Better Health With Pickles

There is something that other countries regularly include in their diet that the US does not.  Any idea what it is???

Pickled – or fermented – vegetables and foods.  Think about it:  the Germans have saurkraut; the Greeks were among the first to ferment grapes and make wine; the Koreans have kimchi; yogurt (fermented dairy) originated in India; China came up with soy sauce and tofu…

health benefits of fermented foodsAdding more fermented foods into your diet helps to heal your digestive system.

The good bacteria found in fermented foods provide a protective coating to your gut lining.  From lack of breast feeding in infancy (or mother’s poor health or poor diet) and antibiotic and hormonal birth control use, our gut linings oftentimes lack proper balance.  When there is a lack of good bacteria, the resulting problems could include:

  • Allergies such as sinus congestion or infection, allergic dermatitis, or food sensitivities
  • Weight Gain
  • Digestive Problems such as leaky gut, IBS, Chron’s Disease
  • Thyroid Issues
  • Frequent Fungal, Viral, or Bacterial Infection
  • Auto-Immune Conditions such as Lupus, Epstein-Barr, Arthritis
  • Mood Disorders such as Depression, ADD, Anxiety
  • Brain Fog
  • Muscle Achiness
  • Fibromyalgia

There are plenty of ways to include high-quality fermented foods into your regular diet.

1.  Eat plain (not laden with fructose), full-fat organic yogurt for breakfast (or for a midnight snack).  Ideally, you can use raw dairy which has not been pasteurized.  Pasteurization of dairy kills the beneficial enzymes that help you digest dairy.  

2.  Use shoyu or tumari (fermented seasonings found in the Asian food aisle at the supermarket) instead of salt.

3.  Eat organic tofu instead of meat with dinner once a week.

4.  Make your own fermented vegetables and use as a side-dish, in a salad, or on top of quinoa, beans, chicken, or fish.  

5.  Drink kombucha, a vinegar-y soda-y drink.  Again, find a brand (or make your own if you’re super-motivated) without added sugars.  

A plus:  these will not go bad for months.  

A favorite weeknight dinner for my family:  sausages, sauerkraut and potatoes.  It must be my inner German coming out!

A favorite weeknight dinner for my family: sausages, sauerkraut and potatoes. It must be my inner German coming out!

HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN PICKLED VEGETABLES:

You will need:  2 cups filtered water dissolved in a ratio of 1 to 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of sea salt; 1 glass quart jar

Vegetable Options (pick any combination in any quantity; it’s up to you):  

chopped cauliflower
chopped beets
chopped carrots
chopped green beans
chopped bell peppers
sliced radishes
sliced daikon
sliced cucumbers
chopped turnips
chopped broccoli
chopped kale
chopped onions
chopped green onions
chopped garlic
cabbage leaves (for the top)

+ Any Combination of Herbs and Spices:
dried chili peppers
black peppercorns
bay leaf
fresh dill
fresh basil
fresh tarragon
fresh mint
sea vegetables (arame or hijiki) – use less salt if using these

1.  Fill the jar with your desired combination of vegetables.

2.  Cover with the already mixed salt and water combination.  

3.  Cover the jar with a plastic lid or wrap so the liquid has room to “escape” over the next 9 or so days.

Also, I would recommend placing the jar on a container that will catch the escaping liquid so as not to make a huge mess in your kitchen.  

4.  Leave it on a shelf away from direct sunlight.  

5.  Taste the vegetables after about 5 days.  

6.  When they have soured to your liking, place the jar in your refrigerator where it should keep for a while if you don’t eat it all right away!  

 

If you hate the idea of making your own, try the local farmer’s markets or health food store to find pre-made, healthy (as in, no added sugars or high fructose corn syrup) pickled veggies.  

All of these foods have the healthy bacteria that your body just can’t get enough of.  You should include at least 1 cup of fermented foods in your diet every day for best results.   

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