7 Flavorful Fermented Foods Your Body Will Love
Fermentation is a technique for preserving food that goes back thousands of years. It’s a natural process where bacteria work to break down the carbohydrates in food. These bacteria, oftentimes called cultures or starters, give fermented food a distinctive tart flavor.
There are many beneficial properties associated with fermented foods. It’s rich in probiotics, which are good bacteria your body needs to help balance the microbes living in the intestines. They have also been shown to aid the immune system, support digestion, as well as improve liver function, cholesterol levels, and blood glucose levels.
Interested in trying fermented foods? Here are 7 that may just become a staple in your fridge. With all of their health boosting benefits, your body will never want to be without them!
Kimchi is a spicy, sour and sweet fermented napa cabbage dish that usually includes daikon radish, onion, pepper, garlic, ginger, fish sauce and sugar. It works as a side dish, a condiment, or an ingredient for many different entrees like stews, savory pancakes and fried rice.
Sauerkraut is a much simpler fermented cabbage dish. It’s not spicy and contains green cabbage, salt and spices like caraway seeds. It has a dominant sour taste that combines well with meat dishes like hot dogs, tuna salad, and burgers. It’s also yummy with eggs, potatoes and fish dishes. Try it with avocado toast, cheese plates and breakfast burritos.
3. Yogurt (and Kefir)
Yogurt is a fermented dairy product with a pudding-like consistency that is a great source of protein and calcium. It is a versatile dish that can be sweet or savory. A savory dill Greek yogurt dressing called tzatziki is ideal for gyros and falafel plates. In Indian cuisine, lassi is a deliciously sweet yogurt-based drink with fruit and spices. You can also use yogurt to make smoothies, parfaits, dips, and so much more. Kefir is a fermented yogurt-like drink that is made with milk and has a similar flavor profile to yogurt.
Miso is a fermented paste made with soybeans and the starter koji. It has an earthy salty taste, which adds a lovely umami or savory flavor to a dish. A classic usage of miso is to make soup. Try blending it with butter and adding it to garlic bread, corn, or green beans. For an updated PB&J, you can blitz pecans with miso and add it to bread along with your jelly of choice.
Tempeh is also made with soybeans but in a solid rectangular form. Like miso, it has an earthy salty taste, but its nutty texture makes it a perfect meat alternative. Pan fry and use it in sandwiches and salads. Crumble it and use it for tacos or enchilada filling. It is an excellent source of dietary fiber, protein, and vitamins.
6. Sourdough Bread
Sourdough bread, unlike other breads, uses a starter and no yeast. Like all fermented foods, this gives it that distinguishable sour flavor indicative of its name. What’s amazing about sourdough bread is that the micronutrients in it are more easily absorbed by the body. It’s a versatile bread with endless possibilities. Make garlic toast and eat it with spaghetti, start your day with a sourdough breakfast sandwich, or try the classic clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl.
Kombucha is a sweet and sour fizzy fermented drink made with tea, sugar, and a starter. It is low in calories and is a wonderful substitute for soda. It comes in many different flavors and pairs well with almost any meal of the day.
The next time you go to the store, expand your cuisine culture and enhance that grocery list with these flavorful fermented foods. Healthy, hearty, heavenly… it will be worth the try!
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Written by JC Alhambra, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern