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Lifestyle

Homesteading Skills: Brewing Kombucha

If you have ever met me or H, you know that we have a dream of creating a net-zero homestead in the mountains. Our goal of being maximally self-sustainable guides a lot of choices I make as I consider how to spend my free time. I have always enjoyed learning how to do new things, but now the pursuit of knowledge has taken on a special purpose. Every time I am ready to take on a new project, I consider what kind of things will benefit our family in the future when we are establishing our home.

One of these projects has been learning to brew kombucha. H and I drink it regularly to support digestion through a healthy microbiome, but buying it at the store can be extremely expensive. When comparing store prices to the affordability and ease of home brewing, it becomes a no brainer!

For those who are unfamiliar, kombucha is a fermented tea that is made using a culture of gut-healthy bacteria called a scoby. A scoby, for lack of a better description, basically looks like a thick slice of deli turkey and has a slimy feel. It’s not exactly pretty! Every time you brew it “reproduces” by growing a new layer, which can be peeled off and shared! My first scoby was given to me as a gift, and as it has grown new layers I have given baby scobys to others to start their own brew. If you know someone who makes kombucha, ask them to share their next layer with you! If not, you can also order live scobys on Amazon. I know some people who have used this one and had great results.

To start your own home brew you need:
1 gallon glass jar
A scoby
Organic *plain* black and green tea bags
Organic cane sugar (must use cane sugar- NO coconut sugar, honey or sugar substitute, these will harm your scoby!)
Vinegar (plain ol’ white vinegar)
Cheesecloth or paper towels
Rubber band or string
Mason jars with plastic lids or swing top bottles

Start by boiling a gallon of water in a large stockpot. Once the water starts to boil, turn off the heat and let sit for one minute or until there are no longer active bubbles in the water. Add 1 cup sugar, 3 black tea bags and 3 green tea bags. Do not use flavored teas, as these can upset the ph balance of your scoby. Stir to dissolve sugar, then cover the pot and let the tea steep for at least 15 minutes. I usually just leave the tea bags in until the water returns to room temperature. This won’t hurt your tea and it means you can walk away from your pot as soon as the sugar is dissolved and come back to it later in the day.

Once your tea cools to room temperature, rinse your gallon jar with water and then rinse with white vinegar. Don’t worry about drying it, leave a coating of the vinegar on the inside of the jar and dump out the excess. Add your tea, then add the scoby (which should be stored in some “mother tea” from its original jar- add this to your jar as well). Make sure the rim of the jar is completely dry, then cover the mouth of the jar with a double layer of cheesecloth or paper towels. Secure with a rubber band or tightly tied string. Make sure the covering is well secured! Using cheesecloth or paper towels allows your scoby to breathe, but prevents fruit flies or anything from else getting in. You can store the lid of the jar for some other use, you won’t need it for kombucha.

Store your jar in a dark place, such as a kitchen cabinet, and leave for 10-14 days. The longer you leave your kombucha, the stronger it will be both in terms of flavor and fermentation. Do not leave longer than 14 days.

At the end of this first fermentation period, it is time to prepare for the second fermentation. This is when the kombucha carbonates! This is also where you can get creative with your kombucha. You may prefer to have it unflavored, but if you would like to flavor your kombucha there are endless options!

For unflavored kombucha, remove your big jar from the cabinet and rinse the insides of your small mason jars or swing bottles with the white vinegar. Fill each jar or bottle with the kombucha, reserving 2 cups of it to stay in the gallon jar with the scoby as mother tea for your next batch. Seal the small jars or bottles, then put them back into the cabinet and leave to ferment for 7 more days. At the end of this 7 day period, transfer the jars to the refrigerator and enjoy within a month.

For flavored kombucha, begin by filling the small jars or bottles about 4/5 of the way full with the kombucha from your big jar. Then, top off with organic fruit juice, other kinds of tea, fruit, ginger, or other flavorings! My favorite combination is lemon ginger, which can be made by adding slices of fresh organic lemon and a little knob of peeled, fresh ginger root to each jar. Blueberry mint is also very tasty and can be made by adding mint tea and fresh blueberries or blueberry juice. You can experiment with adding rose petals or lavender, basil, etc! You can find a million other ideas for flavorings online. Just keep in mind that whatever you are adding to your kombucha needs to be organic and clean- anything with chemical pesticides can mess with your culture. Seal the small jars or bottles, then put them back into the cabinet and leave to ferment for 7 more days. At the end of this 7 day period strain any solids from the tea, then transfer to the refrigerator and enjoy within 2 weeks.

You may notice when you prepare to enjoy your kombucha that a small scoby or some stringy bacterial colonies have grown in your tea. This is totally normal. The small scobys can be discarded and while some people choose to drink the stringy bits, I personally don’t have the stomach for it and I choose to discard them as well.

I like to always have kombucha brewing, since we drink a lot of it. To make this happen, I make a new batch of sweetened tea on the morning when I know I am going to transfer my kombucha to the smaller containers for second fermentation. Then, once I have filled the small jars, I move my scoby and 2 cups of reserved mother tea to a clean glass (or any non-metal) bowl, rinse the gallon jar with vinegar to keep it clean, then start my new batch just like the previous batch. If you need to take a break from brewing, you can store your scoby in the refrigerator for up to 3 months. Just place your scoby in a tightly sealed glass container with 2 cups mother tea and enough fresh, sweetened tea to cover it. This basically puts your scoby into hibernation. Once you hit the 3 month mark, you will need to remove your scoby from the fridge and make at least 1 batch of kombucha with it before returning it to hibernation.

**Caution: If your scoby begins to drastically change color, omit a strong nasty odor (aside from its normal, vinegary odor) or shrivel, discard it and the tea immediately. This indicates a problem with your scoby such as contamination or a ph imbalance. It is better to discard everything and start over than risk getting sick from a compromised scoby. To be fair, I have been brewing kombucha for 5 years and have never had this problem. However, it is possible and should be taken seriously.

Have you ever made your own kombucha at home? Do you have a flavor combination that will rock our socks off? Share with us below!

KD

Lifestyle

Cycle Syncing Recipes: Ketogenic Menstrual Phase Friendly Soup

I tend to meal prep each Sunday, and as I consider what to prepare for the week I look at my cycle calendar on MyFlo (best app ever). Will I be in the same phase all week? Will I transition to a new phase half way through the week? I use this knowledge to make decisions and prepare meals that will support me, and my hormones, as I move through my cycle.

During the menstrual phase, the body benefits from foods rich in protein, healthy fats, and low-glycemic produce. These things, along with special spices like cinnamon, help to regulate blood sugar. These food recommendations fall in line with the Ketogenic Diet, so I will often combine the two. The strict requirements of Ketosis help me to avoid the pitfalls of cravings, which in this stage for me often revolve around salty soft pretzels and sourdough bread (ironically the exact opposite of what I should be eating at that time).

One of my favorite recipes to prep for my menstrual phase is this amazing, fatty, tasty soup. A small serving packs a nutritious punch and keeps me full for a long time, eliminating the urge to snack.

Ingredients:
1lb fatty organic grass-fed ground beef (I tend to grab the Simple Truth 80/20 pack from Target)
20 Brussels sprouts
3 tb Coconut oil
1 tb Ghee
1 Jalapeno, sliced into thin rounds (keep the seeds in for a spicier soup- discard seeds for a more mild flavor)
1/4 cup Red onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tb Tomato paste
2 scoops Ancient Nutrition Turmeric Bone Broth Protein Powder
Handful Spinach, roughly chopped
2 quarts water
Himalayan pink sea salt
Ground black pepper
Optional: Red chili flakes, scallions to garnish

Chop the sprouts into quarters, then toss in the coconut oil, salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and roast at 400F degrees  for 40 minutes, shaking the pan every 10 minutes to mix the sprouts.

Melt the ghee in a pan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and jalapeno. Season with salt & pepper and sauté until soft. Add the tomato paste and stir consistently for 30 seconds, allowing the flavors to combine.

Add water slowly, continuously stirring the mixture to combine. Then stir in the bone broth powder. Let simmer for 20 minutes, adding the spinach for the last 5 minutes.

I like to divide the soup into mason jars and freeze them for lunches at work. If you do this, make sure you leave about an inch and a half of room in the top of the jar, do not fill to the top. I grab one on my way out the door in the morning, leave it wrapped in a dish towel at my desk and it’s thawed by lunch time! This also ensures that I don’t waste any soup if I don’t eat it all by the end of my menstrual phase.

Enjoy!
KD

 

Lifestyle

Ketogenic Cauliflower Fried Rice

I love being in ketosis. My body is strong, my skin is clear, my brain is firing and my energy levels are consistent throughout the day. I never feel better than when I am in ketosis.

What I don’t particularly love is living without some of my favorite comfort foods- particularly chicken fried rice takeout, which is one of my all time favorite things.

Recently while searching for frozen broccoli at the store I stumbled across a bag of riced cauliflower- basically just frozen cauliflower that has been put through a food processor to achieve a rice-like size and consistency. Cauliflower is pretty low in carbs so I figured I would give it a shot, and MAN OH MAN am I glad I did. Game changer.

It’s discoveries like this that make me believe that Keto could be a long term option for me.

Recipe:

1 cup riced cauliflower
1 tablespoon ghee
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 jalapeño pepper
1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
1 egg
Cooked, shredded or cubed chicken (I use 3oz but you can adjust to your macros)
1 teaspoon soy sauce (or more, to your taste!)
1/2 teaspoon pink himalayan sea salt

  1. Heat the ghee and coconut oil over medium high heat.
  2. Sautee the jalapeños, red chili chili flakes and salt until the jalapeños are soft.
  3. Add the cauliflower and continue to cook, stirring every 30 seconds or so, allowing the cauliflower to brown but not burn.
  4. When the cauliflower is cooked, add the cooked chicken and stir just long enough for the chicken to heat through.
  5. Crack the egg into the pan and stir gently, breaking the yolk and distributing the egg throughout the mixture.
  6. Add the soy sauce and continue to stir until the egg has cooked completely.
  7. Enjoy!

Consider adding a little hot sauce or topping with green onions if you’d like! You can also add peas and carrots, just be careful and consider your macros.

Enjoy!
KD

Lifestyle

Coffee Protein Shake

I have a drinking problem in the morning, but it’s not what it sounds like! I have too many liquids in my morning routine. I start with hot lemon water, then I like to have my Yogi Skin Detox Tea, alkalising green juice, a breakfast smoothie, and of course my coffee. Unless I want to spend the first half of my day peeing or carrying around a bunch of different cups, I have to find ways to consolidate!

One of my favorite ways to cut down on my number of cups is to combine my coffee into my morning smoothie. The healthy fats in this recipe also help prevent a caffeine spike & crash by giving you a sustained energy boost.

4 ounces Bizzy Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate
4 ounces Califa Coconut Almond Milk (available at most grocery stores- I prefer this brand because they use minimal additives)
1/2 frozen banana*
1 handful of ice cubes
1 serving of your favorite vanilla protein powder (I use this one but also really like this vegan option)
1/4 tsp Organic Cinnamon
1 scoop Vital Proteins Pasture-Raised, Grass-Fed Collagen Peptides (great for nails, hair, joints and bone health!)
1 tablespoon ONNIT emulsified MCT oil (vanilla, cinnamon or coconut flavor)

*Keto/low carb, use extra ice cubes instead of the frozen banana)

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend on high until smooth. Garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon, some banana slices and cacao nibs, or just drink it up on the spot!

Have a wonderful day!
KD

Lifestyle

Golden Milk

Golden Milk has been gaining popularity recently for its myriad health benefits and delicious, comforting taste. It can be enjoyed hot or cold depending on the weather and can be made with different milk and sweetener options depending on your personal preferences.

Golden Milk

2 cups Basic Almond Milk (or milk of your choice)
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon organic maple syrup -or- honey -or- 2 pitted dates
1/4 teaspoon ginger powder -or- small piece of fresh ginger -or- 1 to 2 drops ginger essential oil
Generous pinch cayenne pepper
Pinch of black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a blender
Blend until smooth
Pour mixture into a small pan and heat to your preference, but do not boil!

Once your mixture is heated you may choose to drink it immediately or strain it through a cheesecloth into your mug. Either way this drink is both nutritious and delicious, straining it just removes the sediment so the last few sips won’t have any solids.

If all of the above seems like too much effort, you can also order this ready to use mix and add it to the milk of your choice. The same mix is also available to Thrive Market members for less (use this link for 15% off your first purchase).

I like to drink golden milk at the end of my eating window each day, right before I start my fast. This way I am loading my body with helpful nutrients, inflammation fighters and metabolism boosting compounds to assist my body while it cleans and heals itself.

Is golden milk a part of your life? Do you have a dynamite recipe we should try? Share your experience in the comments!

Happy Milking,
KD

Lifestyle

Yogi Tea

I was given this recipe during my yoga teacher training by a master teacher who has studied under Yogi Bhajan. It’s a healthy, delicious tea and if you include the black tea it can be a more beneficial alternative to coffee.

According to yogic science, the spices used possess the following properties:
Black Pepper- blood purifier
Cardamom- digestive aid
Cloves- beneficial to the nervous system
Cinnamon- strengthens bones
Ginger root- healing for colds and flu, increases energy, helps with nausea
Star Anise- antibacterial and antioxidant

I generally buy my spices in bulk at the grocery store, but you can also order most of them at a great discount if you join Thrive Market (use this link for 15% off your first purchase) or on Amazon, as linked below.

Yogi Tea by the cup:
10 oz boiling water
3 whole cloves
4 whole green cardamom pods, cracked
4 whole black peppercorns
1/2 cinnamon stick
1/4 teaspoon loose black tea (optional)
2 slices fresh ginger root
Small piece of star anise (break one arm off of the “star”)
1/2 cup milk (whole grassfed milk, almond milk or coconut milk)
Organic maple syrup to sweeten as desired

Combine all spices in a mug and add boiling water. Let steep for 3-5 minutes, then strain (optional) and add milk & syrup as desired.

Yogi Tea by the pot:
12 cups water
2 tablespoons whole cloves
3 tablespoons whole green cardamom pods, cracked
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
3 whole cinnamon sticks
2 tablespoons loose black tea (optional)
6 slices fresh ginger root
2 whole star anise
Milk and organic maple syrup to add to individual cups

Add water and spices to a large stock pot and bring to a boil, then turn heat to low and simmer for 2 hours. I make my tea this way and keep it on my stove all throughout the cold season. I boil it every day and just add water or more spices as needed.

If you want this tea on the go, these tea bags are a more portable option!

Enjoy!
KD

Lifestyle

Almond Meal/Flour

Almond meal and almond flour are two fantastic ingredients for anyone looking to cut back on refined carbs and add some healthy fat and protein into their diet. I make flour every week using the remnants from my almond milk recipe and love getting creative with it!

Almond meal vs. almond flour- what’s the difference?

Almond meal generally has a coarser grind than almond flour, and is made with almonds that still have their skin. Almond flour has a finer grind and is made using blanched almonds that have no skin. Personally I don’t mind the presence of skins but I prefer a finder grind, so I actually make almond flour using regular almonds. This would probably not work in recipes for muffins or breads, which require a lighter flour, but is fantastic for Peppermint Cacao Coconut Balls and Turmeric Ginger Macaroons (recipe coming). If you are wanting to make something more bread-like, go ahead and spring for the blanched almonds.

Almond Meal/Flour

Start by following my recipe for Basic Almond Milk.

After straining your almond milk, take the leftover almond pulp and spread it on a baking sheet.

Set your oven to the lowest temperature setting (mine is 170).

Leave the pulp to dry in the oven for 6-8 hours until completely dry, stirring it every hour to prevent any areas from getting too toasted.

Once the pulp is dry, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool. If you want coarse almond meal, you might be done right here! For a finer grind, pulse the cooled meal in a food processor or blender until it reaches your desires consistency.

*Be mindful that the amount of time it takes to dry out the pulp will vary depending on your oven’s low temperature, the amount of humidity where you live, etc. I live at a high altitude with very little humidity, and at 170 it takes about 6 hours to dry my pulp.  If your oven’s lowest temperature is higher than mine, just stir and monitor more frequently to prevent burning.

Store your meal/flour in an airtight container or glass jar in the refrigerator. If it is really dry all the way through, it can be stored for several weeks. However, mine never lasts that long because I almost always use it within a few days making healthy treats for my sweet tooth and my gluten-free coworkers! Seriously, the Peppermint Cacao Coconut Balls are a totally guilt-free favorite.

Happy Making!
KD

Lifestyle

Almond Milk

Almond milk is one of my favorite ingredients to use in the kitchen. It is versatile, tasty, and a great way to take advantage of the myriad nutrients that the almonds offer to us. It gives my morning shakes and yogi tea some extra oopmh and creamy deliciousness. However, buying almond milk at the store can get expensive, and even the best brands usually have some sort of preservatives added. I have found that making my own is both more cost efficient and healthier!

Making almond milk is so easy- all you need for the basic recipe is a blender, some almonds and water.

Basic Almond Milk:
1 cup raw organic almonds (I like the Thrive Market brand for quality and price- use this link for 15% off! your first order at Thrive)
3 cups water for soaking
8 cups distilled water for making the milk (this is a personal preference- you could easily use tap water instead)
A generous pinch of Himalayan salt

Soak the almonds for 10-12 hours in 3 cups of water. I generally let them soak while I am at work or overnight.

Rinse the soaked almonds until the water runs clear.

Place the almonds and salt in a blender with 8 cups of water. Blend on high for 15-20 seconds, until the almonds are finely ground and the liquid is white. Strain the liquid through a fine sieve or, even better, cheesecloth or a nut milk bag.

Reserve the almond pulp to make almond meal/flour!

Store your almond milk in glass jars or glass swing top bottles, and store in the refrigerator for up to a week! It can also be frozen in glass jars, although in that case I recommend using a plastic lid rather than a metal one.

This basic recipe is great for smoothies, as a base for golden milk or any recipe where plain almond milk is called for. However, this is by no means the only possibility! Depending on what I am using it for, I will sometimes divide my batch and add different ingredients for different purposes.

There are endless options when it comes to experimenting with your almond milk. I like to blend a few cups of the basic recipe with some maple syrup, part of a vanilla bean and cinnamon for adding into my yogi tea, or blend in a couple of dates to the basic recipe before straining to add a little sweetness.

Have you found a special ingredient combination that knocked your socks off? Share in the comments!

Happy Milking,
KD