There was a time when all those mysterious jars full of colourful vegetables in your grandparents’ basement were enough to inspire a week’s worth of nightmares as to what they might really contain. Now, with the fermented food trend having made its way solidly onto restaurant menus, you know your Nana’s pickled cabbage — or tofu, or kefir, or whatever was bottled — could be the key to why she had such a long and healthy life.

Between items like yogurt, sauerkraut, kombucha and a wide variety of pickles, it’s easy to find fermentation at work in many of your regular grocery items. So why are these foods so good for you? According to microbiologist and HuffPost Canada blogger Jason Tetro, studies have shown fermented foods can help balance the immune system and possibly prevent the onset of obesity and diabetes. And, according to Natural Health magazine, eating fermented foods can even stave off sugar cravings.

Still not convinced? Five nutritionists have put together recipes help to incorporate fermented foods into your diet, and show off some great ideas for how they can be eaten regularly. Though – thanks to Mary (see below) for bringing it to our attention… There are some of the suggestions in the linked post that obviously are not suitable for a LC or paleo way of eating so do use your own discretion.

Coconut Miso Soup
By Meghan Telpner, certified holistic nutritionist and HuffPost blogger,

TIP: An afternoon cup of miso soup is one of the easiest ways to get more fermented foods into your daily diet. Boil some water in a kettle, pour into a mug and stir in a spoonful (about 1 tbsp) or miso paste and sip away. This is a great way to support digestion and the mineral-rich miso also helps ward off the afternoon sugar cravings too.

6 cups water
¼ cup fresh ginger, cut into match sticks
½ red onion, chopped
½ cup broccoli, chopped into florets (use stems too)
½ cup red cabbage, shredded
2 tbsp lemon juice
¼ cup tamari
1 cup organic coconut milk
2 sheets of nori, cut into thin strips about 2 inches long
¼ cup dried or ½ cup fresh shiitake mushrooms
¼ cup miso paste and ½ cup kimchi

Place water, ginger, carrots, onions, broccoli and cabbage into pot, bring to a boil and let simmer for 5-10 minutes, until carrots are fork tender.

Remove from heat, add lemon juice, tamari and coconut milk. Scoop out 1 cup of the broth and whisk with miso until miso paste has dissolved. Pour back into pot. Keep warm on low heat, but do not allow to boil. Serve topped with kimchi.

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Photo by isaac’licious

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