We all know that our food sources are not what they use to be even when we buy as organic as possible. Farm to table is the ideal but how many of us have the time or resources or even space to really work the garden the way we would need to in order to feed our families.
Not I! So I would like to cover some easy and very affordable tips on how to boost our immune systems naturally with very little effort. By the way, just so you know I am not a licensed nutritionist nor do I have any initials behind my name. These are my thoughts and understandings for the moment. I am however, a cancer overcomer. That is why nutrition suddenly became really important to me and so after much thought, research, and prayer time and effort I began the journey to restore my depleted body which had just undergone, chemo and radiation. So it is my heart to share with you some of the things I learned in my journey.
Fermented foods! Uggg that sounds disgusting but oh how your stomach will love you if you will begin to feed it the things it needs to function correctly! Believe it or not you will crave it when begin eating it because your body will tell you Yes! Feed Me!
Probiotics / Prebiotics are one the most important elements we can add to our nutrition.
Probiotics by definition are living strains of bacteria that add to the population of good bacteria in your digestive system. Prebiotics: Are specialized plant fibers that can act as food for the good bacteria. This stimulates growth among the pre-existing good bacteria.
Especially now due to Covid we are a population that loves hand sanitizers! Which is great for it truly kills germs and bacteria but it also kills your intestinal flora which is needed to digest food correctly. So if you're feeling bloated, tired, and gassy your intestinal flora may be off balance. Help is on the way! Let me introduce you to an easy probiotic master piece!
Kefir! These lovely white grains are called pearls. Some of you may know all about them. These specifically are milk pearls. There are two different types that you can purchase. For those of you who are lactose intolerant water kefir may be your answer. For those who are not milk kefir are a perfect supplement to your diet.
Milk Kefir is a fermented probiotic drink that is renown for its healthy properties. Studies have shown that milk kefir has a wide range of health benefits. What are they? I am glad you asked!
1) It helps improve your digestion, could lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
2) It improves your immune system
3) Reduces asthma and allergies
4) It is an excellent source of magnesium
5) Causes constipation relief
6) Can help with weight control
Kefir contains tryptophan, which is an essential amino acid our body needs that helps relax our nervous systems which helps the body with processes that move food through our digestive tract.
Historians believe kefir originated centuries ago in the Caucasus mountains in Eastern Europe near present day Turkey. The word kefir comes from the word "keif" which translates to feeling good. Hmmm is that a hint?
When you first begin eating foods that contain probiotics, it has been noted that some people have some digestive discomfort especially when you first begin to consume them. Gas and bloating can be a common side effect. I just had to add that in there!
What does it look and taste like? It has the consistency of a creamy yogurt drink so it has a slightly sour taste. You can buy it pre-made, just a word of caution though, many of your pre-made kefir's have a lot of sugar in them. Goat milk, sheep milk, cow milk can all be used as long as it is not fat free. Or you can also purchase water kefir ( pronounced kee-feer) if you are lactose intolerant.
How do you make it? First, purchase some kefir pearls. They can be found on Amazon and I am sure on many other sites as well. Get a glass jar. Yes, a glass jar. We don't want any plastic residue leaching into our food. A glass mason food jar is perfect. Depending on your consumption rate will depend on how much milk you want to fill the jar with. I usually do a full quart because I also use it to bake with but you can do one cup at a time.
Just some fyi, when you are using gluten free flours, you always want to add extra liquid to help with the consistency. I use what I don't drink like buttermilk. I add it to pancakes, cornbread, cakes and it helps add moisture to the batter. It works great with regular flours as well.
So You will fill up your jar with whole milk. Add your pearls. Pasteurized milk is just fine. They will eat the lactose and create it into the live enzymes your body needs. They eat the milk fat so coconut milk, almond milk will NOT work. Your kefir pearls will starve! Fat free milk will not work either. They feed off the lactose in the milk fat.
How long does it need to sit before you use it? Let it sit on your counter at room temperature for 24 - 36 hours depending on how potent you want it to be.
Cover your pearls with milk in the amount you want to make that day. It can be in a single portion or a whole quart. Put a coffee filter and rubber band on top of the jar to it keep out unwanted guests like knots. You can also buy lids that will serve the purpose by fitting on top of a mason jar which has holes in to help when you are straining out your liquids also available at Amazon and other places. Coffee filters and rubber bands are often what I use. The filter will help keep out pests who may find they attracted to this super rich nutritional content. I will add that if you use the coffee filters your little pearls will reproduce little pearls quite rapidly so you can just use the regular mason jar lid. So that you are not overwhelmed by pearls.
The longer it sits the more sour it will become. I know... I know more counter clutter but its worth it! Think Happy Intestinal Flora!
After 24- hours take another clean jar scoop your little pearls and put them in the clean jar. Add fresh milk and begin your process again.
Leave the jar that has no pearls in it on the counter for another 24 hours. You may see it get thicker and begin to separate. This is good! That clear liquid that looks like water is great for fermenting other vegetables or you can shake it and it will mix back into the milk again. One Tablespoon of that rich probiotic water in a jar of raw fresh cabbage, carrots onions or whatever vegetable you want to use, Be creative! Add spices if you like. It will create a wonderful fermented meal. So if you like pickles you will probably love fermented food. More on how do that at the end of this blog.
Take your freshly made kefir and throw it into a blender with some fruit, or just leave it just plain if you can stomach it. I prefer to add some raw honey, the sourish taste is not my favorite. Kefir, with blueberries with choc protein powder is amazing!
Refridgerate what you are not going to use. It will keep a long time. Warning: the longer you keep it the more sour it will get!
If you are a busy person and don't have time to tend to them daily you can put them in your fridge with some fresh milk and it will slow down the process.
If you must leave for a few weeks you can also freeze them if you freeze them in milk. If your not going to be gone long just put them in the fridge. For long term absences put them in a container, cover with milk and they can be put in the freezer.
I don't like to leave them in the freezer for much longer than 2 or 3 months before I take them out and feed them for several days so they will plump up and get healthy and fat. They will be okay for longer periods but it will take a week or so to get them healthy enough to begin produce quality kefir. So don't worry it looks like the milk is not turning. Depending on how long they were frozen it may take some time to recuperate. Freezing them in milk gives them some nutrition while they are dormant. If left too long in the freezer they will disintegrate. It is preferable that you just keep them in the fridge.
They will start to multiply rapidly in room temperature and you will soon see baby pearls in your milk. You can eat the pearls by adding them to your smoothies. Or you could freeze them and share them with others. If you freeze them date them and rotate them so they are not frozen for too long.
Just another interesting note. If you suffer from herpy outbreaks I have been told will arrest the symptoms of the outbreak. Just goes to show you how much they strengthen your immune system and how important probiotics are to your gut flora.
Yes, they require a bit of work again, its worth it!
Fermented food in a jar. Take a half a head of cabbage or whatever you choose to use. Cauliflower, Carrots, Green beans, I am going to use them since they are some of my most
favorite but you can do it with any type of vegetable you would like. I use a quart size glass mason jar. Again don't use plastic. Stuff the jar as full as you can with chopped cabbage or choice of vegetable. I add a teaspoon of fresh garlic, quarter of an onion and a carrot that I put through the food processor, or you can use a knife and cut them. I stuff in as much as I can. Then I add either 1 tsp of salt or 1 tbsp of kefir whey. Fill the rest of the jar with water until all the food is covered. Put your lid on and let it rest on your counter and shake it once a day for three days. Afterwards open jar and enjoy. It can be left longer if you want a stronger pickled taste. You determine the time. I usually leave mine for about a week. But then again I like really the really sour pickled taste when it comes to vegetables. So easy! Do the same with cucumbers, onions, peppers, try whatever you want. I sometimes add apple to some of mixtures as well. Be creative and find your flavor that suits you! Happy eating!