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Why You Should Grill your Kale for Better Gut Health

By Travis Metzger /

Why You Should Grill your Kale for Better Gut Health

All too often we consume vegetables during the summer by adding them raw to chilled salads and sometimes this is fine, however to meet the requirements of Chinese medicine inspired diet (which among many benefits, is fantastic for digestion) our "middle burner" we can grill our vegetables lightly to begin breaking down the ingredient thus allowing our bodies to absorb more nutrients.

Eating to Your Constitution 

In Chinese medicine theory, foods can cause disease when eating too many intoxicating or greasy foods and also when eating too many foods with cold or cool post digestive temperatures.  Individuals with different types of physical constitutions should follow different diets, this means that if you have a hot physical constitution you should eat more cold or cooling foods and if you have a cold physical constitution you should eat more hot and warm foods in order to strike a balance in your body.  Most people do best when eating foods that are slightly warming in order to keep their middle burner around 100 degrees.

warming quinoa

"Warming Ingredients" that You Can Easily Source

Quinoa, from an eastern perspective, has "a warming" post digestive temperature and is an amazing health food that has the highest protein of any grain.  Easy to prepare and quick to cook, this will likely become one of your favorite grains.

Dinosaur kale, also known as lacinato or Tuscan kale, has a "warming" temperature, benefits the stomach and is perfect on the grill as it ends up being crisp, addictive and smoky and is so simple to make.

scallions grilled

Grill Your Veggies for Better Digestive Health

It’s easy to incorporate lightly cooked vegetables into your diet especially during the summer when it’s fun to fire up the grill and hang out in the backyard.  You really don’t even need a recipe, all you have to do is get some your favorite vegetables on the grill, give them a quick char and eat them plain or toss with a little pesto or your favorite vinegar and olive oil.  Here we’re going to show you how to give your vegetables a little southwestern flair with chipotle, honey, cilantro and lime.

grilled vegetables improve gut health

This dish has a wonderful smokiness to it as both the grilling of the ingredients and the chipotle add a great smoky flavor.  Chipotles which you can buy in small cans in adobo sauce are smoked jalapenos and adobo is simply a red sauce that typically contains tomato and a variety of seasonings such as paprika, garlic and vinegar.  This is a great ingredient to have around to add some smoky kick to soups, sauces, dips, marinades or even cocktails. Chile peppers can widen the blood vessels and enhance both blood and Qi circulation. They warm the internal organs, treat the stomach and spleen and stimulate the digestive system.  

Feel free to experiment but remember to use mostly warming ingredients and when you can, get a little pre-digestion going, in this case by using the backyard grill.

southwest quinoa bowl

Southwest Quinoa Bowl with Kale Chicken and Sweet Potato

Prep/cook time about 45 minutes

Serves 3-4

  • 1/2 Cup quinoa
  • 8 Ounces chicken breast
  • 1 Small sweet potato
  • 3-4 Leaves lacinato kale depending on size
  • 3-4 Scallions, green and white parts
  • 1-2 Tablespoons chipotle puree depending on how spicy you like it
  • 1-2 Tablespoons honey depending on how sweet you like it
  • 1-2 Tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • Zest and Juice of one lime
  • 1-2 Ounces Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Sea salt
  • Fresh cracked pepper 

Instructions

Give the quinoa a good rinse as some but not all is prewashed.  Cook 1/2 cup quinoa in about 1 cup water or vegetable stock, bring to a boil and simmer while covered for about 15 minutes and set aside.

Season and grill chicken breast, dice and set aside.  

Strip away and discard the tough parts of the stems of the kale if necessary, although oftentimes you can grill the leaf and stem and the stem will be tender enough to eat. Trim the root end of the scallions and lightly grill. You can keep the skin on the sweet potato and slice lengthwise into ½ inch slices remembering that the kale and scallions will only take a few minutes while the sweet potato will take longer depending on the thickness of the slice and the temperature of the grill. Keep in mind that you want to get a nice amount of char on all the ingredients as this will add to the smokiness of the dish.  If you are grilling something, you want it to look like it’s been on the grill!

Toss the chicken and the sweet potato with the chipotle puree and honey.

For the chipotle, I like to buy the small cans of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and puree the entire contents of the can (peppers and sauce) with a bit of water in a blender, just enough water to get the the chipotles moving in the blender.  This will keep in the refrigerator for weeks. It is spicy but the honey will balance it nicely.  Zest and juice your lime and chop the cilantro.

Have fun building your bowl however you like!  You can start with the quinoa, then add the spicy chicken and sweet potato mix followed by the kale and scallions and finish with the lime and olive oil or simply toss it all together, mix and enjoy.

 Looking to support your gut health holistically?  Our Digestive Harmony formula can be used daily when trying to establish a strong digestive routine, or in moments of need for digestive support.

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Dining with Culinary Artist Travis Metzger is an unforgettable experience. You can taste the passion, creativity and culinary expertise in each of Travis’s one-of-kind recipes. Most would agree that Traditional Chinese Medicine herbs in their original form taste less than delectable, but Travis has proven that TCM for today can taste great with DAO Labs. Travis develops unique flavors for each DAO formula to complement the proprietary blend of herbs and their health benefits. After extensive training at the New England Culinary Institute, Travis ran some of the finest restaurants across the country before starting his own in Minneapolis. To survive the stresses and physical challenges of the kitchen heat, Travis focused on combining natural ingredients for healthy AND delicious eating and juicing.

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