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How to protect your colon at every meal

March 12, 2020 | Heather Shannon
coconut chocolate chip baked oatmeal

The best diet for a healthy colon is one that's rich in fiber that comes from vegetables and whole grains.

Vegetables that are bright or dark in color provide the most benefits, including:

  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Carrots
  • Peppers

On the flip side, there's a lot that can hurt your colon, says Katie Rankell, director of the UCI Health Weight Management Program. To keep it healthy, here are her recommendations:

  • Limit fatty and processed foods
  • Limit charred meat
  • Limit saturated fats and sugar, especially from sweets and sodas
  • Drink 10 glasses of water a day
  • Avoid alcohol

These recipes, created by Chef Jessica Van Roo, assistant director of Culinary Recreation & Experiential Programs at UC Irvine, amount to a full day of delicious, budget-friendly dishes that are good for your colon!

coconut chocolate chip baked oatmeal

Coconut Nut Chocolate Baked Oatmeal

Serves 8, cut into 16 squares, two squares per serving (Total cost of recipe: $3.90/$0.49 per serving)

This tasty twist on oatmeal calls for two high-fiber ingredients: rolled oats and chopped nuts. And instead of sugar, it gets its sweetness from natural sweeteners such as honey, agave syrup or maple syrup.


  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup nuts, chopped
  • 1/3 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond or coconut milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar, maple syrup or honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 6 tablespoons mini chocolate chips


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and spray a 8 x8 baking sheet with cooking spray.

Combine oats, nuts, coconut, baking powder, mix well.

In another mixing bowl whisk together, milk with eggs, sweetner, extract and coconut oil.

Combine the wet ingredients with the dry. Stir in chocolate, spread in prepared pan. Bake oatmeal for 20–25 minutes or until firm and golden brown. Cool for a few minutes and cut, serve with extra agave if desired.

Store in the refrigerator for up to five days, or freeze up to three months.

whole wheat lentil wraps

Hummus Lentil Salad Wraps

Serves 4 (Total cost of recipe: $5.47/$1.37 per serving)

Lentils and chickpeas are loaded with both fiber and protein, which makes them an excellent source of non-meat protein.


  • 1¼ cup dry green lentils, rinsed 
  • 2½ cup water
  • 1 bay leaf )
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup plain hummus, store bought or homemade (recipe below) 
  • 1 tablespoon harissa other hot chili paste
  • 2 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt 
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped green onion
  • 1 roma tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 cup diced bell pepper 
  • 1/2 cup diced cucumbers 
  • 1/3 cup chopped toasted walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (such as parsley and oregano) 
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste 
  • 8 - 12 romaine or Bibb lettuce leaves, rinsed 
  • 4 whole wheat tortilla wraps (optional) 

For homemade hummus:

Makes about 2 cups

  • 1 15-ounce cans chick peas (garbanzos), drained
  • 2-3 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • ½  teaspoon ground cumin
  • Water to thin out


To make the hummus, put all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Adjust the consistency with olive oil, lemon juice or water. Season with salt and pepper.

To make the wraps, combine lentils, water, bay leaf and salt in a medium saucepan over high heat.

Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered until lentils are tender but not falling apart, about 20 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water and remove the bay leaf. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl and set in the fridge to cool.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together hummus, harissa or desired chili paste, lemon juice, with yogurt mix well.

Add the green onions, tomato, bell pepper, cucumber, walnuts, herbs and cooled lentils. Mix well and season with salt and pepper.

Serve lentil salad on lettuce leaves, or chop lettuce, and wrap in a tortilla with lentil filling.

baked tandoori chicken meatballs with yogurt sauce

Tandoori Chicken Meatballs with Yogurt Sauce

Serves 4, 4 meatballs per serving (Total cost of recipe: $6.71/$1.68 per serving)

Chicken is one of the leanest sources of animal protein, but it should be consumed in small portions alongside vegetables and whole grains, recommends Rankell. Enjoy the chicken with a side of brown rice, which has more fiber than white rice. Brown rice also has antioxidants, which help prevent damage to the body from free radicals.


  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 - 1/3 cup oatmeal flour*
  • 1 lb ground chicken or turkey
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili powder
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 ½ teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 ½ teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry (about 3- 4 oz)
  • 2 green onions, finely minced
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice

For the yogurt sauce

  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1- 2 tablespoon water


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment and brush with oil.

Make the oatmeal flour, place oats in a food processor and pulse the oats until you get a fine powder. 1 cup of oats will produce 1 cup of oat flour

Combine all the ingredients for the meatballs, mix well and form 16 small meatballs out of the meat mixture.

Place meatballs on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, flip and bake for another 8-10 minute or until fully cooked.

To make the yogurt sauce, combine all the ingredients. Taste and season as needed. Serve with meatballs and rice.

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