Excerpted from HELP YOURSELF: A Guide to Gut Health for People Who Love Delicious Food © 2020 by Lindsay Maitland Hunt. Photography © 2020 by Linda Pugliese. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

There is a strong, bidirectional connection between the brain and the gut microbiota, aka the community of microbes that lives in the large intestine. While the brain sends signals to the gut, an estimated 90 percent of that signaling goes from the gut in the direction of the brain. This means that what we eat has a big impact on how our brain functions, and therefore it’s crucial to feed the beneficial bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microbes what they like to eat. In a nutshell, this means whole plant food sources—think: vegetables, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains, and fruits. Variety matters, too, since a variety of plants encourage a variety of health-promoting microbes to thrive in your gut.

In this simple recipe for Nine-Minute Eggs with Steamed Greens and Kimchi Dressing, you’ll get a hearty serving of steamed greens, which are known to be good for both brain and gut health. They’re paired with a spicy kimchi-based dressing that brings along some guest-starring bacteria, thanks to kimchi’s fermented preparation. A dose of “live active cultures” (as you may see them called on jars of kimchi, sauerkraut, and lacto-fermented pickles at the supermarket) is what makes these foods “probiotic,” meaning they may confer a health benefit when eaten, and they taste great, too. And not only do eggs add a hearty, satisfying element to this simple all-day meal, I’ve recently learned via WAM that eggs help the body produce melatonin, which makes them a great choice for dinner to encourage sleep. As with all the recipes in Help Yourself, the goal is to make plant-focused eating easy and tasty. I hope you enjoy it!


LGVs, Fermented Food

Think of this recipe as a template for a balanced breakfast. Pair nine-minute eggs with whatever vegetables you have on hand—whether it’s the hearty leafy greens in the recipe or Perfectly Steamed Broccoli (page 116) or Roasted Romanesco (page 108)—plus your favorite dressing.

4 large eggs

4 cups packed hearty green leaves, such as rainbow or Swiss chard, kale, or collard leaves (from 1 large bunch)

½ cup Kimchi Dressing (below), at room temperature

2 teaspoons sesame seeds

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Boil the eggs. Fill a medium bowl with ice and water. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Using a long-handled spoon, gently lower the eggs into the boiling water. (Roughly dropping them in can crack the shell on the bottom of the pot.) Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and set a timer for 9 minutes.

When the timer goes off, use a slotted spoon to carefully transfer the cooked eggs to the ice water and set aside until cool enough to handle (alternatively, run them under cold water until cool). Tap each egg gently on the counter and roll to crack the shell all over. Peel the shell off and then halve the eggs lengthwise.

Steam the greens. Meanwhile, fill a large pot with 1 inch of water and put a steamer insert inside. Cover, bring the water to a simmer, add the greens, re-cover, and steam until tender but with a little bite, about 6 minutes.

Serve. Use tongs to remove the greens from the strainer, shaking them gently to let any extra water drip off. Put them in a shallow bowl, then top with most of the dressing. Top with the eggs, remaining dressing, sesame seeds, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Eat right away.

To Make Ahead
Store the peeled cooked eggs and the vegetables in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator. Assemble and let come to room temperature before eating.


Kimchi Dressing


Fermented Food

Even if I know that the beneficial microbes in my kimchi or sauerkraut are great for me, adding one or the other on top of my meals can start to feel repetitive. That’s why I came up with this rich and creamy dressing, which packs a cup of kimchi into each batch. 

1 cup packed kimchi

¾ cup vegan mayo

½ cup water  

1 tablespoon fish sauce

Pinch of kosher salt, or more as needed

In a blender or food processor, combine the kimchi, mayo, water, and fish sauce. Start blending slow to incorporate the ingredients evenly, then blend until you have a smooth dressing. Taste and season with the salt—I like a little more than just a pinch, but preferences differ.

To Store
Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Excerpted from HELP YOURSELF: A Guide to Gut Health for People Who Love Delicious Food © 2020 by Lindsay Maitland Hunt. Photography © 2020 by Linda Pugliese. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

Help Yourself by Lindsay Maitland Hunt