Without realizing it, I have a 2012 resolution. I'm going to eat some kind of probiotic food every day.
You've been hearing about probiotics lately, haven't you? New commercials are popping up every day advertising some kind of balance your digestion probiotic formula. Just watch for them! The world is realizing what our aching tummies and weak immune systems have been missing... probiotics to the rescue! right? Only probiotic supplements can be expensive, and some of them may not be very effective. Did you know that you can get those extremely good for you probiotics in your food? That's what I've been doing!
So what do I mean by "probiotic food"? I mean fermented food. When you ferment something, you saturate it with beneficial bacteria, creating your own blend of probiotic magic. It's easy, inexpensive, and a streamlined (easily digestible) way to send those friendly little bacteria straight to your gut. These foods usually have a tart, sour, or pickled taste... but have no fear. Once you catch on to the flavor, you won't want a meal without some on the side. Take it from someone who throws a little sauerkraut or a pickle on everything these days.
Fermented foods sound old-fashioned... (ahem, sauerkraut) because they are! The idea is old. Tried and true. We used to ferment foods to preserve them through the winter before we had deep freezers, and, well, preservatives. We lost a valuable medicinal food when we abandoned the idea of fermenting stuff we wanted to keep. But it's not so very lost, is it? You can ferment today! Why not have a homemade pickle instead of a vitamin? Or some homemade root beer?
Here's a great page to read on why fermented food is suuuuuper good for you and how to start.
shredded cabbage, ready to become sauerkraut in a couple weeks
Some of you have been asking what methods I use to make my yogurt, kombucha, and other fizzy fermented delights, so here's a guide to the probiotics in my kitchen, what it is, how I made it, and my favorite way to use it. (click on the name for a link to the recipe)
fermented, finely shredded cabbage. i love sauerkraut with grass-fed beef hotdogs, mustard, and caramelized onions. you should also try it on top of a burger, with sweet squash or potatoes, or with a picnic style meal like cold chicken, deviled eggs, and chunks of cheese.
you know. creamy, tangy, it's made by culturing milk. i love to use yogurt to make thick yogurt cheese, which can then be used just like cream cheese. you'll also get whey when you make the cheese, which is so handy for other fermenting projects. (pictured at the top of this post, in the kerr jar)
a fermented milk drink, basically drinkable yogurt. so easy to make! we use it in smoothies, in scrambled eggs to make them extra creamy, as a substitute for buttermilk, and we pour it into our chili instead of sour cream.
Water Kefir/ Kefir Soda Pop
a fermented, fizzy drink made by placing water kefir grains in sugar water and flavoring with fruit. just like soda, but with probiotic benefits. we keep it in a pretty swing-top soda bottle and drink it at dinner.
naturally carbonated sweet and tangy tea. i like to have mine fruit-flavored. now that i bought a kombucha culture starter (called a "scoby" or "mushroom"), i don't have to buy those expensive bottles at whole foods.
garlicky, fermented cucumbers. i love to eat them with a burger, egg salad, or straight out of the jar. and there's another kind of pickle i will be telling you about very soon- a new favorite of mine!
whey is added to homemade mayonnaise to make it even more zesty and healthy. use it on sandwiches, in dips, or on a burger.
there are still more things that i've cultured on my countertops that i have yet to tell you about, so stay tuned! you can probably tell, but i'm pretty excited about bacteria. my body just loves it!
what about you guys? are there any sauerkraut lovers out there? or kombucha addicts? have you ever fermented anything in your kitchen? (on purpose or by accident?)