Blog, Fermentation Station, Recipes

Coconut Kefir- The Easiest Fermented Food You’ll Ever Make

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Coconut kefir is probably the most simple fermented food to make. My body just can’t digest dairy milk kefir, so I opted for the coconut milk version instead. I have previously tried to make coconut kefir with kefir grains, and failed both times. Miserably.

I don’t feel too bad because while looking on Meghan Telpner’s health blog for another coconut kefir recipe, she mentioned she has never made a successful batch of coconut kefir with kefir grains either. Instead she uses a probiotic capsule. I tried this out and the next morning I was happy to find a fresh batch of delicious coconut kefir. I was so happy, I juuuuust may have done a little happy dance.

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Coconut Kefir:

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (2 cups) full fat coconut milk (make sure to buy one without all the funny sounding ingredients. Arroy-D is a good choice, as well as Thai Kitchen Organic)
  • 1 probiotic capsule (about 1/4 tsp of powder). Any live kind will do.
  • 1 clean one litre mason jar.

Instructions:

  1. Stir together the coconut milk and the probiotic. If the cream and water in the tin are very separated, you may want to toss it in the blender or warm over low heat first and then whisk in the probiotic.
  2. Transfer to your jar and put a breathable cloth or folded paper towels on top. Secure with a rubber band.
  3. Let sit at room temperature for 18-24 hours. You can taste periodically with a clean spoon until desired taste is achieved. If you live in a tropical climate 8 hours is enough. 6 might even be sufficient. Just keep an eye on it. Note that the longer it ferments, the more sour it will taste. It all comes down to personal preference.
  4. Once ready, reserve 1/2 cup of coconut kefir for your next batch in a new mason jar. Place your coconut kefir in the fridge.
  5. Will keep 3-4 days, or freeze for a couple of weeks.

Second Batch Instructions:

  • Mix together your reserved 1/2 cup of coconut kefir with 2 cups (1 can) organic full fat coconut milk. Repeat steps 2-5 above.

Enjoy!

Health Coach Jenna

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Blog, Fermentation Station, Gut Health, Health & Wellness, Recipes, Smoothies/Drinks

How To Make Kefir

Hey Folks!

Fermented foods are my jam. I love them more than most anything, as I know how healthy and vibrant they make my body. The key to good health is maintaining healthy bacteria in our gut- it’s pretty much crucial to our physical wellbeing, and as we have learned, our mental wellbeing as well.

It’s important to get at least 2-3 fermented foods a day, and  kefir is an excellent fermented food that can be incorporated at breakfast, or any other meal of the day. I really enjoy kefir with oatmeal, or in a smoothie, as it has a nice tangy taste that gives smoothies a refreshing and creamy kick.

Today, Abby Quillen is sharing with us a recipe for kefir (both water and milk versions) , as well as its excellent nutritional benefits.

Ways Microbiota is Good For You

Guest post by Abby Quillen:

A healthy human gut harbors 100 trillion microorganisms representing 500 different species.1 These microflora outnumber our human cells 10 to 1.2 The good news is that most of them are our allies. They aid digestion, boost immune function, and help us absorb nutrients. It’s no wonder more and more people are taking probiotics.Luckily, you don’t need to spend a bundle on supplements to boost your gut biome. Eating probiotic-rich fermented foods – as people have done for thousands of years – has the same gut health benefits. If fermentation sounds like a scary science experiment, then it’s time to learn how to make kefir, one of the healthiest and easiest-to-make probiotic-rich foods.

Kefir 101

Kefir is tangy, mildly carbonated, fermented milk. It tastes like drinkable yogurt and has been a regular part of Russian and Eastern European diets for centuries. It’s a true superfood packed with calcium, protein, potassium, and other minerals and vitamins, and it abounds with healthy bacteria, yeasts, and enzymes.

ConsumerLab.com tests showed that a serving of store-bought kefir beats supplements when it comes to the number and diversity of probiotics. Every brand of kefir they tested teemed with “live organisms, ranging from 150 billion to 950 billion per cup – far more than found in a serving of most probiotic supplements.”3

Homemade kefir contains even more microorganisms than store-bought varieties, because most home fermenters use kefir grains that contain between 30 and 50 different strains of healthy bacteria and yeast. In one study, just one tablespoon of milk kefir contained 150 billion colony-forming units (cfu), a measure of viable bacterial or fungal cells. Compare that to most supplements, which usually contain between 3.4 billion and 30 billion cfu.

The probiotics present in kefir vary per batch, but here’s a list of bacteria strains commonly found in homemade kefir:

  • Lactobacillus
  • Lactococcus
  • Leuconostoc
  • Pseudomonas
  • Streptococcus

These yeast strains are common to kefir:

  • Candida
  • Torulaspora
  • Kluyveromyces
  • Saccharomyces45

The best part is that kefir is simple, fast, inexpensive, and safe to make at home. If you’ve struggled to ferment vegetables or yogurt in the past, don’t let those experiences scare you away from DIY kefir. The entire fermentation process only takes 24 hours at room temperature.

Not into dairy? No problem. Milk kefir can be made with coconut milk. Or you can make water kefir, a delicious and popular soda substitute. Read on to learn the basics of both.

The Difference Between the Grains

First off, milk kefir grains aren’t really grains. They’re a mixture of lactic acid, bacteria, and yeasts in a matrix of proteins, lipids, and sugars, and they contain the wonder bugs that turn milk into kefir.

Kefir grains are not available at stores, but they can be purchased online from a number of vendors. Or they can be found locally on message boards or via friends. If the grains are well cared for, they can be reused indefinitely to brew batch after batch of kefir. And they grow, which means you’ll eventually have some to share.

Kefir can also be made from a powdered starter culture, which is how it’s brewed commercially. However, the grains contain more strains of probiotics and are a more economical choice, since you can use the same ones to make kefir indefinitely.

Water kefir grains contain fewer strains of bacteria and yeast than milk kefir grains, and resemble sugar rather than milk curds. Similar to milk kefir grains, they can be purchased from a number of online vendors, and they can be used over and over again.

How to Make Milk Kefir

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons kefir grains
  • 1 quart milk

Choose one of these options:

  • Cow, sheep, or goat milk

Pasteurized milk works great, but avoid ultra-pasteurized and reduced-lactose varieties. The milk can contain any percentage of fat.

  • Coconut milk

Milk kefir grains can also ferment coconut milk. It may take the grains a few brews to adjust to non-dairy milk. Revitalize them every few days by covering with dairy milk and leaving overnight.

Equipment:

Kefir is acidic, so avoid letting it come into contact with metal, which can cause a reaction.

  • 3 quart-sized jars with lid rings
  • Coffee filter, cloth, or other breathable material (enough to cover two jars)
  • Non-metallic colander or strainer
  • Rubber spatula or wooden spoon
  • Non-metallic mixing bowl

Instructions:

  1. Sterilize the jars.
  2. Depending on where you get your grains, they may be dehydrated. If so, follow the directions provided by the vendor for rehydration. If grains are resting in water, strain.
  3. Place 4 tablespoons of grains into a jar.
  4. Fill the jar with milk.
  5. Affix breathable material with a jar ring.
  6. Set the jar on the countertop out of direct sunlight or in a cupboard for 24 hours. Shake occasionally.
  7. Strain the kefir through the colander into the mixing bowl.
  8. Transfer the kefir into a clean jar. Smell and taste. If the kefir is thick, tangy, and slightly fizzy, it’s perfect. Affix a non-metallic lid, refrigerate, and enjoy. If sour is not your thing, read on for tips to sweeten the kefir.
  9. Move the grains from the colander into the last jar. Repeat the process to make another batch of kefir, or cover the grains with milk and place in the refrigerator. Cold slows the fermentation, so the grains will rest there until you’re ready to make kefir again. Some experts say not to rest grains in the refrigerator regularly. However, many fermenters do because it’s difficult to keep up with drinking quarts of kefir daily. Fortunately, kefir grains tend to be quite resilient.
  10. Kefir should not taste or smell rotten. If it does, or if anything else about it seems off, discard the liquid, rinse the grains in non-chlorinated water, and start over.
How to Enjoy Milk Kefir

How to Make Water Kefir

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon water kefir grains
  • 1/4 cup sugar, sucanat, rapadura, agave nectar, or maple syrup
  • 1 quart of water
  • Optional flavorings
    • Ginger
    • Lemon slices
    • Berries, sliced in half
    • Dried fruit
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon or another dried spice
    • 2 1/4 cup raisins

Equipment:

  • 3 quart-sized jars with metal lid rings
  • Coffee filter, cloth, or other breathable material, enough to cover two jars
  • Non-metallic colander or strainer
  • Rubber spatula or wooden spoon
  • Non-metallic mixing bowl
  • Flip-top bottles (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Sterilize jars.
  2. Depending on where you get your grains, they may be dehydrated. If so, follow the directions provided by the vendor for rehydration. If grains are resting in water, strain.
  3. Boil water.
  4. Add the heated water and sweetener to a quart-sized jar. Stir until sweetener dissolves in water. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.
  5. Add the water kefir grains.
  6. Cover with breathable material and leave on countertop for 24 to 48 hours, shaking occasionally.
  7. Prepare a new batch of sugar water.
  8. Strain the grains by pouring through a colander into a mixing bowl. Transfer the finished water kefir into a clean jar.
  9. If desired, add optional flavorings, pour into the flip-top bottles, seal, and return to the countertop for 18 to 24 hours. This second fermentation adds flavor and fizziness.
  10. After 24 hours, strain out the flavorings, return the water kefir to the bottles, store in the refrigerator, and enjoy whenever desired.
  11. Place the grains in the new batch of sugar water. Either repeat the process or place the jar in the refrigerator to rest for up to 3 weeks.
  12. Water kefir grains can grow rapidly. Share any extra with friends, eat, or compost.67

Cautions

Milk and water kefir are delicious, and it’s quick and easy to whip up abundant supplies. But be cautious about drinking too much too soon. Remember, these beverages contain a lot of probiotics. Your body probably isn’t used to digesting foods that contain that many good bugs. Start with small quantities (maybe just a couple of tablespoons) and increase gradually to let your body adjust. If you experience any digestive upset, slow down.

Kefir is a powerhouse beverage for most healthy people, but it may not be the right drink for people who have compromised immune systems or artificial heart valves, or who are taking certain medications. If in doubt, ask your doctor first.

People who abstain from alcohol may want to skip kefir. Milk kefir contains a very small amount of naturally occurring alcohol from the fermentation process. Water kefir that is fermented a second time with fruit contains more alcohol but usually has less than 1 percent alcohol by volume (compared to 3.5 to 10 percent for beer).8 The actual amount varies per batch by the sugar content of the fruit and the length of fermentation time.

Conclusion

The word “kefir” is said to come from the Turkish word kief, which loosely means “good feeling.”9 Once you start making it, it’s easy to understand how this substance got its name. Making kefir is an ancient art that easily fits into busy, modern lives. If you want the benefits of probiotics without the supplements, it’s time to discover this wonder drink.

 

Sources:

  1. http://www.health.harvard.edu/vitamins-and-supplements/health-benefits-of-taking-probiotics
  2. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/probiotics/introduction.htm
  3. https://www.consumerlab.com/news/Probiotic_supplements_kefir_drinks/11_06_2015/
  4. http://www.culturesforhealth.com/milk-kefir-grains-composition-bacteria-yeast
  5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3716650/
  6. https://www.wholetraditions.com/articles/3-water-kefir-instructions
  7. http://www.culturesforhealth.com/how-to-make-water-kefir
  8. http://kellythekitchenkop.com/does-kefir-soda-have-alcohol/
  9. http://journals.usamvcluj.ro/index.php/agriculture/article/download/930/926

 

About Abby:

abby

Abby Quillen is a writer and gardener who has written for a number of publications and penned her own book titled “The Garden of Dead Dreams.” She lives in Oregon with her family where she enjoys gardening, walking and bike riding, and jotting down the cute things her children say.

This article was originally published on Fix.com on January 18,2016.

Fermentation Station, Gut Health, Health & Wellness, Uncategorized

Your Guide to Probiotic Rich Foods for Healthier Digestion

 Image via Shutterstock

The human microbiome and gut health have been all the rage this year – and for good reason! Did you know that in the human body microorganisms outnumber human cells by 10 to 1? While these bacteria only make up about 2-6 pounds of our body weight, it’s important to keep them healthy and happy, because they help dictate everything from our weight to our moods.

Probiotics, or healthy bacteria, receive lots of praise for helping with digestion. And the good news is you don’t have to run out and buy supplements to enjoy their benefits. Fermented foods contain high levels of good bacteria which studies show can also help reduce anxiety.

Here’s a rundown of foods and drinks that can help settle your gut and boost your immune system, among other benefits:

Yogurt
Yogurt is perhaps the most well-known probiotic-rich food, but be sure to check the label to ensure it contains live and active cultures and not too much sugar. Not only does yogurt help digestive health, but it’s also been known to prevent Type 2 diabetes (check out Integrative Nutrition’s tips for helping clients prevent and manage this disease.) Plus, yogurt isn’t just for breakfast—you can incorporate it into dinners with recipes like linguine with citrusy yogurt and tuna sauce.

Buyer’s Tip: Try plain greek yogurt for all the probiotics of traditional yogurt but more protein per serving!

Non-Dairy Yogurts and Milks
If you’re not a fan of dairy or you’re lactose intolerant, you don’t have to rely on traditional yogurt for probiotics. Just look for almond, cashew, coconut, or soy yogurt with live and active cultures. And bonus: some non-dairy milks have added cultures too! At Integrative Nutrition, we believe in choosing whatever diet works best for your individual needs, whether it’s dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan or whatever else fuels your body.

Buyer’s Tip: Some live and active cultures are derived from a milk base so if you’re vegan be sure to double check the label to make sure your yogurt is fully dairy-free.

Kefir
Have you ever heard of yogurt’s cousin, Kefir? Kefir is fermented milk made from “grains” that are actually a mix of bacteria and yeast. Kefir is thinner than yogurt, so it’s commonly consumed as a drink. If you don’t like the idea of drinking it by itself, mix it into a smoothie. Kefir has been known to aid digestion, heal burns, suppress early-stage tumors and boost the immune system.

Buyer’s Tip: Flavored Kefir is often packed with as much sugar as a candy bar so opt for the plain variety whenever possible.

Miso
Whether you’re eating miso soup or cooking with miso paste, this food is full of probiotics. According toLivestrong, miso is made through a fermentation process using a cultured starter called koji, which contains a fungal microorganism called Aspergillus oryzae, or other cultures including Saccharomyces rouxii. Keep in mind, however, that miso contains lots of sodium and you must choose an unpasteurized brand.

Buyer’s Tip: Allergic to soy? Try out a chickpea or red adzuki bean based miso instead!

Pickles
Pickled cucumbers (and other pickled foods, for that matter) that are made without vinegar may contain healthy probiotics. Look for pickles that are brine cured (meaning only salt, water, and spices), which keeps the bacteria alive. You can make your own fermented foods—but just make sure you do it correctly to avoid illness.

Buyer’s Tip: Be aware of the high sodium content of pickles and be sure to enjoy them in moderation.

Sauerkraut
Made from fermented cabbage, sauerkraut is rich in live cultures and also contains tons of vitamins and fiber. Like pickles, some sauerkraut may not contain probiotics if made from vinegar, so be sure to check to ensure you’re getting beneficial bacteria.

Buyer’s Tip: Get the scoop on sauerkraut from IIN Founder and Director, Joshua Rosenthal in the video below!

What are your favorite probiotic-rich foods and drinks? Let us know in the comments.

This article originally published on Institute of Integrative Nutrition and used with permission.

Blog, Fermentation Station, Meals, Recipes

Miso Tahini Soup

misotahini2

We all know that fermented foods are our best friends, and that we should eat at least two servings of them everyday. Fermented foods provide our gut with beneficial bacteria that help us stay healthy, vibrant, and happy, as good gut health is the key to our overall mental and physical wellness.

Check out this fun miso soup recipe from fellow health coach, Katarina Saxton, for a meal that will make your taste buds (and gut) happy.

Miso Tahini Soup

Serves 4
Prep time 10 min – Cook time: 15 min

 

Ingredients:misotahinisoup

1 delicata or butternut squash, seeded and cut into cubes
1 medium white turnip, peeled and cut into cubes
4 cups water
4 tbsp white miso (or any miso you like and adjust the amount accordingly. Some misos are saltier than others).
1/4 cup tahini
Juice and zest of 1 lemon

 

Optional accompaniments:

3 cups of cooked brown rice
1 avocado (sliced or cubed)
1 bunch of chives, minced
Toasted nori (or kale), crumbled for serving
Toasted sesame seeds

 

Preparation:

1. Toss the squash and turnip in oil, salt and garlic and broil in the oven for 10 minutes. This step is totally optional. Recipe did not call for it, but I feel that the flavors intensify when roasted.
2. Once roasted add the squash and turnip to a large pot, cover with water and bring to a gentle boil.
3. Simmer for few minutes (or 10 if you didn’t roast them i the oven) so the stock gets flavored. Remove from the heat and let cool just slightly.
4. Pour a few tablespoons of the hot stock into a small bowl and whisk in the miso and tahini. This step is to avoid clumping. Stir the thinned miso back into the pot along with lemon zest and juice. Taste, adjust the broth to your liking by adding more miso (for saltiness) or tahini, or something else. I added some sea seasoning for saltiness and cayenne for a little kick, because I like spicy foods.
If you have leftovers and need to reheat the soup, you’ll want to do so gently, over low heat, to preserve the qualities of the miso.

About Kat Saxton:

IMG_7303
Kat Saxton is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and owner of KS Wellness, holistic health coaching company. She was born and raised in Finland and now live in the beautiful San Francisco Bay area. She is an advocate of whole food plant-based lifestyle focusing on digestion and detoxification. She loves yoga, Body Pump, long walks in the nature, pretty journals, farmers markets and cats. Check out her blog for recipe inspiration and wellness tips at www.lifeissweetinnyc.com
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Blog, Fermentation Station, Herbal Remedies/Drinks, Recipes

How To Make Your Own Kombucha

kombucha If you are like me and drink kombucha every day for its amazing health benefits, then you might have figured out already that buying the stuff can get VERY expensive. This is why I brew my own at home! It’s much more cost efficient and I can play around with different flavors. Making kombucha takes some patience at first,but once you’ve found your groove, it’s super easy!

How to Make Kombucha: What you will need:

  • 1 gallon GLASS container  with lid
  • 8 tea bags (green, black, oolong, or herbal. Do not use Earl Grey as this contains oils which can cause mold.)
  • 1 cup of refined white sugar (this is the ONLY time it is okay to use refined white sugar!)
  • 2 cups starter tea (kombucha from last batch or from a friend) or apple cider vinegar
  • 13-14 cups of filtered water
  • 1 Scoby (live culture) Get one from a friend or if this is not an option you can order online.
  • 1 wooden or plastic stirring utensil (metal compromises the live culture)
  • 1 coffee filter
  • 1 rubber band

Directions: **VERY IMPORTANT** Wash hands before and make sure all materials are clean. If they are not this bacteria could cause mold on your kombucha and you will have to throw out your batch and start from scratch.

1. Heat  water and pour into glass container

2. Add 1 cup sugar and stir with plastic or wooden utensil  until all sugar is dissolved.

3. Place tea bags in the water to steep and place lid on top.

4. Cool the water to 68- 85°F  (I usually let it sit overnight).

5. Remove the tea bags.

6. Add the 2 cups of starter tea or apple cider vinegar.

7. Add the active kombucha scoby. IMG_1460   IMG_1462 8. Cover the jar with a coffee filter and a rubber band. IMG_1463 9. Allow the mixture to sit undisturbed at 68-85°F, out of direct sunlight, for 14-30 days, or to taste. The longer the kombucha ferments, the less sweet and more vinegary it will taste. I let mine ferment for a full 30 days so it is not so sweet, but you can experiment to see what works for you.

10.  After 14-30 days, remove the coffee filter and put the scoby along with 2 cups of your newly made kombucha in a sealed glass container to save for your next batch.

*Optional- Add fruit to the kombucha at this stage. I like to add chopped ginger (gives it a spicy kick and adds more of a detoxing element) and lemon to mine. IMG_1459 11. Place the lid on the jar and put the jar back in it’s spot out of the sunlight for 2 more days. This is the fizzing process and creates more carbonation. It also gives time for  the fruit to infuse if you have chosen to add it.

12. Strain the fruit from the liquid, and place your fresh batch of kombucha in the fridge. You can even bottle it in individual glass jars ( I like to use old store bought kombucha bottles) for convenience.

Happy Brewing!

Health Coach Jenna HealtherNotions_Logo_Stacked