Guest Post By: Haley Pfannstiel, dietetic intern with Be Well Solutions
Everyone seems to be talking about the gut and the importance of probiotics and prebiotics, so let me clear up the conversation for you. Probiotics and Prebiotics are “nutrition boosters” that are naturally found in various foods and are both linked to improvement of overall gut health; however, this is a highly researched topic and much remains to be learned. Let’s break it down even further, when I say the gut, I am talking about your gastrointestinal system. Your gastrointestinal system encompasses everything from your mouth to your anus! Your gut flora or gut microbiota is the entire community of microorganisms that reside within your digestive tract. Did you know there are billions of different bacteria that live in your gut that break down food for you!?
Probiotics are live cultures that are considered to be “good bacteria.” They help change or repopulate the bacteria in the intestines to balance out your gut flora. These have been linked to strengthened immune systems, overall improved gastrointestinal health, and management of irritable bowel syndrome. These can be found in foods such as fermented dairy foods including yogurt, kefir, and aged cheeses. They can also be found in non-dairy foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh, and cultured non-dairy yogurts.
Prebiotics are non-digestible food components linked to promoting the growth and activity of beneficial bacteria in your gut. These are found naturally in foods such as fruits, vegetables, and grains. These include whole wheat products, bananas, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, artichokes, and soybeans.
Symbiotics are the combination of prebiotics and probiotics that allow them to work together synergistically. Think of the prebiotics as fuel for the probiotics! Prebiotics promote the “good bacteria” (probiotics) to grow. For example, adding bananas (prebiotic) to your yogurt (probiotic) or eating asparagus (prebiotic) with your tempeh (probiotic) will create the synergistic relationship.
With that said, your gut loves a variety of foods! These foods are simply a way to add nutritious components to your current diet. A balanced diet including lean proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats is still encouraged! The millions of bacteria in our gut each have a specific food that they breakdown. For example, there are bacteria that break down protein, bacteria that break down carbohydrates, bacteria that break down fiber and so on. Thus, if certain food groups are eliminated, the gut will reduce or alter the bacteria which may alter your gut health.
Mix it up and add some variety with the recipe below! It includes tempeh (probiotic), garlic and onion (prebiotics)!
Spicy Tempeh Stuffed Bell Peppers
FOR THE STUFFING:
- 1/2 head cauliflower (~10 oz. of cauliflower)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
- 8 oz. package tempeh, crumbled
- 1/2 onion, chopped (~1/3 cup chopped)
- 8 oz. package button mushrooms, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 cup salsa OR canned chipotle sauce (use chipotle if you like spicy)
- 1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
- Sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- 3/4 cup shredded pepper jack cheese, divided
- 4 bell peppers
- To serve: chopped fresh cilantro and sour cream
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Add the 1/2 head cauliflower to a food processor and pulse until cauliflower resembles rice. (It should make about 2 cups of riced cauliflower.) Set aside.
- Heat up 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the tempeh and stir fry until golden, about 7-9 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- To the same skillet, add the other tablespoon of olive oil and chopped onion. Cook 3-5 minutes or until onion is translucent and beginning to brown. Stir in the chopped mushrooms. Cook until moisture from the mushrooms is cooked off, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook another 1 minute.
- Add the cauliflower, oregano, and cumin. Cook another 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Stir in the browned tempeh, chipotle sauce and tomato sauce. Bring to a gentle simmer and turn off the heat.
- Stir in 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese into the mix in the skillet. Stir until melted and evenly distributed in the filling.
- Cut bell peppers in halves lengthwise (from stem to bottom) and arrange on a baking sheet. Divide filling evenly between the halved peppers. Top with remaining 1/4 cup of shredded cheese.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes or until cheese is browned and peppers are tender when poked with a fork.
Recipe and Image Source:
Haley Pfannstiel, Be Well Solutions Dietetic Intern