I’ve always loved making kefir and yoghurt with cow’s milk and really missed it when I decided to go dairy free. I missed the taste as well as the tons of beneficial bacteria that help my gut flora. No idea what kefir is? Have a look here.
So I started making kefir from plant based milks and I much say it was a bit of a messy experiment. I tried different kinds of coconut, using canned coconut milk until I discovered it had BPA (a hormone disrupting chemical in plastic) in the lining of the can. I then tried creamed coconut, that comes in a block, that you dissolve in hot water.
The problem for me with making kefir from coconut is that there’s quite a lot of (good) fat that’s solid at room temperature and that makes it hard to strain out the kefir grains once the kefir is ready.
But now I’ve found an easy way to make nut milk kefir with cashews!
I soak 1 cup of raw cashews in water for about four hours, together with two dates. These don’t have to be expensive medjool dates, any organic dates will do.
I then rinse them and add three cups of filtered water to the soaked nuts and dates and whizz them up in my nutribullet for about two minutes. That’s all: my cashew nut milk is ready.
Next step: I put a heaped teaspoon of kefir grains in a jam jar and add the nut milk and leave it on my kitchen counter for 24 hours. I store the rest of the nut milk in the fridge for later use. It keeps for about three days.
It’s then easy to strain our the kefir grains through a plastic sieve, pop the grains into a clean jar and add the nut milk I kept in the fridge.
I like it for breakfast with a grated apple, some nuts, ground linseed and cacao nibs.
Did you know that cooking your own meals actually helps your digestion?
When you start thinking about what you’re going to eat, when you chop and sauté an onion, roast some seeds for your salad, slow-cook a stew with spices… Your kitchen fills up with lovely aromas.
Thinking about food, hands-on preparing and smelling it sets off a cascade of processes. And they are key for gut healing.
The hypothalamus in your brain signals to the medulla oblongata in the brainstem. The medulla’s response is sending out nerve impulses, which travel down the big, wandering nerve – the vagus nerve – to stimulate more saliva production, increase the secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach and pancreatic secretions. Together, they help with optimal digestion.
Then taking time to bless your food in some way or another prepares you to eat. As you might know we have two different modes of our nervous system: sympathetic (fight or flight) and parasympathetic (rest and digest). If we’re in sympathetic mode we’re ready for action. Our body focuses on sending more blood to our muscles and lungs so we can jump or run into action is case of a threat or emergency. It makes sense that the body isn’t focusing so much on digestion.
When you eat in a stressed state, your digestion only works on half it’s potential – or less!
So what happens if you eat when you’re stressed out, upset, have a difficult conversation or reply to some work emails during your meal? You will not break down the nutrients very well and that can result in acid reflux, bloating, burping, stomach pain and the like.
It doesn’t take long prayers or meditations to get to the rest-and-digest mode. Blessing your meal can be as simple as sitting down on the table and taking a few seconds to look at the food you prepared and appreciate it.
Nettles are the most useful of plants. The young tops are delicious and nutritious, a natural mineral and vitamin supplement. Just what we need in spring!
Nettle tops are best in spring, but if you cut them back repeatedly they will have fresh shoots throughout the summer.
Use gloves to pick them or use a pair of scissors to cut them and then lift them into a bag or basket.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion or half a big one
¼ cup of oats, can be gluten free
½ litre of vegetable stock (½ a litre boiling water and 2 tsp stock powder)
75 gr nettle tops
freshly ground pepper
freshly ground nutmeg
good quality salt to taste
Chop the onion and leek finely
Heat the oil or butter over medium heat
Add the onion and leek and stir until they start to glaze
Add the vegetable stock and cook for another 7 – 10 minutes
Add the nettles and the oats and simmer gently for 5 more minutes
Use a hand held blender to wizzzz it all up
Season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg
Serve and enjoy!
Add a chopped up carrot
Use diced potatoes or leftover rice instead of oats. They all work as a thickener
Because of the mild weather there’s still lots of chickweed growing at the moment! It has been said that there is no part of the world where Chickweed is not to be found. It’s one of the first greens available in winter and the tenderest of wild greens. It’s available most of the year round, but gets stringy around midsummer. As the name suggests, poultry love it.
Chickweed is readily distinguished from the alike plants by a line of hairs that runs up the stem on one side only, which when it reaches a pair of leaves is continued on the opposite side. As you can see in the picture.
Chickweed can be eaten raw. Most obvious is eating it as a salad. Or how about liquidised in a green smoothy? It makes a nice pesto as well. But the best recipe I’ve come across is chickweed pakoras…
Chickweed pakora From: Hedgerow – John Wright
Don’t be too precise on quantities: it’s hard to get this one wrong…
100 gr gram (chickpea) flour
1 tbsp medium curry powder or to taste
½ tps baking powder
½ tsp salt (or more)
About 120 ml water
50 gr chickweed, washed, dried and roughly chopped
1 small onion
1 clove of garlic or a handful of wild garlic
Vegetable oil for shallow frying
– Mix flour, curry powder, baking powder and salt
– Slowly stir in enough water to form a paste with the consistency of mustard
– Mix in chickweed, onion and garlic
– Heat a thin layer of oil in a heavy-based frying pan
– When hot, spoon in heaped spoonfuls of the pakora mixture to form little cakes. Space them well apart
– Cover with a lid and cook over a medium heat for about 5 minutes until crisp and golden brown on one side.
– Turn over the cakes and brown the other side
– Drain on kitchen paper and serve!