Howdy, friends. Can I just tell you that probiotics can literally be life-changing, and not just in the digestive sense? They've been proven to aid with depression and anxiety, autism, eczema, and a whole list of other ailments (just do a quick google search). Why, you may ask, are they so beneficial to ones health? Because probiotics are living microorganisms that promote a healthy digestive system and intestinal tract. A lot of disease comes from the gut, the home of the immune system, so if yours is healthy and full of the right types of bacteria, chances are the rest of you will be healthier as well. Probiotics boost the immune system, improve digestive function, and also fight food-born illnesses. And I will tell you from personal experience that taking a kick-ass probiotic everyday for the past few months has really helped me deal with my own mental health issues. I read about the life-changing benefits of probiotics in a book called "A Mind of Your Own" by Dr. Kelly Brogan and she is a true advocate of the life-changing benefits of probiotics. I even started giving my dog probiotics for dogs and they eliminated his seemingly constant ear infections. True story!
So, lets do a dive into my favorite natural sources of probiotics because well, not every human on the earth can or enjoys swallowing pills. I'm also making unique suggestions on how to eat these foods in a way that isn't traditional so that this list is actually unique from others you can find on the interwebz. When the food is this tasty anyway, why not stuff yourself full of it, getting all the fab benefits from the good little bugs crawling around your body's interior eco-system?
Duh, everyone knows about this one, but have you tried making YOGURT POPSICLES and enjoying them on a hot summers day? Many scientists believe that the good bugs DO indeed survive the freezing environment because anything hardy enough to withstand the acids in our stomach can surely take on zero degrees F. Here's a vid to some frozen pops I made and enjoyed last summer (no need to use any kind of sweetener though, really).
Kimchi is so good, you guys. It's even available pre-made now at most grocery stores, so go pick up this Korean condiment like right now. It's a fermented vegetable dish made from cabbages and seasoned with garlic, salt, chili peppers, and vinegar. It's the fermentation process that makes Kimchi probiotic.
My favorite unique way of using kimchi is in turkey or beef meatballs. Just chop up your kimchi and add to the raw meat along with other ingredients before cooking. You can even add some more kimchi on top of the dish when you serve it! The flavor is spicy and outstanding!
Ginger beer doesn't have a high alcohol content, but the fermented drink is certainly high in probiotics. It's fizzy and delicious and a fabulous mixer when added to cocktails. If you want to really surprise your guests with a fun but sophisticated cocktail, freeze up your ginger beer into ice cubes and use those rather than traditional ice cubes to cool off your drink. Pro tip: put the actual cocktail mixture itself into the fridge for a bit so the ice cubes hold their shape longer than just a few minutes!
I hated sauerkraut when I was a kid but the moment I hit the French Culinary Institute I was asked to make it one day, and turns out, I love it now! It's made from shredded cabbage that's been fermented and it has the tangiest taste and crunchiest consistency. I absolutely love it. Rather than put it on a rueben sandwich, I suggest serving it simply as a side salad or as a condiment for lobster rolls or fish burgers (like a piece of seared halibut). Yummo!
Tell me - what are your favorite probiotic foods and ways to eat them? Let me know in the comments below! I'm always looking for new ideas :)
Images from CookieandKate.com and TheKitchn.com