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!

43 Surprising Everyday Uses for Whey That Will Blow Your Mind

I’ve been taking cooking classes with the Traditional Cooking School by Gnowfglins. So, along with delicious sourdough, I’m making my own cheese and yogurt, which leaves me with wonderful liquid whey, as seen below. Isn’t it gorgeous? So today, I looked for things to do with this liquid gold, as I now have 3 quarts.

I wanted something besides adding it to baked goods, bread or smoothies. I wanted unique ideas such as LIQUID WHEY PIE, GJETOST/MYSOST (Sweet cheese), or LACTO-FERMENTED APPLE SAUCE. This article contains the usual suggestions, such as soaking, baking and fermenting, but it also contains some unique ideas as well. I hope you enjoy this article I’m sharing with you today. I’ve got my eye on the Mysost cheese recipe. I’ll let you know if I make it!

The Wellness Mindset ~ Recipes: Creamy Cilantro Avocado Dressing

Today, on my main blog, I discussed the benefits of 1 daily avocado in relation to dementia prevention. So, I thought it only right to include at least one avocado recipe here.

I love avocado, but my better half does not. I’d like to try and incorporate this healthy fruit into our daily diet, but I’ll have to get creative. Why do I want to incorporate it? There are many proven health benefits. Each day this week, I’ll list 2 different health benefits AND, post a video, showcasing a different way to use this amazing plant.

Health Benefits of avocados (1)

  • AIDS IN WEIGHT LOSS
    • Keeps you full longer
    • Eat fewer calories
  • MORE POTASSIUM THAN BANANAS
    • most people don’t get nearly enough potassium and many may be deficient. Avocados are high in potassium, which helps maintain healthy blood pressure.

Source:

  1. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/12-proven-benefits-of-avocado

Until next time, Namaste my friends.

Tamara

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!

5 Fermented Food Recipes to Improve Gut (& brain) Health

Did you know that a 80% of the immune system is in the gut? Did you also know that most neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and melatonin largely made in the gut? Scientific research now proves a direct link between gut health and brain health. When the gut is healthy, the brain is healthy…and vice versa! We now know that the key to a healthy gut is a healthy microbiome. How do we get a healthy microbiome? It really is quite simple, and delicious. Eliminate sugar and processed foods. Then eat a plant-based whole food diet which includes homemade fermented foods, that are teaming with healthy probiotic bacteria.

Below, I’ve listed links to 5 simple fermented food recipes. You may need to get culture starter. Here are some sources:

The Importance of Probiotic Foods & The Top 10 to Choose ...

Ginger Orange Fermented Beets

From: Body Ecology

Fermented Vegetables

From: DIY Natural

Red Cabbage Sauerkraut

From: Fermentation Recipes

Coconut Water Kefir

From: Real Life of Pie

FULL RES KEFIR WATER-Photographer Jordan Pie-3 (1).jpg

Fermented Berries

From: Oh Lardy

Lacto-fermenting fruit - Oh Lardy

Until next time, Namaste my friends.

Tamara

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/

10 One-Pot Dinners for When You Don’t Feel Like Doing the Dishes

I HATE doing dishes!! If you’re like me, there’s nothing better or easier than a one dish dinner. The article below lists 10 dinners made in ONE POT! YEAH!

Quotes About Washing Dishes. QuotesGram

Dirty dishes are generally unavoidable when you’re cooking, but there is no rule that says you can’t use fewer dishes when life calls for it. And I would say life most definitely calls for it right now.”

FOLLOW THE LINK BELOW FOR THE MAIN ARTICLE

www.thekitchn.com/one-pot-dinners-267642

Kale quinoa salad

Here is a healthy and colorful addition to your meal prep arsenal!

Follow the link below for the recipe:

feedproxy.google.com/~r/ACoupleCooks/~3/QaacpEWgyvc/

The Wellness Mindset ~ Recipes: 10 Family Friendly Recipes to Cook Together

As my boys were growing up, there was one special requirement…they had to learn to cook. I didn’t want them going out into the world living on frozen pizza, cold cereal and ramen noodles. While my younger son loved cooking, my older son hated it. Oddly, now that the latter is out on his own, he has taken a liking to cooking and does so regularly, with a special talent for developing sauces. I’d like to think our time together in the kitchen had something to do with that and laid the foundation.

I have many fond memories of spending time in the kitchen with my boys, helping my older son develop special desserts and taking online cooking classes with my younger son. Food is central to so much of our society, our holidays and our family lives. However, so often, on person alone is responsible for the preparation. It doesn’t have to be that way. Preparing food together, as a family, can be just as meaningful as eating it, maybe more so. Today, I have 10 recipes that work well in family preparation. I hope this inspires you to spend some time in the kitchen with the ones you love.

Easy Meatball Subs

From: She Knows

Black Bean Tostada Bowl Salad

From: She Knows

Pizza Muffins

From: Pure Wow

Easy Cherry Skillet Cake

From: Pure Wow
Easy Cherry Skillet Cake

Paleo Chicken Burgers

From: Perchance to Cook
Family-Friendly Recipes to Cook Together

Easy Healthy Baked Lemon Chicken

From: Creme de la Crumb

Old Fashioned Popcorn Balls

From: Cooking Light

Apple Dumplings

From: Food52

Creamy Vegan Roasted Red Pepper Pasta

From: Choosing chia

Vegan Sun butter cookies

From: Bites of Wellness

Until next time, Namaste my friends.

The healing benefits of broth with 2 recipes (vegan option)

The last couple of weeks I’ve been talking about ways to prevent illness by boosting the immune system with natural foods such as camu camu, elderberry or oil of oregano. Well, what happens if you’ve done everything you can to prevent it, but you still get sick? You, or someone you love, can make some bone broth of course.

NOTE: If you are a vegan or vegetarian, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered! I have an extra special vegetable broth recipe for you so no worries!

bone-broth-isnt-just-broth-and-isnt-just-soup-its-concentrated-healting-kellianne-petrucci

So, let’s talk about bone broth. Using bones to make broth has become rather trendy, but it’s not a new concept by any means. In fact, this is something that has been done since prehistoric times, when no part of the animal was wasted (2). In Chinese medicine, which dates back more than 2500 years, bone broth is used to improve the health of the digestive system,  bones, and kidneys (1). Chicken soup was used in 12th century Egypt for colds and asthma. (1)

Bone broth is incredibly healthy. In fact, when I talk about food as medicine, bone broth is right up there on the list of things you should be eating. Our prehistoric ancestors knew what they were doing. Let’s take a look at just why it’s so healthy. Here are 18 benefits, according to an article published by louisehay.com.

  1. Immunity boost-due to the amino acid content, such as arginine, glutamine, and cysteine.
  2. Relieves the common cold & Bronchitis– A study published in The Journal of the American College of Chest Physicians, studied the affect of chicken soup (chicken bone broth) on the common cold. Researchers found that chicken soup, did indeed alleviate symptoms, including clearing mucus, open respiratory pathways and provide easy-to-digest nutrition
  3. Diminish inflammation-The amino acid content, for example cystine, histidine, and glycine, reduce inflammation, while L-glutamine reduces gut inflammation. Studies indicate the anti-inflammatory affect of bone broth may be the reason behind helpfulness in relation to the common cold.
  4. Strong bones and teeth-What do you need to build bones and teeth? If you said calcium, you are only partially correct. In order to adequately build bone, the human body requires the following nutrients: calcium, protein, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin D, potassium, zinc, manganese, copper, boron, iron, vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, and the B vitamins. Bone broth, made with meat and vegetables, is a good source of ALL of these vitamins
  5. Weight loss-There are 2 aspects to the benefits of bone broth on weight loss. 1) many overweight people have what’s called Dysbiosis, or an imbalance in gut bacteria. Bone broth has high levels of the amino acid L-glutamine, which relieves inflammation, rebuilds gut lining and balances the gut bacteria. 2) Studies show that eating soup or drinking bone broth before meals reduces caloric intake during the next meal.
  6. Better Hydration-If you are dehydrated, drinking bone broth is an excellent way to rehydrate. Bone broth, with vegetables, has high levels of electrolytes and carbohydrates.
  7. Improve exercise capacity-Some studies show that liquids with electrolytes and carbohydrates outperform water in restorative capacity. Bone broth, a much healthier alternative than Gatorade, contains  these qualities.
  8. Build muscle-Once again, the all important amino acids come into play. The amino acid content of bone broth stimulates “muscle protein synthesis”.
  9. Improved mood-The digestive system is sometimes called “The Second Brain”. Your gut and your brain are, invariably, linked. What affects one affects the other. When gut bacteria, aka micro-biome, become imbalanced, this influences your brain. When the micro-biome is healthy, the brain receives “happy” signals from the brain. The opposite is also true. Neuroscientists are now studying the treatment of mood disorders, such as depression,  by managing the micro-biome.
  10. Gelatin-No, I’m not talking about Jell-o, which is filled with chemicals! Actually, Jell-o comes from gelatin made, most likely, from pigskin, but can be made from any other type of bone. (3) The gelatin I’m talking about, is gelatin in it’s pure form. Have you ever made soup, and taken it out of the fridge to find that the broth has turned into a “jelly” like substance? That is what good bone broth is supposed to do. The prevalence of degenerative and inflammatory disease in our society could be corrected with gelatin rich foods, such as bone broth. Here are 9 additional benefits of the gelatin contained within bone-broth.
  • Stronger, healthier nails
  • Anti-aging
  • Anti-tumor
  • Arthritis and joint-pain relief
  • Cell-protecting
  • Can alleviate diabetes and lower blood sugar; supports insulin regulation
  • Can improve sleep
  • Helps regulate bleeding
  • Helps normalize stomach acid

For the full article: 18 Amazing Health Benefits Of Bone Broth

Now that you know the benefits of bone broth, just how do you make it? Well it’s actually a very easy, though lengthy process.  However, I can assure you, it’s worth your time. Here’s a short video (:52) showing how to make beef bone broth. Don’t have beef bones? Don’t worry! The process is the same with other bones as well. Don’t be intimidated by bone broth! It is SOOOO easy! Really! The hardest part is waiting 2 days for it to be done!

Ingredients:

  • 4 pounds beef bones with marrow
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 medium onions, peel on, sliced in half lengthwise and quartered
  • 4 garlic cloves, peel on and smashed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 5-6 sprigs parsley
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 18-20 cups cold water

For the complete recipe go to: https://draxe.com/recipe/beef-bone-broth/

To learn more about the benefits of Bone Broth, take a look at the article from the Weston A Price Foundation called

Broth is Beautiful


For those vegans and vegetarians, I have

Rebecca Katz’s “Magic Mineral Broth” Recipe

This isn’t just any old vegetable broth recipe. In fact, this is more than just a broth. According to Rebecca, Magic Mineral Broth is packed with potassium and several trace minerals. Rebecca says in her cookbook Nourishing Life One Bite at a Time, that this broth alone could sustain you for quite some time. It’s a great alternative for people who may be too sick to eat solid food. It is very versatile and can be used as your base for any soup. In fact, I use this as a base for my bone broth. You could also simply add your bones to this recipe, which I have done in many cases.

So on with the recipe and I have a special surprise. Who better than to show you how to make this tremendous broth than Rebbecca Katz herself.? Here is a “how to” video, with Rebecca Katz, showing you how to prepare this wonderful, flavorful, healthy broth.

magicmineralbroth

Closing thoughts

You really can’t go wrong with bone broth and magic mineral broth. What can be easier than this process? I mean seriously, if you can chop veggies and boil water, you can make a delicious and nutritious broth that will be the envy of all your friends. In fact, why not bring them a jar of your homemade broth the next time they are under the weather?

Until next time…namaste my friends

Sources:

  1. https://www.barebonesbroth.com/blog/goodness-through-the-ages/
  2. http://blog.kettleandfire.com/the-surprising-history-behind-bone-broth/
  3. http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/j-ello.htm