Living a life less toxic…

by Faith Canter


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Kombucha Probiotic Tea

Kombucha is a 2000 year old fermented probiotic tea.

It’s beneficial to digestive health, helping to balance the good and the bad bacteria within the gut.  It helps the body to lessen it’s toxic load by supporting the liver and boasting the immune system.  It is also thought to support the joints, helps with PMS, increases metabolism, is packed full of B vitamins and plenty of enzymes, supports auto-immune conditions and increases energy levels.

When left to second-ferment gets fizzy and can resemble champagne. It’s tasty, especially if you use a flavoured green tea like jasmine, as I do.

You will need to obtain a scoby/mother/mushroom (some of the many names for the same culture/bacteria starter for your probiotic tea) , which should come with a small amount of kombucha tea to start you off.  You can get these from sellers on ebay, fermenting forums online and fermenting groups on Facebook etc.

Kombucha Recipe:

Make a jar (1 litre) of tea in the usual way…WITHOUT MILK

Boil your kettle of water, pour over a teabag add 4 tablespoons of organic sugar.

Once the tea bag has brewed for 10 minutes, remove it and allow to cool to room temperature. Place the scoby with starter tea and your freshly brewed but cooled tea all in a mason jar.  Cover your jar with some muslin and secure with an elastic band.

Place jar in a cool, dry place, like a cupboard or on your kitchen side, but away from sunlight.

Leave your kombucha to brew for 7 to 10 days (depending on your taste preference). During this time your kombucha mushroom will grow a baby kombucha mushroom which will look like a clear jelly over the original mushroom piece.

After 7 – 10 days pour around 700ml of your kombucha tea out of your jar  and bottle for either second fermenting or to drink as it is.  Be careful not to pour out your kombucha scobys (you should now have two).

Top up the jar of kombucha tea with fresh, cooled brewed tea as above and start the process again.

2nd Fermentation

This is when after bottling your drink, you allow it to still for a further 2-5 days (ideally in the fridge to stop it from becoming more sour). The end result is a bubbly champagne-like refreshing drink. Other ingredients such as ginger root, lemon or other fruit can be added at this stage.  These items can be added by cutting them into small pieces or by juicing them then pouring the juice in with the kombucha tea, which is my preferred method.

What I have learnt:

  1. The longer your kombucha brews the more vinegary it becomes (and indeed will turn to vinegar eventually).
  2. Every time you change your kombucha tea, a new baby scoby forms (find friends to give these two).
  3. Decaffeinated tea and different types of sugar can be used, although the tannins really are needed for good kombucha tea.
  4. Avoid artificial sweeteners and honey while fermenting as these can reduce the potency of the culture.
  5. You can dehydrate your extra scobys and make sweets from them.

Do you make your own Kombucha tea?  If so what’s your favourite flavour? 

Here’s some links to some more information on Kombucha:

Food Renegade: How to Grow a Kombucha Scoby.

Mother Earth News: Health Benefits of Drinking Kombucha Tea.

Seeds of Health: What is Kombucha Tea?

 

 


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Nice and Simple Sourdough Recipe

The Benefits of Sourdough:

Due to the natural yeasts and bacteria in the sourdough starter and amount of time the bread dough it is allowed to rise for it means that any gluten in the dough are eaten up.  During this process the starches are predigested which means the dough become much easier to digest.  This along with the increase in lactic acid and natural preservatives makes for a yummy, healthy and easier on the digestive system loaf.

Ingredients:

480g of flour (I prefer spelt flour)

100g sourdough starter

220ml of fresh water

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

 

Directions:

  1. Mix 100g of sourdough starter with 300g of flour and 220ml of water well in a bowl and cover for 8 – 10 hours (at this stage you can add herbs, chillies and sundried tomatoes).
  2. Add the remaining 180g of flour, sugar and salt and knead well and cover and allow to rest for another 2 – 3 hours.
  3. Knead again and pop into a lightly oiled bread tin or proof basket and leave in a warm place covered for 1 – 2 hours (you can make slices in the top of the dough at this stage if you want to).
  4. Preheat your oven on a medium heat (around 180) and add a bowl of boiling water to the bottom of your oven.
  5. Place dough in its baking tin/basket into the upper oven and cook for 30 – 35 mins.
  6. Remove from the tin and allow it to cool slightly before cutting into it.

 

Notes:

Your sourdough starter needs to be fed once and week and should live in your fridge until the day before you want to use it.

To fed your sourdough starter add 50g of flour (I use spelt flour) and 50ml (or grams) of filtered water. Mix well and pop back in the fridge until you want to use it.

Your starter will separate (with the hooch laying on top), this is absolutely fine and it just needs stirring back in each week when you fed it.

 

Sourdough Starter Recipes:

The Kitchn: How to Make a Sourdough Starter, click here.

Nourished Kitchen: How to Make a Sourdough Starter, click here.

Paul Hollywood: Sourdough Starter, click here.

BBC Food: Sourdough Starter, click here.

 


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Wild Garlic Fermented Probiotic Pesto

At this time of year there is plenty of wild garlic around.  Not only is this growing for free all over the country, but it’s incredibly good for you also. Here’s why:

  • Its antibacterial
  • An natural antibiotic
  • It’s an antiseptic
  • Great for the heart, being even better at reducing blood pressure than normal garlic
  • Reduces arteriosclerosis and elevated cholesterol levels
  • Reduces the risk of blood clots

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I went foraging for wild garlic the other day and I made some fermented probiotic pesto.  Here is the recipe. Ingredients:

  • 700/1kg of wild garlic leaves
  • 120 grams of pine nuts or chopped almonds
  • 1 tbsp of salt
  • 1/4 cup of filtered water
  • 50/100 grams of basil leaves
  • salt and pepper

Directions: 

  • Blend all the ingredients (accept the water) in a blender, (you can change the ratio of ingredients to your personal taste)
  • Add mixture to a a sterilised jar and top up with the water so it comes just above the level of the mixture
  • Place a small plate or weight of some sort over the top of the mixture so that it is all submerged
  • Pop the lid on and put in a cupboard for anywhere between 10 days and 2 months

Notes:

1. You can ferment the wild garlic by itself (as per the above directions), so that you have a store of probiotic garlic to last you through the winter.

2. You can add olive oil to the jar rather than brine/salted water and this will make a pesto closer to the shop bought stuff and one that you could use almost straight away.

3. Don’t pull up the wild garlic bulbs – the leaves (and flowers) are the best bit of wild garlic and if you leave the bulbs even more wild garlic will be there next year.

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Here’s some other garlic fermenting links you might be interested in:

Eat Weeds, Lactofermented Wild Garlic, click here.

Cultures for Health, How to Ferment Garlic Scraps, click here.

Galloway Wild Foods, How to Ferment Wild Greens, click here.

Nourished Kitchen, Brine-pickled Lactofermented garlic scraps, click here.


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Homemade Probiotic Apple Cider Vinegar Recipe

The Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar:

  1. Detoxifying
  2. It helps balance the pH level of your body, helping you become less acidic and more alkaline
  3. Helps with the treatment of stings, bites, sunburn, warts, skin tags and verrucas
  4. Great for the health of your hair and works wonders as a hair shampoo
  5. Helps promote weight loss
  6. It helps balance the flora of the gut/digestive system
  7. It can be used as an all-round cleaner throughout the home
  8. Helps whiten teeth and freshen breath
  9. Helps balance blood sugar and blood pressure levels
  10. Helps with ingestion, heartburn, hiccups and sore throats
  11. It helps mask animals, from fleas and ticks, so is great used as a dog shampoo or a little added to their drinking water

I’ve never understood why apple cider vinegar is so expensive to buy, when it’s so cheap and easy to make! And here’s how:

Ingredients:

  • 6-10 organic apples (whole or scraps of)
  • 1 large bowl
  • 1 glass jar
  • 1 piece of muslin
  • Elastic band

Directions:

  1. Rinse apples/scraps and cut into large chunks.
  2. Put the apples in the bowl and cover with the muslin and allow to go brown.
  3. Add apples to the jar and cover with water.
  4. Cover the jar with the cheesecloth and leave in a dark place for 2-4 months (short time for scraps and longer for chunks of apple from whole apples).
  5. Strain the apples pieces and any scum from the liquid and bottle in an airtight container and use as and when required.

 

Apple cider vinegar is great in salad dressings and raw food recipes.

Enjoy!

 

Here are some relevant links you might enjoy:

Refinery29, How to Actually Enjoy Apple Cider Vinegar, click here.

Vegetarian Times, Apple Cider Vinegar, click here.

Cook for Food, Homemade Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, click here.

Gerson Institute, 8 Amazing Uses for Apple Cider Vinegar, click here.

 


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Super Simple Probiotic Kimchi Recipe

Kimchi is a fermented Korean dish that is really good for you, super simple to do and incredibly yummy.  Add into the mix that it’s packed full of good yeasts and bacteria, making it a really healthy probiotic dish, that helps balance the flora of the gut means there’s no excuse not to get your kimchi on!

There are many different recipes for making up kimchi, but here is my favourite:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 head of white cabbage
  • 2 carrots (parsnips also work well)
  • small bag of red radish
  • 1 small celeriac (optional)
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 2 inch square of fresh ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of filtered water or sauerkraut juice
  • one large or two smaller jars

Directions: 

  1. Using the shredding/grating function on your food processor, or using a hand grater, grate all the vegetables.
  2. Place all but the water into a large bowl and massage the salt thoroughly through the vegetables.
  3. Using either a kraut pounder or the end of a rolling pin, pound down the vegetables until the juices are released, this should take around 10/15 mins.
  4. Put the vegetable mixture into your chosen jar(s).
  5. If the brine mixture from the vegetables does not completely cover the vegetables then top up with water until it does.
  6. Add a couple of cabbage leaves to the top of your vegetable mixture and weigh down with a stone (making sure to boil it first) or a kitchen weight, make sure everything is just under the water/brine level, so that it does not go mouldy.
  7. Put the lid on the kimchi and place in a cupboard for a minimum of 2 weeks, preferably more like a month.  The longer you leave it the better, but if you leave it longer than 6 weeks you will need to ‘burp’ the jar (open it to let the pressure out).  It will taste stronger the longer you leave it.
  8. Once opened, leave in the refrigerator and add to the side of just about any hot or cold dish for a super-charged meal.

 

Note: You can use just about any vegetables in this recipe, so it’s a great way to use up veggies! Waste not, want not! =)

Now go get your Kimchi on! =)

 

 


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Sauerkraut

When you make Sauerkraut yourself or buy the unpasteurised stuff from a health food store it is packed full of probiotics.  To name just a few: Lactobacillus acidophilusL. bulgaricusL. plantarumL. caretL. pentoaceticusL brevis and L. thermophiles.  It is also thought to be full of vitamin C, help the fight against cancer, be a great treatment towards peptic ulcers, be packed full of essential enzymes and helps balance the flora of the gut, thus helping symptoms of IBS, leaky gut, food intolerances and even some auto-immune diseases.

It is super easy and cheap to make your own sauerkraut and it tastes delicious also!

Recipe: 

1 medium cabbage

1 tbsp sea salt

Optional: 

1 tbsp caraway, coriander or fennel seeds

3 tbsp grated ginger (I highly recommend this addition)

2/3 cup grated carrot

Directions:

1. Remove outer leaves from the cabbage and set aside.

2. Shred cabbage, carrots and ginger (if you’re adding these).

3. In a bowl, mix the shredded items with seeds (if you’re adding these) and sea salt.  Then massage together or pound down with a mallet or the end of a rolling pin for 10 mins.

4. Once the juices have been released place into a wide mouth  jar and continue to pound down until juices come up and cover the cabbage (if this does not happen then added a little lightly salted water until it covers the cabbage well, (leave 2 inches of space at the top).

5. Place a whole cabbage leaf over the top of the cabbage to make sure no air can get to the shredded cabbage underneath.  If not then use some a clean weight of some sort to weigh the cabbage down, add lid.

6. Leave in a dark spot at room temperature for around a month.  You can eat it after 3 days, but it’s much tastier and has more probiotics in it if left longer.  Transfer to fridge once you open it or after a month or two.

Note:

If you leave it for more than a couple of weeks you may want to ‘burp’ it (open the lid a little) to release the build up of pressure from within the jar.

Sauerkraut can be added to the side of most meals or even added to smoothies for a probiotic boost, but don’t heat it as you will lose most of the goodness!

Now enjoy! =)


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Water Cultured Kefir

So what is Kefir?  

Kefir is a fermented/cultured probiotic drink.  It comes in both ‘milk kefir’ and ‘water kefir’ forms.

As the name would suggest ‘milk kefir’ is made from milk, but not just dairy milk.  Milk kefir is also made with coconut milk, almond milk, soya milk –  pretty much anything that comes in milk form can be used to make milk kefir.

Water kefir is made from sugar water or coconut water.

Both can be flavoured with various fruits and vegetables (this usually happens on what they call a ‘second ferment’ of your product).

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So why drink it? 

1. Kefir is a much higher source of many different strains of healthy bacteria and yeasts.  This is far higher in probiotic content than the yoghurts or little pots of probiotic drink you will find in a supermarket.   Kefir is an excellent all round source of probiotics.

2. It is a wonderful detoxifying drink as it helps balance the yeasts and bacteria in the digestive system.  This helps to eliminate bad yeasts and bacteria throughout the body.

3. Milk kefir is packed full of easily digestible calcium.

4. It’s full of amino acids and minerals essential for good health.

5. If you have a lactose intolerance you may find that you can tolerate using milk kefir products and in some cases the kefir even helps to heal the gut of this intolerance.

6. It is an excellent source of protein and can reduce cholesterol & high blood pressure.

7. It holds plenty of B vitamins, especially B12 and vitamin K.

8. It helps strengthen the immune system.

9. It can help with energy levels and cognitive function.

10. It’s thought to benefit autoimmune conditions.

11. It’s cheap and easy to make!

So how do you make it?

Milk kefir is slightly better for you than water kefir, but I prefer water kefir.  Sometimes I make it with sugar water and sometimes with straight coconut water instead.

Directions:

1. Take a large mason jar and dissolve 1/4 cup of organic sugar into one cup of hot water into it.  Then top up with another 3 cups DSC_0471 cold water (if the water is chlorinated then leave on the side for 24hrs before adding grains) . I then add 4 tbsp of water kefir grains.

2. You can also add bicarbonate of soda, lemon, mineral drops or egg shell at this stage for added mineral content and healthy grains.

3. Secure some muslin or a  coffee filter over the top of the mason jar with a rubber band.

4. Let it culture for 48 hours, a little less if you prefer it sweet and a little more if you prefer it slightly more sour (the more sour the less sugar is left in it).

5. When it reaches your preferred taste, separate the grains from the liquid through a plastic sieve (metal item can damage the grains).  Then add grains directly into a new batch of sugar water.

6. You can now drink the liquid as it is, leaving it in the fridge in-between to slow down continued fermentation.             DSC_0623

7. You can now do a second ferment to add flavour to your kefir.  Add juiced fruit or even vegetables like beetroot to the kefir drink and put in a closed mason jar or grolsch style bottle and close the lid firmly.  This will allow the kefir to get fizzy like a flavoured soda. Leave this for another 24 to 72 hours and store in the fridge when it is at your preferred taste.

What I’ve learnt from my adventures:

1. If you’re not particularly healthy, have digestive issues, eat a lot of sugar or suspect that you have a yeast overgrowth then have only have a few sips of kefir each time to start with and slowly increase your intake.  If you consume too much to start with, you may experience strong detox symptoms.  These symptoms can be slightly unpleasant.  This is particularly prevalent if you have an unhealthy digestive system.

2. Do not rinse grains in normal water if they need rinsing, use sugar water or coconut water.

3. Boil egg shells first otherwise they can cause mould.

4. Fruit is much better and stronger tasting if juiced rather than whole pieces of fruit added, but you can do this also, but it will need straining off.

5. Your grains should multiply slightly with each batch, if this is not happening then you may need to add more sugar or minerals.

6. Sweet fruits generally work better than sour fruits, especially strawberries, mmmm =)

7. Don’t use metal utensils (including sieves) with the grains as this can harm them.

8. If you buy dehydrated grains, they can take a few batches to get going properly.  Have patience!DSC_0682

9. If you don’t want to make another batch straight away, then put the grains into super sugar water in the fridge (making sure to add more sugar after a week).

10. Eventually you’ll have too many grains.  Why not give the extra ones to a friend, so that they can start their own.  You can even eat the excess kefir grains!

It’s addictive!  Once you start, you can’t stop!

It really can become addictive… but in a good way! =)