As part of their commitment to living well, today’s health-conscious foodies are reviving a centuries-old tradition of eating fermented foods. While generations of would-be chefs dating back a millennium or more have used fermentation to preserve food, most were probably unaware of the link between fermented or cultured foods and our overall physical and mental well-being. Not so today. Thanks to modern science, the benefits of fermented foods are well documented, and include everything from improved digestion and a stronger immune system to enhanced cognitive function.
How Fermentation Works
You know those veggies you’ve been steaming, roasting or nibbling on raw? Well, fermentation gives you one more delicious way to enjoy this important food group. Fermentation begins when vegetables are chopped, salted, and set aside to steep. Here, the starches, sugars, and microbes found in and on the plants are allowed to interact, transforming fresh cabbage, radishes, carrots, beets, and a host of other garden greens into tasty side dishes and entrée toppers. These naturally preserved foods are rich in the probiotics, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals our bodies crave. A key ingredient in the mix is salt, as it helps retain the veggies’ innate crunchiness and vitamins, minimizes spoilage, and deepens the food’s complex flavor profile.
Here at wildbrine, we favor wild fermentation, which is another way of saying we let nature choose the diverse set of bacteria, yeasts, mold spores, and other naturally occurring probiotic microbes that will jockey for top billing in the wholesome brine. The byproducts of this struggle are lactic and acetic acids, which give our organically grown, fermented vegetables a savory tang and which also promote the growth of good (versus bad) microbes that are a vital part of your gut’s microbiome.
Eating Fermented Foods Supports Digestive Health
When you think about it, it’s not surprising that many health-related issues begin in our guts. Luckily though, this is where probiotic-rich fermented foods begin to work their magic. Often referred to as “superfoods,” these miracle workers protect our digestive tracts from pathogens, fight disease-causing inflammation, ward off bad bacteria, increase our antibody counts, produce helpful vitamins and enzymes, facilitate the absorption of necessary nutrients and minerals, regulate our appetites, and support the production of serotonin, which in turn promotes our mental and emotional well-being.
That’s eight, count ‘em, eight good reasons to begin eating fermented foods today. When making your choice though, be sure you’re getting the real deal by shopping in the refrigerated section of your market and by checking the label for mention of “live cultures.” And as with any new addition to your diet, start off slow to give your digestive system time to adjust. It only takes a spoonful or two of wildbrine sauerkraut, kimchi, salsa, or sugar-free sriracha to add a delectable sense of adventure to your midday meal.
Six Noon-Time Recipes That Make Eating Fermented Foods Easy and Fun
If you’re ever tempted to skip lunch just to eke out a few more minutes for your daily chores, think again. A healthy lunch and a little breathing space half way through the day are exactly what you need to rejuvenate your body and mind. The meal ideas below come from some of the top food writers and bloggers in the country. All of the recipes have the makings of a balanced diet, and the addition of your favorite ready-made fermented foods will give each a surprising twist that’ll spice up your lunchtime routine. Even better, most can be prepared in under 30 minutes. That means more time for you to sit back, relax, and enjoy your culinary handiwork.
Soups and Salads
Experiment with a variety of intriguing fermented flavor combos
- Sriracha Spicy Ramen Noodles Soup. Super quick and easy and a great base for wildbrine Spicy Kimchi Sriracha. Get recipe here.
- Brussels Sprouts Salad with Kimchi Salad Dressing. Loaded with protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Get recipe here.
Buddha and Macro Bowls
Add a pucker-worthy, fermented garnish.
- Taco-Inspired Buddha Bowl. A Mexican-food favorite. Try it with wildbrine Salsa Verde, made from layers of green tomatillos, fire roasted peppers, fresh green cabbage, cilantro, and lime. Get recipe here.
- Grain-Free Macro Bowls with lentils, kimchi, and kale. Just 15 minutes from start to finish. Get recipe here.
Sandwiches and Burgers
Go from bland to brilliant with a spicy fermented topping.
- Grilled Cheese with Kraut. A comfort food filled with gooey goodness. Get recipe here.
- Korean Turkey Burgers with Kimchi. Incredibly moist and flavorful. For more great Asian-inspired flavors, pair with wildbrine gluten-free, vegan Korean Kimchi. Get recipe here.
Try some of the recipes above, and let us know if you plan to make eating fermented foods a daily habit. If you do, we’re pretty sure your taste buds, as well as your metabolism, will perk up and thank you for it.