Kimchi: Lacto-Fermentation is Easy!

You may remember this post I did for a quick version of kimchi.  Here is the lacto-fermented version which is pretty easy considering how much food you can preserve in about an hour, no boiling or sterilizing necessary.  Lacto-fermentation happens when the starches and sugars in vegetables and fruit convert to lactic acid by a friendly lactic-acid producing bacteria.  So basically you take a plant that is already good for you and preserve it in a way that makes it even healthier AND you can enjoy it all winter long.  Pretty neat trick, just ask Sally Fallon:

“The proliferation of lactobacilli in fermented vegetables enhances their digestibility and increases vitamin levels. These beneficial organisms produce numerous helpful enzymes as well as antibiotic and anticarcinogenic substances. Their main by-product, lactic acid, not only keeps vegetables and fruits in a state of perfect preservation but also promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestine.”    Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions, pg 89

Simple Bites also offers a lot of information and instruction for lacto-fermenting whatever it is you have in abundance at the end of the growing season!  Here’s what my dad and I did with the beautiful cabbages he grew this year….

We started with about 6 heads of cabbage from the garden each weighing about 3.5-5 pounds!

For each 5 pounds of sliced cabbage you need 3 Tablespoons of kosher salt, 4 dried hot peppers, a head of garlic and a chunk of ginger, peeled.  The ginger and salt were store-bought but the rest my dad grew in his garden!

Hot peppers from Dad's garden drying on the table, we used 4, seeds removed, for each 5 pounds of shredded cabbage.

Dad shredded and weighed the cabbage for each batch while I.....

...removed the seeds from the hot chilis, measured out the salt, peeled the head of garlic and used the food processor to grind everything up.

Once the cabbage was shredded and the salt-hot pepper-garlic-ginger mix was ready, I mixed the two together in a large bowl. We ended up making about 4 batches.

The salt makes the cabbage release its water, creating the brine it will ferment in.

Once the brine can be seen above the level of the cabbage, which is very soft at this point, it's ready to pack in big, clean glass jars.

I packed the cabbage into the jar, added the brine, plus a little more so that it covered the cabbage by at least an inch. We used a plastic bag filled with water as a weight to make sure the cabbage would stay completely covered by the brine.

The lids are just sitting on top so that the air can escape and the little guys doing the fermenting can breathe!

And that’s it!  The jars will sit out for a few days and then will be kept in the fridge (or a cool root cellar) until they get eaten!  Lacto-fermented foods are good for everyone and especially beneficial to those of us on the Candida diet.

So, What Can You Eat?!

I have heard this so many times and gotten some very interesting reactions when I give people the short version of the answer to ‘what can you eat?’  Some people want to know more so they can eat like me, some of them give me an annoyed look accompanied by a ‘so that’s why you’re skinny’ as if my diet and health are a personal affront to them.  To many, my diet sounds so limited, how can it be healthy they want to know.  Don’t you feel deprived? Yes and no.  I eat a lot of vegetables, nuts, seeds and healthy oils from plants.  I don’t miss cake or sweets, I know it’s hard to believe but I really don’t.  I used to get the worst sugar cravings, caused by eating way too much sugar and not enough protein. I was definitely a sugar addict and there’s no way I’m going back!

One of my clients recently told me that sugar and white flour act like rust in your body.  Her arthritis and constant headaches have disappeared along with the refined whites in her diet.   Aside from getting the rust out of my body, I love how much more I can taste now, especially the natural sweetness in things like carrots and coconut. One thing’s for sure, eating a different diet than what most people eat has been challenging socially and personally but when it comes to my health, I’ve never felt better. To answer the question of what I eat a little more thoroughly, here’s a look at my food journal from last Friday.

I pretty much always have a breakfast shake when I get up in the morning along with a big cup of mate tea.  I use stevia for sweetness and almond milk in both.  When I take my supplements and tinctures in the morning I have a handful of almonds and a shot of Fire Cider, without honey.

Picking lettuce from our garden to make lunch!

For lunch, Dana and I picked lettuce from our garden: red sails, romaine, arugula, amaranth and black seeded simpson.  I mixed up a mustard vinegrette, added goat cheese and tossed it all togther.  An awesome first meal from our garden!

First garden salad: amaranth, arugula, black seeded simpson and red sails in balsamic mustard vinaigrette with fresh goat cheese.

For dinner I made a small pork chop which I bought from a local farm.  I cooked the chard that our friends brought us from their garden with onion, oil, a few seasonings and topped it with tosted pepitas.  I had fizzy water with aloe vera juice, lime, ginger and stevia to drink.

Mostly veggies with a small pork chop au poivre and spicy mustard.

I always snack on nuts during the day and may have had a carrot with peanut butter and a few squares of dark chocolate too.   I’ll have water and iced tea during the day and that’s pretty much it.   I feel full after meals, I do get cravings but these days it’s usually for things my body really needs, like dandelion greens or extra protein.  It’s amazing the difference eating the right food for your body and lifestyle can make.  Changing your diet takes work and dedication but it’s really worth it!

Watering the newly planted tomato that Hari and Ingrid brought us while the horses play in the pasture.

Go Go Gomasio!

Gomasio is a salty and savory condiment. Steam some greens, toss with oil and top with gomasio, done! And delicious.

Gomasio is a traditional Japanese condiment that aids digestion and adds flavor and nutrients to your food.  Use it like you use salt and you’ll get more flavor and nutrition.  A quick breakdown of the ingredients: Black sesame seeds are known to support kidney and adrenal function.  They also provide fiber, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.  Seaweed, which ever kind you choose, is a cooling food rich in iodine and trace elements.  Nori, Dulse or Kelp all work well in this recipe. I used half kelp and half nori for the super bonus thyroid support.  For a more mellow sea flavor go with dulse or a combination of the three.  Nettles support lung health, especially helpful for asthma sufferers and they also support proper thyroid function (hello metabolism!).  Any dried herbs you add will have their own health benefits adding extra flavor, vitamins and minerals.  When making food choices it’s important to think about how you can get the maximum nutrition out of each meal you eat.  Using healthy condiments like gomasio is a great way to do just that!

Ingredients:

1 cup brown or black sesame seeds

1 cup white sesame seeds

1/2 to 3/4 cup ground seaweed like Dulse, Nori and/or Kelp (Kelp has the strongest flavor, just fyi)

1/4 Nettles powder

1 tablespoon Sea Salt

You can also add any dried herbs that you love: basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano, sage, tarragon, celery seeds, ect.

Mixing the seeds in a dry cast iron skillet over medium heat.

Lightly dry roast the sesame seeds in a cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Shake or stir so they toast evenly.  The light seeds will turn light brown and will start to make crackling sounds when done.  About 10-15 minutes.

Flippin' seeds! Toasting was a serious arm and ab workout, that skillet is heavy. I had Dana help me!

Grind the seeds in a coffee grinder or Cuisinart along with the salt so that you have about half ground seeds and half whole.

Lightly dry roast the seaweed (if is isn’t already) in the oven until crispy.  Grind in a coffee grinder or Cuisinart.

Broken pieces of kelp in the coffee grinder.....

....and after, cool smoky effects!

Mix everything together and store in an air tight container.  Add to soups, salads and other foods the same way you would use salt.

All mixed up, cooled down and ready to eat.

Nutritive Paste, Not Your Grandma’s Marmite

The hardest thing about going through a Candida elimination is the apparent lack of food to eat.  And the need for that food to be optimally nutritious and easy to digest.  My husband has a thing for Marmite, that yeast based nutritive paste that was England’s answer to keeping the poor alive as cheaply and easily as possible.  Mmmmm, kinda tastes that way too.  Marmite, if you like the way the salt sucker punches your taste buds and then drops a days worth of  B vitamins on your palate via yeast concentrate, does do it’s job of adding vitamins to your breakfast toast.   If you are like me, products en general, especially those made with yeast, cause upset to my delicate digestive system.  I do however love the idea of making a concentrated super nutrient dense food that could be spread on flax crackers, eaten over a salad, with fresh crudités or as a flavoring agent in soups and meat dishes.  Really the possibilities are endless. And sometimes I just eat them with a spoon.

Pesto by the spoonful, yeah, I ate that.

I like to have food ready to go because I am chronically forgetting to eat until I’m just starving and in no mood to cook.  Having washed and prepped veggies plus one of several dressings or dips all ready to go makes things much easier.  I can put together a healthy snack or meal pretty quickly.

The following suggestions and recipes will keep well in your refrigerator for over a week and can also be frozen (I use an ice cube tray so I have single serve cubes).  Each one is about half leafy herbs, known for being packed with vitamins, minerals and lots of taste, way more fun than taking multi vitamins and, I would argue, better for you.  Leafy greens, herbs and vegetables, provide our bodies with essential nutrients including a connection to the sun, earth and our environment.  Buy local organic greens or grow your own, it’s almost that time of year again, that’s the rumor anyway.

The other half of each recipe is good for you fats, like nuts, oils and seeds.  They are called essential fatty acids because they are essential.   They help your brain to function optimally, your body to insulate and protect your organs, as well as keep down inflammation.  The omegas also lubricate your joints and digestive system, and keep your skin glowing and elastic.  Fat from plants and even properly raised and cared for animals has much to offer.

I have already posted a recipe for two kinds of Goddess dressing.  Both can be made thick and used as a dip, spread (if you eat bread, this makes a great sandwich addition) or salad dressing.  You can also try using it as a topping for cooked fish, meat or soy.

Pesto can be made and used the same way.  I like it with spaghetti squash or flax crackers and cheese!

Here’s basic pesto:

A big bunch of basil leaves, a handful of pine nuts, olive oil to the right consistency, a few cloves or more garlic and salt.  Blend using a quisinart type appliance or blender.

And a Few Variations:

Greek olives and/or sun-dried tomatoes

Use walnuts or pecans instead of the pine nuts.

Romano cheese (if you can eat cheese!)

Use half basil and half parsley for an extra vitamin c kick.

Walnut Miso with Parsley

Another variation on this theme uses the basic walnut miso recipe I posted earlier, then add a big bunch of parsley and a little olive or walnut oil to get the consistency correct.

Cilantro y Pepitas

If you like cilantro try a big bunch blended with pepitas, garlic, salt, neutral oil like sunflower, and maybe some lime and smokey pepper.

Or, make up your own, the formula is simple, lots of leafy green herbs, oil and nuts or seeds, salt, garlic (this helps it keep longer in the fridge) and maybe some spices, vinegar or citrus to round out the flavor.  Go on, add some serious nutrition and taste to your diet!

Mushroom Soup: Another Basic Health Building Recipe

Three kinds of medicinal mushrooms, Napa cabbage and a poached egg topped with srirracha, good and good for ya!

This is Dana’s recipe and it will make a lot of soup, you can even double it so you’ll have many bowls of soup for now, and soup base to freeze for later.  It is so worth the hour it takes to make this rich and healthy soup!  Mushrooms, especially the ones I use in this soup are incredibly good for you.  Among other things these mushrooms support proper immune function, they are high in anti-oxidants and may help prevent cancer.  Mushrooms are high in fiber, potassium, riboflavin, niacin and selenium as well as vitamins and some even contain Iron.  Medicinal mushrooms help kill bacteria and viruses, reduce and prevent tumor growth and can be helpful with many common imbalances like asthma, Candida and other degenerative diseases.  Aside from all that health stuff mushrooms are delicious, this is one of my favorite things to eat and it always makes me feel good!

From right to left: a jar of reishi mushroom powder, peppercorns, dried shiitake, a bag of bonito flakes, onion and dried cloud ear mushrooms

Ingredients:

4 Tablespoons sesame oil

1/2 medium onion or, for less sugar, 1 large leek, white part, sliced into thin half moons

2 cups dried shiitake mushroom, in boiling water, with a weight, for about 10 minutes.  Reserve the water!!

Cloud ear mushrooms, one of my handfuls, about 1/3 cup

or

Mitaki about 1/3 cup, broken up into small pieces

2-3  heaping tablespoons Reishi mushroom powder

reserved mushroom water plus veggie broth, mushroom broth, ect, about 7-8 cups

ginger, at least 1 teaspoon dried or 2 teaspoons fresh

about 10 black pepper corns

a fluffy 1/3 cup of bonito flakes (optional but also delicious and recommended)

about 1/4 cup Tamari (NOT soy sauce.  Tamari is wheat free fermented soy food…check it out!)

1 teaspoon mirin (omit if you are avoiding all sugars)

1 teaspoon brown rice vinegar

Dried shiitake mushrooms soaking in hot water for about 10 minutes.

Prep the onion, get your ingredients together and soak your big dried mushrooms in boiling water until soft, about 10 minutes.   When they are ready squeeze out excess water, cut the stem offs and slice the mushroom caps.   Save the mushroom water, it makes excellent mushroom soup broth, imagine that!  Finely chop the stems and set everything aside.

Start with 4 Tablespoons sesame oil (or any neutral oil like canola or grape seed) in a heavy bottomed soup pot on medium heat.

Add in the sliced onions and or leeks, saute together with the ginger until soft.

onions and sesame oil with ginger

Add the mushroom water plus another 8 cups or so of broth.  Add all the mushrooms including the diced stems and reish powder and the peppercorns.  If you want to go for it with the bonito flakes you should add them now. Simmer for 10 minutes with the top on (you’ll prob have to turn it down to low) to let all the mushrooms completely rehydrate and flavor the broth.

Napa cabbage: chopped!

While you wait, chop in half lengthwise a Napa cabbage and then thinly slice crosswise until you have about 3-4 cups

Chopped napa with my three reserved mushroom soups ready for the freezer in the back ground.

Now, back to our soup on the stove, time to add a teaspoon of mirin and then the tamari, about 1/4 cup (add 1 Tablespoon at a time and taste in between).

Adjust for flavor, add srirracha, more tamari, brown rice vinegar, reishi…

Before you add the cabbage, take some mushroom soup out and reserve it for later.  You can freeze it for months or until next week when you are craving this soup, lucky you will just take it out of the freezer, heat it up, add the rest of your Napa or kale or broccoli and voila, soup, with minimal effort.  I recommend freezing in small containers that way you can make up as many servings at a time as you would like.

Then add the sliced Napa to the soup, stir and turn off the heat.

If you want to add an egg, my favorite, poach a few separately in boiling water and add an egg to each bowl of soup, then serve!  Also tastes excellent with cooked pork and/or chicken, shrimp, scallops?  This is a great soup base….so get creative!

Homemade Coconut Yogurt

I love yogurt.  For me it is a very calming and soothing food.  Loaded with probiotics, yogurt is a living food that it so beneficial to the digestive system.  Milk proteins do something unique to dairy when cultured.  Coconut milk does not thicken into creamy deliciousness without a little help from natural thickeners so I used small amounts of them in my recipe.  Coconut yogurt is delicious, filling and free of whey and lactose, two things my body just doesn’t get along with.   I have included my calculations for the nutrition information for those of you counting carbohydrates or just curious!

Coconut yogurt in my yogurt incubator!

Ok, maybe a word or two on yogurt makers before I get on with the recipe.  A ‘yogurt maker’ is no more than a glorified heating pad and you can, if you so desire, make your own. There are certainly plenty of suggestions on the interwebs. I did try to make my own yogurt using a medium sized cooler and hot water.  Aside from the recipe I used being total crap, it worked out all right.  Usually I’m a do it yourself kinda cook but apparently, when it comes to making yogurt, I’m quite happy to use my single purpose yogurt maker.  It has 8 glass (yes!) containers with lids and I don’t have to worry about keeping the temperature steady in my drafty kitchen.

Ingredients for Coconut Yogurt:

1 1/2 cups almond milk (unsweetened, of course)

3 cups organic coconut milk (make sure it’s NOT lite, that just means it’s watered down, don’t fear the coconut fat, it’s good stuff!)

1/2 cup plain, unsweetened yogurt (from a previous batch or store bought, just make sure it says ‘live, active cultures’ on the container and is free of weird colors, ‘fruits’ and sugar.  You can also use powdered yogurt starter)

1/2 teaspoon Agar Agar

1/2 tablespoon Tapioca starch

Mmmmm, coconut yogurt close up!

The Procedure:

In a sauce pan heat the coconut milk and 1 cup of the almond milk over medium high heat.

Whisk the agar agar, tapioca and remaining 1/2 cup of almond milk together in a seperate bowl and then whisk it into your sauce pan with the coconut and almond milk.

Keep on whisking and let the mixture come to a boil.  Turn the heat down a bit so it’s at a soft low boil for a couple of minutes and then remove from the heat.

Continue to stir occasionally and let it cool down to 100-110 degrees F. You can use an ice bath if you want things to cool down quickly. I find that the inside of my wrist works well as a temperature gauge but you can use a candy thermometer if you’re not sure.  Basically you need the coconut mixture to be a little warmer than body temperature but not so hot that you will kill the cultures when you intoduce them.

When the coconut mixture has cooled to  the right temperature range, take out about a 1/2 cup and mix it separately with your 1/2 cup yogurt starter or powdered starter.  Then add the yogurt starter mixture into your coconut mixture, stir to combine.

Pour the yogurt into the clean containers you will be using with your yogurt maker of choice.  Wait 7-12 hours, it will get thicker and tangier with time.

Put the warm yogurt in the fridge, it’s best when it’s chilled!  Remember to set a half cup aside to start your next batch.

For each shy 1/2 cup serving there are: 165 calories, 3 grams net carbohydrates, a nominal amount of fiber, 1.3 grams of protein and 16.3 grams of good for you fats.

 

 

Back to Basics: Green Soup

Green soup with sriracha, mmmm!

I’m really looking forward to my workshop, ‘Food as Medicine’, that I am preparing for the Women’s Wellness Weekend at Becket-Chimney Corners.  I have been thinking a lot about which foods are truly medicinal for me.  When I’m not feeling well there are certain foods that always make me feel good, especially when my Candida is getting out of balance because of too much stress, too little sleep or hormonal fluctuations.  I realized that my go to Green Soup recipe is at the top of my good for me foods list.  And I have not been eating it! It’s so important to eat the foods that best support a healthy you and I think it’s time to incorporate Green Soup back into my diet.

This is the soup I ate while recovering from Candida, it’s very low in carbohydrates, very high in fiber, vitamins and minerals and easy to digest.   Green Soup goes really well with all sorts of herbs and spices that encourage a healthy internal balance.  It’s basically an immune boosting multi-vitamin you can eat as often as you like.   A few servings a week is about the right dose for me, enough to keep me healthy but not so much that I’ll be bored to tears eating it all the time.  It freezes well so I can make a big batch, put it into single serving containers in the freezer and take one out when I need it.  It’s very helpful for me to have some meals planned in advance that require only that I heat and eat.  If I don’t plan anything ahead I sometimes end up making less than awesome choices.  Here’s my basic recipe for Green Soup along with a few heat and eat serving suggestions so that you can customize the flavor of the soup.  This is very important as far as getting medicinal doses of different spices and herbs as well as keeping you and your taste buds happy!

Green Soup ingredients: leeks, kale, zucchini, broccoli, jalapeno and garlic.

Green Soup ingredients: leeks, kale, zucchini, broccoli, jalapeno and garlic.

Ingredients:

4-6 Tablespoons of olive oil or coconut oil  (this is the only significant source of calories in the whole recipe so don’t be shy!)

3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped or pressed

1 jalapeño, chopped.  Add more or less or none at all.  I used a whole one and still added spice to the finished soup.

3-4 large leeks, white/light green parts only, sliced thin in half moons

3-4 medium zucchinis, chopped into roughly 1 inch cubes

Veggie broth, about 4-6 cups

1 bunch of spinach or kale (I used kale today and really like the flavor!)

1 bunch of broccoli chopped into bite sized pieces.

*A note about broccoli:  My grandmother, who was a young girl during the great depression, explained to me that broccoli stems are for eating.  I often peel them and grate them up with cabbage when I make coleslaw.  Today I peeled the rough bits towards the end, chopped them up small and added them in with the rest of the broccoli.  Unless you are going to feed the stems to your farm animals or add them to your worm bin, please consider eating them!!

The Procedure

Over low-medium heat in a large, heavy bottomed soup pan add your oil, garlic, jalapeño and leeks, sprinkle with salt and cook, stirring occasionally until the leeks are wilted and soft.

Sautéing leeks, garlic and jalapeno in olive oil.

Next, add in all the zucchini and keep on sautéing until the zucchini is soft.  About 8-10 minutes.

Add in the veggie broth, about 4+ cups to start with.  Honestly I never measure, I just pour water from the kettle and add a few of those handy broth concentrate packets from Trader Joe’s.  You can add more broth for a thinner soup but I prefer mine thick and more like stew.  Get the broth hot by turning the heat up to medium.

After you have added all the veggies adjust the broth so that the veggies are barely covered.

As soon as the broth is hot add in the broccoli and kale/spinach and cook until just tender.  DO NOT overcook the broccoli, over done broccoli is not awesome and a whole pot of over done broccoli soup will not get eaten.  I know because I have done just that and it was sad.

Remove from heat, use a wand blender or regular blender (make sure to vent the blender!!) to puree the soup.  Adjust for salt and add more broth if you want.

Now you have basic Green Soup.  I like to portion mine out into large servings, the soup is really low in calories so be generous with portion size!  Keep some in the fridge and some in the freezer for later in the week.

This is all the soup I had left over plus the big bowl I ate for lunch!

Variations….they are limitless but here are a few to start:

When you want to re-heat refrigerated or frozen soup, start with a tablespoon of oil in a pan large enough for the soup.  Heat up your spices over medium-low heat until they are fragrant and then add the soup and heat til it’s warm.  Add fresh or dried herbs at the end.

*another note: I think microwaves are weird and I don’t trust them so that’s why my instructions are always for the stove top.

Italian style: fennel, cumin, chili flakes, more garlic in olive oil.   Then basil, parsley and oregano to the warmed soup.

Curry: your favorite curry powder mix in coconut oil, heat then add coconut milk with the soup.  Add cilantro and or parsley at the end.

Sautee mushrooms in butter with salt and black pepper.  Add the soup and mix together.

Top with a dollop of unsweetened greek yogurt, or goat cheese,  this is especially great on spicy green soup.

You can eat this soup cold, like a green gazpacho, just add cilantro and parsley, a splash of vinegar and hot sauce.

Today I added some sriracha and about 2 teaspoons of raw apple cider vinegar directly into my soup bowl for a tangy, spicy flavor.  There are more variations, I will post them as I try them out.

Please post your own suggestions and favorites!

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