Appetizers: 5 Easy and Gut-Friendly options for the Holidays

‘Tis the season for traditions, time with family and friends, and of course… food and appetizers! While traditional holiday recipes can be loaded with sugar, salt, fat, and other ingredients that aren’t the most gut-friendly options, celebrating the holidays doesn’t have to sabotage your gut health. A truly healthy lifestyle is all about balance! So this year, I encourage you to work with some gut-friendly options so you can continue feeling your best through the new year. Here are several gut-friendly appetizers to include in your holiday round-up.

Asparagus & Artichoke Plant-Based Frittata Appetizer

This festive treat is both delicious and healthy! Asparagus has an inulin component which is a soluble fiber found in many plants that feeds the gut microbiome. It also contains flavonoids and is packed with vitamins and minerals. Artichokes are also full of nutrients and are high in fiber. Artichokes also boost the immune system, are high in polyphenols which can repair damaged cells, and contain a ton of protein. These are just two of the many benefits packed in this dish. 


  • 12 oz asparagus
  • One medium onion
  • 14 oz firm tofu
  • 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 14 oz can of artichoke hearts in water
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast


  • Prep your vegetables: break off the tough ends of the asparagus. Chop the asparagus, onion, sun-dried tomatoes, and artichoke hearts to your liking. 
  • Heat the broth in a medium saucepan. Add the onions. Stir in the asparagus, tomatoes, and artichoke hearts. Cook for 3-4 minutes. 
  • In a food processor, add the tofu, water, and nutritional yeast. Blend until smooth. 
  • Add the mixture to the saucepan with the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon into a springform pan. Bake for about 30-40 minutes at 400°F (200°C). Cut into wedges and serve. 

Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Hummus

Pumpkin is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals and is thought to boost the immune system, protect eyesight, lower the risk of certain cancers, and promote heart and skin health. Chickpeas are high in protein and fiber, in addition to a ton of nutrients, making this hummus recipe an extremely healthy yet festive option for the holiday season. 


  • 1 – 14 oz can of chickpeas 
  • Juice of ½ of a lemon
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • Two cloves of garlic
  • One small 500 g pumpkin 
  • 50 ml water
  • 1 tsp cumin 
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Red chili powder to taste
  • Vegetables cut into sticks – carrots, celery, and cucumbers are all great options! 


  • Preheat the oven to 450°F. Spread pumpkin chunks on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes until soft. 
  • Once soft, add the pumpkin, chickpeas, tahini, water, lemon juice, salt, cumin, and garlic to a food processor and blend until smooth. Finish with a sprinkling of red chili powder. Serve with vegetable sticks. 

Gluten-Free Chickpea Muffins 

These muffins are packed with nutritious ingredients, including kale (a superfood) and chickpea flour which, as discussed earlier, is a great source of protein. Who said muffins are only for breakfast and dessert? Serve these at any party! 


  • 2 cups chickpea flour
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ cup of chopped kale
  • One medium bell pepper (chopped)
  • One ¼ cups water
  • ⅓ tsp red pepper flakes
  • ⅓ tsp salt


  • Mix all ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl. The batter should have a very liquid consistency. 
  • Evenly pour batter into the muffin cups. Bake for 35 minutes at 375°F (190°C). 

Probiotic Coconut Kefir Tzatziki Dip Appetizer

Before we dive into this refreshing dip (perfect as an appetizer!), let’s talk about kefir. If you aren’t familiar, kefir is a fermented beverage traditionally made from cow, goat, or sheep’s milk. In this case, we are using kefir made from coconut water. While still carrying the same probiotic qualities as traditional kefir, coconut kefir is high in potassium and a great dairy-free substitute. Coconut kefir can be purchased at whole and natural food stores, but to DIY this superfood, combine a packet of kefir grains with coconut water and let the mixture sit for 24 hours until it’s milky in color and topped with bubbles.


  • 2 tbsp olive paste
  • 2 tbsp dill 
  • Two cloves garlic 
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice 
  • One small cucumber
  • 1 cup strained kefir (from 4 cups of coconut kefir) 
  • Vegetable sticks


  • Mix thinly shredded cucumber, minced garlic, lemon juice, salt, and most of the dill into strained kefir until well combined. 
  • Garnish with the rest of the dill and olive paste.

Gluten-free almond flour cookies

Who says all apps have to be savory? These cookies are a great option for an appetizer at brunch or as a snack. They can be dressed up and decorated to fit any festivity and are a great, healthy alternative for the holidays. 


  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup apple sauce
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 ½ cup almond flour
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • ½ cup tapioca starch 
  • ½ tsp salt


  • In a large mixing bowl, add the tahini, apple sauce, maple syrup, and vanilla and whisk to combine. Add in the almond flour and tapioca starch. Mix well until dough forms. 
  • Roll small balls of the mixture. Place the balls onto a baking paper-lined oven tray and gently flatten them slightly. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes at 350°F (180°C). 

Get creative with appetizers and food! 

My biggest tip during the holidays is to get creative with substitutions! You can still incorporate traditional recipes and appetizers into your holiday menu but try making some healthy swaps and working with gut-friendly ingredients. Trust me; your gut will thank you! 



All the information on this website, including, but not limited to, text, graphics, images, and other material are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

5 Gut Health Myths Debunked

As a gastroenterologist, I always encounter patients plagued by gut problems, and many of them usually come with common gut health myths.