Fermented food is trendy now? What’s that about? Fermentation is the oldest method of food preservation and includes grocery-store favorites like yogurt and Bleu cheese. As the clean eating and whole eating movements push forward, people reject artificial and processed methods of preservation and turn back to the old ways, like fermentation. However, upscale grocery stores and restaurants have begun experimenting beyond the classics with kefir milk, kombucha tea, and kimchi. The reason is that fermented foods are both tasty and healthy.
In recent years, a lot of attention has been put on “good” bacteria. Fermented food is rich in this type of bacteria, which have partially digested the food. The result is that your stomach doesn’t have to work so hard. One such good bacteria is a lactic acid bacteria called a probiotic. Probiotic yogurts and capsules have been gaining in popularity, especially for people with stomach issues like frequent diarrhea and IBS. Even if you don’t have a particular stomach problem, everyone can benefit from more good gut bacteria, which fights bad bacteria. The downside is that fermented foods often have a lot of salt, which is needed for the fermentation or pickling process.
Since the United States has been more invested in processed and artificial foods than, say, Asia, a lot of fermented foods originate from places like Japan and China. Some examples of foods you can enjoy from that region include miso, which is made from fermented soybeans, salt, fungus, and grains. It is packed with vitamin K and can be used in stir-fries and soups. Another Japanese food, tempeh, is basically a nutty tofu made from soybeans that’s rich in minerals and proteins. It’s often used a meat substitute and for those sensitive to other soy products.
For drinkable fermented foods, kefir milk is great. Kefir is a tangy yogurt that you drink and use in smoothies. If you’re lactose-intolerant, cultured coconut milk yogurt is becoming more common. If you love tea, kombucha is right up your alley. It’s made from black tea, bacteria, yeast, and natural sugar. The bacteria and yeast gobble up the sugar, which creates a fizzy probiotic that helps stabilize blood sugar levels. You can find kombucha in tons of flavors, like raspberry, ginger, lavender, and fruit blends.