Shape Up With Pickles
By Michele Hatton
Did the holidays serve up an extra half-inch to your waistline? Get back in shape with pickles, a reliable food that entered the human diet 4,000 years ago. These beloved briny snacks contain little or no fat, few calories and are quite easy to make at home.
Almost any vegetables—cucumbers, sugar peas, carrots, cauliflower, shredded cabbage, turnips—can be pickled using either vinegar or a brine (a mixture of salt and water). Brined pickles are fermented, which not only makes them grow sour but causes them to be suffused with the friendly gut bacteria, Lactobacillus acidophilus, an important digestive aid.
There is no vinegar used in the brine of naturally fermented pickles; consequently, the flavor of salt-pickled vegetables can’t be beat. Without a strong vinegar taste, you can eat these pickles all day long, with wild abandon, and not gain a pound (well almost).
To make brine pickles, consider the advice of Jill Welch, local chef and healthy cooking instructor (www.thekitchengoddess.com). “Basically put vegetables in a jar with salt water. Cap. Let sit for at least three days or until you get the desired pickle taste you’re after.” Traditional spices used in pickling can enhance the flavor of your batch. These include garlic, horseradish, whole dill stems with umbels and green seeds, white mustard seeds, bay leaves and dried allspice.
You can find sauerkraut, pickles and kimchee (an scrumptious Korean vegetable pickle) in New Leaf’s refrigerated section. Also available on the shelves are pickled okra, carrots, green tomatoes, peppers and snap peas. Enjoy and stop counting—the calories are few to none!