A healthy gut can make a tremendous difference when it comes to overall well-being. When the bacteria in our gut is not balanced, we tend to feel bloated and sluggish, our digestion is typically abnormal, and our immune system is often suppressed.
We know that our gut is connected to nearly every system and organ in the body, so everything we eat directly impacts how we feel. At Integrative Nutrition, we don’t believe there is one diet that works best for optimal gut health – what works best for you may not work best for someone else. But there are certain foods that can help provide good bacteria for your gut, reverse inflammation, and ease digestion.
We’ve rounded up ten recipes from IIN students and graduates that include some of the best foods for gut health to help you kick-start the year (and decade) with a healthy gut.
Sweet Potato Almond Butter Smoothie
Jennifer Rossano, HCTP March 2014
Making this smoothie is a great way to ensure your body is receiving the best nutrients, including fiber, which is essential for having a well-functioning digestive tract. Additionally, along with other root vegetables, sweet potatoes are considered warming and can help with digestion. This smoothie will help fuel your body without leaving you feeling heavy throughout the day!
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, already baked
- 2 bananas, fresh or frozen
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup (or to taste)
- 2 tablespoons creamy almond butter
- 2 cups almond milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Handful of blueberries (optional)
- Handful of granola (optional)
- Place all ingredients in blender and run until smooth and creamy.
- Taste and adjust sweetness to your liking.
- Add ice for desired consistency.
- Pour into mason jars and top with optional blueberries and granola.
Good Gut Gummies
Robyn Youkilis, HCTP 2008
Have you ever looked at the ingredients on the back of a box of fruit snacks or gummies? They usually have ingredients that are not great for digestion. These “good gut” gummies are made with gelatin, which is great for healing your gut as it helps restore a healthy mucosal lining in the stomach and reduce the amount of inflammation in the body. It’s also a pure source of protein and boosts metabolism and reduces heartburn and acid reflux.
- 1 cup frozen blueberries or raspberries (or a mix of the two)
- 3/4 cup fresh lemon or lime juice (or a mix of the two)
- 2–3 teaspoons honey (generally 2 for adults, 3 for kids)
- 1⁄4 cup unflavored gelatin
- Add berries to small saucepan over medium heat.
- Stir berries and allow them to cook until liquid is steaming and berries are plump, about 6–10 minutes.
- Place lemon juice, honey, and berries in high-speed blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Remove lid and allow mixture to cool slightly.
- Add gelatin to blender and blend again until smooth.
- Pour mixture into candy molds, or a 9” x 9” baking dish, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Once gummies have set, remove them from molds or slice them into desired shapes and store in refrigerator.
Homemade Clif Bars
Kiran Dodeja Smith, HCTP March 2016
There are plenty of health bars on the market, but many are filled with processed ingredients that don’t support good digestive health, especially sugar or artificial sweeteners. Processed foods and added sugar can decrease the amount of good bacteria in your gut. These homemade energy bars provide ample nutrition, some filling fiber, a pop of protein, and lots of taste – but not too much sugar!
- 1 cup dates, pitted
- 1-1/4 cup puffed rice cereal
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/2 cup sunflower butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Line an 8” x 8” pan with parchment paper.
- Pulse dates in food processor until finely chopped.
- Add cereal, oats, sunflower seeds, and cinnamon. Pulse on high for approximately 30 seconds, or until ingredients are mixed. Place in medium-size bowl.
- In small saucepan, heat honey and sunflower butter over medium until melted and blended. Remove saucepan from heat and add vanilla. Pour over dry mix and stir to combine. Pour onto parchment-lined pan and press firmly to cover it. Refrigerate for 60 minutes.
- Remove and cut; store in refrigerator. These can also be frozen.
Pomegranate Avocado Dip
Drew Martino, HCTP March 2015
Who doesn’t love a good dip? And I mean a really good, can’t-stop-eating dip. But when you find one that’s healthy and good for your gut? It’s a win-win. Avocados are a nutrient-dense food packed with fiber, helping to provide a healthy digestive tract and reducing inflammation. This dip is amazing, and it’s great to bring to parties.
- 2 cups pomegranate seeds
- 1/3 red onion, diced (soak in ice water for 5 minutes if too strong)
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 avocado, cut into small cubes
- Juice of one lime
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Mix all ingredients in small serving bowl. That’s it!
- Enjoy with romaine lettuce, cucumbers, peppers, or sweet potato chips.
Gluten-Free Veggie Greek Lentil Salad
Carly Ferguson, HCTP November 2015
Ditch the sad desk salad and opt for this one filled with ingredients that will provide you with good gut health. Black lentils steal the show and are full of satisfying nutrients, like plant-based protein and dietary fiber, which helps promote healthy digestion and satiety. With just a few simple ingredients, this delicious and healthy Greek-inspired lentil salad can be made ahead of time for a quick lunch or impressive party dish!
- 4 cups kale, ribs removed and chopped (I prefer dino/Tuscan kale for this salad)
- 3/4 cup dry black lentils, cooked according to package
- 1 cup cucumber, chopped
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
- 1/4 cup red onion, minced
- 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
- 1/4 cup basil, chopped
For the dressing:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/2 lemon, juiced (about 1 tablespoon)
- Pinch of salt and black pepper
- In small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients and set aside.
- In large mixing bowl, add chopped kale. Pour half the dressing over the kale and massage with your hands until well coated. Place in serving bowl.
- In the same bowl, add lentils, cucumber, tomatoes, onion, parsley, basil, and the rest of the dressing. Gently toss to combine. Spread over kale and enjoy!
Pear and Fennel Salad
Sílvia Taveira de Almeida, HCTP August 2019
This salad’s main ingredients have amazing nutritional benefits. Fennel eases digestion, and its aniseed flavor is so comforting when you want to add something a bit sweet to your salad. Pears are low in calories and high in nutritional value, both on the digestive and respiratory front.
- 1 tablespoon goji berries
- 1 pear
- Juice of one lemon
- 1 fennel bulb
- 1/2 cucumber
- 2-1/2 tablespoons sunflower seeds, lightly toasted and seasoned with tamari and powdered garlic
- 2-1/2 cups salad leaves of your choice
- 1/4 teaspoon sumac (optional)
For the dressing:
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Zest of half a lemon or lime
- Juice of half a lemon or lime
- 1 tablespoon minced dill (or mix of parsley and coriander)
- Sea salt and black pepper to taste
- Prepare dressing by placing all ingredients in small bowl. Stir with fork to combine. Adjust seasoning to your taste.
- Place goji berries in a cup and cover with warm water. Let them rehydrate while you prepare the rest of the salad.
- Peel and core pear. (You can leave the skin on if it’s organic.) As soon as you slice it, drizzle with lemon juice so it won’t darken. Also, if you feel the pear is too unripe, steam for 4 to 5 minutes, until translucent. It will soften and taste delicious!
- Wash and slice fennel. As soon as you slice it, drizzle with lemon juice or, even better, plunge it in bowl with ice water and a few drops of lemon juice. It will keep the fennel crisp. Peel and cube cucumber.
- Arrange salad leaves on plate. Distribute pear, fennel, and cucumber on top. Add a bit of sauce and mix it around with two spoons.
- Drain goji berries with tea strainer. Decorate salad with goji berries, sunflower seeds, and lemon zest or sumac.
- Serve remaining dressing on the side.
Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta with Broccolini
Jamie Klausner, HCTP March 2016
- 1 box (8 ounces) chickpea pasta
- 1 tablespoon avocado or olive oil
- 1 organic sweet potato, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 cup julienned sun-dried tomatoes
- 1 cup bone broth (or water if vegan)
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 2 teaspoons pink Himalayan sea salt (or more to taste)
- 1.5 tablespoons garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 bunch organic broccolini, rinsed and cut in half (to fit in pot)
- Red pepper flakes
- Bring medium-size pot of water to boil with salt. Cook pasta per directions on box. Once cooked, drain and set aside in large bowl tossed with oil.
- Rinse and bring new pot of water to boil. Cook sweet potatoes until fork-tender.
- Combine sweet potatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, bone broth, nutritional yeast, salt, garlic powder, and onion powder in food processor or high-powered blender until smooth and only small pieces of sun-dried tomatoes remain. Add hot water and/or more broth as needed to thin into a cheesy sauce texture.
- Rinse pot once more and bring to boil again with a little bit of salt. Once boiling, add broccolini, cooking until tender (about 4–5 minutes). Then drain and chop.
- In the large bowl holding the pasta, toss pasta with chopped broccolini and sauce until evenly coated. You may have some extra sauce, which you can freeze for later. Salt to taste.
- Serve in pasta bowls with freshly ground pepper and red pepper flakes.
Pan-Seared Black Grouper and Bok Choy with Coconut Chili Turmeric Broth
Keith and Diane Hughes, HCTP January 2017
This light and fresh fish dish makes for the perfect lunch or dinner. Grouper is a great source of vitamins B6 and B12 and potassium. Potassium helps send signals from the brain to muscles in the gut, helping digest the food you eat. Grouper has a naturally mild taste, but with the simple addition of homemade coconut broth, it packs rich flavors from a variety of spices and seasonings.
For the coconut broth:
- 1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil
- 1 leek or small white onion, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tablespoon ginger, chopped
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 morita chili, seeded
- 1-1/2 cups chicken stock or clam juice
- 1 can unsweetened full-fat coconut milk
- 1-1/2 teaspoons turmeric powder
- Salt to taste
For the black grouper:
- 4 black grouper fillets with skin (6 ounces each)
- 1-1/2 teaspoons sea salt
- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds, crushed
- 2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil
- 5 ounces baby bok choy
- 1/4 cup mixed microgreens
- 1/4 cup sprouts
- Olive or coconut oil (for drizzling)
For the coconut broth:
- Heat coconut oil in large pot over medium-low. Add leeks, carrots, celery, garlic, ginger, coriander, peppercorns, and morita chili. Cover pot and cook, stirring occasionally to ensure no browning occurs, until vegetables are soft and aromatic.
- Add chicken stock or clam juice, increase heat to medium-high, and bring to boil. Once boiling, wait until broth is reduced to half.
- Add coconut milk and bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened.
- Strain broth through fine mesh sieve into large bowl, pressing on solids. Season broth with turmeric and salt. Blend until smooth and emulsified. Reserve broth until fish is ready.
For the black grouper:
- Sprinkle fish on both sides with sea salt. Top skin side with coriander seeds, patting lightly to adhere to the skin.
- Heat coconut oil in large nonstick skillet over medium. Working in two batches, cook fish skin side down until crisp.
- Flip and cook for 30 seconds; set aside until ready for plating.
- Using same pan, sauté bok choy with salt and pepper until al dente.
- Pour coconut broth into shallow bowls. Place fish fillet skin side up in each bowl and top with microgreens and sprouts. Top with sea salt and olive oil and serve.
Cozy Eggplant Curry and Cardamom Spiced Quinoa
Lauren Chambers, HCTP March 2015
For the quinoa:
- 2 cups bone broth
- 1 cup sprouted quinoa (helps with digestion but can also use regular)
- 3 whole cardamom pods
- 1–2 star anise, whole (optional)
For the curry:
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon ginger, peeled and chopped
- 3 teaspoons coriander spice
- 3 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel
- Fresh black pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 2 large (or 3–4 small) eggplants, peeled and diced
- 1 can (28 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 2 cans full-fat coconut milk
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
- Coconut yogurt to top (optional)
- Heat bone broth and quinoa in stovetop pot, placing whole cardamom pods and star anise on top, then cover and reduce to simmer. Let simmer for 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed, then keep covered to steam an additional 10 minutes before you fluff with fork. Remove pods and star anise before serving.
- While quinoa is cooking, melt coconut oil in large stovetop pot, then add in diced onion and cook 5–10 minutes over medium-low heat, until translucent.
- Add garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute. Add in all other spices and cook additional 2–3 minutes until fragrant.
- Add tomato paste and stir another 2–3 minutes, then add eggplant and stir again.
- Toss in chickpeas and coconut milk and bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for 20–30 minutes, until eggplant is cooked through. You can also add in more bone broth to thin the sauce if preferred.
- When finished cooking, add some cilantro (save some for garnish). Serve with the quinoa and optional coconut yogurt or squeeze of fresh lime. Makes awesome leftovers for up to a week in the fridge!
Reishi Blood Orange Chia Pudding
Kerri Axelrod, HCTP September 2012
This chia pudding makes for the perfect gut-friendly breakfast, dessert, or snack! As a delightful citrus treat, it combines a blend of hormone-balancing mushroom powder, vitamin-packed blood oranges, and a natural prebiotic fiber-filled sweetener.
- 3-1/2 cups unsweetened cashew milk
- 1/2 cup blood orange juice plus 1 orange, segmented
- 1 tablespoon vanilla powder
- 1 tablespoon Kakato
- 3 tablespoons cacao nibs
- 1/2 cup unsweetened dried coconut
- 2 teaspoons reishi powder
- 3/4 cup chia seeds
- Pinch of salt
- 1/3 cup slivered almonds
- In high-speed blender, blend nut milk, blood orange juice, vanilla, and Kakato on medium until well blended.
- Add cacao nibs, dried coconut, reishi powder, chia seeds, and salt. Blend on low until well combined with no lumps.
- Pour into individual jars and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight.
- Top with blood orange segments, slivered almonds, shredded coconut, and cacao nibs.