5 Easy Ways to Eat More Fermented Foods
Did you know your digestive system is the second largest part of your neurological system? Hence it’s nickname, “the second brain”. Your digestive system, also known as the gut, is extremely important, impacting everything from mood to immune-response, and it’s time to start treating it that way.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again...over 80% of your immune system is located in your gut!
Below are 5 ways you can incorporate more probiotic foods into your diet to support your body. Check out our 30 Day Gut Health Reboot here.
1. Try Kombucha (and drink it more often)
Kombucha is a bubbly fermented tea that's often flavored with fruit. It may feel trendy and a bit hippy, but it really is a refreshing and easy way to introduce more good bacteria into your gut. It often tastes sweet, but since the fermentation process eats up the sucrose and fructose, you're left with a beverage that has about 4-8 grams of sugar per 8 oz.
If you'd like to try one that's more mild and fruity, G&T makes both triple berry and ginger komucha that are less funky tasting. Give it a try! Whatever brand you choose, make sure it says 'unpasteurized' and/or 'raw' on the label.
Look for the words:
Fermented / Lacto-Fermented
2. Eat fermented veggies
Fermented veggies are a deliciously tangy side to a meal. They are inexpensive to make and great for your gut. If you're a newbie to fermented foods and/or don't like the funkier taste of sauerkraut, you could start with buying jar that features carrots and ginger, or beets for something sweeter. Kimchi is a delicious addition to soup (just don't kill all the probiotics by heating it too much)!
One of the easiest (and most cost-effective) ways to eat fermented vegetables is to make your own sauerkraut. The process is as easy as shredding cabbage, adding salt, and then pressing it in to a glass jar so that the leaves are submerged in the cabbage juice.
Pickle fact: pickles used to always be salt ferments (aka a brine of salt, water, and spices), not submerged in a pasteurized vinegar solution like they are most often found today. Packing pickles in vinegar is a cheaper and more efficient process for long-term storage, but if you want the benefit of live food, look for unpasteurized salt-brined pickles.
Since homemade pickles are more difficult to keep crisp (without a grape leaf), we prefer to stick to krauts and other crispier veggies like radishes when making fermented foods at home.
When vegetables don't make their own juice as well as cabbage does, a salty solution is the way to go. There are a ton of recipes out there on the interwebs, so we'll keep it simple here.
Basic Brine Ratio: 1 tbsp sea salt for every cup of water (spice how you like)
3. Make probiotic smoothies
A delicious, customizable, and creamy way to spike your smoothie with probiotics is to add cashew yogurt–Forager is really good! Good quality dairy can be hard to come by, and affects many of us poorly, so cashew or coconut yogurt is a great thing to try. You can even make your own coconut yogurt with coconut milk and a probiotic capsule–find the recipe we pinned from Minimalist Baker on our "Gut Health" Pinterest board.
If you prefer dairy, opt for yogurt or kefir from pastured cows. Find your dairy at a farmer's market whenever possible, or look for "organic," and more importantly "grass-fed" on the label in stores. With conventional dairy, the hormones and antibiotics the cows are given can end up in our stomachs–not something we want! Read more about milk here.
4. Put miso in dressing, sauces, & soup
Miso is salty and adds some oomph (umami) to whatever you're making, whether it be soups, dressings, marinades or desserts. In it's raw state it is most alive, so if you'd like to add it to a soup, wait until the liquid has cooled a bit (until you can dip your finger in it comfortably). Try adding miso to dressings, dips, and sauces.
Miso is made of fermented beans (usually soybeans) and is usually made with koji, which is cooked and cultured grain (usually rice). We don't normally recommend soy products, but when soybeans are organic, non-GMO, and fermented they can become a nutritious probiotic food. So along with the words 'organic' and non-GMO,' look for the words 'raw' or 'unpasteurized' on the label.
5. Try fermented condiments
We've tasted some delicious fermented hot sauces and horseradish spreads from the farmers market near us, but we are finally seeing more and more fermented products available in stores; have fun tasting some awesome products out there, or make them yourself. We'll probably try making fermented salsa and hot sauce soon...
Store-bought condiments can even become fermented condiments by spiking them with a starter, as Leda Scheintaub explains in her book Cultured Foods for your Kitchen.
To culture ketchup, she recommends using one that comes in a glass bottle that doesn't contain high-fructose corn syrup or any preservatives that would inhibit fermentation. She says to remove some ketchup from the bottle, and then mix in 2 tablespoons of starter (i.e. some brine from your fermented veggies). Let the ketchup ferment for 3-5 days in a cool space away from direct sunlight, and then store in the fridge where it will keep for several months.
To start your 2018 off feeling amazing mentally and physically, check out our 30 Day Gut Health Reboot!
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