Fermented Foods – A Food Group of their Own

The wintertime calls for closer attention to the fermented foods “food group”, especially if your family has had to take any antibiotics. Fermented foods help restore the good bacteria and rebalance your system.

Fermented foods are great for maintaining your immune system and improving digestion. Lacto fermented foods’ enzymes and good bacteria also help our bodies to optimize mineral absorption, helping us to feel satiated.

Incorporating fermented foods into your child’s lunchbox is as easy as can be, as long as you know what foods to choose. It also advisable to start exposing your children to fermented foods early on, to help their palate develop the “sour” taste.

A pickle by any name is not the same. Not all fermented tasting foods are pickled and not all pickles are fermented. Vinegar pickling does not produce fermented foods - even though vinegar itself is fermented. Look for products that were cured with salts or allowed to age, if you want to ensure the probiotic and enzymatic benefits are present. Ideally to pickle or ferment a few things yourself. It’s easy, economical and kind of fun!

So what are some of those fermented foods that one could add to a child’s lunchbox?

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Yogurt

One of the easiest things you can add to your child’s diet on a daily basis is yogurt. Try to stick to the unsweetened version and flavor it yourself with honey, fruit or a bit of sugar. Yogurt can also be incorporated into dips.

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Miso

Otherwise known as fermented soy beans (although brown rice and barley are also used as a base). Miso has a good amount of readily absorbable protein and is also high in vitamin B12. A lot of kids love miso for its saltiness. Feel free to add it to hummus or dips instead of salt. We love beet-miso hummus made with chickpeas and some tahini. For best health benefits, mix in miso after the dish has been taken off direct heat.

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Sauerkraut & Kimchi

Whether you like it spicy or mild, pickled cabbage is sure to deliver the extra dose of Vitamin C that your body needs during winter months. The next time somebody has a tummy ache, give them a bit of sauerkraut juice, it helps conditions like diarrhea and constipation. I love to incorporate kimchi into savory pancakes (served with another family-favorite fermented item - soy sauce!). Making kimchi is easy and saves you lots of money. (Recipe below) Make it spicy to suit your tastes and wash it down before giving to kids. That’s how Korean children are raised to enjoy it.

Pickles

It’s not too difficult to get kids to enjoy a pickle. And they are actually good for you! However, pickles are not reserved to cucumbers. Any vegetable can be pickled. Get kids involved and make your own! Everything you need to know about proper pickling in this video.

Cheese

It is one of the of the easiest fermented foods to include in your child’s lunch regularly. Any tangy, aged or smelly cheese has probably undergone a fermentation process. As a rule, most cheeses are considered fermented (aside from some, like paneer).

Chocolate

Yes! Cocoa beans are fermented before they become the dark substance that so many of us love. The multi-day fermentation process helps the cocoa beans to develop the flavor that we associate with chocolate. So tell your kids to have an extra square of dark chocolate - it’s good for them!

Cultured Fruit Leather

If our earlier blog inspired you to make fruit leather, there is another twist to that recipe - ferment your fruit before making the leather! Here is a good recipe for fermenting fruit. The taste will be a bit tangy - which might greatly appeal to the kids. Lacto-Fermented Applesauce

Ketchup

Tired of the sugar and preservative loaded ketchup and want to upgrade to something healthier? How about a homemade fermented version? Mix tomato paste, raw apple cider vinegar, raw honey or maple syrup, and garlic. Adjust to taste. You can even put your older kids in charge of mixing and adjusting the ingredients. If they find the taste too wholesome, sneak in some of the lacto-fermented ketchup by combining it with the store-bought version.

Kid-Friendly Kimchi Recipe

1 napa cabbage
1/2 cup kosher salt
12 cups cold water, plus more as needed
8 ounces daikon radish, peeled and cut into 2-inch matchsticks
8 ounces carrot, peeled and shredded
4 medium scallions, ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces (use all parts)
1/3 cup Korean red pepper powder or normal chile powder
1/4 cup peeled and minced fresh ginger (from about a 2-ounce piece)
1 tablespoon minced garlic cloves (from 6 to 8 medium cloves)
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar

  1. Shred cabbage, place it in a large bowl and sprinkle most of the salt onto it. Massage the cabbage with the salt. Cover with cold water and let it soak in the refrigerator at least overnight.
  2. The next day rinse the cabbage well.
  3. In a bowl mix the cabbage with remaining 3 teaspoons of salt, and all the other remaining ingredients.
  4. Transfer to a sterilized glass jar. Add a few teaspoons of water.
  5. Leave it in a dark space at room temperature for 2-3 days. (This is when the fermentation process happens.)
  6. Open the jar to let the gases escape, reseal and store in the refrigerator. Kimchi can be stored for up to one month.

One Response to Fermented Foods – A Food Group of their Own

  1. Avatar
    Medine August 12, 2015 at 9:48 pm #

    I have two; one by a Japanese cookbook auhotr, Yoko Arimoto, and another by a Chinese one, Wu Wen. The former which is more of a dip is super easy. Mix miso and maple syrup 2:1 such as 2 tbsps of miso and 1 tbsp of maple syrup. Goes well with more of the bland veg like satoimo (taro) or regular potatoes. Do not use it for sweet veg like pumpkin or sweet potato as they just become too sweet.The second one is soy sauce, oyster sauce, black vinegar, and sesame oil based and can be used for anything but esp great with steamed eggplants, iceberg lettuce, or asparagus. Mix in a saucepan 3 tbsps soy sauce, 3 tbsps oyster sauce, 3 tbsps black vinegar, 3 tbsps Japanese sake, and 2 tbsps grated ginger, put over heat and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add 2 tbsps of sesame oil and stir. Add pepper to taste. Use two tbsps for half a steamed iceberg, for example, but you can figure out how much you want to use for each veg. Keeps in the fridge for I’d say more than a week. This recipe makes quite a lot if you’re one so I normally reduce the portions to 1/2 with the same result.Happy steaming!

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