Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I’m a pro, probiotics that is…

My grandfather used to drink a full glass of low fat buttermilk, straight up. Sounds gross but maybe he had the right idea…buttermilk is a great source of probiotics.

Why have you done a good thing?

Probiotics are defined as live microorganisms, such as bacteria, viruses, and yeasts, that have a positive impact on your overall health and well-being. Although current research is inconclusive, probiotics have been shown to be helpful in prevention of vaginal yeast infections, urinary tract infections, and diarrhea after treatment with antibiotics, irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease, reduce bladder cancer recurrence, treat eczema in children, and prevention of colds and flues.

What are food sources of probiotics?

With all the hype surrounding probiotics, they are now found in everything from milk to infant formula. You do not have to purchase expensive enriched products or supplements to get probiotics. Natural food sources of probiotics include:

YogurtWhether advertised as having probiotics or not, all yogurts contain live culture bacteria or probiotics. You don’t have to spend more to buy a yogurt that’s marketed as such. Try having a yogurt a day for breakfast or a snack.

Buttermilk and Kefir These cultured milk products are rich in enzymes and probiotics. Low fat versions are perfect to cook with; use in baking recipes or try making homemade baked chicken fingers and use buttermilk instead of egg.

Fermented vegetablesTraditional fermented vegetable sources include cabbage, cucumber, Chinese turnip, beets, onions, and garlic. Favorite products include sauerkraut, kimchi from Korea, and cortido from Latin America.

Fermented soy products – Better known sources include miso, tofu, and tempeh. Less known sources include shoyu, tamari, and natto. Instead of take-out, try making your own miso soup:

Heart Shitake Mushroom and Miso Soup (Inspired by Chef Tyler Florence)

Serves 6-8

1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced

1 inch piece fresh ginger, diced

3 cloves garlic, diced

2 tbsp sesame oil

8 cups water

3 (6 inch) pieces of dried kelp (kombu)

¼ cup bonito flakes

3 ounces dried shiitake mushrooms

½ cup light miso

1 lb baby bok choy, cut into quarters

8 ounces firm tofu, cut into cubes

In a large soup pot over medium heat sesame oil and add the scallion, ginger, garlic. Cook for 1 minute then add 8 cups of water. Add the kombu and bonito flakes. Bring up up to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes – do not let it boil. Remove the kombu and set it aside. Add the dried mushrooms and miso and let simmer for 10-15 minutes or until mushrooms are hydrated and tender. Add the bok choy and tofu and cook for 10-15 more minutes.

Stay healthy everyone!! And remember if you are taking antibiotics (poor you…) make sure you are getting daily food sources of probiotics to restore your healthy microorganisms.

--Amy Santo, MS RD

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