Health benefit: Fermented foods are full of probiotics, but in order to keep gut bacteria balanced, you also need prebiotics, or nondigestible carbohydrates that feed probiotics, like the inulin found in asparagus. This makes fermented asparagus a superfood for digestive and immune system health to help keep your body strong and disease-free all winter long.
2 tsp ground Korean red chile pepper (Gochugaru), or hot paprika powder
1/2 tsp dried coriander
1 tbsp sea salt
2 cups filtered water
1 1-qt wide-mouth glass jar with lid, sterilized
1 small glass jar with lid (4 oz or 8 oz), sterilized (NOTE: Jar should be narrow enough to fit inside rim of 1-qt jar.)
Trim asaparagus ends, leaving 5-inch-long spears (to fit below rim of 1-qt jars).
To a blender or food processor, add all paste ingredients and process until well combined. (Alternatively, finely mince ingredients and stir to combine.) In a large bowl, toss asparagus spears with paste to coat.
Place lemongrass and lime leaves in the bottom of a 1-qt jar and place asparagus spears on top, ends down, packing them in as tightly as possible. Use a spoon or spatula to pack in any extra paste.
In a large glass measure, stir together brine ingredients until salt dissolves. Pour into jar, leaving 1-inch headspace between surface of liquid and rim of jar.
Place a follower, such as a cabbage leaf, silicone mat or sterilized ceramic weight, on top of kimchi mixture to keep pieces submerged under the liquid while kimchi ferments.
Fill a small jar with water and seal tightly with lid. Place small jar inside 1-qt jar on top of follower to keep mixture submerged in liquid. Place in a shallow bowl or baking sheet to catch overflow and cover with a clean tea towel.
Let ferment for 5 to 8 days in a cool place away from direct sunlight, checking daily to make sure kimchi is submerged and pressing down on weight to release more liquid as needed. Remove weight and follower, seal tightly and refrigerate for up to 12 months.
Health benefit: Citrus fruits are high in vitamin C, an important antioxidant for immune and skin health, but the real supernutrients in citrus lie in its flavonoids, which are found in the peel and pith. Studies have found that citrus flavonoids help repair DNA damage, lower cholesterol and have anti-inflammatory properties.
Modern-day Italians serve cornmeal-based polenta as a simple side or hearty entrée, enriched with cheeses and herbs. Offering yet another take on the classic, our polenta is used to create a soft crust for a winter vegetable pie.
Grain salads are fast and fantastic grab-and-go options for lunch or dinner. Toss your leftover cooked grains in your favorite homemade vinegar-based dressing. Pair with a protein of your choice, add grated veggies and fresh herbs, and top with avocado and toasted nuts and seeds. To get a jump start on the week’s meals, premake three portions of your favorite grain salad recipe using three 1-liter Mason jars. Preassemble this CBLT (coconut bacon, romaine lettuce and cherry tomato) grain salad for lunches or a quick dinner.
Health benefit: This recipe is bursting with antioxidant-rich fruits like pomegranate, red grapes and goji berries. Plus, pineapple, cilantro and mint have all been studied for their digestive and anti-inflammatory benefits that help you beat the bloat.
Soda that’s good for you? Yes, please! The key to making this gut-healthy drink is to start with a ginger bug. Similar in concept to a sourdough starter, a ginger bug is a fermented mixture of fresh ginger, evaporated cane juice and water, and it’s what gives homemade sodas a refreshing natural fizziness. The time it takes for the soda to fully ferment depends on the temperature in your home – if it’s warmer, 2 days should do it, but you might need up to 10 days if your home is on the cooler side.
This traditional Korean condiment of spicy fermented cabbage is made in two phases: The first stage, soaking the cabbage in a salty brine, kills harmful bacteria and draws out the liquid from the cabbage. In the second stage, a spicy paste of Korean-style chile powder, scallions, garlic and ginger is mixed into the cabbage to give it that signature kimchi kick. Adding the paste also starts the second stage of fermentation, in which the natural sugars are converted to lactic acid, preserving the veggies and giving them tangy flavor.