Need Probiotics? Eat Kimchi (+ Recipe)

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Written by: Kavata Kithome

I have talked about probiotics and why it’s important to take them everyday. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, especially your digestive system. Your body is full of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics are often called “good” or “helpful” bacteria because they help keep your gut healthy.

Probiotics are naturally found in your body. You can also find them in some foods and supplements.

One great way to get probiotics is eating fermented foods like kimchi. Admittedly, when I first had kimchi I didn’t like it, but as I have gotten older, I have learned to love it. Now I make it at home thanks to a recipe from our friends from kitchn.

This recipe takes about a week to prepare and yields enough for about a week.

Easy-To-Make Kimchi

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium head (2 pounds) nappa cabbage
  • ¼ cup sea salt or kosher salt (see Recipe Notes)
  • Water (see Recipe Notes)
  • 1 tbsp grated garlic (5 to 6 cloves)
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tsp sugar (or natural substitute, such as Stevia)
  • 2 to 3 tbsp seafood flavor or water (optional, see Recipe Notes)
  • 1 to 5 tbsp Korean red pepper flakes (gochugaru)
  • 8 ounces Korean radish or daikon, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 4 scallions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

Equipment:

  • Cutting board and knife
  • Large bowl
  • Gloves (optional but highly recommended)
  • Plate and something to weigh the kimchi down, like a jar or can of beans
  • Colander
  • Small bowl
  • Clean 1-quart jar with canning lid or plastic lid
  • Bowl or plate to place under jar during fermentation

Instructions:

1. Slice the cabbage: Cut the cabbage lengthwise into quarters and remove the cores. Cut each quarter crosswise into 2-inch-wide strips.

2. Salt the cabbage: Place the cabbage and salt in a large bowl. Using your hands (gloves optional), massage the salt into the cabbage until it starts to soften a bit, then add water to cover the cabbage. Put a plate on top and weigh it down with something heavy, like a jar or can of beans. Let stand for 1 to 2 hours.

3. Rinse and drain the cabbage: Rinse the cabbage under cold water 3 times and drain in a colander for 15 to 20 minutes. Rinse and dry the bowl you used for salting, and set it aside to use in step 5.

4. Make the paste: Meanwhile, combine the garlic, ginger, sugar and seafood flavor (or 3 tablespoons water) in a small bowl and mix to form a smooth paste. Mix in the gochugaru, using 1 tablespoon for mild and up to 5 tablespoons for spicy (I like about 3 ½ tablespoons).

5. Combine the vegetables and paste: Gently squeeze any remaining water from the cabbage and return it to the bowl along with the radish, scallions and seasoning paste.

6. Mix thoroughly: Using your hands, gently work the paste into the vegetables until they are thoroughly coated. The gloves are optional here, but highly recommended to protect your hands from stings, stains and smells!

7. Pack the kimchi into the jar: Pack the kimchi into the jar, pressing down on it until the brine rises to cover the vegetables. Leave at least 1 inch of headspace. Seal the jar with the lid.

8. Let it ferment: Let the jar stand at room temperature for 1 to 5 days. You may see bubbles inside the jar and brine may seep out of the lid; place a bowl or plate under the jar to help catch any overflow.

9. Check it daily and refrigerate when ready: Check the kimchi once a day, pressing down on the vegetables with a clean finger or spoon to keep them submerged under the brine (this also releases gases produced during fermentation). Taste a little at this point, too! When the kimchi tastes ripe enough for your liking, transfer the jar to the refrigerator. You may eat it right away, but it’s best after another week or two.

Recipe Notes:

  • Salt: Use salt that is free of iodine and anti-caking agents, which can inhibit fermentation.
  • Water: Chlorinated water can inhibit fermentation, so use spring, distilled, or filtered water if you can.
  • Seafood flavor and vegetarian alternatives: Seafood gives kimchi an umami flavor. Different regions and families may use fish sauce, salted shrimp paste, oysters and other seafood. Use about 2 tablespoons of fish sauce, salted shrimp paste, or a combination of the two. For vegetarian kimchi, I like using ¾ teaspoon kelp powder mixed with 3 tablespoons water, or simply 3 tablespoons of water.

Try this recipe out and begin to take advantage of all the wonderful probiotic benefits of kimchi. Do you have a fermented food recipe you would like to share? Leave a comment below.

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Kavata Kithome
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Kavata Kithome

Health Advocate at One More Step
Kavata Kithome is an advocate for living your best life, full of health and longevity. While working closely with gym owners and personal trainers, she was able to sculpt a well-rounded view of fitness and understands how to incorporate it with a healthy balanced diet. She is a regular contributor to the One More Step Lifestyle brand.
Kavata Kithome
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