Vanilla Cinnamon Cold Brew Kefir for a Happy Brain (keto, vegan & paleo options)

The school year has begun and I have not quite hit my rhythm yet. Kids and homework, yes. Studying for my Nutrition course and blogging? Not so much. One thing at a time. Right now my youngest is happily attending her first day of preschool for the year and I am enjoying a precious few hours to get some things done!

I have been meaning to post this for quite some time. It is something I make literally every day for my husband and it seems to prevent the migraines that have plagued him ever since I met him. That being said, I must state that this is not medical advice and his migraines are fewer and further between when he is not eating grains and sugar. I would generally say that if you don’t want headaches you should avoid foods that trigger them for you. I know that some people cannot avoid them though, and a lovely beverage with benefits is a nice way of coping.

I slowly acclimated my kids and husband to milk kefir. I drink coconut kefir these days as I can’t do dairy (made the same way just with bpa free coconut milk) but this can go both ways. I have tried it with cultured hemp milk as well and it is also a winner. I can’t really speak for anyone else but when I drink kefir my brain feels alive. And wet. As weird as that sounds. My husband has expressed a similar feeling… as though the moment it hits your stomach and starts to process, your brain just wakes up. As our gut and brain are connected through the gut-brain axis, this now makes scientific sense to us. You can read more about how probiotics boost cognitive function here and more about milk kefir here.

I have slowly built on this smoothie for the sake of my husband’s migraines, and it works on my brain fog as well. The base is kefir and a bit of cold brew (but you can leave that out if you like). I add cinnamon because of it’s brain boosting benefits, it’s tasty, complements the kefir and the two together act as a metabolism booster, and lion’s mane because it is a healing nootropic mushroom. It enhances brain function, has immune boosting properties and is a powerful anti-inflammatory. I have a blend of cinnamon and lion’s mane with my tea stash as well as a matcha with lion’s mane blend. I use it that much and for good reason.

I took a punt that it would be helpful for Steve’s headaches when I started putting it in and it surely helped. I will sometimes add a bit of cream of tartar for potassium and a couple drops of milk of magnesia for magnesium if it is a particularly rough day. For me, I will drink those salts straight after a workout if I am getting foggy so I figured it would help here and it seems to. But again, this is not medical advice. If you don’t have kefir grains to make your own kefir usually someone local will sell some. I sell them here. You can buy kefir at the store as well but it is less powerful than homemade so I would not necessarily recommend cutting the recipe with water as I do below. I put collagen in ours for both general and brain health but if you are a vegan I would recommend mct oil or powder to boost ketones as ketones are a powerful anti-inflammatory as well. I have also found non-psychoactive hemp or cbd oil to be an effective substitute. I will sometimes add a blend of mushrooms including reishi and chaga as well. Give it a shot and let me know what you think!


  • 1/4 cup organic cold brew (more or less as desired)
  • 1 cup organic milk kefir or bpa free coconut kefir
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp lion’s mane powder
  • 1 scoop unflavored collagen (leave out if vegan)
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1-2 drops stevia or liquid monkfruit
  • 1/2 cup non-chlorinated water (can sub with more coffee or kefir as well)
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar (optional)
  • 1-3 drops milk of magnesia (optional)


  1. In a pint mason jar, add cold brew followed by collagen, cinnamon, lion’s mane, cream of tartar and milk of magnesia (if using), vanilla and stevia/monk.
  2. Seal with a leakproof lid and shake shake shake!
  3. Add your kefir and water, seal and shake it up again.
  4. Drink!
Look at that cinnamon vanilla goodness. Nom.
All shaken up. Beaut.

Truffle & Beetroot Cultured Barbecue Sauce (nightshade-free, keto, paleo, vegan)

This recipe is an adaptation of my cultured barbecue sauce. As I said in that post, among the first ferments I attempted was barbecue sauce. Since my Hashimoto’s Diagnosis I have been honing what I can and cannot consume… so this barbecue sauce is sans nightshades, soy and refined sugars. The sugars in it are fermented out so the end product still allows me to stay in ketosis. This may not seem important for some but ketones in the body are hugely anti-inflammatory and for me this allows me to continue to function as a human, wife, mother and homemaker. Any time I run into an allergy no matter what my macros are that day I am kicked out of ketosis and in pain. My neck, shoulders and back become so inflamed that sometimes it is difficult to breathe and certainly to move. So there you go. Because of this I avoid allergens at all costs and stay in keto for the better part of the month. I have been experimenting with carb ups weekly and have found it is too much, but monthly my body seems to handle fairly well. I still get to have my sweet potato truffle fries once a month… surrounded by a few days of raspberries without severe consequences. So for today I am posting a gorgeous beetroot based barbecue sauce with truffle salt to initiate the ferment. It is fantastic with those sweet potato truffle fries. 😂

This recipe is still in process, but it is both savory and (keto/paleo) sweet with a subtle umami flavor.

So Happy Labor Day everyone! I hope it is restful, joyful and full of family, spiritual and physical peace.

Give it a go and let me know how you like it!



Roast beetroot/beets, onions, garlic and apple at 425° for 45 minutes or until blackened. Set aside to cool.

Sanitize your 1 liter or quart jar and lids if using. I place them in the oven at its lowest temperature for a few minutes. 170° Fahrenheit in an American oven. My British ovens were usually 75° Celsius.

Place all ingredients in a food processor, blender or Vitamix. Chop first if you’re using a normal blender and place wet ingredients first and dry next (wet in the bottom, dry on top) but reserve the olive oil. Puree, then transfer to a 1.5 Liter fermenting jar with air lock or a swing/clip top 1.5 Liter Jar.  Leave 2″ of room at the top. Cover the top with extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil and seal.

Leave to ferment for 2-7 days, depending on taste. The longer you leave it the less sugar you will have in the final ferment so taste it as needed but be mindful to use sterile spoons.

Store in swing top or glass bottles. You may have to dilute with a bit of water, apple cider vinegar or onion brine after fermentation. Enjoy on pizza, barbecue or with my personal favorite: sweet potato fries!