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The Probiotic Lunchbox: Bacteria Makes Your Belly Happy

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At MDHQ in Cambridge, MA we love to talk about food. It’s no secret, if you’ve read some of our blog posts on snacking at trade shows and the potential probiotic benefits of wine and beer. We want good food to be good for you.

Fall is here, and with it comes packed school lunches and yearnings for warm, home cooked meals at the office. Make your lunchbox biome-friendly!

Bacteria Rich Noms

There are plenty of fermented, bacteria-packed nibbles that work great in a lunch spread. Many foods help support a diverse gut microbiome while still keeping you full and happy!

  • Miso soup: miso is a Japanese fermented soybean spread that is tasty and rich. Dissolve a spoonful in hot water, and add in some tofu, scallions, seaweed, and any vegetables or noodles you’re in the mood for. Keeping a tub of miso in the work fridge is a great option - a little miso goes a long way, and emergency soup is great for the approaching cooler days. If you’re looking for something a little more portable, most Asian food stores carry ready-bundled packets of miso and freeze-dried toppings. (Not into soup? Check out these 7 different uses for miso paste!)


  • Cheese: always a delicious option. Unpasteurized and raw cheeses still contain the bacteria used to ferment them. Check the labels and shop for snackable varieties like gouda, feta, and emmental - but not if you’re pregnant! Slice up an apple to pair it with for a perfect afternoon snack. Or double your probiotic power and have it on sourdough bread.


  • Tempeh: tempeh is fantastically versatile and packs a lot of protein, so much so that many vegetarians use this fermented soybean product as a meat replacement. It has a firm texture and a nutty taste. It can be prepared as a snack, in a sandwich, in soup, as a main, crisp it up as a topping for salads, you name it! And while it’s very different from tofu in texture, it’s similar to tofu in that it easily absorbs other flavors.


  • Yogurt: most people are familiar with the concept that yogurt is rich in probiotics. Look for live-cultured yogurt that is low in sugar. Yogurt doesn’t have to be just for breakfast or a snack - use plain Greek style yogurt to dress a baked potato or instead of mayo in a sandwich. (Insider tip from the Greeks in the office - spread plain Greek yogurt on a piece of crusty bread and drizzle it with honey. YUM.)


  • Lacto-fermented vegetables: If you like pickles, you’ll love these. These fermented veggies have that wonderfully salty, briny taste with all the benefits of good bacteria. They’re easy to make - no pickling experience required, and make a great snack or addition to a meal. And it’s easy to get creative - try it with a mix of vegetables, or just carrots, green beans, cauliflower, even garlic is great!


Bacteria Friendly Noms

Probiotics aren’t the only way to develop a robust gut microbiome. Prebiotics are foods that don’t contain any good bacteria, but do keep the bacteria already in your gut healthy and happy. Adding prebiotic foods into your diet is a great way to boost your microbiome.

  • Alliums: onions, leeks, garlic, scallions, and chives are all great for your gut. They have the highest impact raw, but if you have an important meeting after lunch, or are lunching with new friends in the cafeteria, maybe try these cooked :P


  • Bananas: rich in fiber, bananas help feed the gut bacteria. They also pack a punch of potassium and are a great post workout snack!


  • Whole-grain and sprouted breads: the high fiber content in these breads makes for a happy internal microbiome. Swap these nuttier-tasting breads for white bread and make sandwiches a feel-good meal!


Bon Apetit!


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