If you haven't gotten the memo yet, apple cider vinegar is amazing for us. A health world staple for good reason, if you believed the internet, it'd be good for curing—well, just about everything. According to Dr. Vincent Pedre, author of Happy Gut, the rumors might not be far off. "Apple cider vinegar is the one vinegar that is safe to use in patients with yeast overgrowth or candida," Dr. Pedre says. "In fact, its high acetic acid content makes it a great anti-microbial agent for protecting the body against harmful bacteria and yeast. In addition to improving digestion and helping gut health, it has other varied health benefits, including reducing the sugar impact of foods, improving blood sugar and HemoglobinA1c levels as well as blood lipids. It even appears to have the ability to protect against oxidative stress, inhibiting heart-disease promoting lipid oxidation."
Sign us up! Here are nine easy ways to incorporate the cheap (usually under $5 a bottle) and easy-to-find (at any grocery store, just look for one with the mother for max benefits) superfood into your daily life.
1. Use it in salad dressing.
The magic vinaigrette ratio is one part vinegar to three parts oil, and the big secret is: You can use any vinegar for your one part. I like to reach for apple cider vinegar, which works great with olive oil, avocado oil, hemp oil, walnut oil, hazelnut oil...you name it. Simply whisk together apple cider vinegar and a dab of mustard, then drizzle in oil of choice (remember, use a 3:1 ratio, so if you have 1 tablespoon of vinegar, use 3 tablespoons of oil, which should be good for a night of salad for two or three), whisking aggressively the whole time. Salt generously. You could eat it just like that, or add in extra flavorings of choice: chopped shallot, fresh herbs, minced garlic, citrus zest (you really can't screw it up, promise).
2. Make an immune-boosting shot.
This one takes a bit of effort, but the results are well worth it. I swear by fire cider in the winter to fend off colds and flus, and thus far (knock wood), I've sailed through this germ-filled season sickness-free. Basically, you grate a few cloves of garlic, some horseradish, some fresh ginger root, one chopped onion, zest and juice from one lemon into a jar. Top it off with apple cider vinegar until all of the ingredients are covered, and there's about an inch of apple cider vinegar above. Screw on a lid and let sit for a few weeks (yes, weeks! We're fermenting here!). When you're ready to use it, strain out the solids and discard, retaining the liquid. Add honey to taste, if you'd like, and take a shot whenever you're feeling under the weather, or daily for immunity.
3. Soothe your soul with healthy apple cider.
In the winter, is there anything better than a delicious mug of hot apple cider? You can mimic the flavor sans all the sugar by mixing 1 to 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with a generous shake of cinnamon and honey or maple syrup to taste. The resulting drink? Gut-soothing, digestion-boosting, and oh-so-delicious.
4. Make an energizing morning elixir.
Add this to your morning ritual (many of our functional doctors swear by it): In a shot glass (you can use a normal glass but it might not feel as fun), combine the juice of one lemon, a splash of apple cider vinegar, a pinch of mineral salt, and water to fill.
5. Vegan cheese dip, anyone?
Top culinary secret: If you want to make the best, most movie-worthy cheese sauce, you don't need cheese at all. You need potatoes. When boiled potatoes are blended, their starches release and they create the gooiest sauce you can imagine. Add some nutritional yeast for cheesy flavor, carrots for color and sweetness (we eat with our eyes as much as our mouth), and a splash of apple cider vinegar for acid, and you've got the base of a great mac and cheese, nachos, loaded baked potatoes, and more. Get a full, easy recipe here.
6. Add it to baked goods.
Apple cider vinegar helps make baked goods rise, from muffins to cakes to pancakes. Looking for a fluffier pancake batter (we feel ya, we're over here trying to make buckwheat and almond flour work too)? Just toss in a splash of apple cider vinegar and whisk until well-combined. A tablespoon or splash will do just fine and won't make your cake taste vinegary at all.
7. Fluffy rice, here you come.
This one's easy—add a splash of apple cider vinegar when you add rice, quinoa, or other grains to boiling water for the fluffiest finished product ever.
8. Have you heard of switchel?
Switchel is essentially just an apple cider-based beverage with ginger, honey or maple syrup, and seltzer. To make, just muddle some sliced ginger in the bottom of a jar, add a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, honey or maple syrup to taste, and shake aggressively to blend. Leave it overnight in the fridge, then strain out and discard the ginger. Top with seltzer for a sparkly, sweet-and-sour drink that'll make you forget lemonade even exists.
9. Take it by the spoonful.
Ah, the classic. Simply combine a splash with a glass of water and drink before meals to stimulate your digestion and help your meal, whatever it might be, sit comfier in your gut.