In case you haven’t heard all the cool kids are making fermented foods these days.
Fermented foods have gone through a fermentation process creating a deliciously pickled or strongly flavored food or drink. One of the most common ferments is raw sauerkraut – but don’t get confused with sauerkraut that you buy off a shelf! If it’s not refrigerated it was likely pasteurized, (cooked before it was jarred) which kills off all of the live healthy bacteria that we are in such desperate need for. Other ferments you might have tried are kombucha, raw pickles, beet kvass, kefir & kimchi.
As a nutritionist, I have to admit it took me far too long to hop on the cool train and start making my own ferments – but they are truly some of the healthiest foods you can eat and I’m going to share 2 of my favourite fermented recipes.
Chronic stress, antibiotics, nutrient depletion in our soil, pesticides/GMO foods and our standard North American diet all contribute to our poor gut bacteria, causing bloating, diarrhea, indigestion, constipation and many other digestive issues.
Our gut is full of good bacteria and unfortunately bad bacteria as well. Eating fermented foods is one of the easiest ways to help introduce more good bacteria and crowd out the bad ones. Instead of spending big bucks on a probiotic go for the fermentable foods that can contain 100 times more probiotics than a supplement!
Fermented foods are also great in assisting your body to detoxify itself, lose weight, optimize your immune system and are an excellent source of essential nutrients such as vitamin K2, which helps prevent arterial plaque buildup and heart disease.
Easy Beet Kvass
“This drink is valuable for its medicinal qualities and as a digestive aid. Beets are loaded with nutrients. One glass morning and night is an excellent blood tonic, promotes regularity, aids digestion, alkalizes the blood, cleanses the liver and is a good treatment for kidney stones and other ailments.” Nourishing Traditions
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- 3 medium or 2 large organic beets, chopped up coarsely
- ¼ cup whey or juice from raw sauerkraut (here’s how to make whey)
- 1 tablespoon sea salt or himalayan salt
- filtered water
- Place beets, whey and salt in a 2-quart glass container. Stir well and cover with cheese cloth. Keep at room temperature for 2 days then drain liquid into a clean mason jar and discard the beets transfer to refrigerator. Drink one 4 ounce glass morning and night as an excellent blood tonic!
- 1 head of raw organic cabbage cored and shredded
- 1 cup of shredded red cabbage
- 1 tablespoon caraway seeds (optional)
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 4 tablespoons whey or use an additional tablespoon of salt
In a bowl, mix cabbage with caraway seeds, sea salt and whey.
Pound with a wooden pounder or meat hammer for about 10 minutes to release the juices. Transfer into a wide mouth quart sized, mason jar. The cabbage should reach about an inch below the top of the jar. Spend a couple minutes just pressing the cabbage down with your fingers. This draws the water out. You want the water to completely cover the cabbage you can use a weight to help keep the cabbage pressed down or use a full cabbage leaf tucked on top to keep the small ones from floating above the surface. Cover tightly and store in cool dark place. The minimum time is about three days, although the kraut will continue to ferment and become tastier for many days after that.
Note: It is possible you might find mold growing on the surface of the sauerkraut, this totally okay! Mold typically forms only when the cabbage isn’t fully submerged or if it’s too hot in your kitchen. The sauerkraut is still fine (it’s still preserved by the lactic acid). Just scoop off the mold and proceed with fermentation.
From here the choices are endless when it comes to what you can ferment! I have personally added shredded carrots, ginger and chili’s to my cabbage – yum! Adding raw fermented foods and beverages to your daily diet will give you a wide variety of powerful probiotics. So don’t be shy and join me and the rest of the cool kids and start fermenting your own foods, your gut will love you for it!