Guest Post by Jo Nolan from Be Nourished*.
Eating fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, is an incredibly healthy practice directly supplying your digestive tract with living cultures essential to breaking down food and assimilating nutrients.
The reason I’m inspired by sauerkraut and kimchi is because not only are they an excellent condiment or ingredient that adds a zesty, tart taste to any breakfast, lunch or dinner dish but they’re incredibly nourishing and full of amazing health benefits. These foods have been around for thousands of years but we’ve never needed them more than we do today. Rich in beneficial bacteria and enzymes, alkaline forming and loaded with vitamins and minerals they’re just an ideal food.
I first became familiar with this ancient food, its fascinating traditions and numerous health benefits after I gave birth to my children. I was totally in love with them and wanted to do everything I could to nourish them as they grew. I read a really great book called Nourishing Traditions written by Sally Fallon, and even though it’s been more than a decade since I first read it, it still resonates. It’s one I thoroughly recommend to anyone wanting to know how to truly nourish themselves.
What Sally’s book taught me was that fermentation makes food more nutritious and that every traditional culture, when you look at their traditional diet, included fermented foods on a daily basis. And with every mouthful of these fermented foods they consumed trillions of beneficial bacteria. You see, what’s awesome about these bacteria is that they are so good for you! They line the digestive tract in a similar way to icing on a cake. Not only do they form a major part of our immune system but they even help to produce feel good hormones, such as serotonin. To be honest, it really all begins in the GUT!
Whether you are buying sauerkraut or want to experience fermenting at home, my top tip is to use the highest quality organic vegetables and ingredients you can find because any impurities in the foods will be only magnified during the fermentation process.
Ever since that day I made my first batch of sauerkraut, I knew I would only ever choose organic vegetables. After all, I’d started making my own because the only sauerkraut I could find at the time was imported and pasteurised, which pretty much contradicts the whole idea of these wonderful, fermented foods.
To have a positive impact on your body and digestive systems and to absorb the right kinds of nutrients that will fuel you with better health, the fermented foods you eat need to be raw and organic. This is because sauerkraut and kimchi are living foods and so we want to nourish our bodies by making sure that these foods are as enzyme and probiotic-rich as possible.
It’s why I ferment everything in my Be Nourished range for at least six weeks using a lactobacillis live vegetable culture starter. This ensures our products contain as much lactic acid bacteria as possible. The reason I use the culture starter is because it promotes the growth of specific and very robust high quality probiotics, particularly bacterium Lactobacillus Plantarum. This is one of the hardiest strains of good bacteria.
It is a very strong strain of bacteria that is anti-viral and withstands those chemicals, which can kill good bacteria such as antibiotics, fluoride, chlorinated water and even stomach acid. The bacteria is also well-known for its ability to remove pathogens, aid in digestion and is essential for good intestinal health. Using the culture also keeps the good bacteria levels in the products higher for longer.
It’s so easy to include fermented foods into the diet. They may be a new taste for you but after a while you will most likely feel like I do – no meal is complete without them. Most of the time I just add a tbsp or two as a side dish to my meals. Often I will use the juice to make a dressing. Sometimes I will make a dip or pesto featuring them. They are extremely cleansing and detoxifying so if you are not used to these foods start off slowly say 1tsp at a time.
Babies can tolerate a drop of kraut juice on their tongue and once they start solids is a great time to introduce fermented foods as you are putting the good bacteria in right from the start. The cool thing is the more children get used to the taste of fermented foods, the less they crave sweets. Getting the delicate balance of bacteria in our gut right is also important for pregnant mums too as the bacteria of the mother is passed onto their babies.
Today I’m sharing with you one of my favourites. Helena Bay Pesto. It’s super easy and tastes so good that your little ones won’t even know it’s in there.
I hope you’ll fall in love with fermented foods just as much as I have.
Helena Bay Kraut Pesto
2 cups fresh herbs
½ cup Helena Bay Sauerkraut
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup nuts (optional)
Salt to taste
Combine herbs and nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add olive oil and process then add kraut and process a little more. Season to taste.