Summer Heat

School's out. The temperature is rising. It's even official: Sunday was the first day of Summer.

Time to take a look at what summer has to offer us. Below is a list of some of the foods that you can expect to find at your local farmer's market. They are also foods that should be fresh and well priced in grocery stores. In other words: they're great foods to buy now!

Apricots

Eat raw, cooked or dried. Great as a sweet treat when dried or cooked with dishes.

 

Artichokes

Eat raw or cooked. Eat the fleshy part of the leaves and the base, known as the "heart."

 

Avocados 

Eat Raw. Great on salads, sandwiches, and as a dip (guacamole!).

Berries

Eat raw. Can be cooked into pies, cobblers, jams. Awesome topping to salads, cereals or just on their own.

Carrots

Eat raw or cooked. Great steamed or sautéed.

 

Cherries 

Great raw. Can be cooked into pies, cobblers, jams. Most have pits.

Corn

Eat cooked. Can be used in many different ways. Right off the cob is great.

 

Cucumber

Eat raw. Great in salads and wraps or with some hummus.

 

Eggplant

Eat cooked. Great sautéed, grilled or roasted.

 

Figs

Eat raw, dried or cooked. Great cooked with meat. Super sweet, especially when dried.

Grapes

Eat raw (or dried as raisins!) Many varieties with different colors, some with or without seeds.

grapefruit.jpg

Grapefruit

Eat raw. Be careful about any medications that may have an interaction.

 

Green beans

Eat cooked. Great steamed or sautéed.

 

Melons

Eat raw. Great on their own or as a fruit medley.

 

Peaches

Eat raw. Can be cooked into pies, cobblers, jams. Awesome topping to salads, cereals or just on their own.

 

Plums

Eat raw. Can be cooked into pies, cobblers, jams. Awesome topping to salads, cereals or just on their own.

 

Sugar Snap Peas

Eat cooked. Great steamed or sautéed.

Summer Squash

Eat cooked. Many different varieties. Great sautéed or roasted.

Tomatos

Eat raw, cooked, juiced, as sauce etc. Try heirloom varieties!

Zucchini

Eat cooked. Great sautéed or roasted.

Comment /Source

Katie Dawn Habib

Katie Dawn Habib is a Holistic Nutrition Coach with a M.S. in Nutrition and Integrative Health. By combining her nutrition knowledge with a love of writing, Katie created her own website, The Hungry Gypsy, where she talks about food, nutrition, wellness and travel. On her site you can also find information about her nutrition coaching practice and join in on the conversations. Katie would like to contribute in some small way to global healing and help her clients and readers feel inspired.

Fall Flavors

It's officially October which means that I am willing to surrender to the passing of summer and the onset of fall. The fall equinox was September 22, but in Los Angeles September weather is still fully beach-appropriate. In October, the evenings let go of the summer heat and release cool, light breezes. Thus, I am now ready to embrace the gems of fall: earth tones, light sweaters and scarves, and the fruits (and vegetables!) of fall.

Fall happens to be my favorite season, the color pallet matching my own interior design choices and the crispness in the air my ideal weather. Going along with this season are some truly wonderful foods. Below is a list of Fall Seasonal Foods to be found at your local farmer's market.

(These are for California. The list will be similar, but with some changes if you live on the East Coast.)

Fall Seasonal Foods
Fall Foods

Apples

Eat raw or cooked. Great in pies, cider, on salads and as apple sauce.

Artichokes

Eat raw or cooked. Eat the fleshy part of the leaves and the base, known as the "heart."

Arugula

Eat raw or cooked. Typically in salads, but can be sautéed and added to hot dishes.

Asian Pears

Eat raw or cooked. Great on salads, by themselves and in tarts.

Bell Peppers

Eat raw or cooked. Great on salads, with hummus or in stir fries.

 

Fall-2

Broccoli

Eat cooked. (Raw okay, but it is a goitrogen raw.) Great steamed or sautéed.

Cauliflower

Eat cooked. (Raw okay, but it is a goitrogen raw.) Great sautéed or roasted.

Chard

Eat cooked. Eat leaves and steams. Best sautéed.

Eggplants

Eat cooked. Great sautéed, grilled or roasted.

Fennel

Eat raw or cooked. The fronds can be used as an herb dried or fresh. The bulb and stalk can be eaten raw, sautéed or roasted. 

fall-3

Figs 

Eat raw, dried or cooked. Great cooked with meat. Super sweet, especially when dried.

Grapes

Eat raw (or dried as raisins!) Many varieties with different colors, some with or without seeds.

Green Beans

Eat cooked. Great steamed, sautéed, roasted or baked into dishes.

Kale

Eat cooked. (Raw okay, but often hard to digest. You can "massage" kale for a raw kale salad.) Remove stems. Great steamed and sautéed.

Pears

Eat raw or cooked. Great by themselves, on salads, in desserts, or sautéed with butter/ghee.

Fall-4

 

Pomegranates

Eat raw. Add the seeds to salads, fruit bowls or as a breakfast topping.

Pumpkins

Eat cooked. Great sautéed, roasted, baked into breads and pies, or in smoothies.

Tomatoes

Eat raw or cooked. Great on salads, sandwiches, in a stir-fry or roasted. 

Turnips

Eat raw or cooked. Raw has a stronger flavor. Leaves and bulbs are edible. Leaves best sautéed, bulbs best sautéed or roasted.

Winter Squash

Eat cooked. Many different varieties. Great sautéed or roasted.

Comment /Source

Katie Dawn Habib

Katie Dawn Habib is a Holistic Nutrition Coach with a M.S. in Nutrition and Integrative Health. By combining her nutrition knowledge with a love of writing, Katie created her own website, The Hungry Gypsy, where she talks about food, nutrition, wellness and travel. On her site you can also find information about her nutrition coaching practice and join in on the conversations. Katie would like to contribute in some small way to global healing and help her clients and readers feel inspired.

Superfood Confusion

The health industry sure does love the term "Superfood" doesn't it?

The Superfood phenomenon has brought us such nutrition heroes as chia seeds, kale and goji berries. While all three of those foods are wonderful and incorporating new nutrient dense foods into your diet is an excellent thing, the whole Superfood Nation that we've created has both its pros and its cons.

Superfoods

I'm writing this article to help clear up a few things.

I want to assist you in deciphering between the helpful messages and marketing ploys, understand how to apply new nutritional knowledge to your life and point out common pitfalls.

Remember that food companies are in business to make money. 

Therefore, it will never take long for a food company to seize a marketing opportunity. As soon as a food gets labeled a "Superfood" that food can start popping up everywhere. Chefs start creating recipes featuring that food and processed food companies may try to incorporate some amount of that food into their ingredient list and then feature its inclusion prominently on the box. 

While learning how to cook with an unfamiliar food is a wonderful (and necessary) thing if someone wants to prepare a new food, one must bear in mind that "Superfoods" do not turn any dish into a magic elixir. Chia seeds are wonderful omega-3, protein-packed, fibrous little gems, and using them in a brownie batch means that your brownies may have a bit of extra nutritional value. If you are going to eat a brownie, eating a nutritionally superior brownie is a good decision, but you are still eating a brownie. A BROWNIE.  

Act accordingly.

Meaning: still treat that brownie like a dessert.

People get themselves into trouble by utilizing "Superfood" ingredients as a way to turn all of the accompanying ingredients into "Superfoods By Proxy." It doesn't work like that. The large amount of sugar in your brownies is still a large amount of sugar. Now, with that said, I think that finding ways to improve the nutritional quality of our desserts is an excellent thing. If we are able to up the protein, fiber and vitamin/mineral content of our desserts, then when we eat them, hopefully, we will be satisfied with smaller portions, our blood sugar won't spike as high and we may get some nutrition. 

Note the use of the words "AS HIGH" and "SOME" nutrition.

My point is that your souped-up brownie is still a calorie-dense, sugary, mostly nutritionally-devoid food. If you have an occasion where you want a brownie (because, yes, I'm not here to suck the fun out of life) then eating a better brownie is great. But if you were not going to indulge in a sugary treat and instead thought "but it has chia seeds so now it's a health food!" you have missed the mark. 

Adding "Superfoods" to desserts and nutritionally-devoid foodstuffs does not turn them into health foods. It just makes them SLIGHTLY better than their typical counterparts.

That is probably the most common pitfall that we make when dealing with "Superfoods" or any healthier swap situation. The confusion that a food's health value is a matter of a simple grading process where less healthy ingredients are voided by combining them with a healthy ingredient. Not so. 

The good news is that all that is required is a tweaking of how you are viewing food. 

The trick is to remember that "Superfoods" or any healthier option is simply an UPGRADE of the same thing.

Using natural sugars instead of white sugar is an excellent upgrade. AND we are still talking about sugar. Maple syrup, raw honey, dried fruit all fall under the category of natural sugars that are vastly superior to white sugar, but they have not ceased to be sugar. Snacking on dried fruit is better than snacking on cake, but both are still in the dessert category.

Let me repeat that: Dried fruit is akin to a sweetener or dessert.

If you want to sweeten your granola or eat a dessert, then adding some raisins or eating some dried figs is a great choice. But, you have still added sugar to your breakfast and eaten dessert. As long as you recognize this, and therefore adjust your future choices accordingly, then you are all good. If instead, you think you have only added "nutritional value" to your breakfast and consumed a health-food snack, you are bound to end up consuming too much sugar (and too many calories) over time, leading to blood sugar imbalances, weight gain, and other health concerns.

Viewing foods properly is key. Speaking of which...

Working out and coconut water/ sports drinks

OKAY. Listen up folks because this is another classic case of misperception.

First of all, sports drinks are sugar water. There are also some electrolytes, but mainly it's sugar water. That is the original point of them! If you are running a marathon or playing professional soccer then your body is burning fuel at a very high rate; during this INTENSE activity your body may become depleted and need additional glucose to perform at its highest level. In that situation sugar water is useful because it is easily absorbed by the body and able to be utilized as energy right away. If you are in the middle of a soccer game this is ideal. 

Unfortunately, a lot of sports drinks have a bunch of added chemicals and crap that give them crazy bright colors or make them taste fruity (you know, in a completely not-real-fruit kind of way). Therefore, coconut water has come out as a great alternative to classic sports drinks because it is lacking in these additives and BONUS has decent mineral content. If you are a professional athlete, I recommend coconut water during/after events if needed.

Most of us, however, are not exercising at that high a level.

If you are working out for an hour or less you do NOT need to consume extra calories in order to get your body through it.

And that is what you are doing by consuming either coconut water or sports drinks. Your body has a system for burning fuel. It can get you through a basic 45-60 minute workout. And your electrolytes should be fine as well. Possible exceptions involve extreme sweating situations, such as with hot yoga or working out in heat. Adding a small pinch of sea salt to your water can be a good option if you find yourself excessively sweating. 

Drink water

And before you think the sports drink companies have a solution to this issue, let me stop you. EVEN WORSE are "diet" sports drinks with less calories. That is some serious ridiculousness right there. Those "diet" sports drinks are just a marketing ploy attempting to sell sports drinks to people who work out moderately.

Hmm...people who work out moderately...sound like a LARGE demographic?

Yep, the companies thought so too. Once, they caught on that people working out to lose weight or maintain health realized that sports drinks weren't increasing their calorie burn enough to counter the calories they were now drinking, the sports drink companies decided to hit the market with "diet" versions. They contain crappy chemicals and artificial sweeteners. There is absolutely no point to them. If you are performing strenuous physical activity, you will benefit more from the regular versions (although I'd still recommend coconut water over them). If you aren't trying to maintain your peak performance during major prolonged activity, then you don't need any special drink. The best "diet" sports drink is WATER. If you want "extra energy" to get through a typical workout designed for general health or weight loss, try a B-complex vitamin. That will actually assist your body in making ATP, your cells' energy source. 

How should we incorporate "Superfoods" into our lives?

By remembering that they are just upgrades.

Eating a varied, whole foods diet is key to great health, so incorporating kale, chia seeds and goji berries into your diet is great. If you make trail mix with dried fruit or chocolate for some sweetness and want to upgrade to goji berries, great! But, don't go out and buy goji berry juice when you weren't already drinking juice because you think it is a health drink. (And you know how I feel about juice.)

Coconut water is a great upgrade to traditional sports drinks when necessary. It is also an upgrade to most fruit juice. It is NOT an upgrade to water. 

Kale is freaking wonderful! But putting some kale into chocolate chip cookies (it has happened) doesn't make them stop being cookies. Sneaking vegetables into foods that you were going to eat anyway is cool, but don't let it be an excuse to eat food you wouldn't have normally eaten. 

Allow the term "Superfood" to encourage you to try cooking with spices, such as turmeric, that you may not have previously used. Try new vegetables, new fruits, different grains. But don't throw all of your knowledge about appropriate portion size, or what a dessert is, out the window because you are using a "Superfood." 

Many of my raw desserts contain raw cacao, which is often considered a superfood. I agree. Raw cacao is great. But I still consume my raw brownie as a sweet treat. I shouldn't start eating raw brownies by the pound because they contain raw cacao. 

Understand? Excellent.

 

photo credit: source
Comment /Source

Katie Dawn Habib

Katie Dawn Habib is a Holistic Nutrition Coach with a M.S. in Nutrition and Integrative Health. By combining her nutrition knowledge with a love of writing, Katie created her own website, The Hungry Gypsy, where she talks about food, nutrition, wellness and travel. On her site you can also find information about her nutrition coaching practice and join in on the conversations. Katie would like to contribute in some small way to global healing and help her clients and readers feel inspired.

Common Diet Mistakes Part 1

There are umpteen articles written about everyday eating habits that people regularly make that are sabotaging their health (or weight-loss efforts, or any other precise wellness goal).

Sometimes these articles include incredibly helpful information about easy swaps (or the new "it" term: diet HACKS. We seem to really love the work "hack" these days) that we can make to better ourselves without a lot of effort.

Lack of effort seems to be key.

While this makes perfect sense, with our busy schedules and complex lives, it sure does place our food and eating habits way down on the priority totem pole.

I'm all for easy and manageable, but I'm also for recognizing that a big part of how we got here was by turning what and how we eat into an afterthought or annoyance.

Food is a necessity of life. It is one of the things that connects all human beings. We have to eat. Therefore, I think it behooves us to concern ourselves with the quality of our food: how it is grown, prepared and the impact that it has on our health.

With that in mind, I'm writing this article in multiple parts. First, I will provide some easy steps/swaps that do make a difference without requiring much lifestyle change. Then I will talk about some actual lifestyle modifications that will really shape your relationship to your food.


PART 1: 5 Easy Diet Modifications

Healthy snacks, food swaps

USE APPROPRIATE FATS

Perhaps one of the easiest changes to make is to swap out any crappy oils and fats that you are currently using and simply use healthy, high quality ones that are meant for what you are doing. This means ditching trans fats and using only high heat oils when you are cooking at high temperatures. If you need a lovely list of oils/fats and their temperature range click here. Essentially there are oils you cook with and oils you toss with. These are what I recommend:

  • For heat: coconut oil, avocado oil, ghee or butter
  • For low/no heat: olive oil, walnut oil, almond oil, sesame oil, truffle oil

Pitch all of your ambiguous "vegetable oils" as they are surely trans fats. Say NO to stupid butter replacements, they are often full of rancid oils and trans fats. You are much better off buying real butter. Grass-fed, ideally.

Fat is important to do right. Most fat bypasses the liver and goes directly into our lymph after we digest it, meaning that toxins in fat are potentially more dangerous than water-soluble toxins. Buy organic as much as possible. 

In addition to cooking properly with fat:

DON'T BE AFRAID OF FAT

Quit buying low-fat versions of things. Buy the full-fat version. If something is meant to contain fat and a company is trying to reduce the fat content, it will replace it with sugar. It then becomes a double whammy because now you are consuming twice the sugar without the fat present to slow down the absorption rate. Hello blood sugar spike! Your poor body's insulin will be in overdrive.

Yes, the full-fat versions will contain more calories. Adjust your portion sizes accordingly. But you should feel more satiated and your blood sugar won't spike. Plus, I mean, come on- it will taste better too.

In case this needs repeating: the fat-fearful age of the 1980's and 90's needs to go away now! We know that was a big mistake. It skyrocketed obesity in this country. Go back to eating food in it's original form, not some bastardized low-fat version. Eat real food.

DRINK WATER

Seriously people. Cool it with the sugary sodas, juices and "coffee" that is really a milk shake. A soda is not a thirst quenching beverage- it is a dessert. Let's be clear: soda is terrible for us and offers absolutely no nutritional value other than containing calories. Diet soda is worse. While it may be low in calories, the effect of the chemical cocktail on our bodies is worse than regular soda. If you occasionally want to consume a regular soda as a treat, fine. But recognize that it is a dessert item, not a beverage akin to water.

Juices are pretty terrible too. Unless you are drinking freshly squeezed juice (ideally of a vegetable variety) then you are essentially just drinking sugar. Yes, freshly pressed green juices have a lot of nutritional value, but store-bought apple juice does not. The vitamins degrade over time and store juices are pasteurized. In other words: the vitamin content is low while the sugar content is high. Lose the store-bought juice; instead, drink water and eat a piece of fruit.

Oh, and moderate amounts of coffee and tea are great, but a frappuccino and chai latte from Starbucks are, once again, dessert items. If you drink coffee and tea daily, ditch the sugar, or at least reduce it. If you don't like coffee without a massive amount of sugar and flavorings, you don't like coffee. Choose an alternate beverage. And if you don't like coffee, but "need" the caffeine, then there are a few options: fix your schedule and get more sleep (sorry, I realize that falls under the lifestyle section), try tea (there are lots of flavored teas that are flavored with fruit and spices, not sugar) try a B-complex in the morning (but not 5 Hour Energy- that thing is full of crap. Buy an actual B-complex vitamin), don't have a sugary breakfast- that will prevent the spike and crash.

GIVE UP THE NOTION OF A HEALTHY BAGGED SNACK

I'm really sorry to break it to you, but none of the snacks in the processed snack aisle are good for you. None of them. I don't care what claims a box or bag are making, but the chips, pretzels, popcorn, crackers etc. are NOT health food. The only possible exception are kale chips and other raw food snacks that are very expensive and only in health food stores. If you have the funds, then sure: buy containers of raw kale chips. But any classic processed-grain-based snack is not healthy for you. Act accordingly. 

Since we are not yet into the lifestyle section where I can talk about snack preparation at home, let's focus on what you can just buy that is a healthy snack:

Crunchy

  • Vegetables and hummus
  • Pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Edamame
  • WHOLE FOOD fruit and nut bars. (No crazy additives, just whole food ingredients.)
  • Kale chips or other raw food snacks (generally pricey)
  • Dark chocolate (in moderation and I'm talking 55+% cacao)

Creamy

  • Fruit and nut butters (I guess this can be crunchy or creamy)
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese (REAL cheese only. No weird ingredients.)
  • Applesauce (No sugar added)

I doubt many of those were particularly new, but tough poo. If you are looking for snacks without the prep, then you already know the deal: fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds are the main thing. Snacking can be a great opportunity to up your veggie and fruit intake, or to eat a bunch of crap. Either make the swap or consider limiting your snacking.

WHOLE GRAIN OVER WHITE

I'm guessing you've already heard about this, but plenty of people still buy the white stuff so here I go:

BUY WHOLE GRAINS INSTEAD OF THE WHITE STUFF.

In general, Americans eat too many grains, so if you can back off of the grains and swap them out for vegetables, even better. But, in the very least, if you are buying breads and pastas etc. buy the whole grain version. Even better, buy non-wheat whole grains to add variety to your diet and up your overall nutrition. Try millet, quinoa, buckwheat (it's not a wheat), farrow, barley, oats, rye, spelt, brown rice, red rice, black rice, wild rice, amaranth, teff....I could go on. Swap out your same-old white rice or pasta for something else and reap the fiber and vitamin rewards.

continuing on with grains:

SWAP OUT YOUR BREAKFAST CEREAL

Breakfast cereals, even ones without marshmallows, are highly processed. But let's use the good, better, best model. Below is a spectrum of breakfast cereals on a list from least desirable to best.  These are just examples to give you an idea. Insert your current breakfast cereal choice as best you can. Then, no matter where you are starting from, swap your current choice for something at least one rung down.

  • Pure Sugar Cereal. (There are marshmallows, the theme is that it tastes like a chocolate candy, or everything is frosted.)
  • Highly processed cereal, but less added sugar (maybe it boasts being "whole grain" or having a lot of fiber but ultimately still super processed)
  • Quick Oatmeal (less processed than traditional cereals, but the quick version is still somewhat processed in order to cook so quickly.)
  • Slow cooking oats (Old fashioned or Steel Cut)
  • Chia seed "cereal" with choice of milk and other goodies (such as fruit, nuts/seeds, cinnamon etc.)

The last option is a great unprocessed breakfast that still has the classic "cereal" presentation. Of course, if you are also willing to think outside the bowl and work with eggs, smoothies, yogurt, my grain-free pancakes, fruit, vegetable scrambles, etc. EVEN BETTER.

I hope those swaps seem doable and helpful.

Although, to be fair, I think that lifestyle is very important. If you are always eating on the run, choosing a better option at the store is a good hack, but meal planning and prep are key too. Those are coming up in Part 2.

Winter Madness: What's in Season

In the western world, we often have access to fruits and vegetables in winter months despite the fact that many of those foods are not in season.  In order for that to happen, the food usually has to be shipped a great distance.  One excellent way to eat summer fruits and vegetables in winter is to buy them frozen.  That is definitely a cost efficient way to eat whole foods that beats the hell out of most canned options that are pumped full of sodium and other additives.  Still, fresh fruits and vegetables are certainly great so what is a gal to do?  

Well, for one, she could start by realizing that eating seasonally is a wonderful thing. Winter may not be full of strawberries and cherries, but there are wonderful foods that are in season in winter.  As a bonus, these winter foods actually contain nutrients that are good for our bodies in these colder months.

YW-Winter-FruitVeg-2.jpg

Here is a list of some great fruits and vegetables that are ripe for the picking in winter:

  • Arugula
  • Artichoke
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Celery Root
  • Clementines
  • Cranberries
  • Fennel
  • Grapefruit
  • Kale
  • Kiwis
  • Kohlrabi
  • Kumquats
  • Leeks
  • Lemons
  • Mandarins
  • Onions
  • Oranges
  • Pears
  • Persimmons
  • Pomegranate
  • Radishes
  • Rutabaga
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Tangarines
  • Turnips
  • Winter Squash

Here is a great graphic from BecomeGorgeous.com that mentions some of the nutrient profiles of winter foods.

gallery_big_best-winter-fruits-and-vegetables.jpg
Comment /Source

Katie Dawn Habib

Katie Dawn Habib is a Holistic Nutrition Coach with a M.S. in Nutrition and Integrative Health. By combining her nutrition knowledge with a love of writing, Katie created her own website, The Hungry Gypsy, where she talks about food, nutrition, wellness and travel. On her site you can also find information about her nutrition coaching practice and join in on the conversations. Katie would like to contribute in some small way to global healing and help her clients and readers feel inspired.

Embrace Fermented Foods

One thing that the modern American diet is lacking that most traditional diets contain is fermented foods.  Traditionally, cultures have used fermentation to preserve food prior to the invention of refrigeration.  As with most traditional wisdom, this technique was beneficial to human health in many different ways that science continues to specifically identify.  Fermented foods are more easily digested because the proteins are already partially broken down.  And most importantly, they support good bacteria in our digestive tract, which is necessary for optimal health.

Ferments.jpg

Everyday we rely on bacteria in our gut to keep us healthy.  Yup, bacteria for health. Perhaps you've heard about this, probiotics are getting a lot of attention these days.  Of course, the reason that probiotics are getting so much attention is that 1) people are having a lot of health, especially digestive-related, issues and 2) it threw a wrench in our bacteria-fearing belief system.  So yes, we need certain bacteria.  And we actually have a huge amount of "good bacteria" living inside of us everyday making things run smoothly.  The stats tend to vary on this, but in general we have hundreds of different species of bacteria living in our gut, which are comprised of 10 times as many microorganisms as we have human cells.  This is still a relatively new topic for scientific understanding in our modern biomedical model, but traditional/cultural methods of food preparation have been supporting this knowledge for a long time.  Fermentation. Heard of it?  Specifically lacto-fermentation, with the "lacto" referring to lactic acid producing bacteria known as lacto-bacilli.  I bet you've heard of that one.  That's what is listed on many yogurt containers.  Lacto-fermentation was originally developed to preserve food; the lactic acid inhibits the growth of putrefying bacteria. Lacto-fermented food also does a whole bunch of super cool things such as: start the digestive process, aid digestion, increase vitamin levels (esp vitamin C), help maintain blood pressure, promote healthy bacteria throughout the gut and boost the immune system.  Rad, right?!  

Keep this knowledge in mind throughout your life when things might happen that could potentially disrupt your gut ecosystem.  For example, antibiotics.  I'm not a huge fan of antibiotics, I think they are way overused in this country.  Again, I could get on a soap box about that one, but I also do understand that there are times when antibiotics are truly necessary.  Just remember, with the interconnectedness of all systems within our bodies, it is very hard to adjust one thing without it having consequences somewhere else.  If you are going to be on antibiotics, this might be an excellent time to include some extra ferments in your diet.

HOW TO FERMENT:

What you need: (for jar fermentation)

1. Jar with a two-piece lid 

2. Good quality sea salt

3. Time: a couple days to a couple weeks

4. Temperature: approx. room temperature 68-72 is ideal

5. (If you are not vegan) A fermenting agent: whey, or a kefir or yogurt starter

Fermenting can be vegan, you can drop the fermenting agent and just use salt and water.  

I've been taught 2 Tablespoons of salt per 1 quart of vegetables.  I find this to be too salty so I use 2 teaspoons per 1 quart.  Put veggies in jar, mix salt with enough water to cover the vegetables.  Leave about an inch of air at the top of jar. Seal lid tight, let sit for approx. 2-7 days. It's ready when the lid no longer has any give in it.  Then stick it in the fridge where it will keep for several months.  (Hotter room temperatures will ferment faster, colder will ferment slower. Check the lid for firmness.)

If dairy is not a issue, use 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 cup liquid whey for 1 quart of vegetables.  Or dissolve one packet of starter in water plus 1 Tablespoon salt for 1 quart of vegetables.  Again, cover vegetables with water, leave 1 inch at the top.  Leave at room temperature for approx. 2-7 days.  When the lid is firm, they are ready.  It will keep in the fridge for several months.  Note: You can buy whey or simply strain it out of yogurt yourself.  

*The above are general guidelines.  Different foods, such as beverages, vary.  But the above is a good rule of thumb.  

Below I've included some fun pictures and recipes of lacto-fermented foods that you can make at home. Be careful, though.  When first introducing ferments into one's diet, slow and steady is key.  Just a tiny bit to start while your body adjusts or else you may have some rather undesirable detox reactions.  Happy Fermenting!

Saurkraut.jpg

Sauerkraut - 1 quart

1 med cabbage shredded

(Optional-- Any additional vegetables of choice, chopped)

2 tsp salt

*** For cabbage, knead it with your hands in a bowl (after it is shredded and salted) to use its own water.  No need to add additional water, just squish out the cabbage juice!

Take salt, cabbage and cabbage water.  Add to jar.  Make sure water covers all vegetables and there is 1 inch of space at the top.  Needs approx. 3-5 days to sit on counter.  Will keep 3 months in fridge.

 

 

Beet Kvass.jpg

Beet Kvass - 2 quarts

1 med beet chopped

1 T salt

5 cloves garlic chopped

1 cup whey

Water to fill

Chop beet and garlic.  Add all ingredients to jar.  Fill with water until 1 inch of space remains. Needs approx. 2-5 days to sit on counter.  Drink diluted or undiluted with water depending on personal taste.  Drink about 2 ounces a day. Or start off smaller if necessary.

Fruit Kvass.jpg

Fruit Kvass - 1 quart

1 apple chopped

1 handful berries

1 inch ginger sliced or minced (your preference)

1/2 cup whey

Water to fill

Put ingredients in jar, fill with water leaving 1 inch at top. Sit in room temperature 2-3 days.  It will last in fridge a few weeks.  Drink a couple ounces a day, or start off smaller.

 

*Kvass can be made with any fruit combo, vegetable combo or fruit and vegetable combo.  Experiment!

Ketchup.jpg

Fermented Ketchup 1/2 quart

12 ounces of tomato paste (buy it in jars, rather than cans if possible)

1/8 cup of whey

1/8 cup maple syrup

1 T sea salt

1 clove garlic mashed

Mix ingredients together.  Fill jar.  Sit in room temperature about 2 days.  Transfer to fridge.  If you prefer thinner ketchup, add water after fermentation.

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Katie Dawn Habib

Katie Dawn Habib is a Holistic Nutrition Coach with a M.S. in Nutrition and Integrative Health. By combining her nutrition knowledge with a love of writing, Katie created her own website, The Hungry Gypsy, where she talks about food, nutrition, wellness and travel. On her site you can also find information about her nutrition coaching practice and join in on the conversations. Katie would like to contribute in some small way to global healing and help her clients and readers feel inspired.