Nourish Your Gut-Brain Axis for Mood, Digestion & Immunity

The Gut-Brain Axis is the magnificent function linking the entire GI tract and brain.  Nourishing the Gut-Brain Axis support optimal mood, digestion & immunity.  Microbiome is the healthy gut bacteria or flora.  It should be 10:1 human cells.  Almost everyone benefits from adding a little fermented food every day to build their microbiome.  Those with histamine reactions or very delicate intestinal lining may not tolerate fermented foods.  Always seek the advice of your Physician or qualified practitioner before making dietary changes.  

 Photo courtesy of Natalie Rhea-Riggs on Unsplash

Photo courtesy of Natalie Rhea-Riggs on Unsplash

While you could pop a probiotic supplement (probiotics are the good bacteria which nourish the microbiome) and hope for the best, not everyone responds well to probiotic supplements.  Plus figuring out when to take a probiotic for efficacy is different for different people; and you don't get the full complement of whole food with a probiotic.  Your body is designed for real food. 

Fermented foods include kombucha, kimchi, sour cream, kvass, miso (Choose organic.  While miso is made from soy and soy is controversial for wellness, fermentation changes the properties.), yogurt (plain no sugar added) and raw sauerkraut or cultured veggies (choose 'raw' labels because these aren't pasteurized, which kills the good bacteria you are looking to build). 

Always start slowly when adding fermented foods, to include just a strand for kids and a spoonful for adults, building to 2 - 4 ounces one or more times a day.  Starting slowly with all dietary adjustments is a great way to let you body acclimate.  Try calling fermented foods 'fizzy foods' or 'super brain food' and see how much more receptive your kids (& husbands) are to eating this real good food.  

Here's my basic recipe for Cultured Veggies.  You can culture/ferment just about anything.  I've done cauliflower, beets, lemons, and a lot of combinations with red and green cabbage.  Choose what looks freshest and appeals to you.  Spices will be magnified in a ferment, so go easy on strong flavors like onion, garlic, fennel, etc.  Experiment to find combinations you like best.  

Considerations before you begin:  Cleanliness is of utmost importance when fermenting foods.  Sterilize your utensils, jars and lids thoroughly before beginning.  My experience is that we can culture vegetables with or without a starter.  Instead of buying a starter I use a probiotic capsule.  I like one with a wide variety of strains of beneficial microflora.  I use Mega Flora brand because it works well for me.  When culturing veggies anytime  blue or black mold shows up, discard it and resterilize.  If anything smells off, discard and resterilize.

TOOLS:

1 quart glass jar.  This recipe is easily doubled/tripled etc.  I like the Ball ® wide mouth jars because they are readily available and easy to get your hands and pounder in.  Lid(s) to fit jars

Wood or silicone stirring tools  (fermenting food doesn’t like metal). 

Food processor, cutting board, knives, glass bowl

A wooden pounder is ideal.

Wide mouth funnel makes it easy to fill jars.

Air lock lids are optional

INGREDIENTS:

1 large head cabbage

Golden Beet, Parsnip & Leek

Sea or mineral salt 1 tsp

1 capsule of probiotic if desired.

DIRECTIONS:  Sterilize everything.  Wash veggies and dry.

Chop/Slice veggies.  Use the grater attachment on food processor, not S Blade.  Keep outer cabbage leaves and core aside.

Combine all in a glass bowl.  Mix well.  Use kraut pounder or hands.  Gloves will protect against salt.

Add salt, keep mixing while this brine is forming.  Add probiotic capsule if using. 

Start to fill jars using pounder to make enough juice/brine to cover veggies.  Pack tightly leaving 1 - 2“ head space.  Use cabbage leaves/core to fill the top space and hold veggies below the brine level. See tip below. Seal, place in about 65 – 70 degree room.   Put on plate and cover with a towel.  Can also put in a pantry.  Begin tasting at 4 days.  In colder months 7 days.  Open with caution,  It may have pressure under lid.  Take a fork taste off top, Always with a new/clean fork (remember cleanliness).  When desired taste is achieved, refrigerate.  Always take off top with clean fork & keep veggies under brine for best storage.         

Tip to keep veggies below brine:  Use folded cabbage leaves or cut the core; or put dried beans in a baggies, remove air, seal and insert at top to keep veggies below the top of the liquid line.   

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 You can't make healthy choices until you know which choices are healthy for you.

You can't make healthy choices until you know which choices are healthy for you.