We’ve talked in previous posts about the benefits of supporting healthy, happy gut flora. One of the key ways to do that is through adding fermented foods into your daily diet. Fermented foods are foods that are produced in such a way that they actually culture live bacterial and fungal strains that are good for your health. A prime example is yogurt. Other less “popular” ones include kimchi, kombucha, kefir, miso, and properly fermented vegetables like sauerkraut. These days, a lot of traditionally fermented foods are made through short cuts, producing a similar tasting end product, but none of the beneficial probiotic strains. When looking for fermented foods, make sure things like pickles and pickled veggies state that they are actually fermented. Another good clue is where you find them in the store; fermented foods almost always require refrigeration, so if you’re getting it some where other than the refrigerator at your grocery store, chances are it’s not truly fermented.
Ok, so now you have your awesome selection of fermented foods…how to incorporate them? Here are 5 ideas to help make cultured foods and beverages a regular part of your daily routine.
1) Kimchi and Scrambled Eggs – add a heaping tbsp of kimchi (drained well) to the pan as you make your scrambled eggs. Sprinkle on a bit of cheddar cheese. This combo is DELICIOUS! You get health fats and protein, plus probiotic benefits and even some veggies all in one tasty dish.
2) Kefir Smoothie – Smoothies are an amazing way to pack in a lot of nutrition, even on the go. Instead of relying on milk, water, or juice for your liquid in your smoothie, try adding kefir. Now on top of the great fiber benefits of your smoothie, you also have some probiotics and great protein.
3) Salad toppers – Picked veggies are great on top of salads. In place of your typical dressing, try adding some various heaping tablespoons of picked veggies and then a drizzle of olive oil. The pickled veggies add a great vinegar-like aspect to the salad, but add their probiotic goodness.
4) Pizza, because what doesn’t work there? I adore sauerkraut or kimchi on my pizza! Make your pizza as you typically would and then top with kimchi or sauerkraut right before serving. This added bite from these fermented foods can really enhance your pizza, in a similar way that banana peppers might, but with way more health benefits!
5) Kombucha pick me up – instead of reaching for coffee or a sugary treat when you’re feeling a bit low energy, try adding in a fermented beverage instead. Kombucha comes in a variety of flavors, so there’s almost certainly a flavor or brand that will fit your personal tastes. If, however, you’re struggling to get behind the kombucha bandwagon, try Kefir water instead, which tends to have a lighter, more approachable flavor profile, while still packing fantastic fermented friends.
Once you start incorporating these great flavor and health boosters, you’ll find all sorts of wonderful ways to use them. Start making probiotic foods part of your diet today.
Aubrey Phelps MS RDN LDN