Quick Probiotic Lemon Garlic Tahini Dressing

I turned 38 yesterday. It’s not a hallmark birthday in any way but I witnessed a humorous interpretation of “Dance of Doom” from the Lego Ninjago Movie performed by 3-7 year olds wearing giftwrap, and spent a couple days with my family down the beautiful Oregon Coast, and that is nothing to sneeze at. Thank you to my husband Steve for that. 🙂

For this appropriately lazy post I am offering up my favorite quick tahini dressing with live cultures. I put it on everything and dip everything yummy in it. And so should you.

Ingredients:

Method:

Combine all ingredients for the tahini dressing in a medium to large bowl and either whisk until smooth or mix with an immersion blender. I like to use these Oxo Chef Squeeze Bottles for all my homemade condiments. They allow you to put out an even line so are great for making pretty much everything… well, pretty.

Cheers.
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Cultured Turnips (vegan, paleo, keto)

Fermented Turnips

I did this recipe in a 1 Liter Kilner swing top canning jar but you can adjust proportions to your liking.

Fermenting lids and weights are helpful but you can do this with stainless steel, plastic lids or a swing top like this one as it allows air out but not in. In place of a weight you will need a sanitized jar small enough to insert on top of the turnips. Another trick is to fill a clean ziplock back with water and stuff it in. You’ll want to set it on a plate as it will leak fluids in this case.

Ingredients:

Method:

  1. Make sure all your tools are clean and washed with hot soapy water and rinsed.
  2. You can sanitize your jars in the dishwasher but I tend to put mine in the oven.  I set it to 180 degrees Fahrenheit (the lowest temp) and place my jars and weights on a cookie sheet with a silicone baking mat to prevent slipping.  I leave them in at that temperature for 2-5 minutes while I’m prepping the veg.
  3. Remove leaves and “tail” with a clean knife.
  4. You can use a mandolin or a sharp chef’s knife and slice the turnips thinly and evenly or dice them into cubes.  I used a spiralizer for this batch.
  5. Fill your sanitized jar with washed, unpeeled and prepped turnips.
  6. Leave 2″ room at the top for placing the fermenting weight… and you’ll still want 1″ room to prevent overflow, but the clip top will prevent explosions.
  7. Add 1 tablespoon pink salt or sea salt to the top and fill with warm non-chlorinated water. Insert sanitized jar or weight to keep vegetables submerged. Close lid.
  8. If you do not have fermenting or swing lids, set the lid loosely and cover with a towel to keep bacteria out. Wait 3-7 days, depending on your taste.

A Post St. Patrick’s Day Recovery Kefir (keto friendly)

I’m aware that for most people post St. Paddy’s means hangover… for me it usually means that I ate too much guinness cake… but in actuality I was testing out a recipe yesterday and just didn’t get enough sleep. 🤷🏻‍♀️

I thought I would post one of my favorite milk kefir drinks, which also happens to be green for this lovely day. 🤗

If we were still in N. Ireland there would be a parade today, complete with floats, in the town. Downpatrick is where St. Patrick set up his church and it was one of the lovely attractions in town when we lived there.

But here today we have sunshine and no hangovers, with the exception of a food hangover!  So it’s nice to settle the stomach with a fun matcha mint yogurt drink!  And this yogurt just happens to be super yogurt… the kind with lacto-bacteria that sticks in your intestines and effects your gut for the better.  That might be weird to hear for some, but it’s a good thing.

I love putting matcha and lion’s mane in my milk kefir because it is a triple whammy of brain juice loaded with probiotics that affect neurotransmitters, loads of L-theanine, which is calming against the caffiene load, and lion’s mane which is a nootropic brain boosting mushroom.

Ingredients:

1 cup milk kefir

1 tsp Japanese matcha

1/2 tsp lions mane powder (optional, but I mix mine up with the matcha)

half a dropper of peppermint spirits or a few drops of peppermint oil

a couple drops clove or orange oil (optional)

1 drop liquid stevia (optional, but recommended if you don’t love the taste of matcha)

Method:

Combine all ingredients in a glass and stir… or in a mason jar, lid it and shake vigorously.  Enjoy!


Guinness Cake for St. Patrick’s Day (grain free flours, no sugar)

No Sugar, Chocolate, Nut-free, Keto-Cycling

Yields 1x 8″ round cake, 2x 5″ round cakes or 16 cupcakes.

This cake was first introduced to me in Scotland and served up by a lanky Swedish man. I’m fairly certain the originator of the recipe was Nigella Lawson though, at least she is who I consulted for years in making it. It evolved over the years as I became more and more intolerant to wheat and then grains and sugars and I have to say this version is just as good as that first. If you can abide sugars go ahead and use 1 1/2 to 2 cups coconut sugar, but you may need to adjust the coconut flour a little. I call this cake flourless because as it’s made with Guinness it isn’t really grain free. Nor is it Paleo or Keto, but as Guinness has about 8-10 carbs per 12oz bottle that does add to the total carb intake. Let’s be real though, with only a cup in the recipe you are really only looking at an additional 0.5 carbohydrates per serving. No biggie, as long as you can handle grain. I normally cannot but I have found that my tolerance is much better when grains are fermented as in a beer or in sourdough bread or sprouted grains. So tread safely and know yourself but if you think you can handle it then this baby is WELL worth your effort. It makes a dense cake that I love best frozen, frosting and all. If you want it more dense and fudgy; I find the best trick is to turn up the heat a bit after you’ve whipped in the eggs thoroughly and let the batter “cook” a wee bit before pouring in the pan. Or you could just pour in that whole bottle of Guinness. Hey, for a beer it is pretty amazingly healthy. It is full of prebiotic fiber and it is high in iron and relatively low in calories. Don’t believe me? Read this. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Ingredients:

For the cake:

For the icing:

Method:

Preheat the oven to 350ºF/180°C, and butter and line an 8 inch cheesecake pan with parchment paper. I love these pans because I can pop out the bottom, place it on the parchment paper and slice around it with a sharp knife for the perfectly lined pan. I cut the parchment for the sides a bit taller so I can “overfill” the pan and get the cake a bit taller.

Pour the Guinness into a large wide pan and then add the butter. Heat until melted then whisk in the cocoa and sugar.

Whisk in the milk kefir and then crack the eggs in one at a time, whisking them in vigorously.

Add the vanilla and whisk in the baking soda.

Last of all sift in the pea protein or arrowroot followed by coconut flour.

Pour the cake batter into the buttered and lined pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour or 40 minutes for two smaller pans like the one shown. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack. I will sometimes pull it out of the pan and pop it in the freezer for a stint to make frosting easier.

While it is cooling, we deal with the icing. Whip the cream cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla, stevia and allulose and whip to combine.

Now if you are using kefir cream you will want to carefully add it in a bit at a time to keep the consistency smooth. You can get away with a cup as opposed to the heavy or whipping cream. If you whip it too hard it will curdle because it is already cultured to thickness and is just a step from becoming a lovely cheese and whey.

If using heavy cream, add it in slowly and whip until you have a light but spreadable consistency. I will sometimes need to fold it in with a spatula. Whipping cream can behave a bit differently and it is best to whip it to soft peaks first and then combine it slowly.

You can choose to make this dairy free by coconut cream and coconut butter together but as it is not very Irish to do so I have not tried it. I would recommend beating 1 cup coconut cream with 1/4-1/2 cup coconut butter and adding the vanilla and sweetener and whipping until combined.

Spread the icing over the top of the cake only so it resembles the head of a freshly poured pint of Guinness.


An Aubergine Story: Cultured Smoky Eggplant Dip

This is a recipe I have been anticipating for a couple of years now. There are a couple ways to do this. I would consider this the trickier but as I have yet to try the other method we will go with it. Let’s call this the classical method.

Enter the humble aubergine. Eggplant, for the Americans. I love it, but many don’t. My favorite thing about aubergine is how well it roasts up with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt. It behaves like a mushroom in this way, but the flavor, to me, is even more magical. I have been making smokey baba ganoush for years and it is one of my favorite dips for a Mediterranean spread… or just to sit over with my bowl of carrots and celery and devour all on my own. But how to culture it? It has been my mission over the past couple years to inject all my food with probiotics in the amazing old school method of fermentation. Old school preservation. No nasty stuff. No need for sugar. Just salt, water and wild yeasts.

Fermenting helps your microbiome (the life in your gut) and helps your neurotransmitters send health to your body and happy thoughts to your brain. For real.

So for this recipe I fermented aubergine and then proceeded to make baba ganoush with it, but it was missing something… That wonderful smokey flavor I loved was no longer there and the texture was off… I assume that if I were to let it culture much much longer it would be fine but as this was only cultured a week the result was a bit chunky. So I took the other half of my aubergines and quartered them, roasted them to blackened and divided them in bags: 2-3 a piece for freezing and 2-3 for this recipe, depending on size.

By the way I did this a long while ago but then promptly ate the whole thing and with all my daughter’s health issues never got around to posting it. Here it is now. I hope you enjoy it!

Ingredients

*If you want more authentic baba ganoush, put these optional ingredients in. If you want the more Romanian version, leave them out. Personally I have loved the latter for a change. You can even go heavier on the onion if that’s your jam.

Method:

Combine all ingredients in a food processor, including the olive oil as the aubergine is pre-fermented. Yay! Process until smooth.

Put in a pretty bowl and top with olive oil and hemp seeds, if you like. Obviously, I like.

Let me know how it goes for you!


Dark Chocolate Chili & Bits Fat Bombs (Freezer Recipe)

(Paleo, Keto maintenance, Vegan)

Freezer fat bombs… so easy!

Hullo! Here we are with the chocolate again! I know what you’re thinking… this lady likes her chocolate. Well, yes I do. I am not ashamed. I like it dark and bittersweet and most store bought chocolates under 72% used to have me trying to secretly spit into a napkin without people noticing. American chocolate, not to offend anyone, usually tastes like chalky wax to me. Bleh. There are exceptions though. I can’t do sugar these days though so I make my own… usually a version of these every couple weeks.

I have been doing a therapeutic keto recently to help get my hormones and inflammation under control and I have to say it is working. I was a bit put off by the idea of keto for a while because I couldn’t stomach the idea of bacon and cheese… and that’s all I had really heard about it. But I heard a different story from a dear friend’s cousin a few weeks ago and thought I would do my own research. I read Dr. Jason Fung’s “The Obesity Code” which was mind blowing and mostly focused on insulin and intermittent fasting. I read Dr. Josh Axe’s “Keto Diet” which was equally fascinating, especially when it came to keto and treating brain disorders. For me, inflammation is my killer so promises of helping with that made me willing. Milk Kefir helps a ton already and is considered a no no on Paleo so I was doubly interested when I heard it was encouraged on keto. So the long and short of it is that I downloaded a keto app, plugged in my “macros” (macronutrients) and realized that I am naturally eating keto nearly every summer and also in the winter if I’m not snacking on homemade sweets and sweet potato fries all day.

The only thing I needed to change was to eat a little less kale (I’m obsessed with kale and it accounted for 30g of carbs per day of my diet) and swap it out for other equally tasty leafy greens. I struggle to get enough protein though so I have taken to loading up my fat bombs with hempseeds as they are about equal parts protein and fat. My winter macros were not far off… I was already eating about 80% fat and just needed to lay off a few carbs as I already do not eat sugar. I allow for natural sugars in recipes as my family prefers them and copes with them quite well… but I do NOT. I am a mess if there is more than a teaspoon of even coconut sugar, maple syrup or even raw honey in anything I eat. If I take communion at church (grape juice, not wine) I am paying for it in the form of inflammation for a week. I’m pretty sure God is okay with my making my own communion elements at home anyway, and I’m pretty sure he is okay with wine considering Jesus made it… and was still perfect. So all that to say… giving keto a shot for some healing was a natural and mostly easy shift. And chocolate fat bombs are welcome in keto as long as I stay within my numbers… so that is a happy story all around.

Long story short, here is a recipe for when you do not have any cacao butter left and you really want those chocolate fat bombs. I loaded them with hempseeds, pumpkin seeds, unsweetened coconut flakes and red chili flakes… because I like me some spicy chocolate! You might be thinking… way to kick off Lent with chocolate! Hey! I’m already giving up sweet potato fries! And you know I love my sweet potato fries…

I actually used one and a half boxes of cacao bar for this but for ease I have written the recipe for one. The important thing is that it is equal parts cacao bar and coconut oil (fat).

Ingredients:

Method:

I used the double boil method: find a saucepan and a pyrex bowl that fit well together. Fill the pan with about an inch of water and set the bowl on top, hovering above the water. Set in the chocolate and coconut oil and bring the water to a simmer until they melt together.

Add the chicory root sweetener stevia and pink salt and stir until dissolved.

Stir in the vanilla and espresso.

Spoon a bit of chocolate into the bottom of each mold, then pile your bits on top, leaving room to pour chocolate over the top. I saved my pumpkin seeds for on top of the chocolate and sprinkled it with a bit of pink salt. I HEAPED the hempseeds in here as you can see from the photo.

That is some feely feel-goodness right there.

Pop in the freezer for 10-20 minutes until solid. Hide from small children.

* Chicory root fiber sweetener is natural, loaded with pre-biotic inulin fiber and is zero calories and zero carbs. You may sub with raw honey or pure maple syrup if you are not concerned about sugars.


Simple Kimchi (keto, paleo, vegan)

Recently I was up in Washington visiting one of my oldest friends. No, she’s not old. Well she’s my age so that’s debatable I guess. We were best friends in High School and have this eerily coincidental relationship. No mind reading but we used to show up to school in the same outfit without planning and we were on swim team and lacrosse team together. When we were apart for years at a time there was always a thread of similarity in our life circumstances. We didn’t get into trouble in school really but if we had she would have been the brains and I the crazy. Not that I don’t have brains. But I would say I definitely favored showing the crazy. She would quietly suggest “wouldn’t it be weird/funny/____” you know… and I would be off like a shot climbing walls or leaping people like a nut job. Because it was fun and I enjoyed the shock most of our antics gave people. Frankly, I enjoyed (and still do) small and well placed bouts of social awkwardness. I was the girl who would slowly start using your utensils at dinner to see what you’d do. It was a little insensitive. But the part I really enjoyed was seeing what people were like when they were caught with their guard down. Because in that moment you saw someone’s heart. Or their gut. However you wish to look at it. You see a person when they let down their guard. I guess I still do this but in a more redeemed fashion. I believe in just being myself and people can take it or leave it. I have found really good friends really quickly that way. Which is good, because I have moved around a lot. I think if you just show yourself you may get rejected by people who care a lot about what others think, but you find some real gems. It’s possible this is how I have accumulated so many INTJ friends in a world where they are one of the rarest types. I think it’s great and it sparks joy so I’ll keep it, thank you.

Anyway back to food! And kimchi. Gaaaaaah 🤤

My friend handed me a bag of gochugaru, which is a Korean spice I haven’t been willing to drive out to an Asian store (I like grocery shopping mind you, just not with three little kids and a jam packed schedule). My shopping is done in 20 minute speed trips between one appointment and school pickups thank you very much… because my kids (or I should say my girls) so take after their mother that they think any store with a long aisle is an opportunity to race. 🤦🏻‍♀️

So “M” (yes that’s intentional for you Bond fans) handed me some gochugaru because I have been making my kimchi with everything from jalapeños to cayenne to Hungarian and smoked paprika.

The grocery store had daikon radish in as well so I decided to make up a batch of pretty standard kimchi, minus the fish sauce. I love fermenting… but this is not a particular ferment I like to take part in if I can help it. Thank you Michael Pollan for your wonderful book. It ruined this Asian staple for me forever. Lol.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Napa Cabbage, quartered and chopped
  • 1/2 onion, quartered
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped into 1″ pieces
  • 3-6 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2-3″ piece of ginger
  • 3 Tbsp Kosher Salt, divided
  • 3-4 carrots, peeled and rinsed
  • 1 daikon radish (about 1 cup sliced)
  • 1 red pepper, quartered and sliced (red retains its color better)
  • 1 large green apple, diced
  • 1 Tbsp Coconut Aminos
  • 1/4 cup water (to puree apple, ginger & onion)
  • 2 Tbsp gochugaru
  • Gallon jar with or without airlock or a 2 quart jar (I use a giant pickle jar for this)
  • fermenting weight(s)

Method:

  1. Sanitize a large 68oz jar or two roughly 2 liter jars and fermenting weights in the oven at 170º for 5 minutes.
  2. Wash and quarter your cabbage lengthwise, then chop to desired length. Thicker is more authentic (about 1 inch), but I chopped mine to about a half inch. Place in a large bowl, toss with 2 Tablespoons kosher salt and set aside for at least 30 minutes to an hour for it to begin to ferment.
  3. Slice the peppers in quarters and then quarter inch slices, set aside.
  4. Slice the garlic and set aside.
  5. Slice the radish in sticks and set aside.
  6. Peel and slice the carrots in rounds or sticks and set aside.
  7. Half the onion and quarter it, reserving for the blender.
  8. Chop the tops off the green onions/scallions and cut off the whites. Reserve the whites for the paste and chop the greens in one inch sections.
  9. Roughly chop the apple so the blender can handle it.
  10. Chop the Ginger a bit and combine with the apple, onion scallion whites, gochugaru and 1 Tbsp kosher salt in the blender with the water and coconut aminos. Blend until smooth.
  11. Rinse the cabbage, drain and then add all the ingredients to the large bowl and toss together.
  12. Carefully scoop the mixture into the sanitized jars and beat down with a wooden spoon or french rolling pin until you have at least 2″ space at the top. There is an actual tool for this but as I try my best to be minimalist I use what I have. Now don’t freak out! You don’t need brine for this one as it ferments better in it’s own juices and the salt. Really. Set the fermenting weights or a ziplock full of water (sealed) and close the lid.
  13. Leave for a week or so to culture fully.