food

Kombucha Brewing At Home

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Kombucha tea is a fermented drink made with tea, sugar, probiotic bacteria and yeast and has quickly become a probiotic sweetheart.  Many have found the tangy and fizzy taste to be a nice alternative to harsh sodas and other carbonated beverages. Kombucha contains B vitamins and the probiotics/living bacteria can be a good bacteria boost for gut health (replacing intestinal microflora and breaking undigested carbohydrates into smaller molecules).  Some have said that the healing properties, from various disorders, are a result of the acid in kombucha binding with various toxins for elimination.

Kombucha uses the fermentation process, which has been used for centuries to produce things like wine, beer, sourdough, sour cream, yogurt, kimchi, tempeh, sauerkraut, and more!  Did you know vanilla is produced by the fermentation of vanilla beans?

WHAT HAPPENS DURING FERMENTATION?

To ferment kombucha, the yeast in a SCOBY (an acronym for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast”) breaks down the sugar in a sweetened tea which undergo fermentation.  This in turn produces alcohol.  Some of the alcohol is converted to acetic acid which gives it the vinegar smell and also the proper acidic level to prevent “bad” bacteria from forming. (Kombucha on average is less than half a percent alcohol by volume so don’t be alarmed!)

According to wikipedia, the process for creating kombucha relies on “anaerobic ethanol fermentation (by yeast), anaerobic organic acid fermentation (by bacteria), and aerobic ethanol oxidation to acetate (by bacteria) all take place concurrently along an oxygen gradient.”  Now you know.

HOW DO I BREW MY OWN KOMBUCHA?

What you’ll need:

– 2 cups kombucha (purchased, use from a prior batch, or get some from a friend!)

– 1 SCOBY (purchased or get one from a friend!)

– 3.5 Liters of water

– GLASS container to hold 4 Liters, or more (be careful of non-glass containers as they can leach toxins into your brew.)

– 1 cup of white sugar

– 8 bags of black tea (steer clear of flavored teas like Early Grey that contain oils which will disrupt the brewing process)

Let’s brew:

1. Bring 3.5 liters of water to a boil

2.  Stir in 1 cup of sugar until dissolved

3.  Add 8 tea bags and pull pot from heat

4.  Allow to fully cool.  You now have sweetened tea.

5.  Remove tea bags and pour sweet tea into your brewing jar.

6.  Add SCOBY to your brewing jar and cover with t-shirt or paper towel material and secure with a rubber band.

7.  Brew for 7-30 days.  Many find 7-14 days to be the right strength for tastes before it becomes too vinegary.

8.  After brewing period, pour into serving jars, growlers, etc.  You can either place directly into the refrigerator or you can leave in a warm and dark place for 1-3 days to add more fizz to your drink.  After the 1-3 days, put in the refrigerator.

Congratulations, you have kombucha!

WATCH THE HOW-TO-WITH-HEATHER HERE:

Want to store your SCOBY?  Cover your SCOBY with brewed kombucha and store in a sealed glass container in your cupboard for up to 30 days.

Want to share a SCOBY with a friend?  Peel away a layer of a thicker formed SCOBY or after fermenting your tea, leave some in an open glass container and a new SCOBY will form!

Ad-veggie-venture! (Conquering Mysterious Produce)

Gardens are overflowing and the Farmer’s Markets are full of produce, ready to fill your vitamin and mineral needs! I’m sure we all snagged up the strawberries over the last couple of weeks. Maybe you got some early lettuce or beans…but what about all those mystery fruits and veggies?? We all see unknown produce and simply pass on by without giving it a second thought. The next time you see something unfamiliar, buy it! Make it a mission to learn 1 or 2 ways to use it. You will probably like it, AND you’ll have something new to incorporate into your regular meal/snack rotations to keep it from getting boring. As an added bonus, you will introduce your body to vitamins and minerals that you may not currently be getting! Let’s get started:

Yu Choy (yow – choy)

Go past any Asian stand at a farmer’s market and you’ll likely find Yu Choy. This Chinese green is most identifiable by their yellow flowers, which are edible! Yu Choy (or rapeseed) are primarily grown to produce canola oil, but also have a sweet taste that make it perfect to sautée, stir-fry or add to soups. Yu Choy’s flavor is a sort of cross between spinach and mustard greens. Grab a pound of Yu Choy, stir fry in some oil and garlic and then steam in ¼ cup of chicken broth for about 3-3.5 minutes until the stems are softened. Say Nǐ hǎo to something new!

Kohlrabi (cole – RAW – be)

In German “Kohl” means cabbage and “Rabi” means turnip; this green or purple bulb like vegetable is commonly eaten in German speaking areas and in Vietnam. However, it is slowly becoming more mainstream here in the U.S. The bulb can have the green skin cut off (knife or vegetable peeler) and the inside, sliced or cut into sticks and served alone or with a dip like hummus. It has a nice, crisp taste with a slight cabbage flavor. Some may be surprised to learn that the greens on the top of kohlrabi can be used like kale or collard greens. Look for smaller size bulbs to ensure they are not “woody” as often found in the larger grown vegetable. Use kohlrabi in other ways too, such as pureed in soups, roasted, or steamed. Any time you get a veggie where you can eat the root and the greens you’ve got a bargain!

Golden Beets

You might have noticed we’ve included a few root vegetables in this post, in large part because unless it is a carrot or potato most people tend to steer clear of this category. What a shame! Because the roots are generally the major source of absorption for vitamins and nutrients from the soil, these veggies (beets, rutabagas, ginger, etc) pack a big nutritional punch! Geosmin, a compound produced by microbes in the soil, is what gives beets their earthy taste and seem to polarize so many into beet lovers or beet haters, but even beet haters may be pleasantly surprised by the flavor of golden beets! These golden beauties have been described to taste like sweet corn when cooked, and are well-known for their high fiber, potassium, iron, and folic acid. One bonus is they don’t “bleed red” and stain your clothes or teeth. Beets also have the highest sugar content of any vegetable, which is why they can be found in some desserts (like beet brownies!). Beets can be enjoyed roasted, poached, or boiled.

Jicama (HE – ka – ma)

Although you won’t find jicama grown locally as it needs 9 months frost free, you can generally find it in most supermarkets. It’s traditionally grown in Mexico and South America. Also known as a Mexican turnip, Jicama is in the legume family and the brown, bulbous root vegetable we are used to seeing is just that – a tuberous root at the bottom of a large vining plant. Jicama is most commonly enjoyed raw and tastes like a savory apple, a crunchy, juicy, and slightly sweet snack. Just cut the skin off (it’s too thick for a vegetable peeler) and cut into sticks or slices. Other ways to enjoy jicama are stir-fry (like water chestnuts), julienned into spring rolls, and even diced into salsa or a coleslaw!

Fennel (FEN – null)

Fennel is crunchy and slightly sweet – closely related to parsley, carrots, and dill. It is fully edible, from its bulb to the leaves, and has high concentrations of phytonutrients which make it an antioxidant powerhouse. Fennel has been repeatedly studied for its ability to reduce inflammation and fight cancer. Many associate the taste to black licorice, however if black licorice isn’t your thing, when the bulb is chopped and sautéed (many like it sautéed with onion) or braised, that licorice-type taste almost fully dissolves into a complementary side dish primarily for fish or other seafood. The stalks can be used in soup and the leaves can be used as an herb. Search pinterest or google some recipes and give it a shot!

Venture into the Farmers’ Market or grocery store with a little extra confidence this week, and proudly request some new produce with the correct pronunciation and a sense of accomplishment! When it comes to diet, one particular principles with regards to exercise is extremely applicable: if you are bored, you won’t stick with it very long. Explore new fruits and veggies to boost your vitamins and minerals, make your meals more enjoyable, and wow your friends and family!

Until next time…Happy Harvesting!

Slooooowww Down

We’re a rushed, distracted, and “too-busy” society. Most people in North America eat fast. Really fast. We rarely take the time to savor our food… or sometimes even to chew it properly.

^^It’s gross isn’t it??^^

You almost can’t look away…don’t be like Homer!

Each time we consume food we are using all five of our senses. We taste and smell the food, hear the crunch, feel the texture, and see the food. Try sitting down to eat in a calm environment with minimal distractions to truly enjoy all the five senses, and get more satisfaction out of eating! Taking time to prepare your food and make it look presentable will help you to enjoy it. Add fruits, veggies, and spices to add a colorful “pop” to your meals!

Did you know it takes a full 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your mind (and mouth for that matter) that you are satisfied? Try spending at least 20-30 minutes eating each meal, and see what a difference it can make! Slowing down is an effective – and maybe the easiest – way to reduce caloric intake at a meal.

Eating slowly offers many benefits:
• Better digestion
• Better hydration
• Easier weight loss or maintenance
• Greater satisfaction with our meals

Digestion is a process made up of many equally important steps that prepare the body to break down everything you put into it to use for energy. Smelling, tasting, chewing, moving the food around, chewing some more, swallowing, chemical and mechanical break down in the gut… When we eat and chew slowly, we allow our brain and body to properly digest the food. Food that is not properly chewed, or eaten too fast can lead to GI problems as well as indigestion. To practice chewing slower, choose high-fiber foods that take more time to chew such as fresh fruits and vegetables. The act of chewing even helps your brain to feel more full – this is why shakes and smoothies can leave you hungry even when they have the same calories as a meal!

Now, we all know that awful feeling of eating way too much and feeling like a balloon. Eating slowly helps us avoid this “inflated” feeling, and gives the brain time to process satisfaction. One research study out of the University of Rhode Island done on women who ate lunch quickly vs women who ate lunch slowly showed those who ate quickly consumed 646 calories in 9 minutes while the women who ate slowly consumed 579 in 29 minutes! That’s 67 calories less in 20 additional minutes – you can see how weight gain can happen if this is happening for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! For weight-loss or more consistent maintenance, try aiming to stop eating when you are only 80% full. Don’t continue eating until about 20 minutes have passed. Then if you are still hungry eat a little more, but if you are not – then don’t.

Here’s a simple strategy to slow down: Count how many bites you take in a minute. The next time you eat, try cutting that number in half. At a minimum, you will be more conscious of your speed.

Check out these other shocking study findings about just how much MORE food we consume when we eat quickly!

Super Kale! To The Rescue!

Kale is a popular superfood – maybe the most popular one around – with its high fiber, iron, vitamin A & K, calcium and antioxidant content. Pound for pound (or gram for gram), kale has twice the amount of vitamin C as an orange and more calcium than milk! Got Kale? It has become a pretty notorious scapegoat for social media mockery:

Haters gonna hate…

If you haven’t grown to love it yet, we’re here to give you a few innovative ideas to give it another try or to shake up your kale standards!

START SIMPLE: Add some kale to your smoothie for a quick nutritious boost! It’s flavor won’t overpower fruit-based smoothies, and it blends well for a leafy vegetable.

SUPER KALE DRESSING: A salad may truly only be as good as its dressing! The somewhat bitter flavor of kale can be curbed by purchasing young/earlier harvested kale from your local Farmers’ Market, OR consider complementing that bitter flavor with some sweet!

– 2 c of your favorite fruit (raspberries are a great choice)
– 2 Tbsp. Dijon or Tahini
– 1-2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
– 1-2 Tbsp. maple syrup
– 1 Tbsp. of a fresh herb like thyme or rosemary.

SUPER KALE CHIPS: Cut the thick stems off your kale and tear into bits. Rinse, then run through a salad spinner to dry thoroughly. Rub olive oil and salt in, spreading the leaves over a cookie sheet. Bake 10-15 minute at 350 degrees or until the edges are brown but not burnt. Get creative with different seasonings like Cajun or Chili Powder!

SUPER KALE PESTO: Mix up the flavor profile of your Pesto by swapping the basil out for kale!

– Pour 1 c of olive oil into a food processor
– Add 3 cloves of garlic
– Add 12 cups of chopped kale leaves until blended.
– Stir in 1 cup of pine nuts, 1 cup parmesan, and salt to taste.

**For added veggie goodness, serve over zucchini noodles!

SUPER KALE SOUP: Consider adding roughly chopped kale into soup for texture and flavor! Much like the use of endives in Italian Wedding Soup, Kale is a great complement in broth-based or even cream-based soups! Kale can be purchased in bulk, tossed in a freezer bag, and then simply crumbled into your bowl!

SUPER KALE TACOS: Few social media trends are more prolific than the mockery of healthy eating habits, but the insatiable craze over Tacos may have the upper hand! Hurdle your hesitation on this one and try out this delicious recipe below from Cookie and Kate!

and yes…I know tacos and burritos are not quite the same thing 😉

http://cookieandkate.com/2012/simple-kale-and-black-bean-burritos/

Hack Your Summer with these Cool Tricks

Are you ready for fun in the sun??

But really, are you ready for all that comes along with that? The beautiful weather lures us out in the heat, but lurking everywhere all Summer long are cold, sugary temptations like ice-cream and popsicles! And spending all that extra time out in the sun is sure to affect your hydration – which as we’ve learned in the past has drastic implications for our health and fitness goals.

But fear not! We have some great tricks you can use this Summer to keep you cool, well hydrated and most importantly satisfied all Summer long without boosting your sugar intake.

Protein-Packed Coconut Popsicles

Few things are more satisfying than an ice cold popsicle on a hot, dry day! Boost your protein and energy with this delicious alternative to popsicles containing all kinds of additives, preservatives etc. It’s super simple!

– Blend 2 Scoops of Bio-Whey with 1 Can Full Fat Coconut Milk
– Pour into popsicle molds and serve frozen

Frozen Grapes

Hands down one of the easiest ways to cool down with a delicious treat is to freeze your grapes! Wash beforehand and pat dry so they don’t all clump together. Put in the freezer and enjoy them straight out of the icebox! Or if you want a slushier texture let them thaw a couple of minutes before eating.

Protein Packed Yogurt

Greek Yogurt is another great way to keep cool, and you can boost the flavor and nutrition by mixing in a scoop of Bio-Whey and 1-2 tsp of water to thin a little. 37 grams of protein come packed into this combo!

Stay Well Hydrated

Like the glue that holds together all of your sound nutrition choices, hydration is essential for ensuring your body is working properly and handling the nutrients you are giving it in an effective way! If the taste of water just doesn’t do it for you, consider flavoring it with some citrus! And if carrying a lemon around with you is not really your thing…maybe try something like True Lemon. True Lemon contains no artificial sweeteners, real fruit flavor, and no preservatives; their new crystallized citrus comes in lemon, lime, grapefruit and orange flavor.

Tired of the ice melting in your water bottle within moments of stepping outside into the hot sun? Fill it half full and freeze your bottle over night lying on it’s side. That way when you fill it up the long, vertical ice cube will keep your water refreshingly cold much longer!

Now, no Summer post would be complete without a suggestion for the grill, so save time and flavor up that boring chicken! Before freezing your chicken, toss in your marinade! As the chicken thaws it will be soaking up the tasty flavors. Try lime juice, soy sauce, and ginger OR a lemon juiced w/ zest, garlic, olive oil, thyme, and salt/pepper.
https://www.noshtastic.com/grilled-paleo-lemon-chicken-thyme/

Mighty Micros!

Mighty Mighty Microgreens!

Did you know that Microgreens contain many times the nutrient density of their mature-harvested counterparts? These things pack a nutritional punch! (see USDA article here)

Microgreens are vegetables and herbs harvested when their first set of true leaves sprout. These things pack a lot of flavor, nutrients and vitamins into a small package! Often they are confused with sprouts, so let’s break down the difference:

Microgreens
– Harvested after first true leaves (not cotyledon) sprout – when plants are about 2 inches tall
– Harvest time: 1 – 3 weeks
– Grown in soil and in the sunshine (where plants get most of their nutrients from)

Sprouts
– Harvested during the sprouting phase
– Harvest time: 2 – 3 days
– Grown in water and in the dark

While sprouts are also considered a healthy food source, microgreens are far superior when it comes to nutrient and fiber content. Leafy microgreens for instance are a significant source of beta-carotene, iron and calcium, and dark leafy microgreens (kale, chard, etc) are high in antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin which have been shown to reduce the risk of chronic eye disease and cataracts. Microgreens are very easy to grow, so get yourself some seeds and get started!
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No matter what the season, microgreens can be grown near a sunny window year-round. Snow pea shoots, red beets, purple and green basil, pak choi, cilantro, parsley and mesclun mix germinate and grow to microgreen size in about two weeks. (Susan Smith-Durisek/Lexington Herald-Leader/MCT via Getty Images)

Growing microgreens requires little space and time – unlike a traditional garden. Some good options for seeds to use are: Basil, Beets, Broccoli, Cabbage, Chard, Cilantro, Kale, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Mustard, Parsley, Peas, Radishes and Spinach!

1. Poke a few holes in the bottom of a plastic tub for drainage (see: spinach or mushroom container for instance).

2. Fill the container with 1 – 2 inches of light seedling soil and smooth it out to be even – but not compacted. (Being that we are growing microgreens for a nutrient rich food source, be sure of the quality and safety of your soil! Choose high-quality, organic soil whenever possible)

3. Sprinkle seeds so they almost cover the soil for a dense planting, and then sprinkle a light covering of soil over the seeds and pat gently

4. Water with a spray bottle to avoid dislodging seeds (a plastic cover can help keep moisture in)

5. Keep in a dark, warm area of the house until seeds start to sprout and then transfer to a sunny windowsill until ready to harvest

It really is that easy! Try it out and see for yourself!

Ellipse Holiday Salad

Mixed Green Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette
Ingredients
1 lb. mixed baby greens (16 cups)
¾ cup pomegranate seeds
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. minced shallot or red onion
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Directions
1. Toss together greens and pomegranate seeds in a large bowl.
2. Whisk together oil, lemon juice, shallot, zest and a pinch of salt in a small bowl. Allow dressing to sit for at least 10 minutes
3. Just before serving, whisk dressing, pour over greens and toss gently. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.
Makes 8 2 cup servings
Nutrition per serving: 80 calories; 6g fat (0.5g saturated fat); 2g protein; 7g carb; 2g fiber; 0mg sodium

Ellipse Fitness Thanksgiving Sassy Stuffing

Ingredients:
3 tsp. extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for baking dish
1 (3/4 lb) loaf whole-grain bread, cut into cubes (4 cups)
1 lb. sweet Italian-style turkey or chicken sausage
1/2 cup lower-sodium chicken broth
4 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 Bosc pear, coarsely chopped (Bartlett or Anjou are good subs)
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 9×13 inch baking dish. Place bread cubes in a large bowl.
2. Remove sausage from the casings and break into 1/2 inch pieces. Heat 1 tsp of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with bread cubes.
3. Return the skillet to the heat. Add 2 Tbsp. of broth and, using a wooden spoon, scrape any browned bits of sausage from the bottom of the skillet. Add the remaining 2 tsp. oil, celery and on-ion; cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add pear and sage; cook 2 minutes more.
4. Transfer vegetable mixture to the bowl with the bread and sausage. Add egg and stir to combine. Add remaining broth, parsley, salt and pepper; mix well. Spread stuffing evenly in baking dish. Bake until top is crisply and stuffing is heated through—about 30 minutes.
Makes 12 cups
Nutrition
Per 1/2 cup: 80 calories; 2g fat, 0.5g saturated fat; 6g protein; 10g carbohydrate; 2g fiber; 127 mg sodium

Honey-Peanut Butter Protein Energy Bites

This recipe is extremely popular with our members and we thought you’d enjoy it too!

Honey-Peanut Butter Protein Energy Bites

2 c old fashioned oats
2 scoop whey protein powder
1/2 c honey
2TBS peanut butter

In medium bowl, toss together ingredients and stir well. Put bowl in refrigerator for 20-30 minutes. Roll into balls. Place 2-3 balls in sandwich baggies and store in fridge to use as a snack or to satisfy sweet tooth. They will last for 5 days.

130 calories, 3g fat, 10g carbs, 10g protein.