Why should we all be including fermented foods in our diet?
Fermenting foods and drinks is nothing new (think yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, olives and traditional pickles). Before refrigeration, fermentation was used to preserve foods and drinks to store them without them spoiling. It wasn’t understood that there is also a whole host of health benefits to eating these foods. Scientific research into the gut microbiome (the bacteria that live in our digestive tract) is discovering links to many health problems from obesity, diabetes and mental health disorders. And with these discoveries has come a resurgence of interest in probiotic foods.
It is known that fermented foods contain live bacteria that encourage our own gut bacteria to produce health-boosting compounds.
The live bacteria “pre-digest” the foods making them easier for the body to handle and for the nutrients they contain to be more readily absorbed. Some of these nutrients are believed to play a role in fighting cancer.
On top of all this research is the fact that fermented foods, especially fermented vegetables, are so delicious. The new flavours you will experience by fermenting will blow your mind! We all need to be eating more vegetables and this is another way to get them into your diet. They are conveniently waiting for you to toss into a salad, or pimp up your sandwich!
What I do find really troubling is the evidence that with each generation our gut microbiome is becoming less diverse, our gut bacteria diversity is less than our grandparents, our children’s will be less than ours. Our diets have become too limited, with too much refined carbohydrates and processed foods. With the links to rising obesity and mental health problems we need to fix this. We all need to be eating more varied, vegetable rich diets, and we definitely need to get our children eating more vegetables and fermented foods.
If you want to learn more join Jess (Bread for Life) and I at our first Wild Fermentary Workshop at Foundry Woods on 20th May for a basics introduction where we will be showing you how to make a simple vegetable kraut. We are also running a more advanced workshop with a gut healthy lunch at Oken’s Kitchen on 23rd June. More dates to follow. Please send us a message to book on.
I have three children aged 8, 4 and 2. I understand how difficult it is to get them to eat vegetables! It is ok me banging on about the goodness in kale (it is so nutritious), but honestly my kids would never eat the stuff!
Having said that they are pretty good, and I am quite pleased with the quantity and variety of veg they will eat. Fruit is easy, oranges, apples, pears, melon, raspberries, strawberries, bananas, all devoured! But vegetables are more of a challenge. They happily eat tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, carrots, peas, mushrooms, olives, potatoes (a great source of vitamin C), and broccoli (at a push). They are, however, blissfully unaware that they eat onions, sweet potato, butternut squash, courgettes, parsley, leeks, swede, celery, dill and watercress. The secret is cooking it, blending it, and hiding it in food that they love. Soups, pasta sauces, stews and pies. The benefits of a plant based diet are huge, and as a parent who wouldn't want to give that to their children.
Try Red Lentil, Vegetable and Tomato Soup
1 red pepper
1 mug of red lentils
2 x tins tomatoes (plus 2 tins of water)
1 glug olive oil
oregano, parsley, salt to taste.
Chop or grate the fresh ingredients, add to a large pan with the lentils and tomatoes, olive oil, water and seasonings. Bring to the boil and simmer for 25 minutes. Blend with a stick blender. Serve with crusty bread!
Children love cooking. They love helping in the kitchen. And most children love pizza.
It is really important to teach our children to cook, and if it can be something healthy and vegetable based all the better!
Using Bread for Life sourdough pizza dough, we have put together our pizza boxes to make cooking at home with your children easy. Everything that you need is packed into a pizza box. The kids can even decorate their box to make it their own and then eat their pizza out of the box like a real delivery (saves on the washing up too). The pizza dough is really special. It takes Jess (from Bread For Life) 48 hours to produce it as it has a long fermentation. It has many health benefits compared to regular yeasted dough. The kids will love the feel of it and it is easy to work with. Depending on the age and cooking experience of the children they may need a bit of help to flatten the dough. The pizza sauce is homemade by P & S, as usual for us we have added in some extra vegetables to provide the sweetness rather than added sugar (onions, garlic, celery, oregano and tomatoes). A selection of chopped vegetable toppings are included, along with mozzarella cheese (dairy free cheese also available).
Smaller pizza boxes, with some added extras (mini rolling pin and apron) are also available for birthday parties.
If you haven't got kids you can still have a go and make delicious pizza at home - perfect for a romantic date night in maybe! We do gourmet pizza boxes for grown ups with a selection of toppings including our vegan basil and almond pesto.
We have trialled our boxes over half term and had lots of happy customers....Happy healthy and fun!
Much fun had by Jake today, making delicious pizza with Pumpkin & Sprout ingredients!! The sourdough is wonderful and all of the ingredients so fresh! Thank you Liz, worth every penny!
We loved this pizza making experience and were really chuffed with our yummy pizzas! Lovely (and easy) way to get little ones involved in cooking, and trying new veggies!
I have had three babies. I have spent a lot of time holding little babies. When you have a newborn it is virtually impossible to get anything done, loading the washing machine and taking a shower can be a major achievement. I often sat watching daytime TV feeding a little baby and just wishing someone would bring me something to eat. So here is a thought, next time a friend or relative has a baby give them a gift of wholesome, nutritious, ready to eat food….babies really don’t need another fluffy rabbit, but their Mum does need feeding!
Pumpkin & Sprout Gift bags come with a selection of specially selected soups to nourish and sustain exhausted new mums. The bag is insulated and can be re-used to take out children’s snacks and picnics when they are older.
Another great idea are our Get Well Soon bags. An ideal gift to help restore and recover after an illness. Soups selected for mild flavours and immune boosting ingredients.
Send us a message for a price list and more info.
Phytonutrients are the compounds from plants that we need to stay healthy, they include vitamins, antioxidants and compounds thought to prevent cancers. Plants don’t see it like this. Plants don’t make phytonutrients, they just synthesise the compounds that they require for their own biology. They are compounds required for metabolism, stress resistance, disease resistance, development and growth of the plant. Yes, we have chosen to grow plants containing more phytonutrients but plants don’t give a dam that we need antioxidants!
What is interesting though, is that we as humans have evolved to eat plants. Take the classic example of vitamin C. Without vitamin C humans very quickly become unwell, remember the classic biology lesson about sailors suffering from scurvy when on long voyages. Most animals can make their own vitamin C, but humans, monkeys, some bats and guinea pigs do not. These animals have lost the ability through course of evolution to synthesise their own vitamin C. But why has this happened? Well, if you are obtaining an adequate supply of something from your diet, why go to the effort of making you own. It is all about conservation of energy and resources, and the basics of survival. Mutate a gene, live, reproduce, mutation propagates in a population, and there you have it evolution at work. So what does this tell us? It tells us that humans have evolved to eat a plant based diet and that it is likely that there are many plant compounds that we should be eating to keep well.
So should we be eating like a monkey? It estimated that chimpanzees diet consists of only around 2% animal products per year, they mainly eat fruit and plants. We are 98% genetically similar to chimpanzees, yet the western diet is far from that of a chimpanzee, most people eat animal product at every meal, and don’t consume anywhere near the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables. It certainly makes me wonder if this is one of the reasons for the increase in cancers, brain diseases and autoimmune diseases, maybe we are simply just not getting enough phytonutients…just a thought!
I love beans! They are the perfect food for humans, in my opinion they are the ultimate Superfood.
In fact most of the long living populations of the world eat about one cup of beans every day. All over the world beans are a staple food, and for good reasons. They are filling, nutritious, and full of essential minerals. They are a great source of protein (about 7g per 100g cooked), high in fibre (more than 10g per 100g cooked) and low in fat (less than 1g per 100g cooked). There are so many so many varieties to try, from aduki beans to peanuts (yes, a peanut is actually a bean). They can be added to all sorts of dishes and they fill hungry tummies for hours!
So what is a bean? Well it is a seed. It contains a tiny plant with all the nutrients needed to kick start its growth into a whole plant or a giant bean stork! Botanically speaking legumes (beans) are really cool as they are the only plant family that can fix atmospheric nitrogen (it is actually the bacteria living in their roots that do the work). Fixed nitrogen is needed to synthesise amino acids, which are in turn used to build protein molecules. Common sense tells you beans must have some good stuff in there.
Beans are also cheap. With a bit of planning you can feed your family for a couple of meals for a few pounds. Canned beans are great and really convenient. I always use tinned beans for hummus, it is so fast to make your own and you can pimp it up however you fancy. Get creative and add beetroot, carrot, peas, spinach, roasted peppers, chilli or fresh herbs to your bean mix. Hummus is a great sandwich filling, add some green leaves, and slices of tomato, it’s a great alternative to processed meat.
Beans and wind! Yes it can be an issue, especially if you are not used to eating beans. The extra gas is produced by the fermentation of short chain carbohydrates that the body cannot absorb by bacteria in the large intestine. By introducing beans gradually into the diet the types of bacteria in the gut can become adapted to limit digestive problems. It is all the fibre in beans that is so beneficial to the gut as it promotes the growth of good bacteria and draws water into the bowel preventing constipation. Everyone feels better after a good poo!
And if you still are not convinced give Pumpkin and Sprout soups and curries a try. I am sure you will love them. Easy, ready to reheat and eat! All the work is done for you.
Basic Hummus Recipe
1 can of drained chickpeas (or other beans)
1 tbs tahini (sesame seed paste)
1-2 tbs olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 clove of chopped garlic
Salt and paprika to taste
Splash of water to loosen.
Add all of the ingredients to the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth.
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