Monday, January 28, 2013

Why food fermentation?


Why fermented foods?
Probiotics, that’s why!
For the entire history of man, people have been fermenting foods, whether intentionally or not.  Before refrigeration, it was often a matter of survival.  Most fresh foods won’t keep long.  Imagine your life without fridge or freezer…  Winters like this would be hard.  Sure, things would stay cold out there right now (as I write this, there’s a state of emergency in TN for all the ice!) but what about tomorrow, when it gets above freezing.  Well, there goes dinner…
Now, pretty much everyone in the US has a fridge or freezer, and many people have multiples of each.  But we still see fermented products for sale at every grocery store.  They are delicious and nutritious.
We’ve all heard of the benefits of taking probiotics, especially when we take antibiotics.  We have to replenish the “good bacteria” in the gut.  It’s part of our immune system, and helps us to digest.  But the easiest, cheapest, and yummiest probiotics don’t come from a pill.  They come in the form of fermented foods.  One of the most amazing probiotics is called Lactobacilli, and it happily grows on any kitchen counter, or in the back corner of any basement.  You just have to set up the correct conditions.
I talked about home fermentation in another post, but if you want to make your belly happy without getting into your own chemistry experiments, look for these foods at the grocery store:
Yogurt (look for live-cultures)
Sauerkraut (check the label)
Some home-canned pickles, chutneys, and fermented relishes can be found at the farmers’ markets, too.

Get your gut happy again with fermented foods!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble...

Lately, I’ve been reigniting my love for food fermentation.  Several months ago, I managed to kill my kombucha mama.  (If you’ve never tried kombucha, go to Earth Fare or Natural Foods and pick up a bottle.  It might be your new love, too!)  But the wonderful Tammy Ozment shared some of hers.  So, I am waiting, not so patiently, for my first batch of Tammy Kombucha to ferment on my kitchen counter.  Also, I just scheduled with Marc Williams, from, to teach a fermented foods class in March for us.  So the excitement was bubbling…
Then, I discovered that Earth Fare had (has?) the book, Wild Fermentation on sale for only $12.50!  I’ve been wanting that book a long time, so with the ice storm, I read the whole thing in less than a day.  Sandor Katz goes about fermentation in just my style:  few rules, lots of creativity.
Last year, Scott and I made homemade sauerkraut.  It was awesome, and met with rave reviews.  I wanted to start a batch last night, but was not going to brave the icy roads for a couple heads of cabbage!  But I had some turnips.  So, currently, on the kitchen cabinet, sets a quart jar of “sauerruben”, or fermented turnips.  If I get moving later today, I might make the same thing, but with carrots.  I love how Katz encourages you to try stuff.   In a week or so, we’ll find out if we like sauerruben!
For those reading this and worrying about my health, afraid of listeria and other monsters lurking in my crocks, fear not.  I am careful to keep my containers and hands clean, and watch for any signs of yuckiness.  If it smells bad, don’t eat it….or just try a tiny bite….  Also, Katz says that in all his years of home fermentation, he never made anyone sick, or even heard of a case.  In fact, a few years ago, the government did a study and found that most of the cases of milk-borne illnesses came from PASTEURIZED milk products!
I have also made lots of yogurt and plan to make kefir soon.  So, don’t be afraid.  Get the book, take the class, but start fermenting!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Green Soup

In the winter time, I just can't force myself to eat a cold salad.  Nor should I.  Ayurvedically, I'm a Vata.  Brrr...  So, warm food for me.  And now, I love GREEN SOUP.
I came across an article in Reader's Digest about green soup, and gave it a try.  It needed a little salt, but otherwise, delicious and very green and nutritious.  Here's what I did, but you can make your own:
4 cups spinach
2 cups kale
2 cups veggie broth
1 onion, chopped
a little olive oil
salt to taste
In one pot, cook down your kale, with a little oil.  In a saute pan, brown the onions with a drizzle of oil.  (This is a great place to add a little more flavor.  Next time I plan to add tumeric!)  Once the kale wilts, add your broth, spinach & onions.  Let this mixture cook down.  Use a hand blender on the whole pot & enjoy!
Nutrients and vitality!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Practicing acceptance of the weather

"It is what it is."  If you think about it, this is a funny phrase.  Because of course, it is what it is.  What else could it be?  But, anyway, most of the time you hear this phrase, it's someone trying to accept the way things are.  To look at them without judgement.
I'm working on it.  Right now, I'm working on accepting this crazy weather.  Several things about the weather give me a tough time of accepting.
1-I do not like to be cold or wet, or cold & wet.
2-Driving in snow & ice scares me.
3-I really don't like having to shut down the studio, when there are people who want their yoga!
But it is what it is.  There's not a thing I can do about it.
And I am remembering to be grateful.  A couple of years ago, on one of our missions to Nicaragua, we helped to finish a home for a family.  I've spoken about this family, and this home before, in our newsletter.  But when it's muddy outside, my mind and heart always go to them.
This family was literally living in the mud.  They had no way to get out of it.  Their home had no floor, and really, no walls to speak of.  Just sticks, loosely tied together.  We were there during the rainy season, and it had been raining, like it is here, but for 3 weeks.  The father, in an effort to keep his family dry, dug a ditch in front of the little home, to help redirect the water.  But there was so much, that even inside the house looked like a puddle.  One mom, one dad, and four beautiful little girls shared a space smaller than my office.  They slept on pieces of cardboard, to try to get out of the mud.  As you can imagine, it didn't help much.
There's a happy ending to this story.  Our group was the last to work on their new home.  And while this home had no floor, and in America, someone would store their lawn mower there, at least it was dry inside.  And I will never forget the smiles.
So, tonight, when you go to your warm home, with a dry floor, a soft bed, running, hot water, and plenty of food to eat, please think of this family.  These beautiful children.  And be grateful for your blessings.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

New Year's Theme

I was reading email the other day, and my friend, Kim Bushore-Maki at Shakti in the Mountains had sent a New Years' letter about having a theme for 2013, instead of individual resolutions.  I immediately loved the idea.  Each year, I get so excited about the clean slate, and I set several resolutions, in all areas of life.  But then, I look back on them, and they either became irrelevant within a few months, or I simply didn't stick to them.
So, instead of specific resolutions, I have a new theme for the year:  ORDER.  If you've ever seen my office, you know what a challenge this is to me.  I've always been "the artistic, creative type"...or at least that was my excuse.  My office (despite all my attempts) is a wreck!  I try really hard to keep things in order, but there's just so much stuff, and so much to do!  I get started cleaning up, straightening up, organizing, but eventually, I get tired and overwhelmed and I give up.
But this year, I MUST make it happen.  The financials at the studio are getting complicated, and I'm so afraid they'll get out of control.  And I know I work better and feel better when things are in order. 
This is a whole new way of life for me, so if you have any suggestions or encouragement, please share!