Guilt-Free and Delicious – 4 Probiotic-Rich Recipes For a Healthier You

Everybody needs probiotics. Probiotics are live bacteria, like yeasts, that are good for your health, especially your digestive system. Usually, people think of bacteria as something that causes diseases, but your body is full of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics are often called “good” or “helpful” bacteria because they help keep your tummy and digestive tracts healthy.

There have been numerous studies that prove how important probiotics are, especially to the body’s digestive system. Plants and animals, even your pet dog needs dog probiotics.

asian meal

While there many ways to get your daily dose of probiotics through commercial drinks, tablets, supplements, or some preserved foods, they are not necessarily natural. The thing about probiotic dietary supplements is that they are not aptly backed up by scientific studies about their safety and effectiveness, hence food supplements’ favorite label “no approved therapeutic claims”. In addition, these supplements are often too pricey. The best way, still, is to get these good bacteria from reliable sources.

And the best source is from nature itself. Here are some natural and organic probiotic-rich food and some recipes that you can try out:

Kimchi

No Korean meal goes off without kimchi. This spicy and sour traditional Korean side dish is made from fermented cabbage, cucumber, radish, or a mixture of these ingredients. “Mak kimchi”, or simple kimchi, is made with cut cabbage, radishes, and scallions, and a seasoned paste of red pepper, garlic, ginger, sugar, fish sauce, salted shrimp, or kelp powder.

kimchi

The best thing about it is that these pickled vegetable treats are a good source of fiber with very low calorie content because they are veggies. Also, research shows how Kimchi consumption leads to better immune system regulation because it is rich in nutrients brought about by the innate nutrition of vegetables and the process required to make kimchi.

Remember – when making sandwiches, stir-fry, or soup with this unique ingredient, just be sure to add it last to avoid cooking off the good bacteria. The trick is to lightly sautee or steam.

Kimchi Grilled Cheese Recipe

Prep Time: 15 mins

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 slices sandwich bread
  • 2 ozs cheese (comté, sliced with a vegetable peeler)
  • 2 ozs kimchi (squeezed well)
  • 1 scallions (thinly sliced)

Directions: To start, brush the olive oil on the sandwich bread slices, and distribute all the cheese, kimchi, and scallions well before grilling.

Delicious and easy to prepare, this healthy snack is full of the much-needed probiotics to treat your hungry tummy.

Miso

From Korea, it’s now time to go to the prime essence of Japanese cooking: miso. Miso is a rich, salty condiment that characterizes a ton of Japanese dishes. As such, the Japanese traditionally begin their day with a bowl of homemade miso soup. They also use miso to flavor a variety of foods in other meals throughout the day. No wonder Japanese people are ranked first in life expectancy. It is all thanks to this all-natural condiment that is rich in vitamins, minerals, and probiotics.

miso

Miso is also very flavorful as it goes through a complex process. To make miso, soy beans and sometimes grains – such as rice or wheat, are combined with salt and a mould culture, and then aged in cedar vats for one to three years. The aging process creates a unique taste of salty, sour, cream-like, brewed and earthy, leaving a mild savory texture to the palette.

Miso Soup with Chards and Tofu Recipe

Prep Time: 15 mins

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup chopped green chard or other sturdy green
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion
  • 1/4 cup firm tofu, cubed
  • 3-4 Tbsp white miso paste with or without bonito (fish flavor)
  • 1 sheet (1/4 cup) nori (dried seaweed), cut into large rectangles

Directions: Place water in a medium sauce pan and bring to a low simmer. Add nori and simmer for 5-7 minutes.

In the meantime, place 3 tbsp of miso into a small bowl, add a little hot water and whisk until smooth. Then add the miso mixture to the nori soup and stir. This will ensure it doesn’t clump. Add remaining ingredients to the pot and cook for another 5 minutes or so. Taste and add more miso or a pinch of sea salt if desired. Serve warm and add to a nice and tasty sandwich as main course.

Pickles

Probably the most common yet most undervalued source of healthy organisms, these tasty and cheap greens provide for a lot of probiotics which are perfect for digestion. Other than that, many people cite the health benefits of pickles, saying that these greens can help with weight loss. The sweet or sour treats are filled with healthful antioxidants, and can even fight off certain kinds of cancer.

pickles

Pickling has been used for thousands of years to preserve food beyond the growing season. They are made for a more affordable solution to hunger and are most revered by the natural health benefits that come by their cost-effective nature. Most pickling recipes call for salt, vinegar, and seasoning.

Cucumber Pickle Recipe

Prep Time: 15 mins

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 ounces sea salt (about 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon)
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 8 cups bottled water
  • 1 1/2 pounds cucumbers, thoroughly washed and dried (best if you measure the cucumber accordingly to the container on which you will preserve it).
  • Few sprigs fresh dill, washed and dried

Directions: What you need to do is mix the sea salt, apple cider vinegar, and water and bring them to a boil. Let it simmer for five minutes.

Remove the brine from the heat and allow it to cool slightly. Arrange the cucumbers upright in a container large enough to hold the brine, perhaps a mason jar, like this one. Place the dill sprigs in amongst the cucumbers in the jars. The cucumbers should be fitted tightly and should come within probably half an inch to an inch of the top of the container. Fill the container with the brine to the top and tap on a flat surface to remove any possible air bubbles.

These pickles can last a few weeks.

Yogurt

yogurt

Of course, you should never ever skip yogurt when you’re talking about probiotics. Yogurt has literally millions of good bacteria in it.

Yogurt is made by adding a number of types of harmless bacteria to milk, causing it to ferment. This thickens the milk and gives it its characteristically tangy flavor. Cow’s milk is the most common type used, but goat’s, ewe’s, sheep, or buffalo’s milk are also suitable.

There is a lot to gain and few to lose through a proper consumption of yogurt. In fitness, yogurt is believed to give you faster flat abs, if reinforced with good workout, that is. Yogurt is also loaded with vitamins to help give you energy during exercise. A cup of yogurt a day can help you recover faster after a heavy lifting session or just a simple exercise at the gym because it also has casein protein.

Mango Yogurt Recipe

Prep Time: 5-10 mins

  • 1 mango, peeled, pitted, and coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup whole milk or low-fat plain yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar

Directions: In a blender, combine mango, yogurt, sugar, and 1/2 cup cold water. Pour through a fine sieve (to remove pulp), if desired. Serve immediately over ice.

You can practically use yogurt with almost any smoothie that you want to prepare. Basically, it’s an alternative for whole milk. You can do it with chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla.

Cheers to you, and your gut health!

smokey, spicy clams & chorizo

clams-chorizo 1
I would like to thank mother nature for this post. The 14″ of snow that were dumped on us last night not only inspired me to make this dish, but it also gave me the time to write and post today. Part of my winter comfort food repertoire involves things that are smoky and or spicy, like BBQ brisket or like this dish, clams and chorizo. So yesterday when I was in the grocery store stocking up on food in preparation for another intense snow storm, I wanted something comfort food-ish. I could not get clams and chorizo out of my head. And here we are. I wish I could describe in words how insanely delicious this dish is. Just be sure you have lots of toasted baguette nearby because you are going to want to soak up every smoky, spicy drop.

clams chorizo 2

Ingredients:

2 dozen clams
5 oz of cured chorizo, cut into small cubes
2 large cloves of garlic
1/2 of a 14 oz can of san marzano diced tomatoes
1/2 cup of dry white wine
a pinch of spanish smoked paprika
olive oil
salt & pepper

In a large sautee pan, cook the chorizo and garlic in olive oil until the garlic is browned. Add in the tomatoes, smoked paprika, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Then add around 1/4 cup of the wine and reduce until it is almost gone and you have a thick sauce developing. Add the clams and the remaining 1/4 cup of wine. Shake the pan to coat the clams, cover, and cook for about 9-12 minutes (until the clams open). When all or most of the clams have opened, transfer to a bowl removing any clams that did not open. Spoon the sauce over and inside the clams. Serve immediately with lots of toasted bread.

garlicky pesto

I love pesto that has so much garlic it should come with a warning.  Something like: do not eat if you are planning on going on on a first date within 24 hours, and especially if you plan on kissing the person goodnight. Because if you do, you may not have a second date.

I love it to have so much garlic that it is zingy and spicy. Not to downplay the basil.  The basil plays just as important of a role, if not the most important. It is the perfect partner for the garlic because it balances it out and tells it when to slow down and take it down a notch.

Because basil and garlic get along so well, you can bring them out with a lot of different ingredients. In the pesto form, it goes well with pasta, sandwiches, and even on chicken or fish.  The possibilities with pesto are endless.  My personal favorite is over spaghetti with green beans and potatoes, or on a baguette with fresh sliced tomatoes and mozzarella.  Yum.

Ingredients

1 large bunch of basil
3 cloves of garlic
1 cup of pine nuts
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
around 1/2 a cup of extra virgin olive oil

A little side note : you can easily make this by throwing these ingredients into a blender, but you will not get the same results as you would by doing it the real deal way by chopping it by hand.  So, leave the blender in the cabinet and get out your sharpest knife and a large cutting board.  Don’t worry, it will not take that much longer and you’ll get a little workout.  Best of all, the taste and texture will be much more intense. It is well worth the extra effort.

 

Start by chopping the garlic.   Then add in a handful of the basil.  Keep adding basil until there is no more and keep chopping until it is in little green flakes.

Add in the pine nuts.  Keep on chopping. Scrap and chop, scrape and chop.

Add the cheese along with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Continue chopping away until you have a thick paste-like substance.  Transfer the pesto to a small bowl, and stir in the olive oil. You’re done. You can store your pesto for later, or better yet use it right away over pasta, bread, or whatever your heart desires.

Enjoy.  And remember … no kissing, unless of course you are sharing 😉