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. 

Fermented Red Sauce (Nightshade-Free Ketchup)

Since my diagnosis with Hashimoto’s I’ve had to avoid a lot of things I love. I can’t say ketchup is up there at the top but I do like it once in a while with truffle salted sweet potato fries. As nightshades are no longer on the menu ketchup is out. Which would be no great loss but for those fries! I did a bit of fiddling with my fermented tomato sauce recipe and came up with this. I think you’ll like it. There are some options… and yes. I went for the truffle salt in this ferment and it is truly delish. But let me know what you think!

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 beetroot (about 1 cup chopped)
  • 1 Small or 1/2 Medium Organic Onion
  • 1 small green apple
  • 1 Tbsp unsulphured raisins or 1 fresh plum or 1 rip fig (I used a fig)
  • 3 Garlic Cloves or 2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1/2 cup fermented onion brine
  • 1/4 cup Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/8 cup pure maple syrup, raw honey or ¼ cup date paste (I used date paste)
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 1/2 tsp pink salt or truffle salt
  • 1/2 tsp organic allspice
  • 1/2 tsp organic cloves
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Method:

  1. Dice the beetroot and roast in the oven at 350°F for 30 minutes.
  2. Sanitize your jar & lid in the oven at 180°F for five minutes.
  3. 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. Leave for 2-4 days on the counter to ferment.

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 Coconut “Sourdough” Keto Bread


Well it’s official. Actually it has been official for over a month but being the introverted lady that I am I have only recently felt ready to share. After a battery of blood tests I have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease, which is actually quite a common Autoimmune disease amongst women over 35. I have a dear friend who was diagnosed with it about a year ago while she was in Nursing School. I was misdiagnosed upon my return from Ireland by a different practitioner and after struggling with symptoms for a couple years now I finally paid a visit to a Naturopathic Doctor whom I trust and who has helped me in the past. He also ran a food allergy panel, for which I am eternally grateful as it came back with some totally unexpected (and some expected) results. The big one on the list was ginger, which was so heartbreaking that I literally had to cry it out one night. Goodbye Thai food, Kimchi, Ginger Beer, Gingerbread and every other thing I love that has ginger in it. Which as it turned out seemed to be contained in half my pantry. My other allergies included beef, cows milk & whey, cheddar cheese, chicken egg whites and yolks, LETTUCE (what the heck?!), bananas, pineapple, tomato, lima beans (who cares, really) almonds, and mild allergies to broccoli and brussels sprouts. I already know I have severe issues with sugars any oils that are not extra virgin, cold pressed olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil so let me tell you… going to a restaurant us FU-UN. Lol. Can you tell that was a joke? Totally not fun. I had one visit recently that resulted in literally numbing pain (as in I couldn’t feel my arm) and another result that I don’t mind talking about but most readers would find it a bit TMI. On the bright side, I can still have organic grass fed butter and ghee and now have a fantastic excuse to eat seafood, which I have missed since having a family. Yay for me!

So there you are… this will slightly change the type of recipes I will be blogging but I still plan to post some cultured things that I am comfortable feeding my family, such as my sourdough einkorn pizza crust and other non-inflammatory for normal people family friendly recipes. My kids have been begging me to create a kids cooking channel on YouTube so that may be a good venue. What do you think?

Recently I posted a recipe for Cultured Sourdough Keto Bread. This is a nut free and dairy free version of that. One of the things I have missed most on Kauffman and Keto and now AIP Keto is sourdough bread, so I did some substitutions and used coconut milk kefir to culture or “sour” the loaf.

Personally, I love the result. These breads are best toasted but they are still pretty satisfying after they have cooled a bit from baking. If you try to cut into them straight out of the oven on the other hand you will end up with a ball of goop. I recently used it to roll out for my pizza crust now that Dr. Berg’s Cauliflower Pizza Crust is no longer an option. Next time I will shape it into a crust before I let it sour but otherwise it was fantastic.

Cultured Coconut “Sourdough” Keto Bread

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

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup ground flax meal
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1 cup arrowroot flour
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 tbsp very finely ground chia seed
  • 2 tbsp organic psyllium husk powder
  • 1/3 cup filtered or well water (no chlorine)
  • 1 cup coconut milk kefir (cow or goat milk kefir is okay if you can tolerate dairy)
  • 2 tsp coconut sugar or maple syrup (sugars are consumed by the yeast)
  • 1 Tbsp Avocado oil or Extra Virgin Olive Oil for coating

Method:

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

Dry ingredients.
Dry ingredients combined.

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 if using maple syrup (12-15 minutes if using coconut sugar).

Activated yeast, maple syrup & water
Activated yeast, maple syrup and water combined with cultured coconut milk kefir.

3. Stir the finely ground chia and psyllium powder into the yeast mixture with 1 cup coconut 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 for an hour or culture for 8-18 hours.

5. Put kneaded dough back into the bowl coated in a bit of avocado oil. 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.

6. Preheat the oven at 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 into a rounded boule. Brush with egg wash, 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

8. Place the dough onto the preheated stone or cooking sheet. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Individual ovens and baking times vary.  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 completely cooled, slice and serve or store wrapped in a tea towel in an airtight container. 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.

About 30 minutes after I took it out of the oven. Just beautiful.


Probiotic Grain Free Granola (vegan, paleo and keto options)

Okay, before I begin my post I want to give a shout out to my wonderful husband, Steve, who moved to America (He is Australian) and has worked his bum off every way he can to support this post missionary life family. He started his degree when we were pregnant with our oldest and had to put it on hold several times for long periods over the years in order to support us. Yesterday he Graduated with a B.A. in Leadership with Honors from Faith International University. I am so proud of him. University is difficult enough and when you throw a job, a wife and three children into that mix it becomes even more difficult. So Steve, here’s to you! The most amazing man I know and the love of my life, well done.

The last couple years I have been struggling with severe inflammation so have slowly been getting to the bottom of it. Probiotics have helped immensely, namely kefir. I still prepare breads for my my family using einkorn on occasion but I am altogether grain free and sugar free these days and have found that a dairy free keto diet keeps my inflammation under wraps fairly well.

I have taken to soaking and drying nuts, fermenting seeds and generally working on making everything in my pantry a little less inflammatory as I mentioned in my previous post for probiotic granola.

The Nourishing Traditions cookbook suggests fermenting small seeds before eating them rather than soaking and drying or sprouting. Hempseed, Flax and Chia great with this method because they’re too small to soak and dry.

My personal preference for culturing this is coconut kefir but for the hubs I have used ginger beer as well. If I know I will be eating it I keep the sugars to 1-2 Tbsp of pure maple syrup, blackstrap molasses or raw honey for the fermentation process. I do not love things overly sweet and neither does my body so this works for me. You can try any non-salty culturing liquid you like! 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 but I personally do not use whey or ginger beer any longer because I find them highly inflammatory. Whey because it is naturally inflammatory and ginger because I have recently discovered I am allergic to it!! Sad 😕

Give it a shot and let me know what you think!

Ingredients:

For Pre-Ferment:
  • 1 cup hulled hempseeds/hemp hearts
  • 1/2 cup golden flax seeds
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1 Tbsp- 1/4 cup maple syrup, blackstrap molasses or raw honey
  • 1/2-1 cup culturing liquid
  • 2-4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp pink or kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds or other nuts (optional, I have a mild allergy to nuts so I don’t add them to mine)
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit like unsulphered goji berries, raisins, blueberries or for keto, fresh or dried cranberries
  • Diced fruit: apple, pear etc (optional)
For Post Ferment:
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (melted)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut or coconut chips
  • 5-10 drops Stevia or monk fruit drops to taste (optional)

Method:

  1. Combine dry ingredients in a medium size bowl
  2. Add fermenting liquid, maple syrup or blackstrap, salt and cinnamon or other spices.
  3. Stir several times in the first 1-2 hours to keep it from clumping.
  4. Leave covered for 12 hours or overnight. If you are using chia seeds you may need to add more fermenting liquid or water.
  5. After the ferment is finished, add the 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 because of its antifungal properties.
  6. 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.
  7. If you want it for bars you will need to pre-cut it while it is still soft or it will get too crispy and crumble. A few hours into drying is a key time.
  8. Dehydrate at 150° – 160°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 like a salad.

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.