Vegetables on counter - Recipes supporting probiotics/prebiotics

If you’re unfamiliar with prebiotics and probiotics, these are substances found within the digestive system which, when kept in proper balance, will ensure its continuing health.

Probiotics are healthy bacteria that are naturally present in the system, helping control the growth of unhealthy bacteria that (if present in excess) can cause the system to function poorly. Poor functioning of the digestive system, in turn, will contribute to other health problems.

An adequate amount of probiotics can’t be maintained unless you feed your body a healthy diet, and foods high in prebiotics, which are non-digestible carbohydrates that serve as probiotics’ food, are some of the healthiest options out there. Prebiotics are commonly found in vegetables, grains, and roots, and making these foods part of your diet will tend to be more interesting than just popping a supplement.

Working together, probiotics and prebiotics may help relieve the symptoms of diarrhea, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), yeast infections, colds, influenza, and Crohn’s disease, and may help lower the “bad” cholesterol, LDL.

The two vegetarian-friendly recipes below contain prebiotic-rich ingredients which, when consumed, will assist you in improving (or maintaining the good health of) your digestive system.

Recipes courtesy of The Complete Prebiotic & Probiotic Health Guide by Dr. Maitreyi Raman, Angela Sirounis & Jennifer Shrubsole © 2015 Reprinted with permission. Available where books are sold.

Grilled vegetable lasagna

Two simple changes give this lasagna a delicious new flavour—the vegetables are grilled first and tofu is used as a layer with the cheese, making it rich in calcium.

Makes eight servings

  • Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C)
  • 13-by-9-inch (33 by 23 cm) baking pan, sprayed with nonstick cooking spray


  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 2 cups (500 mL) sliced mushrooms
  • 1 can (19 oz/540 mL) tomatoes
  • 1 can (7.5 oz/213 mL) tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) crushed dried basil
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) crushed dried oregano
  • 0.5 tsp (2 mL) salt
  • 0.25 tsp (1 mL) freshly ground black pepper
  • 1.5 lbs (750 g) herb-flavoured or plain tofu
  • 2 zucchini, sliced lengthwise and grilled
  • Half an eggplant, sliced and grilled
  • 1 red bell pepper (quartered, grilled and peeled)
  • 1 cup (250 mL) lower-fat cottage cheese
  • 3 cups (750 mL) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 0.75 cups (75 mL) freshly grated Parmesan cheese


  1. In a Dutch oven, sauté onion in oil until tender
  2. Stir in garlic, carrot, celery and mushrooms
  3. Sauté for five minutes
  4. Add tomatoes, breaking up with fork
  5. Add tomato sauce, basil and oregano
  6. Simmer, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes or until thickened and reduced to about 2.5 cups (625 mL)
  7. Season with salt and pepper

Squash with quinoa and apricots

Banish the blahs with this robust combination of fruits, vegetables and a nutritious whole grain seasoned with ginger, orange and a hint of cinnamon.


  • If you prefer, use frozen chopped butternut squash in this recipe. Reduce the quantity to 2 cups (500 mL).
  • For best results, toast and grind the cumin yourself. Place seeds in a dry skillet and cook, stirring until fragrant, for about three minutes. Immediately transfer to a mortar or a spice grinder and grind.
  • To make ahead, complete step 1. Cover and refrigerate overnight or for up to two days. When you’re ready to cook, continue with steps 2 and 3.

Makes eight servings

  • Medium to large (3.5 to 5-quart or 3.3 to 4.75 L) slow cooker


  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) minced ginger root
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) ground cumin (see Tips)
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) finely grated orange zest
  • 1  2-inch (5 cm) cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) salt
  • 0.5 tsp (2 mL) cracked black peppercorns
  • 1 cup (250 mL) ready-to-use vegetable broth
  • 0.5 cup (125 mL) freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 4 cups (1 L) cubed peeled winter squash (1-inch/2.5 cm cubes)
  • 2 apples (peeled, cored and sliced)
  • 0.5 cup (125 mL) chopped dried apricots
  • 1.5 cups (375 mL) quinoa, rinsed


  1. In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring until softened, for about three minutes. Add garlic, ginger, cumin, orange zest, cinnamon stick, turmeric, salt and peppercorns and cook, stirring, for one minute. Add stock and orange juice and bring to a boil. Transfer to slow cooker stoneware.
  2. Add squash, apples and apricots to stoneware and stir well. Cover and cook on Low for six hours or on High for three hours, until vegetables are tender. Discard cinnamon stick.
  3. In a pot, bring three cups (750 mL) of water to a boil. Add quinoa in a steady stream, stirring to prevent lumps, and return to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, until tender and liquid is absorbed. Add to slow cooker and stir well. Serve immediately.

Dr. Maitreyi Raman is a gastroenterologist and physician nutritionist specialist at the University of Calgary. She is the Medical Director of the Southern Alberta Nutrition Support Services and VP-Clinical of the Canadian Nutrition Society. She received her MD from the University of Ottawa and M.Sc. (Medical Education) from the University of Calgary.

Angela Sirounis, B.Sc., RD is both an inpatient and outpatient clinical dietitian with the Home Enteral and Parenteral Nutrition Program at the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary, Alberta.

Jennifer Shrubsole, B.Sc., RD is an inpatient clinical dietitian at Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary, Alberta.

Article adapted from The Complete Prebiotic & Probiotic Health Guide by Dr. Maitreyi Raman, Angela Sirounis & Jennifer Shrubsole © 2015 Reprinted with permission. Available where books are sold.
image: Sliced onions on a cutting board via Shutterstock