Category Archives: Health

Gimme Some Oven Kale Caesar Salad Recipe

I tried this kale caesar salad recipe from Gimme Some Oven the day it hit my inbox last week, and it was so good, I just had to share!  It feels indulgent, but it’s totally not.  And the tangy lime juice totally changes the feel of this caesar salad, and the kale makes certain it’s super healthy.  I won’t provide a ton of commentary, just wanted to share this recipe with y’all.  For those of you looking to kick the new year off on a healthier foot, this is a great start!  It’s not Whole30 (and would be difficult to modify to fit the guidelines, since it’s based on dairy), but still very light and healthy.  I also added a splash of plain Kefir for extra probiotics.

Kefir is a fermented milk product (cow, goat or sheep milk) that tastes like a drinkable yogurt.  Kefir contains high levels of vitamin B12, calcium, magnesium, vitamin K2, biotin, folate, enzymes and probiotics.  Because kefir does not have a standardized nutrition content, the content values can vary based on the cows, cultures, and region where it is produced. Yet even with the range in values, kefir has superior nutrition. (via DrAxe.com)  I just really like Kefir because it’s tangy like yogurt, has huge amounts of probiotics (more than yogurt), and is easy to add into smoothies, top your yogurt or oatmeal, and more.  This salad would also be delicious with some grilled shrimp or chicken added!

Happy healthy eating!

Gimme Some Oven Kale Caesar Salad | oysters and pearls

Gimme Some Oven KALE CAESAR SALAD

This Kale Caesar Salad is made with tons of fresh kale and Romaine, and tossed with lighter lime Caesar dressing, and trust me — it’s DELICIOUS.

INGREDIENTS:

KALE CAESAR SALAD INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 cups chopped fresh kale
  • 4 cups chopped Romaine lettuce
  • 2 cups croutons (*I just toasted some French bread and crumbled it afterwards, see instructions below)
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 batch Lime Caesar Dressing, below
  • optional: 1 cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes

LIME CAESAR DRESSING INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used non-fat)
  • 1/2 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3-4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 teaspoons anchovy paste, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed or finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 3-4 tablespoons milk

DIRECTIONS:

TO MAKE THE KALE CAESAR SALAD:

  1. Add the kale, Romaine, croutons, Parmesan, dressing, and tomatoes (if using) to a large bowl.  Toss until combined.
  2. Serve immediately.

TO MAKE THE LIME CAESAR DRESSING:

  1. Add all ingredients except milk to a small mixing bowl, and whisk together until combined and smooth.  Whisk in a tablespoon of milk at a time until the dressing reaches your desired consistency.
  2. Use immediately, or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 3 days.

*To make easy croutons, just drizzle a few slices of old bread with olive oil (or brush with melted butter), and sprinkle with salt and Italian seasoning.  Toast them up until crispy.  Then either crumble them up with your hands, or use a knife to chop them into small pieces.

Inspired by Sweetgreen.

Hello, 2016!

Goodbye 2015 and Hello, 2016

I love the feeling a new year brings.  It’s an opportunity for a fresh new start in whatever arena you’d like… not that you can’t make that change any time of year, but there’s a new-ness in January that only seems to be found during this month.  It’s a blank slate before Spring; an empty vessel waiting to be filled.  I want to make a tradition of taking a few minutes to write and reflect on my year in the rear view and a look at the year ahead, so here goes.

Hello 2016 | oysters and pearls

health

Last January, I made some major lifestyle changes, committed to a yoga practice and did a round of Whole30, stepped down from some major obligations and commitments, and completely changed my health and outlook on life.  I am SO thankful that I made a commitment to my health, my sanity, and myself last January, and I’m so proud of myself for sticking with it for an entire year.  I’ve even managed to continue my yoga practice well into my pregnancy (with a few modifications).  In addition to re-committing to taking care of myself physically, last January I began a SheReadsTruth Bible study and re-connected with my faith in a strong way, and for that I’m even more grateful.

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word of the year

Last year, as I reflected on 2014 and set goals and intentions for 2015 (for the first time ever), I gave myself a word of the year: GRACE.  This was a new thing for me, but this “word of the year” gave me something to meditate on, a quick, one-word mantra to pull up when times were tough, and it set the theme for each major and minor decision I made this past year.  I tend to be very hard on myself in every way.  I set my own standards really high, and when I don’t meet them, I beat myself up a lot.  And on top of all that, I tend to hold others to these same high standards.  While it makes me a productive person, it also can make me a very difficult person to be close to, I know.  Each time I held myself or others to an unreasonably high standard in 2015, I practiced giving myself and others GRACE.  The big man upstairs gives me grace every minute of every day.  The least I could do was give that to myself and to those around me!  And the best part of this word-of-the-year concept?  It worked!  I mean, obviously I’m still not perfect, and I still am too hard on myself and others, but it has helped immensely.

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When it came time to sit down and come up with a word of the year for 2016, I struggled more than last year.  Last year, the need for Grace was at the forefront of my heart and mind and the choice was easy.  This year, I’m starting the year out feeling so blessed that I really had to think about what I needed this year.  After a few days of thinking about it and setting an intention in my last yoga practice of 2015, I finally had it.

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In addition to setting my own bar too high, I also have a tendency to push through the present and set finish lines for myself.  “If I can just make it until tomorrow afternoon…”  or “If I can just make it until Christmas Eve…”  I can power through almost anything if I know there’s an end in sight.  However, living from finish line to finish line leaves you wondering where your days have gone and missing the important moments that are fleeting and are what really matter.  So this year, my word of the year is PRESENT.  I don’t want to wish away this year, this pregnancy, this baby’s first moments in this world, no matter how chaotic, how crazy, how stressful, how painful, or how uncomfortable they may be.  I want to be fully present in every little moment.  Feel every little kick, taste every bite, laugh at every joke, feel every ache and pain, enjoy every stitch, every conversation, every sloppy dog kiss, and not miss out on a single thing just because I’m wishing it away until the next milestone, which would be so very easy to do at this point in my life.  2016, I’m ready for you!  Each and every minute of you.

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maiden south

A quick note about the shop:  Although I know I’ll be slowing down soon in a lot of ways, I’m so grateful for the creative outlet and community that we have created and that has evolved with us at Maiden South.  We’ll be kicking off 2016 creatively by hosting Knit Night at One.Two.Three. (our old space next door) from 6 to 8 pm tonight.  If you knit, crochet, embroider, or do anything related to fiber art, come do it with us for a couple of hours tonight.  We do this the first Monday of every single month, so mark it on your calendars, join our Knit Nights Ravelry group, our Knit Night Facebook event, and come join other fiber-lovers for some fellowshippin’ and stitchin’ tonight at six at One.Two.Three.

Knit Nights at Maiden South | oysters and pearls

thank you

Thank you to everyone for all the tips and recommendations for our Asheville babymoon trip!  We leave in a couple of weeks and I literally could NOT be more excited.  Really, I don’t think it’s possible.  It will be the longest I’ve ever taken off of work, the longest vacation Wheat and I have ever taken together, and I cannot wait to get to the mountains to explore and relax.

Thank you, too, for following along with Oysters & Pearls for yet another year.  I’ve been sharing my thoughts, feelings, recipes, knitting, projects, and more for three years in this little corner of the world wide web.  Although the frequency of that sharing has slowed down, I am so grateful to continue to be here when I can and to have met so many wonderful people through it.  Y’all are the very best and I wish I could hug each one of your necks!

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I wish for each of you the gift of being fully present… being all in and being all there and in awe, this year.

Until Next Time - oysters and pearls

How to Make Kombucha: The SCOBY

How To Make Kombucha at Home - oysters and pearls
Since I did Whole30, I’ve gotten hooked on the probiotic-filled, fizzy drink known as kombucha.  Kombucha is a fermented sweet tea hailing from ancient China, where it’s rumored to be the secret to a long, healthy life.  It’s also known here in the U.S. as a fizzy, sweet, fruity alternative to Coca-Colas.  It’s full of good-for-you probiotics and B vitamins, too.  Unfortunately, at nearly $4.00 per bottle, it’s also an expensive habit.   So naturally, I had to try making it at home myself.  And it turns out, it was pretty easy and it’s pretty delicious!  I will warn you, this step by step ain’t for the faint of heart.  Kombucha is fermented using a SCOBY or “mother,” which houses the good bacteria that will eat the sugar in the sweet tea and turn your tea into ‘bucha.  “SCOBY” is actually an acronym for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.” It’s very close cousins to the mother used to make vinegar.  But it looks real weird.

So, you can purchase a SCOBY and Starter Tea online, but I opted to make my own SCOBY too.  I used these directions from The Kitchn, which I’ve shared here as well.

  • How To Make Your Own Kombucha Scoby

    Makes 1 kombucha scoby

    What You Need

    Ingredients
    7 cups water
    1/2 cup white granulated sugar (see Recipe Notes)
    4 bags black tea, or 1 tablespoon looseleaf (see Recipe Note)
    1 cup unflavored, unpasteurized store-bought kombucha (I used ginger GT and it worked!)

    Equipment
    2-quart or larger saucepan
    Long-handled spoon
    2-quart or larger glass jar, like a canning jar (not plastic or metal) (I used a gallon pickle jar)
    Tightly woven cloth (like clean napkins or tea towels), coffee filters, or paper towels, to cover the jar
    Rubberband

    Instructions

    1. Make the sweet tea. Bring the water to a boil. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the sugar until it is completely dissolved. Add the tea and allow to steep until the tea cools to room temperature. Remove and discard the tea. (Alternatively, boil half the amount of water, dissolve the sugar and steep the tea, then add the remaining water to cool the tea more rapidly.)
    2. Combine the sweet tea and kombucha in a jar. Pour the sweet tea into the jar. Pour the kombucha on top — if you see a blobby “baby scoby” in the bottom of your jar of commercial kombucha, make sure this gets transferred. (But if you don’t see one, don’t worry! Your scoby will still form.) Stir to combine.
    3. Cover and store for 1 to 4 weeks. Cover the mouth of the jar with a few layers of tightly-woven cloth, coffee filters, or paper towels secured with a rubber band. (If you develop problems with gnats or fruit flies, use a tightly woven cloth or paper towels, which will do a better job keeping the insects out of your brew.) Place the jar somewhere at average room temperature (70°F), out of direct sunlight, and where it won’t get jostled. Sunlight can prevent the kombucha from fermenting and the scoby from forming, so wrap the jar in a cloth if you can’t keep it away from sunlight.
    4. First, bubbles will gather on the surface. For the first few days, nothing will happen. Then you’ll start to see groups of tiny bubbles starting to collect on the surface.
    5. Then, the bubbles will collect into a film. After a few more days, the groups of bubbles will start to connect and form a thin, transparent, jelly-like film across the surface of the tea. You’ll also see bubbles forming around the edges of the film. This is carbon-dioxide from the fermenting tea and a sign that everything is healthy and happy!
    6. The film will thicken into a solid, opaque layer. Over the next few days, the layer will continue to thicken and gradually become opaque. When the scoby is about 1/4-inch thick, it’s ready to be used to make kombucha tea — depending on the temperature and conditions in your kitchen, this might take anywhere from 1 to 4 weeks.
    7. The finished scoby: Your finished scoby might look a little nubbly, rough, patchy, or otherwise “not quite like a grown-up scoby.” It’s ok! Your scoby will start to smooth out and take on a uniform color over the course of a few batches of kombucha — take a look a the before and after pictures of a baby and grown-up scoby in the gallery above.
    8. Using the liquid used to grow the scoby: The liquid used to grow the scoby will likely be too strong and vinegary to drink (and if you’re not used to drinking kombucha or very vinegary beverages, it can give you a stomach ache). You can use it to start your first batch of kombucha, or you can use it as a cleaning solution on your counters.

    Trouble-Shooting

    • Your scoby is forming normally and is healthy if… You see bubbles, clear jelly-like masses, opaque jelly-like masses, stringy or gritty brown bits. Also if the tea smells fresh, tart, and slightly vinegary (this aroma will become more pronounced the further into the process you go).
    • Your finished scoby is normal and healthy if… It’s about a quarter-inch thick and opaque. It’s fine if the scoby is bubbled or nubbly or has a rough edge. It’s also ok if it’s thinner in some parts than others or if there’s a hole. Your scoby will become smoother and more uniform as you brew more batches of kombucha.
    • There is a problem if… You see fuzzy black or green mold growing on top of the forming scoby, or if your tea starts to smell cheesy, rancid, or otherwise unpleasant. In any of these cases, bad bacteria has taken hold of the tea; discard this batch and start again with a fresh batch.
    • If you can’t tell if there’s a problem… Continue to let the tea ferment and the scoby form. If it’s a problem, it will get worse; if it’s a normal part of the process, it should normalize (or at least not get any worse!)

    Recipe Notes

    • Covering for the jar: Cheesecloth is not ideal because it’s easy for small insects, like fruit flies, to wiggle through the layers. Use a few layers of tightly woven cloth (like clean napkins or tea towels), coffee filters, or paper towels, to cover the jar, and secure it tightly with rubber bands or twine.
    • Using Other Sugars: Scobys form best if you use plain, granulated table sugar. Organic sugar is fine, but avoid alternative sugars or honey.
    • Substituting Other Teas: Plain black tea is the best and most nutritious tea for scoby growth. For this step of growing a new kombucha, use black tea if at all possible; you can play around with other teas once you start making kombucha regularly. (See How To Make Kombucha Tea at Home)

I’ve included a gratuitous number of pictures of my SCOBY process for you to see the slow process.  These photos were taken over a series of 4.5 weeks before I took it out and started my first batch of kombucha.

Day 1: Starting a Kombucha SCOBY at Home - oysters and pearls  Starting a Kombucha SCOBY at Home - oysters and pearls
Starting a Kombucha SCOBY at Home - oysters and pearls  Starting a Kombucha SCOBY at Home - oysters and pearls
Starting a Kombucha SCOBY at Home - oysters and pearls  Starting a Kombucha SCOBY at Home - oysters and pearls
Starting a Kombucha SCOBY at Home - oysters and pearls  Starting a Kombucha SCOBY at Home - oysters and pearls
Starting a Kombucha SCOBY at Home - oysters and pearls  Starting a Kombucha SCOBY at Home - oysters and pearls
Starting a Kombucha SCOBY at Home - oysters and pearls

Would ya look at that?  It keeps growing with each batch of kombucha you make, and will even split and form a baby SCOBY!  On my first batch of Booch, my SCOBY sank to the bottom and a new, smaller SCOBY formed on the top, so now I have two.  It’s pretty cool!

Now you’re ready for a second fermentation for flavoring, which will be coming right up in the next post!

Until Next Time - oysters and pearls