Fermented Foods 101

Did you notice that there was a BIG piece missing in last week's "How to Fill Your Plate" equation?

It's a part of basically EVERY one of my meals.

A food that boosts your digestion and your immunity, helps banish sugar cravings AND {most importantly} adds AWESOME flavor.

Do you know what this mystery, miracle food is yet???

FERMENTED FOODS!!

Likely you've seen me share about kombucha, sauerkraut, and tempeh but today I am going to explain WHY I consider these foods "superfoods" and what benefits you can expect to see from incorporating them into your diet.

Alright, so what exactly are fermented foods?

They are foods that have been through a process of fermentation in which natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch in the food creating lactic acid. This process preserves the food, and creates beneficial enzymes, b-vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and various strains of probiotics.

Ooooh yeah probiotics, I've heard of those guys! But wait, tell me what they are again?

They are the beneficial bacteria in your digestive system. This “good” bacteria helps your body absorb nutrients and minerals from from food.

Side note: The word "probiotic" is a compound of two Greek words: "pro," meaning promotion of and "biotic," which means life. So probiotics literally promote life. And “anti-biotics” means anti-life...

You can totally take a probiotic supplement but you’ll get more, diverse strands of bacteria (which is what you want!) by eating a variety of fermented food. Which brings me to my next point...


Why should I eat fermented foods?

  1. Fermentation jumpstarts the digestion process. Fermented foods are already partially broken down which makes them easier to digest than their non-fermented counterparts. PLUS they've got those good-for-your gut probiotics which further boost your digestive health.
  2. Fermented foods boost your immune system! It's estimated that 70-80% of your immune system is located in your GUT so keeping your digestive tract healthy is key to keeping YOU health.
  3. For FLAVOR, my friends! Above all, I am a foodie and fermented foods are my favorite way to add killer FLAVOR to any dish.

Ready to try 'em? Here are just a few of my favorite ferments:

  • Sauerkraut
  • Kombucha tea
  • Tempeh
  • Miso
  • Kefir (fermented dairy drink)
  • Pickles (the kind in the refrigerator section)
  • Kimchi

Check out this post for some ideas on how to incorporate these foods into your daily diet: 10 ways to eat fermented foods.


Now, here's your homework assignment for this week: try ONE fermented food! You may already have one of these nutritional powerhouses in your diet, and if that's the case, I encourage you to try something new. Avid kombucha drinker? Try another fermented beverage like kefir or beet kvass. Sauerkraut totally your thing? Try a different brand or flavor variation!

What I Ate Wednesday 5/18/16

In an effort to show you all more of what I eat as a primarily plant-based, active adult, I'm starting a new series here on the blog - "What I Ate Wednesday."  Every other Wednesday (or so) I'll snap a picture of everything I eat and post the pictures plus descriptions here on the blog.  I'll share helpful information on what I'm eating and why.

PLEASE, please, please do not think that your food choices should directly mirror mine - we are all different and what works for my body may not work for your body, and vice versa.  I'm still figuring out what works best for me and guess what?  It's changing all the time.  I'm simply sharing my choices with the hopes to give you more ideas when it comes to plant based foods and meals.

Here's what I ate this Wednesday:

Upon waking: Water with lemon essential oil. Bulletproof matcha tea (SO GOOD!) - get the recipe here!

Breakfast: 2 eggs + LOTS of veggies at Hu Kitchen. Brought by own sauerkraut to add on top!

Lunch: Veggie noodles, spicy mushroom salad more kraut + turmeric kombucha. I usually try not to eat out 2 meals in a day, but Wednesdays have turned into crazy teaching days where I'm running all over the city, so I rely on my favorite Hu Kitchen to fuel me well!

Snack: Watermelon + raw fennel - yummy combo! Super hydrating after reaching a bunch of classes!

Dinner: Sheep's milk yogurt + Parsley chocolate protein + 1/2 banana, walnuts, shredded coconut. Quick tip: Did you know that sheep's milk is more easily digested than cow's? Plus, its usually way less processed. I'm experimenting with how it works with my gut (cow's dairy is a no-no) and so far, so good!!

 

Like I mentioned, I'm always looking to find what foods work best for me through experimentation, and trial and error. Hey, I never thought I would eat dairy again and here I am, trying it out and doing just fine! Want some help in finding what foods work best for your body and LIFE? Schedule a complementary strategy session with me!

Loving Lately: May 2016

As a way to share my favorites with you on a regular basis, I created the "Things I'm Loving Lately" series here on the blog. In this series I share everything from food to fitness, brands to beauty products, good reads to good listens. 

Here's what I'm currently craving and crushing on:

- Raw fennel - I've been snacking on this non-stop! Cleansing, crunchy and delicious!
- Garlic sauerkraut - Mixed into salads, added to eggs, mashed with avocado, this stuff is the bomb! I literally go through a jar a week.
- Iced mint matcha lattes - if you haven't tried this recipe, do it now! ;)
- HIIT workouts - Okay, so it's a love hate relationship. I resist going outside of my comfort zone, but, like I've mentioned before, this is where real change and growth happens. I always feel strong and proud after a session at the FHITTing room or Tonehouse (and sore the next day, which I know means my muscles are growing!!).
- Rosemary essential oil -  Considered sacred by ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians and Hebrews, Rosemary has been revered for centuries for its digestive uses and for healthy respiratory function. It's also very rejuvenating. I've been rubbing a drop in my collarbone before heading out for the day [in case you missed it, check out this post for my daily essential oil routine].

What are you loving lately?  Let me know in the comments below!

 

DIY Sauerkraut

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

Ingredients:

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

Shredded beets

Onions, thinly sliced

Garlic, finely chopped

Optional add­-ins:

Caraway seeds

Dried juniper berries

Ginger root, peeled and grated

Directions:

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!

Superhuman Breakfast

Hello, Saturday!

One of my favorite things to do on the weekend is to take the time to make myself something special in the morning - usually a breakfast that I can sit and enjoy and eat with a fork and knife. I love my green smoothies, but it's nice to switch it up on the weekends, to take the time to actually chew my food.

This "Superhuman" breakfast is my new weekend morning go-to. Created by Laura Hames Franklin (learn more about Laura here - she's an awesome coach and posts videos everyday!), this breakfast packs in protein, greens, healthy fats AND (get ready for it) natural probiotics in the form of sauerkraut.

You may be thinking YUCK - sauerkraut?? For breakfast?? Yup! Sauerkraut and other fermented veggies are some of the best foods for your digestive system. I've mentioned my love for kraut before, and if you follow me on Instagram, you've seen that I usually incorporate it into my meals (like this, this and this). I challenge you to try it out - there are so many different flavors of sauerkraut and fermented veggies out there, so experiment! You will find kraut in the refrigerator section and it should contain veggies, salt, and water, and whatever herbs but NO VINEGAR. If you really don't like the taste, try mashing kraut with avocado (it mellows out the flavor).

 

For more on the benefits of sauerkraut and other fermented foods, read this post: Fermented Foods 101

Back to that breakfast recipe!

Here's the basic formula for the Superhuman Breakfast:

Greens + Starchy Veggies (sweet potato, squash, etc) + Protein (egg, tempeh for vegans) + Ferment (sauerkraut, kimchi or whole brined veggies)

Superhuman Breakfast - Emily Nachazel.jpg

Superhuman Breakfast

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs

  • kale, collards, spinach or broccoli (as much as you’d like), sliced or chopped

  • 1/2 - 1 cup starchy vegetable, chopped

  • Up to 1/2 cup fermented veggies

  • 1 tbsp olive oil (optional)

  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Fill a medium to large sized saucepan with 2-3 inches of water and fit the pot with a steamer basket. Set over medium high heat.

  2. While your water begins to boil, add you starchy veggies and eggs to the steamer basket. Cover and let cook for about 10 minutes.

  3. Once starchy veggies are cooked (easy to poke with a fork), add your greens to the steamer basket (or to a seperate basket stacked on top). Again cover and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes (tougher greens will take a little longer, more tender greens like spinach will be done sooner.

  4. Once greens are cooked, turn off heat and remove cover from steamer basket. Run eggs under cold water for a few minutes, the crack and peel shell.

  5. Plate everything, top with fermented vegetable and olive oil (optional), salt and pepper. You can also add fresh herbs or a squeeze of lemon juice if you’d like!

If you liked this recipe, I think you’d love my 35-page paleo + GUT FRIENDLY recipe e-book!

Click here to download your FREE RECIPE E-BOOK!