Kombucha

It has been two years since my last blog post. I plan on starting to post recipes again, and will begin another Whole30 on February 15th. My blog is generally a “paleo” food blog, but I’ve decided to make my first post back about Kombucha, considering the time I started drinking it coincides with my last blog post.

A question I’ve heard dozens of times over the last 2 years since I started drinking it…

What IS Kombucha?

My response is usually “Kombucha is a fermented tea beverage.”

This answer doesn’t usually suffice. People have more questions… and that’s where this post comes in.

I started drinking Kombucha (AKA “mushroom tea”) two years ago when I was getting recurrent throat infections, on a different antibiotic every month and was having stomach problems because of it. I couldn’t eat much, my stomach was upset all the time, I was losing weight and lost my appetite. And if you know me at all you know how much I love to eat and how terrible this was for me. Kombucha detoxifies, provides vitamins and amino acids, and helps with digestion through its probiotics.

Kombucha is pretty expensive, but with its popularity growing, more people are starting to brew themselves to save money. I have to say, I was pretty scared to brew it myself. I was afraid of mold, cultures and bacteria… but the more I read about it, and the more people I met that had done it themselves, the more excited I got at the thought of making it myself. A friend from work told me she had been doing it for a few months, so I decided to buy the book “Kombucha Revolution” by Stephen Lee after having borrowed it from her for a couple of days. I ordered a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) online (Amazon) from Karma Cultures and started gathering supplies.

This is my first time trying to make Kombucha for myself, so I decided to take some pictures and take you along the journey with me.

The Karma Cultures Company sends you an Easy Brew recipe for a 1 Gallon jar along with your SCOBY, and in only 5 steps it was pretty easy to follow.

What will you need? A SCOBY and “starter tea” (included with the SCOBY at Karma Cultures), purified water, 6 tea bags (organic high quality is best, green, black, oolong or a combination), organic evaporated cane sugar, a tea kettle, a wide mouthed gallon glass jar, a thermometer and patience.

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Step 1: Make the Tea – Boil 4 cups of water and let 6 bags of tea steep for 10 minutes.

Step 2: Sweeten Tea – Stir until the sugar has dissolved. This is the food for the culture to “eat” over the next 7-28 days

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Step 3: Cool Tea- putting a SCOBY in too warm water can kill it or cause mold

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Step 4: Add healthy bacteria (SCOBY)

Step 5: Wait, ferment. Cover with a cloth and elastic band, and keep in a warm dark place (in the cupboard above my fridge.)

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Day 3: You can start tasting at this point. Take a straw and go to the side of the jar and take a sip. If it’s still too sweet, let it sit for a few more days. 7-28 days is the suggested

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Sweet Potato Buns

My computer has been in and out of the shop since the beginning of December so I haven’t been posting.

Today I have been working on my sweet potato bun recipe. I made these a lot last summer when we had BBQs.  My husband basically lives on hamburgers in the summer so I had to figure out an easy way of eating them (lettuce buns just don’t seem to be the same…). I’ve found many recipes for sweet potato “pancakes” and this one in particular from Dawn of Paleo that I used for a while: http://dawnofpaleo.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/sweet-potato-buns/

But I played with this recipe a lot and found that if you puree the sweet potatoes and bake them they stick together perfectly. I’ve even made them in huge batches and frozen them to use later. My husband even prefers them to use for his burgers over regular buns!

Here’s the recipe!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Use 2 medium sweet potatoes

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Peel them and grate them either using a grater or a food processor.

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This should yield about 6 cups of shredded sweet potatoes. Add 6 large eggs, 1/4 cup coconut oil and pulse a few times.

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In a bowl, mix together 1/4 cup coconut flour, 1 tsp sea salt, 1 tsp pepper, 1 tsp paprika and 1 tsp rosemary (really you can use what ever spices you want, sometimes I add cayenne pepper to make them spicy). Add to the food processor and pulse a few times again.

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It should be mushy, not liquidy or chunky.

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Place a large spoonful on parchment paper lined baking sheets and shape into round buns and flatten a bit. It should make about 12 (6 buns total).

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, then flip them, and bake for another 30 minutes.

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You can use them for hamburgers, breakfast sandwiches, pulled pork, whatever! yum yum yum.

Winter Food

If you live in Canada then you know how freezing it has been over the last month. Yesterday the temperature reached -39 degrees celcius in Ottawa with the windchill. If you live in Canada, then you also know there are tricks to surviving winter. My main survival technique is food, and lots of it.

My four favourite winter comfort foods are Chili, Soup, Stew, and Shepherd’s Pie. It’s been too cold for me to venture to the grocery store so I had to come up with something based on what I had in the fridge and freezer, and it’s turned out to be delicious.

Jasmine’s Sweet Potato Mash Up Shepherd’s Pie

Ingredients:

1 lb extra lean ground beef

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped

3 large carrots, peeled and chopped

2 large turnips, peeled and chopped

1/2 sweet onion chopped

2 cloves garlic

1 tbsp bacon fat

1 tbsp ghee (or butter or coconut oil)

1 cup frozen peas and carrots

1/2 cup beef stock

1 tbsp tapioca flour

salt, pepper, any spices and nutritional yeast for seasoning

Recipe

In a large pot, cover sweet potatoes, carrots and turnips (cut carrots and turnip into smaller chunks as they take longer to soften) in water, sprinkle with sea salt and bring to a boil. Turn the temp down to medium and cover until you can easily stab a fork through the pieces (approx 30 minutes).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees C.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, brown the ground beef on medium with the bacon fat. Once you only see a little bit of pink, drain the fat. Return skillet to stove top and add onions and garlic. Sautee for a couple of minutes, sprinkling with salt, pepper and oregano. Once onions are soft add 1/4 cup beef stock, with the other 1/4 cup in a small bowl add the tapioca flour and whisk until well mixed. Add this to the skillet, it will help thicken the juices. Once everything is well mixed add the frozen peas and carrots, stir for 5 minutes until the veggies are no longer frozen.

When the sweet potato mixture is done, drain the water and return to the pot. Mash with potato masher and add sea salt and pepper, along with 1 tbsp Ghee.

In a large oven safe glass or ceramic casserole dish, place the meat on the bottom and spread the sweet potato mixture on top, patting it down with a fork to cover all edges. Sprinkle with nutritional yeast, sea salt and pepper. Bake on middle rack at 350 for 30 minutes then broil for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 15 minutes before serving (it’s hot hot hot!).

Enjoy it with some home made paleo ketchup!

Paleo Beef Butternut Chili

Winter is officially here! Brrrrrrr. It’s time for Chili!

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Ingredients:

1-2 pounds lean ground beef

8 strips of cut up bacon

1 small butternut squash, diced

1 can diced tomatoes

1 can crushed tomatoes

1 cup home made bone broth (I used chicken because that’s what I had)

1 small sweet onion, diced

3 cloves minced garlic

2 large carrots, diced

2 celery stalks, diced

1 red pepper, diced

1 green pepper, diced

1 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tbsp chili powder

1 tbsp cumin

1 tbsp paprika

Sea salt

Pepper

Recipe:

Set slow cooker to low.

Cook the 8 slices of bacon in a frying pan, add onion and garlic and cook until onions are soft. Then add ground beef, sprinkle with salt and pepper and 1 tbsp chili powder and cook until browned.

Drain fat from beef, add beef, bacon and onion to slow cooker. Add diced butternut squash, carrots, celery, peppers and add all spices on top, along with more salt and pepper. Add diced tomatoes and crushed tomatoes on top and bone broth. Stir until well combined. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Add slices of avocado on top when ready to serve.

If you want a shorter cook time you can roast the butternut squash, carrots and celery in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes before adding it to the slow cooker.

I just had two huge bowls and I’m so full!

Day 12 of the DSD

Cravings are not as bad today… likely because I have been eating so much!!

When I got home from work I put a beef sirloin tip roast in the slow cooker with chopped carrots, onion, tomatoes and rutabaga and a bunch of herbs and home made chicken broth.

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I accidentally slept in… I turned my phone on silent and didn’t hear the alarm. So the beef ended up super tender and was hard to cut because it was just basically falling apart. So it was more of a “pulled” beef.

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Made the cauliflower herb mashed on  page 178 of The 21 DSD

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All together… so yummy!!! I’m so glad I’m going to have leftovers!!

Dessert: Granny Smith Apple Crumble page 204

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Review: A little tart at first taste, but I ended up going for seconds! It doesn’t call for any additional nuts on top of the almond meal but I added some chopped pecans, yum yum.

Snacks: Cinnila Nut Mix on page 192 of The 21 DSD

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Review: Very delicious straight out of the oven! I’m sure it would be good to eat as cereal with coconut milk.

Day 7 of the 21 DSD

Day 7 is death.

OK maybe I’m being a little over dramatic… let me regroup.

nope, day 7 is death ( this mood could have absolutely nothing to do with the 21 DSD and everything to do with the fact that I’ve worked a 84 hour work week)

I know I should feel happy that I am one week down and 2 weeks to go… but considering I am working my 8th 12 hour shift in a row, I just can’t get excited about anything. I have done this to myself.  I have set myself up for failure but I will not give up.

On the bright side I made another delicious recipe from The 21 DSD by Diane Sanfilippo.

Shepherd’s Pie on page 134

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Review: Absolutely delicious, my husband loved it, I loved it, and it was really good with the 21 DSD ketchup. I chopped up some onion and celery with the carrots and omitted the peas. I used ground turkey as the meat and used copious amounts of oregano, rosemary and parsley. I have tried to make cauliflower mash before and it has never turned out as beautiful as this.

Day 7 Meal Plan: 

Breakfast: Carrot Pumpkin Spice Muffin with Green Tea (Was running late for work, didn’t have much time to eat)

Lunch: Leftover Beef Stew (Finally the last of it! But I’m not sick of it at all)

Supper: Shepherd’s Pie (omnomnomnom)

Snacks: Apple Cinnamon Donut, Boiled Eggs, Coffee, Raw Almonds, Green Tip Banana with 1 TBSP Almond Butter

Made some roasted butternut squash hoping it would help give me more energy to get me through this shift.

Recipe: Peel one medium butternut squash, cut in half and remove seeds. Cut into cubes. Cover with 2 tbsp melted coconut oil, sea salt, pepper, rosemary and oregano. Place on parchment paper lined baking sheet and roast at 350 for 25 minutes.

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Mood: Do I really need to repeat how miserable I am? This is e first day of real cravings… I want to stuff my face with chips and chocolate bars and bagels… But I just need to remind myself how shitty I would feel if I did that. The cramps, the headaches, the acne, the bloating…

14 days to go.

Day 6 of the 21 DSD

Despite the fact that I have been dreading the arrival of winter since the end of last winter, the first snow fall was so beautiful and I realized how much I missed the smell of snow. It got me excited for Christmas :). Image

Bonsai looking at me inquisitively. Image

Aspen being her dainty self.

Day 6 has been good, I finally made the 21 DSD unsweetened Ketchup  (page 214) that I’ve been wanting to try for a while. It is made in the slow cooker, for about 4 hours then placed in the food processor. I was very excited because it did look a lot like ketchup… But did not exactly taste like ketchup. I will still be using it, however, and I’m sure I’ll get used to it. Image

Day 6 Meal Plan: Breakfast: Scrambled eggs and spinach with bacon and 21 DSD ketchup Image

Lunch: Leftover Beef Stew

Supper: Grilled lemon chicken breast with roasted beets and spring mix salad Image

Snacks: Roasted butternut squash, green tea, 21 DSD apple cinnamon donut, green tip banana with 1 tbsp almond butter, carrot sticks, coffee

Mood: I slept from 9-5 and still woke up exhausted… this is likely due to the fact that I am working my 6th night shift in a row, and still have one more to go after this.

Of note, I have not been experiencing many of the warned about withdrawal symptoms that usually occur around this time of the sugar detox, this is likely due to the fact that I went through them back in February when I did the Whole 30. By day 4 I was ready to give up because I was incredibly fatigued, sore and had major headaches… But I sucked it up and after a week I was feeling fabulous. I have since cut out grains, legumes, preservatives and dairy and so I’m feeling this is why the sugar detox has not been too much of a shock to my system.