Upgrade Your Pantry: Part 2 - With Christa Orecchio
Christa recently shared three ways to upgrade your pantry & fridge, where she discussed how to upgrade your snacks and eggs, the truth about dairy and choosing healthy coffee and tea. Now she’s back for more, and is discussing fermented foods, upgrading your protein, and healthy bread and tortilla options.
1. Stock Your Fridge Full Of Fermented Foods
Fermented foods have been used for centuries as a natural probiotic source, as they contain the beneficial strain Lactobacillus. These probiotic-rich foods not only taste good but can also help our body digest food properly. They are easily digestible as they are naturally rich in enzymes and, an added bonus when adding even just a small amount of fermented foods to your meal, is they also help support the digestion and breakdown of the rest of your meal so that you may absorb all of the vitamins and minerals. As it has been a staple in our great-grandmothers' kitchens, we feel it should be a staple in our fridge, as well. Think of them like good soldiers. Not only do they help you digest and absorb more nutrition, but they escort bad bugs out of your precious digestive system on their way out, leaving your inner terrain much better than before they arrived.
Sauerkraut – Incorporating sauerkraut even just a few times a week can have a positive effect on your microbiome and immune health. Sauerkraut can be made quickly from scratch using cabbage, salt and any herbs you would like, or you can easily find it at the grocery store. Be sure to look in the refrigerator section of the store, as raw sauerkraut includes live beneficial bacteria and should be kept cold.
Kefir – If you tolerate dairy well, kefir can be a great option to increase fermented foods in your diet. When purchasing the fermented milk product kefir, it is important to get the plain or unsweetened flavor as the flavored version of kefir is often loaded with added sugar, taking away from the wonderful benefits of kefir. If you do not like the taste of plain kefir, try adding cinnamon or low-glycemic fruit such as berries. There is also coconut water kefir now, which we love.
Kimchi – While sauerkraut is often just cabbage, kimchi is a blend of napa cabbage, garlic, chili peppers, and scallions. If purchasing kimchi, it is important to be sure there are no added sugars or refined oils such as soybean or canola oil.
Miso - While conventional, unfermented soy food and products can disrupt hormones, fermented soy, also known as miso, can be beneficial to our digestive system and add variety and flavor to any dish. Try to find an organic source of miso, as soy is often genetically modified.
2. The Power Of Protein
Healthy protein sources are so important for our overall health. We break down protein in our digestive system into amino acids, and further into peptide chains that are used for energy and muscle production. However, not all protein is created equal, and it is important to find good quality sources of protein to fuel your body and metabolism.
Grass Fed Meat – Red meat can be very beneficial for the body, especially for balancing the adrenals and thyroid as well as maintaining adequate levels of iron. It is important to find grass fed and grass finished red meat at your local grocery store or trusted source such as your local farm, as conventionally raised meat can include added hormones, antibiotics and a poor ratio of omega 3's to omega 6's.
Organic, Free-Range Chicken & Turkey - Much like finding grass fed meats, it is equally as important to find free-range chicken and turkey sources.
Fish – When looking for fish, it is important to find wild caught sources as factory-farmed fish are grown and confined in pens. Farmed fish are fed corn, soy, antibiotics and hormones, and are often artificially colored to look like wild-caught fish.
3. All About Healthy Bread And Tortillas
Bread has been a hot topic these days: do we go gluten free, skip the bread, or just focus on healthy whole wheat? While the answer can be overwhelming, certain types of bread and tortillas can help provide our body with essential vitamins and minerals, as well as a healthy source of carbohydrates.
Tortillas – Tacos are often a favorite dish among many people and are convenient when wanting to make a meal on the go. Look for non-GMO and organic corn tortillas, and try to stay away from any added oils such as soybean or canola oil. For an added bonus, try sprouted corn or brown-rice tortillas; they are easier for your body to digest. To add variety, try a grain-free tortilla option, as they are made from coconut meat or healthy resistant starch such as cassava or plantains and widely available for purchase online if you can’t find them in your health food store.