The gut microbiome is far from a foreign topic these days. Every credible (and non-credible) health based website advertises articles on how to “heal the gut”,”improve gut health”, or “reverse gut damage”. The less credible articles offer details on “quick fixes” to repair the gut, but we know that gut health takes a combination of measures and constant management to be a happy gut. Some of these measures include stress management, proper sleeping patterns, and elimination of gluten and other anti-nutrients.
I share a few more helpful ways to maintain gut health, here.
One key method to helping and maintaining a healthy gut microbiome is eating fermented foods. Did you know some pickled foods are produced allowing probiotics to cultivate in a similar way as fermenting? I love kimchi, sauerkraut and kombucha as much as the next person, but sometimes the powerful vinegar taste of these fermented foods can leave my palate overly saturated. Or, I can get tired of eating the same probiotic foods every day. While supplementing can solve this problem (check out my fave probiotic here) I really prefer to ingest as much as my nutrients through the food I eat versus supplementing.
So How About These Pickled Foods
Did you know there is a huge variety of pickled foods available for our consumption? People seriously pickle everything, and have been for centuries. Some pickled foods sound pretty disturbing to me, but most of them that I have tried have been delicious. Some examples include:
- Pigs Feet
- and Watermelon, to name a few.
It is so important though that we recognize the difference between the pickling process that kills the good bacteria and the pickling process that preserves it.
Pickled vs. Fermented
Fermentation produces a sour flavor in foods and beverages. This is a result of the natural reaction from combining bacteria and natural sugars with the base food or liquid. Pickling is when an acid, like apple cider vinegar, creates the sour taste instead of naturally produced bacteria. Vinegar is combined with heat and sugar to produce this taste, but this process kills off the natural probiotics and bacteria. To get the most optimal nutrients out of your pickled foods, make sure vinegar is not an ingredient used in production.
Important Note Regarding Pickled Foods:
Like sauerkraut, pickled foods can be found in the non-perishable section of your grocery store. If these items aren’t in the refrigerated section, they ARE NOT full of probiotics. Acid has been used to pasteurize and kill the good bacteria off for a longer shelf life. Make sure you are buying pickled foods that are found in the refrigerated section. Or, make your own, as the pickled veggies and proteins found in the refrigerated section can be expensive.
My Fave Pickled Foods
- Pickled Eggs – I know this sounds gross, but you’ve trusted me on things like liver and other offals before, so trust me on this one. Pickled eggs are delicious. Depending on where you are purchasing them from, or if you’re making your own, the recipe can vary from garlic pickled eggs to pickled beets and eggs, each having a particular flavor. There is a reason pickled eggs have been a well known snack amongst bargoers and European farmers for years. They are a quick protein rich, probiotic full snack that is easy to make and keep on hand.
- Pickled Herring – I recently have gotten into this vinegary, protein rich snack via inspiration from Diane Sanfilippo. There was something off-putting about eating pickled fish raw, but pickled herring is savory and salty, and rich in nutrients. Pickled herring goes great by itself on a cracker, or with a non-dairy cheese spread like kite hill. Get it here.
- Pickled Onions – If you have ever had a legitimate mediterranean salad or dish, you are probably familiar with pickled onions. They are usually bright pink and have a strong vinegar taste. Pickled onions pair well with romaine or arugula and olives on a salad, and this is an easy way to create a delicious amount of flavor with only a few ingredients. These can also be made at home in a quick pickling way- check out this efficient and delicious quick pickling recipe on Cassy Joy’s website, here.
- Pickled Vegetables – The variety is unlimited when it comes to pickled veggies. Things like the most known pickled food, cucumbers, and olives, jalapenos, pearl onions, carrots and broccoli can all be pickled the same way as the other foods above to maintain their probiotic content and a strong pickled taste. You can even batch pickle things like eggs, beets and carrots in the same container to give you a variety of veggies to eat.
Personally, I want to try the pickled watermelon but haven’t been able to find it locally. I want to hear from you if you have tried this though! Seriously- Please drop a line and let me know if it tastes as weird as it sounds. Is it salty? Sweet? Just pickle-y?!
Anyways, pickling is an easy way to switch up your method of getting probiotics in your diet. If you get sick of kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut, or kombucha, or are just looking to try something new, give the world of pickled foods a shot.
I am going to go snack on some pickled herring in the meantime. Catch ya later, loves!