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When it comes to weight loss success, experts now agree that the quality of the calories you consume is as important as the quantity of calories. Simply put, eating the right foods for a balanced gut (meaning the right amount of good or neutral vs. harmful bacteria) is a key factor in whether or not you gain or lose weight.

By eating foods that nourish the healthy bacteria in your digestive tract—such as foods high in prebiotic fiber and those foods that contain beneficial bacteria, like living and fermented foods—your body will absorb fewer calories from food, experience fewer cravings, and store less fat. But what about those moments of weakness when you crave something sweet? Here are three delicious yet gut-healthy recipes you can feel good about:

 

Cacao, Avocado& Chia Mousse
Serves: 4
Ingredients:
1 avocado
¼ cup cacao powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup unsweetened almond milk
2 tbsp. chia seeds

Directions: Place avocado, vanilla, and almond milk in food processor and process until smooth; stir in chia seeds. Transfer mixture to medium bowl; refrigerate 1 hour. Scoop into individual bowls and serve chilled.

Lemon Bliss
Serves: 1
Ingredients:
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 tbsp. chia seeds
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
12 drops vanilla stevia
1 tsp. lemon extract

Directions: Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl. Chill 2 hours. Serve cold.

Nut Butter Cups
Serving Size: 2 Serves: 16
Ingredients:
5 tbsp. coconut cream concentrate (coconut butter)
5 tbsp. coconut oil (best if in liquid form)
6 tbsp. cacao powder (see Note)
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. lo han (monk fruit) sweetener
3 tbsp. nut butter of choice (cashew, sunflower, almond)

Directions: Mix all ingredients except nut butter in a medium bowl. Place ½ tsp. of mixture into each cup of a mini muffin pan. Freeze about 10 minutes. Set remaining mixture aside. Add ¼ tsp. nut butter atop each frozen “cup.” Add another ½ tsp. of the cacao mixture on top of the nut butter; freeze again about 15 minutes (to harden). Note: Cacao powder is a less processed version of cocoa powder and is available at health food stores.

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Fall means football season, and football season means… food! Because we know game day is one of the toughest times to find healthy eating options, we’re serving up three delicious and good-for-you recipes from Brenda Watson’s new book, The Skinny Gut Diet. Whether you’re tailgating on the road or spending the weekend at home with your favorite football fans, these party-worthy recipes guaranteed to score big and help you stick to your health and weight loss goals.

Savory Egg Salad
Ingredients:
4 hard-boiled eggs
1 tsp. prepared mustard
1 tbsp. mayonnaise
1 tbsp. pickle relish
4 tbsp. chopped celery
2 tsp. celery seeds
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions: Place eggs in small bowl; mash with fork. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Chill 20 minutes and enjoy. Note: This recipe makes two servings. Be sure to double or triple for large groups. And for a fun party idea, add lettuce and make lettuce leaf wraps!

Homemade Salsa in an Avocado Boat
Ingredients:
2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 serrano chili or jalapeño pepper, chopped
1/3 cup scallions, chopped
2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
¼ tsp. salt
1 avocado, halved, seed removed and partially hollowed out

 

Directions: Place all ingredients except avocado in a large bowl; mix well. Chill 20 minutes. Serve salsa atop avocado halves. Note: Serves two; adjust recipe as necessary.

Simple Beef Bruschetta
Ingredients:
3 tsp. coconut oil
½ cup halved artichoke hearts (packed in water)
¼ red onion, minced
1 ripe tomato, diced
3 fresh basil leaves, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
8 oz. lean boneless beef, such as top round or sirloin, cut into ½-inch slices
¼ tsp. cracked black peppercorns
¼ tsp. dried Italian seasoning

 

Directions: Coat grill pan or cast-iron skillet with 2 tsp. coconut oil and heat over medium-high heat. Lightly brown artichokes on each side, 2–3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool; cut into smaller pieces. In a small bowl, combine artichoke hearts, onion, tomato, remaining 1 tsp. coconut oil, basil, garlic and vinegar. Season beef with peppercorns and Italian seasoning. In the same skillet, sear beef over medium-high heat about 2 minutes per side, until nicely browned. Transfer to plate; top with artichoke bruschetta mixture and serve. Note: Serves two; adjust recipe as necessary.

 

See Chapter 13 in The Skinny Gut Diet for more healthful and delicious recipes and meal ideas!

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