3 Unexpected Ways to Add Fermented Foods to Every Meal

Sauerkraut SushiFermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi are heralded by wellness experts as health-boosting powerhouses that heal ailments like leaky gut and IBS and lead to weight loss, better skin, and boosted immunity. (In short, they can do everything but mow the lawn.)

But given their sour flavor profile and pungency, it can be hard to find ways to fit them into the everyday dishes you might be eating.

That's where Julie O'Brien and Richard Climenhage come in. The co-founders of organic fermented food company Firefly Kitchens, recently published Fresh and Fermented, which teaches you how to incorporate them into your meals (and how to ferment veggies, if you're game).

"Sauerkraut is actually a very versatile ingredient because it is so fresh, so alive," O'Brien says. "We have so much salt and sugar in our Western diets that sour is actually an essential part of a well-balanced meal, according to most taste buds."

Still, that doesn't help if you're just not a fan."While many people crave the taste of good quality sauerkraut, many just don’t like it," she admits. "That's been the challenge with my kids, so adding a forkful of kraut along with some nut milk proved to their fruit smoothie turned out to be the first recipe they actually liked—they didn’t even notice the kraut." Yup, she just told you to put sauerkraut in your smoothie.

If you're not quite ready to go that far, here are three other unexpected, creative ways from Fresh and Fermented to add sauerkraut to your healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes. —Jamie McKillop

(Photo: Charity Burggraaf)


Cardamom Chia Breakfast BowlCardamom Chia Breakfast Bowl
Serves 4 to 8

¼ tsp cardamom seeds
4 pitted dates, finely chopped
1 cup chia seeds
1 tsp ground cinnamon
4 cups almond milk or milk of your choice
½ cup sauerkraut
1 cup roughly chopped pecans (optional)
¼ cup unsweetened dried coconut flakes (optional)
Pinch of salt

Crush the cardamom seeds. Put the cardamom seeds, dates, chia seeds, and cinnamon in a quart-size bowl. Pour the milk over, stirring gently to mix. Cover and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, the chia seeds will have absorbed most of the almond milk and the mixture will have a thick, pudding-like consistency.

Take the sauerkraut out of the jar with a clean fork, letting any extra brine drain back into it. Finely mince the sauerkraut and stir it into the chia seed mixture, along with the pecans and coconut. Season to taste with salt. If you want a slightly thinner porridge, serve it with additional almond milk.

(Photo: Charity Burggraaf)


Krauty Kale CaesarKrauty Kale Caesar
Serves 4 to 6

2 large bunches kale (about 2 pounds)

2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
4 to 5 cloves garlic
¼ cup mayonnaise
¾ cup sauerkraut
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 1.5 ounces), plus additional for garnish
Juice of 2 small lemons (about ½ cup)
4 anchovies (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cut or tear the kale leaves from the thick stalks, discarding the stalks. Tear the leaves into small pieces and put them in a large bowl.

To make the dressing, whirl all the ingredients except the salt and pepper in a blender or food processor until smooth.

Pour the dressing over the kale. Using your hands, massage the dressing into the leaves until they start to soften, two to three minutes. (You can also accomplish this by tossing the salad vigorously with two wooden spoons.) Season to taste with salt and pepper, garnish with additional Parmesan, and serve immediately.

(Photo: Charity Burggraaf)


Sauerkraut SushiSauerkraut Sushi
Makes 8 rolls

1½ cups sauerkraut
1 large avocado, halved, pitted, and peeled
1 Tbsp mayonnaise or cream cheese
½ to 1 tsp powdered wasabi
½ to 1 tsp soy sauce or tamari, plus extra soy sauce for serving
1 medium cucumber, peeled
2 medium carrots
8 (8-by-8-inch) sheets nori
4 cups cooked brown rice
4 green onions, sliced in half lengthwise
8 to 10 asparagus spears, steamed (optional)
12 medium prawns, cooked and sliced in half down the midline (optional)
Pickled ginger, for serving (optional)

To make the sauce, take the sauerkraut out of the jar with a clean fork, letting any extra brine drain back into it. Put the sauerkraut, avocado, mayonnaise, wasabi, and soy sauce in a blender or food processor and whirl until smooth. Set aside.

Cut the cucumber lengthwise into 8 pieces. (Slicing this and the other veggies lengthwise makes it easier to build a tidy sushi roll.) Using a vegetable peeler, shave the length of the carrot to make ribbons.

To prepare the wraps, fill a small bowl with hot water and place it next to your work surface. Lay a sheet of nori on a flexible surface, such as a bamboo sushi rolling mat or a tea towel lined with plastic wrap. Spread about one-half cup of the rice evenly over the nori, leaving about an inch of exposed nori on the far edge.

Spread one to two teaspoons of the prepared sauce on the rice. Lay one cucumber piece, a few carrot ribbons, one-half green onion, one asparagus spear, and three prawn halves lengthwise across the rice. Moisten the exposed nori on the far edge with a little warm water from your bowl.

(Photo: Charity Burggraaf)


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