What are your thoughts on fermented foods within the context of the paleo lifestyle? How often do you have them and what are the benefits, apart from aiding digestion?
I'm all about the fermentation; I make my own kefir, kombucha and kimchi. I'm doing less dairy each year so the goat-milk kefir grains may find themselves reincarnating to some other use, but I consume kombucha almost daily, and go through kimchi at a fairly steady pace.
I also make my own garum (fish sauce) after assimilating information from four books on ancient Roman cookery, including a decent translation of Apicius.
I recommend Katz's Wild Fermentation and anything by Sally Fallon on the subject.
As for benefits -- aside from being good for my guts, it tastes awesome. Mark's Daily Apple has an interesting article on the subject, here.
I love throwing kimchi into my salads a few times a week for some kick.
There's an article on MDA about benefits: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/fermented-foods-health/
I love em. I lacto ferment many mixes and varieties of spices and vegetables along with home made yogurts. For me the benefits beyond digestion are taste, variety, and its become a healthy hobby of sorts. I like to eat them at various stages and taste the changes (from 1week - 4weeks or more). I only eat small amounts at a time though. A small bowl with dinner or just a few fork fulls here and there throughout the day. The fermentation process is just another form of preparation that IMO leads to the release and bioavailability of different nutrient profiles from the same foods.....just as cooking makes certain things more available than raw and vice versa.
They're awesome. I've made yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut (used red cabbage + beets), real pickles (one batch was perfect, another got a fungus), and kombucha.
Love them. The pickles and kraut taste much better than the store bought stuff. The kefir/yogurt/kombucha I allow to ferment longer than usual so they get a lot stronger and more sour.
I eat a little bit of each at least once a week. Kids love'em too.
I make yogurt, dairy kefir, pickles, sauerkraut, and beet kvass. DH is the kefir drinker in the house, but I often use the whey in other things. Beet kvass is my favorite--I drink a few ounces every morning.
I make a half gallon of water kefir with lemon and ginger every other day. It is so good, very refreshing, and is saving my family money since they were formally addicted to store-bought kombucha at $3.69 a pop. I love it because it literally takes five minutes to set up the next batch and once you own the grains, it is practically free.
I haven't noticed any difference in my digestion, but it has always been really good. I also make sauerkraut/faux kim chi once in a while. I get raw milk from the farm and sometimes make yoghurt from that...you only have to heat it to 110 degrees.
Both Sally Fallon (Nourishing Traditions) and Cate Shanahan (Deep Nutrition) make such a powerful case for including fermented foods daily, that I am sure I always will. In fact in "Deep Nutrition" fermented foods are one of the "Four Pillars of Health", right up there with organ meat, meat on the bone and fresh, raw food.
Jessica Prentice in "Full Moon Feast" has some great and unusual recipes for various fermented drinks in one chapter and another chapter on fermented solid foods.
And I guess I should add that I always have a glass of red wine with dinner:)
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