6 Gut-Healthy Recipes That Can Improve Your Mood
By now you probably know that a healthy gut is key to keeping your digestive system running smoothly. But according to an increasing number of doctors, a happy gut could also promote, well, overall happiness—along with stable moods and a stronger memory. Michelle Babb, RD, author of Anti-Inflammatory Eating for a Happy, Healthy Brain, explains, “Every piece of food we put into our mouth communicates to our genes, cells, organs, and tissues, so every time we eat, we make a choice about what kind of communication we want to send and how we want to feel.”
So what kind of foods actually give your gut that boost? The often-lauded probiotics (think yogurt, kimchi, and other fermented foods) are a great place to start, but they aren’t the only things that matter when it comes to good tummy vibes. Prebiotics are equally important. Found in foods like onions, walnuts, and oats, prebiotics are foods that probiotics feast on. Translation: These do best together. And you don’t have to stress about eating them at the same meal; just include both in your diet. Omega-3 fatty acids—which are found in salmon, chia seeds, walnuts, and more—reduce inflammation and help speed up neuronal communication, which promotes more stable moods and better focus. Tryptophan (tofu, eggs, and chicken are great sources) is not only essential for a good night’s sleep but is also a precursor for serotonin, which regulates mood and appetite. And polyphenols, like those found in spinach and broccoli, help stimulate the growth of good bacteria and stifle the growth of bad bacteria.
All of the following recipes have a combo of these ingredients—and they’re not just good for you, the flavors will make you smile too.
Soy-Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Kimchi Brussels Sprouts
Try this recipe: Soy-Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Kimchi Brussels Sprouts
Sweet Asian pears are the perfect counterweight to the kick brought by the kimchi.
Ingredients: soy sauce, honey, rice vinegar, black pepper, canola oil, pork tenderloin, brussels sprouts, kimchi, Asian pear, sesame seeds
Tuna Steaks with Turmeric Dressing
Try this recipe: Tuna Steaks with Turmeric Dressing
Get a healthy dose of omega-3s from the tuna and the seeds, as well as a pop of freshness from the asparagus.
Ingredients: asparagus, red onion, canola oil, Greek yogurt, turmeric, rice vinegar, honey, ground coriander, hemp seeds, kosher salt, black pepper, tuna steaks, fresh mint
Brown Rice Bowls with Tofu, Broccoli, and Miso-Yogurt Dressing
Try this recipe: Brown Rice Bowls with Tofu, Broccoli, and Miso-Yogurt Dressing
The great thing about this bowl is how customizable it is. Add whatever other protein and veggies you like to this rice and broccoli bowl for a super-filling dinner.
Ingredients: brown rice, Greek yogurt, fresh orange juice, gluten-free white miso, black pepper, kosher salt, canola oil, extra-firm tofu, broccoli florets, radish sprouts, radishes, Sriracha chile sauce
Walnut-Crusted Turkey with Leeks and Apples
Try this recipe: Walnut-Crusted Turkey with Leeks and Apples
Breadcrumbs are delicious, but give those old-school cutlets a healthy makeover by swapping the usual breading for crushed walnuts and flax.
Ingredients: chopped walnuts, flax seed meal, turkey cutlets, Dijon mustard, kosher salt, black pepper, canola oil, carrots, chicken stock, leeks, apple, fresh thyme, unsalted butter
Grilled Shrimp with Black Beans, Jicama,and Avocado
Try this recipe: Grilled Shrimp with Black Beans, Jicama,and Avocado
Jicama is fresh and crisp, but also packs a bunch of vitamin C, while the roasted pumpkin seeds add a complimentary crunch to this dish.
Ingredients: shrimp, black pepper, kosher salt, olive oil, lime juice, honey, baby arugula, jicama, fresh cilantro, black beans, avocado, pepitas, smoked paprika, lime
Chicken, Butternut Squash, and Barley Skillet Dinner
Try this recipe: Chicken, Butternut Squash, and Barley Skillet Dinner
One-pot dinners are not just satisfying, they're easy too. And this one offers up juicy chicken thighs, sweet butternut squash and creamy, probiotic-packed yogurt.
Ingredients: chicken thighs, black pepper, kosher salt, yellow onion, garlic, cumin, butternut squash, pearled barley, chicken stock, tomatoes, chickpeas, Greek yogurt, almonds, fresh cilantro