You may have heard that probiotics are good for you, but what exactly are these little buggers and what makes them so great?
Probiotics are live microorganisms that bolster our digestive health. We usually think of bacteria as something that causes sickness, but our bodies are full of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics are "good" or "helpful" bacteria because they help keep your gut healthy. And a healthy gut means you are less likely to get sick and more likely to absorb all the good for you nutrients from your food. Not to mention you digest food better, which means less bloating, gas, and indigestion.
While you can certainly get probiotics from a supplement, I encourage my clients to incorporate fermented foods, like sauerkraut, into their diets as a way to increase these good-for-you bacteria.
I love sauerkraut and making your own is actually pretty simple. My friend and mentor, Robyn Youkilis, is a sauerkraut-making master and today I'm sharing her easy recipe for homemade sauerkraut from her new book Go with Your Gut: The Insider's Guide to Banishing the Bloat with 75-Digestion Friendly Recipes.
Sauerkraut from Go with Your Gut by Robyn Youkilis // vegan, gluten free, paleo, raw
Makes roughly 4 cups
1 large head of cabbage, any variety
1 tablespoon sea salt, more if needed
Filtered water, as needed
Additional minor ingredients you can add (make sure your mixture is mostly cabbage):
Thinly sliced apple or pear
Onions, thinly sliced
Garlic, finely chopped
Dried juniper berries
Ginger root, peeled and grated
1. Pull off and set aside 2 outer leaves from the cabbage. Finely shred the remainder.
2. In a large mixing bowl mix the cabbage with the sea salt by hand. You’ll want to spend quite a bit of time on this, until the cabbage starts to get all juicy and you have liquid pooling at the bottom of the bowl. Taste it throughout; it should taste very, very salty. Add any additional ingredients now.
3. Pack the veggies into a fermenting vessel (a 24 ounce Mason jar and lid works great). You’ll want to stuff the jar with an inch or two of cabbage and pack the veggies tightly down, then add another inch or two and repeat. Liquid should come up and cover the veggies at each stage of the packing and layering. Pack the veggies until you reach the top of the jar with about an inch or two of space. You want to make sure your veggies are below their liquid. If you need to, add a splash of filtered water or you may need a smaller jar (depending on size of cabbage used).
4. Layer the top of the veggies with the reserved folded outer cabbage leaves and seal the jar. Leave it at room temperature in a cool, dark place.
5. You’ll want to “burp” your veggies every day or two. Simply unscrew the lid and allow the air to escape. You may want/need to pack your veggies down with your fist again.
6. After about 1 week, you can taste your kraut. It should taste sour and slightly salty with a tangy flavor and have a nice but strong aroma. If it tastes good, it’s good. If it tastes bad, you may need to scrape off the top layer and discard it, then see if the kraut tastes yummy beneath the liquid. Allow it to ferment until your heart desires! I find that anywhere between 10 days and 1 month tastes great (but you can let some ferments go a year or more!). Once the taste is to your liking, seal and store it in the fridge for months.
Note: You’ll want to use a fresh, clean fork every time you serve your kraut or whole brined vegetables. This keeps the unique bacterias in your mouth from mixing and multiplying in your jar.
Seriously you guys, this book is INCREDIBLE. Tons of delicious recipes, great digestive health tips, and guidance for how to put all this into practice. Order your copy today! And if you are in NYC, join us for the BOOK LAUNCH PARTY this Thursday, Feb 4th at Rizzoli Bookstore from 6:30-8:30PM. It's going to be a blast! Grab your ticket here before they sell out!