Archive for July 2016

Think fermented foods are gross? Some tips

Watch my video below or read the text under that for tips about a few ways to eat (and enjoy) fermented foods.

* Note that putting yogurt in muffins will cook out the good bacteria, but there are many other ways to sneak it into your food (e.g. smoothie).

 

natto fermented foods healthy food grossI’ve tried a number of fermented foods that I’ve wanted to spit right back out (ayran and poi, for example). And some I’ve not been able to get past the smell of (natto and stinky tofu). But don’t be offended if those are your favourite foods. My grandmother grew up eating natto, so she loves it. I think it looks like chunky mucus and smells like rotten garbage. Nothing I’d want to eat. But, the first time people try beer or alcohol, they also tend to think it doesn’t taste good. Our tastes change with exposure.

A friend once proved that to me when I told him I would not eat Marmite (New Zealand’s version of Vegemite, a food paste made from leftover yeast extract). He quietly snuck it into sandwiches he made for me. He started with tiny, miniscule amounts so I wouldn’t notice. Then gradually increased the amount bit by bit. Eventually, he opened up my sandwich as I was partway through eating it to show me that I had been happily eating something that I had once thought of as vile.

My mother used to sneak yogurt into my dad’s food because he doesn’t like yogurt. Not knowing it was there, he didn’t mind it. Though he still says he doesn’t like yogurt. Sometimes it’s also mind over matter.

Nevertheless, there are a huge number of fermented foods, all with different flavours, so I’m sure there are some that you will enjoy from the start.

Did you know that even coffee and chocolate are made from a combination of fermentation processes?

(By the way, this is a sidebar in my TCM healthy nutrition book I’m writing.)

Summary of how to like fermented foods

  1. Include just a little, so you can barely taste it (or not taste it at all). Easier to do if you are the cook and the fermented foods-hater doesn’t know they are eating it.
  2. Mix it in other foods that will hide the flavour.
    1. Yogurt or kefir in a smoothie. Check out this delicious lassi recipe! 
    2. A bit of sauerkraut on a burger. Try it on a bean burger recipe.
    3. Chop up fermented veggies really small and add them to a salad.
    4. Find a chutney you’ll like–there are so many options, from fruity and sweet to savoury or spicy. 
  3. Just because you don’t like one kind of fermented food doesn’t mean you’ll hate them all. Explore your grocery shelves and online ideas and recipes.
  4. Remember that tastes change. And sometimes we actually learn to like something we didn’t like once upon a time. I’ve discovered this about Brussels sprouts, fish, tomatoes, and olives (provided those olives are in Greece when I eat them).
  5. Try this easy sauerkraut recipe.

What are your favourite fermented foods and fermented food recipes?

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Sauerkraut Recipe for Good Bacteria Probiotics

sauerkraut recipe healthy food good bacteria probiotics

So why would you make your own sauerkraut recipe when you can simply buy it in a store? Well, because like anything homemade it often tastes better (unless you screw up the recipe, which I have been known to do). And because this way you know you have a true fermented product, not a sterile, no good bacteria (probiotics) vinegary cabbage. The basic recipe is simple, but I’m sure you could modify it to play with the flavours. 

A few years ago I was in Germany for some biopuncture training. We noticed that we didn’t have a lot of vegetable options when we’d eat out, but sauerkraut was almost always included. I’m sure it helped us to digest the meat (don’t eat sausages anymore, so might be harder to travel through Germany now), bread, and beer. Though I was glad to get back to fresh veggies at home, it was delicious and I love this sauerkraut recipe below!

Have you ever made sauerkraut and do you have any tips?

Sauerkraut recipe basics
The minimum amount of time to make a sauerkraut is 3 days, but taste it to see if it's long enough. Longer time helps develop the flavour more as it ferments further. Put it in the fridge (or cold cellar) when it tastes right to you.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 medium head green cabbage
  2. 1 1/2 Tbsp kosher salt
  3. 1 Tbsp caraway seeds (optional)
  4. Two-quart wide-mouth canning jar or two-quart mason jar
  5. Smaller jar that fits inside the larger mason jar
  6. Clean stones, marbles, or other weights for weighing the smaller jar
  7. Cloth to cover the large jar
  8. Elastic band or string to secure the cloth
Instructions
  1. Clean and rinse everything well.
  2. Discard any wilted or limp outer leaves and trim out the core of the cabbage.
  3. Slice the cabbage into very thin ribbons,
  4. Place cabbage in a large mixing bowl.
  5. Sprinkle salt over the cabbage and massage it in, squeezing the cabbage with your hands until the cabbage becomes limp and watery (like coleslaw). It will take 5 to 10 minutes.
  6. Optional to mix in caraway seeds.
  7. Stuff the cabbage into the large canning or Mason jar, tamping it down with your fist.
  8. Include the liquid that was squeezed out of the cabbage while you were massaging it.
  9. Optional: Place one of the larger outer leaves of the cabbage over the surface of the sliced cabbage to help keep the cabbage submerged in its liquid.
  10. Put the smaller jar into the large jar and weight it down with the stones or marbles.
  11. Cover the mouth of the large jar with the cloth and secure it with your elastic band or string.
  12. For 1 day, press down the cabbage by pushing on the inside smaller jar every few hours (obviously go to bed, don't stay up or wake yourself to do this).
  13. * If the liquid hasn't risen above the cabbage after 24 hours, then dissolve 1 tsp of salt in 1 cup of water and add enough to your larger jar to submerge the cabbage.
  14. Ferment for 3 to 10 days, keeping it away from direct sunlight.
  15. Check it daily to make sure cabbage remains submerged in liquid.
  16. Taste it after 3 days. When it tastes good (may take more than 3 days), remove the weighted jar and put a lid on the large jar. Refrigerate it.
Notes
  1. Try to have the temperature at cool room temperature, as having it too cold will make it ferment really slowly and too hot will sometimes make it mushy.
  2. If you notice a foam or white scum on the top of your cabbage, this is part of the fermentation process and you can skim it off either during fermentation or before placing in the fridge.
  3. If you see mold, skim it off right away and make sure the cabbage is still fully submerged.
  4. As a fermented food, your sauerkraut will last for at least 2 months. Longer if refrigerated.
Acupuncture, TCM, natural health, Vancouver, BC http://www.activetcm.com/
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Fibre foods are fabulous — part of my nutrition book in process

Non-Starch Polysaccharides–AKA Fibre Foods

flax fibre foods nutrition natural health Vancouver BCNon-starch polysaccharides is not an easy term to remember, or to market as part of a nutritious diet. More commonly termed dietary fibre, it includes cellulose, hemicellulose, and pectins (though it gets complicated here with the terminology often expanding and changing).

If sugar is considered the “bad boy” in the carbohydrate family, then fibre is treated like the “golden child.” You probably know fibre as that thing that you know you should eat more of, but that doesn’t seem that appetizing. It’s generally not something that your taste buds will crave because it has no taste. Plus, though you have to make the effort to eat it, it leaves your body mostly undigested.

So, what’s the point?

Fibre foods help support digestive health, regulate blood sugar fluctuations, lower elevated cholesterol, help eliminate toxic waste products from the body, prevent colon cancer, and more.

Dietary fibres are most commonly divided into soluble and insoluble fibres. It’s not a perfect division (what in the world is?), but here are some of the benefits and types of food that provide each of these categories. Most whole plant foods contain a mix of both soluble and insoluble fibres.

Soluble Fibre Foods:

Soluble fibre attracts water, so it turns to a gel when it enters your body, thus slowing your digestive process. Note that if you are supplementing with psyllium husk or any other soluble fibre product, make sure to consume it with a lot of water. Because it creates a gel, insufficient water will make it act more like a plug, causing constipation—uh oh!

  • Though fibre is commonly thought of as something that “makes you go,” because it slows the speed of digestion, it also helps manage diarrhea and loose stools.
  • It helps regulate blood sugar levels.
  • It lowers total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.
  • It reduces the risk of getting intestinal ulcers.
  • It may increase the amount of healthy bacteria in the colon.
  • It provides a feeling of satiation (feel full) without added caloric count.

To get more soluble fibre in your diet, include:

  • Oats/oat bran
  • Psyllium husk
  • Other grains like barley, bran, brown rice, and rye
  • Black beans, navy beans, kidney beans, soy beans, and other beans
  • Tofu, edamame
  • Vegetables like asparagus, beets, collard greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, eggplant, green beans, peas, sweet potato, turnip
  • Fruits like apples, apricots, avocado, figs, pears, plums, prunes
  • Almonds, chia seeds, flax seeds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds

Insoluble Fibre Foods:

It makes sense, based off its name, that insoluble fibre does not bind itself to water and turn to gel, like the soluble fibre, but it does absorb water while moving through the digestive system, making for an easier passage. Insoluble fibre is found in many whole foods, but the highest amounts are often found in the parts of the foods that are tougher to chew, like cabbage, onions, bell peppers, and the skin of apples, cucumbers, and grapes.

  • It promotes regular bowel movements.
  • Because it absorbs water, it adds bulk to the stool to relieve constipation.
  • Speeding intestinal transit time helps it move toxic waste through the colon more quickly.
  • It assists in blood sugar regulation.
  • By optimizing intestinal pH, it helps prevent colon cancer.
  • It may increase the amount of healthy bacteria in the colon.
  • It provides a feeling of satiation (feel full) without added caloric count.

To get more insoluble fibre in your diet, include:

  • Wheat bran
  • Most whole grains, including barley, millet, rye
  • Most legumes, including kidney beans, lentils, navy beans, and pinto beans
  • Most vegetables, including broccoli, carrots, kale, okra, peas, potatoes, spinach, sweet potatoes, squash, and turnip
  • Dried fruits, including dates and prunes
  • Berries, peels of apples, apricots, pears, and plums
  • Almonds, flax seeds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, and walnuts

Next month I’ll include my TCM nutrition book section on how to store your oils.

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