Food is obviously a passion of mine and Shay’s - I am constantly at farmers markets, watching cooking shows, or hanging out with other foodies to discover anything new that is food related.
Introducing: Fermented Veg - best known as kimchi (from Korea) and even more commonly, sauerkraut (from Germany). Directly translated, sauerkraut means “sour cabbage” - which is exactly what it is. The sour flavor is a result from the lactic acid that forms when the bacteria ferment the sugars in the cabbage. Cabbage is the main veg used in kimchi and sauerkraut but a variety of veggies are being used for this exceptional power condiment!
In addition to a tasty sour & salty condiment for meals, the list of health benefits is long - here are some below:
- It is extremely high in vitamins C, B, and K
- Low in calories
- High in calcium and magnesium
- Very good source of dietary fiber
- Also a good source of folate, iron, potassium, copper and manganese
- Also contains live lactobacilli and beneficial microbes and is rich in enzymes.
- High in the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, both associated with preserving ocular health
How to Use it
So after reading all of this amazing information on fermented veg - I am assuming you want to know how you can use it in your meals? I have actually used fermented veg in or on most things but below are my top uses:
- Eggs - Scramble up a a few eggs, toss a little green salad together dressed with some olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper and garnish with a healthy spoonful of my favorite “Four Thieves” fermented veg (pic below).
- Sandwiches - Take two pieces or whole wheat sourdough, your choice of cheese, turkey, lettuce, mayo and some fermented veg and enjoy one of the best sandwiches you will ever eat.
- Fish - In a saucepan with a touch of oil, sauté a filet of talapia or sole with some onions, garlic, salt and pepper. Keep over the heat until the fish and onions are cooked through. Serve with a big farmers market salad and top the fish with some of the fermented veg…UNREAL! (Recipe to follow soon).
- Sausage - In a bun or on a plate with some mustard and a healthy helping of fermented veg - spice up it up with some kimchi for a bit of heat.
- Salad - Throw the fermented veg on top of any green salad, tuna salad, egg slad, chicken salad…you name it!
Where to buy?
I must admit I am definitely a brand loyalist. I have tried every single one out there and micro craft food artisans Brassica & Brine have taken the cake.
Made out of Los Angeles, CA they have won several awards and run a sustainable and local company - We are big fans over at ShayMitchell.com!
They also have three killer flavors: The Original, Kimchi Karma and my favorite “Four Thieves” (that is spiced with sage, thyme, rosemary and lavender).
Some additional brands that are also great are:
I hope you try this healthy power condiment and we will post recipes to follow next week!
Shay and I have the exercise thing down - but we love our food. My goal is to make all of our favorite things in an exceptionally healthy way - it’s not even about the calories as much as how we feel after. Introducing Kelp Noodles…Coming in at probably the lowest calorie noodle in the world with a texture like glass noodles and a neutral taste - it is EVERYTHING. They aren’t as accessible as say chow main or vermicelli, but they can be found at speciality food stores and don’t break the bank. I can guarantee this will be a staple in your house (as it is in ours) - and it keeps well for leftovers served warm or cold…can I get an ammmmmen!?
What You will need:
- 2-3 cups of veggies of choice (We use peppers, red onion, broccoli, celery, kale and mushrooms…anything!)
- 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic (about small 6 cloves)
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1-2 packages kelp noodles (1 package if you like it extra saucy)
- 2 scallions (garnish)
- Thai basil (garnish)
- 3 tablespoons low sodium tamari
- 1 1/2 tablespoons agave
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce (optional)
- 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter (unsweetened, unsalted)
- 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes (extra spicy)
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1/3 cup water (add if needed for consistency, should be runny)
- Over medium heat, in a wok or large frying pan, add a touch of olive oil. I like to start with the veggies that take the longest to cook and add them based on that. For example, I started with the onions, followed by celery and mushrooms, nest the broccoli, peppers, and lastly kale. They all have about a minute difference in cooking times. Once these are done just take them off the heat and set aside.
- In a bowl add all of the sauce ingredients and combine with a whisk - add the water a bit at a time to find the right consistency.
- In a separate pan on medium heat, add the garlic and ginger and sauté with the sesame oil until cooked. Add the sauce mixture and throw in the kelp noodles separating them with a wooden spoon or spatula - let the kelp noodles absorb the sauce and heat through about 10 minutes allowing them to soften.
- Throw in the veggies and toss it all together. Serve with sliced scallions and thai basil as garnishes and enjoy!
- For added protein, I use either chicken, shrimp, beef or seitan - just cook it with the veggies and it will pack a lot more protein!
The urban dictionary defines a “Food Blackout” as, “a state of mind where a person is completely unaware of his or her surrounding, because he or she is too busy eating something insanely delicious.” I, on the other hand, define it as the moment when I realize my “health” regimen (that started at 7AM that morning) has gone to shits… so I might as well continue feasting and try AGAIN tomorrow. This in turn doesn’t lead to very successful results nor does it help with my confidence.
Over the years I have become a victim of this so called “Food Blackout” numerous times. But only because of these blackouts have I come to develop a few tips & tricks to avoid reaching that phase while maintaining a healthy diet and shedding a few pounds along the way.
Here are some things to be mindful of:
- Listen to Your Body: We already have enough to do in a 24 hour day so do we really need to add another item to your to-do list? The answer is no. Instead, why not just stop with the counting and scheduling and try listening to what your body is telling you? This means if you are hungry = eat, if you’re not = don’t. This is also known as eating mindfully: which leads me to tip #2.
- Snack Smart: Humans have evolved over the years because of our natural instincts and inner voice. So why reinvent the wheel if it has been steering us in the right direction for so long? If your body is telling you it is ready for a nibble then allow yourself to nibble. Make sure to keep lots of accessible healthy snacks around so you don’t find yourself starving without a smart solution. When you’re at that point you are also on the highway to a 15 minute singles vacation in the town of “Food Blackout”.
- Eat Slowly: By eating slowly and taking smaller bites it A.) somehow tricks your brain into thinking it is consuming more and B.) it will help you be in tune with what you are eating. This also means taking the time to completely focus on the act of eating. Instead of sitting in front of your TV/computer or—I hate to say it—talking on the phone, make sure to sit down and eat on a plate if possible. By focusing on the act of eating you can enjoy every mouthful and the visual cue of finishing your portion will signal to your inner voice that the meal is over.
- H20: I used to visit my school nurse all the time complaining of headaches and her response was always predictable: have you had enough water today? And my answer was usually yes, but that was probably not the case. Make friends with H20 and try to drink 6-8 glasses daily! Not only does it help with cravings but also helps hydrate your skin and flush out toxins!
- Eat at home: Not only does eating at home usually mean saving money but it can also equate to better food choices. Like a museum curator who carefully selects individual pieces for the gallery, you can select what goes into the cart at the grocery store and later into your cupboards and fridge at home. If unhealthy snack choices are not readily available when you’re hungry, then instead you will likely go for the healthy choices already stocking your fridge.
- Recognize: We all have different reasons that cause us to reach “Blackout Phase,” whether it be boredom, depression, happiness, eating in a group, being overtired or some combination of the latter. Being cognizant of the triggers and recognizing the reasons why you are overeating will help you monitor your habit.
With that, wishing you all a happy & healthy holiday season!