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!

10 ways to eat fermented foods

If you follow me on Instagram, or eat ANY number of meals with me, you know that I LOVE me some fermented foods. Today I'm sharing 10 ways to add these wonderful superfoods into YOUR diet.

[What the heck are fermented foods? Check out this post: Fermented Foods 101]

10 ways to eat fermented foods:

  1.  Sip on some bubbly kombucha (or... make a kombucha cocktail!)
  2.  Start your day with a Superhuman Breakfast
  3.  Order miso soup along side your sushi roll.
  4.  Top your salad pan seared tempeh.
  5.  Add kimchi on top of your stir fry or noodle bowl.
  6.  Snack on some raw pickles (either homemade or ones you find in the refrigerator section).
  7.  Upgrade your avocado toast with this recipe: Upgraded Avocado Toast.
  8. Try your hand at making beet kvass! It's SO easy, I promise, and GREAT for heartburn or indigestion. Here's a recipe: Homemade Beet Kvass.
  9.  Use unsweetened kefir instead of milk in your favorite overnight oats. Check out my recipes here: Overnight Oats OR Paleo Overnight No-Oats.
  10. Take a forkful of your favorite kraut or fermented veggie and stir it into any salad or bowl for an INSTANT flavor boost!

What is YOUR favorite way to eat fermented foods? Let me know in the comments below!!

Tempeh with Mushrooms, Onions + Tomato Sauce

 

Tempeh with Mushrooms, Onions + Tomato Sauce // vegan, gluten free

Makes 2-3 servings

Ingredients:

- 1 package tempeh, diced

- 1 large yellow onion, diced

- 2 cups mushrooms of choice, sliced

- 1-2 tbsp coconut oil

- 1 cup tomato sauce of choice

- 1 tsp dried oregano

- salt and pepper to taste

- 3 cups greens of choice, optional

Instructions:

  1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large skillet. Add onions and season with salt, pepper, and oregano. Cook until translucent, about 5 minutes
  2. Add in mushrooms and cook another 5-7 minutes, until mushrooms begin to brown.
  3. Push mushrooms and onions off to one side of the pan. Add the other tbsp of coconut oil and the tempeh and cook until tempeh begins to brown (5-7 minutes).
  4. When tempeh is browned, add in greens and tomato sauce and cook until greens are wilted and sauce is warmed. Taste and season with additional salt, pepper, and oregano. Enjoy!

Things I'm Loving Lately - October 2015

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:

- Garlic!! For a while, both raw and cooked garlic made me feel awful. I would get headachy and tired after eating anything containing garlic, which was SO sad (since it's delicious, so good for you, and in so many things). I'm happy to report that I can eat garlic again! (I attribute this mostly to some diet shifts + the digestive enzymes I've been taking the past few months) I love making garlic infused olive oil: you simply chop up fresh garlic and add in to a jar with olive oil. You can use it the next day, but the longer you let it sit, the more garlic flavor the olive oil will take on. A simple way to take sautéed greens and veggies up a notch! 

- Turmeric - I've been putting this anti-inflammatory spice on everything! In my tea (yes, weird, but good), in my smoothies, and mixed with curry powder on roasted veggies (try this!!). Check out this article for more details on why turmeric is so good for you!

- Tempeh - As I've mentioned before, tempeh (TEM-PAY) is a fermented soybean cake. It's tofu's lesser-known sibling, much firmer and nuttier, and with a higher concentration of protein, fiber, and vitamins as a result of the fermentation process. Tempeh has been my go-to protein source these days - I'm loving it chopped up into salads and sautéed with a little garlic and olive oil for awesome bowl meals.

 - Yerba Mate tea - The past few weeks I've taken a break from matcha (I always recommend doing experiments with yourself!) and have switched my morning cup to Yerba Mate tea. According to some, Yerba Mate has the “strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea, and the euphoria of chocolate all in one cup!" I'm not really sure how to describe the taste, but try it for yourself and let me know how you like it in the comments below! I'm loving it and planning on sticking with it for a little while!

- Pears - I'm seriously a pear fanatic these days! Maybe its because I've gotten so many from my CSA... I'm loving them sliced and sprinkled with cinnamon, cooked down to pear butter with nutmeg and vanilla (sort of like applesauce!), and juiced with greens and ginger! Pears are a great choice 1) because they are in season this time of year and 2) they are generally lower in sugar than many tropical fruits. 

- Deep Blue Rub - I'm all about this essential oil infused lotion from doTERRA recently. I've been rubbing some on my shoulders, neck, and lower back before I go to sleep as a relaxing bedtime ritual. It's great for soothing aches and pains, relieving muscle tightness, and promoting relaxation. 


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

Honey Sesame Tempeh

Tempeh (TEM-PAY) is a fermented soy cake. It's tofu's lesser-known sibling, much firmer and nuttier, and with a higher concentration of protein, fiber, and vitamins as a result of the fermentation process. 

Like tofu, tempeh takes on whatever flavor you cook it in. This honey-sesame tempeh is a great recipe to try if you are new to tempeh - it's simple, sweet, and salty (what more could you ask for??). Not ready to venture in tempeh-land just yet? I'm sure this sauce would taste great on tofu, fish, or other protein (or veggies!) of choice. 

Honey Sesame Tempeh served over sautéed greens with kabocha squash + kraut

Honey Sesame Tempeh served over sautéed greens with kabocha squash + kraut

Honey Sesame Tempeh (vegetarian, gluten free option)

Ingredients:

- 1 8-oz package tempeh

- 3 tbsp melted coconut oil (refined coconut oil if you don't want a coconutty taste!)

- 3 tbsp honey or maple syrup 

- 1 tbsp soy sauce (gluten free, if desired)

- 1 tsp sesame oil

- Sesame seeds (optional)

Instructions:

1. Make honey sesame marinade: Whisk coconut oil, maple syrup, soy sauce and sesame oil in a medium bowl. 

2. Let it mingle: Cut tempeh into 1/2 inch thick slices. Lay slices flat in a glass container or baking dish and coat with the marinade. Let tempeh marinate for at least 1 hour, flipping the slices at least once to  ensure both sides are equally soaked in flavorful goodness. Note: if you put your marinating tempeh in the fridge, the coconut oil will harden, making the whole thing very unattractive. No worries though! It will be fine once you cook it.

3. Cooking time! Pan fry the tempeh slices over medium heat until both sides are browned. Scoop any extra marinade out of your dish and add to pan while cooking. Sprinkle with sesame seeds to finish. Enjoy!

 

This tempeh is very versatile - you can make this a part of your bowl meal, add to salads or sandwiches, or even snack on it on its own!

Have you tried tempeh before? How did you like it?