Probiotic foods for a healthy gut!

 
 

Probiotics. Have you heard of them before? Maybe you've seen Jamie Lee Curtis promoting a brand of yogurt to help fix your tummy troubles? Or maybe you've come across the giant refrigerated wall of kombucha bottles when leaving Whole Foods. Even if you've never heard of probiotics, your body is quite familiar with them.

YOUR BODY IS HOST TO OVER 100 TRILLION BACTERIA, MOST OF THEM GOOD BACTERIA, THAT PRIMARILY LIVE IN YOUR DIGESTIVE SYSTEM.

Those good bacteria are called probiotics and they help keep your gut's bacterial environment in balance. Probiotics have an important job: making sure the good bacteria outnumber the bad bacteria. Why is that job so important? Well, when the bad bacteria take control, nasty things can happen: diarrhea, gas & bloating, and infections of the urinary or vaginal tract.

WANT TO KNOW THE EASIEST (AND CHEAPEST!) WAY TO INCREASE YOUR PROBIOTIC LOAD?  EAT FERMENTED FOODS!

When foods are fermented using traditional methods, they create lactic acid as a byproduct. Lactic acid bacteria are the most populous group of bacteria in the intestines, with the most famous strain being Lactobacillus acidophilus (found in yogurt). Incorporating more of these foods in your diet is an easy, cheap, and delicious way to help keep your digestive system functioning properly.

MY TOP 5 FERMENTED FOODS FOR A HEALTHY GUT:

Rejuvalac. Rejuvalac is the fermented liquid byproduct of sprouting grains. While it is traditionally made using barley, I use quinoa when I make it at home in order to keep it gluten-free. It has a light effervescence and lemony tang that I love. In order to reduce any waste, I like to use the sprouted quinoa by mixing it in to my salads or soups. Similar to kombucha, it is best to start slow and limit your intake to a half-cup of rejuvalac for a few days before guzzling it all down.

Miso comes in a variety of colors and flavors. Sweet white miso is more subtle in flavor while red miso is bold and tangy.

Miso. Most people are familiar with miso, a paste made of fermented soy beans, because miso soup is a common first course at Japanese restaurants. While miso soup is a delicious and comforting way to incorporate live cultured foods into your diet, my favorite way to use miso is mixed with tahini (sesame seed paste), lemon juice, and minced garlic to make a flavorful spread for crackers or dip for cut up veggies.

Sour pickes. Sour pickles remind me of my childhood. Some family friends would make giant batchs of pickles every year and always bring a quart sized mason jar of pickles with them every time they joined us for dinner. To this day I can still snack on sour pickles all evening long instead of eating dinner. (Hey, no one's perfect!)

Kimchi. Kimchi is sauerkraut's spicy Korean cousin. Traditionally fermented in jars that have been burried into the ground, kimchi is a cabbage that has been slathered with garlic, ginger, and chili paste. The end result is tangy and spicy and delicious when used as a garnish on just about anything.

Beet kvass. If you've been following my blog, you already know that I'm a big fan of beet kvass. Not only is it a tangy and colorful source of probiotics, but it can also be diluted down and used as an electrolyte replacement drink. I plan on drinking some while riding the MS150 fundraiser ridefrom Duluth to the Twin Cities. Here's a recipe to make your own.

Want to know more about home fermentation and try your hand at it? I promise it is super easy and way cheaper than buying artisan fermented veggies at your local natural foods store.  Sandor Katz's book, Wild Fermentation,contains tons of information, anecdotes, science, and of course, recipes. It is what I used to get started with fermentation and I highly recommend it.

Want to know more about probiotics?  The Whole 9 blog has a great post on Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Probiotics.

What are your favorite fermented foods?

**The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.

***Heads up! This post may contain some affiliate links. If you buy something through one of those links you won't pay a single cent more, but I'll get a small commission that helps keep the content flowing. P.S. I only recommend products I use in my own daily life - duh!

DIY daikon & honey cough and cold syrup

 
 

Holiday weekends are always nuts. An abundance of food, mixed with an overload of sugar and booze, then topped off with enough event obligations to destroy your calendar as well as your immune system. That's why it's no surprise that even the healthiest of folks will often succumb to the bug that might be going around the office after a jam-packed holiday. 

Last week over Thanksgiving, I found myself over-fed, under-rested, and surrounded by my adorable (yet continuously coughing) nieces. So, when I started to notice the slow burn feeling in the back of my throat Saturday night I immediately did two things: ate a giant bowl of Phở and made a batch of daikon & honey cough syrup.

WHY DAIKON?

The first time I made this syrup was around 2006, after a nasty sore throat kept me home from work, sick. A co-worker at the time told me how daikon radish mixed with honey was a traditional Japanese remedy for sore throats and coughs. So, obviously, I ran to the local co-op, picked up a daikon radish, and within 24 hrs was feeling great and back to work. Turns out that a serving of daikon radish contains 27% of our recommended daily allowance of vitamin C (i), and also provides a multitude of enzymes that act as a decongestant in the body - thinning the mucus mucus in the respiratory system and allowingthe body to easily expel it (ii).

WHY HONEY?

Drinking warm water or tea with honey may have been your grandmother's cure for a sore throat for good reason. A 2010 study showed that honey appeared to be as effective as a common cough suppressant ingredient, dextromethorphan, in typical over-the-counter doses for children ages 2 and older (iii). Raw honey also contains enzymes that haven't been destroyed by heat and has anti-viral, anti-microbial, and anti-fungal properties (iv). Since honey is cheaper, safer, and more natural than over the counter cough syrup, it is worth giving it a try the next time you feel under the weather.

I was lucky enough to find this beautiful purple daikon radish in my CSA box last week. Don't be surprised if you can only find plain white daikon radishes at your grocery store or Asian market - they will still work great for this recipe.

I was lucky enough to find this beautiful purple daikon radish in my CSA box last week. Don't be surprised if you can only find plain white daikon radishes at your grocery store or Asian market - they will still work great for this recipe.

DIY DAIKON & HONEY COUGH AND COLD SYRUP RECIPE:

Ingredients:
Raw daikon radish (I used about a 3" slice)
Enough raw honey to cover the daikon (I used about 4-5 Tbsp)
Glass jar with lid (I used an 8oz wide mouth glass jam jar)

Instructions:
1. Chop the daikon - the finer you shred or chop the radish the quicker the syrup will take to make, but then it will have a shorter lifespan. If you want to make a larger batch and store it longer, you can chop it into larger chunks that can be fished out before storing.
2. Place chopped daikon into a glass jar and cover with raw honey.
3. Use a spoon to tamp down the daikon, allowing air bubbles to escape, and making sure the daikon is covered. If using larger chunks of daikon, don't worry if the honey doesn't completely cover the daikon - the honey will still pull most of the moisture from the radish easily.
4. Cover your jar, place in a cool, dark spot, and go do something fun for a few hours - ride your bike, read a book, go sledding! The finer you chopped or shredded your daikon, the quicker the syrup will be ready (1 hour for shredded radish vs 2 hrs for chopped). While you're entertaining yourself, the honey will be pulling the moisture and nutrients out of the daikon, creating your own DIY cough syrup (aka elixir of health!).

Directions for Use:
Once your syrup has sat for a few hours you can beat that cough or cold by taking the syrup straight by the spoonful, or make a sore-throat busting tea by diluting a tablespoon of the syrup into a cup of hot water and adding a squeeze of fresh lemon.

The syrup (with grated daikon still in it) can be stored in the fridge for a few days. If you want to make a larger batch and store it for longer, just fish out the chunks of daikon. The syrup with the daikon removed will keep in the fridge for several weeks.

 

**The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.

***Heads up! This post may contain some affiliate links. If you buy something through one of those links you won't pay a single cent more, but I'll get a small commission that helps keep the content flowing. P.S. I only recommend products I use in my own daily life - duh!