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Cultured Foods by Gabi Weaver,RYT, CHNM, YoR

Lahari Yoga teacher and certified Holistic Nutritionist  Gabi Weaver shares why eating naturally cultured foods are a must-try for optimum health.

 

 

“When you think of dipping a delicious  asian-style rice roll in sesame sauce, yummy bacteria probably isn't the first thing that comes to mind. However, eating cultured foods is becoming very popular, and for good reason.”

 

Good Bacteria (called probiotics) in our foods are good for digestive health and strong digestive health means good overall health.  This is because cultured foods have an incredibly wide variety of healthy probiotic bacteria strains and they transfer a lot of different health benefits, such as:

  • Improves digestion

  • Boosts the immune system (most of which is in our digestive tract)

  • Improves mood (because digestive health is closely connected to optimum brain health)

  • Studies have shown that our balance of good to bad digestive bacteria also has a large impact on weight

So, now that we know all about the many health benefits of good bacteria, how can we incorporate their use in what we eat? There’s such a wide variety of cultured foods, such as kefir, kombucha, fermented veggies like (sauerkraut, kimchi,) miso, tempeh, and organic cheeses and yogurts.

Here are a few of my easiest ways to incorporate delicious and healthy cultured foods into your recipes and diet:
 

Vegetarian Protein-Packed Salad with Sauerkraut

WHAT YOU NEED

  • 4 cups of spinach, field greens or red leaf lettuce

  • 2 cups cooked whole grains, such as quinoa, brown rice, or other

  • 1 cup cooked or canned beans or lentils, drained and rinsed

  • 3 green onions, chopped, or ¼ red onion

  • 1 cup raw, unpasteurized sauerkraut, white or red-should be in the refrigerated section of store

  • ¼ cup pumpkin, sunflower, walnut or hemp seeds

  • 2 cups chopped vegetables of your choice, a mix of cooked and raw is ideal.  My suggestions are tomatoes, cucumbers, roasted or raw peppers, sprouts, diced avocado, carrots, peas or edamame

  • Optional: handful of black olives and cheese such as feta, goat, or sharp cheddar, or maybe some minced fresh herbs, Italian parsley, mint or dill

 

WHAT YOU DO

  1. Place all ingredients into a large mixing bowl, combine with about ½ cup of homemade lemon dressing and toss well

  2. Taste and add more salt and pepper to taste

  3. Top with any optional ingredients

Basic Lemon Dressing

WHAT YOU NEED

  • 1/3 cup olive oil

  • ½ cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons, juiced)

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

  • 1 teaspoon honey or pure maple syrup

  • ½ tsp sea salt and fresh pepper to taste

  • Optional: ½ teaspoon minced fresh garlic

WHAT YOU DO

  1. Place all ingredients into a glass jar with lid and shake vigorously to combine. (Makes about 1 cup and stores in fridge for a week)

 

Kefir Ranch Dip with Veggies

WHAT YOU NEED

  • 1 ½  cups of plain kefir (goat, sheep, cow or coconut)

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 1 Tablespoon of each of the following fresh herbs, all finely chopped; dill, chives, and Italian parsley

  • 1 Tablespoon sauerkraut brine or fresh lemon juice

  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste

WHAT YOU DO

  1. Strain kefir at least 30 minute to create a thicker consistency like yogurt. (Simply pour into cheesecloth or coffee filter placed in a mesh strainer above a bowl. The liquid will drop to the bottom of the bowl.) When kefir is desired consistency, dump it into a small mixing bowl

  2. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk until evenly combined

  3. Store in a mason glass jar in the fridge up to a week

  4. Serve with your favorite raw veggies, cut into desired pieces

Kimchi Rolls with Miso Sesame Sauce

WHAT YOU NEED

  • 12 rice paper rounds (large size) OR wraps of your choice

  • 6 leaves of romaine lettuce, stems removed

  • 1 cup raw, fermented kimchi (can purchase in Asian grocery, has a deep red color)

  • 1 cup grated carrot

  • 1 cup of cucumber, cut into matchsticks

  • ½ avocado, sliced into strips

  • handful of fresh chives, or green onion minced fine

  • Optional:  add some cooked tofu, chicken, prawns, or tempeh

WHAT YOU DO

  1. Gather all filling ingredients (lettuce, carrots, cucumber, kimchi, avocado, chives or green onion (and protein- if using) in one place for easy assembly

  2. If making rice rolls, fill a large mixing bowl or pie pan with very warm water

  3. Dip each, individual rice paper round into warm water for about 10 seconds until paper is just starting to get flexible and soft. Remove with both hands; let excess water drip onto clean tea towel and place flat on smooth surface

  4. If using wraps, take out how many you will be making, and place on a clean tea towel

  5. Place filling on the lower third of the circle of an individual rice paper in any order you like and roll into fat, cigar shape. Place seam-side down on a platter

  6. Repeat until you have filled all of your rolls, leaving a bit of room in between so they don’t stick together. Slice in half or in quarters if desired. (Best to use a wet knife for this to avoid stickiness)

 

Miso Sesame Sauce-for Dipping

WHAT YOU NEED

  • 2 Tablespoons of red (or other color) miso paste- purchase in Asian section of grocery store

  • 1 lime, juiced

  • 3 Tablespoons of honey or maple syrup

  • 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil

  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger

  • Optional: 1 tsp sesame seeds, ¼ tsp red chili flakes, or ½ teaspoon sriracha

WHAT YOU DO

  1. Add all ingredients into a mason glass jar and shake vigorously until miso dissolves and everything is fully blended

  2. Keeps well in re-sealable glass jar up to a week in fridge