Before I made the change over to a 100% plant-based diet I loved eating Greek yogurt for the probiotics. Probiotics help you maintain a healthy ratio of good to bad bacteria in the gut. Having the right amount of good bacteria (or friendly gut bugs as I like to call them) reduces the risk for a bunch of annoying health conditions ranging from weight gain to bacterial vaginosis to depression and more! And our poor little friendly gut bugs are under constant attack whether it’s from a course (or several courses) of antibiotics, meat consumption (for those of you who eat meat that is not organic – yes, you are consuming the antibiotics that the animals are getting), chlorine in drinking water, and pollution.
Where do I to get my probiotics now that I eat only plant foods?
I don’t like to take supplements. Especially probiotics. Several studies found that most probiotic supplements that are on the market today contain dead bacteria. Yep. Most of the bacteria in those pills are dead. So you’re just basically buying empty pills. It’s basically a placebo you are taking. So to get a good source of probiotics your best bet is to get them from food.
GOOD PLANT-BASED SOURCES OF PROBIOTICS
- Sauerkraut – raw, fermented cabbage
- Miso – fermented soybeans, rice, or barley
- Kefir – a probiotic drink that is made by adding kefir grains to milk and allowing it to ferment for a day – it can be made dairy free using coconut milk
- Kimchi – similar to sauerkraut but this Korean staple includes other vegetables as well and is spicier than simple sauerkraut (just make sure to get the vegetarian variety)
- Kombucha – a raw, fermented, probiotic, naturally carbonated tea beverage
So I bought the sauerkraut and it just sat in my pantry for…a couple of months. I didn’t know what to do with it. Of course I’ve found tons of recipes for vegan ruben sandwiches, but I didn’t want to do that. So I started to think of other things.
I know, I know, I really need to get away from hummus and avocado. I seem to eat it every. single. day. Umm….okay…I do. But hey – they’re both delicious and healthy, so why not add some sauerkraut to the mix? Oh, and nutritional yeast.
What a great idea! Oh my, this was delicious. I ended up shredding a carrot and adding that and a little baby kale too and it just made my panini the perfect sandwich. This is going to be one of my favorites for sure. Yummy!
SAUERKRAUT PANINI WITH AVOCADO HUMMUS
Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 5 minutes Total Time: 10 minutes Makes: one panini
- 1 pita (I like Sami’s whole wheat oatmeal pita)
- 45 grams classic hummus
- 50 grams avocado
- A few baby kale leaves
- 1 carrot, shredded
- 2 tablespoons raw, fermented sauerkraut, liquid squeezed out
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the panini press to medium heat.
- In a small bowl mash together the hummus and avocado with a fork. Spread it all over the pita.
- Layer the kale leaves on one side of the pita and top with the shredded carrot and sauerkraut.
- Sprinkle the nutritional yeast over top and season with the pepper.
- Fold the other side of the pita over and place the sandwich in the panini press.
- Close the lid and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes or until browned just the way you like it.
THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF SAUERKRAUT
Sauerkraut, specifically the raw and lacto-fermented variety (not the typical pickled types) has many health benefits. The fermentation process ups the nutrition factor a ton by increasing the bioavailability of the nutrients. What makes sauerkraut so healthy is the fact that it is such a great source of probiotics. Sauerkraut contains several types good bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. bulgaricus, L. plantarum, L. caret, L. pentoaceticus, L brevi and L. thermophiles.
Sauerkraut is also an excellent source of vitamin C and contains isothiocyanates and glucosinolates which have been shown to prohibit cancer growth in research studies.
Other benefits of sauerkraut include decreased acne and reduced symptoms of acid reflux.
- Probiotics. Cleveland Clinic Blog. http://my.clevelandclinic.org/healthy_living/nutrition/hic-probiotics.aspx. Reviewed on May 3, 2010. Accessed on August 6, 2014.
- Ingels D, Gaby AR. Quality of probiotic supplements questioned. Bastyr Center for Natural Health: The Teaching Clinic of Bastyr University. http://www.bastyrcenter.org/content/view/664/. Accessed on August 6, 2014.
- Mercola JM. The wide-ranging influence of gut microbes on your mental and physical health. Mercola.com. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/09/05/microbes-manipulate-your-mind.aspx. Published on September 5, 2012. Accessed on August 5, 2014.
- Harris K. Surprising health benefits of sauerkraut. Mother Nature Network. http://www.mnn.com/food/healthy-eating/blogs/surprising-health-benefits-of-sauerkraut. Published on January 16, 2014. Accessed on August 4, 2014.
- Thomas JP. Sauerkraut: anti-cancer fermented food that restores gut flora. Health Impact News. http://healthimpactnews.com/2014/sauerkraut-anti-cancer-fermented-food-that-restores-gut-flora/. Published on August 3, 2014. Accessed on August 4, 2014.