The Grecian Garden

Living a nourished life

Fermented foods – the missing link


   Jan 26

Fermented foods – the missing link

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Coconut Yogurt and Cows Milk Kefir

I believe that everyone’s journey to health is different.  We were not all meant to be gluten free or grain free or even dairy free.  God created food to nourish us and to help our bodies heal themselves.  But, what is nourishing to each of us can be different.  Some do well with more carbs and not as much protein, while others do better with less carbs and more protein.  We each have to find out what works for us.  This is why it is important to understand the language your body speaks.  Do you have an unexplained loss of energy?  Frequent stomach aches?  Heart palpitations?  Headaches?  Digestive issues?  Acne or eczema?  This is the language of our bodies.  It speaks to us through symptoms.  It will start off with a whisper and get louder and louder until we listen.  If we ignore the early warning signs our body gives to us then the headaches turn to migraines,  the achy joints turn to arthritis, and the twinge in our chest morphs into a diagnosis of heart disease.

The good thing is we can stop this cycle before it starts.  There are things we can do to prevent diabetes, heart disease, renal  failure, and so on.    I believe there are universal truths to health that apply to everyone.  One basic universal truth is to eat real, whole, unprocessed foods.  This means when you cook start off with fresh ingredients, not ones from cans or boxes.  Our body can tell the difference from real and artificial foods.  If a food is artificial and is lacking nutrients, our body does not know what to do with it.  It will try to digest it and break it down to pull nutrients from it, but in the end the artifical food will be tossed and your body will have to resort to getting nutrients elsewhere.  So, where is elsewhere?  Its YOU!  Thats right, for example, if you don’t give your body greens (kale, broccoli, spinach, chard)  to get calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, then it will turn to your body’s own internal resources to get those nutrients.  Do this process over and over and osteoporosis or other diseases could be be knocking on your doorstep.  Make the decision today to eat real food.

The second universal health truth I want to discuss for everyone is fermented foods. You know–saurkraut, kimchi,  lacto-fermented vegetables, kombucha, water kefir, sourdough bread, yogurt, and kefir.  Why are these foods so healing?   The simple answer is our ancestors ate fermented foods regularly.  Fermented foods are traditional and show up in all cultures.  Fermented foods  promote good intestinal bacteria populations, are  high in enzymes,  help us absorb nutrients we are consuming from food, and most fermented foods are considered tasty!

It is more important today to be consuming all these pro-biotic rich foods due to the attack on beneficial bacteria.  Antibiotics, chlorinated water and even antibacterial soap, are all depleting our bodies source of good bugs.

Now let’s not all run out and buy jars of pickles and loaves of sourdough bread.  Most pickles and saurkraut being sold at our local grocery stores use vinegar instead of the traditional method of lacto-fermentation using salt.  Sourdough bread is now being made with commercial yeast instead of being naturally leavened with wild yeast (sourdough).

Let’s start off with something easy, Yogurt!  And try something new, Kefir!  Below are simple recipes for making your own yogurt and kefir.  My husband does great with dairy, so his kefir is made with cows milk.  I don’t do dairy, so my yogurt is made with young thai coconuts.  Either way, we are both getting  probiotic rich food in a way that is nourishing to us.

Cows Milk Kefir

It is best to start off with raw, unpasteurized milk from a local farm where the cows are grassfed and given no hormones or antibiotics.  If you cannot obtain raw milk currently, use organic milk that has no hormones or antibiotics.  If you are interested in getting raw milk in your area check here or here.  It’s illegal to buy or sell raw milk in most states, so you may have to buy a herd share.

Kefir is traditionally made with a kefir grain.  Learn more about kefir grains here.  Kefir grains produce too much kefir for us (about a quart every 24 hours) so I use kefir starter packs and purchase them from Body ecology or Cultures for health.

Ingredients:

1 quart of milk slightly warmed (about skin temperature)

1 kefir starter pack

Directions:

1.  In a clean glass bowl or jar mix milk and kefir starter pack well.  I use a whisk.

2. Cover jar or bowl loosely and let it ferment on counter  for 18-24 hours.  Room temp should be around 72-75 degrees.

3.  After 24 hours you now have kefir!  The milk should be thickened slightly and have a yeasty smell.  Place in refrigerator for 8 hours before consuming.  This slows down the fermentation process.

4.  Use in smoothies, salad dressings, or eat it as a snack.  My husband likes to add honey, dried fruit, and nuts to his.

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 Young Thai Coconut Yogurt

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Young Thai Coconuts

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Cracked open Young Thai

 

Young Thai coconuts can be found at your local Asian food store or your local health food store.  I actually got mine at Walmart!  Young thai’s have a soft white flesh that is chewy and sweet.  They are filled with a sweet coconut water, sometimes measuring as much as 2 cups!  The yogurt starter that I’m using for this is a non dairy starter that can be used to make almond milk yogurt as well.

Ingredients:

The meat of 4 Young Thai Coconuts –never opened one?  learn how here

1-2 cups coconut water

1 Tbsp raw honey

1/8 tsp Yogurt Starter

1.  Blend coconut meat,  honey,  and 1 cup coconut water in blender.  It should be the consistency of pudding, if it seems too thick you can add up to another cup of coconut water.

2.  Pour most of blended coconut pudding into a clean bowl or jar, reserving about 1/2 cup.

3.  Pour the remaining amount (about 1/2 cup) of coconut pudding into a small bowl with yogurt starter and blend well with a spoon.

4.  Pour yogurt-starter-infused coconut pudding into large bowl of remaining coconut pudding and blend well.

5.  Cover loosely and place in a warm area or oven (turned off).

6.  Ferment 8-12 hours.  Then refrigerate 8 hours before consuming.

7.  Use in smoothies, fillings, raw desserts, or add cinnamon and honey and chow down!

Incorporating fermented foods into your diet is incredibly easy and very beneficial.  Check out these resources for more info:

Resources for making your own fermented foods:

1.  Homemade Saurkraut

2.  Homemade Kombucha

3.  Homemade sourdough bread

4.  Homemade Pickles

No time to make your own?  Buy fermented foods from these trusted sources:

1.  Bubbies

2.  Wills Valley & Forrest Acre Farm Products

3.  Cultures for Life

4.  Zukay

Do you already make  fermented foods at home?  If yes, what kind?  Can you share a company that you buy your fermented foods from?  I love hearing from you!

Linked to Slightly Indulgant Tuesdays, Gluten Free Wednesdays,  and Penny Wise Platter

-Melanie

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25 Comments

  1. eleni says:

    this is fantastic! there was so much information in here. i need to get back into the groove of making almond milk yogurt:) nourishing is delicious!

  2. Melanie says:

    I can totally feel the difference when I eat fermented foods. Total energy rush!

  3. Melanie says:

    I need to make some almond milk yogurt too, thanks for the idea!!

  4. Megan says:

    Hi Melanie,

    I totally agree with everything in your post! I am out of yogurt starter right now, and am planning on making coconut kefir or yogurt with dairy free probiotics. I hope it turns out!

    Thanks for the great info.

    Megan.

  5. Melanie says:

    Megan, Good luck with your kefir and yogurt making! Next on my list of fermented foods to make is water kefir ;)

  6. Karriane says:

    I bought organic Kefir from Trader Joe’s and it is real good. What is your opinion on Trader Joe’s?

  7. Melanie says:

    hey Karriane! I love Trader Joe’s! I wish there was one closer to us. I used to buy kefir, but I think its cheaper to make. Either way though, as long as your eating kefir I’m happy :)

    thanks for commenting!

  8. Kim says:

    Great post! Love the information. I do eat a lot of yogurt, and have been intending to make my own for some time now. So simple, but I guess I’m worried I won’t like the taste. Homemade is usually better, but for some reason I’m hesitant on this one…

  9. Melanie says:

    Kim- thanks for the kind words! Homemade yogurt and kefir does taste stronger to me than store bought, but I actually like that. If you don’t like it really sour, you could ferment it for less time.

  10. Jenny says:

    There’s a whole lot of great information here! Thanks for posting!

  11. Melanie says:

    Thanks for stopping by Jenny! :)

  12. NikoCRNA says:

    Great post wife. Fermented foods are especially important after taking any medications or events (such as a trip to another country) that could alter your bowel flora. Given that most of us already have a disproportionate amount of unhealthy bacteria in our gut from our carb and acid heavy diets, antibiotics for surgery or illness can trigger all sorts of reactions as our immune system struggles to repair itself. Several of the hospitals I worked for started giving all their inpatients yogurt or probiotics, with much improved results!

  13. Wow this looks so good, I have had kefir and yogurt and even young coconuts (I wasn’t sure what to do with them) but now I know. Thanks for all the information.

  14. SARA says:

    I love this post! I am on a raw detox, and yes I am still on it. Melanie sent me a whole bunch of recipes and information on how to detox. I have tried some of the raw soup recipes she sent me, which are a meal saver at work and taste awesome! Now this young coconut yogurt will be my dessert for the next couple of days, love love this post. Thanks for the information Mel!

  15. Melanie says:

    Sara- I’m so glad your doing the raw detox!! keep me posted on your progress ;)

  16. Melanie says:

    Thanks for stopping by Jenna! I think You will love the young thai coconut yogurt!

  17. Deanna says:

    I just bought a young coconut and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it. This looks mighty tempting!

  18. Melanie says:

    Hi Deanna! Thanks for stopping by! If you try the yogurt let me know how it goes. Its very creamy which I love!

  19. Gigi says:

    Melanie,
    LOVE this…I’m definitely going to try it!! :)
    Thanks,
    Gigi

  20. [...] started eating more of is cultured/fermented foods.  I wrote earlier about my obsession with kefir and even went as far as to bring cultured vegetables half way across the world with me to Greece! [...]

  21. [...] evidenced by previous posts (here and here),  my love of all things naturally or lacto-fermented comes as no surprise.    I use a [...]

  22. Nancy says:

    Melanie,
    I am your parents neighbor, and they recommended your website. As a diabetic, I’m always looking for some healthy recipes. I like many of the recipes, and I plan on trying them soon. Btw, your niece and nephew are adorable.

  23. Melanie says:

    Thanks Nancy! I miss my niece and nephew so much! My parents told me you would be contacting me. Since you have diabetes I would recommend the paleo diet. You can heal the diabetes but you will have to remove processed carbs and white sugar from the diet which will balance your blood sugar. Protein and healthy fats will keep your blood sugar stabalized so make sure you’re getting plenty of those in your diet. Email me if you have any more questions, theg...@aol.com

    -Melanie

  24. [...] down the intestines, affecting the quality of life of your hard-working protective gut germs.   Fermented foods act like a petri dish full of bacteria to repopulate your intestines.  It’s not quite as [...]

  25. Wonderful post! We are linking to this particularly great post on our site.
    Keep up the great writing.

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