When it’s 70 degrees and sunny in October, flu and cold season seems farther away than ever; however, that doesn’t mean you can’t start playing defense by boosting your immune system now. Truthfully, I believe that a whole foods, well-rounded diet, combined with a healthy dose of physical activity is the best year-long medicine, but there is a group of foods that can help to fortify your most crucial defensive player during the winter months. I’m talking about probiotic foods and your gut.
Seeing as the bacterial cells in our gut outnumber our human cells by a ratio of 10:1, paying attention to the health of those bugs, and making sure we have enough of them, is pretty important. Luckily we can turn to foods to help ensure both of these elements of gut health. Here a little Healthy Gut Foods 101:
- Probiotic foods are the ready-to-go form of the good bacteria, adding to your gut’s arsenal. By consuming fermented foods rich in probiotics- for example, yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha- you’re adding an infusion of healthy bacteria to the (hopefully) well-established ranks.
- Prebiotics on the other hand are the ones that help to feed the good bacteria you already have. These would include foods such as artichokes, asparagus, bananas, and luckily dark chocolate.
One of my favorite probiotic foods, that often flys under the radar, is kefir. Kefir is a fermented dairy product that combines milk and fermted kefir grains. It is similar to the now popular drinkable yogurts, but with a tangier bite and thicker mouthfeel. Another ingredient for gut health that I love playing around with is miso. The smooth, salty condiment made from fermented soybeans typically goes well in soups and other savory sauces, but today it’s getting a sweet twist.
The October Recipe Redux theme is (you guessed it) gut health, and so I’m taking a classic fall favorite, pumpkin bread, and adding in probiotic kefir and spreading on a thick layer of miso nut butter to build up my defenses for whenever the temperatures drop to cooler levels. Enjoy in good gut health!
Kefir Pumpkin Bread with Miso Nut Butter Spread
For the bread:
- 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
- ½ cup honey or maple syrup
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup pumpkin purée
- ¼ cup kefir
- 1 ½ teaspoons chai spice blend
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ¾ cups regular whole wheat flour
For the miso nut butter:
- 1 tablespoon white miso paste
- 1/4 cup favorite nut butter
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan.
- In a large bowl, beat the oil and honey/maple syrup together together with a whisk. Add the eggs and whisk until blended.
- Add the pumpkin purée, kefir, chai spice, baking soda, vanilla and salt, and whisk to blend. Lastly, stir in the flour, just until combined.
- Pour the batter into your greased loaf pan. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- While the bread is baking prepare the miso nut butter by simply mixing together the miso and nut butter together in a small bowl. If proving hard to fully combine, leave the bowl in a warm place, such as on top of the hot stovetop, for a few minutes, or toss in the microwave for ten seconds.
- After baking, remove the bread from the oven and let cool in the loaf pan for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes before slicing. Spread a thick layer of miso nut butter on a warm slice and enjoy!