Everyone loves comfort food; its warm familiarity, authentic taste, and downright deliciousness are hard to pass off no matter the occasion. But, while we all have our go-to midnight snacks and favourite movie food, these meals can also contribute to an unhealthy diet if not consumed in balance and moderation. The good news is there are some delicious healthy alternatives to some of the most essential and beloved comfort foods.
Fermented foods are not just (equally) delicious, but have numerous health benefits that aren’t readily available in other foods. They’re also easily made at home - with a fermentation kit, you can have unlimited access to some of the tastiest fermented foods available. Here are a few delicious fermented alternatives to comfort food that delivers on everything from taste to comfort and beyond.
Sure, everyone loves bread. And it’s a top contender for one of the most loved comfort foods. Bread contains important nutrients and is a welcome addition to almost any meal. However, the famous fermented sourdough alternative is arguably even more delicious. Sourdough bread has become increasingly popular among common punters and bread fanatics due to its tangy, rich flavour, unforgettable aroma, and traditional crunch. But besides the yummy taste, sourdough has something else up its crusty sleeve. Sourdough bread is made from water, flour, and a fermented ‘starter’ mixture. The latter being the bit that makes your bread dough…sour. The starter acts as the rising agent, replacing commercial yeast and instead creates organic acids - giving the bread it’s sourness.
As a comfort food, bread is highly versatile. Sourdough is no different, with infinite varieties containing endless flour combinations and ferment times. Sourdough is also a healthier alternative to your average white loaf. Here’s why:
- Sourdough has better bioavailability. That means the bread’s nutrients are better at being absorbed into your body. Compared to regular bread, sourdough has higher levels of lactic acid, which neutralise compounds that make nutrients hard for the body to access.
- Sourdough is good for your gut. Sourdough bread is prebiotic. That means it feeds the good bacterias in your gut - the ones that you want on your side when it comes to digestion and overall well-being. The bread itself is full of antioxidants which work to strengthen your gut and boost the immune system.
- Sourdough is easier on the digestion. It’s true. Less bloating, fewer cramps, and better overall digestion is what awaits the eager sourdough eater. Because the ferment breaks down the gluten, it can be far easier for people who suffer from indigestion or mild gluten intolerances.
When we think of comfort food, more often than not there’s a drink involved too. And while it’s easy to crack open a sugary soda, the lack of nutrition can be damaging if consumed in excess. Comfort foods shouldn’t need to come with a warning, or a sideways glance, or even the slightest inkling of personal guilt. That ruins the ‘comfort’ part straight off the bat.
Enter kombucha. The fermented alternative to soda. A delicious, fermented tea, kombucha is not only healthier than your avian of soda, but it’s also readily available in any supermarket, local health store, or deli. You can also brew your batch using a fermentation kit, a homemade drink is always more treasured than a store-bought one. Being a ‘living’ culture, kombucha is easily stored and drunk on demand, and making the next batch is always easier than the last.
So. It’s tasty, sweet, it’s got that prickly carbonation - and refreshing taste - oh and it comes in a can. So, why is kombucha a great alternative?
- Kombucha has less sugar. Compared to the average can of soda, kombucha has a mere smidge of sugar. Less sugar means huge weight-loss potential, lower chance of diabetes, heart problems and that’s just the start.
- Kombucha is an excellent source of healthy bacteria. Kombucha is bursting with good bacteria. The symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast or SCOBY for short is essential in breaking down sugars that make the drink far easier to digest. Compared to traditional fizzy drinks, kombucha is far easier to stomach.
- Kombucha starter cultures can last forever. While your initial SCOBY will last a few weeks, with the right care, your culture can go on producing kombucha indefinitely. So compared to a can of soda, your chances of making a delicious kombucha drink are a lot higher and far more sustainable. Get started with your own kombucha homebrew using Nourishme Organics’ fermentation kit.
A warm glass of milk is the definition of comfort. Its fermented cousin has a more distinctive taste - think more soury/yoghurty rather than your traditional milk experience. Kefir drinks are becoming popular amongst the gut-conscious community for its excellent line up of healthy probiotic bacteria.
Kefir is a fermented drink that can be made from almost any milk. Coconut milk, cows milk, and goats milk are all common kefir options. As a healthy, fermented comfort food alternative, it has a few perks too.
- Kefir boosts general health. Kefir boasts a complex set of microorganisms that help boost digestion, gut health, immune system, and general well-being.
- It’s easy to make at home. Homemade kefir drinks are not only simple, but they’re cost-effective too. With a fermentation kit, you can get started with all the right ingredients, instructions and have a steady yield of kefir every day if you're so inclined.
Feel free to say this one with a German accent. It’s the crafty, fermented side-kick to almost any meal delivering a waterfall of flavour and sour goodness to satisfy the soul. Sauerkraut is typically made from fermented cabbage and is appreciated in many cultures throughout the world.
While it does make for a zesty garnish, having it on its own is no mistake either. Sauerkraut is full of good vitamins such as vitamin K12, healthy probiotics, and enzymes. Here’s a snapshot of this delicious food:
- Sauerkraut is a gut-pleaser. With plenty of healthy probiotics and good bacteria, sauerkraut is excellent news for a tired digestive system.
- It’s versatile. It’s not just the Germans who’ve benefited over the years, Sauerkraut is well known in neighbouring Eastern European and Asian cuisine. Get the stuff on your plate. It’s delicious.