We tend to draw a line between foods we’ll try (anything) and what we’ll suggest to clients and readers. It’s affirming, that we’re headed in a healthier direction, when foods we previously felt were offbeat become mainstream. One such category of foods is fermented vegetables. Consumer Reports, Eating Well Magazine and Foodtrainers’ friend Max Goldberg, of the Living Maxwell blog, all list fermented foods as a trend for 2017.
If sauerkraut, kimchi and pickles come to mind, you’re on the right track. I realize kimchi isn’t for everyone; there are also carrots, beets and other, slightly more user-friendly, fermented veggies available. As you may know, we’re also partial to shots. I mean, why beat around the bush? Our favorite, fermented food folks at Farmhouse Culture have “gut shots” (see photo). And, just yesterday NYC-based Lulitonix sent us their super shots too.
If being trendy is not a draw (and trust me, food trends are the only trends that interest me), there are still convincing reasons you should have fermented or “ferm”, as we affectionately call them, vegetables in your diet. First, ferm veggies have a staggering probiotic count. One tablespoon has as high a count as many supplements. And if you’re not already obsessed with your microbiome (the state of real estate in your gut), you should be.
Fermented foods help with mood. The majority of our serotonin is produced in your gut. I got a kick of this study which connects fermented foods to lower social anxiety, specifically “neuroticism”. Fermented foods also play a role in reducing food cravings, specifically for carbs and sugar. They have beneficial effects on your weight via glucose metabolism. Bacteria-free mice were found to have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol. And higher cortisol leads to weight gain. If mood, cravings and weight aren’t a draw (not sure why you’re reading this blog) it’s worth a reminder that fermented foods help us combat pathogens. They can knock out h pylori, that leads to ulcers, and even eradicate some forms of e coli…yum yum.
There are kits galore if you want to be a home fermenter. I’m less of a DIY-er. Personally, I’d prefer SEDI (someone else do it). As I said above, check out Farmhouse Culture (I’m already babbling but the kraut explosion that occurred, with a package from them, is a sour story for another day). I mentioned their gut shots but their fermented orange, ginger carrots are delicious too. We also love Bubbies Pickles, Mother in Law's Kimchi and Hawthorne Farm's red cabbage. Look for these foods in the refrigerated section of your health food stores or Whole Foods.We featured ferm veggies as one of our “secret weapons” in our New Year’s Whipping Weeks but we have other ferm friends. Kombucha, kefir and miso are worth checking out. Your goal should be to have 1 “ferm” food daily but when it comes to good bacteria, the more the merrier…or less neurotic.