Food trends can sometimes be a crazy fad being pushed by the new celebrity doctor or nutrition “expert” on a morning news show. Unfortunately, athletes looking for the extra edge with their training and nutrition can fall victim to the bad ones. However, lacto-fermented foods are one of the good guys in the mix. It’s simple, healthy, packed full of flavor and the science is sound.
So what exactly is lacto-fermented food? Well, for starters it’s not complicated science dealing with food that home cooks can’t do. It’s simply fruits and vegetables going through a microbial process where healthy bacteria’s combined with salt and produces lactic acid, which naturally ferments food. Really, that is it. Nothing complicated or fancy about it.
What makes these foods so healthy is the natural fermentation process. Lacto-fermentation enhances the vitamin content of food – creates healthy probiotics in the gut that helps with digestion – improves the nutrient availability in the food – and promotes healthy bacteria and flora growth in the gut. Let’s also not forget the building scientific evidence saying a healthy gut will also help keep your waistline in check.
How to Make
When it comes to lacto-fermented food recipes, most people immediately think sauerkraut, kimchi or kefir, but there is just so much more than that. Yes, the most basic and the simplest recipe for lacto-ferment food is to combine vegetables, salt and water. Then you let it sit for a few days on the counter so it can work it’s natural magic. One of the great things about recipes that start very simple, you can add all types of different seasonings and flavor profiles to achieve slightly different outcomes. By using fermented foods as condiments, you are able to add a ton of flavor to foods without adding any extra fat.
When you do decide to start making your own lacto-fermented foods, try not to be to be overwhelmed by what to make or how to use them. Just start thinking outside the box a bit and remember that you only get added health benefits and flavor to whatever you are eating!
Mediterranean Pickled Cucumber
Stuff a piece of pita bread with grilled chicken, onions, feta and the pickled cucumbers.
3 cucumbers, sliced
½ red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoons chopped dill
1 cup filtered water
Directions Combine all the ingredients in an air-tight container and let sit at room temperature for 3 days before moving to the refrigerator.
Fruit Chutney (Pineapple, Mango or Papaya)
Top some grilled mahi with the chutney and serve with some basmati rice, black beans with a side of tortillas or naan bread.
3 cups of chopped fruit
1 red onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, minced
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 clove of garlic, minced
3 limes, juiced
1 cup of chopped cilantro
4 tablespoons salt
½ cup filtered water
Combine all the ingredients in an airtight container and leave on your counter for 3 days before placing in the refrigerator.