What is a cultured veggie recipe? Why eat them?
It’s easy to create imbalance in your digestive tract
Back in the 1990′s when I gained and lost 100 lbs, a slew of health issues accompanied that experience. It wasn’t just about the weight. If you’re interested in the details of that story, by all means, check out my e-book, How I Lost 100 lbs, Secrets to Making Weight Loss Stick.
One of the toughest things I faced, that I still deal with today, were the digestive issues. Between the food allergies, sugar, and stress, I created an imbalanced environment in my digestive tract, one that allowed yeast to flourish over the healthy flora that we rely upon to keep digestion thriving. This is commonly called Candida. It took me years to get under control, and 17 years later, I still must make conscious choices every day to support my digestive health.
When yeast takes over the digestive tract, overpowering the healthy bacteria, you can experience a number of symptoms, like, gas, bloating, diarrhea, weight gain, inability to lose weight, sugar cravings, headaches, dizziness, skin rashes, low energy, hunger (but not feeling full/satisfied after you eat), and more. Yeast can power beyond the colon to the vaginal wall causing yeast infections, and it can pop up in other areas of the body causing fungal rashes, which are some of the toughest to cure. Why? Because the source is the yeast.
Cultured veggies protect your health
We eat yogurt for the “good bacteria” in it. Unfortunately, most brands of yogurt contain a large amount of added sugar. Sugar is like crack for yeast – it’s favorite food. If you eat lots of sugar with your good bacteria, you undo the good you’ve done. Cultured foods that contain good bacteria for digestion (like kefir or sauerkraut) will taste sour. While many cultures eat sour foods, this is not a popular flavor in our American society. Americans are sugar happy. As a result, we’ve created a very large imbalance in our digestion, and in our health.
Now that more people have come to understand this large yeast issue, taking probiotics has become popular. I think this is a fine strategy to help get your system in balance. But as always, I hope that we can get most of our needed nutrients from food. Plus, I think we need to retrain our over-sugared palates and start eating some sour-tasting cultured foods. It takes time to adjust, but it’s well worth it!
Here’s my go-to cultured veggie recipe:
When Recipe Redux announced September’s Cultured Veggie challenge, I knew exactly the recipe I wanted to share. These cultured veggies last up to a year in sealed jars on the shelf or in the fridge. I always have a veggie side even in a pinch! Even better, I always have a digestive support on hand. Plus, they look beautiful, full of color and life. Cabbage will ferment on its own, but to ensure that my veggies do ferment, and to get all the awesome bacteria I can into my system, I use the Veggie Culture Starter from Body Ecology.
A Cultured Veggie Recipe to Strengthen Digestion
- For your starter
- 1 1/2 cups water at 90-95 degrees
- 1 tsp raw honey
- 1 packet of culture starter from Body Ecology
- For your veggies!
- 3 large heads green cabbage, outside leaves peeled off (discard anything that looks bad, reserve good ones for tops of jars)
- 9 large carrots
- 3 inches ginger, peeled
- 4 large cloves garlic
- 2-3 TBS water
- Heat water to 90-95 degrees.
- Add honey and starter (this is the good flora).
- Mix well and let sit for 20 minutes.
- Using the large grater of food processor, shred the cabbage, carrots, ginger, and garlic.
- Mix together in large pot/bowl. Incorporate well.
- With the large blade of food processor mix 4 cups of veggies, starter solution, and 2-3 TBS additional water to create a slurry.
- Pour slurry back into the rest of the shredded veggies. (Getting the amount of brine right is key for culturing your veggies. I find even for this large amount I still only need one packet of starter as long as I have the right amount of brine.)
- Mix well.
- Put veggie mixture into a sealable 5 Liter glass jar a few scoops at a time. (for more info on where to get a 5L jar, see the link at the bottom of this post!)
- Use a spoon/kitchen tool to compact the veggies down as far as they can go. As you pack them down, add another scoop or two. You’ll want to push down hard so the brine rises and the veggies compact down on themselves. (This is how they will fit in the jar.)
- Make sure the mixture comes to the bottom of the rim of the jar (where the rim begins).
- Roll the outside cabbage leaves you saved and place them at the top of the jar.
- Close and seal the jar.
- Cabbage will take 3-7 days to ferment, depending on time of year/temperature. The mixture will bubble and likely “boil” over. I put my jar on a half baking sheet or in a bowl to catch the liquid. You’ll want to wipe it up!
- Once it’s fermented to your taste, put in the fridge to stop the fermentation process.
- The cabbage will last up to a year on the shelf, but it will keep fermenting if you leave it out at room temperature.
My favorite ways to eat these veggies:
- With sliced apple or with my Homemade Unsweetened Applesauce (great sweet and sour effect)
- On nitrite and nitrate free chicken or turkey dogs and spicy mustard
- On a spicy turkey burger with sweet potato fries
In short: I find I like the sour flavor with sweet and spicy. I hope you them given them a try. Your digestive system will love you!
Here’s how high the you should pack the veggies:
Up to the bottom of the rim (where the bottom of the stainless steel rim runs), with the cabbage leaves rolled on top.
Here’s what I use to pack the veggies down:
Not sure how to store your cultured veggies?
Here’s some info on my favorite storage jars!