Probiotics are really hot right now—and unlike some nutrition fads, they actually live up to the hype. These “good" bacteria have been linked to better digestive health, immunity, mental well-being, and even weight control. By now, you’re probably well aware that there are plenty of probiotic options beyond yogurt. But sometimes sneaking them into your daily diet can be a challenge. To help you out, I'm serving up five super simple meal ideas that incorporate a probiotic-rich food.
Kefir breakfast bowl
Beautiful breakfast bowls are all the rage on Pinterest and Instagram. For a healthy, probiotic twist on this trend, build yours with kefir, a fermented milk beverage, as the base. (If you’re dairy-free there are plant milk versions, like coconut milk kefir, that contain the same probiotic benefits.) Stir in fresh grated ginger, ground cinnamon, or both! Top with sliced fruit, chopped nuts, seeds (like chia, sesame, or sunflower), and toasted old-fashioned rolled oats.
Kimchi is a staple in Korean cuisine, and a probiotic superstar thanks to the fermented combo of veggies and seasonings. For an easy way to fit it in add it to your morning meal, make a flavorful, probiotic-packed omelet. First sauté sliced mushrooms and fresh spinach in olive oil for a few minutes. Then add eggs or egg whites and a quarter cup of kimchi. Allow the eggs to set, and then carefully bring one side to the other, folding the omelet in half.
RELATED: 9 Probiotic Foods That Aren't Yogurt
Salmon sauerkraut lettuce cups
For a quick lunch, start by laying out three large outer Romaine leaves. Add an ounce of either canned, baked, or grilled wild salmon to each. Top each lettuce cup with minced red onion, a spoonful of hummus, and a dollop of sauerkraut. Or replace the lettuce with one slice of toasted whole grain or healthy gluten-free bread.
Pickle-y tuna salad
Pickles can be a great probiotic option. But to reap the digestive and health benefits, be sure you grab a jar that says "fermented" (as opposed to "pickled"). Create a tasty dish by mixing tuna with a generous portion of chopped pickles, a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, half a teaspoon of dried Italian herb seasoning, plus a teaspoon of spicy brown mustard, and lemon juice. Serve over a bed of your favorite greens, topped with other veggies like cucumber, grape tomatoes, and bell pepper. Add a little extra crunch with a few tablespoons of slivered almonds or sunflower seeds.
Black bean tacos with fermented salsa
Fermented salsa is one of my favorite new probiotic finds. Look for it in health food stores near the sauerkraut and other fermented veggies. To use it in a meal, sauté sliced onions and bell peppers in low sodium organic vegetable broth over medium heat. Fill either three lettuce cups or two whole corn tortillas with half a cup of black beans. Top with onions, peppers, avocado slices or fresh guacamole, and, of course, the salsa!
Cynthia Sass is a nutritionist and registered dietitian with master’s degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV, she’s Health’s contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Yankees, previously consulted for three other professional sports teams, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics. Sass is a three-time New York Times best-selling author, and her newest book is Slim Down Now: Shed Pounds and Inches with Real Food, Real Fast. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.