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The Cultured Life

Cultured foods seem to be all the rage these days. From kimchi to sauerkraut to kefir, these foods are quickly becoming the rock stars of the nutrition world. I knew next to nothing about these wonderful foods a few years back. I actually discovered The Body Ecology Diet by accidentally stumbling across these foods. My health improvement had come to a halt after going gluten free so I began a pinterest search for green smoothies. Instead of green smoothies several cultured vegetable pins popped up. I was intrigued so I began to search a little more and before I knew it I was reading the free preview version of Donna Gate's Body Ecology Diet. I soon discovered that these healing foods would become the cornerstone of my improving health.

So what exactly are fermented foods? Well, to sum it up shortly, they are foods that are jam packed with probiotics as a result of a food preserving process called fermentation. The most basic form would be to mash up some cabbage, salt and water, seal it in an airtight jar and let the food grow good bacteria. No special probiotic strains were added to these foods and the probiotic strains were created as a result of the fermentation process. Ferments like Kombucha (a fizzy drink that is very popular right now) are considered wild ferments, meaning that the food is exposed to air during the fermentation process. This is not a bad thing, however in wild ferments we are not sure what strains of probiotics are in the food we ferment and for anyone with a compromised immune system, digestion issues, or other ailments, this could lead to some issues. This is why I eat/drink cultured foods. What this means is that I do not eat wild ferments and instead eat/drink fermented foods that have been made using a starter culture. The starter allows you to put in a specific strain of probiotic goodness and will ensure you get a strong and safe ferment. These foods are highly recommended on the Body Ecology Diet.

There are many benefits to eating cultured foods on the Body Ecology Diet. They include a decrease in sugar cravings, weight management, increased immunity, mental wellness, and a balanced inner ecosystem (aka a really healthy gut.) I've seen first hand the benefits of eating these foods. I digest better, no longer crave sweets, and have not caught the stomach virus, a cold or the flu in over a year! I find that instead of junk I now crave these delicious foods that nourish me from the inside out.

So how exactly do you make these foods? Its a very simple process and quite economical to make at home. The fastest and easiest way to get started is to make Cultured Veggie Juice.  (NOTE: When you first introduce these foods into your diet you may experience some gas and bloating. This is normal as your body works to repopulate itself with good bacteria. Read THIS ARTICLE for some guidelines and how to decipher if you are eating too many cultured foods.)

So are you ready to supercharge your health? Here's the recipe:

Ingredients (Use all Organic Ingredients where possible):
1 large head of green cabbage
6 carrots washed and dried thoroughly
3-4 inches of ginger (I like my juice spicy but if you are not used to raw ginger, use less)
Large Pitcher of Filtered water
Starter Culture (I use THIS ONE) or 1 1/2 cups of previously batch of Cultured Veggie Juice

Blender (preferable a high speed one)
Glass Mason Jars with lids (I use THESE)

1. Finely chop all cabbage and fill blender mostly with cabbage. Chop up carrots and ginger and add to blender (NOTE: You will have to do this in batches. I typically do it in 3 and evenly divide up the produce.)

2. Fill blender 2/3 full with filtered water. Blend at high speed till smooth and juice-like. Add starter culture or 1/2 cup of previous batch of cultured juice. Blend on low to incorporate.

3. Fill glass Ball Jars with mixture and cover tightly with lids. If using a culture starter, let the mixture sit out at room temperature (72 degrees Fahrenheit) for 3 days. If using a previously batch of cultured juice let the mixture sit out for 24 hours at room temperature.

4. Once the juice has finished fermenting (it will taste sour), strain to remove pulp (I keep this to add to smoothies). Place juice in fridge and enjoy a few ounces with every meal.

Tasty Tip: Mix 4 ounces of Cultured Veggie Juice with Mineral Water for a fizzy, healthful drink!

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