Why Eat Fermented Foods?

I find myself recommending probiotics (beneficial bacteria) to many people throughout the day. Probiotics promote regular bowel movements, improve digestion in general, enhance immune function, produce antioxidants, normalize skin conditions, reduce cholesterol, help to maintain bone health, help to manage blood sugar levels and promote a positive mood. Fermented foods contain natural, good bacteria and are well tolerated by people who experience adverse reactions to probiotic supplements. Examples of fermented foods are plain yogourt, miso, tempeh, pickles, sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi and kombucha.

To get the full benefit, make sure when purchasing these products that they have not been pasteurized. Heat destroys the good bacteria, so the foods must be raw to be beneficial.
I have recently been inspired to make my own Kimchi. (Thanks Barbara!)
Here is the recipe I followed:

Kimchi
Makes a lot.

Ingredients: 
1 Napa cabbage (1 kg total weight) 
1 daikon radish
3 large carrots 
1/2 bunch green onions (about 4) 
1 apple 
3 tbsp fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic 
2 tbsp crushed red chili flakes
1/8 cup good-quality sea salt

Directions:

  1. Wash all veggies. Chop cabbage into bite-sized chunks, julienne or grate carrots, daikon, and apple. Slice green onion. Place all vegetables in a very large bowl. 
  2. In a food processor blend ginger, garlic, and chili until well combined. Add this mixture to the bowl of vegetables along with the salt. 
  3. Mix and vigorously massage all ingredients together until the cabbage begins to soften and release fluid. Continue until you have a fair amount of liquid in the bottom of the bowl, about 4-5 minutes. The vegetables at this point should have lost much of their volume. Let the bowl sit out at room temperature for a few hours, massaging once or twice more. Season to taste. 
  4. In a large, sterilized jar (or several small ones), pack in the vegetables trying to avoid any air pockets, making sure to leave a few inches of space at the top of the jar for carbon dioxide. Cover the jar with a loosely with a lid, or make sure to open it periodically to release any pressure that may build up. Leave the jar on the counter for 2-4 days. You may see bubbles forming in the jar – this is carbon dioxide and totally normal. Taste the kimchi now and again. Mine still has another day or two to go. Once the flavour is to your liking, seal the jar and place in the fridge. Keeps for several months.

*Tip: After removing kimchi from the container to eat, push the remaining back down to keep most of the cabbage submerged in the brine (the liquid). This will help keep it fresh for longer.