Get cultured

This article was originally published in March 2013

Probiotics are good bacteria found in fermented and cultured foods that find a home in our digestive system. These beneficial microorganisms assist with normal digestion and benefit our immune system, even warding off colds.

Sure, you can take probiotics as a supplement, but why not try incorporating tasty probiotic-rich foods into your diet?

At PCC, we have:

Probiotic-rich foods

Yogurt — PCC’s entire selection features live active cultures. Choose from yogurt made from the milk of cows, sheep, goats, coconuts, almonds, soybeans or rice, from a variety of producers.

Firefly Kitchens fermented vegetables — Unlike other pickled and preserved products, all Firefly foods are completely raw, vegan and naturally preserved without heat or preservatives with traditional fermentation methods.

  • Kimchi — Based on the classic Korean-style fermented cabbage, the combination of ginger, garlic and spice achieves a spicy kick but unlike traditional Korean-style kimchi, Firefly’s doesn’t have fish sauce or shrimp paste.
  • Ruby Red Kraut — A classic kraut recipe with a royal ruby color and hint of natural sweetness from beets, and carrots and onions to add crunch and zing. Enjoy with: roast chicken or turkey, mashed potatoes, soup, salad, or as a side to any meal.
  • Cortido Kraut — A Spanish-inspired version of sauerkraut with mellow heat from jalapeños. Enjoy with: grilled mushrooms or chicken, rice and beans, tacos, enchiladas and tortilla soups.

Watch a video of our visit to Firefly Kitchens: Watch the video

Britt’s Pickles — Most conventional pickles are processed using vinegar and calcium chloride, cooked under extreme heat and then pasteurized. This may cause the cucumbers to lose most of their Vitamin C and enzymes and kill off the healthy bacteria. Not Britt’s! Britt’s vegetables are fermented in oak barrels and suffused in lactic acid brine for up to three weeks — rendering raw, live, cultured foods. These are pickles like they used to be.

Miso — Salty-sweet and deliciously savory, miso is a flavorful paste made of fermented soybeans and grain, such as rice or barley. It traditionally is used in Japanese cooking but also can add a twist to many non-Asian soups (add it after soup has cooked), dips, marinades and more.

Miso is made by adding a yeast mold called koji to soybeans (or chickpeas) and other ingredients and allowing them to ferment. It’s a living food with beneficial bacteria and enzymes that aid digestion and has isoflavones, believed to help protect against cancer. Learn more about miso at PCC »

Tempeh — Tempeh often is considered the “meatiest” of soy foods and the most versatile for cooking. It’s high in protein and fiber, low in fat and has zero cholesterol. It keeps its shape well and easily takes on flavors of marinades or companion ingredients. Read more »

Probiotic-rich drinks

  • Kefir — Drinkable yogurt. PCC offers dairy and non-dairy kefir in a variety of flavors.
  • Good Belly — Probiotic fruit drinks in flavors such as Tropical Green and Blueberry Açaí — all dairy-free and vegan. Many varieties are certified organic.
  • KeVita — Sparkling probiotic drinks with four strains of live probiotics. KeVita drinks are handcrafted, low-calorie, certified organic, non-dairy, non-GMO and vegan. Flavors include Coconut, Lemon Ginger and Pomegranate.
  • Kombucha — With a sharp flavor many people liken to vinegar, kombucha initially can be a bit of a shock to the tastebuds. But it’s a taste that seems to grow quickly on those who try it. While some have called it a plant, others a mushroom, kombucha is in fact a living symbiotic colony of beneficial microorganisms including yeast and bacteria.

When added to tea (such as green or black) and sugar and allowed to ferment, an elixir of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and health-giving organic acids forms. Kombucha is naturally effervescent and available in a wide variety of flavors, from sweet to earthy. Learn more about the kombucha brands at PCC »

Also in this issue

PCC Board of Trustees report, March 2013

Notice of annual membership meeting, 2013 election, Meet the board candidates, and more

Letters to the editor, March 2013

PCC nutrition facts labels, Whole-milk dairy, Ethical chocolate, and more

Fermented & cultured foods: the surprising health benefits

Some call them bacteria or bugs but the nice name for this lively population is "flora." More than 500 different species make up the flora in our bodies, weighing in at between 2 and 5 pounds.