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(Pardon my French, but is a** really a bad word?)

Anyways, one of my goals for 2012 is to get more good (bad a**) bacteria in my gut (and hopefully my hubby’s). The way to do this is to eat more cultured and fermented foods. True health starts in the gut — if your gut is not healthy, then you will not be healthy!

So, starting January 1st, in addition to my probiotic supplement, I decided that I am going to start making one new fermented food or beverage per week. And thus was born “52 Weeks of Bad A** Bacteria”! This will definitely keep me busy and keep lots of cultured foods on my plate. I am so excited to start on this journey. So far, my cultured and fermented food repertoire has really only consisted of sauerkraut and pickles (Bubbies most often), water kefir, yogurt, and kombucha. I’ve tried making some other fermented foods, but haven’t spent a lot of time working on them, despite the fact that I know how important they are to a diet.

Why are fermented and cultured foods so good for you? Here are three very good reasons, though there are tons more:

1. They introduce a regular supply of beneficial yeasts, enzymes, fungi, and bacteria to your gut, aiding in digestion and helping decrease or eliminate digestive tract illnesses and ailments.

2. The fermentation process increases the amount of vitamins found in the fermented food (especially the elusive B vitamins), as well helping your body absorb nutrients from the rest of your diet.

3. They help strengthen your overall immune system (because of the things above).

Sure, you can buy fermented veggies and cultured food at your local health food store, but let’s face it. It’s PRICEY! Why, a little 8 ounce jar of kimchi is over $10! That is just not in my budget, considering I could eat it all in one sitting! Culturing and fermenting foods at home is so much more affordable and fun! It’s exciting to put some stuff in a jar and see what happens. You’re getting a lesson in biology and chemistry AND getting something tasty to eat at the same time!

Many people get intimidated when you mentioned culturing or fermenting food at home. They’re worried that they will “mess it up” or “not do it right”. Trust me, culturing and fermenting is uber forgiving! There’s not a lot you can do to mess it up, as long as you follow some basic rules:

1. Use clean, sterilized (with boiling water or vinegar) dishes, glass jars, utensils, etc.

2. Use organic and high-quality veggies.

3. Add some whey for an added bacteria boost to create a lacto-fermented product.

Throughout the next year, I’ll be exploring different recipes from Nourishing TraditionsWild FermentationCultured Food Life, and more, as well as experimenting with my own wacky combinations. Along the way, I’ll be featuring some guest posts, hosting some giveaways, and other fun things! If you have any ideas for me, please let me know, whether it be a recipe or an idea for a giveaway or someone you’d like to feature!

Now, tell me, what is your most favorite cultured or fermented food?

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