Healthy Habits: probiotics and fermented foods

My first batch of homemade saurkraut and its delicious

My first batch of homemade saurkraut and its delicious

It’s been a while since I’ve written a healthy habits post and to be honest while I’ve been trying to make healthy decisions I have been failing until recently.

I seem to have regained some pep to my step and have added a new healthy habit to our daily lives: probiotics (you may have noticed me going on and on about kefir!).

In layman’s terms probiotics are the good bacteria you need to ensure good gut health. The stresses of modern living mean that we don’t have the healthiest guts these days. An easy way to start repairing some of the damage is by increasing your intake of these good bacteria.

Why do we need good bacteria? There are a few reasons. The good bacteria in your gut help control the bad bacteria. This will lead to better immunity, better absorption of nutrients of food and in many cases, you will see those little niggles you carry around with you start to disappear. Personally,  I have also noticed more vitality, clearer, glowing skin

Yes, you can take a pill daily. But the best way to get your probiotics is to consume them in probiotic rich foods. Probiotics are found abundantly in fermented foods like kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and yogurt to name a few.

My sugar water mixture ready for my water kefir grains

My sugar water mixture ready for my water kefir grains

Dehydrated water kefir grains

Dehydrated water kefir grains

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Plain milk kefir and the remains of a berry smoothie made with kefir

I have started making milk and water kefir at home. Milk kefir has the taste of natural yogurt and the texture of drinking yogurt, while water kefir is a sweet drink that has a slight effervescence to it. Both are so easy to make. All you need is kefir grains and milk or sugar water depending on what grains you have. You can buy dehydrated grains here if you are from South Africa and here if you are from the US.

I was given my milk kefir and bought dehydrated water kefir grains. Just note, you cannot use metal or you will damage your grains. Get a plastic sieve and use a plastic or wooden spoon.

Pistachio ice cream made with milk kefir

Pistachio ice cream made with milk kefir

Light and fluffy Kefir pancakes

Light and fluffy Kefir pancakes

To use simply drink it. Milk kefir is actually really versatile. You can add it to smoothies (my favourite method) or use a second fermentation to flavour it. Make ice lollies or ice cream (I make a smoothie mix then freeze it. Willow loves it and that’s how I get the probiotics into her), use it as a substitute for buttermilk in baking. The opportunities are endless. There are plenty of recipes online. Water kefir can be used to assist you in fermenting other foods and sauces or flavoured for a delicious drink.

Sauerkraut, pickles and kim chi are really simple to make at home and by making them you ensure that they are fermented and not cured in vinegar. There are many recipes on line for this.

I try and get probiotics in at every meal. I have been feeling a huge difference in how I feel on a daily basis and am really enjoying the process of fermenting my own foods.

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