Kooky Grape Kefir~ My recipe for Concord Grape Water Kefir

A Concord Grape Kefir recipe.

Hello, my name is Tamara Hoerner and I am a sodaholic. That’s why, about 18 months ago, in an effort to break my addiction, I decided to try making my own gut friendly soda, otherwise known as water kefir. I quickly discovered that this was the exact thing I needed get away from soda and get my body, and gut, back on track. It’s bubbly, like soda and best of all it cut my sugar cravings! It’s also a wonderful way to get reluctant family members to consume probiotics!

I stopped making water kefir at the beginning of 2020. We were preparing to sell our home and move across the country, from Virginia to Colorado. Now that I’m settled, I decided it was absolutely time to make some kefir again. I missed it. I mean what better way to get healthy probiotics into your gut than with homemade soda?

Kefir starter or kefir grains?

Back when I first started making kefir, I discovered 2 ways of making it. The first way is with active kefir grains, which can be purchased from Cultures for Health. These grains are a living microbiome that are mixed with prepared water to make it into kefir. The main benefit is the number of microbes. There can be as many as 30 or more different strains of microbes. These grains are similar to a sourdough starter, in that, you can make an infinite number of kefir batches with them, as long as you keep them alive, by feeding it sugar water on a regular basis. These grains grow and can be “gifted” to others, just like a sourdough starter. The fact that this microbiome must be maintained is also a negative, as many people don’t want to bother with it.

Another downside… water kefir grains only make water kefir. In order to make dairy kefir, you need an entirely different set of grains. This also means, if you want dairy kefir, you now have 2 microbiomes to maintain. Things can get really complicated if you also have a sourdough starter! It’s almost like having pets in the house! With that said, if you plan on making a lot of kefir, it might be worth the time and effort, as this microbiome is diverse and like a whole food.

The second way is with a kefir starter culture. This is a powder sold in packets that can be purchased from Body ecology. Once you’ve made one batch, you can make up to 6 more batches on a single packet, by adding kefir from a previous batch to the new batch. This type of kefir culture can contain from 7 to 9 different strains of microbes. The starter is also a wonderful way for beginners to get their feet wet with kefir. It’s super easy to use and there’s no grains to maintain. You can also use this same starter culture to make dairy kefir. I find this to be a huge bonus. While this starter definitely has its perks, the microbiome is more processed and less diverse than the grains.

Combining 2 methods into one kooky recipe

My investigations into the 2 types of kefir starter also included 2 different methods of making this healthy beverage. The first one I stumbled upon was when I took some classes with the Traditional Cooking School by Gnowfglins. (TCS) This recipe is a 2 stage process using clean filtered water, sugar, kefir grains and an egg shell (for added minerals. The bugs love minerals). The first stage ferments the kefir for 3-5 days. During the second stage, juice is added for “flavor” and to further ferment the kefir, along with aiding in the creation of carbonation. The second one, from Body Ecology, using the powdered kefir starter, is a simple one step process that uses pure, fresh coconut water and the kefir starter to make Coconut Water Kefir.

For my recipe, I decided to combine these two methods. I call it Kooky Kefir because it was kind of an accidental kefir that actually turned out phenomenal. I used 1/2 clean filtered water and 1/2 coconut water. I opted for the kefir starter over the grains. This was mainly because I had the starter on hand, and didn’t want to wait for the grains to arrive in the mail, plus go through the activation process. I normally like to use sucanat for the sugar, but again, didn’t have any on hand. So, I decided to use regular organic cane sugar. I also added the egg shell. I mean, why not? During the second phase, I added organic concord grape juice from Kedem.

The “accidental” part came when I realized I had the wrong kind of coconut water. (thus the name Kooky Kefir) You see, coconut water kefir normally requires pure, fresh unpasteurized (raw) coconut water. Pasteurized coconut water won’t ferment properly (I’ve also used Harmless Harvest coconut water, which is unpasteurized.) Instead, I purchased Naked coconut water. I thought it was raw, but it turned out to be “lightly pasteurized.” Since I was using only 1/2 coconut water, and I was adding sugar, per the TCS recipe, I theorized it would still work, and it did. See for yourself in the video below!

So there’s my story into my Kooky Grape Kefir creation. Here’s the recipe and step by step instructions. Let me know if you try it or if you have any questions.

Concord Grape Kefir

  • Servings: Makes 5 1/2 quarts (45 - 4 ounce servings)
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A bubbly fermented beverage, reminiscent of grape soda, but healthy! This bubbly beverage is packed with probiotics!


Credit: Tamara Hoerner

Ingredients

  • 1/2 gallon clean, filtered water
  • 1/2 gallon coconut water (see recipe notes)
  • 3/4 cup sugar (preferably sucanat, but use what you have on hand)
  • 2 packets kefir starter culture (Body Ecology) OR active kefir grains (Cultures for Health) OR 1 cup from a previous batch of kefir
  • 1/2 of a clean egg shell (adds minerals to the water)
  • 48 ounces Organic Concord Grape Juice (I used Kedem Organic Grape Juice)
  • A 1 gallon glass jar
  • An instant read thermometer is helpful, but optional
  • 6 swing top glass bottles with rubber stoppers (optional-but these help create the fizz in the kefir. See recipe notes for more info)

Directions

  1. Put the sugar in the gallon jar and cover with about 1 cup boiling water. Stir until sugar is dissolved
  2. Add remaining water and coconut water to the jar and stir.
  3. Check the temperature of the water. It should be above 75 degrees but not hotter than 92 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer, test the water with your finger. It should feel warm, but not too hot.
  4. Add the kefir culture, whichever one you’re using. I recommend using a starter culture if you’re new to kefir making. If you’re a kefir making expert, use your active kefir grains or some kefir from a previous batch. Stir well, but gently, so as not too overly disturb your little bug friends.
  5. Drop in your egg shell, allowing it to fall to the bottom.
  6. Taste the liquid. This is so you’ll know how sweet it started out, which helps you determine when it’s done, later on.
  7. Cover with a cotton cloth held to the jar with a rubber band. set aside. Leave it alone for at least 3 days, then start tasting it. When most of the sweetness is gone, it’s done. My batch took about 5 days. The kefir can actually be consumed at this point. You can move it to swing top bottles and refrigerate OR move to phase 2!
  8. It’s time for PHASE 2. Put 1 cup (8 oz) of juice into each of the 6 swing top bottles, then fill to the shoulder of the bottle with your kefir. Seal the bottle and let set on the counter for 1-2 days. (If your using kefir grains, don’t forget to rescue them from the jar first!)
  9. After 24 hours, check for carbonation. You should be able to see bubbles forming on the top. You can also check by opening the seal of the bottle. CAREFULLY! If it’s to your liking, and some of the sweetness from the juice has diminished, it’s done. If you let it sit longer than 2 days, burp the bottles every 24 hours. TRUST ME ON THIS! I once had a bottle explode…rookie mistake that will never happen again.
  10. RECIPE NOTES:

    ~ This recipe can be made with all water or all coconut water or a combination like mine. If you use 100% coconut water, make sure you use fresh coconut water, or it won’t ferment. If you’d like to buy bottled coconut water, you MUST use an unpasteurized brand such as Harmless Harvest. Most other brands are pasteurized and won’t ferment.

    ~ If you don’t have swing top bottles, you can use 6 quart jars instead. The kefir won’t be as fizzy, but will still taste good.

    ~ I recommend storing the finished product in the fridge. The cold air tames the activity of the microbes. It will still be fizzy, but you don’t have to worry about bottles exploding.

    ~ After 2 days with juice added, the initial flavor will still be a bit sweet. Over time, the sweetness will dissipate as the microbes eat the sugar from the juice. The longer it sits, the less sweet it will be.

    ~ If 8 ounces of juice in each swing top bottle is too much, adjust the amount of juice to your liking. Just remember, the microbes will eventually eat all the sugar in the bottles, if left long enough. This is what creates the carbonation in the kefir. Your’e not going for the sweetness here as much as the flavor.


Closing thoughts

There are pros and cons to each type of kefir culture. For beginners, my recommendation is to use the kefir starter powder from Body Ecology. This will give you an idea on the process and help you decide if you even like kefir. Then, once you get the hang of it, you can get some grains and start your own microbiome at home.

Until next time… Bon Appetit! Namaste my friends!

20 LOST RECIPES FROM THE PIONEERS: WHAT THEY COOKED IN THEIR JOURNEY WESTWARD

Today’s post is quick, but very cool, at least to me. 😊 Below is a link to an article which highlights 20 actual pioneer recipes, which were used during their journey to begin a new life. You have everything from “mud apples” and “chuckwagon beans”, to “vinegar lemonade” and “dutch oven trout”. I hope you enjoy this little journey back in time.


Pioneer life was not easy and the daily chores of managing a house where more than a full time occupation.

Cooking was a major part of each day. Early settlers butchered their own meat and made corned beef, sausage, smoked and dried meats. Large gardens yielded produce for canning, pickling and other preserves. Root cellars stored potatoes, carrots, and onions. Milk was separated into cream for butter and baking and milk for drinking. Breads, cakes and pies were of course all baked at home from scratch from whatever was available…

For the full article and to see the 20 recipes,

follow this link!

6 Super Healthy Diabetic Friendly Recipes

Earlier today, on my main site, Purple Almond Wellness, I featured an article about managing blood sugar for diabetes. Here is a list of 6 super healthy diabetes friendly recipes to help do just that! Each recipe uses at least one of the foods on THIS LIST of diabetes friendly foods. In some cases, more than one food is in the recipe. ENJOY!

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Sardine and Lemongrass Salad

From: Saveur.com

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Spinach, Beef and Egg Hash

From: Saveur.com

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LIGHT BERRY FROZEN YOGURT

From: Sugar Free Mom

Broccoli with Parmesan and Walnuts

From: Martha Stewart

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Roasted Garlic and Butternut Squash Soup

From: The Hungry Hounds

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Raw Zucchini and Flaxseed Wraps

From: The Full Helping

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Healthy Probiotic “Soda”

Do you love soda? Are you addicted to it and can’t get enough? I am absolutely addicted to soda! I crave it. It is definitely my Achilles heal. I tell myself I can have just a little, just like an alcoholic would talk him/herself into a “small drink”. One small drink won’t hurt, right? Wrong! Sugar and corn syrup are as addictive as cocaine and heroin, maybe more so. We all know, in order to give up alcohol or drugs, there is no in between. The same goes for soda/sugar. I’ve given up soda dozens of time, for weeks, only to talk myself into “just a small glass. This turns into two, then three. Before you know it, I can’t make it through my day without a soda. The rest goes down hill, my diet, along with my weight and my health.



Well, no more! This time is the last time. That’s why this soda recipe is so important for me. It is changing my life. It tastes amazing! I use organic sour cherry juice concentrate. Tart cherries are amazing. They are known to tame inflammation. Tart cherries are scientifically proven to lesson inflammation and boost melatonin in the body. They are also high in melatonin, a super-hormone that plays many important roles in the body, not just for sleep! One thing you need to know is not to drink too much at once. I only drink it twice a day, with my lunch and dinner, as a tasty way to get my probiotics at each meal.

Here are links to two scientific articles researching the benefits of tart cherry juice:

I also use stevia extract (liquid), not pictured


This recipe for a healthy soda will build your microbiome instead of destroying it! The combination of organic juice concentrate, kefir, stevia and mineral water bring you sweetness, flavor and even the bubbles needed to imitate a tasty soda!

50 Immune Boosting Vegetarian Recipes And Foods

In my oh so humble opinion, you can NEVER have enough vegetable recipes!! A plant based diet is key to a healthy body and long life. Here’s are 50 vegetarian recipes from Veg Recipes from India!

1000+ images about Healthy Quotes on Pinterest | Fitspo ...

“In this critical time, it is essential to have food that your body needs. You can make a conscious decision to move into healthy eating habits and choices.

I am sharing vegetarian plant-based foods and recipes which I am personally going to focus on and prepare at home. I am not going to overboard as an excess of everything is not good. Balance is the key. But I would like to include more of these immune-boosting food in our diets than earlier.”

FOLLOW THE LINK BELOW FOR THE MAIN ARTICLE AND ACCESS TO THE 50 RECIPES

feedproxy.google.com/~r/vegrecipesofindia/~3/PPBMtsYb4M8/

Healthy Cooking 101: 5 Quick and Easy Meal Prep Ideas (With Infographics!)

We know meal prep is a good idea. It helps us eat healthy food and avoid prepackaged, processed food or worse, fast food. However, if you’re like me, you procrastinate, or don’t do it at all. After all, who wants to spend a weekend day cooking? I mean I like to cook, but, weekends are my time with my better half. So, I’ve searched the internet and come up with some super easy and quick ways to meal prep. My personal favorite are the mason jar soup cups. I think this is a brilliant idea!

How to Meal Prep Smoothies

Here’s a smoothie formula along with a video highlighting 3 ways to prep smoothies.
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Mason Jar Salads

Who needs to try an make a salad each morning or even the night before. Here’s an infographic for mason jar salads and one mason jar recipe video
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The Overnight Oats Builder

Overnight oats are a great way to meal prep breakfast. Below, you’ll see an infographic for overnight oats, along with 2 videos with a total of 7 recipes.
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Burrito Bowls

Everyone likes a good burrito bowl! Here is an infographic showing how to build your own, plus a recipe to get those creative juices flowing.

DIY Instant Soup Cups

I LOVE LOVE LOVE this idea! I think it’s brilliant. I created the infographic below based on the recipe video at the bottom of the page.
Once the cups are made, store them in the fridge until needed. If you add protein eat it within 2-3 days.
When you eat the cups, remove them from the fridge at least 10 minutes prior to consuming. This will prevent the cold jar from breaking when the water is added. When you’re ready, fill the jar with hot water and let it set until it’s heated through. At this point, eat it from the jar, or pour it into a bowl.
I haven’t yet tried my own soup cups. However, I will absolutely try them, because my better half loves soup!

Closing thoughts

These ideas are super quick to put together. You could throw some burrito bowl ingredients in the oven. While that’s cooking, you can make a few soup cups, a couple of jars of overnight oats, and throw together some smoothie packs. Then, put the burrito bowls together when they’re cooked. I estimate this would take 1-2 hours tops. Then you have up to a week of lunches prepped.

Until next time Namaste my friends!

Insomnia Fix ~ Recipes: 5 Tryptophan Rich Snack Recipes to Help you Sleep

Experts always tell you not to eat at night. However, when you have insomnia, you are willing to try anything. In my last Insomnia Fix article, posted yesterday, I recommended adding tryptophan rich foods into your diet. Why? Tryptophan is a precursor to melatonin. Everyone knows the sleepy effect a big Thanksgiving dinner has on our body. That’s due to the tryptophan rich foods in the dinner, such as sweet potato and turkey. Below is a chart from Dr. Axe, which details some of the top tryptophan rich foods.

PHOTO SOURCE

In today’s post, I’ve looked for recipes that use at least one of these foods. In some cases, more than one is used in the recipe. In most cases, you can add nuts or seeds to boost levels of melatonin. As a reminder here are some seeds/nuts rich melatonin.

  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • pumpkin seeds
  • sunflower seeds
  • flax seeds

Banana-Yogurt Smoothie

Know Your Produce

This couldn’t be easier! Some fresh or frozen banana and some yogurt, with a hint of vanilla extract. Add some almonds or almond butter for a dose of melatonin.

Sweet Potato Smoothie

Build Your Bite

With bananas, sweet potatoes and almond butter, this one is the perfect bedtime snack!

Banana-Nut Overnight Oats

Life Made Sweeter

Oatmeal at night? YES! It’s high in both melatonin and tryptophan! Using greek yogurt instead of milk and adding banana and nuts makes it a nighttime powerhouse! Make it your own, and an even better nighttime snack by adding melatonin rich seeds.
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Smoked Salmon and Dill Deviled Eggs

Taste of home

This recipe uses two tryptophan rich foods eggs and salmon. These make ahead treats are perfect for a quick snack. Sprinkle the tops with some finely chopped seeds for a boost of melatonin.

Chicken Muffins With Hidden Veggies 

Find Your Mom Tribe

With chicken and almond flour, these are wonderful
for a quick, make-ahead nighttime snack!

Until next time…namaste my friends!

Tamara