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Cultured Vegetables for Your Cookout

Posted by Christina Boyes on

Cold weather struck early this year, but that doesn't seem to matter in most parts of the U.S. It's Labor Day weekend, and time to barbecue like nobody's business. I've got friends who I'm sure would crack open the grill even if they had 3 feet of snow outside. Something about Labor Day and cookouts just goes together.

No matter where you're planning on cooking your Labor Day feast, you're probably already planning the menu...or eating it! Instead of focusing on your proteins – chicken, beef, pork, fish, or even tofu – think about your sides this year. Cookouts don’t have to be a health nightmare, and with the help of a few carefully-chosen cultured vegetable dishes, they can actually be good for you.

The budget friendly choice for delicious vegetables sides is to make homemade ones, and letting nature work it’s magic. We’re short on time, so that’s probably not an option at this point…unless you’ve got a secret stash of sauerkraut bubbling away in a vat in your basement.

I prepped a quick little graphic to give you an idea of some of the best fermented vegetables to sneak into your Labor Day menu, or any barbecue event, for that matter. Take a look, share it around (even on your blog if you give credit where it's due!), and find out why I love these yummy cultured vegetables below...

What's cooking at your barbecue? Here's a hint. Fermented vegetables should be invited.

Fermented Ketchup

Come on! It’s a cookout. Everyone’s going to be reaching for the ketchup as it is, and if you’ve got a fermented homemade one on hand, that’s a great start. Otherwise, it’s time to buy one. Fermented ketchup packs a probiotic punch that it’s corn syrup-laden, vinegar-doused counterpart just can’t claim. It’s an easy switch to make, tastes better, and goes well on anything grilled (as well as quite a few things that aren’t!) Try it as a base for your barbecue sauce or serve it as is.

Carrots and Dill

Better when you make them at home, but still delicious if you can find a store-bought version, cultured carrots and dill are a great side for kids and adults alike. They’re loaded in healthy nutrients and probiotics, fun to eat, and mild enough for most palates. Kids love ‘em.

I know it’s too late to whip up a batch for Labor Day, but this is one dish you should enjoy year-round.


Hot dogs ‘n’ kraut go together like hamburgers and buns. Don’t skip this delicious side dish on your cookout’s spread. Serve it cold, hot, or as a part of another dish. It may not be the best smelling dish on the buffet line, but it’s definitely a classic.

If you aren’t a fan of regular kraut, drain the juice and shred some carrots into it. Add a little caraway seed and a dash of black pepper, warm it on the stove with a dash of cooking fat, and voila! Trust me, it’s a delish dish you’ll be happy you tried.


Holding an Asian-themed cookout? Nothing like kalbi beef short ribs, slow cooked in a pan on the grill… and this is the perfect side. Kimchi is a delicious, spice-loaded version of sauerkraut that hails from Korea. It’s loaded with probiotics and the refreshing, albeit mouth-burning, flavor is a great palate cleanser, too.

If you love spicy foods, consider adding this to your Labor Day menu. It pairs well with chicken, pork, and beef, as well as some tofu preparations. I wouldn’t eat it on its own unless you’re in the mood to burn your tongue off, but it’s a great side nonetheless.

Seed Cheese

This vegan alternative to cheese offers a unique and nutty flavor for any Labor Day cookout. It pairs well with most veggies, is a snack that non-vegans will happily eat (just don’t tell them it’s “cheese”), and packs a whopping protein punch. Do put up a little card that lets your guests know it’s nut-based, just in case you’ve got anyone over who has a severe nut allergy.

Although the flavor is great, some people are thrown by the idea of non-milk cheeses, and won’t feel up to trying this dish. That’s why we put it last on the list…it’s a delicious side, but not everyone’s going to want it.

There you have it, ladies and gents. My favorite sneaky sides for Labor Day. Nutrient loaded, flavor-packed, and brimming with probiotics, they’re a great pick for any cookout. Give your friends and family a head’s up on your menu by sharing the infographic above, and tell us your favorite sneaky sides by dropping a comment on our Facebook page. We’d love to hear what’s cooking (or what you already cooked!) this weekend.                

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