This post is sponsored by Sprouts Farmers Market. All opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting brands that make Zen & Spice possible!
Back in August, I had the opportunity to attend the SproutsFest Educational Summit here in Dallas! It was a day full of learning about new brands and products that are trending and coming to stores soon. Several of my Dallas blogger friends attended, so it was nice to see them again. I also met several new Texas based bloggers — always fun to network!
During the summit, we had the opportunity to listen to multiple speakers and brands and sample many new products. Sprouts takes a lot of pride in choosing their vendors and have high standards — many of the products on the shelves are from family owned companies whose mission aligns with Sprouts.
There were so many unique products I got to try, but one theme that stood out the most to me was fermented foods and probiotics. They are definitely trending in today’s marketplace, and for good reason! Today’s post goes into a deep dive about probiotics: what they are, the benefits, and several types you can try.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are the trillions of bacteria that make up our microbiome– the name for the community of bacteria that live in our bodies. They are naturally occurring in our bodies, but stress, poor diet, and antibiotics can reduce the amount of bacteria in our microbiome.
Health Benefits of Probiotics
Did you know there are over 500 different strains of bacteria in our bodies? Most of our microbiome is located in our gut (about 80%). Therefore, probiotics help our digestive health. But, they can also help strengthen our immune system, boost energy, and assist with vitamin and mineral absorption.
The two most common families of probiotics are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Most probiotic supplements you see will contain strains of these bacteria.
Sources of Probiotics
The best way to supplement with probiotics is to eat more raw, naturally fermented foods. The fermentation process breaks down the sugars found in foods, creating the strains of good bacteria found in our guts. Sauerkraut, kimchi, fermented vegetables, kefir and yogurt, kombucha, miso and tempeh are all delicious natural sources of probiotics.
Let’s talk about five of these probiotics!
Kimchi: Korean Fermented Cabbage
Kimchi is a staple in Korean cuisine, a side dish made from salted and fermented cabbage and radishes. A variety of seasonings is used, such as chili powder, garlic, and ginger. There are so many varieties and home recipes with different vegetables used as the main ingredient– like celery, cucumber, mustard greens, onions, sweet potato and tomatoes. The most common kimchi you’ll see however is the cabbage variety (usually made with nappa cabbage).
Kimchi is full of beneficial bacteria, including many strains of the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium we mentioned earlier. It’s a great source of fiber, and one serving has over 50% your daily dose of vitamin C. Kimchi is also rich in vitamin A, calcium and iron!
My favorite store-bought brand of kimchi is King’s Kimchi. It’s hand crafted from fresh nappa cabbage and naturally fermented. It’s a family owned business and they still use a hand made process! They use glass jars to create a natural, bubbly and satisfying flavor. It’s mildly spicy with a great chili and garlic flavor! You can eat kimchi on the side of any dish, or you can put it in sandwiches, scrambled eggs, tacos, fried rice, etc!
Probiotic Rich Olives
Did you know that raw olives packed in brine contain probiotics? I didn’t! I found these delicious and tangy green olives at Sprouts by Alive & Well. Their olives come from small, family farms and village co-ops in Greece, who follow the same traditional agricultural methods used in the region for thousands of years. Some of the trees are over 1,000 years old. Their olives are grown, harvested and cured to capture their delicious flavors while delivering naturally occurring probiotics and essential nutrients. They’re perfect for a snack — each jar contains 55 million CFUs (colony forming units) per jar!
How are olives fermented you ask? There are naturally occurring bacteria on the skin of the olives, that become active in the brine (which is just salt and water). Lactobacillus bactera ferments in the brine, and this is the bacteria that makes its way to your GI tract. The olives stay in the “mother” brine until they are packed for shipment. Cool, huh?
Probiotic Enriched Saurkraut Chips
Something really interesting I found at SproutsFest this year were these Kraut Krisps by Farmhouse Culture. You wouldn’t think you could get probiotics from chips, but YES you can! Each serving has 1 billion CFUs. The first ingredient is their sauerkraut.
I like the sea salt flavor, but they also make a dill pickle and a harvest vegetable flavor! I think we’re going to start seeing more of these types of products on the market– foods enriched with probiotic cultures.
Fermented Vegetables like Beets
Not only can you ferment cabbage and olives, you can pretty much ferment any veggie you like. Farmhouse Culture makes a small variety of fermented vegetables, including these ginger beets. Fermentation adds the beneficial probiotic bacteria to red beets and they’re flavored with ginger. I like these because they have a nice crunch to them– they’re not soggy or too soft. Perfect for adding like a relish to sandwiches!
Beets by themselves are wonderful anti-inflammatory foods but when you add fermentation, it really bumps up how healthy they can be for you!
Probably one of the oldest forms of fermented foods, Sauerkraut actually originated over 2,000 years ago in China. It wasn’t until 1,000 years later when China brought their fermented cabbage to Europe. The Germans gave the sour cabbage dish the name “sauerkraut” and started making the dish with their native European green cabbage.
Being half German, I’ve always enjoyed sauerkraut. I love to eat it with German sausage, my Oma’s cucumber salad and schnitzel (breaded and fried pork). When buying sauerkraut, be careful of which type you choose. Typically the cheaper krauts aren’t actually fermented at all, and they’re just canned and seasoned with vinegar and seasonings. You want to find authentic, naturally fermented kraut to get the real deal.
My favorite brand is Bubbies, because it’s naturally fermented and contains the live and active cultures that benefit our digestive systems. And it tastes delicious!
That’s all folks — five types of fermented and probiotic rich foods for you give a try. You can find all of these and more at Sprouts Farmers Market. Which have you tried before? What’s your favorite?
Hi! I’m Emily, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and self-taught intuitive chef. I firmly believe that cooking is the simplest and most important step we can take to improve our minds and bodies and build healthier communities. Join me and let’s bring food back to the kitchen!