Tag Archives: Healthy

How to Make Kombucha: Flavoring

How To Make Kombucha at Home - oysters and pearlsNow we move on to flavoring that kombucha!

Once you hit the point that you like the way your kombucha smells and taste, you can either pop it in the fridge as is, or you can do a second fermentation for flavor.  I decided to utilize the fresh peaches I had on hand from my Hopkins Farms CSA box, herbs from my herb garden, and strawberry puree and fresh ginger from my freezer.  The flavors I came up with were so refreshing!

Natural Fruit and Herb Kombucha Flavorings | oysters and pearls

First up: Strawberry Ginger.

Homemade Strawberry Ginger Kombucha | oysters and pearls

Pull out some pint jars and add a few slices of fresh ginger and 4 tablespoons or so of strawberry puree.  I will advise you to go light on the ginger… I didn’t, and mine was quite peppery.  It was good, but consider yourself warned!

Second: Strawberry Mint

Homemade Strawberry Mint Kombucha | oysters and pearlsA few sprigs of mint from my garden and fresh strawberry puree (again, around 4 tablespoons) made for a sweet and refreshing booch!

Third: Peach Mint

Homeade Peach Mint Kombucha  | oysters and pearls

Ripe, sweet Georgia peaches (half a peach, sliced) and more mint from my garden made for another refreshing and summery kombucha flavor that I loved.

Last: Peach Rosemary

Homemade Peach Rosemary Kombucha | oysters and pearls A few sprigs of fresh rosemary with peaches made for an herbal but delicious flavor pairing that I adored!  This was maybe my favorite combination.

Once you have your flavorings added to the jars, pour your kombucha over the fruit and herbs and leave out on the counter, covered with a flour sack or dish cloth and a rubber band for the second fermentation.  Taste every couple of days to see if it’s to your liking, and when it is, pop lids on the jars and put them in the fridge!

Natural Fruit and Herb Kombucha Flavorings | oysters and pearls

If all this DIY isn’t your cup of (fermented) tea, feel free to pop over to your local health food store and pick up an already-made-and-fizzier-than-you-can-make-at-home booch.  Here in Bainbridge they have two different brands at Health Products and Yogurt Too, but GT is my favorite.  It’s super fizzy and a good intro to kombucha.

DIY Kombucha Recipe and Instructions | oysters and pearls

Cheers!

Until Next Time - oysters and pearls

Grain Brain Turmeric Blackened Fish 

So after I got done with Whole30, I moved straight on to reading Grain Brain by Neurologist Dr. Perlmutter.  I’ve mentioned here before that my in-laws are on the Grain Brain train.  Up until now, I have promoted eating real foods (i.e. avoiding processed foods when at all possible) but haven’t really made a conscious effort to be aware of what I put in my body.  Whole30 helped with that.  A lot.  And now I’m making an effort to not only eat real foods and avoid certain types of foods (processed, a lot of dairy, soy, legumes (to an extent) and grain/gluten), but I’m also trying to make a conscious effort to incorporate some ingredients and supplements I’ve never used before.  One of those ingredients being turmeric.  Here’s a snippet from Dr. Perlmutter’s website that explains it much more clearly than I can:

Turmeric, a member of the ginger family, is known as the seasoning that gives curry powder its yellow color, but it has recently developed a reputation, thanks to intense scientific research, as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Curcumin, the active compound found in turmeric, has beneficial effects for a variety of diseases and conditions. It’s curcumin that gives turmeric its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

In a recent report in the American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers investigated the association between curry consumption level and cognitive function in elderly Asians. Those who consumed curry “occasionally” and “often or very often” had significantly better scores on specific tests designed to measure cognitive function than did subjects who “never or rarely” consumed curry. The results of this study are not surprising given the strong association of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia with inflammation and the powerful anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin.

But the relationship of turmeric to brain health, and specifically to Alzheimer’s, goes much deeper. One of the important elements of Alzheimer’s disease is the finding of elevated amounts of amyloid protein,  which may be a highly damaging protein, in the brains of Alzheimer’s sufferers. Indeed, amyloid is considered one of the hallmarks of this disease. New research published in the Journal of Neuroscience Research has shown that curcumin actually inhibits the formation of amyloid protein. So promising were these findings that the author of the study concluded that curcumin “could be a key molecule for the development of therapeutics for Alzheimer’s disease.” To be sure, much research indicates that amyloid protein in and of itself may actually be the brain’s response to inflammation or infection and thus turmeric may work its magic by acting to reduce inflammation or even viral infection.

On top of the benefits of turmeric, eating fish more often is considered to be one of the easiest ways you can improve your brain (and overall!) health.  Another excerpt from Dr. Permutter’s website:

Morris and colleagues report data from a remarkable prospective study of Alzheimer disease (AD) in a biracial community in Chicago, Ill (815 people, aged 65-94 years). They found that subjects who ate fish once a week or more had a 60% lower risk for developing AD than those who consumed fish less frequently. The data were statistically adjusted to correct for the effects of age, sex, ethnicity, education, stroke, hypertension, heart disease, apolipoprotein E (apo E) genotype, total caloric intake, and consumption of other fats or vitamin E. Intake of long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and docosahexaenoic acid (omega-3) was associated with a reduced risk of developing AD over the 4 years of the study. Intake of α-linolenic acid or eicosapentaenpoic acid was not associated with disease after adjustment. Intake of α-linolenic acid, found in vegetable oils and nuts, was protective only in people with the apoE ϵ4 allele, and total n-3 fatty acid intake was protective only in women. These data and other work in the area suggest that consumption of PUFAs found in fish, vegetable oils, and nuts may reduce AD risk.

Therefore, I’ve been trying to cook with turmeric more (and by more, cooking with it at all is more than I used to!) and trying to consciously eat fish at least once per week.  Even if you don’t ever read Grain Brain, and don’t care about what health benefits turmeric or fish oil may offer, if you like spicy, blackened fish, I highly recommend you make this recipe anyway.

I came up with this turmeric blackened fish recipe on a whim a couple of weeks ago, and although I shared it on Instagram, I thought I would also share it here so I could include it in my archives.  It’s simple, DELICIOUS and Wheat’s already asked for it again.

Grain Brain Approved Turmeric Blackened Fish Recipe - oysters and pearls

Turmeric Blackened Fish Recipe

 ingredients

– one fish fillet per person (we used red snapper)
– turmeric powder
Chinese Five Spice
– cumin
– ground red pepper (could substitute cayenne)
– kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
– high heat cooking oil of your choice (extra light olive oil or coconut oil preferred)

instructions

Rinse and pat dry fish fillets.  Season all sides of the fish fillets with all the seasonings (equal amounts of each, maybe a bit light on the red pepper).

Heat enough oil in a cast iron skillet (or heavy frying pan) to medium high heat, or until oil is shimmering.  Gently place seasoned fillets in the oil with a bit of space between each filet.  Allow to cook until the fillets easily release from the bottom of the pan with a pair of tongs.  When they do, flip them and allow to cook until the other side releases easily from the bottom of the pan.  Remove to a plate lined with paper towels and serve immediately.

Cook’s Note: If you don’t get the oil hot enough, the spice won’t develop that crispy, blackened crust.  It will still be delicious – just not very crispy!

Grain Brain and Whole30 Compliant Turmeric Blackened Fish Recipe - oysters and pearls

And see those carrots back there behind the fish?  They were da bomb.com and I’m coming back to share that simple little recipe, too!  Does anyone have any favorite recipes that include turmeric or curry for me to try?  Please share them!

Until Next Time - oysters and pearls

Smitten Bars – aka a Healthy, Homemade, Delicious Granola Bar

I call these sinfully delicious bars “Smitten Bars,” 1) because I’m absolutely smitten with them, and 2) because I adapted them a smidge from the Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for Chocolate Chunk Granola Bars.  They are so delicious (especially after being on Whole30 for a month) that you feel like you’re cheating… on something!  These would be perfect to make for your kids… or yourself.  They’re gluten-free, they can be nut-free (to take to schools with rules about nut allergies), and you can amend them to suit your own personal tastes and diets.  It’s basically the perfect recipe.

Smitten Kitchen's Chocolate Chunk Healthy Granola Bars, Cat Tea Towel from Maiden South - oysters and pearls

You have cat to be kitten me right meow.  These snacks are healthy?  Tea towel from Maiden South.  #shamelessplug #catsonbikes

Smitten Bars - Healthy Delicious Chocolate Granola Bars - oysters and pearls

Smitten Bars - Healthy Delicious Chocolate Granola Bars adapted from Smitten Kitchen - oysters and pearls

Smitten Bars - Healthy Delicious Chocolate Granola Bars adapted from Smitten Kitchen - oysters and pearls

Let’s get down to recipe business, shall we?

Smitten Bars
recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s chocolate chunk granola bar recipe
yields 16-ish 2×2 granola bars

ingredients

– 1 1/2 heaping cups (100 grams) gluten-free rolled oats
– 1/4 cup (20 grams) rolled oats, finely ground, or 1/4 cup oat flour
– 3/4 cup (60 grams) dried unsweetened shredded coconut
– 1 tablespoon ground flax
– 1 tablespoon chia seeds
– 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
– 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
– 1 cup (about 140 grams) chopped dried fruit (I used unsweetened, unsulphured dried cherries from Trader Joe’s)
– 1 cup (170 grams) chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips
– 1/4 cup (65 grams) almond butter (use sunflower seed butter to be nut-free)
– 1/4 cup coconut oil, warmed until liquefied (may sub olive oil)
– 1/4 cup (about 85 grams) maple raw local honey (may sub maple/cane syrup)

other supplies

– 8×8 inch square casserole dish or baking pan
– parchment paper

instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line casserole dish or baking pan with two sheets of parchment paper, cross-ways and extending up the sides, in order to form a non-stick “sling” for your bars to make them easy to remove from the pan.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients (oats, oat flour, coconut, cherries/dried fruit, chocolate, salt, cinnamon).  In a smaller, separate bowl, whisk together the “wet” ingredients (almond butter, coconut oil, and honey).  Pour wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir until combined.

Transfer the mixture into the prepared pan, spreading it out until flat, then using another square of parchment paper to protect your hand, use the heel of your palm to press the mixture as firmly as you can until you cannot press it any further.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes at 350 degrees, until the tops are golden and the edges are light brown.  Let the bars cool COMPLETELY before cutting into them.  I recommend letting them cool to close to room temperature, then finish them off for a couple of hours in the fridge.  Then use the parchment paper “sling” to transfer the bars to a cutting board.  Using a sharp, serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, carefully cut the bars into desired sizes.

According to Smitten Kitchen, these bars will keep for about a week in an air-tight container at room temperature… but I highly doubt they’ll last that long that way because you’ll eat them all.  So, I stick them a couple at a time in a snack-size freezer bag and pop them into the freezer.  That way, I can pull them out two at a time so Wheat and I don’t overindulge.  They only take about 30 minutes to an hour to fully defrost at room temperature, or overnight in the fridge. Perfect for packing in lunch boxes – for kids or working grown-ups. :)

Smitten Bars - Healthy Delicious Chocolate Granola Bars adapted from Smitten Kitchen - oysters and pearls

What’s your favorite healthy snack?  This has quickly moved to the top of my list, but I’m always on the look for more options!

Until Next Time