Home made beet kvass, a probiotic drink

A few weeks ago my husband Hugo had to rush himself into hospital because a tiny splinter in his thumb had caused an infection that quickly turned into sepsis.

That was scary. Hallelujah for antibiotics! They probably saved his life.

He was on an antibiotic drip for two days and then on oral antibiotics for a week.

After that his sensitive digestion was off. He was bloated most of the day, had stomach pain and acid reflux. And he was tired.

You know, antibiotics didn’t just kill the bacteria in his thumb, but also disturbed the delicate balance of the bacteria in his gut.

He had already started taking probiotics in the hospital. And on top of that I made sure he ate homemade yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, pickles and a small glass of beet kvass every single day. (by the way, if you want to learn how to make your own fermented foods, come to my Sauerkraut and Pickles workshop!)

Three weeks later he’s feeling fine again.

Kvass is a traditional eastern European beverage that was originally made from fermenting stale bread. Made with beetroot it’s a beautiful deep red drink with a great taste. Here’s how you make it:

The recipe

Ingredients

For a 1 litre jar:

  • 1 medium organic beetroot
  • Filtered water
  • 5-6 slices of ginger (you can leave the skin on if organic)
  • 1.5 teaspoon good quality sea salt (so not table salt)

Materials

I like to use a fermentation jar because it’s super easy and the kvass doesn’t get moldy. That’s because these jars have an airlock; when the fermentation process starts, the bacteria produce CO2. That pushes the oxygen out of the jar and because of the airlock no new oxygen can come in.

I use Kilner 1 litre jars with regular sized mouth and special fermentation lids.

See here for the lids, if you already have the jars and here for the lids and the jars. They also have them now for wide mouth jar, which is handy if you want to make sauerkraut and get your hand in there to push the sauerkraut down.

How to do it:

  • Brush the dirt off the beetroot, no need to peel
  • Chop the beetroot coarsely; pieces should be around dice size. Don’t grate or cut too finely; than it can turn into alcohol because the sugars are too available!
  • Cut 5-6 thin slices off a fresh ginger root
  • Pop beetroot and ginger into the jar and add the salt
  • Add water up until an inch under the lid. Shake a bit.
  • Put this on your kitchen top and wait for 4-6 days. Don’t open the lid in between
  • Strain out the beets and ginger and pour into a clean jar. Drink a small glass once or twice every day and store the rest in the fridge.
  • If you want a continuous supply, start a new jar every 4-6 days.
  • Adding a few tablespoons of the kvass of an earlier batch will start the process slightly quicker

Do you want to learn how to make your own probiotic food? Sign up for my Sauerkraut and Pickles workshop on Sunday afternoon 26th of May.

Date and tahini fudge

Here is a recipe for something sweet and delicious and satisfying that doesn’t have any refined sugar, gluten or dairy.

I found it in one of the great cookbooks by the sisters Hemsley and Hemsley Good and Simple and I often bring it to parties and potlucks – so I know I can have a really delicious dessert as well 🙂

H&H call it Fridge Fudge but I think it tastes more like halva, but less sweet. Anyway, it has some good fiber, lots of minerals from the sesame seeds and good fats from the tahini and the coconut oil.

It’s a really simple procedure and there’s one important thing to remember: it needs to stay cooled. As soon as you leave it on the table for longer than say twenty minutes, it starts getting too soft and it loses it’s bite. Still great taste though.

You will need a simple food processor. Now you don’t need a big and expensive one; for this recipe I use the one that came with my stick blender. If you don’t have one of these, I think it worth considering. I use it almost every day: to blend soups and sauces, make energy balls and chop onions and garlic very finely.

Recipe

Makes 12 – 15 small squares

  • 85 gr dates: use the cheaper ones that are a bit harder and dryer, like these. So not the more expensive and squishy Medjool dates…
  • 110 gr tahini (I used light tahini)
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • a good pinch of sea salt
How to do it:
  • Put the dates (check for stones!), tahini, coconut oil and salt in the food processor
  • Process until you have a smooth mixture
  • Pour in a square or rectangular plastic tub
  • Put in the freezer for half an hour or in the fridge for an hour
  • Once hardened, tip it onto a cutting board and cut in small pieces (they are quite filling)
  • Eat straight out of the fridge or freezer and 
  • Enjoy!

Turmeric milk made my way

Golden or turmeric milk is a cow’s, nut or coconut milk, heated with a good amount of turmeric in it. I shouldn’t be saying this as a nutrition and herb expert because of it’s great properties, but… I didn’t like to drink it! The reason was that I used turmeric powder. That leaves you with quite a lot of bits in your milk and it has quite a strong bitter taste.

 

But now they’re selling fresh turmeric root in my local shop, so I decided to try again. Delicious! I loved it! Maybe you want to have a try as well.

Anti-inflammatory

Turmeric is well known for it’s anti-inflammatory properties. And this is not something woo woo to brush aside:  there are currently over 10,000 peer-reviewed articles published proving turmeric benefits, especially one of its renowned healing compounds, curcumin.

In several of those papers  the researchers  compared turmeric to conventional medicine, and found out it worked equally well or even better than the  pharmaceutical medication!

Recently turmeric has even been recognised for helping with depression!

Turmeric milk recipe

I like to use fresh ginger root in my turmeric milk as well, as it makes it nice and warming. And I do add a tiny bit of sweetener.

One warning: turmeric can stain your clothes yellow, so don’t wear your new white shirt and make sure you put on a apron!

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp grated fresh turmeric
  • 1/2 mug of coconut milk from a can, full fat
  • 1/2 mug of water
  • Or; 1 mug of home made nut or seed milk
  • A tiny bit of sweetener: 3 drops of liquid stevia or a teaspoon of raw honey or maple syrup, optional

Steps

  • Put all your ingredients except for the sweetener in a saucepan
  • Heat gently until hot but not boiling
  • Leave it on a very low heat for 5 minutes
  • Pour through a tea strainer and add the sweetener if you want
  • Enjoy!

A basic hummus recipe: easy, delicious and versatile

Hummus is such a versatile and easy to make dish! I make this hummus recipe nearly every week because it’s a great one to have in my fridge in case of a snack attack. Or when the lunch of dinner I made is a bit bland or low in protein and healthy fats. This one is great for blood sugar and hormone balance!

It’s lovely as a snack with carrot, cucumber or bell pepper cut in sticks. A great one to bring with you when traveling as well!

Dried chickpeas vs cans

I use dried chickpeas, as ‘they’ use hormone balance disrupting Bisphenol-A (BPA) for the lining of the cans. Even the organic ones. Yikes! And I can’t find any beans in glass near to me. Anyway, cooking your chickpeas is easy peasy and cheap.

I start with a cup of dried chickpeas and soak them overnight with two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. This makes them a lot easier to digest. In the morning I rinse them well and discard any dark ones. Then I gently cook them with some salt until they are firm and not mushy. It depends on their age how long it takes! If they are too firm, let them simmer for another half hour with the lid on.

This would give you enough to store some in the freezer so you’ll have enough for 3 or 4 batches of hummus!

 


Recipe

Serves 4
Ingredients:

  • 1 heaping cup of cooked chickpeas
  • 1 tbsp of fresh lemon juice. You can add more after tasting.
  • 1 big or two small garlic cloves
  • 1 level teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp of salt
  • ½ cup of tahini
  • 4 tbsp of water
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • optional: smoked paprika powder

You can use a small or big a food processor or a hand held blender for this. Don’t have any of these? No problem. You can also use a fork. Make sure you cut the garlic very finely or use garlic powder (1/4 tsp) to avoid having a big clump of raw garlic…

How to do it:

  1. Strain chickpeas
  2. Press or finely cut garlic
  3. Put chickpeas, salt, tahini, garlic, 1 tbsp of olive oil, 2 tbsp of water, cumin in food processor or container for blender.
  4. Blend and then taste! Make thinner with water and add salt, lemon, garlic or cumin to taste.
  5. Put in a bowl, drizzle the rest of the olive oil over it and shake some (smoked) paprika powder on for taste and beauty.

Healthy hot chocolate recipe

During the cold and dark winter months I have been enjoying a warming and nourishing drink: my healthy hot chocolate! And I’m happy to share my recipe.Healthy hot chocolate

The inspiration came around at a time where I decided to stop drinking caffeinated coffee because I wasn’t sleeping well. At the same time I was looking for a mid morning snack with a good amount of protein to keep me going without an energy dip. The idea was it would prevent a snack attack later in the day.

So this is what I came up with. I make my healthy hot chocolate with my homemade cashew nut milk, raw cacao, collagen powder, maca powder, a pinch of sea salt and a bit of maple syrup.

Raw cacao

In case you didn’t know yet, raw cacao powder is so much nicer that the regular stuff. It has a delicate chocolate taste. It is much less processed than cocoa powder or chocolate bars. Cacao is thought to be the highest source of antioxidants and of magnesium of all foods.

Collagen powder

Collagen powder has many health benefits. It improves the health of your skin and hair, reduces joint pain and degeneration.  And since it heals and seals the protective lining of your gut as well it helps to heal leaky gut.

Maca powder

One of the benefits of maca root is that it increases fertility in both men and women. It’s a hormone balancer,and a booster for the immune system.

Maca is considered an adaptogen, which means that it helps the body naturally adapt to stressors like a busy schedule, demanding job, or illness, for example.

I notice that when I consume maca it gives me energy, like coffee would do, but without the crash afterwards. It makes me feel more grounded and alive. It helps me with restoring my hormone balance and it elevates endorphins, the feel good hormone. On top of that maca is its relatively high in protein, fiber, calcium and magnesium!


Healthy hot chocolate Recipe:
Ingredients
  • Half a mug of nut milk or coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon raw cacao powder
  • 2 tablespoons of collagen powder
  • 1 teaspoon of maca powder
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon of maple syrup (or use a few drops of liquid stevia)
How to
  1. Pour the nut milk in your mug and then add water to top up.
  2. Pour this milk and water in a saucepan and add the powders and the salt.
  3. Heat it up, using a whisk to stir.
  4. Add the maple syrup and pour into your favourite mug when hot.
  5. Retreat into a quit place where no-one can find you and enjoy!

Oat and banana (or pumpkin. or sweet potato) bars

Going gluten free meant we had to re-think our snacks. My husband Hugo works as a handyman and gets hungry very easily. If he doesn’t have a good snack on him he will grab something that doesn’t work for him and suffer later.

Oat and banana bars

These bars are free from gluten, dairy and refined sugar and easy to make. We love them and usually make a double batch because they tend to disappear quickly.

We make them with bananas, but they work with steamed or roasted squash or sweet potato as well.

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:
. 2 cups of (gluten free) oats
. 2 tbsp ground linseed
. 1½ tsp cinnamon
. ½ tsp ginger powder
. ¼ tsp grated nutmeg
. 1 tsp ground fennel
. ¼ tsp salt
. 2 mashed ripe bananas (or 1 cup of steamed or roasted and then pureed pumpkin or squash)
. ½ cup almond butter
. 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
. 8 pitted medjoul dates
. 1 tsp vanilla extract
. 10 drops liquid stevia or 2 tbsp coconut sugar or date syrup, optional
. ½ cup raisins
. ½ cup walnuts (optional but very nice)

Oat and banana bars 2
How to do it:
. Cover the dates with hot water and let them soak for 10 minutes
. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl (oats, linseed, spices, salt, raisins, nuts)
. Blend the wet ingredients with a fork or use a stick blender: (dates, water, bananas, almond butter, vanilla extract, coconut oil)
. Line a 20-20 cm square tray with baking paper and spread evenly
. Bake for 20 – 30 minutes on 180 degrees C
. Cut and cool on a cooling rack

Enjoy as a nutritious snack!

Making kefir with nut milk

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.

 

This is what my kefir grains look like

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.

Enjoy!

Eat your weeds: chickweed pakoras

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

Makes 8

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!