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

 

 

 

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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Orangeade Water Kefir Soda

Orangeade Water Kefir Soda: A Delicious Nutritious Natural Soda

Try making this delicious Orangeade Water Kefir Soda. It takes only a few minutes to make and you and your children will love the flavor! It’s also full of nutrition and low in sugar.

This Orangeade Water Kefir Soda contains:

  • Probiotics (beneficial bacteria)
  • Beneficial acids
  • B vitamins
  • Vitamin K
  • Folic acid
  • Vitamin C

You will need:

  • Juice of one orange
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Water Kefir (about a quart)
  • Orange zest (optional)
  • Glass flip-top bottle

Add all ingredients to a flip-top bottle. Allow to sit on your counter for at least 2 days and up to 7. Release the gas from time to time. When the soda has reached your desired taste, move it to the fridge to slow fermentation.

If you, or your children as is my case, do not like carbonation, just put the ingredients into a regular glass bottle or jar to ferment.

Go here for a tutorial on brewing water kefir if you don’t know how.

 

Orangeade Water Kefir Soda
A delicious natural "soda" loaded with vitamins and probiotics.
Print
Prep Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. Juice of one orange
  2. 1 teaspoon sugar
  3. Water Kefir (about a quart)
  4. Orange zest (optional)
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a flip-top bottle. Allow to sit on your counter for at least 2 days and up to 7. Release the gas from time to time. When the soda has reached your desired taste, move it to the fridge to slow fermentation.
Notes
  1. If you don't want carbonation, don't put the ingredients into a flip-top. Just use a regular glass bottle or jar.
Reclaiming Vitality http://reclaimingvitality.com/

Orangeade Water Kefir SodaDo you brew your own water kefir? Have you tried making a water kefir soda before? What flavors? What did you think?

 

 

Water Kefir

Water Kefir: How To Brew

Water kefir is a light-tasting nutritious fermented beverage. My kids love it! They drink this instead of juice or soda, both of which are loaded with sugar. (As I am sure you know.) It is very simple to brew. You can make it into either a juice as in my Lemonade Water Kefir recipe or a soda like my Orangeade Water Kefir Soda recipe.

Some of our favorite water kefir flavors:

  • Lemonade
  • Orangeade
  • Limeade
  • Cranberry
  • Blueberry
  • Strawberry
  • Watermelon
  • Apple
  • Peach

Nutrients in Water Kefir:

  • Probiotics (beneficial bacteria)
  • Beneficial acids
  • B vitamins
  • Vitamin K
  • Folic acid

How to get water kefir grains:

I bought mine live from Poseymom. You can also buy them dehydrated from Cultures for Health. I prefer live, but dehydrated works as well. It will take a bit longer before you actually have usable water kefir ready though. If you’re really lucky, you can just get some from a friend. You need about 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup).

HOw to brew Water Kefir:

To brew water kefir, you need just filtered water, sugar, and water kefir grains. These grains are a “scoby” (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). Just as with milk kefir and kombucha, the scoby eats the sugar thereby fermenting the water. Scroll to the bottom of this post for a printable version.

water kefir grains

  1. Dissolve 1/4 cup of sugar into one quart of filtered water.I generally add a little hot water to my jar to dissolve the sugar and fill the rest of the way with cool water so that I can add my grains right away. Don’t add the grains until your water has cooled down to about room temperature. You can add minerals to your water kefir if needed. Since you
  2. Cover your jar with fabric and a rubber band. Don’t use cheesecloth. I use cut up receiving blankets that I up-cycled. Set it on your counter away from the stove or sink so that it doesn’t get accidentally splashed. It will need to ferment anywhere from 24-48 hours. The variables that effect the rate of fermentation are: strength and quantity of your grains, the temperature in the room, the type of sugar that you used, how tart/sweet you like your water kefir. 
  3. While you are getting the hang of it, you can keep tasting it to see when to pull the grains. Do this by sticking a clean straw into your brew and then putting your finger over the top of the straw. Do not put the straw back in after you have tasted from it, or you will introduce undesirable bacteria and endanger your grains.
  4. Once you kefir has fermented to your liking, strain the water kefir into a new bottle, reserving the grains. Use a plastic strainer. You are now ready to “feed” your grains again just as you did at the start.
  5. The end product is a light, refreshing beverage. You can enjoy it plain, but we usually do a second fermentation.

Doing a second Fermentation of water kefir

To do a second fermentation of water kefir, you just add either juice or fruit and sugar to your finished kefir. If you want just a juice (not carbonated), just put it into a recycled juice bottle or jar. Allow it to sit on your counter for 2 days to a week. Taste it from time to time to see how it is. Once it reaches the point you like, move it to the fridge. This slows down fermentation. Go here for my Water Kefir Lemonade recipe.

To make a soda:

Add juice or fruit, sugar, and water kefir to a flip top bottle. Let sit on your counter for at least 2 days and up to a week. Be sure to let gas escape from time to time or you may have a mess on your hands (or ceiling in my case). Once your kefir has fermented to your liking, move to the refrigerator to slow fermentation down. Go here for my Orangeade Water Kefir Soda recipe.

How to Brew Water Kefir
A light tasting nutritious ferment. It contains probiotics and vitamins and can be flavored in a variety of ways.
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. Water Kefir grains (1/4 cup)
  2. 1/4 cup sugar
  3. One quart of water
Instructions
  1. Dissolve 1/4 cup of sugar into one quart of filtered water.I generally add a little hot water to my jar to dissolve the sugar and fill the rest of the way with cool water so that I can add my grains right away. Don't add the grains until your water has cooled down to about room temperature.
  2. Cover your jar with fabric and a rubber band. Don't use cheesecloth. I use cut up receiving blankets that I up-cycled. Set it on your counter away from the stove or sink so that it doesn't get accidentally splashed. It will need to ferment anywhere from 24-48 hours. The variables that effect the rate of fermentation are: strength and quantity of your grains, the temperature in the room, the type of sugar that you used, how tart/sweet you like your water kefir.
  3. Once you kefir has fermented to your liking, strain the water kefir into a new bottle, reserving the grains. Use a plastic strainer. You are now ready to "feed" your grains again just as you did at the start. (One quart of water, 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of grains.)
Reclaiming Vitality http://reclaimingvitality.com/

A couple of notes on water kefir:

Water Kefir Fermenting

  • During the warmer months, your grains will begin to multiply. Either save these to do two brews at once if your family is going through a lot of water kefir, or give them away and share the health wealth. You can also eat them and feed them to your pets! 
  • If need, you can add minerals to your water kefir. You must use filtered water when dealing with scobys and sometimes too many minerals are filtered out. I add Concentrace liquid minerals to mine. You can also add this to your drinking water.
  • Too much water kefir? Add it to bake goods in place of other liquids to give a little “lift”.

How about you? Have you tried water kefir? Do you like it? Are you going to try to make it?

 

 

Probiotic Tartar Sauce

Probiotic Tartar Sauce: Homemade and So Tasty!

If you have never made your own tartar sauce, you are in for a treat. As with most things, the homemade version is leaps and bounds above the store-bought version, both in taste and nutrition. You only need a few ingredients and a couple of minutes.

Where do the probiotics come from?

Probiotic Tartar Sauce

This tartar sauce uses a lacto-fermented mayo, but any homemade mayo or high quality store-bought mayo will do. (You will lose out on some probiotics, however.) Don’t despair if that is the case because more probiotics come from the lacto-fermented pickles. Bubbies is a popular brand that is in the refrigerated section of most larger grocery stores. Be sure to buy pickles from the refrigerated section. If you don’t, they are not lacto-fermented and do not contain probiotics. Next up, you can choose from lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, or Kombucha. And finally, fresh dill is best, but dried will work.

Probiotic Tartar Sauce
Yields 1
A delicious twist on a favorite condiment. Probiotic-filled tartar sauce with dill.
Print
Prep Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. One cup of lacto-fermented mayo (or other high quality mayo)
  2. 1/4 cup finely chopped lacto-fermented pickles
  3. 3 Tablespoons lemon juice, ACV, or Kombucha
  4. 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  5. 1-2 teaspoons fresh dill or 3/4 teaspoon dried dill
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Adjust seasoning to taste. Enjoy!
Reclaiming Vitality http://reclaimingvitality.com/
 What do you think? Have you ever had a probiotic tartar sauce before? Will you try it?

 

Kombucha flip top bottle and glass

Kombucha: Health Benefits and Doing a Continuous Brew

My first exposure to Kombucha was about four years ago. A neighbor had gotten a scoby (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast also known as a “mother”) from a cafe owner up the street from us. She fell in love with it and wanted to share, so she brought me a scoby complete with a fermenting jar and hand-written instructions on how to brew it. So awesome! I’m sad to say, that the scoby gave me the creeps. I had never heard about Kombucha, so I didn’t know all the amazing health benefits contained in that weird mushroom-looking thing floating on top of the tea. I did a little google search and found out that I shouldn’t start drinking Kombucha since I was just finishing nursing my daughter and had recently found out I was pregnant with my son. This is because of the powerful detox effect of the Kombucha. (You don’t want to start any detox program while pregnant or nursing in case the toxins are released from you and then pass through your placenta/umbilical cord or into your milk.) I read that if I had been drinking Kombucha regularly before pregnancy and nursing, it is generally considered safe since you will have already detoxed significantly. That poor scoby sat in my cupboard for months and then I finally threw it out. By the time I had had my son and finished nursing him, I had read so much about Kombucha that I couldn’t wait to get another scoby from my neighbor!

What is Kombucha?

continuous brew Kombucha

Kombucha is a fermented tea. The scoby (or mother) and starter tea ferment fresh tea and sugar. As the bacteria and yeast “eat” the sugar, they produce some amazing nutrients.

The Benefits of Drinking Kombucha:

  • Detoxification
  • Helps with digestions
  • Full of probiotics
  • Boosts energy
  • Contains antioxidants
  • Contains beneficial acids (Glucuronic, Lactic, and Uric)
  • Contains with B vitamins (B-vitamins and great for stress and immunity)
  • Contains vitamin C (also great for immunity)
  • Helps with anxiety and depression
  • improves pancreas function (the pancreas controls your blood sugar and releases your digestive enzymes)
  • Reduces Candida (a harmful yeast if allowed to proliferate)
  • Helps your body assimilate nutrients

Wow! Just listing all of this makes me want to pour myself a delicious bubbly glass of Kombucha! Okay. I’m back. So tasty! It is great plain, but my favorite flavor to make is ginger The possibilities, however, are endless. See a list of some at the end of the post.

How and Why to do a Continuous Brew of Kombucha

Kombucha scoby overhead

You can brew Kombucha in batches or do a continuous brew. I do a continuous brew of Kombucha because I find it is less work, I get a constant supply of Kombucha, and it varies the nutritive properties contained in the Kombucha because it contains tea in various stages of fermentation.  To do a continuous brew you will of course need a scoby. You can buy them live online with starter tea from here, or dehydrated from here. I recommend live. These are both reputable sources, but I got mine from my neighbor, as I stated above. There are Facebook groups dedicated to giving away fermentation starters of all kinds, so that is another option. You will also need a large container for brewing. I use a 2.5 gallon glass container with a plastic spigot. Here is one that is similar to mine.  Don’t use a plastic or metal container. You will need a cloth and rubber bands to fasten it on. I use cut up receiving blankets, but you could use cloth napkins or other thinner cloths (don’t use cheesecloth). I use a loose, bulk organic Oolong tea in my Kombucha. It is a blend of black and green tea. I like it because it has less caffeine than black tea (I am sensitive to caffeine) and a milder taste. The milder taste is nice because I do a second fermentation to flavor my Kombucha. (See below for instructions.) You can use decaf tea, but pay attention to how it was decaffeinated. I use plain organic sugar. This is one instance that the other more nutritive sweeteners like maple syrup and honey won’t work. (Unless you are brewing Jun which uses green tea and honey. One of my favorite blogs, Nourished Kitchen, has an excellent how-to post on Jun. Brewing Jun is on my to-do list and as soon as I do it, you can expect a post about it from me as well.)

Basic Kombucha Ratio for one gallon of tea:  

  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 8 bags of tea or 2 tablespoons of loose leaf tea
  • 2 cups of starter tea

First you need to brew your tea. I do two gallons at a time. For each gallon of tea, you need one cup of sugar. (Don’t worry. The sugar gets fermented out.) I fill a stainless steel tea ball with my tea. Bring a clean pot to a boil with filtered water. Don’t let it boil too much because the kombucha does better when there is more oxygen in the water. Turn off the heat and add your sugar. Use 2 cups of sugar for 2 gallons of tea. Stir until dissolved. Add your tea ball or tea bags. (16 bags for 2 gallons). Allow the tea to cool to room temperature. Do NOT add it to your scoby and starter tea until it has cooled!! Once your tea has cooled, add it to your clean brewing container.

Next, add your starter tea and scoby. For two gallons, use at least 4 cups of starter tea. The starter tea keeps the PH of your brew in a place where bad bacteria shouldn’t grow. As you can see from my photo, I measured out percentages on masking tape and put it on my brewing container. I drain my kombucha until it reaches 30% and then add my fresh tea. If there is a daughter, I will take either the daughter or mother out and put it in my scoby “hotel”. This is just another container for extra starter tea and extra scobys either to give away or just in case disaster strikes my brew. (This has actually happened once before, and I didn’t have a scoby hotel set up, but luckily I still had the same generous neighbor). It usually takes about a month to brew it to the tartness that I like. You can start testing it after about two weeks or so.

Generally people prefer kombucha sweeter when they first start drinking it and then later they prefer it more fermented or tart. Don’t worry if you brew it and it tastes too tart. Usually you do a second fermentation to flavor your kombucha and you can add some sugar at that point. 

How to do a second fermentation

Once your kombucha is done brewing, drain it out into your bottles. (Or if you don’t have a container with a spigot, take your mother/daughter out and put it in a clean glass bowl or jar along with enough starter tea for your brew.) Use glass flip-top bottles if you want carbonation and regular glass bottles if you don’t. I use a funnel with a strainer inside to filter out yeast bits that sometimes make it through the spigot. I like to fill my bottles 1/2 to 3/4 of the way with kombucha and then add either fresh tea with a teaspoon or so of sugar (the sugar creates carbonation as the kombucha ferments it) or fruit juice (which has fructose, so no sugar is needed). You can add more or less sugar, juice, fruit, etc. to taste. If I am adding fresh tea, I usually flavor it with ginger. See below for other options. Ginger helps with intestinal issues, boost immune function, has anti-cancer properties, and is anti-inflammatory. Did I mention that it is delicious? Oh, and it also helps to create carbonation.

Speaking of carbonation, if you use flip tops, be sure to open them every couple of days (or every day) to let the gasses escape. If you forget for a few days, open over your sink or outside with a towel over it just in case. They can be quite explosive!

Possible Kombucha Flavors: (this is not an exhaustive list by any means!)

Kombucha bottle and glass angle

  • Ginger (my favorite)
  • Berry (strawberry, blackberry, blueberry..You get the idea)
  • Elderberry (great for fighting off that cold or flu)
  • Cranberry
  • Apple
  • Lemon
  • Chai
  • Goji Berry
  • Pomegranate
  • Grape
  • Herbal tea

 

Ginger Kombucha
Serves 4
Yummy bubbly and nutritious ginger kombucha
Print
Prep Time
30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. Sliced ginger with skin on
  2. Kombucha
  3. 1 teaspoon sugar (or more to taste)
  4. 1-2 cups of black or herbal tea
  5. Glass bottle (either flip-tops for carbonation or regular for not carbonated)
Instructions
  1. Pour your finished kombucha into your bottle. Fill it 1/2 to 3/4 full.
  2. Add sugar
  3. Add ginger
  4. Pour freshly brewed tea in the rest of the way. (Be sure to leave an inch or two of head space)
  5. Leave on your counter for one week or 10 days. (It will ferment faster the more kombucha you have added.)
  6. Enjoy!
Notes
  1. If you use flip tops, be sure to open them every couple of days (or every day) to let the gasses escape. If you forget for a few days, open over your sink or outside with a towel over it just in case. They can be quite explosive!
Reclaiming Vitality http://reclaimingvitality.com/
If all this is great, but you feel like a video would help you more, here is a great video from Cultures for Health on brewing kombucha.

What about you? Do you drink kombucha? Do you brew your own? What is your favorite flavor? What health benefits have you noticed?

milk kefir grains

Milk Kefir: The Benefits of Adding it to your Diet

Milk kefir is a staple in our household. It actually has more probiotics than yogurt (even homemade yogurt). It contains beneficial enzymes and yeasts that help with digestion and immunity. Milk kefir is full of healthy fats and bio-available nutrients that your body needs! It has antibacterial properties, can improve bone health, and even lessen allergy symptoms! Are you convinced yet?

I prep a milk kefir “shake”, as my kids call it, before my they wake up in the morning. They drink it while I make our breakfast. I use kefir, some frozen fruit, and a little bit of organic maple syrup and blend it up in the Vitamix. When making my kefir I use whole, raw, grass-fed milk.

Why whole, raw, grass-fed milk for making kefir?

Raw milk is not pasteurized and it is not homogenized. This makes it so much healthier for you than that crap that fills those plastic jugs at the store.

  • Pasteurizing reduces vitamins as well as kills off beneficial enzymes that your body needs to help digest the milk! Many people who believe they are lactose intolerant have no trouble digesting milk once they switch to raw dairy.
  • When milk is homogenized, the fat particles are spun around very quickly until they become very small. They become something unrecognizable to your body. It is a similar problem to those of trans-fats, also known as hydrogenated fats. We have all heard by now about the dangers of hydrogenated fats, although they are still hidden in many processed and prepared foods. If you don’t have a choice to buy raw milk in your area, at least choose an organic, non-homogenized version.
  • When a cow eats the food it was meant to eat (grass), you get all the health benefits of the grass without having to eat the grass yourself. A win in my book! When cows eat grain or corn, especially non-organic grain or corn that is GMO and heavily sprayed, you get the drawbacks, of that diet. We could also mention that the quality of life of a grass-fed dairy cow is much preferable to that of a poor, conventional dairy cow. Go here for a great article from Dr. Axe on the benefits of raw dairy.

    How to make milk kefir:

    milk kefir fermenting

Milk kefir is quite simple to make. You need only 3 ingredients: milk, kefir grains, and time. Simply add about 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) of kefir grains to a quart of fresh milk. Cover your jar with a non-metal covering, and leave it out on your counter. I use plastic lids, but some people cover jars with cloth and a rubber band. The kefir will take anywhere from 12-48 hours to ferment. The time varies on the strength and quantity of your grains, the temperature of the room in which it is fermenting, and your personal taste as well. The longer you let kefir ferment, the more of the lactose, or milk sugar, it will ferment. This determines how sour or not your kefir is. A long ferment means virtually no milk sugar left and a more sour tasting drink. I usually ferment mine for 24-36 hours, and it actually just depends on how busy I am. Your kefir grains are a living food, and will need to be fed regularly.

What if I go on vacation or do an elimination diet and don’t want milk kefir for a bit?

If you need to take a break from your by now beloved milk kefir, you should feed you grains and put them in the fridge. When you return from vacation, or resume your need for kefir, take out the grains and feed them again. You may need to feed them a couple of times before they are back to their usual vigor and making drinkable kefir.

Make a yummy milk kefir “shake” or smoothie:

Once you have your completed milk kefir, what should you do with it? Remove the grains from the jar, put into a new jar and feed them. (I use a silicon colander to do this and actually use my very CLEAN hands to separate the grains from the kefir and put them into a new jar for the next batch.) After you take out your grains you will have slightly less than a quart. At our house, as I said above, I put the kefir in my Vitamix along with about a cup of frozen fruit, add maple syrup to taste, and give it a whirl. We have some in the morning with our breakfast and some in the evening after dinner to sweep the colon with beneficial bacteria. We love our kefir!!

A couple of things to mention: Kefir grains grow and multiply when they are happy. Try to keep your 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) grains to 1 quart milk ratio by pulling out extra grains when you notice there are more than before. Give your extras to family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, etc. Spread the healthy healing love! Also, you can make kefir cheese, salad dressing with kefir, and much more. Go here for tons of recipes using milk kefir. This site also has recipes for many other types of ferments. She has a great cookbook, too!

milk kefir grains

If after reading this you feel like you want to add milk kefir to your diet, but you do not have the time or desire to ferment it at home, you can buy it. It is usually at higher-end grocery stores. Be sure to read labels, however. The majority of milk kefir on the market is made with conventional dairy, contains fillers, and is loaded with sugar. Yikes!

Do you drink kefir? Do you make your own? Are you going to try making kefir? Let me know how it goes!

kraut juice and glass

Kraut Juice: A Probiotic-filled Beverage.

What is Kraut juice?

Jar of Kraut Juice Fermenting
Kraut Juice

Kraut juice is probably the cheapest and most probiotic-packed beverage that you can make for yourself at home. It only takes a few minutes, and it is a great way to get started making fermented foods. We drink this regularly at our house and we also give it away any time our friends or neighbors have tummy bugs. The probiotics help tip the balance in favor of the “good guys” in your belly. It isn’t always easy to eat when you are sick, but it is important to stay hydrated. Just sip on it throughout the day until you start to feel better. It works great!

Cabbage Nutrition Facts

Cabbage has more vitamin C per serving than an orange. (Which is great for those suffering from adrenal fatigue. Here is an interesting post from Mommypotomus with a test to see you if have it.) Also, the vitamins and minerals in cabbage become more bio-available (your body can absorb them) as the cabbage ferments. The end result is a beverage that is easy to make, has more probiotics than your probiotic supplement, and is packed with bio-available vitamins and minerals to keep your body running as it should.

Kraut juice fermenting and glass of kraut juice

Kraut  and kraut juice lower inflammation. As you have probably heard by now, inflammation is the root of most diseases. Why let it stick around? Go here for an interesting post from Dr. Axe to learn about how inflammation causes disease and what you can do to stop it.

My kids drink this straight and enjoy it, but if your kids (young or old) aren’t big fans of the mildly tart taste, you could mix it with some juice.

If you have been meaning to try some fermenting at home, this is a great recipe for getting your feet wet. Happy fermenting!

 

Kraut Juice
Yields 3
A fermented beveraged that is loaded with probiotics, vitamins, and minerals.
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. One head green cabbage
  2. 6 Tablespoons sea salt ( I use Celtic)
  3. Filtered water
Instructions
  1. Shred the head of cabbage. You can do this with a knife or use the grater blade on your food processor to do this.
  2. Put the shredded cabbage into a glass or stainless steel bowl, add the salt, and stir. Walk away and do another kitchen project or go relax with a book.
  3. After about 20 minutes, the cabbage should have wilted a bit and released some juice.
  4. Fill jars about 1/3 to 1/2 full with cabbage and released juices. I use half gallon mason jars for this, but you could use any size jars. Fill the jars the rest of the way with filtered water, but leave an inch or inch and a half to allow for expansion. Cap your jars with plastic lids, airlocks, or just the regular mason jar lids.
  5. Store in a cool, dark place for about 2 weeks and up to 4 months.
  6. Move to the refrigerator and enjoy! Take anytime you feel a bug coming on.
Adapted from Nourishing Traditions
Adapted from Nourishing Traditions
Reclaiming Vitality http://reclaimingvitality.com/

 

Have you ever tried kraut juice? If so, did you make it yourself? If not, are you going to give it a try?