Just about everyone knows that there is something called “probiotics” in yogurt that you should eat because “it’s good for you.” Most people also know that eating probiotics can aid digestion by boosting the numbers of healthy critter-allies that populate the digestive tract.
What many people do not know is that our digestive systems and healthy intestinal flora are under attack now, more than ever. Many prescription drugs, processed foods, environmental toxins and GMOs kill off the healthy critters living in the gut and can cause things to get out of balance causing everything from food allergies, digestive disturbances and other darned uncomfortable symptoms. There is also evidence that eating GMO foods is one of the worst culprits…but that is the subject for another article.
For us lactose-intolerant folks (and those who don’t want to eat dairy) there is a variety of tasty probiotic food choices that will serve the same purpose as the natural yogurt cultures. Eat a little of these every few days, or even daily, and see if you don’t feel a difference in your digestion.
Here’s a list of probiotic foods that Manzanita Market carries:
One of the best probiotic foods is live-cultured yogurt. Look for brands that have been infused with extra forms of probitoics like lactobacillus, thermophillus, bifudus, bulgaricus and acidophilus. Be sure to read the ingredients list, as not all yogurt is made equally. Many brands contain high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners and artifical flavors so look for a short ingredient list with no additives. I personally recommend Nancy’s Organic Whole Milk Yogurt as an organic, tasty, probiotic yogurt…oh, and made in Eugene, Oregon, too.
Check for “real” sauerkraut like Bubbies that is made from fermented cabbage. Sauerkraut contains not only the healthy live probiotic cultures, it is also rich in vitamins B, A, E and C.
3. Dark Chocolate
Probiotics can be added to high-quality dark chocolate, up to four times the amount of probiotics as many forms of dairy. Talk about a great way to justify your chocolate addiction! I recommend Green & Black organic dark chocolate..oh wait, (perhaps I need to do a chocolate taste-test right now just to double-check … hee hee.)
Miso is one the main-stays of traditional Japanese medicine and is commonly used in macrobiotic cooking as a digestive regulator. Made from fermented rye, beans, rice or barley, adding a tablespoon of miso to some hot broth or water makes a quick, probiotic-rich soup, full of lactobacilli and bifidus bacteria. Miso is also extremely nutrient-dense and believed to help neutralize the effects of environmental pollution and carcinogens on your body.
Believe it or not, the common green pickle is an excellent food source of probiotics. Not all pickles contain probiotics so read the label. “Real” pickles (and other fermented veggie foods) do not contain vinegar. Bubbies pickles are coming soon to the refrigerated produce/deli section of the Market next to the Kimchi and the miso paste.
Kimchi is my favorite form of spicy and sour fermented cabbage typically served alongside meals in Korea. Besides beneficial bacteria, Kimchi is also a great source of beta-carotene, calcium, iron and vitamins A, C, B1 and B2. At my house we love making fried rice with leftovers and Zweifel Farm’s Eggs and serving it up with a liberal portion of kimchi for breakfast.
This is a form of fermented tea that contains a high amount of healthy gut bacteria. This probiotic drink has been used for centuries. It can be easily brewed at home if you obtain a culture from a friend. Manzanita Market carries GT’s Enlightened Synergy kombucha drinks including one of my favorites, Gingerade.
Another way to boost your probiotics is by making simple fermented beverages at home. Sometimes we brew kombucha but my favorite, super easy, beverage is Beet Kvass which is a naturally fermented beverage made with beets, water and a little salt. The end result tastes sweet and earthy but also like pickles… Oh, and a shout-out to our local knitting goddess, Olga Tonjes, at T-Spot, for turning me on to kvass!
Beet Kvass Recipe
About 3/4 pound beets cleaned and sliced
1 to 2 teaspoons sea salt or kosher salt (not iodized)
2 quarts of filtered Water (Important: use only filtered or spring water or it won’t work)
Optional flavorings: ginger, dill, spices
Scrub the beets. Trim the tops and tails, but leave the skins on. Dice the beets into 1/2-inch chunks.
Place the beets in a very clean 1/2 gallon jar.
Add the salt to the jar. If you wish, you can also add flavorings like ginger, dill weed, or spices.
Cover the beets with water, leaving at least 1-inch of head space at the top of the jar.
Let it ferment: Let the jar stand at room temperature…a sunny windowsill is perfect and it looks pretty after it turns a pretty redish fuscha color. Bubbles are good…means the probiotic critters are growing.
Open the jar once a day to taste the liquid and release gases produced during fermentation. If any mold or scum has formed on the top, simply skim it off. (Yes, really.)
Strain and refrigerate: When it tastes strong enough for your liking, strain out the beets and transfer the kvass to the refrigerator.Your naturally fermented kvass will last for quite some time, at least a month or longer.
To your health!