Kombucha

So you know that I love to ferment!  And while I have been making Sour kraut for a while, I recently (April/May) was introduced to Kombucha.  I just want to tell you I love this stuff!  My kids love it, my husband thinks I’m crazy, but what’s new?  I love the energy it gives me, yes I can tell!  I love to experiment with different flavors, and I love drinking it knowing it is good for my gut!

So, (Kristen this is for you) here is my Kombucha making process.  Elizabeth taught me my first class, and then I read a bunch of things online about it and have tweaked it here and there.

First, you need a gallon jar.  My advice, if you have not been saving them in your garage for years, it to go buy a jar of pickles from SAMs for 7$.  Eat the pickles and voila, you have a jar.  Or you can go to Walmart and buy an empty jar for about $14.00.  Either way you are about to make money for your family.  If you want to drink Kombucha and not make it, expect to pay 3-5$ for a single serving bottle!  And good luck finding it in the middle of no where like where I live!

Next, get a starter Scobi from a friend, or buy a “high priced” individual serving bottle from somewhere.  {If you get a starter from a friend, skip this next paragraph}  Pour your bottle of store bought Kombucha in the gallon jar, cover the lid with a coffee filter – rubber banded on the top of the jar and put it in a warm cabinet for 3-30 days (above the stove is great).  Yes, three to thirty days.  In my house this process takes about 3 days, because I have fermenting particles in the air because we ferment and eat lots of fermented stuff.  If you are new to this, it might take up to 30 days.  Check on it often – eventually you will grow a Scobi.

 

 Scoby – symbiotic culture of bacteria & yeast

Your scobi will grow as big as your jar is wide, and will grow thicker with each batch of Kombucha.  I will separate mine, like a hamburger bun, and gift one layer to friends, or give it to chickens to eat.

 

The scobi is making a seal on the top of your Kombucha allowing it to ferment and work it’s magic!!

Once you have your scobi, you will feed it.  You need to make the tea.

I use 4 cups of DISTILLED water – not tap water.  Tap water has chlorine and such and will kill the bacteria and good stuff.

I bring 4 cups of DISTILLED water almost to a  boil with 1 cup of sugar.  Still while it is heating until all the sugar is dissolved.  Then you can turn off the water right before it starts to really boil.

Then I add 4 family size tea bags and steep for 5 minutes, or until I remember to take the tea bags out.  Then I let it cool.

Add the tea mixture to your jar once it is room temperature and fill the rest of the way with the rest of your gallon of distilled water.

Let this sit in a warm dark place (over the stove is where mine sits) for 7 days.  Sometimes i forget and it is 8, sometimes i do it early and it is 6.  But generally I wait 7 days.

Then you take our your scobi, set aside.

Pour your kombucha into jars (I use quart and 1/2 gallon)

I save 1 cup of the Kombucha as  a “Starter” for the next batch.

Set bottled Kombucha aside.

Then I put scobi and “Starter” back into my jar (I wash it out sometimes, sometimes I just use it again.  I think it is fine either way)

And then you feed again with the tea mixture.

Meanwhile you can put your Kombucha in the fridge as it is.  Or you can flavor it.  If you want to be “lazy” you can buy fruit juice to add to provide your flavor.  I do not want what is in fruit juice.  I also do not want it any sweeter than it is normally.  So I flavor like this:

Pumpkin Spice Tea, Chai or Peppermint – steep 1-1 1/2cups of water with 2 tea bags

Blueberry – add 1/4 cup of frozen blueberries

Grapefruit – add frozen 1/4 of a slice of grapefruit

Mango – add 1/4 cup frozen mango slices

Get creative with what you like.  Each variation offers different benefits and vitimins and nutrients.  Plus each taste different.  My favorite is grapefuit – I LOVE IT!!

Next would be Chai or Pumpkin Spice – they are really good too.

Whole family loved Blueberry.


FAQ:

Do not use stainless steel utensils, wooden or plastic and same with pots & bowls :wooden, glass or plastic.

Do not use tap water

Be careful washing everything and putting Kombucha right in or scobi – the chlorine in your water and the ingredients in your soap could kill good stuff.

You can go longer than 7 days, up to 30 – it will become alcoholic at some point.  You are fermenting like wine.

Kombucha help your gut, it even curbs my snack desire/appetite.  It is not a meal replacement but it impacts my day tremendously.

 

 

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Day 1

Yep.  It’s time.  My addiction to sugar is out of control.  We have been letting gluten creep back into our diets in little ways.  But mostly its the sugar!

So today is Day 1.  Whole 30 here we are and yeah!!

I hope to journal better through this, our 3rd whole 30.  We both need this.  Robert has not been losing any weight since before Christmas, and my jeans are getting tight.  So time to reset.

These first few days will be the worst, but having done this before we know what to expect and that it won’t be long before we feel amazing again!!

While so many people are taking supplements to feel good, we feel like managing our diets is the key component to feeling good.  We know this works.  We know medically this lifestyle rocks!!  Our cholesterol numbers were amazing after our Whole30 last year, our sugar numbers were great, and we were thinner, had more energy and overall knew life was better!

If you are confused about what the heck I am even talking about, here is a LINK to some great info.  Whole30 is a reset for your body.  You eliminate sugar, wheat/gluten of every kind and anything processed.  You eat whole real food for 30 days.  At first you are starving your body of the carbs and sugar that is LOVES oh so much.  But after about a week you will start to have more energy, feel better over all and if you are like Robert or me, you will lose some weight.  Weight loss was never my goal, getting my sugar addiction under control was, but I got back to my college weight on my last Whole30 and college was 20+ years ago!!  (at least that weight was :))

So, here we go!  Hope to share more info and our results in the next 30 days!!

Relationships with food & beyond

I have been on a food journey since about mid February.  Haven’t said much about it on here, mostly because I am busy keeping up with it!  But I think I am settling in to a new normal, and my family is joining me for the most part, for a variety of reasons.

So I do not want to get on a soap box and preach because quite honestly everyone is at a different place in their life in a multitude of ways.  Ages of kids, busyness outside of the home, new foster kids, and so many other things.  I am not sure I would have ever braved this new land if I had toddlers at home, or if I recently have 3 kids dropped in my lap with a plethora of issues.  I am quite busy outside the home, but even that has settled a bit.

So here I am.  And I feel like we have redirected our eating lives forever.

Are you ever sorry when you learn something?  Like once you know it, it changes you?  You cannot go back to blissfully ignorant. It may not take over your thoughts but it is forever niggling in the back of your mind, cautioning your choices no matter what.

That is where we are.  We started Whole30 on April 27th.  I had been mostly whole30 for 7 weeks before that, but I did have some butter, and some stevia. {and a blissfully fun trip to Michigan with two Triple D’s along the way! and amazing food in Michigan}  But on April 27th we went all in, we joined the Whole30 world and it will change us forever.  We got the books – and we HIGHLY suggest you get & read the books BEFORE you start!  If you just use the internet you will never fully understand why you are doing what you are doing – and you will quit.  The books will help coach you through the days you want to kill the people around you, or rob a donutshop on your way to work.  Trust me, read the books!!

starts with food

w30book1 I’ll go into why I love Whole30 another day, but today I wanted to share our Sour Kraut adventure!!  One of the parts of being healthy on any program, plan, lifestyle is incorporating Fermented Foods!!  They are SO good for our gut, healing!

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Your intestines are so vital to good health and fermented foods help nourish your intestines!!

Here is another pic for you I LOVE:

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I really believe that!

So when I came home with a case of green cabbage, I knew I was going to attempt Sour Kraut again!  I tried some in Maine last summer, brought it all the way home and then threw it away.  It scared me.  And now I wish I had just tried it.  Oh well.

About 7 weeks ago I tried again.  Read tons of posts about sour kraut and how to make it and I did.  I put it in a 1/2 gallon mason jar, put a ziplock bag of water on top to keep out air and put it in the back of my pantry.  I took it out two days ago.  It looks gorgeous, no mold or anything suspicious.  But I still had to call my friend to ask if we could eat it.  After waiting a day, we tried it, the kids and I all gobbled it up – and we LOVED it!!  Got me so excited!!

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It was just cabbage, some carrots, a little radish and salt.  nothing else.  Pretty simple.  But it was tasty and not soggy – crunchy like something fresh.

So, here is what I did this time around.

First I shredded (finely) about 11 heads of cabbage.

Then I got out a HUGE bowl and a Large Stock pot  and put my cabbage in those to things.  Then in one I just added salt.

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Simple recipe – nothing added.  The next batch I added lime juice, a jalapeño with seeds, a head of garlic, and some poblano peppers which I threw in the ninja and finely chopped.

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I added all this to the other batch with lots of salt too and mixed.  Left it on the counter about 4 hours, mixing often to get the salt to get the juice out of the cabbage.

Then I sterilized my jars in the oven.

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Finally, I packed my jars, pressing down firmly – and once they were full, I left space a thte top to put a sandwich bag with water (about 1/2 cup) to be my seal.  I put the bag in and press all the air out and put a mason jar lid with ring on and close.

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Then I put it in a dark spot (back of pantry cabinet) and leave it.  I will check in 3 days to make sure it is bubbly, and not leaking too much, and no air inside.
Air is the enemy – it will grow mold.  If that happens you just scoop it out – it will not go deeper.

This morning I shredded up another 10 heads of cabbage, and included a head of red/purple cabbage.

I mixed in just a bit of red cabbage to make it look a little more colorful.

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Then I will mix in some lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic and ginger to make a citrus ginger sour kraut batch.

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Two other batches are just garlic and one has carrots and one has red pepper slivers.  Pretty simple but should taste good and be GREAT for our guts!!

All 3 batches will set on my kitchen counter for about 4 hours, break down a bit and the cabbage will release a bunch of liquid to make the brine.  The salt is really the one thing you NEED to add, the rest is just for fun, color or flavor.  I will mix them every time I think about it – about 30 minute increments.

After that I will again put it into 1/2 gallon mason jars with the ziplock baggie of water on the top.  And hide them in a dark cabinet for about 6 weeks.

When I take all this yummy goodness out in 6 weeks I plan to can it in pint jars in a hot water bath.  10 minutes in boiling water will seal all the jars and then this concoction will be good for far longer than it will take us to eat it!  I cannot wait!!

Now, go get some cabbage and start your own!!  Let me know if you try some great new variation or flavor!!

My ultimate goal of all of this : whole30, Paleo, Sour kraut – is to have a healthy relationship with food.  I want to decide what I want to eat and then eat it – not be driven by cravings or emotional needs.  So here I continue on this journey of enjoying great food, but not letting it control me!!

Gluten – ugh

So, we conducted a test this summer.  We took my youngest son off gluten.  What does this mean?  Gluten is in wheat.  It is not the yeast, but it is in all wheat products.  Not all flours though, as there are flours made from non-wheat things resulting in gluten free flour.  So no bread (unless special 6$ loaf gluten free), no normal crackers, no cereal, no pancakes, etc.  No cream of anything soup, no regular noodles, no processed stuff basically.

If you are not familiar with Celiac (a condition that exists when the intestines are not able to absorb nutrients because gluten is blocking the absorption) you may have heard about autistic children eliminating gluten from their diet with wonderful results.   Some people are going off gluten for other reasons, irritable bowels, wheat belly weight, and many others.

Either way, I wanted to see if eliminating gluten from E’s diet would improve his obedience, melt-downs, etc.

We started July 6th.  I figured summer was best as we could eat fresh veggies and fruit instead of breads.  It was okay – but we had to learn to cut back on bread for the whole family (trying to be as fair as we can with our meals), and replacing regular pasta with gluten free (a rice blend).  We really did not mind it much overall, but eating a quick bite out was the hardest.  For instance doing a night VBS across the county and trying to have a snack on the way home – that is tough, but E has learned he loves Sonic tater-tots with chili cheese.

Next was the trip to Maine, traveling again, staying with family and friends.  That was not too tough – again steered toward veggies and meats.  Eating the complimentary dinner in the hotel was a challenge, so we packed E’s dinner before departing Maine, and warmed it up.  He kind of liked having the “special” plate, unless the rest of us were eating yummy gluten junk!

Our time in Maine was the easiest as my mother-in-law has Celiac and has been gluten free for years now.  So E had a friend and advocate and someone making him his own yummy treats!!  They had gluten free Lobster Mac & Cheese!

Everyone kept telling me how well he was behaving, how calm and great he was.  I really thought they were all crazy.  I saw that he was good, but marked it up to vacation, time lapse since they last saw him, maturity milestone, etc.

We came back home, introduced gluten back in slowly.  Started with only my fresh ground wheat.  Then eventually had donuts (occasionally).

It took about 4 weeks.  THEN WE CRASHED.

Ugh.

Yes, it started on a Monday when E cried during Math, grammar, etc.  Could not function.  I told Robert that I thought it might be wheat, another day and he was off that nasty stuff.  The next day we were super busy & no school – so he got a pass. However the rest of the week was the same, crying over nothing.  Irrationally fits, overly emotional.  And we knew.  We kept looking at each other saying we need to get him off gluten!!

So, we started to detox him again of gluten.  I know last time it had to take at least 4 weeks to have any change, I hope this time is faster, and we know what we are looking for, and he only had 4 weeks of gluten.  But wow – my eyes are open!!  This stuff is serious.   I could not believe that the kid we had until October 12th is the same one I am dealing with now.  They are like Jekyll and Hyde – seriously.  He has become super busy/almost hyper, he is noisy beyond what I can tolerate – and he is always crying.  Before we reintroduced gluten he was none of those things.  He was great.  Lovely to be around.

So, while I am not a gluten natzi, I am learning to realize just what it can do to a person.  And I am seriously considering trying my 13 year old with a gluten free diet to see if his defiance and constant talking back and anger could be influenced.  Hmmmm.

Hungry Boys

I suspect this may be a title I go back to over and over – since I have pre-teen boys –THREE of ‘EM- and they are only getting bigger and hungrier!!

So, after breakfast today I posted a plea on facebook :

Okay, mommas of teenage boys : two eggs, two pieces whole wheat toast & almond milk – not filling up my nearly-teen boys!! What is a cheap filling item I can add to breakfast? (Most morning we have a fruit smoothie instead if milk. ) Shower me with ideas please!!!

Now first, let me explain.  I do not mind making breakfast, I normally do every day.  We no longer get boxes of cereal (TOO expensive and they are hungry an hour later).  We have farm fresh eggs (get about 10 a day) at our disposal.  And we eat as a family after chores before school.  So, I do not mind the prep.  But how much food do these people require????  It is no fun when I feed them, and they are still begging for food!!

And, I do not want to be mixing up muffins, toasting granola, frying eggs and whipping up a smoothie each morning. 

So the answer is : let’s start using my freezer!! 

I had many suggestions :

Peanut butter

pancakes

oatmeal

steak

potatoes

more peanut butter, more oatmeal

add veggies to eggs

add eggs

granola

This all got me thinking about things I have done in the past.  I have made a gallon of yogurt.  That lasts about a week and a half.  I made and froze lots of muffins before friends came to stay and pulled different ones out each night.  I need to get ahead of my problem….

I saw a muffin recipe on pinterest that said you can freeze the batter.  Perfect!!  Then, I knew I need to whip up some granola to have on hand too.  And I think I need to start making either yogurt or Kefir every other week.  This is a great item to use to fill up those HUGE stomachs. 

So, Here is my plan and a few links to share with you:

Banana Crumb Muffins (I’m going to cook and freeze)

Potatoes O’Brien

Cinnamon Zucchini Freezer Muffins

Morning Ham and Cheese Muffins (make and freezer before cooking)

* Note with some of these recipes I will modify the sugar.  I do not use white sugar or brown – we use less every time, honey when we can or an organic unrefined sugar if we have to. 

After I get all these items mixed up, cooked up, or fixed and frozen, I feel like I will be able to throw a few more items on our breakfast table.  Or I will have more options for a mid-morning snack.

Some other suggestions from my Facebook Friends were oatmeal, peanut butter, potatoes, more eggs, steak (not going to happen here), and granola.


homemade granola

Coconut Cranberry Granola with cashews and pecans

So, my granola is cooling right now (nothing like motivation kicking in!), my 12 muffins are cooking, 24 more are freezing, and I am about to whip up those egg muffin things to bake and freeze.

Whew.  I think I will have a bit of help with breakfast for the next week or two….I hope!!

Meanwhile, if anyone knows where I can sign my boys up for sponsorship through the teen years – for feeding purposes only-  please tell me!!