Probiotics are living microorganisms that when ingested have beneficial effects, especially on our gut flora. the added benefit of including these in your child’s diet is that they are also good sources of vitamins, minerals and enzymes.
Probiotics are normally found in any fermented foods. Usually we need to add certain bacterial cultures to ferment these foods, and these bacterial cultures are beneficial. Remember that these bacteria are sensitive to heat. therefore if you heat any of the following foods, you will lose the probiotic effect of them.
Sources of natural probiotics:
- Yogurt: always try to make yogurt at home. The cultures that are used for setting yogurt commercially, generally are different and do not provide any probiotic benefits. You can add yogurt to your child’s smoothies, use as a dip, make popsicles, etc. Remember that frozen yogurt does not have any probiotic effect.
Other good probiotics made from dairy include sour cream, buttermilk, aged or mature cheese.
- Tempeh: made from fermented soybeans, it has gained a lot of popularity recently. Some people and children have difficulty in developing a taste for it, but you can make it flavoursome by doing the following: Steam the blocks after chopping it in chunks. You can then marinate them in your own special mix and grill them, or add them in pasta sauce, peas, pulao, casseroles, etc.
- Miso: wildly used in Japan in many dishes, it is now finding use in other parts of the world. Use it to add a umami flavour to your soups, curries, dips, etc.
- Kefir: it is a fermented drink made from milk. A combination of lactic acid bacteria and yeasts is used for making kefir. There are many flavoured kefir drinks that are now available, but as they contain added sugar, it is better to make it at home or stick to the plain variety. you can easily find the starter culture online to make it yourself at home.
- Sauerkraut, kimchi: made from cabbage and some other vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, etc, they can be used in many ways:
- add to sandwiches, salads, etc.
- the juice from this can be added to soups and salad dressings
- add to fruit cups for added sourness and crunch