Nutrition for Athletes: Eating healthy the old fashioned way

Kimchi, a Korean dish made from cabbage, is an example of fermented foods.

Kimchi, a Korean dish made from cabbage, is an example of fermented foods like sauerkraut and cottage cheese.

For your good health

In past generations, pickling vegetables was as common as frying foods.

Mubby, my southern grandmother, preserved okra, corn, watermelon, beets, cucumbers, cranberries, apricots and green beans. All fruits and vegetables produced at the family farm were subject to her pickling prowess. Homemade “pickling” that included a culture, salt and water produced a product that was pickled but also fermented.

Fermentation occurs when bacteria and enzymes convert carbohydrates into organic acids or alcohol. This form of preservation is more advantageous than the standard pickling which involves an acid such as vinegar. The fermentation tradition was integral to the preservation of home grown produce. This technique allowed Mubby to serve fruits and vegetables year round. Who knows if our grandmothers and great grandmothers understood the benefits of home “pickling.”

The good bacteria found in Mubby’s mason jars provided protection against illness. These good bacteria serve as the first line of defense against bad bacteria, inflammation and gastrointestinal distress. Instead of an apple a day, we should be chanting “one to two fermented foods a day, keeps the doctor away.” With any dietary practice, moderation is key. These foods are nutrient dense offering a multitude of bacterial agents with just a spoonful. It is also beneficial to consume a variety of fermented products to develop a broad spectrum of bacterial agents. A person’s diet should not rely solely on the probiotics in any one fermented food. Think fermented vegetables, fermented fruits, fermented dairy, fermented condiments, and fermented beverages.

Fermenting at home is simple but does require time and a few essential ingredients. You can search for fermentation recipes online. For those who want to reap the benefits without the preparation process, go to your local health food store. You will find a variety of ready to eat or drink fermented foods: sauerkraut, kimchi, beets, onions, yogurt, cottage cheese, chutney, hot sauce, kombucha and kefir. Top grade products will be identified as fermented and organic or non-GMO. Avoid pasteurized foods because they will not have the live bacteria which benefit the gut microbiome. Make my Mubby and your grandmothers proud and choose fermented foods.

-By Emily Luxford, MS, RD, Sansum Clinic

Apple CiderFermented Apple Juice — Makes 1 quart

• 1 quart of juice (approximately 9 organic apples)
• 1 tsp powdered culture starter or 2 Tbsp whey
• Pinch of sea salt

1. Juice the apples, skimming off as much foam as possible. (If you don’t own a juicer, you can purchase apple cider and follow steps 2-6)
2. Add culture starter or whey and salt to the fresh apple juice.
3. Pour the mixture into quart size mason jar.
4. Put lid on jar and tighten.
5. Leave at room temperature for 3 days.
6. Transfer to the refrigerator. It’s ready to drink! (This fermented juice will last up to one month in the refrigerator.)