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?
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
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
*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.
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
FoxNews.com’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.