Allison here with another cool summer meal! (I mean that both literally AND figuratively!) While my last post for Classic Gazpacho with Avocado & Mango is, no doubt, loaded with ample nutrition because of all of its fruits and vegetables, this salad definitely packs its own nutrient-rich punch.
First, let's talk bacteria. Don't worry. It's the good kind!
Over the past couple of years, I have been reading up on benefits of gut health; honestly, Candace is one of the first people that opened my eyes to this! Though I've long known that probiotics are beneficial to the gut - thank you, Jamie Lee Curtis, for your tireless years of fronting yogurt commercials - I figured that yogurt and expensive probiotic pills were the only way to go. Soon, I became hip to additional foods that can improve gut health.
Sauerkraut is a food I've recently taken the plunge into consuming more often. Previously, I correlated sauerkraut with hot dogs, as it's one of their well-known toppings. As a hot dog hater - EW - why would I use sauerkraut in any other regard? Again, thanks to Candace and her years of boasting the benefits of sauerkraut within this website, my eyes have been opened to what a wonder it is! Though I've never had a true sweet tooth, my palate has craved more savory and sour foods in my advancing years. Sauerkraut truly satisfies that craving! When I'm making one of my quintessential clean - out - the - fridge type of lunches or dinners, a large spoonful of the 'kraut goes well with vegetables, rice, avocado, chicken, you name it!
Lacto-fermentation, the process that turns water, salt, and cabbage into sauerkraut, converts Lactobacillus, a bacteria commonly found on the surfaces of vegetables, into lactic acid as these three ingredients sit and marry, fermenting them into a beneficial food. Lactic acid acts as a natural preservative and prevents harmful bacteria from forming, leaving good bacteria to thrive and, eventually, makes their way to your gut! For the science nerds, here's a helpful in-depth explanation of the process.
Second, let's talk beans. The more you eat, well...we all know how the song goes.
Though it is easy to grab a can of beans from the shelf in a rush - guilty as charged - don't discount the benefits of soaking beans if you have the time to do it! (Plus, the cost savings from buying a bag of dried beans will leave your wallet fuller!) I did some research on the benefits of bean soaking and learned some new - to - me facts! Phytic acid, found in many types of legumes, is known as a binder due to its chemical structure; when ingested, it binds to anything is comes in contact with. This includes other nutrients, metals, and minerals within your body. Namely, when bound to iron and zinc, this acid can form a insoluble barrier around those minerals which makes it harder for your intestines to absorb. Take a glance at this study! You might be depleting yourself if ingesting phytic acid on a consistent basis. Frankly, I'd rather keep the vital nutrients I'm taking the time to consume, thankyouveryMUCH. In addition, a good soak and rinsing can help increase digestibility by helping discard oligosaccharides, a sugar found on the outer membranes of many varieties of beans. These sugars, if present, will bypass the stomach and go straight to your large intestines. There, bacteria will break them down, and you may soon know why beans are called "The Musical Fruit". Needless to say, it can be taxing on our digestive systems.
Third, let's talk about this recipe, because after this Alton Brown-esque food science lecture, you're probably getting hungry. Ha!
This salad can be crafted or adjusted however you choose. I prefer the creaminess of chickpeas and kidney beans as they meld well with the crunch of the vegetables I choose. Plus, a little crunchy red cabbage complements the sauerkraut nicely; you can never have enough cabbage!
There are so many resources on how and why to soak and cook beans. If I posted them all, you'd never get to this recipe - HA! - so here's a simple yet comprehensive guide from The Healthy Home Economist.
Bean & Sauerkraut Salad
(Makes approximately 8 cups)
- 2 cups cooked kidney beans
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas
- 3/4 cup sauerkraut
- 1 cup red cabbage, shredded
- 1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
- 1/2 cup red onion, minced
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- 1 cup carrot, cleaned and shredded (I keep the peel on unless it's still visibly dirty after cleaning)
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons sauerkraut juice (...get it straight from your sauerkraut container)
- 1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- Though the benefits of bean soaking are touted here, if you are in a rush, please feel free to use canned beans for this recipe. Be sure to give them a thorough rinse, still!
- To reap the benefits of the beneficial bacteria in the sauerkraut, look for it in your refrigerator section. It should be raw and not loaded with preservatives. In fact, the only ingredients, save for occasional spices, should be cabbage, water, and salt. Be sure to give that ingredients list a thorough read-through!
1.) Combine all beans and vegetables in a large bowl and toss to combine.
2.) In a smaller bowl, whisk together all ingredients to the vinaigrette until emulsified. Pour over salad and toss to combine. Place and fridge and chill for at least one hour before serving.