A gut-licious recipe

Addictive sweet potato burritos

On Jan. 29, I was again reminded that I chose the right major when I attended the Fargo Moorhead Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Winter Symposium on gut health. The conference was a three-hour course offering continuing education credits to current dietitians and an opportunity for Dietetic students and the public a chance to learn more about our gut and its role in our overall health. 

Yes, this is a cooking section, so I won’t waste your time talking about the organs that make poop too much. However, I would be doing you a serious disservice if I didn’t let you know how incredible your food tubes are, and I plan on still giving you a recipe. In fact, I want to share with you all a delicious recipe I often make at the hospital I work at back home. It just so happens to contain many foods our gut loves along with being amazingly delicious.

The biggest reason I chose to be a Dietetics major is because I am absolutely fascinated by the impact what we put in our bodies has on us. Our food really affects so much going on in our bodies and our minds. It is only natural that the most impacted and impactful system would be the one that this food passes through.

First of all, I want to let you in on a little something known as the gut-brain connection. The experiences your digestive system has has an influence on both your hormone levels and your mental well-being. Many studies have been coming out in recent years suggesting that the use of probiotics may alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. A direct correlation between digestive and neurological inflammation has also been established.

These facts are great and all, but you might be asking yourself, “Well, how do I make my gut happy then? I can’t exactly afford probiotic and prebiotic supplements on top of my thousands of dollars of student debt.”

Good news! A lot of the solution lies in what nutrition experts have been saying for years: eat a healthy and balanced diet filled with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It’s one thing to give you the advice, though, and another when you actually know why.

Both prebiotics and probiotics have a positive effect on the gut bacteria or your gut microbiome. Prebiotics are fibers that are not digestive in the small intestine but travel to the large intestine where they are fermented by and feed the healthy bacteria present. These healthy bacteria are important for the synthesis of some essential fatty acids and the production of important vitamins, such as vitamin K.

The more you feed this good bacteria, the more it competes with and beats out inflammatory or disease causing bacteria. These fibers are the fibers that you find in your fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. They are especially present in onions, garlic, legumes, sweet potatoes, flaxseed, tofu, lentils, squashes and berries.

Probiotics are the bacteria themselves, and these tend to be present in already fermented foods such as yogurts, kimchi, kombucha, cheese, kefir and sauerkraut. Consumption of fermented foods helps in maintaining the population of the healthy bacteria, especially in people who rely on antibiotics for certain diseases or infections.

All of that lovely gut stuff said, I present you with one of the most delicious recipes I’ve ever tasted, featuring my favorite food: the sweet potato. If you recall, these babies are not only delicious to us, but also to our gut bacteria. If you happen not to be a huge sweet potato fan, I still highly recommend giving this recipe a try because the flavor of the potatoes is incorporated into a seasoned bean mixture and doesn’t come through all too powerfully.


Servings: 12 

Note: Servings may depend on your preferred burrito thickness and tortilla size. I often end up with more than 12, so you may consider half-ing the recipe. Alternatively, you can freeze these burritos for a quick and easy lunch later on!


1 tbsp. olive oil

1 white onion, chopped

-Onions are a great source of prebiotic nutrition for the gut microbiome!

4 cloves garlic, minced

  • This is equivalent to ½ tsp. of garlic powder or 2 tsp. Pre-minced garlic. Personally, I really love garlic and may add nearly an entire bottle.
  • Garlic is also a great source of prebiotic nutrition for the gut microbiome!

6 c. canned kidney beans, drained

  • A typical can of beans contains 1 ½ c. of beans, so this would be equivalent to 4 cans, otherwise known as very many beans.
  • Beans provide a great source of prebiotic fiber, as well!

2 c. water

3 tbsp. chili powder

  • If you are terrified of spice, you may omit this, but note that it really only adds flavor and any spiciness will be overruled by the delicious sweet potato.

4 tsp. prepared mustard

  • This just means mustard rather than mustard seed or powder.

1 pinch cayenne pepper or to taste

  • In a study from 2017, this spice was found to exhibit antioxidant properties and enhance the growth of a prominent and beneficial species of gut bacteria!

3 tbsp. soy sauce

4 c. mashed cooked sweet potatoes

  • You can, of course, use canned sweet potato as baking and mashing the potatoes can take a bit more time. A 16 oz can will have about 1 ¼ cups (use 3-4 cans) while a 29 oz can will have about 2 cups (use 2 cans).
  • Sweet potatoes not only offer a wonderful nutrient profile and carbohydrates, but they are an excellent source of soluble fiber.

12 (10 in.) whole wheat tortillas

  • You are certainly free to use white flour tortillas, but the whole wheat provides much more soluble fiber and benefits your gut!


8 oz shredded cheddar cheese or feta cheese


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
  2. Heat your OLIVE OIL in a medium sized skillet and saute your ONION and GARLIC until soft. Then, mash your BEANS into the onion mixture in the skillet. Gradually add your WATER and heat until warm, or about 2-3 minutes. 
  3. Remove the skillet from heat and stir in SOY SAUCE, CHILI POWDER, MUSTARD, CUMIN, and CAYENNE PEPPER. Mix your mashed SWEET POTATOES into the bean mixture to form one filling.
  4. Divide the mixture amongst your TORTILLAS and top with CHEESE if desired. Fold tortillas burrito style and place on a baking sheet. 
  • If you wish to store the burritos, wrap in tin foil before placing on baking sheet.
  1. Bake in preheated oven until warmed through, about 12-20 minutes.

Happy cooking and happy gut!

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well if one has not dined well.” – Virginia Woolf

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