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Cultured eats necessary to our diets
I plan to live till I am 107. Not too sure where 107 comes from but it is the number that pops into my head over and over when I am thinking about my life. So why not? I think living till 107 sounds grand.
To accomplish this goal, I know that I need to keep my body in the best shape possible. I am on an exercise program (not too hard, but not too easy either). I meditate most every day, so I can listen to that voice within. I also am on the quest of finding the most nutritious foods that my body enjoys, will make me strong in my mind, body and spirit.
Growing up in Angels Camp, we lived on a 22-acre farm. My mom would milk our cow twice a day, we churned our butter and made cheese from the extra milk. Eggs were gathered from the chicken coop and once a year, chicks would be raised for the chicken meat that would be put in the freezer.
We raised our own meat and grew a huge garden. I learned how to can by helping my mom put up what we picked from the garden. You could say that the beginning of nurturing my body with good food was done well.
As a personal chef, I have many clients who are on special diets due to their bodies being incompatible with the foods that we purchase. I have seen allergies ranging from gluten, dairy, grains, nuts, etc., the list goes on and on. I am sure that many of you have found that the more mature (don't like that “old” word) you get, the more foods you find that do not agree with you when you eat them.
In my research I have discovered that cultured foods are a necessary part of our diet that so many people are not eating. Our world has become bacteria phobia. We wash our hands a zillion times a day. Antibiotics and processed foods have taken all the “LIVE” out of our diets. Our gut needs those live bacteria to properly digest foods.
Sandor Katz, author of “Wild Fermentation,” says that “in the normal scheme of things, we'd never have to think twice about replenishing the bacteria that allow us to digest food. But since we're living with antibiotic drugs and chlorinated water and antibacterial soap and all these factors in our contemporary lives that I'd group together as a ‘war on bacteria,' if we fail to replenish [good bacteria], we won't effectively get nutrients out of the food we're eating.”
Fermenting foods can improve digestion. It is like partially digesting the foods before you eat them.
Fermented foods restore the proper balance of bacteria in our gut. Our bodies need enzymes to aid in digestion and absorption. More mature bodies do not make as many enzymes, so if we can help our bodies by supplying the cultured foods, you could live a longer and healthier life. (Remember 107?)
Fermented foods improve your digestion, which in turn improves our absorption of nutrients. It makes foods taste better (sauerkraut on hot dogs, salsa on tacos, sourdough bread), and fermenting foods is fun and inexpensive.
There are many recipes for sauerkraut. The one I want to share with you is a combination of a recipe I found of my grandmother's and one that is low salt from the book “Stocking up.” I just wish I had one of my grandmother's crocks to use in making mine.
You need a gallon jar with a wide mouth.
Slice a head of cabbage in thin slices. You will want enough to fill the jar full. Once the cabbage is sliced, take a meat tenderizer, hammer or rolling pin, and bruise the cabbage by pounding on it. Place the cabbage in your jar (crock) and sprinkle 3 tablespoons of either kosher or sea salt and a teaspoon of ground kelp. Fill jar with water. I have found the best water to add is purchased spring water.
Place a plate on top of the cabbage with a weight. I found a smooth rock that I washed well and boiled that I used for my weight. Cover with either cheesecloth or a linen tea towel and put on your counter to work. Within two days your water will start to bubble. If any scum grows on the top, do not worry, just skim it off. After about seven days, start to taste your sauerkraut. When it tastes just right to you, drain it and put in jars in the fridge. Then make sure you eat a tablespoon a day. Oh, and get another crock started.
Crockpot Coconut Yogurt
Another cultured food that many of us eat is yogurt. I love coconut yogurt, but at over $2 a carton, I soon figured out how to make it myself. The yogurt I have been making is quick, tastes delicious and is more than half the price of store bought. I just throw in a few berries and enjoy.
Coconut yogurt is full of calcium, vitamin A, iron and vitamin C. It is also great for the vegetarian or vegan (just use a vegan starter). Coconut yogurt, when made without thickeners, is more like a drinkable kefir. I add a tablespoon of gelatin and it is just the perfect consistency for me. Just add a few berries and yum!
4 cans of organic coconut milk (be sure to read the ingredient list)
6 oz. Greek yogurt
1/3 cup raw organic agave nectar
1 tablespoon plain gelatin or three tablespoons of tapioca flour
½ teaspoon vanilla extract (other extracts can be used to flavor yogurt) (optional)
1. Empty cans of coconut milk into the crockpot.
2. Turn your crockpot to low place the cover on and let milk heat for 2½ hours
3. Once your timer goes off, turn off crockpot and let set for 3 hours.
4. Your milk should be warm to touch, but not hot, after three hours. Add 6 ounces of Greek yogurt, gelatin and the agave nectar. Whisk together. If using tapioca flour, mix into 1 cup of coconut milk then add to the rest of milk, giving it a good whisking to mix well.
5. Place the lid back on your crockpot and wrap in a towel. This will act as insulation. Place on kitchen counter and check back in 8 hours. Add your extract.
6. I put my finished yogurt in 6-ounce jelly jars. Let cool for at least 6 hours before eating. Throw and few berries on top and enjoy.
7. You might need to adjust your agave on your next batch to be perfect for your taste.
Ghee (makes 2 cups)
Though not a not a cultured food, it is so tasty and good for you that I just had to include ghee.
This is clarified butter (all of the milk solids are cooked out). Ghee, sometimes called the “golden elixir,” is a staple ingredient in Indian cooking. Ghee tastes great and has many health benefits. It is easy to make and it is good for you. Ghee is also great for cooking. It does not burn and makes foods taste great. But it splatters easily and remember that a little goes a long, long way.
Ghee is easy to digest because all the milk solids of the butter have been cooked off. This makes it easier for our bodies to digest than butter or vegetable oils.
According to the Ayurvedic Institute, which teaches the ancient healing teachings from India, ghee is an anti-inflammatory food. They use it to rejuvenate skin, aid digestion and say that it helps to lubricate connective tissue and makes the body more flexible. All this leads to an increased immune system and greater longevity.
Butter tastes yummy, but people worry about the unhealthiness of it. Ghee is a great alternative with many health benefits. I know that I love it.
Melt one pound of unsalted butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. As soon as the butter begins to boil and foam, reduce the heat to a simmer. This foam will fall to the bottom of the pan. After this foam falls to the bottom of the pan, a spiderweb-like foam will rise to the top. Let this also fall to the bottom of the pan.
The ghee will be golden in color. Let cool slightly then pour though cheesecloth into sterile jars. Discard the curds from the bottom, as they are almost pure cholesterol.
Ghee can be stored out of fridge for one month and in fridge for six months, but if you are like me, a jar is gone in a week
Karla Billdt owns Karla's Kreations: A Personal Chef and Catering Service in Yuma. She can be reached at www.ChefKarla.net or email@example.com.