Welcome to part two of our look into probiotics! Now that you’ve read all about what they are and why they are good for us (if you haven’t, here it is) you would probably want to know what vegan friendly foods you can get them from! Well, today is your lucky day because we have just that! Let’s take a look…
A much loved fermented cabbage dish from northern and Eastern Europe, naturally prepared sauerkraut is both tart and salty with a crispy, not mushy, texture. On top of being a probiotic powerhouse, sauerkraut is also loaded with vitamin C and B vitamins. Sauerkraut can be used as a delicious side dish, be added to sandwiches or even used to make some of the swanky Eastern European main meals. Be aware that pasteurization kills some of the good stuff so make sure that you get the unpasteurized one or make your own.
Kimchi is a traditional spicy Korean dish of fermented vegetables, the most common of which are napa cabbage and daikon radish. Kimchi is loaded with probiotics, vitamins and antioxidants and is used for every meal any time of the day. Although most Kimchi is made with added seafood and therefore not suited to those on plant based diets, it’s easy enough to make your own.
Fermented soy products – Miso / Tempeh
Miso is a traditional Japanese condiment made from fermented soybeans combined with barley or rice. Rich in vitamin K, B6, and zinc, miso can also be a great source of probiotics but do take care to not overheat it as the heat can destroy the sensitive microorganisms. Tempeh is another fermented soy product frequently used in Asian cuisine. It’s fermented with the mold Rhizopus oligosporus in a process similar to cheese-making. Apart from being a great source of protein, tempeh is also rich in nutrients like zinc, calcium and iron. Due to the fermentation process these are more bio-available than in non-fermented soy products like tofu.
Sour pickles are easy to come by nowadays and serve as a great snack, an addition to sandwiches and is a great source of probiotics. In order to get the full bacterial benefit, seek out varieties that are made using lacto fermentation made with sea salt and water (instead of vinegar) which keeps beneficial bacteria thriving. The most common sour pickles are cucumbers with dill but virtually any kind of vegetables can be made into sour pickles.
The superstar of fermented healthy stuff, Kombucha has been around for more than 2,000 years. The ancient Chinese called it the “Immortal Health Elixir?” because of its health benefits that are said to help with cancer, arthritis, and other degenerative diseases. This fermented black tea is a probiotic superstar. With a slightly sour and fizzy taste, kombucha is a great source of dairy-free and gut-friendly bacteria. Creating kombucha with a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) starter might save your pennies but these days many good coffee shops and health food stores carry reliable brands of the beverage.
Water kefir is a lightly sweet and refreshing tonic, bubbling over with healthy bacteria. The taste is pleasant on its own or it can be spiced up with an endless combination of flavors. Basic water kefir is made by dropping water kefir “grains” into sugar water and allowing it to ferment on the counter for a few days. The grains look like small, clear jellies and can be used over and over indefinitely, and usually even multiply. Water kefir is also known as tibicos, tibi, sugar kefir or Japanese water crystals. It is loaded with valuable enzymes, digestible sugars, beneficial acids, vitamins and minerals.
Richly flavored sourdough bread is probiotic friendly and an easy way to swap in for your daily lunch sandwich habit. It is made with a sourdough starter, the more traditional and old-school way. Although sourdough bread takes longer to bake, it will also satiate you for longer.
Olives in brine have large amounts of probiotics because the brine allows the probiotic cultures to thrive. Olives can be pretty salty, so eat them in moderation, sprinkled on top of veggie pizzas, in salads or just as a tasty snack on their own.
Well there you go! Lots of probiotic goodness – try them all and enjoy feeling healthier, stronger and ready for the world.