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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Healthy Travel Tips

As you might have guessed I try to be as healthy as possible and this can sometimes prove difficult when you’re on the go.  So I decided to put together a list of my top tips for healthy travel.

1. Buy a camping cutlery set.  I take mine everywhere I go, this means I can eat salads, fruits, muesli or soup from a mug in the hotel or other things like avocados.  This is my favourite and best used tip for healthy eating on the go – with one of these lots more healthy foods become edible.  It also has the added bonus of meaning you’re not using single-use (environmentally unfriendly) plastic knifes and forks (that is if the store even has these).

2. Take a large lunch box of fruits and veggies and other good foods with you.  This means at least for the first few days you’ll be a good girl or boy!  Don’t worry about the wasted space this takes up on the way back – I simply take the lid off and pack things in the box (it’s actually great for anything that you’re worried about getting damaged or leaking).

3. I take my own healthy muesli with me and some almond milk.  I have personally found that almond milk (not the stuff you buy from the refrigerated areas of the super market, but the one off the shelves) is fine to consume for brekkie with my muesli for 3 days without having to put it in a fridge.  So this is a great option for a healthy breakfast when living out of a suitcase.

4. If you pass a supermarket then always buy some fruit.  Even if you’re not hungry at the time, you will be later and if it’s close at hand you’re much more likely to eat this than go and find a vending machine or corner shop that sells chocolate and crisps etc.

5. I take my tin water bottle everywhere with me.  I top it up whenever I come across drinking water taps or fountain and it means I always drink enough water every day and that I’m not buying lots of single use bottles (better for my health and that of the environment = winner).

6. Take your own herbal teabags.  I take a small supply of organic herbal teabags everywhere I go in my handbag.  This way anywhere that has hot water means I can have a healthy herbal tea.  These days many more places sell herbal teas, but I still find I use them up, especially when staying away from home or visiting friends and family.

7. If it’s impractical for you to take your fermented foods and drinks with you (to maintain good gut health) then then next best thing it to take a really good probiotic with you.  This helps to minimise the risk of tummy upsets.

8. Decant some coconut oil into a small glass jar.  I take coconut oil everywhere with me.  It’s solid at home temperature, so does not need to go in the silly clear liquids bag when going through the security check at the airport.  It’s a great moisturiser and make-up remover, is great for stings, bites, sunburn and many other things as listed in my blog post about coconut oil (click here).

9. Pack a deodorant rock.  I don’t use antiperspirants due to the toxic load of the harmful chemicals in them, so I have tried out most of the natural alternatives and I have found the PitRock salt rock the best of the lot.  It allows you to naturally sweat without smelling.  Again it’s a solid so does not need to go into the clear liquids bag when going through security and because it’s antibacterial it doubles up for helping with spots, bites and stings also.

10. Take a set of ear-plugs in your make-up bag.  These can then be used on planes, trains and in noisy hotel rooms. A must for getting adequate sleep.

11. Before you leave check out if there is a health food store, raw, vegan or vegetarian restaurant close by, or as a last resort. a M&S or Waitrose (for their large range of yummy salads) close by.  You can wander around cities for hours and not find these when usually they are only a street or two away if you know where to look.

12. Get grounding!  The best thing for jet lag is to ground yourself once you get off the plane.  This simply means taking your shoes off and connecting with the earth again.  I rarely suffer from any sort of jet lang by doing this, it works a treat.

13. Meditate.  Use the time on the plane/train to meditate.  Not only will this help to ground you, but you’ll feel more energised, less jet lagged and more relaxed.

14. Get stretching.  I find most hotel rooms aren’t big enough for a full yoga or pilates routine but most are big enough for a few basic stretches.  This is a great way to start the day, stretches out those cramped travelling muscles and is also energising.  I’ve even been known to do a few on the plane as well; you feel heaps better afterwards.

15. And my final tip is if you can fit your smoothie maker and/or juicer in your hold luggage then do it!  This has saved me many a bad meal before.  Smoothie makers these days are quite small and you can pop just about any fruit and vegetable in them with some water (and if you’re like me then some raw enzyme protein powder) when on the go and there you have a healthy snack or breakfast.

What healthy tips do you have for travelling?

Here’s some healthy travel tips from others…

In Sonnets Kitchen: Top 7 Healthy Travelling Tips click here.

Trip It: 10 Tips for Healthy Travel click here.

The National Geographic: How to Stay Healthy on the Go click here.

My New Roots: Recipes & Tips for Healthy Travel click here.

Sick on the Road blog click here.

The Independent Traveller: Eating Well & Staying Active click here.

 


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Free-from Pineapple and Orange Cake: Dairy, gluten, sugar and yeast free

I fancied a little treat today, so along came the free-from pineapple and orange cake!

I find a lot of free-from foods are packed full of processed sugars and trans fats, so are actually not very good for you. What makes this cake so good is that although it has some high sugar (but all natural) fruits in it, it has no processed sugars or trans fats at all! It’s super yummy and also being free-from it doesn’t have any dairy, gluten or yeast in it either.

Ingredients: 

150 g/1 cup of dried and pitted dates

The peel of 1 orange

The juice of the same orange and filtered water making it up to 200 ml/ 3/4 cup

125 ml/ 1/2 cup of olive oil

30 g / 1/3 cup ground almonds

60g/ 6 tbsp rice flour

90 g/ 9 tbsp soya flour

60 g/ 6 tbsp corn or gram flour

1 tbsp of ground ginger

4 tsp of baking powder

3 medium eggs (beaten) or if you vegan egg replacer

150 g / 1 cup of pineapple (fresh or canned)

60 g / 6 tbsp of raisins

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 170C / 325F / gm 3.

2. Finely chop the dates and add to the orange in a pan.

3. Place the orange/water juice mixture into the same pan and heat until simmering.

4. Once the dates and orange peel are soft remove from the heat and add the oil.

5. Place the date mixture into a large bowl and slowly add the flours, ground almonds, ginger, baking powder and then the beaten eggs (or egg replacer).

6. Chop the pineapple up into small chunks and add to the cake mixture, along with the raisins.

7. Grease a cake tin with a little olive oil and place the cake mixture into the tin and then into the oven for 30 mins.

8. After 30 mins reduce the heat to 140C / 275F / gm 1 and cook for a further 20 mins.

9. Remove from the oven and turn out onto a cooling rack.

10. Can be frozen if you want to save some of another day.

Enjoy! 

Here’s some recipes for some more free-from cakes you might like:

Fabulously Free From: No Corn Cornbread, click here.

Gluten Free on a Shoestring: Gluten Free Strawberry Cupcakes, click here.

Free From Fairy: Millionaires Shortbread, click here.

Carly Olivia: Gluten Free Chocolate Sponge Cake, click here.

What’s your favourite free-from cake recipe?

 

 


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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! =)