Fermented foods have been part of the human diet for thousands of years, there have even been findings that date this process back to 9,000 years ago in China and Georgia. In ancient times it was used to preserve food during the long seasons and between harvests. This would allow for people to have access to different foods all year round, without really knowing why. It wasn’t until the 1850’s that Louis Pasteur discovered that fermentation was caused by living organisms, causing food to change taste and appearance.
In more strict terms, fermentation is the chemical transformation of organic substances into simpler compounds by the action of enzymes, complex organic catalysts, which are produced by microorganisms such as molds, yeasts, or bacteria. The process is made by breaking down sugar to alcohol, gases and acids with the help yeast or bacteria.
Fermentation is a practice that is still popular in many cultures around the world. These include countries in Asia, North, Central and South America and Europe. It can be made with dairy, vegetables, fruits, wheat and even meat produce. For example, real chocolate is made by fermenting the cocoa beans under certain atmospheric conditions that will help the process.
Even though fermentation has been present throughout time and in various cultures, people were not aware of the great benefits it can have in the human body. until fairly recent. Among the main benefits of fermented foods I can include:
- Improved digestion: Since the fermentation process acts as a predigestion to food, it makes it more bioavailable and your body will have an easier time digesting.
- Increased nutrients of food: Since fermentation makes food more bioavailable, you will get more nutrients from your food, comparing to when you eat certain foods raw or cooked. This includes dairy, fruits, vegetables, beans and grains.
- Reduced anti nutrients: Fermentation will break down anti nutrients such as phytic acid, oxalates, phenols and tannins. This will help increase the amount of nutrients you get from your food and will help the process of digestion.
- Great source of probiotic: Fermented foods contain many strains of probiotics that rebalance the bacteria in the gut.
- Supports immune system: Your gut needs to be strong in order to support your immune and digestive system, this is why including them in your diet is so important. Since probiotics help to feed the gut, this will in return reduce any negative reactions to foods and gastrointestinal discomforts.
- Save a buck: If you are in a tight budget, it can be a much cheaper alternative to supplements if they are consumed regularly.
In all, fermented foods are very important to include in your diet. Foods such as kefir, natural yogurt, kimchee, sauerkraut, tempeh, miso paste and kombucha are great alternatives and are easy to find in stores. Most of them you could even make them at home.
Now, it’s recipe time!
- 3 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1 To 1 Baking flour (or gluten-free flour of choice)
- 2 cups milk kefir
- 2/3 cups honey or maple syrup
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. sea salt
- 4 Tbsp. melted butter or melted coconut oil
- 1 handful of add-ins of your choice (diced apple, chocolate chips, raisins, orange zest, etc.)
- Preheat oven to 375° F.
- Mix together gluten-free baking flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
- Add milk kefir, lightly beaten eggs, honey and melted butter or oil and mix.
- Add any additional desired ingredients such as raisins, chocolate chips, diced apples, etc.
- Spoon batter into a muffin tray that has been buttered or lined with paper liners. (Silicone muffin trays are especially handy!)
- Place in preheated oven and bake 15 to 18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of a muffin.
- Enjoy your delicious, gluten-free kefir muffins!