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the belly-friendly burger on a plate with veggies

Like many people, I grew up thinking that digestion was a straightforward process. You eat food, you digest it, and that’s about it.

Then I became a holistic health coach, and my whole view of digestion changed. After years of coaching, I began to notice a common theme: My clients were moody, stressed, and bloated. They complained of low energy, insomnia, and brain fog. And I realized that, in many cases, their problems — and their solutions — originated in their guts.

The health of the digestive system influences everything: energy, mental focus, mood, and appearance. I also believe there is a connection between a powerfully functioning gut and a powerfully functioning “gut instinct.” When the belly is healthy, we can hear those gut messages loud and clear. How we digest our food is how we digest our lives. And when our insides and outsides are in sync, the best of who we are gets turned up 10 notches.

Good digestion is the result of more than just what you eat. I’ve found that gut health actually starts with slowing down, breathing, and chewing.

By following these simple steps, you will be fully present with your meals and in your life. And that is where the magic is: When you are connected with the present moment, you are able to make those good-for-you choices that truly serve your body.

The recipes that follow are digestion friendly and delicious. Take a breath, slow down, and savor them — one bite at a time.

Belly-Friendly Burger

This versatile burger recipe can be made with turkey, chicken, grassfed beef, fish, or black beans.

the belly-friendly burger on a plate with veggies

Makes four servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ground meat or fish, or two 15 oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 egg white, beaten
  • 1 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1 tbs. garlic powder
  • 1 tbs. minced onion flakes
  • 1/4 cup tamari or coconut aminos
  • 1 to 2 tbs. coconut oil

Directions

  1. If using beans, grind them in a food processor until crumbly. If using fish (such as salmon, shown below), you can ask your grocer to grind it for you, or grind it at home using a food processor. (If you don’t have a food processor, chop the beans or fish finely with a knife.)
  2. In a large bowl, mix the ground meat, fish, or beans with the egg white, shredded coconut, garlic powder, onion flakes, and tamari or coconut aminos. Shape into four large or six small patties.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, then add the coconut oil. Cook the patties until golden brown on the bottom, three to six minutes.
  4. Flip the burgers over and reduce the heat to low; cook for another five minutes, until brown and crisp. Serve immediately with your favorite burger toppings on a salad or in a lettuce wrap. (As an alternative to the stovetop, you can bake these burgers in the oven at 350 degrees F until cooked through to your liking.)

Spiced Raw Veggies

Not only do many spices naturally boost your metabolism, they’re also delicious. These spice mixes will make you much more likely to opt for raw veggies when you’re looking for something to munch on in the afternoon.

Spiced-Raw-Veggies

Makes 2 cups
Prep time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chopped raw vegetables of choice: carrots, celery, cucumbers, kohlrabi, jicama, celery root, broccoli stalks, etc.

Sweet and Spicy Seasoning

  • 1 tsp. curry powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper

Mexican Seasoning

  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. chili powder (optional)
  • 1 tbs. lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt

Directions

  1. Choose your seasoning variation and combine all the ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Add the vegetables and toss until coated.
  3. Serve immediately.

Kale, White Bean, and Fennel Soup

This tastes like a gourmet soup that took days to prepare, but it actually involves little hands-on work.

kale-whitebean-fennel

Makes three to four servings
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (depending on size of fennel bulb and kale bunch)
  • 3 or 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 to 4 tbs. fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 15 oz. cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 quart chicken, vegetable, or bone broth
  • 1 bunch fresh kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • Fresh lemon juice (optional)
  • Chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Directions

  1. Add the onion, fennel, oil, and garlic to a large soup pot. Place over medium-low heat and stir to coat the vegetables with oil. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring periodically.
  2. Add the thyme and beans, and season with salt and pepper. Pour in the broth and increase the heat to high. Once the soup is boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Add the kale and up to 1 cup water to cover the vegetables, if needed. Simmer five minutes more, until the kale is tender.
  4. Serve bowls of hot soup with a squeeze of fresh lemon and a sprinkle of parsley, if desired.

Roasted Squash With Curry and Turmeric

This dense winter-squash dish is nourishing for your body and satisfying for your belly. Make it a part of your weekly cooking routine.

Roasted-Squash-Curry-Tumeric

Makes two to four servings
Prep time: five minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 winter squash of choice (delicata, kabocha, butternut, hubbard, etc.), cubed or thinly sliced
  • 2 to 3 tbs. coconut oil
  • 2 tbs. curry powder
  • 2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Directions

  1. Place the squash on a baking sheet with edges. Rub the squash with the oil and sprinkle with the curry powder, turmeric, and some sea salt. Spread the squash out, making sure there’s space between the pieces.
  2. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the thickness of the squash. The squash should be a rich golden-yellow color and browned a bit. Taste and add more seasoning, salt, or pepper if needed. Serve immediately.

Good Gut Water

This flavored water combines natural diuretics and detoxifying ingredients in one delicious glass, providing a great way to beat the bloat.

Cucumber and lemon work to alkalize your body, while the cayenne and ginger jump-start your metabolism and aid in flushing out your organs. This delicious and lightly flavored water tastes so good you will want to drink a lot of it.

Use this recipe to spark your creativity. Be inspired to put together different combinations. If you think of water as a blank canvas on which you can create any flavor or taste you crave, depending on your mood or needs, it becomes exciting. There are so many other fun foods you can add to water: a splash of aloe vera juice, fresh orange slices, a squeeze of lime, mint leaves, cucumber spears, sliced strawberries, and more. You are the bartender — don’t be afraid to experiment!

Go-WIth-Your-Gut-Water-Recipe

Makes 2 liters

Ingredients

  • 2 liters water (about 8 1/2 cups)
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated gingerroot
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium lemon, thinly sliced
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a large pitcher and stir. Cover and refrigerate.

Reprinted with permission from Go With Your Gut: The Insider’s Guide to Banishing the Bloat With 75 Digestion-Friendly Recipes by Robyn Youkilis, copyright © 2016. Published by Kyle Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

Why No Numbers?

Readers sometimes ask us why we don’t publish nutrition information with our recipes. We believe that (barring specific medical advice to the contrary) if you’re eating primarily whole, healthy foods — an array of sustainably raised vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, meats, fish, eggs, whole-kernel grains, and healthy fats and oils — you probably don’t need to stress about the numbers. We prefer to focus on food quality and trust our bodies to tell us what we need.  — The Editors

This article originally appeared as “Go With Your Gut” in the September 2016 issue of Experience Life.

Photography by: Ellen Sliverman

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