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Your Pantry and Your Gut

What does my pantry have to do with my gut?

First of all, did you know that our "Gut", which is essentially our intestinal tract, houses over 36 thousand species of bacteria called our gut microbiome? And that those bacteria are mostly good and trying to help us and our bodies perform in the best ways possible? These 36 thousand species add up to over 39 TRILLION microbes in our colons, which is about 90 percent more than the number of human cells In our body. This is an ecosystem that thrives on balance and harmony, and can be disturbed and damaged by the foods we eat and the beverages we drink. Protecting the integrity and diversity of our microbiome is important to our short term and long term health.

How to protect your gut

Our microbes eat what we eat, and they break down the food and help us to extract the nutrients we need. Every bite we take either nourishes and empowers these microbes to work more effectively, or starves and damages them. We control the makeup of our microbiome by what we eat, and our body feels the effects.

Constipation, low energy, brain fog, inflammation? Look at what you ate.

Mental clarity, energy, regularity, and feeling strong and nimble? Look at what you ate.

Unhealthy foods feed unhealthy microbes and they release compounds that inflame our body. Conversely, eating fresh, whole, healthy foods feeds the good guys, and helps them flourish, flush out the toxins and bring down inflammation. Eating a wide diversity of plant foods, especially raw or lightly cooked greens and fruits and veggies, and some fermented foods (think saurkraut) feeds the good guys!

Need Good Gut Healthy Recipes?

Here is a good one to try- courtesy of "Fiber Fueled", by Dr. Will Bulsiewicz

Polenta Ragu with Roasted Italian Veggies Roasted Italian Veggies:

  • 1 large eggplant, cubed

  • 2 medium zucchini, diced

  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cubed

  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced

  • 1 small fennel (1 1/2 c.), fronds removed and diced

  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth

  • 2 to 3 teaspoons olive oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, toss together the vegetables and seasoning, vegetable broth, olive oil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes if using. Place in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet or two, then placed in the oven. Roast for 45 minutes,rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until veggies are tender. Set aside. (There will be enough veggies left over for another day, to add to soup, salad or just eat as a side dish.)

While vegetables are roasting, prepare polenta:

  • 1 1/2 cups plain almond milk

  • 1/2 cup cornmeal

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make the polenta, whisk together 1/2cup of water and the almond milk and a medium saucepan over medium heat, and when bubbles start to surface, whisk in the cornmeal and salt. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until thickened. Add more salt and pepper if desired.

For the Ragu:

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil,

  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes,

  • 1 cup canned lentils, or Trader Joe's steamed lentils,

  • 2 cups Roasted Italian vegetables,

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano,

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, a

  • nd crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Saute tomatoes In 1 tsp olive oil for 10 minutes, then add lentils, Roasted Italian Veggies, oregano, basil and red pepper flakes if using. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring, until thickened. Serve by spooning polenta into 2 bowls, top with Ragu. Garnish with fresh parsley and basil if desired.

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