According to Ayurveda, yoga's sister science which helps us to maintain balance in our beings, January is a time to include fermented foods in our diets to ensure gut health. It's a time to favor sour, hot, and bitter foods. And this dish offers all three! Introducing kimchi. Perhaps you've met this dish at your favorite Korean barbeque house, or in a bento lunch box aside your teriyaki salmon.
Or perhaps you think I'm speaking gibberish, which, of course, is also entirely possible.
Kimchi is a traditional Korean condiment made from fermented veggies, most commonly, Napa cabbage, radish, cucumber, or scallions. This recipe favors Napa cabbage. If you're afraid of fermenting your own veggies, don't be. It's a simple and delicious way to get more nutrients out of your produce while promoting healthy flora in your belly.
The process of lacto-fermentation (which can be done with fresh veggies, salt, herbs and spices, and filtered water) renders your veggies and fruits more easily digestible, and with more access to the vitamins therein. Also, it produces lactobacilli, those yummy beneficial probiotic organisms that keep your tummy happy. So, even if this process or these flavors are new to you, it's worth trying out. I modified this recipe from the Nourishing Traditions cookbook. Enjoy!
1 Head Napa cabbage 1 Bunch green onions, chopped 2 Medium carrots, grated 1/2 Cup daikon radish, grated 1 Tablespoon finely grated ginger 2-3 Cloves garlic, peeled and minced (You can use more if you want to ward off vampires...) 1/2-1 Teaspoon dried chile flakes 2 Tablespoons sea salt
Place all the ingredients in a bowl and pound or mash them to release their juices (about 5-10 minutes).
Place the juicy mixture in one quart-sized or two pint-sized mason jars and press down firmly with a clean spoon until juices come over the top of the veggies.
The top of the veggies should be one inch below the top of the jar. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for three days. I like to put them in a cool dark place covered in a tea towel for extra good fermenting juju.
After day three, transfer to cold storage.
Your kimchi is ready to enjoy! Try it in place of sauerkraut over bratwurst, over eggs, with your favorite Asian dish, or over fish. Enjoy!
Cabbage: Cabbage is a powerful cancer fighter and lowerer (new word?) of cholesterol. It contains massive amounts of Vitamin A and is a good source of Vitamin C. While purple cabbage is more nutrient dense than the lighter green varieties (due to their added phytonutrients), all varieties are nutritional powerhouses. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.
Carrot: Carrots are well known for their rich supply of the antioxidant nutrient, beta-carotene, which is GREAT for our eye health. However, these root vegetables are also a great source of a variety of antioxidants and other health-supporting nutrients such as vitamins A, C, K. Studies have shown their effectiveness in the prevention of colon cancer, and their benefits to our cardiovascular health. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.
Garlic: Garlic has long been touted as a health promoting food. It is high in sulfur (and while that might make us a little, ahem, stinky, this may be an important part of a our otherwise sulfur-deficient diets. Garlic is also rich with manganese and is a very good source of vitamins B6 and C, as well as selenium. This "stinky rose" also protects our blood vessels from inflammatory and oxidative stress, but its other health benefits abound. See here for nutritional info. Please note: due to its rajastic nature, garlic and onions are NOT part of the traditional Saatvic diet.
Ginger: Ginger is very effective in alleviating symptoms of gastrointestinal distress such as gas, bloating, motion sickness, and morning sickness. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.