Gdansk, Poland. That was my recent weekend getaway with Elliot, Tim and Kirsty. Polish Food. Well that was just a getaway all on its very own.
The food really was something. Something so “good” and something so bad all at the same time. I think the Polish must know it too, they do after all have a famous saying "Jedzcie, pijcie i popuszczajcie pasa" (Eat, drink and loosen your belt).
If you’ve tried Polish food, you’d know there’s nothing Raw about it. In fact, it is so far from Raw that when you order a salad, you are guaranteed to get warm Sauerkraut. But then coming to think about it, you also get Sauerkraut with anything you order - sauerkraut with mains, sauerkraut in Pierogi, sauerkraut on the side and even sauerkraut for breakfast.
So what do I do when I get home? I make Sauerkraut! My own version of the raw, crunchy, salty, tangy, nutritious salad, that is also the easiest dish you can make:
1 x small red or white cabbage
1 x juiced lemon
3 x Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 x Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 x Tbsp Himalayan Salt
-Finely slice or grate the cabbage (if you grate it, it will marinate quicker and can be ready to eat within an hour)
-Mix all the other ingredients together in a small bowl, then pour over the cabbage and mix through
-Let it sit at room temperature overnight or longer
SO WHAT’S SO SPECIAL ABOUT CABBAGE?
Where do I even start? Maybe by saying ‘I wish I didn’t hate it so much as a child’, however I am making up for it plenty now. This magical vegetable belongs to the same Cruciferae family as kale, collards, brussels sprouts and broccoli. They have special phytonutrients that protect your cells and aid in detoxifying your body.
Phytonutrients work as antioxidants to disarm free radicals before they can damage DNA and cell membranes, but in crucifers, they work at an even deeper level. These compounds actually signal our genes to increase production of enzymes involved in detoxification and help our bodies to release harmful compounds.
This cleansing and antioxidant activity reduces the risk of cancer and alzheimer’s disease, and promotes gastro-intestinal health. Studies have shown raw cabbage to have a particularly strong impact on breast cancer rates because its phytonutrient content and its own detoxifying enzymes help to metabolize estrogen properly. However, eating raw cabbage is the vital key, because these special cancer-fighting properties are reduced during the cooking process.
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE FERMENTATION?
Well this is where Sauerkraut can be classified as Superfood! ‘Probiotics’ is a big buzz word out at the moment and it is the fermention process, which produces this good bacteria, as well as beneficial enzymes to aid digestion and promote healthy flora in the digestive tract. Fermentation also produces isothiocyanates, compounds that have been shown to prevent cancer growth in test tubes and animals.
However, not all sauerkraut will give you these benefits, as most sauerkraut in restaurants is served heated and sauerkraut sold in supermarkets is pasteurized, which means all of the good bacteria have been killed. So make your own, it’s too easy.