It’s no secret that the nutrition world has fallen in love with fermented foods. Yogurt, long heralded for its probiotic qualities, now has a lot of nutritionist competition with other fermented eats, like tempeh, kimchi, and miso—and drinks, like kefir and kombucha.
Easier said than done. What the heck is kefir, and how do you cook with kimchi? Relax, young (healthy) grasshopper. These simple meal ideas use ingredients you probably have on hand to complement the ones you just got for the first time.
It’s easy to grab a yogurt and head out the door. Need something more exciting? Try replacing your morning coffee with a kombucha. These days, most supermarkets—even CVS—sell at least one brand in the refrigerated section. Try GT’s Gingerade Kombucha, which uses pressed ginger juice for an energizing kick to start your day.
Pro tip: If you do nosh on a yogurt, go for plain. Most other flavors contain a hefty amount of sugar (sometimes up to 29 grams per serving!), which has adverse health effects for your gut—the exact opposite effect you’re getting from the probiotics.
When it’s time to get some hearty food on the table, go for spicy-sweet kimchi. It’s a popular Korean fermented cabbage with ginger and hot peppers. The intense flavor can overpower other ingredients, so it’s best paired with more subtle tastes. Enter: the kimchi rice bowl. Start with a foundation of brown rice and top with two eggs (poached or over easy work well) and kimchi. Add some chopped green onions or sesame seeds and you’re good to go. Plus, it travels easily if you have to bring it to work in a Tupperware.
Sip on kefir for a protein-packed, gut-happy snack. Just like yogurt, it’s better to choose a plain flavor with no sugar added, but you can spice it up with cinnamon, nutmeg, or a quick drizzle of agave for a lighter flavor. Love a good smoothie? Blend kefir with fresh fruit for a fiber boost.
Dinner: Miso + Tempeh
Dinner should be light, since it’s our least active time of day and bedtime is only a few hours away. Chop up fresh vegetables and protein for a crunchy salad. Instead of a standard balsamic vinaigrette or heavy Caesar dressing, meet miso. It’s a fermented soybean paste that has an umami (savory) taste. Whisk together rice vinegar, olive oil, and miso—it’s the perfect balance of consistency and flavor. A little miso goes a long way, so you’ll only need about a teaspoon for every serving. Need more? Add tempeh, a filling protein made from fermented soybeans. Miso makes a great marinade, so you get two-for-one probiotic goodness.
Of course, it’s not necessary to eat fermented foods at every meal. Try one out tomorrow and test another the next day until you’re keeping up with the K’s—kombucha, kefir, and kimchi—like a pro.