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Posts Tagged ‘kombucha’

Fiber, Fermented Foods, & Your Gut

In Nutrition on July 11, 2013 at 1:30 am
kale, onions, strawberries, peaches

Kale with onions & garlic. Strawberries and peaches.

OK, so this topic is not super sexy but a healthy gut – gastrointestinal (GI) tract – is essential for our overall health and wellness. First a little primer on your large intestine – exciting! – and then we will discuss what to eat and why.

photo (11)

Mangoes – a high fiber fruit.

We all know the large intestine is in charge of eliminating “that which is of no use to our bodies” aka waste or non-digestible food products. During this process of elimination, the large intestine reabsorbs water and sodium back into our bloodstream, a very important function, and, also very important, the large intestine is the site for synthesis of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), B-vitamins and vitamin K. The aforementioned nutrients primarily feed the cells of the GI tract. You want to keep those GI cells happy because it turns out the cells lining our GI tract serve as the largest immune tissue in our bodies! Even more amazing is recent understanding that the cells of our GI tract secrete enough regulatory hormones to be considered the largest endocrine organ in our body!

cauliflower

Huge head of homegrown cauliflower.

How do we love our GI cells so they function properly?

Eat plenty of fiber and fermented foods (also, avoid sugar but that’s another discussion).

Fiber is considered a prebiotic while fermented foods are considered a probiotic. Both are essential to gut health.

Found in WHOLE plant foods (fruits, veggies, grains, nuts, and seeds), fiber is used by the large intestine to feed the “gut flora”. Our gut flora is composed of healthy bacteria who use fiber as a medium to synthesize those nutrients (SCFAs, vitamin K, and B-vitamins) that are so essential for properly functioning GI cells.

kombucha bottles

Cactus fruit kombucha from Robin’s Nest.

Fermented foods, such as miso, tempeh, cultured dairy (kefir, yogurt), kombucha tea, kimchi, sauerkraut, chutneys and any fruit/vegetable fermented using lactic acid, support a healthy gut flora by providing a source of healthy bacteria – Lactobacillus acidophilus – for that fiber that the GI cells needs to synthesize SCFAs, B-vitamins, and vitamin K…you see the relationship?

So, please, please, please…eat MORE fiber and fermented foods and LESS sugar and refined foods. Your gut will love you for it and your ability to fight the common cold and chronic disease depends on it.

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Quinoa Chowder

In Nutrition, Recipe on April 21, 2013 at 3:15 am
quinoa sweet potato soup ingredients

Quinoa and Sweet Potatoes

Last week’s SoupAsana felt extra special. I made a soup from a recipe I got from a friend-of-a-friend who liked to make this soup for her friends after long days of boarding and skiing. Apparently, she got it from a friend who modified it from a recipe by Deborah Madison. And I believe I may have modified it even further based on my tastes and those of my friends attending SoupAsana. Anyway, this soup felt like it had a lot of history, friendship, and good times behind it and, after 90 minutes of yoga and meditation, was easily devoured by all!

Homemade cactus fruit kombucha

Homemade cactus fruit kombucha

Making things even more special was the homemade kombucha from my friend and neighbor, Robin. She even hand-harvested the local cactus fruit for her beautiful, vibrant, cactus fruit kombucha. You can read about her adventures with the cactus fruit here. We combined the kombucha with prosecco since I was celebrating finally (3rd try!) being admitted into a dietetic internship program. Woot, woot! Huge relief and accomplishment…now I just have to complete the program in order to become a Registered Dietitian. It’s been a long road. I might write about it one day.

This soup is vegan until you get to the toppings, which are, of course, entirely optional.

eggs and cilantro

Backyard eggs and cilantro.

But adding feta and hard-boiled eggs, from the happiest chickens in SoCal, really makes this chowder, well, chowder-y. Even though I’ve admitted to not caring for quinoa, it’s really quite delicious in this recipe. Soup is one place where quinoa works. As a side dish or pilaf…not so much. I seem to use sweet potatoes a lot in my soups but will probably be moving away from that ingredient as the weather gets even warmer. Although the name of this soup invokes winter, it’s actual quite light and refreshing and appropriate for springtime.

scallions, jalapenos, garlic

Scallions, jalapenos, garlic.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup quinoa

8 cups veggie stock

olive oil

4-5 garlic cloves, crushed

1/4 cup finely chopped ginger

1 large jalapeño pepper, diced/seeded

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp salt

pepper to taste

sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes, garlic, ginger, jalapenos, cumin.

1 sweet potato, peeled/diced

1 bag baby spinach

1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts

Top with: chopped cilantro, crumbled feta, and chopped, hard-boiled egg

Bring quinoa and 4 cups stock to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain the quinoa after 10 mins and reserve the liquid.

quinoa chowder

Top with feta cubes and crushed red pepper.

Heat olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add garlic and jalapeño. Cook for about 1 minute, then add ginger, cumin, salt/pepper, and sweet potatoes. Cook for a few minutes then add reserved stock as well as additional stock so you have about 7-8 cups liquid. Simmer until the sweet potatoes are tender. Add quinoa, spinach, and scallions and simmer until spinach is wilted. Garnish individual bowls with cilantro, feta, and hard-boiled egg. Super delicious and I don’t even like quinoa.