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Fitting Fermented Foods into Your Meals

Prep Dish would like to thank Leslie Bobb of Cultural Revivalists for contributing today's blog post on fermented foods. I met Leslie at PaleoFX and just fell in love with her love all things fermented, food philosophies and unique business. And since Brook and I do a daily “shot” of ferments (sauerkraut) for the probiotics, I thought Leslie would be perfect to share more info on why and how to fit fermented foods into your diet. Enjoy the article!

Fermented FoodsFermented foods have been a staple in human diets as far back as we can tell. What began as a very low-tech food preservation technique has been revealed to have surprising health benefits. Fermenting foods taps into the symbiotic relationship humans have with the environment around them. It accomplishes more than preventing spoilage, though. Fermentation unlocks nutrients in the food, creates enzymes that aid in digestion, and supplements probiotics for your gut. Eating a variety of fermented foods regularly is healthy on many levels.

Most people are familiar by now with the benefits of probiotics. Many people are even armed with the knowledge that they can get a great variety of beneficial probiotics from food. Fewer know how to do that and have successfully added ferments to their regular diet. Since you all are a savvy bunch of plan-aheaders, I am confident you can add fermented foods into your routine without skipping a beat! Here are a few tips to get you started.

Keep a staple batch or two on hand.

If you are new to ferments or have any gut issues or concerns, you should start slowly when incorporating fermented foods into your diet. The changes in your gut flora can cause some discomfort if you jump right in. So, start by adding a little sauerkraut juice to your food, see how you feel, and go from there. If you tolerate it well you can start adding a tablespoon of fermented food to each meal. From there, just eat them at will! I usually keep a batch of basic sauerkraut and some kombucha on hand at all times. I often have many other ferments, but as long as there is a basic kraut in the fridge, I can always toss a little on top of whatever I am eating.

You can learn how to make basic sauerkraut and other simple ferments here.

Plan your fermented foods just as you would your side dishes.

Consider the meals you have planned for the week, or month, and plan to make a ferment that will compliment them. This requires a little extra creativity, but once you are fermenting at home you will see just how easy it is to play with flavors and make up your own dishes. Most simple vegetable ferments can be done in as little as 3-5 days. Take into consideration what is seasonally available for added benefit to your health, your ecosystem, and your wallet. This summer I made a corn salsa recipe that goes great with summer dishes and uses only vegetables available from a local farm. I throw a  tablespoon or two on just about any plate I make and it’s amazing every time!

Ferment the leftovers from your Prep Dish recipes.

Meal planning is a great way to reduce food waste, but there may still be times you have leftover ingredients. You can always throw these in a jar with some salt brine, top with a MasonTops Pickle Pebble and Pickle Pipe and you’re all set! If you want to make sure you have some veggies leftover to ferment, just increase the amount when you’re at the store. Then use what you need for your recipe and ferment the rest.

Make condiments or sauces fermented.

Condiments used to be fermented foods or sauces that were added to meals for flavor and to aid in digestion. Like most other foods, commercialization created faster ways to process mass quantities of these foods and the digestive aspect was lost. As you prepare for your Prep Dish meals, consider if any of them will need salad dressings, or other sauces or condiments that could be fermented, or replaced with a fermented version. This will change the flavor a bit, but if you remember to use just a little until you are acclimated I think you will find the increased flavor of ferments to be a welcome addition to your plate. Salad dressings can be made with kombucha instead of vinegar. Fish sauce or miso can add a pop of umami to sauces. The possibilities are limitless once you start experimenting.

I hope these tips will encourage you to get creative in the kitchen. If your family is less than forgiving of bad experiments, start slowly and test them out on yourself first. (Usually, if you don’t tell them what they are eating, they don’t protest as much). Cooking is an art and a science, but mostly it is one big giant experiment! Don’t take it too seriously and don’t be afraid to mess up. Make small changes or make big changes, but make sure you try something new!


Leslie Bobb is an integrative health coach, self-taught fermentista, and passionate health educator. She can be found “bringing back the cultures of traditional cultures” at CulturalRevivalists.com. Along with health coach and chef, Lyndsay Gutierrez, she is learning about traditional cultures, fermenting, and foraging through travels, hiking adventures, and kitchen experiments. She can also be found simplifying healthy living and fighting information overload on RealSimpleHealth.org.

All images are the property of Cultural Revivalists and are not to be used without their express written permission.

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