9 Gut-Friendly Recipes Featuring Fermented Foods

These gut-friendly recipes all feature fermented and probiotic-containing foods


7 Minutes Read

Photo shows a large white bowl of a vegan Cajun-style pasta recipe made with tempeh, a gut-friendly fermented food Boost your gut health with these recipes featuring probiotic-and fermented foods - Media Credit:

Gut health is important, and a growing body of scientific research finds that maintaining a healthy inner ecosystem can support improved immunity, sleep, digestion, and even mood.

If you’re looking to boost your gut health, one thing that may help is incorporating more probiotic foods  – containing live bacteria to stimulate the growth of beneficial microorganisms – into your diet using gut-friendly recipes.

While probiotics can be supplemented, they are easily ingested through nutritious fermented foods like miso, kombucha, tempeh, sauerkraut, and kimchi. (Note: not all fermented foods are probiotic, but many are, including those listed here.)

The following gut-friendly recipes contain probiotic and fermented ingredients chosen for their nutritional value and microbiome-boosting qualities, as well as their flavor and versatility.

Read more: 50 High-Fiber Recipes

Fermented foods and gut health

According to the BBC Science Focus Magazine, there are more microbial cells in the human body than there are human cells, approximately 39 trillion to 30 trillion.

Furthermore, the gut specifically hosts an enormous, complex community of around 100 trillion microbial cells – described in an NIH study as influencing “physiology, metabolism, nutrition and immune function.”

What a person chooses to eat directly influences their gut’s microbiome, which in turn impacts their health. One recent study even suggests that nutrient-dense fermented foods – which of course support a healthy microbiome – may have been the pivotal moment that led to the evolution of humans’ large brains in our ancestors around 2.5 million years ago.

Fermentation is the process by which microorganisms break down starch and sugars into acids, which preserves foods, develops flavor, and produces the beneficial microorganisms which aid gut health. (Some brands are now using precision fermentation to help make nutritious and sustainable alternative proteins, including plant-based steak and even milk.)

Read more: 8 Protein-Rich Vegetables To Add To Your Meals

One of the most popular fermented foods of the moment is kimchi, a cabbage-based dish that is widely celebrated for its tangy, umami flavor as well as its myriad of nutrients and associated health benefits. Speaking to Plant Based News, Registered Dietician Emily McKee estimated that kimchi contains “up to 25 different species of live bacteria.”

“The popularity of kimchi at the moment, […] is largely due to the fact it provides us with both prebiotics, which are nutrients that provide food for our gut bacteria, and with probiotics, aka live microbes which survive to reach our lower intestine,” explained McKee.

9 gut-friendly recipes featuring fermented foods

These recipes mostly include lunches, dinners, and snacks, but a stack of savory kimchi and scallion pancakes would certainly work for a gut health-promoting breakfast, too.

Foods such as miso have a huge number of additional health benefits, too, including “antidiabetic, antioxidative, anti‐inflammatory, anticancer, and antihypertensive properties.” Tempeh, another fermented soy product, is notably rich in protein, calcium, and iron.

Read more: The Top 5 Recipes You’ve Been Cooking In March

The ‘microbiome’ bowl

A vegan microbiome bowl made with gut-friendly ingredients
Carleigh Bodrug This vegan recipe features a range of gut-friendly ingredients

This recipe comes from Carleigh Bodrug’s new cookbook Plant You: Scrappy Cooking and includes sauerkraut, a fermented cabbage dish similar to kimchi. The bowl also contains wild rice, quinoa, broccoli florets, and broccoli sprouts, all of which are rich in fiber – another important contributor to a healthy gut ecosystem.

Find the recipe here.

Savory Korean pancakes

crispy vegan korean kimchi and scallion pancakes with a rich dipping sauce, presented on a black plate
Emily Yeo With just four main ingredients, this recipe is simple but effective

Created by Emily Yeo, this simple recipe uses just four main ingredients and can work as a snack, a side, or a main dish. Kimchi adds its trademark umami tanginess – and gut-supporting probiotic bacteria – but the recipe counterpoints this nicely with scallions.

Find the recipe here.

Kimchi miso ramen

Freshly prepared vegan kimchi miso ramen in a white stoneware bowl, on a dark table
Plant-Based Matters This recipe combines Japanese and Korean influences

This recipe combines kimchi and miso for a probiotic powerhouse of vegan ramen. It’s spicy, rich, and surprisingly simple to put together with just 10 minutes of prep and 25 minutes of cooking. Created by Plant Based Matters, aka the Japanese Vegan, the recipe can be easily adjusted to accommodate any miso, but vegan kimchi with gochujang is essential.

Find the recipe here.

Easy high-protein tempeh

A bowl of sweet chili tofu, a zinc-packed vegan recipe
World of Vegan Tempeh is a good vegan source of protein as well as probiotics

Another quick (under 30 minutes) recipe, this one from World of Vegan also works as a starter, main, or snack. While the prep and cook time is short, the tempeh is improved by letting it marinate overnight for a deeper, more complex flavor.

Find the recipe here.

Tempeh meatballs

A zinc-packed vegan pasta dish made with tempeh meatballs
Happy Skin Kitchen Tempeh can even be used to make meatballs

Happy Skin Kitchen combines DIY tempeh-based mince with mushrooms, garlic, onion, and seasoning for a super high-protein and gut-friendly take on meatballs. Serve with your go-to tomato sauce and pasta, or perhaps in a fully loaded vegan sub.

Find the recipe here.

BBQ tempeh and apple slaw sandwich

Photo shows a sandwich cut in half to reveal its filling of fresh apple slaw and thick pieces of marinated tempeh
Happy Skin Kitchen Adding sauerkraut or kimchi to this tempeh sandwich recipe really boosts its gut-friendly bacteria

Talking of fully loaded sandwiches, this recipe – also from Happy Skin Kitchen – combines BBQ tempeh with a sweet and delicious apple slaw. For an optional extra that will further boost the nutrients in this lunchtime favorite: add sauerkraut or kimchi.

Find the recipe here.

Miso aubergine steaks

Photo shows four seasoned, cooked, and carefully topped miso aubergine steaks prepared to a vegan recipe
Viva!'s Vegan Recipe Club A miso coating gives these aubergine steaks a delicious flavor and gut-friendly credentials

Viva’s Vegan Recipe Club has some standout recipes, and these miso-coated aubergine steaks are no exception. Super quick and delicious, these aubergine steaks make for a good side, topping, and snack. Top with chili flakes and fresh parsley.

Find the recipe here.

Grilled asparagus with miso lime mayo

Grilled asparagus next to a portion of vegan lime miso mayo and a cut lime
Plant-Based Matters Pair this lightly charred grilled asparagus with a savory and tangy mayo dip

Another one from Plant Based Matters, this recipe is deceptively simple and easy to adjust as preferred, but definitely works best if cooked with an authentic Japanese miso. (Try your local Asian market and look for brands that contain just the minimum key ingredients: water, soybeans, koji grain, salt, and perhaps alcohol – a byproduct of the fermentation process.)

Find the recipe.

Cajun pasta with panko-crusted tempeh

Photo shows a large white bowl of a vegan Cajun-style pasta recipe made with tempeh, a gut-friendly fermented food
This recipe calls for well-marinated tempeh with a panko coating

Coming to us from This Savory Vegan, this special Cajun-style pasta recipe includes a plant-based broth along with vegan cheese and milk. The tempeh is well-marinated in a tahini, vinegar, mustard, and lemon-based dressing, and then finished with panko breadcrumbs.

“This Vegan Cajun Pasta with Panko Tempeh is comfort in a bowl,” writes This Savoury Vegan founder Rene. “Creamy pasta, crunchy tempeh, and the perfect amount of spice – a must-make!

Find the recipe here.

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