Feed your gut!

Do you like sauerkraut?

Traditional sauerkraut made the traditional way with just cabbage and salt and no heat processing?

This method of preserving , known as lacto-fermentation provides enormous benefits! The process involves breaking down the cellulose of the vegetables (the salt helps to do that) so that beneficial bacteria can proliferate in the end product. The end product is teeming with beneficial probiotic bacteria, digestive enzymes and the vitamins present in the vegetables become more bio- available through the fermentation process.

With the development of refrigeration and pasteurization, our culture has lost this traditional method of preserving, and yet it is so easy!

Thankfully, it is making a comeback, as people are now understanding the importance of feeding our good bacteria for increased immunity.

Adding fermented foods to the diet is a great way to allow these protective critters to proliferate. The functions of our gut bacteria are so vast:

They produce enzymes that help us break down our food, they neutralize toxins in our system, the chelate (or carry out ) heavy metals, they are anti viral, anti biotic and anti fungal- really powerful, no??

Things that disrupt our gut bacteria include : processed foods, sugars, genetically engineered foods, stress, illness, antibiotic use.

Having fermented foods as part of your daily regimen is one way to ensure the health of these bacteria!

If you are not used to eating fermented foods, you will want to start slowly! And, honestly, they are meant to be eaten as condiments, not as side dishes!

Try some today and see how you like them!

 

Sauerkraut

5 pounds head cabbage, red or green or a combination of both
2-3 Tablespoons salt
Optional additions: Caraway seeds, juniper berries, any spice that you like
You may also add other vegetables like carrot, daikon, radish, beet, or apple (although this would not be a traditional kraut).
Either chop vegetables by hand or put through grater option of the food processor.
The more finely the vegetables are chopped, the more surface area present for the bacteria to infiltrate.
The vegetables will also ferment more quickly when chopped more thinly.
Place vegetables in a large bowl.
Sprinkle salt over and begin to massage salt into the vegetables.
You can either use your hand or a pounder to do this.
As you pound, you are breaking up the cell wall and allowing the liquid to be released.
This liquid will serve as your brine.
Pack vegetables into a clean jar and push them down so that there are no air bubbles.
Let vegetables sit on the counter (out of direct sunlight) for anywhere from 5 days to 3 weeks- taste it as time goes on and see how you like it!!

When it suits your taste, transfer to the refrigerator.
Consume within 8-10 months.

What About Agave?

Yesterday I touched on using natural sweeteners in lieu of white sugar, high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners.

You may have noticed that I didn’t put agave on the list of natural sweeteners, and here is why.

Agave is made from the agave tequiliana plant (the same plant that produces tequila). It is about 1 1/2 times sweeter than regular table sugar and is about 60 calories per tablespoon. It also ranks lower on the glycemic index- a representation of how a food affects blood sugar. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, it ranks lower on the glycemic index because it is high in fructose, which does not immediately raise blood sugar levels; the body has a more difficult time processing fructose than it does glucose.

Additionally, agave is so highly processed so it is stripped of any nutritional value and it ends up having a higher fructose content than high fructose corn syrup! That makes it the sweetener with the highest concentration of fructose on the market!

And, my pet peeve? It is used in almost EVERY “healthy” dessert, particularly vegan dessert items whose producers are against using honey.

Don’t be fooled by agave. Don’t use agave, unless you are visiting Mexico and can get the sweetener directly out of the plant. This way, it is thick and viscous and retains it’s nutrients. Otherwise, what we have here in our markets is highly processed and harmful to our health.

Stick with the other sweeteners I listed here yesterday.

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