Life Lesson Learned From Brewing Kombucha

kombucha

Brewing Kombucha has been a part of my life for over a year now, but my love for this healthy brew goes beyond that. The health benefits associated with consuming kombucha are long and storied; namely liver detoxification, boosting digestive health and providing an energy lift mid afternoon. However, today I want to talk about some key life lessons I have learned from brewing kombucha on my own.

  • Patience

If you know me personally then you likely know that patience is not a virtue I possess naturally, I’ve always been an “I want it now” kind of person; but with kombucha, patience is necessary to create a strong mother (the symbiotic bacterial culture). It takes about 30 days for a kombucha baby to turn into a mother; and BOY was it hard for me to wait 30 days to start mixing up flavours for my kombucha. Truly, every day I would stare at my kombucha baby growing and wish her to grow faster; but there are many rewards for the patient, namely a strong and high yielding kombucha mother.

Beyond the first 30 days of growth, each brew takes about 7 days to come to fruition; and I have learned that patience in brewing kombucha, applies to life too. Rushing in the kitchen can lead to serious cuts and/or burns; rushing while driving can lead to accidents (happened to me September); and lastly rushing in all areas can lead to stress and an all around frazzled existence. Slow down and brew kombucha!

“A man who is a master of patience is master of everything else.”
George Savile

  • Sharing is Caring

I’m an only child and I can freely admit that it was a steep learning curve in adulthood, adopting a sharing is caring attitude; I know all my fellow only children can relate. Growing up and never having to compromise or share with siblings creates a “me” mindset; although I have worked through my only child issues, brewing kombucha has served as reinforcement of my newfound “me to we” sensibilities.

When a kombucha mother flourishes and grows little babies (future mothers to be), they must be shared. You see, when a kombucha mother gets to be too big, she get’s bogged down and the brew becomes sluggish; however, when you remove the little babies and share them with other wanna-be kombucha brew masters, not only is the love shared, but the mother is then able to flourish and make deliciously healthy kombucha. Only children and sibling alike can learn a lesson or two from brewing kombucha!

“I’m just someone who likes cooking and for whom sharing food is a form of expression.
Maya Angelou”

  • Cleanliness is Next to Godliness

Now this isn’t to say that I operate in mess- far from it in fact; however, when working with kombucha, things needs to be positively sterile. You see, kombucha is bacteria and when you’re messing around with bacteria, you don’t want to mess around with mess- seriously; this healthy bacterial “juice” is a health dynamo, but introduce any bad bacteria and things will get crazy INCREDIBLY fast! Think black, stinky bacterial culture- yuck!

Whenever I am working with my kombucha, I clean my whole kitchen first, to ensure that nothing potentially damaging is introduced into the sacred environment that is a my kombucha brew. Now this is two fold amazing, 1) my kitchen is clean! And 2) I keep my kombucha health and thriving. If I can impart any kitchen lessons to wanna-be chef and kombucha masters, cleanliness is it; when you operate in organization and tidiness, your kitchen experience will be fun and rewarding, whereas mess just makes everything feel more hectic.

“Cleanliness becomes more important when godliness is unlikely.
P. J. O’Rourke”

The last place I would expect life lessons to sprout would be out of my spouted kombucha brewer, but life is unexpectedly wonderful like that! For more information about brewing your own kombucha, take a peek at one of my most popular videos!



Miso Mushroom and White Bean Salad

miso mushroom and white bean salad

Last week was a whirlwind. I was barely on Twitter, Instagram had serious radio silence and the only people I spoke to were clients and myself; but, alas, resolution season is always a busy time in The Vitality Kitchen. I asked the universe for abundance and I got EXACTLY what I asked for!

Last week I made over 15 different types of salads, that I intend to share with you over time- when I have time. And the first up was one of mine and my clients favourite; emails continue to pour in asking for this recipe, so without further ado.

Why Miso
Miso, which is fermented soy bean paste, is rich in anti cancer isoflavones, which protect the heart and aid in hormone balance in both men AND women; so often men disregard hormone issues, but it matters to us all. But in regards to my ladies, those women who consume miso 3 times per week have a significantly lower risk of breast cancer- miso prowess that is hard to deny.

Not to mention digestion. Miso is an antioxidant food that feeds friendly bacteria in the gut, enhancing immunity and healthy digestion; it’s also a complete protein. So, again, miso is amazing!

A Note About Beans
Beans are an amazing source of fibre, that help to rid the body of excess estrogen and toxic waste; and when they are paired with miso mushrooms, they offer a creamy mouthfeel, that will make you wonder whether there is, in fact, cream in the recipe. Delicious taste bud deceit!

The Recipe
The beauty of a salad of this type, is that it can be prepared ahead of time and still maintain its textural integrity; in short, this is a make ahead meal at it’s finest. It’s also worth mentioning that the dressing goes well with meat, fish, chicken and an array of other vegetables- try it sometime!

Miso Mushroom Soup…what’s not to love?!

For the miso-sesame dressing
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons white miso (the mildest kind)
2 tablespoons tahini (other nut butters can work in a pinch)
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons olive oil

1 lb of cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 can, BPA free white beans, drained, rinsed and air dried
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsbp fresh chives, chopped

For the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a food processor. If reserving for late, place in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

In a saute pan, heat the coconut oil on medium high heat; add the white beans and mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes; we want to create slight caramelization to build flavour.

In a bowl, add 2 tbsp of dressing, pour the hot mushroom and bean mixture over top; and stir to combine, ensuring the whole salad is coated. Garnish with fresh chives and serve hot or cold.



Cure Your Holiday Hangover

hangover cure

The holiday season is upon us, and this morning I paid a visit to my friends at CTV Morning Live to share my natural hangover cures; because I don’t know about you, but I enjoy my holiday season with a drink or two…or four.

Hangovers are terrible but they seem to feel much worse this time of year, when the holiday party season is in full swing- hangovers zap all kinds of yuletide cheer. The following cures will help you enjoy yourself, while being able to function as a human being the next day; consider this an early gift!

Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Whether you take them in the morning, or whether you take them at night, we ALL should take them. Alcohol is incredibly inflammatory in the body, and inflammation is considered a key player in all sorts of chronic disease. Omega 3 fatty acids are inflammation scavenger, being incredibly potent at fighting inflammation in the body. VANITY POINT- omega 3 fatty acids will help reduce your blotchy and red hangover complexion!

Sources:

  • Supplement Pills
  • Hemp Seeds (the BEST plant source)
  • Omega oils, ideal for smoothies

Kombucha
Hair of the dog is a common turn of phrase in reference to hangovers, but hangovers compound; meaning, just because you hair of the dog’d it, doesn’t mean you avoid a hangover, it means the eventual hangover is going to KNOCK. YOU. OFF. YOUR. FEET. Unless, of course, you healthy hair of the dog it!

Kombucha is fermented tea and one of the most potent liver tonics out there; and because of the small amount of alcohol that is produced as a by-product of fermentation, our body feels better without adding more toxic load to our liver. Not to mention kombucha aid the liver in effectively removing toxins from the body. It’s win-win!

Favourite Brands

  • RISE
  • GT’s, not for the faint of heart due to live bacteria piece aka slimy stuff
  • Tonica

Coconut Water
There truly is NOTHING that coconut cannot do; it is the most perfect food on the planet. While many turn to sports drinks when hungover, as a means of replenishing lost electrolytes, the cons to drinking sports drink outweigh the pro’s; namely, more sugar than required by any human being and tons of unnecessary dyes.

Coconut water on the other hand replenished ALL FIVE of the electrolytes the body needs, whereas the aforementioned sport drink replenish, at best, two. Coconut water helps to balance out the diuretic effects of alcohol and makes a hangover a whole lot shorter. This is time tested to work…

Some people find both coconut water and kombucha not very pleasing to their palates, but for some reason when combined, the taste of both is much improved; have this fizzy coconut drink waiting for you the morning after a great time, you will not regret it!

Fizzy Coconut Refresher
1 pt coconut water
1 pt kombucha
ice to serve

Second Sleep
I often hear people say that alcohol helps them sleep, but I’m here to dispel that myth. You see being drunk and passing out is the body’s mechanism to save itself from you, but make no mistake you aren’t getting rest. In fact most people, myself included, wake up after a night of drinking after maybe 4 or 5 hours of sleep, this is because alcohol withdrawal jolts the body awake; and often times we will wake up fine but begin to fade as time goes on, this is the time for second sleep.

Sleep is integral to health, period. All things aside, if we give our bodies time to repair the damage done, it will; the body is amazing in that it is able to 100% recuperate if we give it the time and tools (sleep) to do so.

Miso Soup Stracciatella
Miso, fermented soy bean paste, like coconut water helps replace a great deal of the things our bodies need to recover from a hangover; water, sodium and other nutrients depleted by the diuretic effects of boozin’. And because miso is fermented, it protects the digestive tract; curing all kinds of hangover related digestive upsets, caused by alcohols disruption of the stomach lining.

Stratiatella is egg drop soup, made by dropping eggs into boiling broth; it’s “I have a hangover” easy.

  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onion
  • 1 1/2 tsp miso paste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring the vegetable broth to a boil. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs. In a bowl, combine 1/4 cup of warmed broth with miso paste and set aside. Push the egg through a mesh strainer over the boiling broth. Whisk on low for 1 minute.  Remove from heat, add green onions, salt (if needed), pepper and the reserved broth/miso mixture; and serve hot.

***Can be made without eggs for the same hangover benefits.

 

REMEMBER: Immunity plays a BIG role in how bad your hangover is and how long it will last; keep hangovers at bay with The Vitality Kitchen WINTER ESSENTIALS IMMUNITY PACK!


The Pink Kefir Lady

photo (1)

Can you believe it’s already mid November? The holidays are coming- I can feel it; and when the yuletide season makes it debut, most people find themselves sniffling and sneezing, which is so not festive at all. During the holidays I load up on fermented foods of all kinds, from miso to kombucha to kefir.

Kefir, one of my go to fermented foods, is a probiotic food that is made by culturing fresh milk with kefir grains, which are live colonies of bacteria and yeast. In addition to boosting digestion, kefir is a great source of calcium, protein and potassium. And for those of us who don’t tolerate lactose well, kefir may be for you!

The Breakdown
By breaking down, or predigesting, the lactose in milk, kefir can significantly reduce the symptoms of lactose intolerance, including reducing bloating and stomach pain; in addition to aiding those with other food allergies, such as those to eggs.

For Immunity and Beyond!
Kefiran, an indigestible fibre unique to kefir, boast anti-inflammatory and immunity supportive properties; and regular consumption may contribute to an increase in activity of the body’s natural soldier cells and T-helper cells, which kickstart the immune response. Kefir also maintains homeostasis of healthy bacteria in the gut crucial for fighting harmful bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Winter Wellness Tonic
This week in the Vitality Kitchen, kefir was a main player. I thought, “why haven’t I been drinking more kefir this season?“, last year I was all over it. So with leftover pomegranates, bee pollen and raw honey (known immunity boosters) I went to work on a new seasonal sipper. Not much to say about this except it’s PACKED with antioxidants from the pomegranates, immune boosting due to kefir being the base; and deliciously floral and lightly sweet thanks to the bee’s.

Winter wellness, I think I’m beginning to get the hang of you!

Pink (Kefir) Lady

1 1/2 cups plain kefir
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1 tsp bee pollen 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp raw honey

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until well combined; strain out the seeds with 3 layers of cheesecloth and enjoy over ice!


Natural Allergy Relief with Food

natural allergy relief

Allergy season is upon us; and with it brings red, watery eyes, stuffy/runny noses and scratchy throats. But before you reach for the box of Reactine, I’d like to share with you the top three foods for natural allergy relief.

Before we begin, let’s talk about what allergies even are. Well, allergies are a disorder of the immune system, where in which it reacts to generally harmless substances in the environment; and in the case of seasonal allergies, they are predictable and rapid- meaning all the aforementioned symptoms happen almost instantly. And ask anyone who has allergies and they will tell you that they are not only inconvenient but also incredibly uncomfortable. And when we dose with over the counter drugs like Reactine, we simply numb our bodies ability to adapt; which is why I believe that those who suffer from allergies can attain natural allergy relief with food- but I would think that!

So I’d like to present to you my Top Three Foods For Natural Allergy Relief!

Honey
Even though honey is comprised of mainly water and sugar, it boasts many medicinal properties, including natural allergy relief; with its effectiveness being rooted in its high levels of vitamins C,D,E,K and B complex, while also being a natural antibiotic.

For natural allergy relief, unfiltered honey that is rich in pollen can relieve seasonal allergy symptoms; but beware of fake honey. Unpasteurized and unfiltered honey is the most beneficial to us. Avoid pasteurized and/or purified honey, which has all the traces of pollen removed; and, therefore, no medicinal benefits at all.

Kefir
Kefir is made by culturing fresh milk with kefir “grains”, which are live colonies of bacteria and yeast; and when discussing natural allergy relief, the active ingredient kefiran, an indigestible fiber unique to kefir, has immunity supporting properties, which is important for helping our immune systems react accordingly. You see, allergies occur when our immune system misfires, but when we keep it healthy, it learns to differentiate between real invaders like anaphylaxis and false ones aka allergies.

For those with lactose intolerance, kefir is predigested by the bacteria, so you will very likely be able to enjoy it without any grief; and for the vegans among us, kefir grains can be used to ferment non dairy milks, such as almond, coconut, hemp and oat milk, so you can still benefit from it.

Pear
There are dozens of pears available, and most of them are similar in shape and size. Pears are a cooling, low allergy fruit that are an excellent source of water soluble fiber. For natural allergy relief, pears are often recommended for those with allergies because of their cooling benefits. Although not as potent as kefir and honey, pears should not be overlooked.

The idea behind natural allergy relief with food, is to incorporate these foods into your diet on a regular basis; and seeing as I have an affinity for breakfast fare of all kinds, I thought I would share a recipe for a Honeyed Kefir with Pear. By poaching the pears in water, we soften them to the tooth and release the natural sugars; and when those sugars reduce down with the water, the aroma of the pears shine through. And, finally, the drizzle of the honey infused kefir creates a smooth creamy texture with a slightly tart and sweet liquid that lubricates this whole food experience!

Beat the seasonal allergy blues with food!

Natural Allergy Relief Recipe- Honeyed Kefir with Pears

1 pear, slightly under ripe
1 tbsp manuka honey
1/4 cup water
3 tbsp kefir

Slice the pear in half, lengthwise, and place in a small pot, face down, with water; bring the water to a boil and cook until water has completely evaporated and all that remains are the pear and its syrup. Meanwhile, in a bowl mix the kefir and honey together.

To serve, drizzle the pear with the honeyed kefir mix. Enjoy hot or cold for natural allergy relief!