I sure hope you’ve had some gut loving fun during the dog days of summer. Here at the Functional Nutrition Alliance we love to spend the season honoring our intestines with a variety of flavors that tickle the taste buds and support great gut function. 

Today we have a special invitation for you…

Curb your coffee craving with chicory root!

You might not know it but you’ve likely already consumed chicory root a time or two. If you’ve ever tried to kick your coffee habit and enjoyed a coffee alternative like Teechino or Dandy Blend, chicory root is a key ingredient in those products.

In fact, chicory root has been used throughout history as a coffee substitute (find out how to make your own to complement or kick that morning cup of joe with one of our favorite recipes below).

Yet there’s one other reason you might know chicory…

Have you ever eaten endive? It’s that elegant edible that’s so delicate it’s sometimes wrapped in paper at the market. Endive and chicory are one in the same! The dainty leaves that you’ll find shelved with the salad greens are what you’ll find above ground while, surprise, the gnarly chicory root is what grows below.

But let’s explore why chicory root is not just tasty when brewed up for a summer satisfying latte, but also good for our guts.

Prebiotic Foods Support A Healthy Gut

Chicory root contains inulin. And inulin is a form of soluble fiber and a prebiotic food. This means that chicory root is not just food for you, but also food for your good gut bacteria (which ultimately makes it good for you too!)

When you feed the good bacteria in your gut the food they need, they produce by-products called short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). Research shows that increased SCFA’s help reduce the risk of colon cancer and may help manage the symptoms of IBD and IBS. 

Inulin is also liver loving in that it increases the flow of bile which helps break down fats more quickly and efficiently. As with our other soluble fiber favorites, it helps bulk stool and relieves constipation. (Sigh of gratitude.) And there’s also some studies supporting chicory root’s ability to destroy harmful organisms like fungus and bacteria.

Other plants like onions, asparagus, bananas, onions, and garlic also contain inulin (so eat those too!) but Jerusalem artichokes and chicory root contain the highest concentrations of this precious prebiotic food.

Before you go crazy with chicory, take note that it’s often called “the stealth fiber”. It doesn’t have the taste or texture of other fiber and it can be easy to consume too much leading to digestive distress like gas, bloating, and cramps when you increase ingested consumption too quickly. As always, you’ll want to start low and go slow.

Last but not least, chicory root is related to ragweed, marigolds, and daisies. If you have a known allergy to these plants, you may react to this root so use caution if you try it, or check with your healthcare provider before trialing this root remedy.

your gut lovin’ chicory root recipe

Whether you bring it in because it’s food for your microbiome or you’re just craving a cuppa without the caffeine, this root is worth digging up.

I’ve got a favorite chicory root recipe below that is sure to please whether you need  to warm up or keep cool.

Life-Changing Chicory Coffee

This recipe was shared by Caroline Stahlschmidt on the Functional Nutrition Alliance team. While I won’t promise this is a perfect replication of your morning cup of coffee, chicory root paired with dandelion creates a close comparison. Don’t tell ‘joe’ but you just might like it more. I find it has the bitter taste we often crave from coffee but with more sweet undertones. The carob chips or cocoa nibs are most definitely optional here but they do make this mug even more magnificent!

ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 Tbsp roasted chicory root
  • 1 Tbsp roasted dandelion root
  • 1 tsp roasted carob chips or cacao nibs, optional
  • sprinkle of cinnamon or 1 cinnamon stick
  • full fat coconut milk
  • stevia or honey, to taste

preparation

Place water, chicory root, dandelion root, carob chips, and cinnamon in a small pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer for 5 -7 minutes.

Pour the liquid through a mesh strainer into a jar or cups and serve with coconut milk and sweetener of choice.

Drink warm or chilled!

You can compost the roots or make a second a brew. A second brew won’t be as strong but will still pack a punch. You can also make a larger batch, store it in the fridge in a mason jar and re-heat it whenever you’re ready for that cup of warming goodness.

As always, remember that we’re each unique and we all respond differently to new ingredients. While introducing more prebiotics to your diet, be sure to start low and go slow. If you have a delicate gastrointestinal tract and have any concerns, please consult your dedicated healthcare provider.

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Functional Nutrition Alliance provides the comprehensive online Functional Nutrition training in the Science & Art of the Functional Nutrition practice. Learn to address the roots of your clients’ suffering with client education, diet & lifestyle modifications.