great source of protein, too. You know how sometimes after a big breakfast you feel like heading straight back to bed? That's not going to happen with this dish. Instead, you'll be fired up for your day.
Get the recipe: asparagus and leek frittata with goat cheese
5. Wild mushroom and leek stuffed sweet potatoes
This recipe makes delicious use of a trifecta of winter produce: sweet potatoes, leeks, and wild mushrooms. Topping it off is an easy homemade sweet potato aioli, made with vegan mayo, garlic, apple cider vinegar, lemon, and salt.
Get the recipe: wild mushroom and leek stuffed sweet potatoes
6. Mushroom and leek risotto
Another tasty way to serve up a leek-and-mushroom pairing is with a stick-to-your-bones nourishing risotto. This recipe calls for vegan Parmesan and vegan butter keeping it entirely plant-based.
Get the recipe: mushroom and leek risotto
7. Caramelized leek, fennel, and onion gratin
It's a whole allicin family affair! Leeks, fennel, and onion are all incorporated into this creamy, one-pan gratin. This recipe is also vegan and chock full of anti-inflammatory spices for a ton of flavor.
Get the recipe: caramelized leek, fennel, and onion gratin
8. Chicken and leek pie
If you love chicken pot pie, this dinner is right up your alley. The leeks give an underlying hint of sweetness that's unexpected, yet delicious. Topping it all off is a layer of cheesy mashed potatoes, something else you definitely don't get with a traditional chicken pot pie.
Get the recipe: chicken and leek pie
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