5 Gut Friendly Vegetables to Feed Your Microbiome
Meet five of the gut-friendliest veggies around, along with top recipes for all five.
Spring vegetables like leeks, asparagus, and onions are among the high-fiber foods (a.k.a., the prebiotics) that your gut microbes crave and are key components of Microbiome Diet.
Keeping your friendly gut bacteria well-fed helps them help you. And they've got a lot on their plate. They manufacture serotonin and vitamins B12 and K, fight pathogens, prep and protect the immune system, maintain gut health, and regulate metabolism, to name just a few responsibilities. To really thrill your beneficial microbes, consider cooking your fresh veggies with a lighter touch. Soft, overcooked veggies are broken down and digested before the good bacteria can get at 'em. So leave a little crunch. Also, eat further down the stalks -- for example, not just the soft tips of the asparagus but the more fibrous stems, too.
OK, let's get to the recipes. Here are 5 gut-friendly spring veggies and some top-rated recipes that feature them:
Mild-tasting leeks are members of the onion family and are typically used just like onions as a flavor base for soups, stews, and other long-cooking dishes.
"A sheet pan of roasted leeks and green onions topped with avocado vinaigrette, toasted almonds, eggs, and red pepper flakes. Enjoy over baby spinach and arugula, if desired. Vegetarian, paleo, and keto-friendly."
"Greek-inspired, this is for leek and lemon lovers everywhere," says Hasta Luego. "A tasty, full-of-flavor side to accompany a myriad of main dishes. Complements fried and/or grilled fish to a 'T.'" Use some of the tender green parts, too.
"Pasta primavera is quite a straightforward recipe," says Chef John. "Spaghetti or fettuccine tossed with an array of fresh spring vegetables. When done right, this is one of the year's great seasonal recipes. This looks, smells, and tastes like a cool, sunny spring day."
Spring is for asparagus. Leave a little extra stem for your microbes to enjoy. Cook it gently -- or not at all!
Think of this crustless asparagus pie as a cousin to quiche -- or like a savory clafoutis, as Chef John says. It's a great way to enjoy fresh asparagus, and the preparation is quick and simple. "Such an easy dish," says Kanchan. "It was a super hit. Will try with mushrooms and onions next."
"This was so delicious and easy to prepare," says Kym Cox Surridge. "The rosemary added a wonderful flavor that gave the dish a slightly spicy aftertaste. I used baby bellas and shiitakes--delish!"
Belly-friendly veggies like asparagus, red onions, mushrooms, eggplant, garlic, and colorful bell peppers soak in a marinade of olive oil, parsley, oregano, basil, vinegar -- and then grilled. "This is the best marinade I've found for roasted or grilled veggies," says LILPIGGY. "The suggested veggies can easily be substituted with your own favorites."
Fennel features a celery-like stem and flavor that's reminiscent of licorice. Eat it raw in salads or baked, roasted, and braised.
"This soup is so easy to prepare and tastes better than most soups you could buy," says ADAMGODES. "Mild onion and anise flavored -- it's awesome!"
"We really enjoyed this!" raves Kim's Cooking Now. "Loved the peppery arugula paired with the sweet oranges and licorice-y fennel!"
Here's a fresh, citrusy salad with fennel, red onions, hearts of palm, grapefruit, and Gorgonzola cheese, tossed in a grapefruit vinaigrette. "Wow, yum! What a crisp, flavorful, refreshing salad!" raves Dianne. "It's so pretty with its pastel colors too. This salad was an adventure for me since I've never had fennel or hearts of palm before. Turns out I love both!"
Artichokes are part of the thistle family. The edible leaves are actually the flower buds of the artichoke plant. Find out how to prep and prepare fresh artichokes.
So simple and basic you don't need exact ingredient amounts. "This recipe is amazing," raves KJMendoza. "I've tried it with regular sea salt and kosher salt, and kosher salt is definitely the way to go. Make sure that lemon juice gets on their fast, because they brown quickly. It's even better with baby artichokes, because you can eat the inner leaves whole."
"Chicken is marinated in zhug, a spicy green sauce, then baked in the oven with olives, artichokes, and sun-dried tomatoes," says Buckwheat Queen. Serve with couscous or rice."
This easy cauliflower-crust pizza is topped with crispy bacon,artichokes, tomatoes, spinach, and olives.
5. Green Garlic/ Garlic Scapes
Ready in spring and early summer, garlic scapes are actually the stalks that grow out of the garlic bulbs. They're milder in flavor than garlic from the bulb and tasty in soups, pastas, and with eggs.
"Green garlic, as I've come to learn relatively late in life, makes one heck of a good soup," says Chef John. "It's flavor, once simmered slowly with potatoes and a bit of pork, is somewhere right in the middle between raw garlic and sweet caramelized onions."
Fresh garlic scapes hop into the blender with lemon juice, oil, salt, vinegar, and toasted walnuts. "This is one of the most interesting and delicious pesto alternatives that you will ever taste," says Chef John. "The recipe is super simple and the hardest part might be finding the garlic scapes themselves. Use as you would traditional pesto."
Check out our top-rated Microbiome Diet Recipes, for eating with a healthy gut in mind.