By: Justin and Kayla Butts Photos by: Rachel Benavides
Dear friend, can we agree on something? Gut health is not an appetizing conversation. Nothing about “good bacteria” makes us hungry. Okay, agree to agree.
Still, it is critical to our health (and therefore happiness) to understand the role of good bacteria in gut health. Over 70% of the cells responsible for our immune system reside in our gut. In the recent flu epidemic, many people learned first-hand the importance of gut health when antibiotics destroyed the good bacteria in their gut. These poor people suffered stomach misery on top of their flu. When taking antibiotics, it is especially important to maintain your gut health with infusions of good bacteria.
Fortunately, you can build and sustain robust gut health with these simple, nutritious recipes. And here is the shocker of all shockers: these dishes are delicious. You would never think “good bacteria” could be so tasty!
Yogurt is one of the miracle foods of human history. Yogurt was discovered by accident around ten thousand years ago, when a bowl of warm milk encountered a wild strain of Lactobacilli. The good bacteria transformed the lactose of milk into the lactic acid of yogurt, which made it possible for lactose intolerant humans to consume. Yogurt is also richer in protein than milk and can be stored longer. Yogurt was a step forward in the advancement of mankind.
Homemade yogurt is rich, creamy, and incredibly delicious. Our little girls love their yogurt sweetened with local honey, blueberries, dried fruit, and granola. We use raw milk from grass-fed cows for our yogurt. This milk contains a higher concentration of good bacteria, healthy linoleic acid, and a higher percentage of vitamins and minerals than pasteurized, grain-fed milk. Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature of the milk while it cooks. If the milk gets too hot, the yo-
gurt will fail to set and instead will end up curds and whey.
This kimchi recipe is packed with colors and flavors. It is not too hot, not too sour, but well-balanced, crisp, and delightful. Kimchi is low in calories, fat, and sugar, but high in vitamins A, thiamine, riboflavin, and C, iron, calcium, selenium, and fiber. Kimchi is a good vegetarian source of essential amino acids as well as capsaicin, chlorophyll, carotenoids, and flavonoids. Some studies have shown that fermented cabbage may even help prevent the growth of cancer.
Kombucha is fermented sweet tea. Kombucha will give you a fermented kick, but it is the easiest and sweetest way to get your good bacteria. To make kombucha, you will need to find SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) from a local vendor who prepares kombucha in house, like Eleanor’s Café + Market in Corpus Christi.
Let’s face it, gut health is not an appetizing subject. But these recipes will surprise you with their bold and healthy flavors. You can’t be happy if you are not healthy and these dishes are the happy way to get healthy.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Inactive prep time: 2-5 days
1 head (2-3lbs) napa cabbage, cut into 1” chunks
1⁄2 cup salt
1⁄2 lb radishes, cut into matchsticks
4 carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1⁄4 cup gochugaru (Asian chili)
1 bunch (about 4-6 whole) scallions, cut into 1” pieces
2 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tbsp ginger, grated
1 tsp sugar
Wash cabbage well and place in a large bowl. Add salt and enough water to submerge cab-
bage to bowl. Let sit for 1-2 hours. Rinse cabbage and drain in colander. Return cabbage to bowl and add remaining ingredients. Stir well until ingredients are all well-in-corporated. Spoon mixture into clean, sterile canning jars and pack kimchi down to remove air. Place lids on jars and store in a cool, dry place for 2-5 days.
Cook time: 20 minutes
Prep time: <5 minutes
Inactive prep time: about 7-10 days
1 gallon distilled, spring, or drinking water (free of added minerals)
1 1⁄4 cup white granulated sugar
10 bags black tea, green tea, oolong, or jasmine tea
2 cups fermented kombucha with live cultures
SCOBY (Optional additions: 2 cups fresh fruit, 2” thumb of ginger, 2 pieces lemongrass)
Put water in a large pot over high heat until boiling. Remove from heat and stir in sugar until dissolved. Place tea bags in sugar water and let steep for 3-5 hours, until water has cooled. Add kombucha to tea and stir. Pour tea into clean, sterile bottles and add optional flavorings (if desired). Cover bottles with cheese cloth, paper towel, or tea towel and secure with a rubber band. Let sit at room temperature for 7-10 days before opening. Once opened, store kombucha in the refrigerator.
Do not shake kombucha to prevent spilling over.
Cook time: 15 minutes
Inactive prep time: 5-24 hours
1 quart high-quality whole milk (recommend raw milk from pastured, grass-fed cows)
5 grams yogurt starter, or 3 tbsp high-quality, plain yogurt with active cultures
Pour a small amount (~1 tbsp) of cold water in medium-sized pot. Add milk and heat over medium heat until about 180°F. Remove pot from heat and let cool to about 110°F-120°F.
Add yogurt starter to warm milk (if using yogurt, stir yogurt into 1 cup milk and add to the rest) and stir gently until well incorporated. Pour into sterile jars and place into a yogurt maker, dehydrator, or in the oven at its lowest setting. Incubate for up to 24 hours, or until desired consistency is reached. Secure lid onto jars and refrigerate. Will keep refrigerated for two week