Probiotics have been present in our diets for centuries. Found in various sources,these microorganisms provide our bodies with multiple health benefits. They help to keep us healthy all year round by competing for food with harmful bacteria and yeasts, and this way, by competitive exclusion, probiotics are able to control their numbers. Probiotics not only aid our digestion process but also play an important role in our health in general. They should be consumed especially after antibiotic treatment therapy to help to recreate the healthy balance of bacteria in the gut. They are also helpful in fighting fungal infections, they enhance immune defences and speed up recovery. Many people think that one can only get probiotics by eating dairy products. In reality, non-dairy, vegan friendly probiotic foods are available and quite common in some parts of the world.
 As we all know, proper diet is the basis for a well functioning body. What we eat is an important part of our lives and has a huge impact on our health. Kombucha, kefir and buttermilk are good examples of drinks containing a healthy dose of beneficial bacteria. Kimchi and sauerkraut, both made of cabbage, are among some of the most popular lactose free, probiotic rich foods. There are some lesser known but just as beneficial products and one of them is gundruk. Originating in Nepal and consumed predominantly in the rural areas, this easily digestible food item consists of various fermented and dried vegetable leafs and roots. Examples of plants used in the fermentation process include radish, rapeseed, cauliflower and mustard. No salt is added, making it even healthier and safe to consume.
Greens used to make gundrukCredit: M.Bajer
Gundruk can be eaten as a healthy snack, side dish or used for cooking and pickling. It has a distinct, mildly sour taste and slightly chewy texture and can be stored easily for long periods of time. It has a greenish-brown colour. It's a great source of minerals, especially iron and calcium so it's perfect for everyone, including children! It's a good alternative to yoghurt or buttermilk for people who suffer from allergy to dairy and can be enjoyed by vegans.
If you can't find it in shops in your area why not try and make your own? Making gundruk is super easy and cost efficient. All you need is some leafy vegetables of your choice and a little bit of patience! First, sun dry the greens slightly. Next, place them in an air tight container. All you have to do now is wait for the lactic acid bacteria to work its magic! The process should take around a week but you can experiment with different fermentation times. After that, cut your gundruk into smaller pieces and let it fully dry in the sun or simply dehydrate it. And it's ready to eat! It can be stored for several months and therefore you can make large batches without worrying about it going bad. You can make gundruk pickles or use it for cooking, so why not make a tasty curry? Or add some dry spices, mix it well and enjoy a guilt free, all natural low calorie snack. Why not substitute crisps for gundruk and loose weight! The possibilities are endless so you can get creative and give your health a boost at the same time. One important thing to remember though is not to fry this dairy free, home made probiotic for too long as it gets burned easily. 
gundrukCredit: M.Bajer
Himalayan Fermented Foods: Microbiology, Nutrition, and Ethnic Values
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