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Why all the buzz around kimchi lately? Kimchi helps your digestion by putting good bacteria into your body – the more “good” bacteria you have, the less vulnerable you are when “bad” bacteria invades. A healthy digestive system = a happy gut. A happy gut = a happy mind!
This isn’t hippie “granola” stuff either! This is pure science. In fact, the brain and the gastrointestinal (GI) system are intimately connected (1). Furthermore, it’s important to note that the connection works both ways – just the idea of eating can send signals to our stomach, and likewise, a distressed intestine can transmit messages to the brain (ibid.).
This provides the evidence to what I often preach about mindful eating and the vitality of being conscious of not only what you eat, but also how you eat it. Put simply; it makes little sense to look at food in isolation – instead; the role of stress and emotion must have weight in the equation (ibid.).
Now getting back to kimchi and it’s gut healing properties – and thus brain-boosting powers! It’s made via the process of fermentation – creating lactobacilli (or “good”) bacteria – allowing the natural enzymes in the vegetables to do their magic work (2).
Hopefully, you’re already on the kimchi-loving bandwagon, but if you have any hesitation about making it yourself – I invite you to put your caution aside and pluck up the courage to indulge in the pure treat of creating this ‘food as medicine’ side-dish for yourself.
Kimchi 5 Different Ways
Without further ado, here’s a simple kimchi recipe, which can be repurposed for KIMCHI 5 DIFFERENT WAYS…
Let’s start with a super simple and very palatable kimchi…
1. Basic “Starter” Kimchi
This is a good “beginner” kimchi both in regards to its preparation and taste. Leaving out the usual chili paste addition makes it an approachable side-dish for those who can’t handle much spice, or that have more sensitive stomachs.
With that said, fear not – the nutritional advantages have not been spared! It still goes through the same fermentation process as regular kimchi and consists of immune-boosting ingredients such as garlic and ginger.
Want to test this out on a kimchi virgin? Try a tablespoon, or two topped with baked sweet potato fries alongside a drizzle of vegan cheese sauce (mix and heat almond milk with nutritional yeast and a bit of mustard), and they’ll be begging for more!
2. Slightly More ‘Traditional’ Korean Kimchi
Getting back to kimchi’s roots; in this recipe, the fan-favourite, chili paste, is added to complement the dish and add some heat!
3. No Cabbage Kimchi
Kimchi doesn’t have to mean cabbage, in fact, with all the excitement and popularity around Kimchi these days; it’s become a verb as much as it is a noun – you can “kimchi” anything these days!
Here, I utilized a mix of kales, collard & dandelion greens to provide an added boost of vitamin K. The North American diet generally doesn’t get enough of these types of bitter greens, so they’re often a much-needed addition that our bodies will thank us for!
4. Chai Kimchi
Sweet, dessert-worthy kimchi? Why not?! No one said fermented vegetables should only be savory. Everyone’s still going nuts over “chai-flavoured” anything…so I decided to repurpose that trend into something truly gut-healthy (try competing with THAT pumpkin spice latte!). Note that instead of raisins, I opted for golden berries, which are higher in Vitamin A and lower in sugar.
This makes a truly exciting appetizer to flaunt at your next gathering. Serve it with some simple gluten-free flax crackers, and you’ll have even the pickiest eater munching on seconds. Trust me; Chai Kimchi is sure to get people talking.
5. Spicy Anti-Inflammatory Kimchi
I had to leave my all-time favorite (and arguably best) recipe for last. This kimchi-inspired concoction takes superfoods such as goji berries, and anti-inflammatory spices like turmeric and cinnamon, and turns it all into fermented veggie heaven!
Red cabbage is used here to keep things interesting – rather than the usual Napa cabbage which kimchi generally calls for. Blended pear (in a food processor) kicks off the sugar rush for the fermentation process to begin.
Note that while standard kimchi recipes usually call for sugar, I can’t help but ban that white, highly processed ingredient from my kitchen altogether. As a replacement, I’ve either taken advantage of date sugar, or other natural fruits (fresh or dried), for the sugar required to fuel the fermentation process effectively.
For more of my recipes, meal plans, and guides (including the in-depth tutorial of exactly how to make kimchi from start to finish), check out the Holistic Health Toolkit. It’s a compilation of these types of resources (and more) by trusted Nutritionists and Chefs – all of the content is plant-based and kind to your mind, body, and soul! Healthy, beautiful eating does NOT have to be intimidating – let us show you how.
Promo code for $5 off the kit: THEHEARTYSOUL
Komaroff AL. The gut-brain connection. Harvard Health Publications. http://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/the-gut-brain-connection. Published March 2012. Accessed January 18, 2017.
Health Benefits of Kimchi: The Tangy Tasty Korean Superfood. Mercola. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/12/14/kimchi-health-benefits.aspx. Accessed January 18, 2017.