Did you have a garden and just complete your harvest? Have too much of some vegetables? Grocery stores may have an abundance of some items, as well, and mark them down. Many people can their vegetables, but did you know you can ferment or pickle them for more health benefits?
Most of us are aware of sauerkraut, especially the delicious varieties we can buy right here in the Maritimes from Lewis Mountain. And many of us are at least vaguely aware that there are some health benefits to eating it. Here's the scoop.
Eating fermented foods and drinking fermented drinks like Kefir and Kombucha will introduce beneficial bacteria into your digestive system and help the balance of bacteria in your digestive system. Probiotics have also been shown to help slow or reverse some diseases, improve bowel health, aid digestion, and improve immunity! Having the proper balance of gut bacteria and enough digestive enzymes helps you absorb more of the nutrients in the foods you eat. Pair this with your healthy real food diet, and you will absorb many more nutrients from the foods you eat.
There's great amount of research supporting probiotics for healthy gut bacteria. In fact, I believe everyone should be taking a Probiotic to increase your variety and amount of microbiome in your gut and throughout your body. There are many on the market, and we carry several high-end brands, including Metagenics, Raw Foods, Garden of Life, and Dr. Perlmutter. It’s important to discuss your unique situation with your pharmacist to decide which one would be best for you.
You can enhance your supplemented probiotics by including probiotic foods in your diet. You've no doubt heard commercials touting the benefits of yogurt. However, yogurt is also loaded with sugar, which feeds yeast, one of the organisms in our bodies that can easily take over and end up BAD for our bodies. Love yogurt? Choose plain and add your own pureed fruit, and a LITTLE local honey or maple syrup if it still needs sweetening. (Honey and syrup are still forms of sugar; although healthier than other options, use in moderation). Since so many people are dairy intolerant or sensitive, we usually recommend dairy-free. Coconut yogurt is delicious and it is simple to make. Simply refrigerate overnight 2 cans of full fat coconut milk that don't shake. Scoop out the solids and save the liquid for a smoothie. Let the solids warm to room temperature. Open probiotic capsules totalling 60 billion organisms) and mix the powder in well. Cover with a cheesecloth and leave in a warm place for 6-8 hours; checking it's smell and taste every couple of hours. When the desired sourness is reached, put in a sealed container in the refrigerator. You can add fruit to it as desired. Also, you are in control of your sugar, so use a small amount of honey or maple syrup, if desired, and some vanilla, which will enhance the sweetness.
Fermented vegetables can be delicious and an added variety of ways to prepare them for your family. So don't throw out your excess garden vegetables or ignore those grocery store sales. Pickle (actually ferment) them! Almost any vegetable can be turned into a healthy probiotic version - not just cabbage!
Here's a great recipe for pickled sweet orange ginger carrots - http://www.picklemetoo.com/2012/09/06/fermented-sweet-lemon-ginger-carrots/ - great for lunch, supper, and snacks - try them in your children's lunches.
It does take time to ferment, but you can make large batches and have them for long periods of time. Fermenting preserves foods for a longer time than traditional canning, and without loss of nutrition. It's also very inexpensive to do, so it's a great, healthy, affordable thing to do (and eat) for you and your family. Make it a family project! See how many different veggies your family can ferment!