Tiger Nut Milk

Tiger Nut Milk (AKA Horchata de Chufa) and Soaked Tiger Nuts: Tasty Treats With Resistant Starch

Tiger Nuts as a Simple Snack

Since tiger nuts have been dried to allow for long storage, you will need to rehydrate them. Soak your tiger nuts in water for at least 12 hours and up to 48. The soaking time will change the texture. Less soaking equals crunchier tiger nuts and more equals softer tiger nuts. You can also add flavorings such as cinnamon sticks and or vanilla beans to the soaking water. Drain and let dry and enjoy!! 

Horchata de chufa (tiger nut milk)

Another tasty way to get the benefits of tiger nuts, such as resistant starch, is horchata de chufa. Instead of being made from rice, this Spanish horchata is made from tiger nuts.

  • 1 cup of tiger nuts that have been soaked overnight and drained
  • 4 cups almost boiling water
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup 
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • Ground cinnamon
  1. Add your soaked and then drained nuts to your Vitamix or other high powered blender.
  2. Add the hot water to your blender and blend on high for about 2 minutes, or until fairly smooth.
  3. Pour this mixture through cheesecloth or nut milk bag into a bowl.
  4. Once the mixture is cool enough to handle, make a bag with the cheesecloth to squeeze out the extra liquid with your hands.
  5. Add your salt and maple syrup and mix.
  6. This drink is traditionally served cold and/or over ice.
  7. This should keep for about a week in your fridge.
Horchata de Chufa
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup of tiger nuts that have been soaked overnight and drained
  2. 4 cups almost boiling water
  3. 1/4 cup maple syrup
  4. 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  5. Ground cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Add your drained soaked nuts to your Vitamix or other high powered blender.
  2. Add the hot water to your blender and blend on high for about 2 minutes, or until smooth.
  3. Pour this mixture through cheesecloth into a bowl.
  4. Make a bag with the cheesecloth to squeeze out the extra liquid with your hands.
  5. Add your salt and maple syrup and mix.
  6. This drink is traditionally served cold and/or over ice.
  7. This should keep for about a week in your fridge.
Reclaiming Vitality http://reclaimingvitality.com/

 

 

 

Kraut

Three Easy Ways to Add Fermented Foods to Your Daily Diet and a Basic Kraut Recipe

You have probably heard that fermented foods like kraut (sauerkraut) are full of probiotics and that probiotics feed the good bacteria in your gut or microbiome. Now the question is how to get them into your daily routine so that they become a habit. You are much more likely to eat fermented foods if they are on hand all the time, of course. One easy way to assure that this is so is to make your own. Most fermented foods are truly simple to make and do not require a lot of time. I usually do it while I am in the kitchen making dinner anyway. See the bottom of the post for a basic recipe for Kraut that you can change up however you like. 

      1. Breakfast: You’ve heard me say this before. Start your day with kefir (water or milk) mixed into a smoothie (or a “shake” as my kids call it). We have this in addition to our breakfast. 
      2. Soups, Salads, and Sandwiches: Top your finished soup with veggie ferments (kraut and kimchi work well). Just be sure to let your soup cool for a minute or two so that you don’t kill the beneficial bacteria with the heat. You can also add veggie ferments to your salads. Radishes, beets, jicama, and carrots are my favorites). Add veggie ferments to your sandwiches. Pickles come to mind, of course
      3. Snack Time: Make fermented foods your snack We like to make homemade ranch dressing with homemade yogurt, and homeade kombucha mayo. The we dip raw veggies like carrot sticks and sugar snap peas for a healthy snack. Another favorite snack is homemade yogurt with a drizzle of maple syrup or a dollop of lemon curd.  
      4. Bonus: Add a glass of kombucha or water kefir lemonade to your daily routine! So simple to do and so delicious.

Veggie Ferments

Basic Kraut Recipe

Kraut Close Up

      • One large head cabbage (or 2 small)
      • 2.5 Tablespoons Celtic Sea Salt
      • Filtered Water
      • Optional: Spices: one Tablespoon caraway or juniper berries (Caraway is my favorite.)
      • Mason Jars (wide mouth quart), sterilized (3 or 4)
      • Airlocks, sterilized (optional but they do really protect your ferment)
      • Fermentation weights (or a sterilized flat rock)

Shredded cabbage for Kraut

 

      1. First, take off the first couple of layers of cabbage. Then shred or cut the the cabbage. I like to do this with a knife because I like crunchy kraut, but you could use the shredder function on your food processor. Do not use the core. 
      2. Put the shredded cabbage in a large glass or steel bowl.
      3. Next, sprinkle the salt over the cut cabbage. Let the salt sit on the cabbage for about 20 minutes or so.
      4. After the salt has soaked into the cabbage, use your hands to mix it and “work” it into the cabbage. You should be seeing the liquid in the bottom of the bowl grow. Work it for about 5 or 10 minutes. (You can do this with a wooden or stainless steel mallet as well.)
      5. Now mix in the spices if you are using them. I like to use 2 teaspoons to one tablespoon of caraway seeds.
      6. Finally, add the cabbage and salt (and spice) mixture to your mason jars. Pour the salty cabbage water over the top, dividing it equally between your jars. Add water to cover the cabbage, leaving about an inch or inch and a half from the top of the jar to allow for expansion during fermentation. Top with a fermentation weight to keep your cabbage submerged in brine. (Or you could use the cabbage core or a sterilized rock.) Keeping the cabbage submerged is crucial to not developing mold!
      7. Screw on your airlock lids or regular lids. The airlocks are optional, but they really do help protect your ferment. 
      8. Let it set out of direct sunlight for at least 3 days and up to 2 weeks. 
         
Basic Kraut Recipe
Basic Sauerkraut is so easy to make!!
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. One large head cabbage
  2. 3 Tablespoons Celtic Sea Salt
  3. Filtered Water
  4. Spices: Some common choices are caraway or juniper berries (optional)
  5. Mason Jars (wide mouth quart), sterilized
  6. Airlocks, sterilized (optional but they do really protect your ferment)
  7. Fermentation weights (or a sterilized flat rock)
Instructions
  1. First, Shred or cut the the cabbage. I like to do this with a knife, but you could use the shredder function on your food processor.
  2. Put the shredded cabbage in a large glass or steel bowl.
  3. Next, sprinkle the salt over the cut cabbage. Let the salt sit on the cabbage for about 20 minutes or so.
  4. After the salt has soaked into the cabbage, use your hands to mix it and "work" it into the cabbage. You should be seeing the liquid in the bottom of the bowl grow. Work it for about 5 or 10 minutes.
  5. Now add the spices if you are going to. I like to use 2 teaspoons to one tablspoon of caraway seeds.
  6. Finally, add the cabbage and salt mixture to your mason jars. Pour the salty cabbage water over the top, dividing it equally between your jars. Add water to cover the cabbage, leaving about an inch or inch and a half from the top of the jar to allow for expansion during fermentation.
  7. Let it sit out of direct sunlight for at least 3 days and up to 2 weeks.
Reclaiming Vitality http://reclaimingvitality.com/
    1.  Do you make your own kraut? What are your tricks for getting fermented foods into your daily diet?

 

Kraut

Veggie Ferments

 

 

Kiddie Kimchi

“Kiddie” Kimchi

What is “Kiddie” Kimchi, you ask? It is a yummy kimchi-like ferment full of super-foods and probiotics  to feed my family’s microbiomes. I love Kimchi, but my kids do not do spicy. Not at all. This ferment uses some of the great flavors and powerful nutrition of kimchi, but leaves out the spice.

Kimchi generally uses Napa cabbage instead of regular green cabbage. It also has garlic (or scallions), ginger, and nutrient-packed sea vegetables. Let me break down the nutritional benefits for you so that you see why I want to get these amazing foods into my family’s diet regularly.

Garlic:

  • reduced blood pressure
  • contains manganese, B6 (energy), vitamin C (immune boosting), Selenium (important for sleep), and fiber
  • can combat the common cold and other sicknesses because it is antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal 
  • lowers “bad” cholesterol
  • protects the brain from diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia
  • detoxifies heavy metals from the body

Ginger is:

  • great for digestion and can even help with chronic indigestion when taken regularly
  • good for nausea, especially morning sickness
  • anti-inflammatory (good since inflammation is the root of disease)
  • balancing to blood sugar (great for the roller coater ride called the Standard American Diet SAD)
  • full of anti-cancer properties
  • a protector of the brain from diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia
  • very effective against oral bacteria such as gingivitis and periodontitis
  • helpful for lowering “bad” cholesterol

Dulse is:

  • an excellent source of iodine which can be very helpful for those with thyroid disease and to prevent thyroid disease from occurring
  • High in immune boosting vitamin C
  • High in vitamin A which is important for maintaining and improving vision
  • Rich in B6 and minerals such as potassium. Potassium balances sodium in your body and regulates water retention. It can also lower blood pressure.
  • a decent source of iron which can improve circulation.
  • full of antioxidants
  • high in omega fatty acids that can improve brain and nervous system function
  • able to regulate digestive processes. Can be especially helpful in relieving constipation or diarrhea.
  • able to help the body build strong bones because it is full of calcium, magnesium, and iron.

“Kiddie” Kimchi Recipe

Kiddie Kimchi Close Up

  • One large head Napa cabbage
  • 2 Tablespoons Celtic Sea Salt
  • Filtered Water
  • Ginger, either minced or in big chunks that you can pull out later. (I add a couple of one inch pieces (peels on) because although my kids like the taste of ginger, they don’t like being surprised by a bite of it.)
  • Garlic (2 or 3 cloves) either minced or whole to pull out after fermentation. (I opt for the whole clove route and pull them out after fermentation because my kids feel the same way about garlic as they do about ginger.) 
  • Dulse, chopped or flaked. (1-2 tablespoons)
  • Mason Jars (wide mouth quart work best), sterilized
  • Airlocks, sterilized (optional but they do really protect your ferment)
  • Fermentation weights (or a sterilized flat rock)
  1. First, cut the the cabbage into thin “shreds”. 
  2. Put the shredded cabbage in a large glass or stainless steel bowl.
  3. Next, sprinkle the salt over the cabbage. Let the salt sit on the cabbage for about 20 minutes or so.
  4. After the salt has soaked into the cabbage, use your hands to mix it and “work” it into the cabbage. Napa cabbage isn’t as firm as green cabbage, so it doesn’t need as much “working”.
  5. Now add your ginger, garlic, and dulse and mix in.
  6. Finally, add the mixture to your mason jars. Pour the salty cabbage water over the top, dividing it equally between your jars. Add your fermentation weight and pack the kimchi down. Add water to cover the mixture, leaving about an inch or inch and a half from the top of the jar to allow for expansion during fermentation. Top with your airlock lids (or plain plastic lids).
  7. Let it sit our of direct sunlight for at least 3 days and up to 2 weeks. 
  8. If you want to make this spicy, add Korean chili powder. There are many variations on Kimchi, but a lot of them also use scallions as well. Some use fish sauce, some dried shrimp, etc. Feel free to experiment!!

"Kiddie" Kimchi
A tasty kimchi recipe without the spice.
Print
Ingredients
  1. One large head Napa cabbage
  2. 3 Tablespoons Celtic Sea Salt
  3. Filtered Water
  4. Ginger, either minced or in big chunks that you can pull out later. (I add a couple of one inch pieces because although my kids like the taste of ginger, they don't like getting a bite of it.)
  5. Garlic, either minced or whole cloves to pull out later. (I opt for the clove route and pull them out after fermentation because my kids feel the same way about garlic as they do about ginger.
  6. Dulse, chopped or flaked.
  7. Mason Jars (wide mouth quart), sterilized
  8. Airlocks, sterilized (optional but they do really protect your ferment)
  9. Fermentation weights (or a sterilized flat rock)
Instructions
  1. First, cut the the cabbage into thin "shreds".
  2. Put the shredded cabbage in a large glass or stainless steel bowl.
  3. Next, sprinkle the salt over the cabbage. Let the salt sit on the cabbage for about 20 minutes or so.
  4. After the salt has soaked into the cabbage, use your hands to mix it and "work" it into the cabbage. Napa cabbage isn't as firm as green cabbage, so it doesn't need as much "working".
  5. Now add your ginger, garlic, and dulse and mix in.
  6. Finally, add the mixture to your mason jars. Pour the salty cabbage water over the top, dividing it equally between your jars. Add your fermentation weight and pack the kimchi down. Add water to cover the mixture, leaving about an inch or inch and a half from the top of the jar to allow for expansion during fermentation. Top with your airlock lids (or plain plastic lids).
  7. Let it sit our of direct sunlight for at least 3 days and up to 2 weeks.
Notes
  1. If you want to make this spicy, just add Korean chili powder or the peppers of your choice.
Reclaiming Vitality http://reclaimingvitality.com/
 Do you like Kimchi flavors but have a hard time with spice? Do you love traditional Kimchi? Are you going to try making this?

Kiddie Kimchi

 

Fermented Beets

Fermented Beets: A Nutritional Powerhouse

Fermented beets (or “pickled”) are one of my favorite ferments. I like to eat them in my salads. They also go great with goat cheese!! They are so simple to make and beets are absolutly a nutritional powerhouse. Allow me to break down their nutritional benefits for you.

Beets:

  • contain phytonutrients called betalains. These powerful nutrients are antioxidants that significantly reduce inflammation. Betalains are also important in the body’s phase 2 detoxification where the liver and blood are purified of toxins using an extremely important antioxidant called glutathione. Go here to learn more about boosting your glutathione production.
  • Beet juice is known to increase stamina far more than the standard “energy” drink and  it boots glutathione production. (raw beets)
  • can lower your blood pressure by consuming beets.
  • are in immune boosting vitamin C.
  • High in folate, potassium and manganese, beets benefit your bones, kidneys, liver, and pancreas.

How to make Lacto-fermented Beets:

  • 6 large beets, roasted and peeled (cut the greens off and save for your salad) 
  • Starter culture, whey (4 T), or brine (4 T) from a previous batch. (Follow directions on package for amounts if using starter culture.)
  • Mason jars, sterilized (wide mouth quarts work best)
  • 1 Tablespoon Celtic sea salt
  • Fermentation weights (or a sterilized flat rock)
  • Air locks (optional, but they really do protect your ferment from mold.)
  1. First, roast your beets. I wash them, pierce them a couple of times with a sharp knife and roast them at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes. Once they are cooled, I take the peels off with my hands. (They should come right off.)
  2. Then, if you are using starter culture, add it to some cool filtered water and add your salt to some warm filtered water to start it dissolving.
  3. Next, slice your beets. I like to do thin half moons. (about 1/4 inch thick)
  4. Add your beets to your jar(s) and pour the starter culture over them. Next pour the salt water over them. Fill the jar the rest of the way with filtered water (if needed), leaving about an inch to an inch and a half of space at the top of the jar to allow for expansion. 
  5. Finally, add your weights and then top with your airlock lids.
  6. Leave in a place away from direct sunlight for three days to a week. you can keep testing the beets to see when they get fermented to your liking. 
  7. Note: You can play around with adding different flavors to beets. Some of my favorites are cardamom seeds/pods, garlic, or ginger. 

Fermented Beets
A fermented food that is a nutritional powerhouse as well as delicious.
Print
Prep Time
20 min
Prep Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 6 large beets, roasted and peeled (see below)
  2. Starter culture, whey, or brine from a previous batch.
  3. Mason jars, sterilized (wide mouth quarts work best)
  4. Celtic sea salt
  5. Fermentation weights (or a sterilized flat rock)
  6. Air lock (optional, but they really do protect your ferment from mold.)
Instructions
  1. First, roast your beets. I wash them, pierce them a couple of times with a sharp knife and roast them at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes. Once they are cooled, I take the peels off with my hands. (They should come right off.)
  2. If you are using starter culture, add it to some cool filtered water.
  3. Add your salt to some warm filtered water to start dissolving
  4. Next, slice your beets. I like to do thin half moons. (about 1/4 inch thick)
  5. Add your beets to your jar(s) and pour the starter culture over them. Next pour the salt water over them. Fill the jar the rest of the way with filtered water (if needed), leaving about an inch to an inch and a half of space at the top of the jar to allow for expansion.
  6. Add your weights and then top with your airlock lids.
  7. Leave in a place away from direct sunlight for three days to a week. you can keep testing the beets to see when they get fermented to your liking.
  8. Note: You can play around with adding different flavors to beets. Some of my favorites are cardamom seeds/pods, garlic, or ginger.
Reclaiming Vitality http://reclaimingvitality.com/
 Have you tried fermented beets? Are you going to make some?

Fermented Beets

 

 

 

Gardening Tools

Gardening: The Health Benefits

The calendar professes that it is spring. Although it hasn’t felt much like spring here in the Seattle area, I am excited to start gardening. Right now I have some seeds started indoors and we are doing a major renovation of the garden. We are taking out the old raised beds and converting it to a square foot garden. I am going to do a whole section of medicinal herbs this year!

If gardening has never been your thing, you may be wondering why I do it when we can now buy organic produce readily at most supermarkets. Well, you actually get a lot more from gardening than just fresh produce and herbs as you will see below.

Benefits of Gardening:

  • It is extremely good for your microbiome because your hands come into contact with soil-based probiotics. It is especially good for those who have allergies.
  • Stress reliever: the smell of great soil is especially relaxing. Pulling weeds is similar to a form of meditation for some.
  • Vitamin D exposure: so many of us are vitamin d deficient (especially up here in the higher latitudes). Although you can supplement, the best vitamin d is obtained through sun exposure. You need about 10-20 minutes a day (depending on the time of the day and the time of year). This is in shorts and a tank top and no sunscreen. You need significantly more if your legs and/or arms are covered. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to autoimmune disorders, MS, Fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s, prostate cancer, erectile dysfunction, heart disease, cancer, poor bone density, and mental illness.
  • Although it might sound hippy-dippy, contact with the Earth is grounding in a literal way because the negative ions attach to the excessive positive ions (free radicals) that build up in our bodies (especially from electromagnetic waves that things like appliances and Wi-fi put out). I go barefoot as much as possible even when not gardening to take care of this healing effect. It’s not magic, it’s physics! Read, Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever, if you would like to know more.
  • Produce organic food and herbs for your family for pennies. This is probably the most obvious benefit. Seeds are inexpensive and fresher produce contains significantly more nutrients than veggies and fruits that have traveled miles and miles to reach your store and wait for you to come get them. Plus, since you know exactly how the food was grown and who has touched it, you can just rinse it instead of wash or scrub it. If you do this, you can take advantage of those soil-based probiotics by ingesting them! If that isn’t an option though, you can buy soil-based probiotics.
  • Get a work out without feeling like you are working out!

What do you do if you don’t have space for a garden?

You don’t actually need a lot of space to grow things. If you live in the city without a yard, you may be able to find a pea patch nearby to grow some veggies. Also, you can grow many types veggies  in pots on a balcony. If you don’t have a balcony, you can grow herbs in a windowsill. There are so many benefits to adding fresh herbs to your cooking and if you have them on hand, you are much more likely to start putting them in your food. In an effort to persuade you to at least start an herb garden, let me break down some of the health benefits of common culinary herbs.

Health Benefits of common culinary herbs:

  • Oregano: This powerful herb is anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and detoxifying. It is great for your digestion and boosts your immunity. The b vitamins in oregano help with energy and metabolism. It also contains omega fatty acids, vitamin E, and calcium.  If you would like to know more about this amazing herb, go here. 
  • Thyme: Is an mood-boosting anti-septic and anti-bacterial herb! It is good for sore throats and coughs. It contains vitamin C, vitamin A, and many minerals. Go here for more information on Thyme.
  • Cilantro: Helps to rid the body of heavy metals! High in antioxidants. Improves blood sugar and sleep. There are many more benefits. Go here to learn more if you are interested.
  • Basil: Is anti-inflammatory, and improves blood sugar and cardiovascular health and is cancer-inhibiting. You could also grow Holy Basil (aka Tulsi). This version of basil is considered an adaptogen that combats stress. I love to have a cup of Holy Basil tea in the evening and will be growing it this year in my medicinal garden. Culinary basil is full of vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C. Go here to learn more.
  • Mint: Aside from the uplifting, stress-reducing scent and always being prepared for mojitos, having this herb on hand can help with an upset tummy, improve digestion, cure nausea and headaches. It is also helpful for coughs and asthma. Go here to learn more about mint.
  • Parsley: This is a very detoxifying herb loaded with antioxidants. It is a diuretic (relieves water retention) and is anti-septic and anti-inflammatory, Go here for more information.
  • Sage: This herb lowers inflammation, improves cognitive function, boosts your immune system and improves skin health. Go here if you would like to know more.
  • Dill: An anti-microbial herb that can help with depression, aid digestion, lower cholesterol and even repel bugs. Contains vitamin A, vitamin C, and manganese. Go here for more information. Put it in your lacto-fermeted sour pickles or a probiotic tartar sauce.

 

 

Garden Tools

Do you garden? If not, are you tempted to start? I would love to hear from you!

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Fermented Jicama Sticks with Grapefruit

Fermented Jicama sticks with Grapefruit: Feed your Microbiome with Deliciousness

Let me tell you about Fermented Jicama Sticks with Grapefruit. First and foremost they are delicious! Second, jicama itself is packed with prebiotics. Prebiotics feed the good bacteria in your gut. They are just as important, if not more, than probiotics that you have heard to much about. Don’t worry though, we get probiotics too when we lacto-ferment the jicama. It is basically heaven for your gut. You can’t say no to that, right? We all want a happy gut! You know I just can’t resist breaking down the nutritional benefits of this recipe for you, so here we go.

WHAT’S IN Jicama?

  • Prebiotic fiber: (specifically oligofructos inulin) prebiotic fibers feed your “good” bacteria and keep your immunity up. Inulin specifically is actually good for bone health because it enhances calcuim absorption.
  • Vitamin C: (around 44% RDA) So good for the immune system! Protects against cancer, viruses, infections, etc, etc, etc.
  • Potassium: Promotes a healthy heart and  kidneys. Also regulates water retention and metabolism.
  • Folate (B9): Plays a role in DNA synthesis
  • Magnesium: Important for sleep, brain function, heart health, and much much more. I could do a whole post about the benefits of Magnesium. In fact, you know what? I will!
  • Copper: Required to manufacture collagen. (Collagen keeps those wrinkles away and those joints bending smoothly.)
  • Iron: Important in red blood cell formation
  • Manganese: Plays a role in blood sugar regulation, fat absorption, and the metabolism of carbohydrates. It is also important for bones and connective tissue formation as well as sex hormones.

WHAT’S IN Grapefruit?

  • Vitamin C: (59% RDA) Good for the immune system. Protects against cancer, viruses, infections, etc.
  • Vitamin A: Important for the immune system as well as the health of your skin and eyes.
  • Copper: required to manufacture collagen. (Collagen keeps those wrinkles away and those joints bending smoothly.)
  • Soluble Fiber: Helps lower “bad” cholesterol.
  • Potassium: Promotes a healthy heart and  kidneys. Also regulates water retention and metabolism.
  • Biotin: Great for healthy skin and nails and thicker hair.
  • B1, B5: B vitamins are important for energy, immunity, mood, and blood pressure, just to name a few.
  • Lycopene: You may recognize it as one of the antioxidants in cooked tomatoes touted for preventing and slowing down certain types of cancers



to make Fermented Jicama sticks with Grapefruit You will need:

Fermented Jicama Sticks with Grapefruit

  • 2 pounds of jicama
  • One grapefruit (zest and juice)
  • 2 teaspoons Celtic sea salt
  • Starter culture (I use Cutting Edge Cultures. You could also use 2 Tablespoons of whey or brine from another ferment, but it is less predictable.)
  • Wide Mouth Quart Mason Jars (2)
  • Fermentation lids (these aren’t absolutely necessary, but they do provide great protection for your ferment) I use these and love them.
  • Fermentation Weights (or a mostly flat sterilized rock)

How to make Fermented Jicama Sticks with Grapefruit:

  1. Place the starter culture in a dish of cool filtered water. (Follow the directions on your specific package.)
  2. Peel and cut the jicama into sticks (about finger width).
  3. Put the salt in a bit of warm water to dissolve.
  4. Zest and juice the grapefruit.
  5. Add the starter culture, juice, and zest to your clean mason jar.
  6. Pour the salt water over the top. Add more filtered water if needed to make sure the jicama is completely covered, but leave an inch or so at the top to allow for expansion.
  7. Place your fermentation weight on top of your jicama to keep them under the brine and then your fermenting lids on top.
  8. Let the jicama sit in a dark place for 3 days and up to a week. (Test to find when it is fermented to your liking.)
  9. Transfer to the fridge to slow the fermentation process. These will easily keep in the fridge for 6 months or more, but I highly doubt they will last that long! Feel free to change up the recipe and replace the grapefruit with orange, lemon, or lime.
    Fermented Jicama with Grapefruit
    Yields 2
    A delicious fermented food with prebiotics and probiotics. The best of both worlds!
    Print
    Prep Time
    10 min
    Prep Time
    10 min
    Ingredients
    1. 2 pounds of jicama, peeled and cut into finger-width sticks
    2. Zest and juice from one grapefruit
    3. Starter Culture (1/2 packet if using Cutting Edge Cultures) (or 2 T starter brine or whey)
    4. 2 teaspoons Celtic Sea Salt
    Instructions
    1. Place the starter culture in a dish of cool filtered water. (Follow the amounts/directions on your specific package.)
    2. Dissolve the Celtic sea salt in a bit of warm, filtered water.
    3. Add the starter culture, juice, and zest to your clean mason jar.
    4. Place your jicama sticks in the jar vertically, getting as many in as possible.
    5. Pour the salt water over the top. Add more water if needed to make sure the jicama is completely covered, but leave an inch or so at the top to allow for expansion.
    6. Place your fermenting weight on top of the jicama and top the jar with your fermentation lid.
    7. Let the jicama sit in a dark place for 3 days and up to a week. (Test to find when it is fermented to your liking.)
    8. Transfer to the fridge to slow the fermentation process.
    9. These will easily keep in the fridge for 6 months or more.
    Notes
    1. You can change this recipe up and use orange, lemon, or lime as well!
    Adapted from Fermented Foods for life
    Reclaiming Vitality http://reclaimingvitality.com/
     Have you ever fermented jicama? What did you think? What are your favorite fermented foods? I’d love to hear from you! 
Microbiome

Protecting Your Microbiome

Microbiome? Micro-what? If that is what you said to yourself as you read the title to this post, let me elaborate. You may have heard by now that you actually have more bacterial cells than actual human cells. This collection of bacterial cells is called your microbiome, microbiota, or microflora depending upon who is speaking. For the sake of simplicity, I will refer to it as your microbiome. Why should you care about protecting your microbiome? Hold onto your seats while I tell you!

What your Microbiome Does for you:

  • assimilates vitamins and minerals
  • moderates the immune system (think Goldilocks. Not too much, as in an autoimmune disease, and  not too little as in getting every bug that comes your way. You want it just right)
  • breaks down complex carbohydrates
  • makes short-chain fatty acids
  • removes toxins
  • regulates your metabolism
  • controls energy assimilation
  • keeps your bowels moving
  • lowers inflammation
  • maintains your intestines’ mucosal lining (this is the barrier that keeps good things in and bad things out. Important!)

Here is a short list (there are a ton more) of health problems associated with poor microbiome composition (not enough bacterial diversity):

  • weight gain
  • allergies
  • high blood pressure
  • mood disorders
  • asthma
  • Autism
  • diabetes
  • sugar cravings
  • bowel disorders/diseases
  • acne
  • eczema
  • joint pain and arthritis
  • hardening of the arteries
  • PMS
  • frequent colds/flues
  • memory and concentration problems
  • insomnia 

Okay, so now that you know how important your microbiome is to your health,  you probably want to know the things that put it at risk, right? Great! Here they are:

Things that Harm your microbiome:

  • Sugar and especially artificial sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup: Sorry. They contribute to glucose intolerance which causes weight gain and diabetes. Opt for raw honey and organic maple syrup and retrain your taste buds to like less sweetness.
  • Food emulsifiers: These are thickeners like guar gum, carrageenan, xanthan gum, lecithin, etc. They are linked to bacterial overgrowth, inflammatory bowl disease, leaky guy (intestinal permeability), weight gain, and metabolic syndrome. These are in almost all processed foods. A good reason to avoid processed foods, right? Even most store-bought yogurt contain one of these. A good reason to make your own!)
  • NSAIDS: These are anti-inflammatory medicines such as Advil, Motrin, Ibuprofen, aspirin, and Naproxen. Unfortunately, they altar the pH of your intestines and kill off lactobacilli, which are good  bacteria that regulate your immune system and mucus barrier. Less lactobacilli in your gut and you will likely be getting sick a lot more frequently and develop mucosal permeability (leaky gut). Mucosal permeability means things getting into your gut that shouldn’t and things getting out into your blood stream that should absolutely not be there!
  • Antibiotics: These wreak havoc on your microbiome. Designed to kill the bad “bugs”, but they kill any “bug” they come in contact with. Of course, there is a time an a place for these life-saving inventions of modern medicine, but use extreme caution. They can be absolutely devastating to your gut. Antibiotic use is linked to everything from obesity to allergies to autism.
  • Chemicals: Pesticides and herbicides, especially glyphosate (think Roundup) can lead to many chronic diseases including gastrointestinal disorders and obesity. Buy organic vegetables and pasture-raised organic meat!! Also, don’t spray chemicals in your yard or garden.
  • Refined carbohydrates: White flour essentially turns to sugar and causes an intestinal imbalance that in turn causes inflammation in the upper digestive tract. This can cause weight gain and even obesity. Opt for a whole wheat sourdough.
  • Alcohol: In excessive amounts (more than two drinks per day) causes inflammation and leads to an impairment of gut and liver function. Moderate consumption may actually be beneficial to gut bacteria. (Whew!)
  • Smoking: Smoking causes an imbalanced microbiome, lowering bacterial diversity and creating a good environment for “bad” bugs. If you still do this, please stop!
  • Being TOO clean!: What??!! Yep!! Over-sanitizing is linked to lower immune function and higher rates of infection.
  • Stress: This is a biggie. Chronic stress alters your gut’s mucosal secretions and changes the ratio of good to bad “bugs” (not to your favor). Possible results of chronic stress include stomach ulcers, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), food sensitivities and food allergies. I highly recommend learning to manage your stress levels. It could be yoga, fishing, hiking, meditating, or anything else that takes you to that “zen” place.

How to Feed and Nurture Your Microbiome:

  • Fermented Foods and Beverages: Kombucha, Kraut, Kimchi, Water Kefir, and fermented vegetables like Dilly Beans, Beets, Jicama Sticks with Grapefruit, Pickles (only lacto-fermented), and many more!
  • Prebiotics and Resistant Starch (RS): These are foods with soluble fiber to feed the good bacteria. (inulin, fructooligosaccharides, oligosaccharides, etc)
  • Vegetables: Especially alliums (onions, garlic, etc.) and cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, etc.)
  • Legumes and Lentils: These increase the release of short-chain fatty acids. Short chain fatty acids improve vitamin absorption, therefore benefiting the microbiome.
  • Nuts and Seeds:
  • Fruit: Most fruits but especially watermelon, banana, cranberries, and cherries.
  • Cultured Dairy: Milk Kefir, homemade yogurt, and cultured butter provide probiotics.
  • Gelatin (and bone broth): This heals and seals the mucosal lining of the gut, keeping good things in and bad things out.
  • Herbs and Spices: Especially cilantro, oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, tarragon, turmeric, ginger, fennel, caraway, cinnamon, and citrus zests.
  • Essential Oils: These kill off bad “bugs” leaving more room for the good “bugs” to proliferate. (especially Peppermint, Oregano, Tea Tree, and Clove)

I will be posting more in depth information on feeding and nurturing your microbiome in the coming weeks. However, if you find this subject as fascinating as I do, here is a list of informative books on the subject:

Microbiome

If you’re thinking, “that’s great, but I don’t have the time (or desire) to read books like that”, don’t stress! (Literally, don’t stress: It’s bad for your microbiome. 😉 Instead you can just read my posts on how to nurture and feed your microbiome. Look for homemade microbiome-safe hand sanitizers as well as microbiome-safe cleaning products. There will plenty of recipes for feeding your microbiome as well.

What about you? Do you find the subject of your microbiome fascinating?

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