Pumpkins and Pesto

The Green Storm Organic Christmas Market
The Green Storm Organic Christmas Market

Shanghai has many health related food markets and events; they are a great way to promote good health, meet like-minded people, and discover great foods.  Look out for them if you are on a mission to improve your health or to locate healthy and safe food suppliers.  These markets are often free or inexpensive.

I recently spoke at the Green Storm Organic Christmas Market in Xintiandi, organized by the good people at O³.  It was a really great event with loads of good nutrition information as well as some knowledgeable and enthusiastic organic food suppliers.

I purchased some lovingly prepared products including a jar of fermented mixed vegetables, kale pesto and non-dairy pumpkin soup.  The mixed veg and kale pesto are homemade products unavailable in stores.  These foods are so beneficial to your health as well as being delicious!

Fermented mixed vegetables are a non-dairy probiotic.  Probiotics are live “good” bacteria such as those naturally found in your gut.  These active cultures help change or repopulate intestinal bacteria to balance gut flora. According to Kristi King of the United States Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, they can boost immunity and overall health, especially gastrointestinal health.  Some strains of these live cultures may help prevent specific allergy symptoms, reduce symptoms of lactose intolerance and more.  However, effects can vary from person to person.

Kale Pesto, lovingly prepared with Italian flair
Kale Pesto, lovingly prepared with Italian flair

The vegan Kale Pesto is a great source of vitamins A, K, and C.  It is loaded with garlic which is considered a prebiotic.  It also contains olive oil with monounsaturated fat and cashews which are high in copper, magnesium, iron, and B-6.  Prebiotics are natural, non-digestible food components that are linked to promoting the growth of helpful bacteria in your gut.  Prebiotics may improve gastrointestinal health as well as enhancing calcium absorption.

The pumpkins in the Pumpkin Soup are full of vitamin A, fiber and a healthy dose of vitamin C. Pumpkin also contains the important antioxidant beta-carotene, linked to vitamin A production in the body.

Events like the Organic Christmas Market, and other events held throughout the year, are a great place to meet fun and enthusiastic foodies.  The market brought together a diverse range of locals and expats in a lively atmosphere for a common purpose; eating well in Shanghai!  I look forward to attending other events and perhaps you do too!

In the meantime, Eat Well Shanghai – Jessica W.

Fermenting Frenzy

Before week two of National Nutrition Month 2014 fades away, lets look at the increasing popularity of fermented foods.

Fermented foods are foods that have been created or have been subject to the process of fermentation, a “chemical alteration that transforms substances into simpler, more easily digestible compounds that provide  friendly bacteria and other nutrients.”*

The most familiar of these foods is yogurt but you will or have heard about other fermented foods such as kefir ( developed by shepards in the desert a long time ago), buttermilk, tempeh, miso, sauerkraut and kimchi.  Quite an international list.

One reason our list of fermented foods is global is because for hundreds of years fermentation was how people preserved food. Before refrigeration and freezing were possible, people had to find a way to make the bounty of the summer and fall harvest last throughout the winter months. Fermentation ( canning) was one of the answers.

So as I have pointed out before, what seems like a 21st century health breakthrough is really just a rediscovery of an old fashion habit.

Fermented foods have resurfaced again because science has discovered the many health benefits that foods preserved this was can provide. The key is bacteria.  Before you say “ick”, think probiotics. Probiotics these days are generally  recommended to straighten out a poor digestive system.

Probiotics is the general name for a group of helpful bacteria  that promote a healthy digestive system by keeping the bad bacteria ( that we all have) in check. When you have a good balance of bacteria in your digestive tract, you absorb more nutrients from your food, you strengthen your intestinal wall against unwanted invaders, and promote regularity which assists your body in detoxing the unwanted byproducts that we accumulate just by living. The best part is that these benefits are only the ones we know about. Scienctists suspect a healthy, happy gut filled with the correct balance of micro-organisms is  the answer to many of the health issues we have today.

Fermented foods are one super food trend that I can wholeheartedly endorse. This group of foods not only have a load of probiotics but they are also rich in a variety of nutrients. From calcium in the dairy products to the powerful anti-oxidants in miso and the fiber in kimchi and sauerkraut, this group of food superstars has much to offer. As an added bonus they are all low in fat and calories.

So this weekend have an order of kimchi with your beer ( another fermented food) and get that gastrointestinal party started !

Eat Well, Live Well, Have Fun!