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!

Ingredients:

  • 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)

Method:

  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.
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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!

Ingredients:

Method:

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!


AIP Peppercorn Kimchi (vegan, paleo, keto)

Let me tell you. I miss ginger. But I don’t miss the pain. As it turns out I am incredibly allergic to the lovely root which was a big bummer as it filled half my pantry. I literally had to mourn the loss of it. I’m not joking. I actually CRIED. I thought I couldn’t make a kimchi without ginger but lately I have been fed up with being food frustrated so I’ve gone a bit more creative. The Tasmanian pepperberries I used bring a lovely flavor and kick… I wasn’t going to post this because I had to have my sister in law mail them to me from Australia but then I found a company in the US that carries them!!!!! (Links below)

Shockingly, this recipe still had all the key notes I missed from kimchi. So here it is. Apologies that my posts have been late. I have been food sad. Laugh. Out. Loud.

Ingredients:

Method:

  1. Sanitize a large 68oz jar or two roughly 2 liter jars and fermenting weights in the oven at 180ºF for 5 minutes.
  2. Wash and quarter 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 Pink salt and set aside for at least 30 minutes to an hour for it to begin to ferment.
  3. Slice the radish in sticks and set aside.
  4. Peel and slice the carrots in rounds or sticks and set aside.
  5. Thinly slice the little beetroot and set aside.
  6. Halve the onion and quarter it, reserving for the blender.
  7. 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.
  8. Quarter or dice the apple so the blender can handle it.
  9. In the blender add the apple, onion scallion whites, peppercorns, 1 Tbsp pink salt with the water and coconut aminos.  Blend until smooth.  
  10. Rinse the cabbage, drain and then add all the ingredients to the large bowl and toss together.
  11. 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 and the liquid from the cabbage and pepper mixture cover the top.  Set the fermenting weights or a ziplock full of water (sealed) and close the lid.  
  12. Leave for a week or so to culture fully. 

Cultured Swedish Turnips with Cloves (vegan, paleo, keto)

Fermented Swedish Turnips (Rutabaga)

I did this recipe in a 68oz pickle jar but you can adjust proportions if you like.

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. I like to pour a bit of avocado or extra virgin olive oil around the top to keep bacteria from getting in. 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°F 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 2 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.

Cultured Daikon Radish (vegan, paleo, keto, probiotic)

I first read about daikon radish as a condiment in Nourishing Traditions. It commonly eaten in Japan so I like to think of it as an easier, less stinky, don’t have to gas bomb my whole house version of sauerkraut. It has much of the favorable flavor of the German favorite without the wait. Whether you take it alongside sausage and hot mustard or a field roast dog, it’s a win.

Originally I did this in a 68oz jar but as I only have a quart left this recipe will be for 1 quart.

Ingredients:

  • 6-8″ daikon radish
  • 1 Tbsp kosher or pink salt
  • Non-chlorinated water

Method:

  1. Sanitize jars and fermenting weights in the oven at 180°F for 3-4 minutes
  2. Grate or shred your daikon radish in a food processor until you have about 4 cups.  Leave about 1-2″ room at the top.
  3. Pack into sanitized jar, add salt and fill with non-chlorinated water.
  4. Set fermenting weight on top and pour a little avocado oil around the edge to seal out bacteria.  You’ll want an inch of room to spare.  Seal the jar and leave for 4-7 days before opening, or longer.  I left mine for two weeks.

Cultured Fir Tip Hummus (Vegan, Paleo Hacked, keto cycling)

If you saw my post on collecting fir tips back in May you might have wondered what I do with it other than just put them in goats brie grilled cheese… and this is the big one! I’ve been doing keto for a while now to help keep my inflammation down but I’m in a new stage that is called by a few names: “carb cycling”, “keto cycling”, “carb up”, etc. Call it what you like… but because even Dr. Berg approves of real home made hummus (and he doesn’t even ferment his!) I am so very happy to have my beloved chickpeas back in my diet guilt free. Lately I’ve been following Leanne Vogel and I love her take on women’s hormonal cycle and keto. This doesn’t mean going out of ketosis, but it means I can stretch it a bit further on these days and stay in ketosis. I am fully embracing having a higher carb day in a week, and certainly having a higher carb time of the month! By the way those are the 10th – 15th days of your cycle; the ones leading up to ovulation. Here come the raspberries, sweet potatoes and you guessed it! Home cultured hummus!

Ingredients:

Method

I like to use dried chickpeas, so I measure them out and soak them overnight.  Pour into a bowl or container, fill with water and cover.  In the morning, strain and rinse the chickpeas.  Bring a pot of water to boil, pour in the chickpeas and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.  Strain the chickpeas in a colander and rinse.

While your chickpeas are cooking, wash, trim and your parsley and sage.

Add the chickpeas and all other ingredients to your food processor (hold out the olive oil) and process until smooth.

If serving immediately, spoon into a bowl and stir in 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, then drizzle a bit more on the top. Serve with crudite platter or chips.

If fermenting, hold out the olive oil until the very end. Transfer hummus to a 2 litre clip top jar, cover with the olive oil and clamp closed.  Slowly rotate the jar until the olive oil seals the entire empty surface.  Leave to ferment for 2 days.  Once finished, stir the olive oil in and store in a 1 liter glass jar or BPA free container in the fridge.

Pro Tip: Make sure your jar is a third larger or double the capacity of your hummus so you don’t wake up to wasted work all over the counter.


Black Pepper Nightshade-Free Kimchi (vegan, paleo, keto)

Ingredients:

  • 1 Napa Cabbage, quartered and chopped
  • 1/2 onion, quartered
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped into 1″ pieces
  • 2-3″ piece of ginger
  • 3 Tbsp Himalayan Pink Salt, divided
  • 3-4 purple carrots, peeled and rinsed
  • 1 3-4″ portion daikon radish (about 1 cup sliced)
  • 1 large green apple, diced
  • 1 Tbsp Coconut Aminos
  • 1/4 cup water (to puree apple, ginger & onion)
  • 1 Tbsp black pepper
  • 1-2 Tbsp sichuan/sechuan peppercorns
  • 1 tsp turmeric (optional: looks gross until the purple carrots bleed into the rest of the jar)
  • Gallon jar with or without airlock or a 2 quart jar (I use a giant pickle jar for this)
  • fermenting weight(s)
A couple days into fermentation. Not so hot looking thanks to that turmeric… but just wait.

Method:

  1. Sanitize a large 68oz jar or two roughly 2 liter jars and fermenting weights in the oven at 180ºF for 5 minutes.
  2. Wash and quarter 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 radish in sticks and set aside.
  4. Peel and slice the carrots in rounds or sticks and set aside.
  5. Halve the onion and quarter it, reserving for the blender.
  6. 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.
  7. Quarter or dice the apple so the blender can handle it.
  8. Chop the Ginger a bit and combine with the apple, onion scallion whites, sichuan peppercorns, black peppercorns, 1 Tbsp pink salt and optional turmeric in the blender with the water and coconut aminos.  Blend until smooth.  
  9. Rinse the cabbage, drain and then add all the ingredients to the large bowl and toss together.
  10. 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 its own juices and the salt.  Really.  Set the fermenting weights or a ziplock full of water (sealed) and close the lid.  
  11. Leave for a week or so to culture fully. 
Post cultured: still a little weird but those purple carrots did their job!
Final Ferment. That big jar actually made 4 of these. 🙂