A warming bowl of Miso Soup with Garlic and Ginger opens in a new tab served with a hearty sandwich of raw milk cheese or sliced marinated tempeh with kimchi on whole grain sourdough bread is more than delicious and satisfying. It’s a probiotic-packed meal that supports a healthy digestive system, which in turn supports a well-functioning immune system.
Did you know the majority of our immune system is located in our gut? If your digestive health isn’t up to par, it can mean your immune system could use a boost as well. That’s where probiotics come in. With many of our foods being pasteurized, we’ve eliminated some very important sources of living enzymes and cultures that were once eaten on a regular basis. Unfortunately, that can have unhealthy consequences since a well-functioning digestive tract is dependent upon an abundance of friendly bacteria that help maintain balance. However, foods like Lentil Curry with Cashews and Yogurt opens in a new tab and Tofu Reuben with Russian Dressing opens in a new tab piled high with raw sauerkraut are modern favorites made with traditional foods.
Live, cultured and fermented foods are natural sources of probiotics. Look for this on the label and aim to eat a variety in order to get different strains of beneficial bacteria. Here’s a sampling of probiotic foods, many of which must be kept refrigerated:
Live-cultured pickles, sauerkraut, kimchee, salsa and other vegetables
Raw milk cheese, yogurt with live cultures and kefir, a popular cultured dairy drink
Assorted probiotic beverages such as kombucha tea
Remember, cooking and pasteurization can easily destroy enzymes and probiotics. This doesn’t mean the food is no longer nutritious. However, to get the benefits of live cultures and enzymes, food must be gently heated or eaten raw. Here are some ideas you may want to try:
Incorporate kefir and yogurt into your meals often. Make smoothies like our gorgeous Sunrise Breakfast Smoothie opens in a new tab, or enjoy fruit salads, hot cooked cereals and more, topped with fresh yogurt or kefir.
Purchase live-cultured salsa for tacos, nachos, burritos, beans and rice, or to stir into guacamole. Or, try fresh salsa on baked potatoes or as a garnish for a favorite chili recipe. Tofu and Black Bean Tacos opens in a new tab are super delicious with grated raw milk Jack or cheddar cheese and fresh, live-cultured salsa.
Swap in fresh, unpasteurized miso for salt in salad dressing recipes. When making miso soup, remember to remove soup from the heat before adding miso to prevent boiling and killing the living enzymes.
Use cultured vegetables and pickles as condiments to meals and snacks. How about serving a side of raw fermented pickles with Barbeque Tofu Po’Boys opens in a new tab?
Make a probiotic salad dressing. Whisk together 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil with 1/3 cup raw apple cider vinegar, a minced clove of garlic, a small minced shallot and a teaspoon or two of unpasteurized miso. If desired, add a little raw honey and a teaspoon of prepared mustard along with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Try a raw milk variety of your favorite cheese such as cheddar, Monterey Jack or Swiss in sandwiches and snacks. Open-Face Ham and Brie Sandwiches opens in a new tab are wonderful with raw Swiss or Gruyère in place of Brie.
Drink probiotic-packed fermented beverages, if desired.
Do you eat and drink probiotic foods? What are some of your favorites? I’d love to know.