Paleo, Prebiotic Rich, Artichoke Olive Antipasto

photo(1)Need an easy, healthy recipe that you can make ahead of time for a small social gathering? I made today’s side dish/appetizer the day before we visited family in Pennsylvania (it was actually inspired by my sister-in-law, who makes a similar recipe all the time!). It was so nice to be able to make it ahead of time and have it ready to be packed up first thing in the morning.

While artichoke and olives take center stage in this Paleo recipe, there are two root vegetables, quietly sitting on the sidelines, that pack a prebiotic punch against the pathogens in your gut.

Do you like red onions and garlic? Today’s recipe is loaded with them, and even though they are raw, they won’t overpower you. Instead, they’ll work behind the scenes to feed your “good” gut bacteria, and keep your immune system (over 70% of which is actually IN your digestive tract) strong.

Yes, the same root vegetables that are known to give you bad breath are also extremely gut healthy indeed. Why? Part of the reason is that they are prebiotic rich foods. That’s right. Not the PRObiotics that everyone has heard of, but PREbiotics.

What’s the difference, you ask?

Probiotics are living organisms, or beneficial bacteria, that are like tiny warriors that fight off the pathogens in your digestive tract. There are many different types of such microorganisms that call our guts their home, not unlike the kinds that are found in living, breathing, healthy soil our food is grown in.  Some of us have more of certain types than others, depending upon our food and lifestyle choices, and even those of our parents and ancestors. (1)

Most people think of yogurt when they think about probiotics, but fermented (preferably raw, unpasteurized) dairy products are not the only foods than contain them. Fermented vegetables, such as raw (unpasteurized) sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles, are really good sources of them too. (2) (3)  A word of caution, though:  it’s best to add tiny amounts of them to your diet gradually. That’s why I included a small amount of pickle juice in today’s recipe, which you can add if you wish, but it’s not essential.

The thing is, those probiotics are hungry little suckers that will not be able to multiply unless you eat the real, farm-to-table food that helps them grow and thrive.  In other words, if you eat too many processed foods, you open the door to the “bad” bacteria that can squash the “good” stuff like a bug.

Some types of real food nourish the beneficial bacteria in your gut more so than others, so it’ s best to diversify the types of meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds that you put on your plate. Moderation is key.

So, what are prebiotic foods and where do they fit into all of this?

Whereas probiotics are living organisms, prebiotics are nondigestible food fibers that fuel their growth.  So, the two go hand-in-hand. A healthy gut needs both. (4), (5)

Prebiotics  “feed” the beneficial bacteria in your large intestine, so the body can build an army to defend us against potentially harmful bacteria. Like probiotics, they can be ingested in food or supplement form.

In addition to nourishing healthy gut flora, some other possible health benefits of ingesting prebiotics include: (6)

  •  Alleviating constipation
  • Improving calcium and magnesium absorption
  • Lowering levels of cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Improving glucose and insulin levels
  • Strengthening immunity and resistance to infections

So, how do you get more of these healthy food fibers into your diet?photo(2)

Onions and garlic are two of the most commonly eaten prebiotics, and they’re easy to incorporate into meals. I often slice a bit of red onion to put on my salad, which adds a lot of flavor too. Like anything else, you need to practice moderation, though.  Too much of anything is not a good thing, especially if your body is not used to it.

Here are some other prebiotic foods:

  • Chicory root *
  • Jerusalem artichoke * (not the kind we are using in this recipe)
  • Dandelion greens
  • Leeks
  • Asparagus
  • Banana

*The two foods highest in prebiotics are not allowable on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD/GAPS), due to their starch content.

For optimal digestive health and overall wellness, you need to consume small amounts of both probiotics and prebiotics on a regular basis, and it just so happens that this recipe contains both.

Now, here it is! Please note that I adapted it from this recipe.

Paleo, Prebiotic Rich, Artichoke Olive Antipasto

Prep Time: PT 30 M

Total Time: PT 30M plus 3 to 24 hours marinating time in refrigerator

Yield: 10 to 12 servings

Prebiotic Rich Artichoke Olive Antipasto from www.TransformedByFood,com. Paleo/SCD/GAPS friendly


  • 2 lbs frozen artichokes, thawed overnight (or place bags in luke warm water for half an hour or so)
  • 1 large red onion
  • 5 large garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp Celtic Sea Salt
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar (start with less, and then see if you need more after marinating)
  • 4.5 oz black olives, drained and sliced (can buy pre-sliced)
  • 10.2 oz green olives, drained and sliced
  • 12 oz roasted peppers
  • 1/2 cup fermented pickle juice, if on hand (optional)
  • 8 leaves of chopped fresh basil (optional)


  1. Chop red onion and garlic. Place in small bowl. Add olive oil and set aside.
  2. Cut up artichokes into bite sized pieces. Slice black and green olives, as well as roasted peppers.
  3. Mix artichokes, olives, and peppers together in a large bowl. Stir in pickle juice, if you wish.
  4. Add balsamic vinegar and Celtic Sea Salt to olive oil mixture. Stir, and pour over vegetables. Stir to coat evenly.
  5. Cover and let sit in refrigerator overnight, or at least for a few hours. Stir occasionally to blend flavors.
  6. Top with basil and serve as a side dish, or as an appetizer over cucumber slices, or Mary's Gone Crackers (gluten free, but not Paleo/SCD/GAPS friendly).

Food for thought:

Prebiotic rich red onion and garlic and probiotic (fermented) pickle juice add subtle flavor to this gut healthy side dish or appetizer.

Please note that if you have recurring or severe digestive symptoms, raw vegetables may aggravate them. Cooked veggies are easier to digest, but in some cases, they too have to be temporarily eliminated in order to heal the gut.

The healing process varies by individual, and part of it involves tapping into how different foods make you feel.  Sometimes, the process can be overwhelming. If you feel you could benefit from highly personalized support and encouragement, I invite you to schedule a Transformed By Food Breakthrough Session today.

There are many ways to enjoy onions and garlic. What’s your favorite way?

For further reading:

Mother Nature Network’s What are prebiotics and do we need them?

Mother Nature Network’s Are probiotics safe for kids?

Huffington Post’s Surprising Health Benefits of Garlic and Onions’s To stay healthy, eat an onion a day!

The New York Times’ Unlocking the Benefits of Garlic

This blog post is for educational purposes only, and should not replace the advice of a qualified medical doctor who is familiar with your unique health concerns and situation. I advise against finding a probiotic and/or prebiotic supplement on your own, especially if you have a compromised immune system, or are giving it to your child.  A nutritionist (CNS/PhD) is best qualified to prescribe supplements that are right for you. Please read my full disclaimer here.

Please note that this post has been shared with the Natural Living Monday, Allergy Free Wednesdays , Gluten Free Tuesdays, Fat Tuesday, Real Food Wednesday, Gluten Free Wednesday, Party Wave Wednesday, and Thank your Body Thursday blog carnivals.


About Dawn

As a Certified Health Coach, I provide motivated individuals with the resources, tools, support and encouragement they need to make the gradual changes in food and lifestyle that could completely transform their lives. Contact me.

12 Responses to Paleo, Prebiotic Rich, Artichoke Olive Antipasto

  1. Amber
    July 31, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

    Very informative and great recipe! My husband is in the process of healing his gut, because of years of undiagnosed celiac. I will definitely be back for more recipes and tips!
    Amber recently posted…Wordless Wednesday with Linky ~ Water FunMy Profile

    • Dawn July 31, 2013 at 2:28 pm #

      Thank you so much, Amber! Glad to hear he was finally diagnosed. So many people go through years of suffering because conventional medical providers aren’t trained to recognize signs of food sensitivities and autoimmune diseases,and lab testing isn’t as sophisticated as it should be yet.

      It’s amazing how powerful diet and lifestyle changes can be in the healing process. Hopefully you’ve found a doctor he feels comfortable with and who can help him connect the dots and move the healing process along more quickly. Even though most of my daughter’s symptoms subsided within 3 weeks of drastically changing her diet, we had to go through several specialists before one found the missing piece of her health puzzle.

      Thanks for hosting the blog carnival!
      Dawn recently posted…Gluten Free, Paleo Food Swap: Grain Free Pasta Replacement #1My Profile

  2. GiGi Eats Celebrities
    July 31, 2013 at 11:15 pm #

    I am in love with this mixture! IN LOVE!! 🙂 I am pinning it!
    GiGi Eats Celebrities recently posted…Celebrity Calorie Conundrum Game ShowMy Profile

    • Dawn August 1, 2013 at 7:48 am #

      Thank you so much for such kind words, and for pinning the recipe! I haven’t gotten onto Pinterest yet, but I know I need to get on there soon.

      Your blog name definitely peaks interest. I took a quick look and see you have a post about Giada De Laurentiis, who’s one of my favorite celebrity chefs; so I’m going to have to spend a little more time catching up with your blog later. You definitely have a unique voice and writing style. Celebrities and food – what a fun topic to write about.

      Have a happy, gut healthy day!
      Dawn recently posted…Paleo Style Sausage and PeppersMy Profile

  3. Andrea
    August 4, 2013 at 1:14 pm #

    Thanks for all of the valuable information! I didn’t know there was a difference between probiotic and prebiotic, so I feel like I learned a lot reading your post. Thank you for explaining the balance between them, and how they work together. Very interesting!

    Does cooking the vegetables decrease their value as a probiotic? I don’t eat a lot of raw onions or garlic, but I eat a to of both cooked. And I LOVE asparagus.

    The recipe sounds delicious! Could I substitute fresh artichoke for frozen?

    Thanks for linking up to Natural Living Monday! I’ll be sure to pin this recipe and share it on Facebook 🙂
    Andrea recently posted…Roasted Red Pepper SauceMy Profile

    • Dawn August 4, 2013 at 5:12 pm #

      You’re very welcome, Andrea!

      Good question about the raw versus cooked. If you look at Mark Sisson’s chart (see link to the left of the photo of red onions and garlic – prebiotic foods), raw veggies do contain more, but light cooking does not significantly reduce the content. The way I look at it is that you can’t really eat that many raw onions or that much raw garlic at a time, but you can eat a lot of it cooked. So, it probably evens out. Try to mix up how you prepare them.

      I wouldn’t suddenly add a lot of any of the listed veggies at once, or they could have the opposite effect and cause indigestion if your gut isn’t used to you consuming them! A little bit can go a long way. It’s best to mix up your veggie choices anyway, as I’m sure you already know.

      You can certainly use fresh artichokes. The ones I used contained mainly the hearts, though, so it might take a lot of prep to get enough. Now you have me thinking of fresh, steamed artichokes, which are certainly delicious!

      Thanks for hosting Natural Living Monday, and for helping me spread the word! Your support is very much appreciated.
      Dawn recently posted…Incredibly Simple, Dairy Free Ice My Profile

  4. Max Arthur January 21, 2014 at 12:49 am #

    That looks so good. I want to try that.

  5. Corrine April 3, 2014 at 6:03 am #

    I enjoy reading through an article that will make people think.
    Also, thank you for allowing me to comment!

  6. Dylan April 17, 2014 at 1:14 pm #

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