Delicious Ways to Boost Your Gut Diversity

Saturday 09th Apr 2022 |

Research has found that eating more than thirty different plant foods every week results in a more diverse gut microbiota. Greater diversity in the gut means a greater diversity of ‘abilities’ amongst our gut microbes, including gut bacteria. This in turn can have a positive impact on mood, weight and overall health and wellbeing.[1],[2]

While eating thirty different plant foods a week can sound intimidating, it doesn’t have to be! Reaching thirty a week can be as easy as adding an extra portion of veg to evening meals, snacking on seeds and nuts, or simply topping your morning porridge with fruit!

To get to 30, each unprocessed plant-based food has a plant type score, which then contributes to the 30 points a week. Foods such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans and pulses, nuts, and seeds all count as 1 point each – with herbs and spices a ¼ point each.

To prove how easy it is, Yakult has developed seven new delicious, simple recipes, packed with nutritious ingredients to help you reach your thirty a week and, in turn, boost your gut diversity.

Be inspired to try something new for lunch or dinner, with Yakult’s Beetroot Humous Buddha Bowl, Garlic Prawn Pasta with Tenderstem Broccoli, or a Lentil and Pomegranate Salad with Tahini Dressing. Or if you’re looking for something a bit sweeter, then the Apple and Rhubarb Crumble makes for a delicious after-dinner treat.

Yakult have even done the hard part and calculated how many plant points each recipe has to offer so you can start boosting your gut diversity, today!

For further information, visit www.yakult.co.uk.

Boost Your Gut Diversity – Beetroot Humous Buddha Bowl

9.5 plant points

Beetroot gets its glorious colour from a polyphenol called betalain. Betalains have been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and help promote the growth of beneficial bacteria [3]

Prep: 15 minutes plus cooling. Cook: 30 minutes. Serves 4 

Ingredients

  • 1 raw beetroot, washed and cut into 8 wedges
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for brushing
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 75g quinoa, plus 1 tbsp set aside
  • 2 small courgettes
  • 2 carrots
  • 400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1½ lemons, juiced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 50g tahini
  • 80g radishes, thinly sliced
  • 100g rocket
  • 50g hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180oC, gas mark 4.
  2. Place the beetroot on a baking tray, brush with a little olive oil and season with ¼ tsp cumin. Roast for 20 minutes and allow to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the quinoa (per instructions on pack) for 20 minutes until tender and drain well.
  4. Slice courgettes and carrots into ribbons using a vegetable peeler, place in a roasting tray, toss in 1 tbsp oil and season with remaining cumin and cook for 10 minutes or until tender, allow to cool.
  5. To make the houmous, add the cooled beetroot, chickpeas, juice of one lemon, garlic, tahini and remaining olive oil to a food processor and blend until smooth.
  6. Heat a large frying pan over a high heat, add the 1 tbsp quinoa seeds fry for 1-2 minutes.
  7. Combine courgette and carrot ribbons with radishes, rocket and cooked quinoa in a large serving bowl, sprinkle with fried quinoa, hazelnuts and remaining lemon juice. Serve with the houmous on the side.

Tip: This colourful dish makes a delicious sharing lunch for family and friends. Serve with toasted wholemeal pitta bread for additional plant points.

Nutritional information

  • Per serving
  • Energy (kcal) 355 kcal
  • Fat 19g
  • Of which saturates 2g
  • Carbohydrates 26g
  • Of which sugars 4.6g
  • Fibre 9.6g
  • Protein 15g
  • Salt 0.09g

Boost Your Gut Diversity – Chicken & Vegetable Tray Bake

8.5 plant points

Sweet potato, carrot and red pepper are all high in carotenoids – a form of vitamin A that gives these vegetables their red and orange pigments. These colours can help nourish our gut, immune and eye health! [4]

Prep: 15 minutes. Cook: 45 minutes. Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 each of the following: sweet potato, carrot, aubergine, courgette and red pepper
  • 1 red onion
  • ½ tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1½ tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 400g chicken mini fillets
  • 300g brown rice, cooked

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180oC, gas mark 4.
  2. Dice all vegetables to approx. 2-3cm. Place on a large roasting tray and toss with the olive oil, season. Bake for 25 minutes.
  3. Whisk garlic, mustard, vinegar, soy and honey together and combine in a bowl with the chicken fillets.
  4. Add the chicken on top of the vegetables along with the excess juices. Return to oven for a further 20 minutes until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are golden.
  5. Serve with the cooked rice.

Tip: This easy supper dish can be made with whatever veg is in season, or you have in your fridge! You can also swap the chicken for turkey fillets too.

Nutritional information

  • Per serving
  • Energy (kcal) 359 kcal
  • Fat 5g
  • Of which saturates 0.9g
  • Carbohydrates 50g
  • Of which sugars 18g
  • Fibre 8.4g
  • Protein 24g
  • Salt 1.2g

Boost Your Gut Diversity – Garlic Prawn Pasta with Grilled Tenderstem Broccoli

7.5 plant points

Garlic and wholegrain wheat are both high in inulin-type fructans. These are dietary fibres and a type of prebiotic These prebiotics have been shown to help strengthen our gut wall and can improve bowel function.[5]

Prep: 15 minutes. Cook: 25 minutes. Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2½ tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped
  • 500g cherry tomatoes
  • 150g tenderstem broccoli
  • 230g bunch asparagus, trimmed
  • 250g wholewheat spaghetti
  • 300g raw king prawns
  • 50g parsley, chopped
  • Rocket to serve

 

Method

  1. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a saucepan and fry the garlic and chilli until softened, season.
  2. Add cherry tomatoes whole and cook down gently until tomatoes have burst and juices start to reduce down, stirring occasionally.
  3. Meanwhile, thinly slice broccoli lengthways. Heat a large frying pan with remaining oil, pan-fry the broccoli and asparagus in 2 batches until slightly charred, cut into 2cm pieces and set aside.
  4. Cook spaghetti in boiling water for 10 minutes, drain well, reserving a cupful of the cooking water.
  5. Add prawns to the tomato sauce and cook for about 3-4 minutes until cooked through. Stir the spaghetti, parsley, asparagus and broccoli through the sauce with a little pasta water to loosen slightly.
  6. Top with rocket to serve.

Tip: This speedy supper is really easy to prepare. You can use any wholewheat pasta and for a veggie option swap the prawns for tofu.

Nutritional information

  • Per serving
  • Energy (kcal) 307 kcal
  • Fat 11g
  • Of which saturates 1.7g
  • Carbohydrates 24g
  • Of which sugars 6.5g
  • Fibre 7.7g
  • Protein 23g
  • Salt 0.47g

 

Boost Your Gut Diversity – Lentil Pomegranate Salad with Tahini Dressing

11.75 plant points

Beans and lentils are high in galacto-oligosaccharides, or GOS, a type of prebiotic. Beneficial gut bacteria use GOS as fuel to grow and thrive and keep our gut healthy.[6]

Prep: 10 minutes. Cook: 1-2 minutes. Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 150g fresh pickled red onion, drained
  • 250g pouch mixed grains
  • 250g pouch Puy lentils
  • 80g mixed seeds and nuts, such as pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, almonds, toasted
  • 25g dried cranberries
  • 25g pack parsley, chopped
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 100g tahini
  • Seeds from 1 pomegranate

Method

  1. Combine the pickled onion, grains, lentils, seeds and nuts, cranberries and the parsley in a large salad bowl.
  2. Whisk together the oil and ½ the lemon juice and pour over salad, transfer to a serving bowl.
  3. For the tahini dressing, whisk together remaining lemon juice, 4 tbsp water, cumin, a pinch of salt and tahini. Drizzle the tahini dressing over the salad and scatter over the pomegranate seeds to serve.

Tip: Use your favourite grains and seeds to make this simple but impressive salad. For extra plant points you can add a wider variety of nuts and seeds.

Nutritional information

  • Per serving
  • Energy (kcal) 531 kcal
  • Fat 28g
  • Of which saturates 3.9g
  • Carbohydrates 47g
  • Of which sugars 15g
  • Fibre 9g
  • Protein 19g
  • Salt 0.24g

 

Boost Your Gut Diversity – Mushroom and Bean Burgers

9.25 plant points

These veggie-filled burgers are packed with 14g fibre, from 9 different plants. This means we’re getting many different types of fibre, to feed healthy bacteria in our gut. Including different sources of fibre can increase diversity of your gut microbiota, improve constipation, enhance immune function and reduce inflammation in the gut[7].

To help keep a healthy home for your gut microbes, choose vitamin D-enriched mushrooms (check the label!), or you can even pop them out in the sunlight for 15 minutes to increase their vitamin D content before you eat them! [8],[9] Vitamin D plays an important role in normal immune function, but there is also some evidence to show that deficiency may cause damage and inflammation to our gut lining.[10]

Prep: 20 minutes. Cook: 35 minutes. Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 425g can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 50g oats
  • 250g mushrooms
  • ½ onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 100g wholemeal breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 medium egg, beaten
  • 4 Cheddar cheese slices
  • 4 wholemeal burger buns, halved
  • 1 head Cos lettuce
  • 1 large tomato, thinly sliced
  • ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
  • Condiments to serve

 

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180oC, gas mark 4.
  2. Spread out the black beans on a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes.
  3. Blend oats in food processor until a fine flour. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and set aside.
  4. Pulse mushrooms, onion and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and sauté the mushroom mixture for 3 minutes until soft. Stir through beans.
  5. Stir into the mixing bowl with the oat flour and add the breadcrumbs, Worcestershire sauce and egg and mix well. Divide into 4 and mould into burger shapes. Place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment and bake for 15 minutes, turn over and continue to bake for another 10 minutes. Add a slice of cheese to each burger and bake for a further 2-3 minutes until cheese has melted.
  6. Fill the buns with lettuce, tomato and onion and top with the burger. Add condiments as you fancy!

Tip: Serve these delicious burgers with extra salad or a freshly made coleslaw.

Nutritional information

  • Per serving
  • Energy (kcal) 617 kcal
  • Fat 11g
  • Of which saturates 3.8g
  • Carbohydrates 91g
  • Of which sugars 12g
  • Fibre 14g
  • Protein 32g
  • Salt 2g

 

Boost Your Gut Diversity – Wilted Green Filo Wraps

8.75 plant points

Spinach and kale, like many leafy greens, are high in flavonoids, a type of polyphenol. These polyphenols have been shown to help strengthen our gut barrier, support immune function, and feed our microbes![11]

Prep: 20 minutes. Cook: 35 minutes. Makes 7

Ingredients

  • Tomato sauce
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 400g can chopped tomato
  • ½ tbsp light brown soft sugar
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

 

Filo wraps

  • 500g mixed kale and spinach
  • 1 bunch spring onions, sliced
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 75g pine nuts, toasted
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 200g feta
  • 270g pack filo pastry
  • 1½ tbsp vegetable oil
  • Rocket to serve

 

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200oC, gas mark 6.
  2. For the tomato sauce, heat olive oil in a medium saucepan and fry the onion, garlic and mustard seeds for 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes, sugar and vinegar and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally until thick.
  3. Meanwhile, wilt the kale in a steamer for 5 minutes and then the spinach for 3 minutes. Allow to cool and finely chop, squeezing excess liquid from the spinach.
  4. Combine greens with the spring onions, egg, pine nuts and nutmeg in a bowl, season then crumble in the feta and stir gently to combine.
  5. Lay out 1 sheet of pastry, brush half with a little oil and fold over to give a square, spoon over some of the greens mixture in a line towards the bottom edge. Fold up the bottom edge and then the sides and continue to roll up to give a cigar shape.  Place on a greased baking tray, brush with oil and repeat to make 7 wraps.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes until golden and serve with the tomato sauce.

Tip: You can use your favourite leafy greens for these tasty wraps, for example use cavolo nero or leeks instead of kale.

Nutritional information

Per serving

  • Energy (kcal) 349 kcal
  • Fat 17g
  • Of which saturates 3.5g
  • Carbohydrates 30g
  • Of which sugars 8.6g
  • Fibre 4.7g
  • Protein 17g
  • Salt 1.2g

 

Boost Your Gut Diversity – Apple & Rhubarb Crumble

 6.5 plant points

Go nuts! Research has shown that eating nuts might help to increase diversity of our gut bacteria! Try adding walnuts, hazelnuts, or pecans to increase your plant points and gut diversity![12]

Prep: 15 minutes. Cook: 25-30 minutes. Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 500g cooking apples, peeled, cored and diced
  • 400g pack rhubarb, cut into 2cm pieces
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 50g plain flour
  • 25g butter, softened
  • 1 tbsp light brown soft sugar
  • 25g oats
  • 25g desiccated coconut
  • 25g almonds, sliced
  • 15g pumpkin seeds
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon

Yogurt, ice cream or custard to serve

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180oC, gas mark 4.
  2. Combine the apple, rhubarb, lemon zest and juice, maple syrup and 1 tbsp water in a saucepan, cook on low to medium heat for 4-5 minutes until soft and rhubarb starts pulling apart.
  3. Meanwhile, in a bowl, rub together the flour and butter, stir in the sugar, oats, coconut, nuts, seeds and cinnamon.
  4. Pour apple and rhubarb mixture into a 2 litre baking dish and sprinkle with crumble mixture. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and serve with yogurt, ice cream or custard.

Tip: Use fruits in season, for example swap rhubarb for blackberries in the autumn or strawberries in the summer. You can also increase the amount of plant points by adding more seeds or nuts.

Nutritional information

  • Per serving
  • Energy (kcal) 349 kcal
  • Fat 24g
  • Of which saturates 14g
  • Carbohydrates 25g
  • Of which sugars 15g
  • Fibre 5.6g
  • Protein 4.2g
  • Salt 0.02g

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