First, thank you for reading this series. It means that you are serious about balancing your health, body, and environment. Before I started Soil to Soul Solutions, I thought to myself, “Why retire when I can Inspire?” And that’s what I am trying to do with this website, these blogs, and all of the other projects I am working on.
Here is a personal story I wish to share with you which will help you understand why I am so passionate about what I do. In the fall of 2002, I went for my annual physical exam. It had been another long and intense season at our Bakery & Café. I knew that the pounds had crept up on me over the past few years. It was mostly due to a combination of injuries and some pregnancy weight that I never managed to shed. While I can’t say that I didn’t notice, I had gotten very good at dressing in loose fitting clothes that were very comfortable and hid the growing girth around my hips and thighs. When prompted by the nurse, to step on the scale, I first removed all of my jewelry, my shoes, as much clothing as possible, and urinated. With all that out of the way, I stepped onto the antiquated, white doctor scale (the kind that you used the weights to balance) and almost passed out when the nurse pushed the lever over the 200 mark. My weight had soared to 204 pounds!
My body was completely out of whack after 20 years of running our delicious cafe business. Even though my husband and I ran the café using only the best local and mostly organic ingredients, I fell into the habit of eating way too much flour, sugar, and food. I became a foodaholic and ended up suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, and adrenal fatigue. All of my joints ached, and my food cravings were out of control. My digestion and gut flora, were totally out of balance. I was miserable, fat, sick, and nearly dead. I had to make a change, and make it fast!
Fermentation and cultured foods help turned my life around!
I discovered a book written by Donna Gates called, Body Ecology. It told the story of how she re-introduced fermented foods to the U.S. and coined the phrase, “inner ecosystem” — the network of microbes that maintain our basic physiological processes from digestion to immunity.
The book title, Body Ecology, is a revolutionary system of self-healing in response to the major deficiencies in medicine and our outdated commonplace approach to treating symptoms, but not the actual true causes. The Body Ecology Diet was the first of its kind–sugar-free, gluten-free, and probiotic rich. Here I was living on a diet primarily made up of sugar and gluten. Nothing tasted better than a chocolate chip cookie hot out of the oven… except lots of them. That cycle ended when I added healthier bacteria into my life.
I began by adding fermented vegetables, kefir, yogurt, and Kombucha (Mother Nature’s probiotics) to my diet with the goal of restoring my gut bacteria – the good kind. I started with a simple sauerkraut – and it changed my life.
Science of Sauerkraut
Besides being amazingly nutritious and delectable, there’s actually a science to sauerkraut. Studies have shown that lacto-fermented foods normalize stomach acidity. The lactic acid it contains supports the pancreas, which is particularly important for diabetics. Sauerkraut contains large amounts of choline, a substance that lowers blood pressure and aids in the metabolism of fats. It also contains acetylcholine which reduces blood pressure, slows the heart rate, and promotes calmness and sleep. It worked for me and it can work for you, too. Here’s my recipe:
Caraway Cumin Kraut
Makes at least one quart of Sauerkraut
Time: 20 minutes
- 2 medium heads of cabbage (about 5 lbs.)
- 2 to 3 tbsp. high quality sea salt (for a crunchy kraut, add a bit more salt)
- 2 tbsp. Caraway Seeds
- 2 tbsp. Cumin Seeds
- Core and finely slice cabbage as thin as possible
- Toss cabbage, seeds and salt together in a large, non-metal bowl and then squeeze the mixture with your hands. This breaks up the cellular structure of the cabbage and creates a liquid.
- Once the cabbage is limp and releases its juice, pack the mixture into a wide mouth quart canning jar. I like to use a wide mouth canning funnel. Pack it down hard so the mixture is submerged. Be sure to leave at least one inch of room at the top of the jar
- Top the mixture with a cabbage leaf and cover jar loosely with a plastic canning lid
- Place in a dark area at room temperature in your pantry oron your counter. Put jars on a dish in case your kraut overflows during the fermentation process
- Test the sauerkraut every few days until it is done to your liking. Refrigerate any left overs.
Fermented foods are rich in probiotics and beneficial bacteria that build immunity, improve digestion, and keep you healthy. To top that, fermentation decreases the sugar content of foods, beneficial for those watching their carbohydrate/sugar intake and blood sugar levels. Go on, give it a try. Your gut will thank you for it!
Now that you have these wonderfully delightful recipes, we’ll explain the benefits of enzymatic rich fermented foods…and what they are…in our next blog, Gut 104!
Founder of Soil to Soul Solutions
Go out there and inspire someone today to be
part of the solution and not the pollutions.