Sauerkraut, along with other fermented foods, has regained popularity in the last decade as we have become more in tune with how important a healthy gut is. The gut, we’ve realized, is integral to our overall wellness because it is where our food becomes the nutrition that supplies us with what we need.
Without a healthy gut, our immune system weakens. Our mental stability deteriorates. Of course, we can develop different digestive ailments: bloating, constipation, and loose stool. It can be the cause of heartburn and nausea. Fatigue, skin problems, and halitosis can all be symptoms of an unhealthy gut.
In order to keep our guts going at their tip-top, we need to feed them what they crave. Probiotics are hugely important, and that’s where fermented foods like sauerkraut, kombucha, miso, and tempeh come into play. These are good sources of live probiotics that fill our stomachs with the right kind of bacteria to keep us healthy and happy.
But how does one go about regularly including sauerkraut in his/her/their diet?
Sauerkraut is a wonderful addition to the bevy of toast toppings we have at our disposal. It pairs perfectly with hummus, and it can add a nice zip to avocado toast, too. A bit of tofu scramble and sauerkraut on a piece of toast makes for a full breakfast. Rye bread is the traditional bread of choice to couple with sauerkraut, but it goes nicely with sourdough and others.
Sauerkraut is the star of at least one sandwich: the Reuben. But it doesn’t have to stop there. It works well on just about any savory sandwich setup. Put burgers in this category as well. It provides the cool greens typically impart, the crunch and zip of relish or pickles, and a bit of juiciness to make things playful. It can be in place of other toppings, or it works great in conjunction with them.
There are actually salad recipes that are centered around sauerkraut, which basically can work as a salad as is. It has a briny-pickle flavor that dances nicely with many partners. With that in mind, this doesn’t have to be limited to green salads, either. Potato salads with a bit of sauerkraut tossed in are excellent.
Bowls of all sorts have become the rage. Essentially, though, we are talking about a basic grain and/or legume topped with a lot of fun flavors. Spicy stuff gets in the mix. Sweet stuff gets in the mix. Creamy stuff. Why not through in that zesty spoonful of sauerkraut to keep the hits rolling. This works with Asian bowls, Mexican bowls, and whatever else.
Sausage and sauerkraut are a classic combination. Add a little mustard, and it can be close to blissful for some. This can be as simple as some nice plant-based links with a side of kraut, or it can be that wonderful hot dog-like concoction topped with sauerkraut.
Nearly as prevalent as coupling sausages and sauerkraut, meatballs with sauerkraut make for a very authentic German dish. The basic recipe is frying up the “meatballs” in a skillet, removing them but leaving the bits in the bottom of the pan, and deglazing it with a couple of scoops of juicy kraut. Add the meatballs back and simmer them until the meatballs are done.
7-9. Latkes, Pierogis, and Strudel
Sauerkraut is right at home with traditional dishes from areas where it is eaten regularly. Sauerkraut can slip naturally into latkes, making for a really impressive breakfast. Pierogis with sauerkraut is another impressive and fairly simple dish to make. And, of course, a savory strudel with some sauerkraut tucked inside is funky and fun.
Sauerkraut soup is a thing. Who knew? It starts with sauerkraut, onion, and garlic in a saucepan with water or vegetable broth. To this, we can add some skillet-fried shitake mushrooms (a sort of vegan bacon) and paprika. After this simmers for a bit, slices of smoky plant-based sausage and fresh dill are stirred. The soup is served with a bit of dairy-free sour cream and a side of rye bread. Or, a bit of sauerkraut is really nice atop a bowl of soup as a garnish.
That’s a lot of ins for getting a bit more sauerkraut mixed into a diet plan. And, once it becomes a regular ingredient, it can be fun to start changing up the kraut itself, seeing what flavorful curveballs might go into DIY sauerkraut.
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