Eat your heart out, Peter, I pickled my own!
Now when I speak of our good friend, Peter Piper, I’m not talking about the part where he PICKED the peck of pickled peppers. Though how do you pick pickled peppers anyway? Wouldn’t you have to pick regular peppers and then pickle them? So confusing, those old tongue twisters. No it’s the PICKLED part of the peppers that I want to focus on today.
You may be thinking, why should I care about pickled peppers or pickled anything else? Here’s why you should care- pickled or fermented vegetables are SO GOOD for you! And we’re talking ANYTHING pickled- like cucumbers (most common vegetable pickled), radishes, green beans, cabbage (think sauerkraut), and the Korean fermented vegetable dish called Kim chi. Did you know that pickled foods contain probiotics (good bacteria that helps your gut health)? Yes, that’s true. Let me explain this a bit.
Pickled cucumbers, or as most of us call them, pickles!
Pickling is a form of fermentation, and when vegetables and fruits are fermented, healthy bacteria help break down the hard to digest cellulose in foods, as well as some of the natural sugar. These healthy bacteria help keep fermented food safe and less likely to spoil, and can also help increase the good bacteria in your gut when eaten. That’s not just good for your gut, my friends, it also affects your immune and nervous systems. Almost 80% of our immune system exists in the gut, which contains about 100 trillion bacteria. In other words, we have 10 times more gut bacteria than the number of cells in our entire bodies! The gut also has the second nervous system in our bodies. We have the same amount of neurotransmitters in our gut as our brain! I know, crazy right?!!
Here’s the thing you’re probably thinking, ok so the gut is important, but why do we need pickled or fermented vegetables and fruits? The reason is because bad diets, antibiotics, stress and numerous other factors can create an imbalance of bad bacteria, creating bloating, fatigue, diarrhea, inflammation, headaches, and sugar cravings. Probiotics in fermented foods can help rebalance your good bacteria and ELIMINATE THESE SYMPTOMS!
Yummy, interesting Kim chi!
Another reason we need more pickled or fermented fruits and vegetables is that overweight people have different intestinal bacteria than lean people. In addition to other health problems, an imbalance of bad bacteria can create inflammation and fat gain. A study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed obese people reduced abdominal fat nearly 5% simply by drinking probiotic rich fermented milk for 12 weeks. Probiotics also reduce the risk for metabolic syndrome, which is an unpleasant condition that includes high blood pressure, insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Clearly, probiotics are the way to help prevent numerous diseases!
The recommendation is to eat 1-3 servings of pickled or fermented vegetables each day to get the optimal gut benefits. Now, don’t go rush out to the grocery store and buy 10 jars of processed pickles. If you’re going to buy your pickled vegetables please buy them from the refrigerated section and try to get them without added sugar and organic if possible. If you don’t like pickles, refrigerated, non-pasteurized high quality sauerkraut is a delicious and healthy way to get your probiotics and vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals too. Kim chi, the Korean fermented vegetable dish, is another way to get your probiotics. My daughter’s boyfriend is of Korean descent and his mom brought us Kim chi. I have been OBSESSED with it since she sent it, and have eaten the garlicky, spicy vegetables with almost every meat I’ve eaten. If you don’t know someone Korean, go visit your local Korean restaurant and try it! Truly unique and delicious!
Last and most important, I’m here to give you an easy and quick recipe for pickling vegetables so you can do it at home. You will be stunned at how easy and delish this is. Then, you can make some more when you run out instead of buying more from the grocery store. It’s also convenient to make your own because you can pickle whatever vegetables and fruits you have available at home. Check it out, you’ll be impressed!
Ingredients ready to be pickled!
Valerie’s Easy, Quick Pickled Vegetables
Gorgeous peppers- Peter would definitely want these, even before they’re pickled!
- One cup chopped vegetables ( I used cucumbers and of course, peppers- both sweet and jalapenos)
- 1/2 cup vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
Stir the vegetables into the vinegar, sugar and salt. Let sit for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. THAT’S IT!
Cukes sliced and ready for pickling!
You can put the pickles on a burger, hot dog, any sandwich, mix them into scrambled eggs, serve them alongside pork chops or steaks, or stir them into soups or top them on salads- they are versatile and delicious. I made a batch before I wrote this post, and Danielle is trying to eat them all before I’m even done writing! They’re addictive, and they’ll help give your gut the healthy flora it needs to boost immunity, fight disease, and get rid of that extra weight! Sounds great to me!
Voila! Done and ready for eating!
Try to pickle your own vegetables and let me know what you think of them. Also, I’d love to hear if your health improves by eating your pickled veggies, but remember you need to eat them AT LEAST once a day! Eating pickled vegetables is a way to live a life of vitality- with Valerie!