by The Culinistas

Some people can’t start their day without a cup of joe; for us, it’s kombucha. And one of our faves is from Buffalo-based Barrel + Brine. Their motto is simple: naturally fermented, raw and probiotic — key tenets of any gut-forward diet. From pickles to kombucha, and kimchi to ‘kraut, they’ve got the goods to, well, keep you feeling good. 

We sat down with RJ Marvin, half of the proprietary team behind the company, to talk gut misunderstandings, diversifying your (food) profile, and why probiotics are basically “bouncers in the nightclub that is our body.” 

The Culinistas: So little is known about the gut. What’s a misconception people might have about gut health?

Barrel+Brine: I think the biggest misconception is really a misunderstanding. So many people are amazed when we tell them that the vast majority of your immune system resides in the gut.  

TC: What’s one easy thing anyone can do to take care of the gut?

B+B: Getting a decent amount of probiotic foods from multiple sources: sauerkraut, kombucha, yogurts are great places to start.

TC: What’s the biggest impact of fermented foods on the gut?

B+B: Helping reduce the amount of negative bacteria that resides in your digestive tract.  Probiotics are essentially the bouncers in the nightclub that is our body. They help get rid of the bad bacteria that wish to do us harm.

TC: If your gut was a celebrity, who would it be and why?

B+B: Good question. My gut, personally? Probably some old 50’s movie starlet. It can be my best friend or my worst enemy depending on how I treat it.

TC: Tell us about a time when you followed your gut and it paid off in spades.

B+B: Drinking a big glass of kombucha after a night of over indulgence.  

TC: What’s one thing you’ve never had the guts to do, but always wanted to try?

B+B: I try to do whatever it is that I want to do, regardless… But I do hate flying, and I’ve always wanted to spend a few weeks in Europe.

TC: What is your gut telling you is in store for 2021?

B+B: Well, that’s a tricky question too because our gut and our mind are so closely related. Healthy body, healthy mind; sick body, sick mind. So, although I hope 2021 is going to be better than the disaster of a year, 2020… I suppose I’m hopeful.

We asked RJ to select six items from our Go With Your Gut menu and tell us why.

Blueberry Chamomile Parfait (blueberry, chamomile, greek yogurt, walnut, coconut, honey, sumac, allspice, solstice blend)

“I’m a big fan of yogurt.And it’s incredibly easy to make.”

Esalen Kale (kale, alfalfa sprout, sunflower sprout, sunflower seed, apple cider vinegar, lemon, urfa, cumin, cayenne, onion powder)

“Kale is incredibly versatile and goes great in so many different areas of a meal.”

Pork & Quinoa Meatballs (ground pork, quinoa, dried cherry, yogurt, onion, parsley, cayenne, onion powder)

“Quinoa is a great binder, but it’s also just a solid grain in general.”  

Miso Asparagus (asparagus, sesame seed, miso, parsley, lemon)

“Miso is underrated, and underutilized. It’s not too difficult to make at home if you’re patient but there are plenty of great options in stores now.”

Romesco Romanesco (romanesco, carrot, bell pepper, hazelnut, sherry vinegar, cumin, cayenne, onion powder)

“Classic flavors.”

Banana Health Bread (banana, flax seed, sunflower seed, rolled oat, coconut sugar, apple cider vinegar, baking powder)

“Banana bread is one of my favorite snacks, especially slathered with some good french cultured butter.”