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Saturday, May 7, 2016

Pickle Shots and More

Every day I encourage my patients to eat more fermented foods to support a healthy microbiome (the collective community of microorganisms living on our bodies that we couldn’t survive without). While it's easy to ferment your own foods at home, not everyone has the time or interest. Fortunately, there are some good products available for purchase.

This week I enjoyed some ferments from New York City-based BAO Cultured. They sent me full size samples of their fermented beverages, vegetables, and sugar-free condiments. I like that they use organic ingredients and foods with therapeutic value, like immune-supportive elderberry and garlic, liver-supportive dandelion and beets, anti-inflammatory turmeric and ginger, and green tea which can help protect against cancer. Here's what I tasted and what I thought.

Turmeric Boost Liquid Pickle
Pickle shots are made from the brine of fermented organic vegetables. This one also contains turmeric, green tea, and dandelion. It was tangy, refreshing, and spicy in a savory (not hot) way. 

Red Ginger Boost Liquid Pickle
This liquid pickle is made from culturing organic produce like kale, dandelion and collard greens, cabbage, carrots, apples, and pears. It also contains ginger, green tea, and hibiscus. The flavor is salty and sour with a spicy ginger kick.

Deep Purple Boost Liquid Pickle
This pickling liquid is also made from fermenting organic vegetables like cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, peppers, and turnips, with added green tea. It also contains licorice and elderberry, giving it a slighty tart flavor with licorice undertones.

Elderberry Kombucha
Sometimes I hesitate to recommend kombucha to my patients because some products contain large amounts of sugar. Ideally, the healthy bacteria should digest the sugar, producing a pleasantly sour flavor and a bubbly texture. When the finished product tastes sweet, there is lots of leftover sugar and the benefits may no longer outweigh the risks associated with sweetened beverages. But when the finished product does not taste sweet, the sugar was well metabolized and it's a healthy choice. Bao's Elderberry Kombucha is fruity but not sweet. It's also pleasantly sour and lightly carbonated, a good example of healthy kombucha. Because it contains elderberry, it's an especially good choice for people feeling under the weather.

Kombucha Cola
This drink is pleasantly sour and lightly carbonated. It has a molasses flavor and tastes slightly sweet. It would be a healthier alternative to regular or diet colas.

Hibiscus Kombucha
This drink more sour than sweet. It's fruity with tart undertones from the hibiscus, which is a good source of vitamin C. This kombucha also contains green tea. Hibiscus and green tea are rich sources of antioxidants. They contained more than any other beverage in a study that tested 19 different drinks.

Mango Kombucha
Unexpectedly, this drink is also more sour than sweet, with soft fruity undertones. It's lightly carbonated and refreshing. I like that it too contains green tea as well as black tea.

Super Green Kombucha
This kombucha has a tangy taste. It's is slightly sour and earthy at the same time. Fortified with spirulina and chorella, it's rich in nutrients as well as chlorophyll, a compound that reduces the absorption of environmental chemicals and facilitates their removal from the body.

Blueberry Kombucha
This is my favorite kombucha so far. It's fruity, slightly tart, and slightly sweet. It's packed with antioxidants from the green and black teas as well as the blueberries. Blueberries are a rich source of a antioxidants called anthocyanins which have been shown to improve heart health, neutralize cancer-causing free radicals, and block tumor growth. Blueberries contain substances that inhibit bacteria from attaching to bladder tissue, so they can help prevent urinary tract infections, and studies show they may also prevent cognitive decline in elderly adults. 

Giardiniera Fermented Mixed Vegetables
This mixture contains lots of veggies and a couple of fruits: cauliflower, cabbage, radish, turnips, carrots, green onions, peppers, apples, and pears. The vegetables are tender but they still have crunch. They're tangy and well-seasoned with garlic and ginger.

Fermented Red Beets
I love the texture of these beets because they're coarsely shredded instead of finely shredded and tender but still have a bite. Because they're fermented with ginger, garlic, and horseradish, they have a spicy yet sour flavor. Eat them straight from the jar, add them to salads, or use them as a colorful and healthy garnish for other dishes.

Sour K'Chup
Unlike most kinds of ketchup which are sweetened with sugar or corn syrup, this one is free of added sweeteners and it's fermented. It has a tangy tomato flavor with hints garlic, ginger, and warm and earthy spices like clove and coriander. It is not sweet.

Original Bao-B-Que Sauce
Like ketchup, popular brands of barbecue sauce usually contain sugar or corn syrup. This one has no added sweeteners and it's fermented. It tastes predominantly spicy and smokey, with tangy and savory undertones. It does not taste sweet.

Mango Hot Sauce
This hot sauce has a very fresh and spicy flavor. I can't taste the mango, but it's natural sweetness likely helps to balance out the heat of the chili peppers.

BAO Cultured products are available in stores around New York City but you can also find them online. Use the discount code "DRSARAH10%FERMENT" for 15% off your order. 

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