A nutrition expert shares her favorite gut-healthy recipe. The secret is cooked, cooled and reheated quinoa.

  • Dr. Leena Hilakivi-Clarke is an expert on nutrition and the microbiome.

  • She says that cooling carbs turns them into "microbiota-accessible carbohydrates," a gut superfood.

  • Here is her favorite recipe for a meal that promotes gut health.

Some carbohydrates could be gut health superstars — you just have to cool them down first.

Cooking and cooling starches like rice, potatoes, and quinoa in the fridge turns them into "resistant starches," a type of dietary fiber also called a microbiota-accessible carbohydrate, or MAC. MACs are especially good for gut health.

When ingested, MACs "make the gut bacteria produce lots of different metabolites that help the body, help the immune system, and help the metabolic pathways in cells," said Dr. Leena Hilakivi-Clarke, a professor in the Department of Food Nutrition and Science at the University of Minnesota.

"If you eat rice and pasta straight," Hilakivi-Clarke said, "you get more of the not so great carbohydrates." But when the carbs are cooled down for several hours, "they change the carbohydrate contents in a way that they are now more accessible to the microbiome."

Once cooled, food can be reheated and still reap benefits of MACs.

Hilakivi-Clarke shared her favorite gut-healthy recipe with Insider, so you too can get MACs in your diet.

Dr. Hilakivi-Clarke's favorite gut-healthy quinoa

  • 1 cup of quinoa cooked with 1 tablespoon of butter and ½ tablespoon of salt cooked in 2 cups of water

  • One can of Trader Joe's Greek chickpeas with parsley and cumin

  • Half of a large red onion, chopped

  • 1.5 tbsp of Trader joes' Nori Komi Japanese multi-purpose seasoning

  • 1 tbsp of black garlic

  • 1-2 cups of fresh chopped cabbage

  • ¼ of small fresh chili pepper, chopped

  • ½ cup fermented cabbage (with garlic)

Cook the quinoa 24 hours in advance. Let it cool in the fridge for a day, then reheat it on the stove or in the microwave. Cooling the quinoa gives it the chance to become a resistant starch, a type of MAC.

Gather the rest of the ingredients, and mix them together. Hilakivi-Clarke also recommends adding organic meat or fish. She said she often eats quinoa with flavored shrimp.

Her recipe is also filled with other health promoting ingredients. Chickpeas are a great source of fiber, which Hilakivi-Clarke says is essential for gut health. Half a cup of chickpeas contains more than 6 grams of fiber.

The addition of organic meat, fish or shrimp adds protein — shrimp contains 23 grams of protein in a 3 ounce serving.

Fermented cabbage with garlic is another great gut-friendly ingredient. Fermented foods — like cabbage — contain probiotics, which are live bacteria that can help your digestive microbes, Insider reported previously.

Read the original article on Insider