Homemade Probiotic Borscht Recipe

The Elusive "Sour" One of the foods I miss the most from back home is homemade, sour borscht - a dietary staple unique to Eastern Europe, in particular to Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, and parts of Russia. The essence of "borscht" in these countries is not beets, as it is commonly associated with, but rather the "sour" we add to the bone broth base. The "sour" - tasting almost like a combination of sauerkraut juice and kombucha - is made by old grannies in clay pots with fermented wheat germ, fresh well water, and a variety of esoteric herbs. It is a quite involved process, and most younger women don't have the patience or knowledge to ferment it properly. I have been trying to get a starter going for a while, but besides simply lacking some of the skills and expertise, I am missing many of the herbs that my grandma used to add to use. A Suitable Substitute? [...]

February 28th, 2013|Categories: Recipes|Tags: , , , , , |8 Comments

The Alkaline Diet – Snake Oil or Common Sense?

There are a lot of fad diets out there. Often, they claim to be the ultimate healing regime. They will cure you of disease or cancer, melt the extra pounds right off your midriff, or make you look ten years younger. As soon as I start reading something that tells me that once I perform one special routine or purchase certain brands, I will start feeling amazing and all my health problems will go away, I move on. Some of these schemes have some great things to offer, but I am skeptical of their good intentions. A couple of years ago an obnoxious website completely turned off any interest I had in the Alkaline Diet. Thankfully, I began studying  more about the pH balance of foods in one of my nutrition classes, and, while I admit I was rather skeptical at first, what I have learned just might have changed my mind. [...]

February 20th, 2013|Categories: Nutrition|Tags: , , , , , , , |5 Comments

Homemade Lacto-Fermented Sour Pickles

People often ask me if I there's any snack I just can't get enough of. While I am interested in improving my health and learning to balance my diet, there is one food I would munch on any time: sour pickles. As a child, we had a large wooden barrel in the cellar that we would load with cucumbers in the Fall, in order to begin the lacto-fermentation process that would result in crisp, tangy sour pickles. We would  usually polish them off by April or so. When I came to the US, the pickles from the store were sorely disappointing. They tasted vinegary, the labels on the back listed ingredients I couldn't pronounce, and they even gave me heart burn. So I stopped eating pickles unless I had eight bucks to blow on a jar of Bubbies, which truth be told did not happen very often. Then, 3 years ago, I married [...]

September 18th, 2012|Categories: Recipes|Tags: , |28 Comments

Probiotics: Part Two – Supplements

There are quite an overwhelming number of probiotic supplements on the market. Pharmaceutical companies are aware of their vital importance in the human digestive and immune system. They each advertise their product as being the best, dazzling the consumer with various miraculous health claims neatly written on the labels. Choosing a good probiotic can be overwhelming and frustrating. I have poured over many labels in food stores, on line, and in various catalogs. There really isn't a perfect one that carries every single member of the probiotic family. But we can try to purchase one that carries at least the most important bacterial strains. ( To read part I of the Probiotics series go here) Source Here is some advice, based on my own struggles to find a good probiotic to rejuvenate and heal my gut flora: 1. When you are purchasing a probiotic, go for the one that has the most [...]

May 4th, 2012|Categories: Nutrition|Tags: , , , |11 Comments

Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe

As I explained in an earlier post, one of the best ways to fortify your gut with good healthy bacteria is lacto-fermentation, a process which results in some of the most mouth-watering foods around. My favorite is sauerkraut, but with a little whey and/or salt, you can ferment all sorts of veggies. Here is my sauerkraut recipe, step by step. Ingredients: 2 medium-large heads of Cabbage About 1/3 cup whey (optional) About 1 tbsp sea salt Herbs & spices (mustard seed, dill, caraway, pepper, bay leaf, juniper berries) (find it here) Directions: 1. Chop the cabbage into quarters. 2. Slice it into as long, fine strips as you can. Tip: The lid you see in the background of Step 1 is from our food processor; we tried to use it initially, but we found that it just diced the cabbage into bits. For this task, your hands and a sharp knife are [...]

April 26th, 2012|Categories: Recipes|Tags: , , , , |26 Comments

What in the World is Lacto-Fermentation?

Three years ago I suffered from a severe facial staph infection. Over the course of six months my face turned beet red with daily flair ups and dryness. At the time I had no idea what the cause of it was. I slowly gave up sugar, gluten, spicy foods, alcohol, all to no avail. I finally discovered the root of the problem when a dermatologist tested my facial dermis for a topical staph infection. Happy ending? Yes absolutely; my skin infection went away in a matter of weeks. But amidst the myriad of tests I had to take, I learned something that  totally shocked me: my gut flora was completely depleted of any good bacteria. In fact, the doctor asked me if I had taken any antibiotics recently because only someone who had been on an intense course of antibiotics could have as poor of gut flora as myself. I hadn't taken any antibiotics in at least [...]

April 23rd, 2012|Categories: Nutrition|Tags: , , |5 Comments
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