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Archive for January, 2012

Fermented Veggies – Yum!

Fermented foods, also known as cultured foods have been part of the human diet for millennia.  However, due to modern food production as well as convenience foods, fermented foods are no longer dietary staples.  Consequently, the human digestive tract and immune suffers.  Whether somebody is suffering from frequent colds, Candida, auto-immune conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Crohn’s, Lupus or digestive distress including constipation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome or stomach bloating, fermented foods can be an integral part of the healing process with these disorders.

In this blog post, I’ll be focusing on fermented vegetables but the world of fermented foods includes chutneys, salsas, relishes, condiments like mustard, ketchup and mayonnaise, kefir, kombucha, yogurt, cheese, and sourdough grains.  The world of fermented foods is abundant and alive (pun intended!)

Originally people fermented foods as a way to preserve the harvest.  However, the process of lacto-fermentation results in foods that not only are preserved long-term but also have increased digestibility and vitamin levels.

During the process of fermentation, lactobacilli (bacteria) convert the sugars and starches in vegetables into lactic acid.  Then the lactic acid preserves the food by inhibiting any putrefying bacteria.

In The Body Ecology Diet, author Donna Gates outlines several benefits of fermented veggies.

  • They are a less expensive alternative to probiotics
  • They improve digestion as the vegetables are pre-digested
  • They contain enzymes to facilitate digestion, eliminate toxins, and boost the immune system
  • Are great for controlling food cravings and assisting in weight control

Fermented vegetables are surprisingly easy to make and are much less expensive than buying them at a health food store.  And you can make them according to your own tastes.  It’s common to start making fermented veggies by using cabbage alone or combining cabbage with other vegetables such as kale, carrots, radishes, ginger, turnips, beets, etc.  The combinations are really endless.

Specific recipes and instructions can be found in the books and websites listed below.  The recipes can be made using only salt but you can use a starter culture such as those available from Body Ecology or by using whey.  If you’re in the Triangle area of North Carolina, I always have extra whey (left over from cheese making).  Leave a comment on the blog and I’ll contact you.

I really encourage you to explore the world of fermented foods.  I find that the more I eat, the more I crave them (believe it or not).  I try to consume fermented foods at every meal whether that be kefir in my mornings smoothie, kombucha, sauerkraut, fermented carrots, sourdough bread, fermented salsa or chili sauce.  Donna Gates recommends a ½ cup serving of fermented veggies with any meal that contains a protein or starch.  I love the variety of foods and their life-sustaining benefits.

Resources

Books:

Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon

Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz

The Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gates

Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Natasha Campbell-McBride M.D.

Online resources:

Nourished Kitchen Get Cultured e-Course

GNOWFGLINS Lacto-Fermentation e-Course

Nourishing Days Fermented Food for Beginners

Cultured Food Life

Nourished Kitchen Fermented Foods

The “Wow” Factor of Coconut Oil

Coconut oil, like many saturated fats is misunderstood.  However, since coconut oil is such a therapeutic food, I want to start clearing up misconceptions.  I’ve been using coconut oil myself and recommending it to patients for several years now and for many reasons.  Bruce Fife, a certified nutritionist and naturopathic doctor, lists numerous therapeutic benefits of coconut oil in his book The Coconut Oil Miracle:

  • Prevents heart disease, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis & stroke
  • Prevents diabetes and relieves the symptoms and health risks associated with the disease
  • Supports the development of strong bones and teeth
  • Protects against osteoporosis
  • Promotes loss of excess weight
  • Kills viruses that cause mononucleosis, influenza, hepatitis C, measles, herpes, AIDS, and other illnesses
  • Reduce symptoms associated with pancreatitis
  • Reduce severity of problems associated with malabsorption syndrome and cystic fibrosis
  • Relieve symptoms of gallbladder disease
  • Relieve symptoms associated with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and stomach ulcers
  • Relieve pain and irritation caused by hemorrhoids
  • Reduce chronic inflammation
  • Protect the body from breast, colon, and other cancers
  • Prevent periodontal disease and tooth decay
  • Prevent premature aginig and degenerative disease
  • Relieve symptoms associated with chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Relieve symptoms associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia
  • Reduce epileptic seizures
  • Protect against kidney disease and bladder infections
  • Prevent liver disease
  • Kill bacteria that cause pneumonia, earache, throat infections, dental cavities, food poisoning, urinary tract infections, meningitis, gonorrhea, and dozens of other diseases
  • Kill fungi and yeast that cause candida, jock itch, ringworm, athlete’s foot, thrush, diaper rash, and other infections
  • Expel or kill tapeworms, lice, giardia, and other parasites
  • Ward off skin infections
  • Reduce symptoms associated with psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis
  • Relieve dryness and flaking
  • Prevent damaging effects of UV radiation from the sun such as wrinkles, sagging skin, and age spots
  • Control dandruff

Wow, one food can do all of that!

Coconut oil can generally be found at natural food stores or online.  I’ve been using Nutiva for several years but Wilderness Family Naturals and Tropical Traditions are also a well-known online retailers of coconut oil.

There are many ways to incorporate coconut oil into your diet.  Here are some of my personal favorites.

Healthy Peppermint Patties

Peppermint Patties

Peanut Butter Bean Fudge

Nut Butter Cups

Simple Maple Chocolate Fudge

Check out this website with hundreds of coconut based recipes.  The website contains recipes with other forms on coconut and in future blog posts, I hope to talk about the benefits of coconut milk and coconut flour.  Enjoy.