Going With Your Gut - How Fermented Foods Are Giving A Helping Hand , 0 Comments

Ahhh, the gut. It is a term generally used to reference the intestines and stomach, a problem area for many in our time. Our bodies are bombarded by pollutants, toxins, and chemicals every day, and, more often than not, it can throw our digestive system for a rather nasty loop. The gut is a world that exists in a delicate balance, with its incalculable flora and good bacteria, all working together to break down what you eat and help it absorb into the body. Miraculous as the internal workings of our bodies are, they too can require assistance from time to time. And in this arena, fermented foods are just the thing to come to the rescue!

Fermented foods have the incredible ability to restore equilibrium to our insides. They can assist with the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, protect the intestinal lining, improve the release of digestive juices and enzymes, and inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria. With all those potential health benefits to reap, I'm sure that by now you're itching to know about our top choices! While everyone is pretty much familiar with probiotic yogurt and pickles (whether they be the traditional cucumbers or assorted other veggies), there are other fermented all-stars to consider. Here are 5 of our favorite fermented (and soon-to-be famous) foods.

  1. KOMBUCHA - This lovely probiotic drink has been around for centuries, and while it was first recorded in China, it has since caught on in Russia & Eastern Europe. Traditionally, it is sweetened black or green tea that has been fermented thanks to a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast ("SCOBY"). The result is a fizzy drink that has experienced quite the popularity boost in the last decade. It is now a popular feature in many health food stores.
  2. MISO - It is not just a soup choice at your favorite sushi bar! A traditional East Asian seasoning, it is a paste made from fermented soybeans which is high in protein and various vitamins and minerals. It is a great addition to sauces, spreads, and dressings (see our recipe for a tasty oil-free salad dressing HERE
  3. TEMPEH - A product originally from Indonesia, it is another fermented soy concoction. In this case, the culturing process creates a sort of firm cake or patty, and its appearance is often compared to that of tofu. It is an excellent vegetarian substitute for animal protein on your salads, and can even be marinated and barbecued (hello, summer!). An excellent source of magnesium and fiber, it has been a staple in meat-free diets for a long time. 
  4. KIMCHI - Thank you, Korea! Sauerkraut's sassier, aka spicier, cousin, it is most commonly made with cabbage (other popular varieties include radish, cucumber, and scallion). The vegetables are fermented with brine, and the result is a tasty dish that has many regional variations. Try versions from different areas of the country, or seasonal specialties, to find which one best suits your preferences.
  5. KEFIR - A staple in any Eastern European diet, it is basically a drinkable yogurt. A good source of calcium and phosphorus, it can be found in its plain form, or infused with flavors, at many ethnic food markets or health food stores. We'll be giving you our recipe for an authentic, homemade Ukrainian kefir in the upcoming week, so check back to see it and try for yourself!
- Maria Vasylivna