Snack (Or Sip) Your Way to A Healthy Gut
We all snack. But when we’re hungry, we tend to let the pleasure centers in our brains take over – which usually means reaching for the first thing that looks good, which, in most cases, isn’t the healthiest choice. Most “typical” snack foods are loaded with sugar, salt, and/or fat – and are heavily processed – which can wreak havoc on the health of your gut.
But not to worry, because there is a way you can satisfy a craving while supporting your gut health at the same time. Below are several simple snack (and beverage) ideas to support a happier gut. But first, a quick refresher on why practicing good gut health is important to overall health.
Why Is Gut Health Important?
Gut health is something Thorne discusses often in Take 5 Daily – and for good reason. The gut is a complex mix of organs, microbes, hormones, and enzymes that impact just about every aspect of your bodily functions, from how well you absorb nutrients to how well your immune system works.
In fact, your gut, and the collection of friendly bacteria inside it, also impacts:
This is why it’s so important to take good care of your gut. One of the easiest ways, of course, is to do it through diet.
What constitutes a good snack for gut health?
Before you start snacking, it’s important to understand what makes a healthy snack. A gut-friendly snack should be:
- Filled with fiber: Fiber not only keeps you feeling fuller longer (which prevents over-eating), it’s also the snack of choice for the friendly bacteria inside your gut. Keeping your gut bacteria healthy and nourished with fiber goes a long way to supporting your overall GI health.
- Nutrient-dense: When you snack, you want to fill up on something your body can actually use. Traditional snacks, like a bag of potato chips, are mostly empty calories. Instead, your snack should contain a nice mix of vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats – while being relatively low in calories.
- Delicious: That’s right. Healthy does not have to be bland. That’s why we have included several gut health recipes to inspire your next snacking session.
Gut Health Snack Solutions
Chipotle Cheddar Cashew Dip with Celery
Nuts are a great source of prebiotics, fiber, protein, fats, and other necessary nutrients for a healthy digestive tract. Although not a true nut, the cashew shares many of the same nutritional properties as nuts. Cashews are filled with dietary fiber, low in sugar, and contain many essentials minerals. Here is a simple dip recipe using cashews. It’s great for dipping with celery sticks (another great gut-health snack) or another favorite veggie.
- 2 cups of unsalted cashews
- 1 cup of low-fat milk or plain almond milk
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- ½ cup shredded smoked cheddar (plus more for topping if desired)
- ½ tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoon adobo sauce (more or less, depending on heat preference)
- 1 tablespoon light mayo
- 1 chipotle pepper in adobo (more or less, depending on heat preference)
- Salt, to taste
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- Veggies for dipping
- Place cashews in a bowl of cold water, cover, and place in the fridge for at least one hour. The longer you soak the cashews, the easier it is to puree them. Soak overnight if desired.
- Drain the cashews and pat dry.
- Place cashews and the other ingredients in a food processor or immersion blender and blend for 2-3 minutes until desired creaminess is achieved.
- Serve with fresh veggies for dipping. Top with extra sharp smoked cheddar cheese if desired.
- Refrigerate after serving.
Prep: ~30 minutes
Yields: 4-5 servings
Oven Roasted Chickpeas
Chickpeas are another nutrient-packed choice for healthy snacking. Chickpeas are full of filling plant-based protein along with soluble fiber – the type of fiber that promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut, while also keeping your digestive tract running smoothly.
Here’s a simple recipe that turns chickpeas into the ultimate crunchy, slightly savory snack.
- 2 cans chickpeas
- Salt, to taste
- Pepper, to taste
- ~ 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- Preheat the oven to 445.
- Put foil over a baking sheet and coat with non-stick baking spray.
- Open and drain liquid from the chickpeas. Pour chickpeas in a strainer and rinse. Use a paper towel to pat dry the chickpeas. The drier the chick peas, the crispier and crunchier they will be, so get them as dry as possible.
- Place chickpeas in a mixing bowl. Coat the chickpeas in baking powder and salt. Do not season them yet with anything but salt so the seasonings won’t burn up.
- Place chickpeas on a the foil-lined baking sheet and place in oven.
- Cook for about 40-45 minutes. Remove from oven and let them cool. In a bowl, mix olive oil and seasonings. Shake the bowl and enjoy.
~5 minutes prep
~45 minutes baking
Yields: 2-3 servings
Savory chickpeas are sure to leave you thirsty, so we’re switching up this next recommendation to something you can sip. Prebiotic + is a smart blend of prebiotic ingredients – it includes green tea, pomegranate, and blueberry extracts – to feed your friendly gut bacteria, while supporting digestive balance and optimal immune function.*
Prebiotic + sources the purest ingredients, like you expect from Thorne, but delivers them in a new and novel form: the dissolvable disc. Unlike traditional fiber-based prebiotics, this unique bloat-free formula gets to work in hours, not days. The disc is lightly flavored with pomegranate and berries, and neutral enough to work in water, a smoothie, or any beverage of your choice. Simply drop it in your drink, stir, and hydrate your way to a better day. NOTE: If you add it to a smoothie, either put the disc in before you blend it or dissolve in a small amount of water before mixing it in the smoothie.
Kale has earned quite a reputation for being one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. According to the USDA, one cup of kale contains only 33 calories, but is packed with three grams of protein, two grams of fiber, and is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K, and the minerals calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
This recipe can replace your potato chips with savory baked kale chips.
- ~ 2 small bunches of organic kale, washed with stems trimmed
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Remove rough stems from the kale by tearing the leaves off. Toss out stems and place leaves in a mixing bowl.
- Pat leaves dry with a paper towel.
- Toss leaves with olive oil and seasonings. Be sure to coat the leaves evenly and thoroughly.
- Place leaves on 2-3 lightly-greased baking sheets. Be sure the leaves don’t overlap or they won’t get crispy (make the chips in batches if needed).
- Place baking sheets in oven and roast for about 10-13 minutes – until brown and crispy. NOTE: If you want them to be green but crispy, you can roast them in a cooler 300-degree oven for a longer time. Be sure to keep an eye on them.
- Remove from oven, cool, and serve.
Cabbage, another leafy green loaded with gut health properties, is high in both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber is great for feeding your gut bacteria, while insoluble fibers are great bulking agents that improve the mechanics of elimination and help prevent constipation.
Here is a great cabbage recipe for one whole head, so you’ll get a lot of these benefits while munching on this savory snack.
- 1 large head of cabbage
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 8-10 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- ~1 tablespoon steak seasoning
- Preheat oven to 420 degrees.
- Add olive oil, vinegar, garlic cloves, and garlic powder to a food processor or blender.
- Puree to a smooth consistency.
- Wash cabbage; cut out the thick part of the stem at the bottom and discard.
- Cut the cabbage into 1-inch thick slices.
- Place slices on pan lined with foil and cooking spray.
- Brush the tops of each slice with the garlic puree and season with steak seasoning.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes, just until the edges of the cabbage begin to brown.
- For extra crispy cabbage, broil on high for 3-4 minutes, but be sure to watch closely for burning.
- Remove from oven and let cool before serving.
- Optional: Top with fresh parmesan cheese for an extra savory treat.
~10 minutes prep
~50 minutes baking
Yields: ~4-5 servings