Maximize gut health at the first meal of the day with this chickpea smoothie bowl, packed full of prebiotic fibres to keep our friendly bacteria happy and strong. Want to know more about different types of prebiotics that can be added to smoothies? Chickpeas, dandelion root and chia seeds and more are all used to contribute to a healthy gut, and taste delicious in this chickpea smoothie bowl!
I’ve written about the importance of gut health in my post 5 Tips On How To Improve Gut Health Naturally – Prebiotics, Probiotics and Fermented Foods. Given all the functions of our gut bacteria, some experts consider our gut bacteria to be a separate organ. So how do we make sure our gut is working at its fullest potential? Here are my top 3 tips to maximizing a healthy gut, and a simple prebiotic chickpea smoothie bowl recipe to maximize our intake of gut health foods.
Why Did I Make This Prebiotic Chickpea Smoothie Bowl?
Why Is A Healthy Gut Important?
Our gut is home to trillions of bacteria, and we are only starting to understand all the functions in relation to human health. We know that the friendly bacteria act in protecting the gut from the ‘bad bacteria’, otherwise known as pathogens.
What Do The Beneficial Bacteria Do?
The bacteria also help in extracting nutrients and energy from our food, assist with the digestion of certain foods that the small intestine might not be able to digest and have a role in maintaining a normal immune system.
Does Gut Health Prevent Chronic Disease?
A healthy gut has been linked to a decreased risk of obesity, insulin resistance (type 2 diabetes), and may have a role in managing anxiety and depression.
What Prebiotic Foods Does This Smoothie Bowl Contain?
The chickpeas, banana, chia, and dandelion root are good sources of prebiotic fibres to stimulate the growth of more beneficial bacteria, while the berries and coconut offer additional fibre for our gut bacteria to feast on.
Three Tips To Maximize Gut Health
1) Eat More Prebiotics and Fibre Rich Foods
Prebiotics are natural non-digestible carbohydrate fibres that positively change the bacterial composition in our gut. Not all dietary fibres have ‘prebiotic potential’ – to meet the criteria for a prebiotic fibre it must selectively grow beneficial bacteria when metabolized in the gut, whereas non-prebiotic fibres will not necessarily increase the number of beneficial bacteria.
What Are Prebiotic Fibres?
Some of the best sources of prebiotic foods include garlic, chicory root, leeks, artichoke, onion legumes (including chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans), chia and dandelion root (1). Bananas are also a good source of the prebiotic fibre inulin.
What More Recipes Featuring Prebiotic Foods?
Add some legumes to your salad, and cook regularly with onion and garlic, or try one of these favourite recipes:
- Dandelion Root Latte with Turmeric and Ginger
- Curried Chickpea Roasted Cauliflower with Couscous
- Low Carb Gluten-Free Cracker Recipe with Chia
A Note On Other Fibres
Other non-prebiotic fibre foods are also important for gut health, and although they may not show a growth in beneficial bacteria they do provide food for our gut bacteria. When fibre enters our colon, the bacteria will feast on it creating a fermentation process which releases beneficial metabolites including short-chain fatty acids (SCFA). SCFA have long been linked to improving immunity and decreasing inflammation.
Tips to increase fibre: Have at least 1 ½ cups cooked vegetables, or 3 cups of salad with lunch and dinner. Berries which have a high surface area of skin and many seeds are very high in fibre.
2) Have One Fermented Food or Probiotic Every Day
The live-active cultures in fermented food (which some refer to as probiotics) can selectively alter the gut environment to create a higher population of beneficial bacteria, achieving the same result as prebiotic foods. By crowding out the harmful bacteria, this can reduce inflammation by stimulating our immune system in a helpful manner. They also work to improve the barrier function of the gut, and by improving the integrity of our gut wall.
What Are Some Common Fermented Foods?
Some of our best food sources of live-active cultures include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, miso paste, sour pickles (not vinegar pickles), kimchi, kombucha and apple cider vinegar. Make sure these foods are not pasteurized, or heated, as this process will kill off any of the beneficial bacteria.
What Are Some Recipes Using Fermented Foods?
Add miso or unpasteurized apple cider vinegar to salad dressings. I’ve compiled a list of some favourite recipes featuring fermented foods here – Fermented Foods Recipes and Health Benefits. See these other favourite recipes:
- Baked Tofu Kale Quinoa Salad Bowl with Glory Bowl Dressing
- Japanese Salad Bowl with Miso Tahini Dressing
- Kefir Chia Pudding
- Healthy Coleslaw Recipe with Toasted Almonds.
3) Limit Stress For Gut Health
The ability of stress to weaken our immune system is well recognized, and with 80% of our immune system living in our gut, too much stress can create a dysbiosis or imbalance of beneficial and ‘bad bacteria’.
What Other Conditions Have Been Linked To Stress?
Stress has been linked to many illnesses including type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, anxiety and depression, and obesity. The stress that affects our gut bacteria is not only isolated to a crazy work-day, it also encompasses stress caused by a poor diet that is high in refined carbohydrates (2), artificial sweeteners (3), as well as lack of sleep and self-care.
Tip to manage stress: Take time out for yourself, learn to say ‘no’, surround yourself with people who love you, spend time in nature, limit screen time, meditate, exercise and eat healthy whole-foods.
How To Make This Prebiotic Chickpea Smoothie Bowl
What Milk Alternative Can I Use?
I used homemade coconut milk in this smoothie bowl recipe which is literally just blended down coconut flakes blended with water. You have the option to strain the coconut milk to remove the pulp but I prefer to keep it in my smoothie, for both ease and added fibre. If you strain your homemade coconut milk or use a store-bought milk alternative the smoothie bowl will be lower in fibre.
What Can I Use Instead of Dandelion Root?
If you don’t have dandelion root don’t fret, it tastes just as good without it. You can purchase dandelion root online, or find it at health food stores. I love buying roasted dandelion root powder and having it as a coffee alternative in the morning (see Dandelion Root Benefits, How to Harvest and Women’s Health)
Can I Use Canned Chickpeas?
For this recipe I used chickpeas canned in BPA-free cans (see Why Is BPA Bad, Health and Environmental Concerns), but even better if you can soak and boil your own. If you are using canned chickpeas just be sure to drain them and rinse the chickpeas well.
Want Some More Smoothie Bowl Recipes?
- Try this low-carb Low Carb Smoothie Bowl with Cauliflower and Greens
- Or this anti-inflammatory Turmeric Golden Milk Smoothie Bowl
- Or try this Kefir Chia Pudding
- Healing Breakfast Smoothie
Did you make this Prebiotic Smoothie Bowl Recipe with Chickpeas recipe? Please let me know how it turned out for you! Share it on Pinterest and leave a comment below. I would love it if you shared a picture of your recreation on Instagram so I can take a look, and be sure to tag me @theconsciousdietitian.
Prebiotic Chickpea Smoothie Bowl Recipe
- 1/3 cup shredded coconut unsweetened
- 1 cup water
- 3 tbsp hemp hearts
- 1 tsp dandelion root
- 2 large bananas frozen
- 1 cup blueberries or blackberries frozen
- 1/2 cup chickpeas cooked or canned and drained
- chia seeds
- hemp hearts
- fresh berries
- First, to make the coconut milk blend the shredded coconut and the water in a high-speed blender until smooth. This coconut milk will have some residue, so you have the option to strain it here. I like to leave the leftover coconut residue in the smoothie for ease and to limit waste.
- Add all the other ingredients to the blender and blend until smooth. You may need to use the blender mixing apparatus to make sure everything is completely blended and smooth. If the mixture seems too thin, add some more frozen berries or banana. If it is too thick add some more water.
- Pour smoothie bowl mixture into two bowls. Top with desired ingredients.
- Leftovers can be stored in a sealed container in the freezer. Let defrost slightly before eating.
What Milk Alternative Can I Use?You can use any milk alterantive in this recipe. Without the coconut flakes the overall fibre content will be lower.
What Can I Use Instead of Dandelion Root?If you don't have dandelion root don't fret, it tastes just as good without it. You can purchase dandelion root online, or find it at health food stores.
Can I Use Canned Chickpeas?For this recipe I used chickpeas canned in BPA-free cans but even better if you can soak and boil your own. If you are using canned chickpeas just be sure to drain them and rinse the chickpeas well. Nutrition Information per 1 bowl topped with 1 tbsp hemp, 1 tbsp chia and 1/2 cup blueberries
References for Simple Prebiotic Smoothie Bowl with Chickpeas
1. The bifidogenic effect of Taraxacum officinale root (2004). Fitoterapia.
2. Influence of diet on the gut microbiome and implications for human health (2017). Journal of Translational Medicine
3. Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota. (2014). Nature
Rachel Dickens, The Conscious Dietitian, is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She graduated with her Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics in 2010 from Griffith University. She strives to provide evidence-based nutrition information with a focus on plant-based nutrition and share some of her favourite seasonal recipes and sustainable eating tips.