Jeannie Mai Drinks This Gut-Healthy Vietnamese Smoothie Every Day

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Plus, Mai shares the other nutritious foods she and her daughter eat in a day to maintain a healthy digestive system.

<p>Frazer Harrison/Getty Images</p>

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Reviewed by Dietitian Maria Laura Haddad-Garcia

When award-winning producer Jeannie Mai isn’t hosting Prime Video’s America’s Test Kitchen: The Next Generation, she loves to spend meaningful time with her daughter, Monaco. And as Monaco speeds through toddlerhood, Mai is doing everything she can to be healthy and available for life’s most beautiful moments, with special attention given to her gut health.

After using their products for the last couple of years, Mai has partnered with Dulcolax, a brand that offers laxative tablets, chewables and suppositories to help temporarily increase bowel movement. This gave us the chance to chat with her about the importance of a healthy gut. “When I look at my day-to-day, if my gut health isn’t consistent, it throws everything off,” Mai told EatingWell. “Now, especially as a mom, I’ve really learned how essential it is to be regular and make sure digestion is never an obstacle.”

Related: What Happens to Your Body When You Take Laxatives for Constipation Every Day

In this interview, Mai gave us the deets on the gut-healthy foods she and her daughter eat most often. She also dished on what she typically eats in a day, including a five-ingredient Vietnamese smoothie. Plus, we got to hear about the gut-healthy ingredient she likes better than Greek yogurt, the mistake her cooking show contestants make most often and the endearing way she likes to stay active.

EatingWell: When did you start to realize that you wanted to prioritize gut health for your overall well-being?

Mai: I noticed that after I became a mom, I became more hypersensitive about the things that it takes to make me feel healthy. Like, I need my maca smoothie. I want my healthy snacks. I want to make sure I’m doing all the things to make myself feel good inside and out.

Related: This One Habit Can Significantly Improve Your Gut Health—and It Has Nothing to Do with Diet

EatingWell: What do you typically eat in a day?

Mai: In the morning, I always do overnight oats. And this is a tip for busy moms: Have all your toppings and everything readily available like they do at Baskin Robbins. Even Amazon has those trays that you can get with the pop-up lids. So I have my chia seeds, berries, goji berries, dehydrated strawberries and dehydrated mangoes and every day is a different mix.

Then, I do avocado shakes in the middle of the day. It's a Vietnamese thing called sinh tố bơ, and it's avocado with condensed milk and ice. But I make the ‘grown’ version. I make it with avocado. I still use condensed milk because there's nothing that beats that creamy sugar. Then, I put in spinach, chia seeds and a little bit of ground flaxseed, and yo, that's a party! It's so good and creamy and fluffy. And avocado is so healthy for your skin. I can't get enough.

For lunch, I always have to have an ethnic lunch, so I'm usually dancing between Korean food, Greek food or Vietnamese food. And thankfully, I'm shooting America’s Test Kitchen: The Next Generation right now, so we are in the Mecca seaport, Boston, which has every type of food you could want.

After work, I link up with Monaco, my girl. I just introduced her to Greek food. She had a fully Greek dinner the other day, and I could not believe that she was so into the lamb kofta. And then she loved the baba ganoush. It was just so special to see her there. And yeah, that's a full day's meals.

Related: 20 Gut-Healthy Breakfasts That Help Support Digestion

EatingWell: What's the one cooking mistake you see America’s Test Kitchen: The Next Generation contestants make most often?

Mai: They don't listen to the judges. After one competition, the judges told every single chef, ‘Taste your food before you serve us.’ It's just common sense when you're spending 45 minutes by the clock making this amazing presentation. But you didn't taste it yourself? You didn't know that your risotto was still crispy in the middle? After a few competitions, I can't feel bad for you at that point. If you get sent home because you didn't try your own food that you served people, there's the door.

EatingWell: What foods do you like to focus on eating for better gut health?

Mai: Oh my gosh, chia seeds are number one. That's always in my cart. I love making overnight oats with chia seeds, ground or whole. Monaco gets a sprinkle of chia seeds, too. She knows exactly how to sprinkle it like Salt Bae on top of her baked goods. I also love Greek yogurt. I'm big on chickpeas. I cook with chickpea flour. I bake with it. I'm big into root vegetables. And I also have been big on kefir lately and mixing that into everything. Because I'm into tang and vinegars, I have a tart palate, figuring out ways to cook even savory foods with kefir has been a flex for me.

Related: 12 Foods to Improve Your Gut Health Overnight

EatingWell: What’s a go-to savory food you cook with kefir?

Mai: I make really good labneh with a lot of dill, lemon and lemon zest. But using kefir instead of Greek yogurt has been a game-changer, especially since it’s raw. I'll cook my labneh and then put the kefir in last to just kind of whip it in.

EatingWell: What’s your favorite way to stay active?

Mai: Being a mom. Yesterday I got out of work at 6:00 p.m. and took Monaco to the park. We're into the seesaw right now. We have been scootering. Scootering is a big thing to us. She just got her Strider, so it's been my goal to have that little girl riding a bike before three years old. I learned at an early age, and bike riding is my jam. I'm determined to teach her that too, so that'll give me a lot of calories burned for a few months.

Related: The Surprising Activity That Can Help Improve Your Gut Health, According to a Gastroenterologist

EatingWell: What does eating well mean to you?

Mai: Eating well means that I'm really happy not only on the outside, but also on the inside with the foods that I choose. I used to think in my 20s and 30s that eating well meant eating anything I could and not gaining weight. Or, it meant eating anything I could because I finally made my own money. But then, when I hit my 30s and 40s, I realized that’s not actually eating well. That doesn't make me feel good the next day. It doesn't make me feel strong. When I started to get into fitness, understand the value of my money and build my palate, I learned that really good food has to taste great, but should also make you feel good about yourself. I grew up on a lot of America's basic favorites, and I'm now able to look at my favorite foods and think about how I can make them more wholesome. And I can feel proud about having nostalgic flashbacks to what I love but feel good about serving it to my daughter, too.

Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Read the original article on Eating Well.