The bacteria in our gut has a lot more to do with our health and overall wellbeing than we give it credit for. As I learn about the role that this micro ecosystem plays in our lives, I’m fascinated and now looking for new ways to include fermented foods into my diet. One of my favorite food writers, Michael Pollan wrote a great article about why need should get friendly with bacteria and Justin Sonnenburg, a microbiologist at Stanford, suggests that we would do well to start viewing the human body as “an elaborate vessel optimized for the growth and spread of our microbial inhabitants.” Nutritionists are helping to address the beauty concerns of hollywood stars by looking at their gut rather than the surface of their skin! It’s super interesting and whether you’re looking to rebalance your body, add in more beneficial bacteria or radiate with health and beauty – fermenting your own food can be a fun and easy way to get amazing results!
Recently, with the onset of antibacterial products being marketed to us – we’ve become almost scared of bacteria, launching a war against all microbes – and loosing the basic skill of living in balance. When we play in mud, get licked by a dog – when we eat fermented food, we increase our bacterial diversity – which offer us greater health benefits. Our ancestors knew to use bacteria to preserve food, help digest their food and to be healthy, but here we are busily trying to eradicate them! Today most of us are comfortable with yogurt, but you can also include things like sourdough bread, sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh and so many other fermented foods to have a well-balanced, varied diet.
My recipe here is part sauerkraut, part kimchi. It tastes tangy and sour, with a slight spicy kick, but it’s really refreshing! Try eating this alongside your meal, perhaps in a salad – it’s a great way to flood your system with healthy bacteria. Plus when you make it, it feels like your doing a science experiment in your kitchen, which to me makes everyday cooking that much more fun!
How do you know when it’s ready? After a few days, you’ll see little bubbles rising up – that’s because it’s alive, teeming with healthy bacteria ready to take up residence in your body and help keep pathogens at bay!
I enjoy having these simple projects on-going in the house, not just to eat, but for my kids to experience as a “normal” part of living a healthy life.
Simple Sauerkraut Recipe
- 1/2 purple cabbage
- 1/2 white cabbage
- 1 large carrots
- 1 small red onion
- 1 green apple or pear
- A few green onion springs
- 1 nib of ginger
- 1 chili pepper (depends on how/or if you like it spicy)
- 2 tbsp good quality sea salt
- Optional: spring water from a bottle
- Slice all of your vegetables, in thin and long slices. Use a mandolin, a food processor or a sharp knife.
- Crush the ginger and add to the veggies.
- Combine all of the ingredients together in a large bowl and gradually sprinkle the salt over. Taste it, it should taste salty, but still palatable.
- The salt draws the water out of the veggies and creates a brine. Massage for a few minutes and allow to sit until you see a pool of liquid.
- Place in a jar and pack tightly. The brine should cover the vegetables fully. If not, top up with bottled spring water – do not use tap water.
- You can use a smaller bowl filled with pebbles to weigh down the sauerkraut and keep it submerged, or a special kimchi making container or you can even pack everything into a jar and add a few layers of cabbage on top to keep the ingredients down.
- In about 4 days, your sauerkraut will be ready. It should taste slightly sour, some people prefer to let it ferment up to one week to get a stronger flavour.
- You may see a white film forming on top, that’s normal. Smell your sauerkraut, it should smell fresh but remember to use your better judgement before eating.
- When it’s ready, store it in the fridge – try eating 1/2 cup everyday to reap the health benefits.
Happy fermenting! And, don’t forget – we’re all in this together!
Militza Maury is the multi-tasking mama behind Little Green Dot, where she offers simple and fun ways to bring green living back into our modern, busy lives. Militza comes from a background in creative design, and is a big believer in embracing a handmade life. She teaches simple recipes, tips and ideas to make it easier for us to reconnect, and make better, healthier choices.