23 June 2013

The 6 & 2 of Fermented Foods

6 Reasons You Should Eat Fermented Foods and 2 Reasons You Should Make Your Own

by Debra Meadow, Certified Nutritional Therapist,

Blue Raven Wellness • 503.956.9600 • Contact for a 1-hour health complimentary consultationRed_kraut_and_scale

Fermented foods, like live pickles and sauerkraut, have been part of human diets the world over for thousands of years: live sauerkraut in Germany, half-sour pickles in Eastern Europe, yogurt in the Middle East, miso in Japan, kim chi in Korea.  Here’s why these foods should be a regular part of your diet:

  • Fermented foods power up your digestion.  The good bacteria in fermented foods do some of the work for you by “predigesting” the food.  That’s less work for your gut.  When you digest better, you absorb more nutrients.
  • Fermented foods are the original probiotic.  For millennia, the only probiotic supplement people took was in the form of pickles, sauerkraut, miso, sourdough, cultured beverages, and more.  Probiotics, or good bacteria, help keep the bad bacteria in check.  An overabundance of the bad guys has been linked to allergies and food sensitivities, asthma, autoimmune conditions, irritable bowel syndrome, autism, depression and anxiety and so many more.
  • Fermented foods are raw foods.  Because they haven’t been exposed to heat (if they are not heat processed) fermented foods still contain their full complement of enzymes.  Getting more enzymes (in food or supplements) has been linked to longevity.
  • Fermented foods have more vitamins than the same food in its unfermented state.  It’s value added!  The beneficial bacteria in fermented foods actually manufacture vitamins for you, and they’re very bio-available, which is not always the case with synthetic vitamins.
  • Fermented foods keep for a long time.  Early people didn’t know any of the above, they just wanted their fresh food to Pickled_sugar_snapslast longer and fermentation was a way to make that happen.  Did your neighbor drop his bumper crop of zucchini on your porch and run?  Are your green bean vines out of control?  Not sure what to do with all the food in your CSA box before it goes bad?  Keep vegetables for months, or longer, by fermenting them.
  • Fermented food has more flavor.  A little dab’ll do ya, because the flavors of fermented foods are so exciting.  Fermented foods are often used as condiments or additions to dishes to take the flavor, and nutrition, over the top.

Thankfully, a few market vendors make and sell live, fermented vegetables.  Choi’s Kim Chi must be sampled to be believed.  Every variety is tastier than the next.  OlyKraut makes traditional and creative seasonal sauerkrauts and pickles.  Indulge in the Curry Gourmet Sauerkraut when it’s available.  Cascade Naturals offers their own version of sauerkraut in addition to traditional Japanese fermented foods, like miso, shoyu and tempeh.

Are you hooked?  Here’s why you should learn to make your own fermented foods:

  • Fermented food can be very inexpensive.  Use what’s in season and reasonably priced, or what’s in your garden.  No special equipment is necessary and no cooking, so you don’t need to heat up your kitchen.Ginger carrots
  • Making fermented foods is creative.  Use your imagination, your tastebuds and what’s in your pantry and larder to create unique blends.

If you’d like to learn how, join me for a class: How to Make Fermented Vegetables on June 30, 2-4 p.m., at Glow Healthcare, 2332 NW Irving St.  I promise fun, facts and food!