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Fermented and Pickled Foods are Healthy and Delicious —Try These!

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One of the food trends for 2015 is to eat more pickled and fermented foods. We already know how popular kimchi is — a traditional Korean pickled cabbage that people are putting in and on everything! And most of us have grown up eating pickles and sauerkraut. Now we know that these foods are not only delicious but they are healthy too. Besides buying pickled and fermented foods in stores, more and more people are doing it themselves at home. Either way, you need to add more fermented and pickled foods into your diet because they are healthy and delicious. Try these recipes and you’ll be part of this latest food trend too.

1. The Health Benefits

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Fermented and pickled foods contain lots of probiotics which are beneficial to our digestive and immune systems. Studies have found probiotics to help protect against colon cancer and reduce intestinal problems. Probiotics can reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance. Friendly flora can also help our immune and nervous systems, helping relieve headaches, fatigue, inflammation and other problems. When we have the right amount of healthy bacteria in our guts, we can absorb more nutrients from the food we eat. Want to learn more? Read 5 Good Reasons to Include Fermented Foods In Your Diet.

2. Pickling Vs. Fermentation

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Pickled food and fermented food is not the same thing. Pickled foods are those that have been preserved in something acidic such as vinegar (which is fermented). Fermented foods produce lactic acid as a by-product of the fermentation process. It’s this lactic acid that makes fermented foods so healthy. Technically, fermented foods are also pickled but all pickled foods are not fermented. Why is this important? If you buy pickled foods in the supermarket, they may have been produced using intense heat and pressure which destroys nutrients so if you’re not making your own, look for products in health food stores or farmers markets that are both pickled and fermented.

3. Apple Cider Vinegar

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Everyone should have a big bottle of pure apple cider vinegar in their kitchen. The vinegar is made by the fermentation of apple cider where the sugar from apples is broken down by bacteria and airborne yeasts into alcohol which turns into vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is beyond healthy – it’s used as an antiseptic, a treatment for yeast overgrowth, and a recipe ingredient for food as well as your beauty routine. Learn How to Make Your Own Apple Cider Vinegar and then use it in salads, slaws, sauces and almost all your recipes. Give it a try by making this Triple Threat Barbecue Sauce, Sloppy Josephs, Spicy Romaine Summer Rolls with Peanut Sauce, and this Panzanella Salad.

4. Kefir

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Kefir is a drink that has become increasingly popular because of its health benefits. It’s usually made by adding kefir grains (which are beneficial yeast culture colonies, not actual grains) to milk and letting it ferment. For people who don’t consume dairy products, there is non-dairy kefir made with coconut water. For everything you need to know about kefir, including how to make it and where to buy it, read Why You Should Try Coconut Kefir, The Wonder Elixir. Add coconut kefir to any of these 11 Awesome Green Monster Smoothies or use to make this Mango Lassi.

5. Kimchi

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Kimchi is a spicy pickled Korean condiment that is similar to sauerkraut but spicier and with more veggies than just cabbage. Kimchi usually also contains red peppers, onions, scallions, and carrots. Read all about this dish in Kimchi: The Next Superfood and learn how easy it is to Make Kimchi at Home. Add kimchi to your salads, sandwiches or just serve it on the side of any dish. Make these incredible Simple Korean Kimchi BBQ Burgers and forget that you’re eating a health food.

6. Kombucha

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Kombucha is a fermented drink made from brewed tea, sugar and a fermenting culture. It’s loaded with probiotics, active enzymes, amino acids and antioxidants that help detox our bodies. If you buy kombucha, be sure to get one labeled “raw,” otherwise, you lose the cultures in the pasteurization process. For all the info, read All You Need to Know about Kombucha and How to Make It and The Easy Way to Make Your Own Kombucha. Once you’ve mastered how to make it yourself, use your kombucha to make this Fizzy Coconut, Lime and Mint Kombucha Elixir and Gourmet Dairy-Free Cheese.

7. Miso

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Miso is a Japanese product that’s made by fermenting soybeans, rice or barley with a fungus called koji. The result is a paste that is filled with healthy probiotics and vitamins. Miso lends an umami taste to food that is salty and savory. Read all the Facts about Miso with Tips, Health Benefits and Recipes. Miso makes a delicious soup – try this Vegetable Miso Soup, Roasted Garlic, Miso and Greens Soup and Carrot Miso Soup – but you can use it for more than just soup. Try this Miso Roasted Eggplant and Zucchini, Unfried Cauliflower Rice in Ginger Miso Sauce, Miso Roasted Pumpkin and Grilled Tofu Over Udon Noodles, Kale Avocado Wraps With Spicy Miso-Dipped Tempeh, Healthy Yam Noodles with Miso Sauce, Kelp Noodles in Peanut-Miso Sauce, and Asian Slaw with Ginger-Miso Dressing.

8. Sauerkraut and Other Veggies

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When I was a kid, there was only one thing I liked on my hot dogs – sauerkraut. Well, sometimes ketchup too but always sauerkraut. Little did I know then but the sauerkraut was the only healthy thing about that hot dog. Sauerkraut is made by a fermentation process where the sugar in cabbage is broken down by lactic acid making the already-healthy cabbage into a superfood. You can buy sauerkraut in a jar or learn How to Make Raw Sauerkraut. Enjoy your sauerkraut in salads or on sandwiches like this Tempeh Reuben Sandwich which also contains our next fermented food. This Ayurvedic Sauerkraut has a twist and is made with pickled cucumbers. While we are pickling other veggies, learn how to make Pickled Fennel, Indian Radish Pickle and carrots and radishes for this Bahn Mi Salad With Pickled Vegetables and Vietnamese Croutons. Learn about other Foods You Can Pickle and How.

9. Tempeh

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Tempeh is an Indonesian soy product that is made by a fermentation process that binds soybeans into the block that you see in the store. The soybeans are soaked, dehulled and partially cooked. Tempeh has more fiber and vitamins than other more processed soy products. Tempeh is eaten worldwide as a meat substitute or just because it is so healthy and delicious. To learn more about tempeh and what to do with it, read How to Use Tempeh and What It’s Best Paired With. Than try making these Tempeh Meatballs, Tempeh “Fish” and Chips, Tempeh Piccata, Tempeh in Spicy Onion Curry, Pomegranate Sweet and Sour Tempeh, and Tempeh Shepherd’s Pie.

10. Yogurt

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Long before people knew about superfoods, most of us did know that yogurt was one of the best choices for getting those healthy bacteria. Well, the good news is that you can still get those probiotics from dairy-free yogurt. What about all the hype about Greek yogurt? You can buy dairy-free Greek yogurt too! Read How to Choose the Best Non-Dairy Yogurt. You can also How to Make Your Own Dairy-Free Yogurt. Try making your own Coconut Yogurt, Raw Coconut Yogurt and Cinnamon Coconut Yogurt.

Pickled and fermented food filled with lactic acid and bacteria may not sound appetizing but that’s just the science beneath some really incredible foods. You’ve probably been eating some of these foods your whole life. Now it’s time to try some new ones because they are all healthy and delicious.

Lead Image Photo: Tempeh Reuben Sandwich



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