If you find yourself in a veggie rut (because the day will come when you can’t possibly saute another bunch of spinach), you may be tempted to abandon them altogether. Don’t do that. Try something that will get you excited about veggies again: Fermentation.
OK, we know it’s not the most mouth-watering advertisement, but trust us, when you open your fridge to jars of ready-made, flavorful vegetables, and other foods, you won’t be sorry you jumped on the trend. Plus, a research review showed that there’s real promise in the health-promoting qualities of fermented foods. Though more research is needed, another research review showed antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and other potential benefits.
Check out these gut-healthy fermented foods (plus recipes to make them!) that show just how easy it is to introduce gut-friendly foods to your diet.
What comes to mind when you picture sauerkraut? A hot dog stand and a pile of grease? We bet you didn’t picture a green leafy salad or colorful stir-fry. With a crisp and fresh taste made using only cabbage, salt, and water, don’t be surprised when you start putting this go-to garnish on everything. Adding apples, beets, berries, or spices will make this fermented sauerkraut recipe even more delicious and customized to your taste.
These radishes taste even better than they look (if you can believe it). Raw radishes, while loaded with fiber, can be bitter and tasteless, but with a seasoning of dill and pepper, an ingredient you once pushed to the outskirts of your plate will be first on your fork. Plus, they’re not the only veggies you can ferment.
When your wallet says no to the $5 bubbly drink, but your stomach says please, a DIY kombucha recipe is the answer. Yes, you can make your own kombucha, and yes, it’s actually pretty simple for something that sounds so complicated. Plus, every time you make a new batch, you create a new “mother,” which can be used as the fermenting agent of your next batch… talk about sustainability (and convenience).
If you’re making your own ‘booch or buying some at the store, pay attention to added sugar. Some kombuchas can pack several teaspoons worth of added sugar per serving. Consuming too much added sugar can actually harm your digestive health.
Once you’ve got it at the ready, you can top a grain bowl, add it to a rice dish, use it to help flavor a soup, eat it with some eggs, and anything else you can think of. With your new assortment of fermented veggies, you can’t say no to an easy breakfast bowl or lettuce wrap.
Kefir is a fermented drink that’s similar in texture to a drinkable yogurt and is rich in nutrients like protein, calcium, and magnesium. We’d recommend adding it to a smoothie, to your oatmeal, or just drinking it straight. And yep, you can make this one at home, too. Bonus.
As a meat substitute, it doesn’t get more versatile than tempeh, tofu’s brother-in-arms in vegan protein sources. But tempeh has a meatier, chewier texture that really gives a grain bowl or stir-fry some heft. Plus, it has probiotics to boot. A research review suggested that tempeh fermentation is a low-cost, health-promoting, and sustainable option for making protein sources from beans, legumes, and grains. What a score for Meatless Mondays or every day.
You may know miso as a way to add flavor to broths and soups. It’s actually a fermented paste made from soybeans and cultures. You’ll often find it in tubes at the grocery store that, sure, you can make into soup, but there are loads of ways to rock miso in your meals.
The OG of probiotic goodness, yogurt is made from fermented milk. It’s full of calcium, protein, and other goodies that make it a great choice in a nutrient-dense meal plan. We love it in smoothies, oatmeal bowls, parfaits, savory dips, salad dressings, and so much more.
Despite the name, fermented foods are usually pretty delicious and can give your good gut bacteria a boost. Start experimenting with one (or more!) of these probiotic-rich foods when you next make your grocery shopping list.
A healthy gut is a happy gut.