Cultured Vegan Mole Sauce. (Not authentic, but keto hacked, paleo and tasty)

I was rummaging through my pantry a couple weeks back and found an unfinished but open bag of cacao nibs. Sadly they had over-fermented and had the distinct aftertaste of sourdough starter. I do not like to throw things out unless they are actually “off” so I left them on the counter to remind me to think on it. And so I did… and eventually came to the idea of a marriage between mole sauce and my favorites: tahini and kefir. So I chucked the remaining nibs (about a cup) into a cup of slightly watered down coconut kefir I had made and let it sit out for a couple days to further culture. I blended it with an array of chilis and chili powder and left it again.

Fermenting sauces that contain added and natural sugars is a way of keto “hacking”. The sugars are consumed by the natural bacteria after a few days. It is a condiment though so I would not recommend eating it with a spoon if you want to stay under your carb count.

Authentic mole contains bread, tortilla chips (both which I cannot currently eat) as well as chicken broth, which I decided to avoid for this recipe and go the way of the French: “let the vegetables speak for themselves.” I hope you enjoy it. It’s a surprisingly versatile sauce. It goes well with eggs, cheese, in wraps and will perform as well as standard mole in the classic chicken enchiladas or even cauliflower and tempeh enchiladas for a vegetarian or vegan option. Give it a shot and tell me what you think!

Mole & kefir guacamole on a keto flax wrap. Nom nom.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cacao nibs or 100g bar of 100% baking chocolate, chopped (1/2 cup cacao powder will work here as well but you may need to add liquid)
  • 1 cup coconut kefir
  • 1 jalapeno, roasted
  • 2 roma tomatoes, roasted
  • 1 head garlic, roasted
  • 1 ample cup fermented onions with brine + 1/4 cup additional brine
  • 1 Large slice of Cultured Sourdough Keto Bread, toasted
  • 1/2 cup stirred tahini
  • 2 tsp hot smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp hungarian paprika
  • 1/2 Tbsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • handful unsulphered raisins

Method:

You can do this one of two ways. Put all the ingredients in a jar and let them ferment for a few days and then blend, or blend together in a high powered blender and then put in a jar to ferment. I recommend the latter.

  1. Sanitize a couple of wide mouth pint jars or a 1 liter glass mason in the oven at 180 degrees for a few minutes.
  2. Place all ingredients in a high powered blender and puree until smooth.
  3. Transfer to your sanitized glass jar and leave for 1-5 days for it to ferment. You will see little bubbles when it is fermenting. It is ready to eat or you can leave it until the bubbles stop.
  4. Refrigerate after the ferment is finished.

Cultured “Sourdough” Keto Bread

Of late I have been having a lot of inflammatory and pain issues. Nuts and nightshades being the main culprits. It is always better if they are soaked & dried (nuts) or fermented (both). The Dr. Bergs won me over with their cauliflower pizza crust… and after being on the Kauffman diet for 9 months I was ecstatic to be able to try something with mozzarella. It did not disappoint and neither did their bread recipe, though I did have to do some troubleshooting at first. One of the things I miss most on keto is sourdough bread, so I did some substitutions and used milk kefir to culture or “sour” the loaf.

Give it a go and let me know what you think! Enjoy!

Cultured “Sourdough” Keto Bread

(Adapted from Dr Berg’s Healthiest Bread in the World)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 cup arrowroot flour
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 tbsp very finely ground chia seed
  • 2 tbsp organic psyllium husk powder
  • ¼ cup filtered water (+ 2 Tbsp = 1/3 cup)
  • 1 cup milk kefir (can be done with coconut kefir to make it vegan)
  • 2 tsp coconut sugar or maple syrup (sugars are consumed by the yeast)
  • 1 egg (optional)

Method:

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the almond flour, arrowroot flour, coconut flour, and sea salt.

2. Place yeast and maple syrup or coconut sugar in 1/4 cup of warm water. Not too hot or it will kill the yeast. Let it sit for 10 minutes until it foams.

Activated yeast, coconut sugar & water

3. Stir the finely ground chia and psyllium husk into the yeast mixture and add 1 cup milk kefir.  Let it stand for 1 minute to thicken, then whisk.

4. Pour thickened yeast-chia mixture into the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until thick and fully combined. The dough will be slightly sticky, but workable. Knead for 1 minute.

The wet ingredients in the dry ingredients bowl.
Kneaded dough, ready to sit to rise or culture further.

5. Put kneaded dough back into the bowl. Cover with a damp cloth and place in a warm spot to rise for one hour OR leave for 8-12 hours (overnight works) to “sourdough”. I left mine for 18 hours.

The round after it has cultured for 18 hours.

6. Preheat the oven to 425 °F. Place a pizza stone, cast iron pan, or baking sheet in oven to preheat.  If using a baking sheet I recommend putting a silicone mat or parchment down.  It won’t stick to properly preheated cast iron or pizza stone.

7. You can divide the dough or leave it as a round (boule). Shape the boule with your hands and wet them if necesssary to bring it together. Brush with egg wash or if desired or spray with avocado oil.  Use a serrated knife to score (cut) the top so the bread separates where you want.

Scored dough with egg wash.

8. Place the dough onto the preheated stone or cooking sheet. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Individual ovens and baking times vary.  (My big oven takes 30 while my Breville Oven Air takes 35 minutes with this loaf) I prefer the tap test.  When you can turn it over and tap it and it sounds like a hollow door with browning on the bottom, it’s done.

9. Let it cool on a wire rack for about 30 minutes. When it has cooled you can slice and serve or store it wrapped in a tea towel in an airtight container or bread bag. If you cut into it too soon you can have goop rather than bread. I enjoy this as fresh bread with grass fed butter and Vegemite but it performs best toasted or grilled.

30 minutes after I took it out of the oven and approximately 30 seconds before I slathered it with butter and Vegemite.

Cultured Tomato Sauce (Probiotic Ketchup)

This is a recipe I came up with when we were living in N. Ireland for a stint. I’ve called this tomato sauce because it reminds me most of the lovely Australian Tomato sauce I’ve had on trips to my husband’s homeland.  We have one here in Oregon called “Portland Ketchup”. This has the advantage of being probiotic as well as keto once it is fermented for a few days. It is not the sickly sweet ketchup I grew up on but rather a savory, vinegary sauce. I never fully got the rhyming slang for “tomato sauce” in Australia, I am sorry to admit. The first time I heard “Pass the dead horse” it took a good 10 minutes of explanation to break that one down for me. It does for the most part rhyme in an Aussie accent… but I’m happy to stick with tomato sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 500g Organic Tomato Puree/Paste
  • 1 Small or 1/2 Medium Organic Onion
  • 3 Garlic Cloves or 2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1/2 cup brine from another ferment (onion or kimchi)
  • 1/4 cup Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/8 cup pure maple syrup or raw honey
  • 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 1/2 Tsp Sea Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp Organic Allspice
  • 1/2 Tsp Organic Cloves
  • 1/2-1 Tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1/2 Tsp Ancho Chili Flakes (optional)

Method:

Place all ingredients in a food processor, blender or Vitamix (chop first if you’re using a normal blender) and puree, then transfer to a 1.5 Liter fermenting jar with air lock or a swing/clip top 1.5 Liter Jar. I used a quart mason but in all honesty it was not large enough. Leave for 2-4 days on the counter to ferment.


Probiotic Granola. Really.

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For this day of remembrance and rest I am using one of my many recipes I haven’t gotten around to posting.  It is appropriate… a bit if mixing in the morning and leave it out all day and dry it overnight.  Tasty.  Nutritious.  It feels odd to say Happy Memorial Day for a day to remember all those who died.  But it is cause for celebration because those who died certainly deserve to be celebrated.  So today is a day to be present with family.  To remember our own who have served and died.  Thank you.

For the recipe: lately I have taken to soaking and drying nuts, fermenting seeds and generally working on making everything in my pantry a little less inflammatory. I was reading Nourishing Traditions and was captured again by the idea of fermenting small seeds before eating them. Hempseed, Flax and Chia especially are a difficult one because they’re too small to soak and dry. My husband loves granola so I decided to veer a little from her 5 grain porridge recipe and try some more palatable grains (to hubs and kidlets), seeds and pseudo grains.

This one is a basic recipe for using Oats and Quinoa as the base. I regularly do a grain free version but I’ll save it for another post.  Much of the sugars are consumed by the live cultures during the fermenting stage.  I always feel a bit skeptical about this but I do notice that I don’t have quite the inflammatory reaction as I do when consuming say, maple syrup straight up.  Science supports that it is eaten up as well so I guess it involves a bit of faith to believe it!

Ingredients:

For Pre-Ferment:
  • 1 cup jumbo whole or steel cut oats (I like To use Bob’s Red Mill Golden Spurtle)
  • 1 cup quinoa, lightly toasted
  • 1/4-1/2 cup maple syrup (depending on how sweet you like it and if you are using it as cereal or cutting it into bars.
  • 1-2 Tbsp blackstrap molasses (optional)
  • 1 cup culturing liquid (I have used ginger beer, milk kefir and coconut kefir with varying but equally nice results.) Water kefir, kombucha and whey will work as well.
  • 1-2 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pink or kosher salt
  • 1/4 -1/2 cup any seeds or nuts you like (optional)
  • Dried fruit like unsulphered goji berries, raisins, blueberries or cranberries
  • For Post Ferment:
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (melted) or avocado oil
  • 5-10 Stevia or monk fruit drops to taste (optional)
  • Diced fruit: apple, pear etc (optional)

Method:

  1. Toast quinoa in a baking sheet at 250°F for 10 minutes
  2. Combine oats, quinoa, seeds and fruit in a large bowl
  3. Add fermenting liquid, maple syrup, blackstrap, salt and cinnamon or other spices.
  4. Stir several times in the first 1-2 hours to keep it from clumping.
  5. Leave covered for 12 hours or overnight. If you are using chia seeds you may need to add more fermenting liquid or water.
  6. In the morning, add three coconut oil and any back sweetener you like. I use monk and stevia. Much of the sugars will have been consumed by the culture but it will still be sweet. Raw honey is also a good choice here.
  7. Lay out on a large parchment in a perforated baking sheet (you can use a normal baking sheet but it will take mug longer to dry). I use the fryer basket for my Breville Air Oven.
  8. If you want it for bars you will need to pre-cut it now. Or a few hours into drying or it will get too crispy and crumble.
  9. Dehydrate at 150°F for 8-12 hours. If it doesn’t breathe as in a standard baking sheet it can take up to 24 hours and you’ll need to break it up and flip or “toss” it.

Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. I like to use a dehydrator to keep the probiotics alive. But if you don’t care about that you can just bake it in the oven at low temperature of 170°F for about 8 hours.


Cultured Kefir Guacamole (keto with vegan and paleo options)

Just in time for Memorial Day Weekend! Guacamole is about the only way my husband and children like their avocados. Conveniently, it is also an easy way for me to sneak live cultures into their food and at the same time preserve the green of the avocados. Which is great when you have a pile of slightly overripe ones. This is a very easy recipe and varies according to what I have around and my mood. Historically guacamole is not my best dish but the addition of the milk kefir and cultured onions make it lively and addictive. Though to make it vegan and dairy free you can leave the milk kefir out. This is quite a large batch, so feel free to cut the ingredients in half.

Ingredients:

4-6 medium to large avocados

1 cup cultured milk kefir (optional)

1 bunch fresh cilantro

1 cup fermented onions with liquid

2-3 cloves garlic

1/4-1/3 cup lime juice

1 heaping teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Method:

Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.

You can leave this to culture for up to a day or enjoy it immediately. The ferment will slow down the browning of the avocados but won’t stop it completely so it should be eaten within a week.


Fermented Fir Tips (Paleo, Keto, Vegan, Fun)

Though I know I first heard about eating for tips from James Wong, the BBC botany darling, in my favorite gardening book “Grow for Flavour” I frankly did not remember. Sorry James.

My dear friend Kirsten of @theeightacrefarm and I went picking at her lovely farm for a bit of a mom date. (10 minutes away from children= mom date). She showed me the fir tips that she had picked and dried for winter vitamin C tea. I can’t remember whose idea it was for sure but to be fair it was probably her! “I wonder if we could ferment these?” Yes. Yeah Momma, more like. So we picked and I came home and stuffed them in jars with salt and water. You follow the same proportions for really any herb you want to preserve this way and they seemed pretty “herby” to me.

The taste was something of a revelation. Raw they are nice but sharp with a bit of aftertaste of pine cleaner. Not that I’ve ever consumed pine cleaner but things often taste as they smell. Fermented they lose all that astringent cleaner taste and what you are left with is like Christmas in your mouth. reminiscent of a light herbal balsamic with hints of lemon, rosemary and mint. It’s hard to describe but the flavor is downright addictive. I ate half a jar on a wedge of Trader Joe’s Wild Mushroom Brie and some keto crackers I had made from Dr Berg’s Amazing Keto Bread recipe, edited. Enough talk. Here’s how it’s done.

You’ll want to get the smallest softest ones possible and pick them above the encasing bud or they’ll fall apart in your hands. We had little helpers so had a few tough bunches in the batch.

Ingredients:

  • 4-8 cups freshly picked Douglas or Noble Fir tips. The smaller and softer the better.
  • 1-2 cup sizes mason jars, sanitized (you can do larger but smaller sizes are handy) I used 3 wide mouth Pint masons.
  • 1 tsp kosher, sea or pink salt per cup of fir tips
  • Fermenting weight, small jar (sanitized) or some people use a cabbage leaf.
  • Avocado or olive oil for the top to seal out bacteria.
  • Non-corrosive lids. I have taken to using the ball leak proof lids in grey.

Method:

  1. Sanitize jars in the oven at 180°F for 2-3 minutes.
  2. With washed hands, rinse the fir tips and strain them in a colander.
  1. Pack the greens into the jars and pay attention to how many cups are in each jar.
  2. Add 1 tsp salt per cups. For my jars I added 2 tsp pink salt per jar.
  3. Cover with a bit of olive oil and then place your fermenting weight on the top, leaving 1″ headroom and seal the jar.
  4. Leave for 7 days or longer to produce some amazingly bright northwest flavor!
Post Fermentation.

Fermented Parsnips with Lemon, Ginger & Peppercorns (vegan, paleo, keto)

You can do this with 2 quart masons or a 2 Liter swing top and some fermenting lids and weights. I have taken to pouring a bit of avocado or olive oil on top of my vegetables to help keep out the bacteria.

The flavor is delicate and void of the bitterness I usually find in parsnips. I like them regardless but fermenting makes them palatable to even the worst parsnip critics. Like say, my husband and children.

For this recipe I used a 2 quart pickle jar.

Ingredients: 

Method: 

  1. Lay all your tools on a cookie sheet with a silicone baking mat
  2. in the oven and heat to 180°F to sanitize everything.
  3. Peel, rinse and chop your carrots either into sticks or rounds to desired thickness (we did both because littles were helping)
  4. Fill your sanitized jar with washed, unpeeled and sliced parsnips (if not organic, peel and rinse them) leaving a couple inches room at the top.
  5. Dissolve 1 1/2 – 2 tablespoons kosher saltsea salt or pink salt per 2 cups non-chlorinated water and pour over the top, repeating until all your veg is covered. (I added the borrowed ferment liquid to top mine off)
  6. Insert sanitized jar or fermenting weight to keep vegetables submerged. Close lid. If you do not have fermenting or swing lids, cover with a towel to keep bacteria out. 
  7. Wait 2-7 days, depending on your taste. 
  8. Save the juice for other ferments!