One of the most inexpensive and powerful nutritional tools that you can use to improve detoxification, digestion and immune processes is fermented foods. This simple and inexpensive way of storing and preserving fresh vegetables has been a beneficial ingredient in many cultures across the world.
Fermented foods are often paired with fatty foods such as sauerkraut with perogies or kimchi with fried rice. We now know that this practice is proven to be beneficial for digestion due to the fermented foods’ ability to encourage the release of digestive juices and bile from the gall bladder. Traditionally fermented foods go through a lacto-fermentation process, which preserves the food and also creates enzymes, B vitamins and probiotics. Not only do fermented foods help to break down and digest fats, but they also create a delightful balance of flavours and add interest to a meal.
Cleansing and healing
Fermented foods are great chelators of heavy metals, toxins and pesticides, making them an essential tool for cleansing and detoxifying the body. Many people suffer from irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel diseases. Fermented foods can be a missing link in healing and regulating the digestive processes. The large probiotic content of these foods helps to restore balance in your digestive track. A recent study has shown that probiotics can actually help to modulate the immune system and may cur- tail inflammation.
Fermented foods can also help the body produce acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter that helps facilitate the communication of nerve impulses. This is essential in reducing constipation by improving the movement of the bowel and also increasing the release of digestive juices. Eating fast food depleted of fibre and nutrients and full of re- fined sugars and fats puts stress on the digestive system, leading to inflammation and a reduction in the amount of good bacteria in our gut. By reducing the amount of these foods and increasing the probiotic-rich fermented foods, we can help to rebuild our digestive health.
In the 1950s, sauerkraut was used in Europe to treat typhoid fever due to its ability to inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria. Unfortunately, with the advances in technology, food preparation and storage, these traditional foods have been, for the most part, lost in our North American society.
Although pickles, sauerkraut and kimchi are all available in the grocery store, they are often not fermented naturally and have been pasteurized to extend their shelf life, therefore eliminating the nutritional benefits. In order to find fermented foods with all of their inherent benefits look for products that are located in the fridge with “raw” or “unpasteurized” on the label. To get started on your path to better digestive health try adding in one-quarter cup of fermented foods per day. There are quite a few to choose from: coconut yogurt, miso, fermented seasonal vegetables often found at farmers markets, kimchi, sauerkraut and aged nut cheeses. Why not try making some of these delicious condiments yourself?
- 1 ½ medium yam, peeled and cubed yellow onion, chopped
- 2 tsp coconut oil
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 10 rice paper dumpling wrappers
- CASHEW CREAM
- 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked for 4 hours
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Place the cubed yam in a steaming basket and steam until soft.
- In a fry pan over medium heat, sauté garlic and onion with coconut oil until onions are soft.
- Place yam in a medium bowl and mash with a fork until there are no lumps. Add in all remaining ingredients including the onion and garlic. Mix until combined.
- Pour 1/2 cup water onto a dinner plate and submerge one dumpling wrapper. Make sure the wrapper is very wet but not soggy.
- Place wrapper on cutting board and spoon 1 tbsp of the yam mixture onto one side of the wrapper. Fold the other half on top and press the edges with wet fingers to seal. If you have a perogy press, you can use that to seal the edges and create a decorative edge.
- To prepare the cashew cream, place all ingredients in a blender and purée.
- Serve perogies on a bed of greens (arugula has a complementary peppery flavour) with a dollop of cashew cream and sauerkraut.