While the holiday season is full of reasons to celebrate with family and friends, the sad reality is that your gut probably won’t be celebrating with you. That’s because the rich, fatty food, eaten to excess takes its toll on our gut health. Fortunately, there are easy ways to reset your gut for health during and after the holidays.

There are a few principles you’ll want to consider to reset your gut:

1. Eat more vegetables, nuts, legumes and whole grains.Not only will the fiber help remove harmful bacteria and waste from your intestines, it acts as PREbiotics for any good bacteria residing in your intestines. PREbiotics (as opposed to probiotics) act as food to encourage the growth and proliferation of beneficial bacteria in your intestines.

2. Drink lots of pure water.Your gut, like your entire body, needs water to function properly and for healthy waste elimination.

3. Cut back on sweets.Sweet foods feed harmful bacteria, giving them the opportunity to take hold and increase their numbers, so cutting back on sweets is integral to great gut health.

4. Cut back on meat.Excessive meat consumption (such as most peoples’ diets during the holidays) leads to the overgrowth of inflammation-causing bacteria in the cut. Simply cutting back and making plant-based foods the focal point of your meals can significantly reduce the number of gut-inflaming bacteria.

5. Eat more probiotic-rich foods. Think sauerkraut, live-cultured pickles, kimchi, kefir, yogurt or vegan yogurt, etc. Be sure they contain live cultures and have not been pasteurized. In other words, you’ll find these foods in the refrigerator section of your grocery or natural foods store.

Here are some of my favorite gut-restoration recipes:

Creamy French Onion Dip

Makes about 2-1/2 cups

  • 2 cups raw, unsalted cashews
  • 1-1/2 cups filtered water
  • 2 probiotic capsules or ½ teaspoon probiotic powder
  • Juice from ½ lemon
  • 2 tablespoons minced green onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • About 1 teaspoon unrefined sea salt, or to taste
  • Chives or spring onions for garnish (optional)

In a small to medium glass bowl, combine the cashews and water. Empty the contents of the probiotic capsules (discarding the empty capsule shells) or probiotic powder into the cashews, and stir to mix. Cover and allow the mixture to culture for 24 to 48 hours.

In a blender, pour the cashew mixture, and blend until smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl, add the lemon juice, and fold in the green onions and parsley until combined. Add the salt to taste. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 4 days. When ready to serve with vegetable crudité or whole grain crackers or bread, garnish with chives or spring onions, if desired.

Cultured Nonalcoholic Bloody Mary

Makes about 2 cups

  • 4 medium tomatoes
  • Juice from ½ lime
  • 1/3 cup brine from kimchi, sauerkraut or cultured pickles
  • Dash unrefined sea salt
  • Dash pepper
  • stalk celery (optional, for garnish)

In a blender, combine all the ingredients except the celery, and blend until it is smooth. Pour the mixture into a covered glass dish, and allow it to ferment for 2 to 12 hours depending on your preference; longer fermentation results in a tangier drink. It is not necessary to ferment the juice if you’d rather not, since you’re using brine from previously fermented foods. Garnish with celery if desired, and serve immediately. Store any leftovers in a jar in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Dairy-Free Yogurt with Fruit and Nuts

Makes about 1-1/2 cups

  • ½ cup almond milk
  • 1 cup raw, unsalted cashews
  • 2 fresh Medjool dates, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 2 probiotic capsules or ½ teaspoon probiotic powder
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried apricots, cranberries, cherries, or other dried fruit, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, almonds, or nuts, coarsely chopped

In a glass or ceramic bowl with a lid, combine the almond milk, cashews, and date pieces. Add the contents of the probiotic capsule (discard the empty capsule shell) or the probiotic powder, and stir into the cashew mixture.

Cover the bowl, and let sit in a warm, undisturbed setting for 8 to 10 hours.

Blend the ingredients together until they are smooth, adding a small amount of water as necessary to enable blending. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to one week.

When serving: top the yogurt with the fruit and nuts of your choice.

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