The beneficial bacteria in fermented foods does a pretty amazing job of fighting off toxic and harmful bacteria in the gut and when we eat them regularly we benefit big time!

They are associated with everything from improving our digestive health, boosting our immunity and addressing allergies and intolerances to improving cardiovascular health, building strong bones, maintaining healthy skin, hair and nails and a lot more besides…

So can we risk living without them? Ideally in our rather toxic, 21st century lifestyles, not really - but they take a bit of getting used to!

The top 10 are kefir (a fermented milk product), kombucha (a fermented black tea), sauerkraut (fermented cabbage), miso (fermented soya beans, barley or brown rice), tempeh and natto (two more fermented soya bean products), kimchi (fermented cabbage and other vegetables plus seasonings and spices), raw cheese (made with unpasteurised milk), organic yoghurt with live or active cultures made from the milk produced by goats or sheep which have been pasture-raised and finally, pickled vegetables (vegetables that are fermented using a starter, salt, and some filtered water which produce their own preserving, acidic liquid).

how do you feel about that lot?

Eager to get started on your fermented food journey or a bit underwhelmed? If it is the former, there is no shortage of fermented foods ‘how to’ YouTube videos on the internet to get you started. I like Faith Canter’s (she keeps it simple and straightforward!) and she also has some great fermented food recipes on her blog. If it’s the latter, your best bet is to experiment with a few of the above from your local health food shop and see how you go - somewhere along the line you will hopefully find a couple of favourites! Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

Try kefir instead of yoghurt in my Fresh Fruit Salad with Crunchy Yoghurt. I use Bio-Tiful Kefir which is available in health shops, larger supermarkets and online.

You can make your own ‘crunchy mix’ in bulk using grains, nuts and seeds of choice and store in a glass jar or other airtight container in the fridge or buy a ready-prepared muesli-type mix for convenience. If you go down that route, make sure it has no added sugars - label-reading is vital here and I recommend you head to a health store as a great many of those on the supermarket shelves are bulked out with dried fruits and involve difficult to spot sugary syrups!

Ingredients

  • Grains and flaked grains of choice (oats, millet, spelt, quinoa, buckwheat, rye etc)
  • Fresh nuts and seeds of choice
  • Runny honey
  • Kefir
  • Fruits of choice
  • Powdered cinnamon or grated nutmeg

Method

  • If you are making your own ‘crunchy mix’, preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas Mark 2-3.
  • Mix your chosen grains, nuts and seeds in a bowl, add a couple of tablespoons of honey and stir well until everything is coated.
  • Transfer the mix to a shallow baking tray and roast in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, give the whole lot a good stir with a fork and return to the oven for another 5 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and let the mix cool completely before transferring to an airtight container.
  • To serve, place your ‘crunchy mix’ in a bowl or glass or transportable container, add the whole, sliced or diced fruit then pour over the kefir and top with a few more toasted nuts and powdered cinnamon or grated nutmeg.

Another excellent way to get some fermenteds into your meals is to make a dressing with kimchi and miso, which keeps in a lidded jar in the fridge for a few days and can be stirred into soups and stews or used as a tasty and slightly fiery topping for roasted vegetables.

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons kimchi, roughly chopped
  • 4 tablespoons sweet white miso
  • 50g silken tofu
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons light olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

Method

Combine everything in a blender and whizz until very smooth. Check the seasoning, add a little water if it is a little too thick and store.

Kombucha

If you haven’t quite got to the stage of making your own, LOVE KOMBUCHA have a great selection of plain and flavoured drinks which you will find in health food shops and it also available  online