Probiotics in Foods
In the last few decades, there has been a lot of interest in probiotic supplements and foods, thanks to studies suggesting that friendly bacteria could help to treat or prevent a spectrum of ailments: from indigestion and diarrhea to irritable bowel syndrome and chronic inflammation — the root cause of diabetes, heart disease and cancer..
Probiotics are good bacteria that primarily line your gut and are responsible for creating flora, nutrient absorption and supporting your immune system.
Side effects of not having enough healthy bacteria can include: digestive disorders, skin issues, candida, autoimmune disease and frequent colds and flus.
Historically, we had plenty of probiotics in our diet from eating fresh foods from good soil and by fermenting our foods to keep them from spoiling.
However, today because of refrigeration and dangerous agricultural practices like soaking our foods with chlorine,and processing our food contains little to no probiotics and most foods today actually contain antibiotics which kill off the good bacteria in our bodies.
During Fermentation the invisible microorganisms break down sugars and carbohydrates in the foods and make them more digestible and more nutritious for us.
By adding more probiotic foods into your diet, you will improve your health in these area’s :
• Stronger immune system
• Improved digestion
• Increased energy from production of vitamin B12
• Better breath because probiotics destroy candida
• Healthier skin, since probiotics improve eczema and psoriasis
• Reduced cold and flu
• Healing from leaky gut and inflammatory bowel disease
• Weight loss
Regardless of which probiotic food you choose, it is important to choose one that is not pasteurized or homogenized as these will destroy most of the useful microorganisms that lend probiotic foods their health-promoting powers.
Here are some of the most popular foods rich in probiotics:
Yogurt : – Possibly the most popular probiotic food is live cultured yogurt or greek yogurt made from the milk of cows, goats, or sheep. Try to find yogurt that comes from raw grass-fed animals.When buying yogurt look for 3 things. First, that it comes from goat’s or sheep milk, second, that it is grass-fed, and third, that it is organic.
– Made from fermented cabbage and other vegetables, sauerkraut is high in organic acids (what gives food its sour taste) which support the growth of good bacteria. Sauerkraut is extremely popular in Germany .
Kimchi is a cousin to sauerkraut and is the Korean take on cultured veggies. Both of the fermented formulas are also high in enzymes, which can aid digestion.
I love to add both of these to salads.
Kefir – Similar to yogurt, this fermented dairy product is a unique combination of milk and fermented kefir grains. Kefir has been consumed for well over 3000 years and the term kefir was started in Russia and Turkey and means “feeling good”. It has a slightly acidic and tart flavor and contains anywhere from 10 to 34 strains of probiotics. Kefir is similar to yogurt, but because it is fermented with yeast and more bacteria the final product is higher in probiotics. Try soaking your oats in Kefir from the night before for adding super probiotic benefit to your breakfast.
Kombucha – Is an effervescent fermentation of black tea that is started by using a SCOBY also known as a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. Kombucha has been around for over 2,000 years originating around Japan. Kombucha’s primarily health benefits include digestive support, increased energy and liver detoxification.
Raw Cheese – Goat’s milk, sheep’s milk and A2 cows soft cheeses are particularly high in probiotics, including acidophilus. *Always buy raw and unpasteurized cheeses if you want to receive any probiotics.
Here are tips and recipes for implementing delicious foods rich in Probiotics.
Recipe for Sauerkraut:
Sauerkraut is a traditional dish of lacto-fermented cabbage.
Lacto is short for Lactobacilli which are the bacteria and live on raw cabbage leaves.
Sauerkraut is super delicious, super nutritious, and super easy to make at home.
Raw unpasteurized sauerkraut is incredibly high in vitamin C, probiotics, digestive enzymes, and cancer-fighting compounds. To culture a batch of cabbage, all you’ll need is:
• cabbage, green or purple, as much as you want
• sea salt, about 1 tablespoon per 2 pounds cabbage
• a sharp knife + cutting board OR a food processor
• a very, very large bowl
• large glass jars or a glazed ceramic (lead-free) crock / I use Mason Jars
• coffee filter/rag/wash cloth + rubber band
Homemade Red Sauerkraut
For a variation, mix the red cabbage with green cabbage. You can also add other vegetables to the mixture like grated carrots, seaweed, beets, herbs, and spices.
1 tablespoon sea salt
1. Peel the outer leaves from the cabbage (reserve one for later). Shred the cabbage with a knife, grater, or food processor.
2. Add shredded cabbage and salt to a large bowl.
3. “Knead” the cabbage until its juices are released.
4. Place cabbage and liquid into a wide mouth canning jar or fermenting vessel. Use your fist to pack in the cabbage tightly into the jar and allow its brine to *cover the cabbage.
5. Use reserved cabbage leaf to cover the cabbage and keep it submerged in its brine.
6. Close the jar and allow to ferment for 3 days or longer- less if your kitchen is warm, more if cold. Store in the refrigerator.
Quick and Easy Refrigerator Pickles:
I love have having a bountiful variety of colorful pickles in the fridge.
They are great for adding to the side of a meal, throwing on top of a salad or on a charcuterie board as a compliment.
I love also the idea of saving the lives of veggiesI have leftover in the fridge.
• Enough Fresh Raw Veggies to fill 2 Quart size mason Jars ( about 6 cups)- beets, carrots, radishes, turnips, cucumbers, okra, green beans, asparagus, red onion, zucchini or summer squash, cauliflower florets, bell peppers, garlic scapes, fennel bulbs.
• 1 tablespoons coriander seeds
• 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
• 1 teaspoons mustard seeds
• 6- 10 cloves garlic- sliced thickly
• ½ an onion sliced ( optional)
• few sprigs fresh dill ( optional) or other herbs
• Other optional additions- whole cloves, dill seeds, whole allspice, fresh ginger slices, fresh chilies or chili flakes, celery seeds, peppercorns, cumin seeds, star anise, fresh herbs.
• Pickling liquid:
• 2 Cups vinegar- white, red wine, rice wine, apple cider
• 2 Cups water
• 2 Tablespoons kosher salt
• 4-6 Tablespoons sugar
1 Prep your veggies. Wash them well and slice, quarter, or cut into spears, or leave whole ( like with green beans, asparagus, okra etc)
2 Bring the water, vinegar, salt and sugar to a boil in a small pot, and in the mean time pack the jars.
3 In two quart size mason jars, divide the garlic and whole spices.
4 Begin adding the veggies and if your are including the onion ( which i recommend) , layer a few slices in with the veggies along with any fresh herbs you would like to include ( you can also layer the garlic this way too, or put it in first, your choice) leaving about an inch at the top of the jar.
5 Using a funnel, carefully pour the hot liquid into the jars, making sure to submerge all the veggies, pressing down on them with the end of a wooden spoon. You may be able to add more veggies at this point, just make sure the liquid completely covers the veggies leaving at least a half inch of room between the liquid and lid.
6 Cover and let sit on the counter to cool, and after an hour or two, place in the fridge. These will taste good after 6-8 hours, but much better after a couple days. Keeps up to three weeks.