Kefir Water… Kefir, What?

Kefir water

I am officially on the Kefir Water bandwagon. It’s not a bad wagon to be on…actually quite beneficial. It took me about a year to jump on. This delay mostly stemmed from a bad experience with sea monkeys as a kid. I was not very good a raising sea monkeys and thought that this may transfer over to the Kefir grains. Plus, I was also worried about the time involved in culturing Kefir.

To date <about 3 months in>, I am happy with the lack of time it takes to make Kefir Water and that I haven’t lost a single Kefir grain yet. Plus, my boys love it and I can personally attest to it helping me post stomach flu.

I used Cultures for Health for most of my information and followed their steps to fermenting the Kefir grains and suggestions for juice additions. Their FAQ on Kefir Water was super helpful for me to determine if this was right for my family and my time. I also used Pinterest to gather recipes and informational sites to research on Kefir Water. Click here for my Kefir-Licious Pinterest Board.

So, here is my list of Do’s, Don’ts, and Why’s of Kefir Water.

DO’s

1. Find a friend, or friend of a friend, to get your Kefir Grains. Much easier. Less costly. And, you may meet a new person.

Kefir Grains.

Kefir Grains.

2. Spend the extra money on good organic juice for the Kefir Water. The grains will appreciate it. Your taste buds will too.

3. Invest in cool bottles. Makes it more fun. They are also pleasing to the eye, since they will be on your counter.

4. Burp your bottles during the second fermentation. Seriously, about three times a day.

5. Get into a routine about when you make your Kefir Water. I spend about 10-15 minutes every other day.

DON’Ts

1. Don’t forget to burp your bottles. They will explode. You will keep finding glass shards months later in the most unusual places. Trust me.

2. Don’t tell your kids too much about the Kefir Water. They will look at you like you have two heads and are seriously crazy. Just make them drink it.

3. Rush it. Fermentation takes time.

fermenting kefir grains

WHY’s

1. Probiotics.

“Bacteria

Species Lactobacillus
L. brevis
L. casei
L. hilgardii
L. hordei
L. nagelii

Species Leuconostoc
L. citreum
L. mesenteroides

Species Acetobacter
A. fabarum
A. orientalis

Species Streptococcus
S. lactis

Yeasts

Hanseniaospora valbyensis
Lachancea fermentati
Saccharomyces cerevisiae
Zygotorulaspora florentina

(Source: http://biologiageral.com.sapo.pt/Ficheiros/Gulitz.pdf (referenced May 2013))”

2. Healthier gut.

3. Less food allergies.

4. Improved immune system.

5. Gluten Free and Dairy Free.

6. Kefir grains are good for dog and cat digestion, too. My pug gets my extra Kefir grains. His old gut needs the boost and help. Definitely less stinky gas from him and that is a very good thing. The cats could really care less, but sometimes they surprise me by eating them.

Top Left: Some of my Kefir equipment. Top Right: Ingredients and equipment. Bottom Left: Dissolving raw sugar in heated water. Bottom Right: Straining the Kefir water to remove the Kefir grains.

Top Left: Some of my Kefir equipment. Top Right: Ingredients and equipment. Bottom Left: Dissolving raw sugar in heated water. Bottom Right: Straining the Kefir water to remove the Kefir grains.

Here is my method and favorite juice additions.

1. Heat dechlorinated water to just under boiling. Add 1/2 cup hot water and 1/4 cup raw, organic sugar to a 1 quart Mason jar. Dissolve sugar.

2. Add dechlorinated water to Mason jar. Fill it to just under the threaded top part of the jar.

3. Add 3 tablespoons active, hydrated Kefir grains.

4. Cover with an unbleached paper coffee filter and screw on just the lid portion of the Mason jar.

5. Leave on counter for 24-30 hours for first fermentation.

After first fermentation,

6. Strain Kefir grains from water. Save grains to start next batch of Kefir water.

7. Add 1/2 cup of organic juice to bottle.

8. Pour in strained Kefir water.

9. Close bottle and let mixture ferment for a second time at least 24 hours on the counter top.

After second fermentation,

10. Enjoy your flavored Kefir water.

or, 11. Place in fridge for enjoyment another time.

Favorite Additions:

Pomegranate Juice (This is the clear favorite right now. Very bubbly. Great tart taste.)

Fresh Orange Juice

Lemon Juice

Grape Juice

Tart Cherry Juice

*I found that strong juice flavors work best for my kids and family.

 

 

Go To Breakfast: Egg Muffins

Mornings are not the best time of day in my house. Getting three boys up and out of bed by 6:20 a.m. is no easy feat. And, it’s not just them. I can be grumpy and am known to hit snooze too many times.

See. This is what I have to deal with Monday through Friday. Cuteness. But, waking up the youngest Green boy is like poking a bear during hibernation. He should come with a warning sign.

See. This is what I have to deal with Monday through Friday. Cuteness. But, waking up the youngest Green boy is like poking a bear during hibernation. He should come with a warning sign.

But, mostly it is them… excuse my #mom0f3boys rant <deep breath in> They eat a ton of food. I mean lots. I have friends with girls and my grocery budget is about triple theirs. I am also certain that they have hollow legs that must be filled with food before it even begins to affect their stomachs. Don’t even get me started on 11 year old boys. Ravenous pit monsters when it comes to eating. <and, exhale>

To make the most of the rushed mornings, I have taken my favorite breakfast food — EGGS— and made them into easy to grab, three-bite, filling, protein-packed sanity. Hence, my hybrid Egg Muffin Cups recipe. 

Spinach and ham egg muffins with 1/2 an avocado. A great breakfast.

Spinach and ham egg muffins with 1/2 an avocado. A great breakfast.

This recipe is a great one because it can be altered easily depending upon leftovers and picky eaters. Treat them like mini-omelettes. Make them vegetarian. Make them a meat-lover’s dream. Then store them in the fridge for a week and grab one on rushed mornings, on the way to the box, as a midday snack, or to fill up the bellies legs of hungry boys.

egg muffins collage

Remember that protein and vegetables are what kids and adults need in the morning to jump start their brains, metabolism, and body systems. These Egg Muffin Cups are the perfect solution.

Use the recipe below, but be creative when it comes to the ingredients… Our favorite additions are kale, onions, bacon/sausage, and gouda cheese.

egg muffin cups recipe

What do garlic and sunshine have in common?

How are you preventing the flu and other common colds & viruses this season?

I know what I am doing… and it does not include any flu vaccinations. The one and only time I got the flu vaccine was my first year as a public school teacher. And guess what? Yep, I got the flu. Have I mentioned that I do not like to puke –at any cost. So, suffering through the flu after getting the vaccine was not cool.

The flu vaccine from 2012 only prevented strains from Influenza Type A & B. This only represents a small number of circulating viruses – about 10%. I am not a statistics major by any means but this low percentage doesn’t add up for me. With this low percentage, there is not a huge value to the public. It does not greatly impact the number of people hospitalized by the flu or lower the number of work days lost to the flu. Just research the adverse effects of the Tamiflu.  Dr. Mercola states, “However, some patients with influenza are at increased risk for secondary bacterial infections when on Tamiflu, which of course would defeat the plan of being able to jump out of bed a day sooner. Furthermore, adverse events reported include pediatric deaths, serious skin reactions, and neuropsychiatric events, including suicide committed while delirious…” Yikes! The most important lesson here is to do your research and carefully weight the risks and benefits from any vaccination or medication.

After weighing the risks and benefits for my family and I, clean eating and essential vitamins/minerals are the way we will avoid the flu and other colds this year.

Here are some easy things you can do at home to avoid the flu:

  1. GARLIC. Yes, garlic! Several compounds in garlic are known to kill many organisms, such as bacteria and viruses. Taking garlic daily for 3 months will seriously reduce the number of colds and shorten the duration of any colds you may end up experiencing. Check out this recipe for a garlic clove soup guaranteed to knock out any viruses or bacteria in your body
  2. Cut back on grains and sugar. Both of these will cause systemic inflammation in your body and lower your immune response. Bad bacteria feed on sugar, too. Replace these with fresh vegetables and fruits! These contain vital nutrients to have your body working at 100%.
  3. Get more sleep. 7-8 hours every night! Lack of sleep will also adversely affect your immune system. Maybe the universe is smarter than us… more hours of dark = more hours to sleep, hmmm?
  4. Get more exercise. I can personally attest to this fact. Staying active with 3 boys and CrossFitting on a regular basis keep me energized and healthy.
  5. Lessen emotional stress. This is the hardest for most with the Holiday season quickly approaching next week. But, saying “No” is freeing and allows you to lower this stress. Make it a point to surround yourself with those that truly appreciate your mind, gifts, and talents. Oh, and LOVE more. Oxytocin, the love hormone, is great for releasing emotional stress. It is also contagious, so spread the love and oxytocin.
  6. Drink more WATER! Good, pure water. Not water made into tea or coffee. Drink at least 1/2 your body weight in ounces every day. Sounds like a bunch, but you will notice a difference in toxin release, energy, and skin appearance.
  7. Vitamin D3. New research comes out almost daily about the value of Vitamin D in our health. As these nights grow longer and our chance to get good sun exposure disappears during Winter, it is important that we keep our levels up.  Vitamin D is an antimicrobial agent. It helps produce up to 300 antimicrobial peptides in your body that can help kill off bacteria, viruses, and fungi. If there is a sunny, cloudless day and you can expose large portions of your body, DO IT! The real stuff is the best. The real stuff comes from the sun. If this is not an option, you should seriously consider supplementing. Most adults can safely take up to 8,000 IUs per day of Vitamin D3. Children can safely take up to 35 IUs per pound of body weight per day. Supplementation of Vitamin D3 means that you need to also supplement Vitamin K2. This vitamin is necessary to help process the Vitamin D and create healthy bones and heart. For every 1,000 IUs of Vitamin D3, you should take 100 micrograms of Vitamin K2. We are all individuals and our levels will be different. If you are unsure of your Vitamin D levels, you can submit to a blood test to determine these levels. Ask your care provider or order a Vitamin D testing kit online.
  8. Get adjusted! Chiropractic care is important to the central nervous system health. Chiropractors are experts in realigning the bones in your vertebral column to reduce any spinal nerve interruption. These misalignments are called subluxations. Healthy spine equates to a healthy body. If you are local, make an appointment to see the hubby at Atlantic Coast Chiropractic. If you are not local, visit his website at http://www.vbchiro.com for articles and more information on how Chiropractic can help you and your family.

Stay Healthy this Winter!

Even old pugs know the value of Vitamin D uptake!!

Even old pugs know the value of Vitamin D uptake!!

31 Days of Beach Living: Day 17 Simple Spaghetti Squash

31days day 17

Yep, simple spaghetti squash! Really only four steps and you will be eating a Clean alternative to pasta.

spaghetti squash

Step One: Prepare your squash.

Wash off your squash with a good fruit & veggie wash. Rinse well. Pat dry with towel. Pierce skin with a knife in several places.

Step Two:  Cook your squash.

Place entire squash — do not cut in 1/2— onto a rimmed baking sheet. Cook at 375°F for 1 hour 30 minutes. Flip it over 1/2 through cooking time to ensure it cooks throughly. Cooking is done when you can easily pierce with a knife.

Step Three: Turn your cooked squash into a veggie noodle.

Cut your slightly cooled squash in half lengthwise. Scoop/scrape out seeds & discard. Use a fork to shred the squash. This part takes the least bit of effort. It usually just falls apart into noodle-like strands.

spaghetti squash 2

Step Four: Eat your squash.

Place squash noodles on a plate or in a bowl and top with your favorite sauce. I prefer mine with a yummy basil spaghetti sauce and ground turkey meatballs.

Oh, forgot about Step Five. This step only pertains to those with kids.

Bribe children to try these “extra yummy super delicious” noodles with homemade chocolate chip cookies.

31 Days of Beach Living: Day 15 Living with C.D.S.

31days day 15

C.D.S. is a very serious affliction. It affects moms worldwide daily about 10 minutes before the school bus arrives. It makes us cranky. It makes us wish that the bus wouldn’t be so punctual. It makes us pine for an I.V. of Sumatran Roasted brewed deliciousness. And, even in our fatigue-induced delirium want Earl Grey…

—-COFFEE DEFICIENCY SYNDROME—-

Yep, I suffer from it most days. Especially today. 

I even opened the fridge to see if there was any iced coffee… There was but not enough to fill up my reusable Starbucks cold cup. The bus was due in less than five minutes. Not even enough time to brew a fresh pot. Bummer.

What to do?

1. Take ten minutes in the kitchen to whip up one of my favorite home made coffee add-ins, e.g. pumpkin spice or coconut cream.

-OR-

2. Take two boys in the car to buy a coffee, and thus have to bribe them with a doughnut or cookie to get them into said car. And, run the risk that I might buy myself a treat and lose bonus points in my Clean-Eating Challenge. 

Option #1 is the clear winner. Dragging my boys anywhere in the car immediately after school lets out is torture. Plain and simple torture. Pretty sure its against all Geneva Convention Regulations.

I got my pumpkin spice cream recipe from my good friend Gabrielle over at I Get It From My Mamma Blog. Her recipe is made from scratch— pumpkin roasting and all. I, in all my greatest wisdom, decided today was not the day to roast a pumpkin. No patience. Hence the change to the recipe with organic canned pumpkin puree. I highly recommend organic when using canned pumpkin. The taste difference is noticeable. I also replace the warm water with almond milk or coconut milk. I like the creaminess the two other options offer. I also just use a pumpkin pie spice blend. It makes me nostalgic and remember baking during the Holidays with my mom.

Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer Recipe:

1 can organic pumpkin puree

1/2 cup coconut/almond milk (unsweetened)

2 tbsp Grade B Organic Maple Syrup

1 tbsp pure vanilla extract

2-3 tsp pumpkin pie spice mix

Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl and beat until smooth with a wire whisk. Place creamer into a glass mason jar to store in the refrigerator. Use within 1-2 weeks. 

Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer

Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer

 

The coconut creamer was made out of necessity during a strict-Paleo challenge back in January. I searched many recipes, blogs, and Pinterest pins to find a recipe and ended up using those ideas as starting point.

Clean-Eating Coconut Coffee Creamer Recipe:

1 can coconut cream (or full fat coconut milk)

1 large farm fresh egg, raw

2 tbsp coconut oil, melted and slightly cooled

2 tbsp pure vanilla extract

Place all ingredients into your Vitamix (or high speed food processor). Combine until smooth. Place creamer into a glass mason jar and store in the refrigerator. Use within 1 week. This creamer may leave an oil layer on top of your coffee. If this bothers you, just stir to reincorporate or drink faster:)

Coconut Coffee Creamer. And, yes that egg is raw, so it if grosses you out use the pumpkin recipe.

Coconut Coffee Creamer. And, yes that egg is raw, so it if grosses you out use the pumpkin recipe.

 

I quickly whipped up both creamers while a 1/2 pot of coffee was brewing. I chose the coconut creamer for the first cup. Best decision of the day, besides the hamburger with my husband for lunch.

Sweet nectar of the gods... coffee!

Sweet nectar of the gods… coffee!

31 Days of Beach Living: Day 12 Rethink Comfort Food

31days day 12

Oh, how I love thee comfort food! Especially on overcast, chilly Fall days. Clean-Eating makes this harder to enjoy without guilt, losing Challenge points or stomach issues the next morning. So, I have to “rethink” my comfort foods. I love cooking challenges and this was just the sort of double dog dare I needed this past Sunday.

I was craving Italian. I needed wanted lasagna.

What I needed to accomplish with this Clean-Eating comfort food staple:

1. No pasta/lasagna noodles

2. Pack it with fresh veggies

3. Add lots of yummy, savory meat

Here is what I created… I hope everyone enjoys! 

lasagna recipe 2

This is the perfect left-over lunch. It gets better overnight.

noodle-less lasagna

31 Days of Beach Living: Day 8 DIY Healthy Trail Mix

31days day 8

 

Healthy go-to snacks are very important in our busy life. I don’t know about the rest of you moms (and midwifery students), but I am in the car a good part of the week. The clients I serve with Seven Cities Midwifery Care are spread about the Hampton Roads Are (include 7+ cities) that equals to much time in the car. I try to follow a Clean Eating lifestyle <I readily admit to a cheesecake obsession> hence my desire to have a yummy healthy trail mix.

I only use raw nuts, dark chocolate and unsweetened, un-sulfured dried fruits in my mix. Here are some of the benefits of raw nuts, dark chocolate and coconut.

NUTS

-decreased body mass index & waist circumference

-lower systolic blood pressure

-lower weight

-lower chance of the following risk factors for Metabolic Syndrome: abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, high fasting glucose & a lower prevalence of Metabolic Syndrome (nut & tree nut consumers)

-contain the amino acid I-arginine (a key nutrient in promoting efficient blood flow & overall cardiovascular function)

Almonds: the skins are rich in antioxidants including phenols, flavonoids, & phenolic acid

Walnuts: plant-based omega-3 fats, natural phytosterols and antioxidants

Pecans: 19+ minerals and vitamins

Brazil Nuts: source of organic selenium

Dark Chocolate

-can improve glucose metabolism

-can improve blood pressure

-rich in flavonols

Coconut

-highly nutritious

-rich in fiber, vitamins & minerals

Trail mix 1

Ingredients:

1lb. raw almonds, 1lb. raw cashews, 8oz. dried cranberries, 8oz. dried pineapple, 8oz. dried mango, 1c dark chocolate chips, and 2oz. dried/roasted coconut strips

1. Place the nuts into a large mixing bowl.

2. Use kitchen shears to cut the dried pineapple and mango into bite size pieces.

3. Place the coconut, cranberries and chocolate chips into the bowl.

4. Mix it up and portion it out into glass containers or BPA-free plastic storage bowls.

trail mix 2

Once I have it portioned out, I place it about the house in small pint mason jars. I even have a jar in the car for quick snacks.

trailmix 3

I keep it on the desk while blogging, too! Yummy healthy trail mix on the go.

trail mix 4