Category Archives: Recipes

Chocolate Zucchini Cake With Natural Yeast

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Chocolate Zucchini Fermented Cake

This amazing chocolate cake took a healthier twist by fermenting the flour and the chocolate.  Natural yeast helps make gluten more digestible.  I'm sure there are even better ways to make it healthier. <br> <br>You can add more or less zucchini. You could also sub in applesauce for some of the oil.

Course: Desserts

Cook Time: 50 min

Total Time: 50 min

Serves:

Ingredients

  • 12 cup Natural yeast starter
  • 12 cup water
  • 2 14 cup fresh finely ground wheat flour can be half wheat and half white flour
  • 12 cup cocoa powder
  • 12 cup honey raw
  • 34 cup raw sugar or more depending on sweetness
  • 12 cup olive oil or coconut oil
  • 12 cup butter softened or melted
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp Himalayan Salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 12 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups zucchini shredded
  • 1 cup chocolate chips or carob chips

Directions

  1. Put your natural yeast starter in a bowel with a lid. Add the water, flour, cocoa, honey, sugar, olive oil, and butter. Mix together. Put lid on bowl and set aside for 10 to 12 hours. More fermentation makes a stronger flavor and less fermentation is a less sour taste.
  2. After your cake is done fermenting you will now finish adding ingredients and bake your cake. I like to start this early in the morning and then bake it with dinner. You then get to eat nice warm cake that doesn't need frosting.
  3. Now preheat oven to 325 degrees after your batter has been fermenting.
  4. Grease a 9 by 13 inch baking pan. You don't need to dust with flour, just cover with butter or oil. It may not dump out of the pan to place on a separate platter.
  5. Beat your eggs and add them to the batter. Add your vanilla, and half the zucchini and mix in. Add the buttermilk and mix. Add your salt and baking soda and mix well. Add the remaining zucchini.
  6. Pour the batter into your greased pan. Add the chocolate chips all over the top.
  7. Bake in your preheated oven for 50 minutes. Remove when a tooth pick is nearly clean.
  8. It is wonderful served warm.

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Delicious and Healthier Carrot Cake, Gluten Free

This gluten free carrot cake is moist and so good you wont even know it is missing flour or half the sugar.  If you really want to use flour, I'll give you the conversion for that.  I was super excited at how well this turned out.  There are lots of recipes out there for people going gluten free and many just don't work for me.  But here is another recipe you might like as well that is gluten free.  On another post, I'll share with you how I don't think it is the gluten, but rather all the chemicals on wheat and other factors.

I didn't always love carrot cake.  In fact to my horror, carrot cake was used in my wedding cake (which I specifically requested it not to be) and I was not a happy camper as my new husband tried to feed me the traditional wedding bite.  Fun times.  In our family it seemed, carrot cake was a tradition.  And I never really liked eating carrot cake, it just never tasted good to me.  That may have been because my grandmother didn't make her special carrot cake.  For my wedding, I requested chocolate, white or red velvet cake (Mark's favorite).  My grandmother made the cake - a beautiful cake - and she make carrot cake for some of the layers including the top that the bride and groom cut and eat.  I had heard she was having lots of fits stacking the cake and I can see why - carrot cake just doesn't perform like other cake.  But amazingly she turned out a beautiful cake - with carrot cake.

As Mark stuffed a piece of carrot cake in my mouth that night 30 years ago, I was disappointed.  But, it wasn't as bad as I remembered.  I might have even liked it.  But I wasn't going to tell anyone.  I did give my mom a hard time about it.  She had her own ideas for my wedding and we joke about it.  A year later when I requested the frozen cake that the bride and groom save to eat on their anniversary, my mom informed me that since I didn't like carrot cake and she needed more freezer space, she and the kids ate the cake.

I tell this story to laugh at the great stories of our lives.  At the time, I might have been perhaps a little upset.  Today, with gratitude and love I have fun stories to tell and laugh about.  These are stores that bring joy and variety and lessons and are part of what makes us human.  

So I'll update this post with a picture of my wedding cake, when I get into my house again.  Currently we still live in temporary housing from a huge storm.

Since my wedding day, I've learned to love carrot cake, but it has to be made right.   My daughter doesn't like carrot cake.  She'll turn it down or just eat the cream cheese frosting.  In general she doesn't like frosting unless I make it (as all other are way too sweet.  I "made" her try a piece of the carrot cake.  Which she did just to get my cream cheese frosting.  She declared this is the only carrot cake she likes and actually really loves it.  The next day, she asked for another piece and it wasn't just for the frosting.  

I love to bake, but wheat these days doesn't love me, I end up gaining weight.  So it is best to avoid it until my body decides to not to react this way.  In the meantime, I look for gluten free options and experiment with alternate flours like coconut flour.  I make my family naturally fermented wheat products and try alternate recipes for me.  Sometimes I have massive failures, like 2 weeks ago, I called them scrambled crepes.  This carrot cake is not only a winner for me and those looking for gluten free options, it is a winner for everyone that loves a good carrot cake on the healthier side.

Optional - you can make this cake with fresh ground wheat flour or white flour or any optional flour out there.  You could even make it from a naturally fermented starter, you would just have to adjust your liquids and use less eggs.  Coconut flour needs the extra eggs.  

Delicious Coconut Flour Carrot Cake, Gluten Free

Prep time 1 hour, 30 minutes
Dietary Diabetic, Gluten Free
Meal type Breakfast, Dessert
Misc Serve Cold
This cake can be a breakfast cake with or without the frosting. You can even add some shredded zucchini if you like. It is moist and crumbly and delicious. If you would like to use regular flour here are the adjustments: skip coconut flour, use regular white or whole wheat flour and increase to 2 cups, decrease eggs to 3. You may. If you use a natural yeast starter, you can use 2 or more cups of starter, decrease eggs to 3, increase baking soda to 1 1/2 teaspoons and don't use baking powder. Don't use the juice of canned pineapple unless it is not moist enough.

Ingredients

Frosting

  • 1/2 cup butter (or less, softened)
  • 16oz cream cheese (softened)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup raw organic sugar (more or less for taste, you can also add stevia if desired)
  • 1 tablespoon milk (or possibly more)

Group 4

  • 2 cups carrots (grated)
  • 1 cup pineapple (I used fresh pineapple, that I)
  • 1 cup pecans (chopped)

Group 5

  • 1 cup coconut shreds (unsweetened)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Group 3

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt (we prefer Himalayan or sea salt)
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

Group 2

  • 2/3 cups coconut flour

Group 1

  • 1 1/4 cup applesauce or fat (You can use any or all applesauce, banana, coconut oil, olive oil, or butter)
  • 2/3 cups honey (or sweetener of choice)
  • 5 Large eggs

Directions

Cake
Step 1 Mix Group 1 ingredients together until smooth. Note: you can use anything for the fat/applesauce ingredient. When I made the cake in the picture, I blended 1 small apple with the peel and 1 medium banana with some olive oil in my vitamix until smooth and added coconut oil to make 1 1/4 cups. You can use all applesauce or all fat, but I would not use all banana as it will take over the flavor of the carrot cake. I wanted a little banana for sweetness. The apple and banana add sweetness so you can use less sugar. For the sweetener - I used 2/3 cup honey and my honey was very dark - so you get a darker cake. You could use raw organic sugar (use a little more as honey is sweeter but you might need a little extra liquid, little not a lot).
Step 2 Group 2 - add coconut flour to Group 1 and mix well. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes to hydrate the coconut flour.
Step 3 Mix Group 3 together and set aside.
Step 4 Prepare Group 4 ingredients.
Step 5 Now you are ready to mix the cake all together. Add group 3 ingredients to your coconut flour and egg mixture and stir in well. Then add Group 4 and 5 ingredients and mix well. Check your consistency. It should be thicker than a normal cake batter.
Step 6
Butter a 9 X 13 cake pan or put parchment paper on the pan. You can also use 2, 9" rounds. If you plan to stack the rounds I would definitely use parchment paper. Pour cake batter into your pan. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 35 to 45 minutes for the cake pan or 25 to 35 minutes for the 9" rounds.

This is a moist cake and with coconut flour it is more crumbly. It will not have the same texture as a cake made with wheat flour. But a tooth pick inserted into the cake should come out nearly clean. It will not spring like a regular cake either. Do not over cook.

Let it cool before serving.
Frosting
Step 7 Beat cream cheese and milk together. Beat in Butter and vanilla. Add powder sugar and/or stevia. Make it as sweet as you like. We used 1/4 cup raw organic sugar and 10 drops of stevia extract. The stevia makes the little bit of sugar sweeter so you can use less. You can even use all stevia or zylitol or another sweetener of your choice.

*Note: to get raw organic powdered sugar, just mix your granulated sugar in a blender like a vitamix until a powder. Be careful the air will have sugar dust when you open the lid.
Final
Step 8
Do not frost the cake until it is cool as it will smash and get crumbs everywhere. You will need to refrigerate this cake and frosting as there is not enough sugar or preservatives to keep it fresh. It is so moist that it will not last outside the fridge. The cake might for a day or 2 depending on room temperatures. Obviously I learned this the hard way cooking with very low amounts of sugar.

It is a crumbly cake - so use care when serving slices. But that is the nature of using coconut flour. It would be a challenge to stack the rounds but give it a try. Don't be afraid of coconut flour.

It is hard to go wrong on this cake. If you have a little more or less carrots, pineapple, nuts or coconut - it all works, those ingredients don't have to be super exact.

Note

This cake can be a breakfast cake with or without the frosting. You can even add some shredded zucchini if you like. It is moist and crumbly and delicious.

If you would like to use regular flour here are the adjustments: skip coconut flour, use regular white or whole wheat flour and increase to 2 cups, decrease eggs to 3. You may. If you use a natural yeast starter, you can use 2 or more cups of starter, decrease eggs to 3, increase baking soda to 1 1/2 teaspoons and don't use baking powder. Don't use the juice of canned pineapple unless it is not moist enough.

Healthy Breakfast Ideas and Hacks

Muesli Grant Cochrane at FreeDigitalPhotosDoes the idea of quick and easy, healthy breakfast ideas seem far fetched?

We have tips on this episode and ideas to help make your morning something you can look forward to and help fuel your body for the day ahead.  Most breakfast meals served are so far from a healthy meal and you can feel hungry just a couple of hours later.  With these easy breakfast hacks, you can start your day off right.

 

Breakfast can be healthy and nutritious and at the same affordable.  You also want something that tastes great and is easy for busy mornings.  But there are some times you will want to enjoy a larger brunch as well.

Check out this blog series I wrote on Breakfast ideas:  Part 1, The Importance of Breakfast and some good tips; Part 2, Some Basic Building Block of a Healthy Breakfast; and Part 3, 20 Breakfast Ideas and Recipes.

We used to be stuck in a rut of unhealthy breakfast cereals nearly every morning.  They are not that cheap and they are not healthy.  Usually, I found my kids were hungry within a couple of hours.  Our grocery budget went down when we stopped buying boxed cereal.  And have not purchased a box of cereal in over 10 years - yes we had kids living at home.  They have happily made the switch.

Listen in and we'll share our favorite, healthy, delicious and quick breakfast hacks.

An easy breakfast is just fruit.  Often when my kids were in a rush they ran out the door with fruit.  Sometimes fruit and a nut butter.  Fruit, it is the original fast food.

Kally and Mark compressedDo you have a favorite quick and easy, nutritious breakfast?  Share it below in the comments.

Mark and Kally on Your True Colours Image Radio Network

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Indigo Mountain:  Wellness, Toys & Gift

Photo credits:  dusky, Ambro, and Cochrane at Freedigitalphotos.net

Please note:  we are not diagnosing or prescribing, please consult your medical expert.

Stress Less This Season and Enjoy Some Delicious Herbal Tea

I've got two great radio programs to share with you and they are actually related, for me anyway.  When I sit and enjoy a delicious cup of herbal tea, I relax and unwind a bit and the stress melts away or at least I don't think about the things causing stress for a few minutes while I enjoy my tea.

Female Wearing Christmas Hat by imagerymajestic at Freedigitalphotos.netThe first show broadcast on October 22, 2014 - "Stress Less During the Holidays".

For many the holidays mean sickness, stress, depression and lots of busyness.  We've got 10 tips to help you stress less, so take a listen.

Fall kicks off the holiday season helping us transition to the busyness that can dominate this time of the year.  Fall is a time to let go and clear out the clutter and negativity.

If you find yourself dreading the whirlwind of the last quarter, then tune in with us and learn how you can make the most of fall and the holiday season.

One of my keys is from KISS - Keep IT Simple and Special for the holiday and all year really.  You don't have to be brilliant, super crafty, witty, or any other trait you see shared all over the media and internet.  You just need to be you, and you are special just as you are.  Share the good times and moments with those you care about.

If you want to read more about managing stress during the holidays, check out my article on Your True Colours Magazine, page 37.

Chinese Style Herbal Floral Tea by KEKO64The second show aired on November 5, 2014 - "All About Herbal Tea or Rather Herbal Infusions"

Personally, I love sipping on herbal infusion, especially as the weather cools down.  In fact as I'm updating the blog - I'm drink a nice warm cup write now.

Many people think they don’t like herbal tea/infusions, but they have probably not enjoyed a good cup.  Tune in and learn all about the traditions of tea, types of tea and how to get a good cup.  There is nothing I love more than visiting a friend in the afternoon and enjoying good conversation, relaxation and a delicious cup of herbal tea.

Find out which tea has more antioxidants than green tea, making it the super star of tea without caffeine..... I'll give you  a hint, it comes from South America.

And, by the way, herbal tea is really an herbal infusion.  Green tea is really green tea infusion.  Join us and find out why.

Kally and MarkMark and Kally on the Get Real! with Mark and Kally show on Your True Colours Image Radio.

 

Photos by imagerymajestic and KEKO64 at Freedigitalphotos.net

Super Delicious Light and Fluffy Zucchini Pancakes with Natural Yeast


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Naturally Fermented Zucchini Pancakes

cropped zucchini fritter 1

These turned out so light, fluffy, and delicious that I put butter on top and that was all I needed. Of course my daughter was helping, so we added a few chips. We all agreed - they didn't really need them.

I've been experimenting with naturally fermented yeast in making bread products. Not only are these healthy and gluten free, but they taste wonderfully and cook up nicely. If you have severe gluten challenges then make sure your oats are gluten free or use another grain to substitute.

I was looking for a way to use some extra starter so I didn't have to throw it out.

It has a lot of eggs because I was making more of a fritter than a bread product. But you can adjust them if you like. This does make a lot and they are filling. My daughter could only eat 1.

Source: Kally Efros

Course: Breakfast

Prep Time: 20 Min

Serves: 6

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup Natural yeast starter
  • 1/4 cup raw honey more or less as you like
  • 1/4 cup olive oil or coconut oil
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 banana very ripe
  • 1 apple large or 2 small
  • 1 1/2 cup zucchini shredded, you can even add more
  • 1 cup milk use nut milks or even water.
  • 2 cups rolled oats you will grind this in a blender
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats or more - this will be left flaked
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan Salt

You have 3 ingredients in your Pantry.

Directions

  1. No need to ferment this overnight as we are not adding in additional flour. You would only ferment if you want to ferment the oats, which you can.
  2. In a bowel add your natural yeast starter, raw honey, and olive oil. Mix together.
  3. In a blender bend up your eggs, milk, apple and banana. Add this to your natural yeast starter.
  4. Mix in the ground oats, the whole oat flakes, the zucchini, ground flax-seed, vanilla extract, baking soda, and salt.
  5. Let stand for about 10 minutes.
  6. Cook on a lightly greased griddle. Dough should be a little thicker than traditional pancakes, but not much. Add more or less liquid to get a good consistency.
  7. You can add some chocolate chips if you really like.
  8. Serve with just butter, a healthy syrup you have made, or applesauce. You don't want to cover these healthy goodies with junky syrup.

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Miracle Grains from Russia, What is Kefir? Easy Steps to Making Kefir

Just what is kefir? Kefir is said to have originated in the Caucasus Mountains in an area between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea and spread over the countries of Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia.  Kefir is considered a staple food in Russia and the reason for longevity.  When yogurt was introduced to America as a food that was extremely healthy, they had actually discovered kefir.  Kefir and what we use today as yogurt are two completely different things.  Even Greek yogurt is a different culture.  But they are all fermented foods which are extremely beneficial for you.  Kefir grains occur naturally.  Kefir grains were traditionally treated almost like part of the family.  The word kefir means “long life” or “good life”.

Kefir is a fermented milk drink made with kefir grains.  There are also water kefir grains.  Kefir grains are a combination of lactic acid, bacteria and yeasts and they resemble cauliflower. Kefir grains The exact nutrients of Kefir depends on your grains and the milk that was fermented.

I find kefir much easier to make than yogurt.  It is better for you than yogurt and has a much thinner consistency.  Kefir has a tangy flavor that increases with a longer fermentation.  It contains an enzyme that breaks down lactose, the sugar found in milk.  As a result kefir is easier to digest than other dairy products and can usually be tolerated by lactose-intolerant people.  It does not add sugar to the diet as the bacteria eats it.  

When making yogurt you have to watch the temperature and the time.  With kefir – it isn’t a key factor to the quality of your batch.  When the temperatures are warmer in the room you are fermenting – your kefir will turn much faster.  The longer it ferments the stronger it gets.  On a cold day, it can take 24 hours. 

I have had my kefir grains for years, a gift from my cousin.  They have been through a lot.  I got tired of making kefir so they stayed in the back of my fridge for four months and revived nicely.  You will find that making kefir is very easy and simple.

The benefits of Kefir are the beneficial bacteria or probiotics that gets introduced into the intestines and stay there.  These beneficial bacteria keep the intestines healthy, provide food for the friendly bacteria living in the gut, suppress the growth of harmful bacteria, supports the healing of ulcers and colitis, supports bone health and strengthens the immune system.  Kefir is a good source of protein, calcium, phosphorus, K2 and B vitamins.  Many people find relief from chronic constipation through regular consumption of kefir and it may even help with allergies and asthma.  It helps with cold, flu, acne, yeast infections, and even to treat diarrhea.  Some people report that they sleep better on kefir.  

The simple process of making Kefir

The instructions I'm providing apply to regular milk.  These do not apply to water kefir or nut milk.

Step 1 – get some kefir grains.  Find a friend, most are willing to share as kefir continues to grow with each batch providing a good supply of grains to share.  There are sources to purchase on the internet as well.  The powdered kefir starters do not last very long.  Kefir grains can last indefinitely with care.

Step 2 – The tools you will need:  A plastic colander, a bowl, wooden slotted spoon,  and a glass jar with a lid.  Don’t use metal utensils. 

Jar with milk and kefir grainsStep 3 – Put your new kefir grains into a clean glass jar and add milk.

The amount of milk to kefir grains can vary and is not exact.  When you first get your grains, you don't want to overwhelm them with too much milk.  Start with about 1 tablespoon of kefir grains to 1/2 cup of milk to start with.  Generally 2 heaping tablespoons of kefir grains to 2 cups milk.  You have to find what works for you as it is not exact.  

The more you make kefir, the more you will understand the flavor you like.  Too many grains and your kefir can ferment quickly which may be too strong a flavor.  Too little and your kefir may turn and not ferment properly.  I don’t notice a big difference when I have more grains, it just ferments more quickly.

Variables in temperature and milk quality can affect the process.  Do not fill your container more than 2/3 full.

What kind of milk do you use?  Raw cow, goat or even sheep milk makes a great kefir.  Pasteurized organic milk is better than regular milk.  Use 2% or even better - whole milk. Some people use nut milks, but it needs to be sweetened.  Look up specific instructions for alternate milks.  I used unsweetened almond milk once just not thinking and it soured – it didn’t ferment as there was no sugar to feed the grains.   Water kefir can be made from water kefir grains using a sweetener and a different process.

Kefir thrives on raw milk.  We've never had a problem ever with raw milk and I've been using it all my life.  If you want to read up on the facts of raw milk, check this site.

IMG_0347

Step 4 – Let it sit on your kitchen counter from 6 hours to 36 hours depending on the temperature.  The warmer your environment, the quicker it will ferment.  In Arizona summer and a home
at 76 degrees during the day - it takes 10 hours or less.  In our winters with a house at about 70 degrees during the day and 60 at night, it takes 24 hours.  The kefir will start to thicken slightly and will begin to taste a little sour like kefir and then you will know it is done.  The longer it ferments, the stronger the flavor.  The whey will eventually begin to separate from the kefir.  It is still good, just stronger tasting.   In the warmer months, the kefir sits on the counter all day, and in the evening I'll stick it in the fridge until the next morning when I'm ready to use it.

IMG_0338Step 5 – Strain the grains in the plastic colander.  Be gentle to your grains, they are a living organism.  They do not need to be rinsed – ever.  Just gently stir them with your wooden slotted spoon to separate the kefir from the kefir grains.  Metal is not good for your precious grains.

Step 6 – Wash your glass container that you ferment your kefir in.  I just rinse with warm water every other time I make kefir.

Step 7 – Using your slotted spoon, put your kefir grains gently back into the clean glass jar and repeat the process.

 

Questions and Tips

New grains:  When you get your kefir grains, they may be ‘stressed’ from traveling.  In most cases they are fine.  But you may not want to use the kefir from your first batch as it ‘heals’ and even the first two or three batches if the kefir traveled through the mail, long distances or was stressed for any reason. It won't be 'bad', it will just have a more 'yeasty' off taste.  If you obtained local kefir grains, you will probably be fine the first batch.

IMG_0342How much kefir should I consume?  Always start with small amounts, like one to two ounces and work your way to larger amounts.  Many people consume one to four cups a day several days a week.  If you are consuming a large amount, it is advisable to take a break after three weeks for a week.  It can be used medicinally in large amounts for a short period of time.  We use 1/2 to one cup daily unless we are working on an issue, then we'll consume more.  My kids get a little less.

What if I'm lactose intolerant?  Many people that are lactose intolerant happily enjoy milk kefir.  The yeasts and bacteria consume the lactose or the milk sugar for their food supply.  Very ripe (sour) kefir has the least amount of lactose.  Always start with a small amount.

Are you short on time?  You can repeat the process daily and have fresh kefir every day.  We change out our kefir about four times a week.  On the other mornings, I just stick the jar in the fridge.  We don't always have time to prepare the kefir daily.  It does just fine sitting in the fridge.  If I know I'll be gone or busy for a few days, I'll put fresh milk with the kefir grains and immediately stick the jar in the fridge.  It still ferments, just much slower.

I’m going on vacation, what do I do with my kefir?  I put my kefir grains in the jar and add milk.  Then I put the jar in the fridge.  Most people will tell you to change out the milk weekly.  But I have had the same milk in the jar for a month and my grains are just fine.  You may not want to consume the kefir after awhile as it may be very sour.

What if it looks or smells bad?  Dump that batch, reserving the grains and make a batch or two letting the grains heal.  In most cases your grains will recover.

Do the grains contain gluten?  There is no grain of any kind in the kefir grains.  They are simply called kefir grains.

Will I need to change or replace my kefir grains?  Your grains can last indefinitely as long as you take care of them.  Kefir can become overly 'yeasty' if not cared for.  This isn't bad yeast.  Kefir grains a combination of yeasts and bacteria.

Can I flavor my kefir or do I need to drink it plain?  Many people that like drinking buttermilk will drink plain kefir.  But I like to blend some fruit first and add the kefir with some stevia or raw honey for a nice beverage.  My kids will even drink this.  You can add kefir to your smoothies.  When I find myself with extra kefir I will use it to make buttermilk pancakes.  The heat from cooking may kill some of the nutritional benefits.  

Here are some of my favorite ways to use kefir:

  • Blend some fruit like strawberries with milk or water.  Add dates, sugar, or raw honey to sweeten.  Add in Chia, flax and/or hemp seeds.  Blend until smooth.  Then gently mix in the strained kefir.  Drink and enjoy.
  • We love raw muesli with raw oats, raw nuts and seeds, chopped fruit.  We top it off with some kefir and milk.
  • I'll take 1/2 cup kefir and about 1/4 cup or more of nut milk or raw milk and add 2 tablespoons of whole chia seeds, some chopped nuts or hemp seeds, ground flax, and or chopped fruit.  I'll sweeten with stevia or raw honey.  Let it sit for a few hours and the chia seeds will thicken the mix.  It makes a delicious snack or breakfast.
  • I love mixing kefir with a little nut or raw milk and flavored stevia like Root Beer Stevia or Vanilla Cream Stevia.  For my kids that don't like "sour" kefir - I'll do equal parts of kefir to nut or raw milk.
  • You can use kefir in pancakes or muffins.  You can substitute kefir for sour cream in recipes.

What do I do with the extra grains?  As your grains grow, a natural process, you can blend some of the grains into a smoothie, or give them away.  You don’t want to use too many grains as your kefir will ferment too quickly.

Kally I usually have kefir grains to share.  So if you are in need of some let me know.

What is your favorite way to use kefir in a drink?  Share your recipes.

Kally

Updated October 30, 2015

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Make Your Own Healthy Drinks at Home and Save Money

Lemon Juice
Lemon juice by dusky at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Experiment with these recipes and find more on your own. It will save you money, calories and will actually be better for you.  Once you start making healthy drinks, you wont want the commercial stuff as it just doesn't taste as good for feel as good to your body.  

Herbal Infusions

Many tell me it is hard to stay hydrated in the winter since they don’t want to drink water.  I love drinking herbal tea; warm all winter.  In the summer I drink it chilled.  But what I’m really drinking is an herbal infusion.  Check out this little overview of tea, mate, and infusions if you need a refresher.  I didn’t care for herbal ‘teas’ growing up as they were so ‘herby’ tasting.  But a wonderful friend of mine from Germany introduced me to herbal teas that tasted amazing.  America is catching on and we have some great combinations out there.  When we opened our store and I started buying the herbs in bulk, I couldn’t believe the flavor – fresh chamomile or peppermint makes a great tea and so different than some cheap prepackaged versions.  We have a wonderful line of herbal teas and mate.   You can make a whole pot of tea for the day and with a good mug it will even stay warm for hours.

 

Chamomile infusion
Chamomile tea by Marcus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I use about 1 teaspoon of herbs to 1 cup hot water and let steep for at least five minutes.  Sometimes I forget and it steeps for an hour.  This is generally okay – some herbs can get bitter after that long.  Steeping means to put your herbs into a tea bag or tea ball and pour hot water (hot, not boiling) over in your cup.  Cover with a plate or lid and let it sit.  I sweeten with stevia.  Many people use honey or drink it just as it is.  You can even add lemon or lime juice or a bit of milk.  Herbal infusions are enjoyed for flavor, for medicinal value, for relaxation or as a ritual 'tea time'.  When thinking about healthy drinks, you just can't pass up the benefits of herbal tea or infusions.

My favorites:

  • Green yerba mate and peppermint with chocolate stevia
  • Chamomile, Peppermint and Red Raspberry leaf
  • Rooibus
  • Dark Roast Mate Blend
  • Forever Fruit from Frontier
  • Chai and Indian Spice Tea

Here is a great recipe for making an herbal electrolyte tea.

Electrolyte Drinks

Electrolytes are important because they are how your body carries electrical impulses and are essential for everything like the heart and the nervous system.  Without them you can easily become dehydrated.  But many sports drinks also contain lots of sugar.  An electrolyte drink is basically salts.  Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Lemon Lime Healthy Electrolyte Drink

Ingredients

  • 1 lemon (juiced)
  • 1 lime (juiced)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Himalayan Salt
  • 4 cups Water (filtered is best)
  • Stevia (or sweetener of choice)

Directions

Step 1 Juice the lemon and the lime. Mix in your Himalayan Salt and add approximately 4 cups of filtered water. You may want more or less to suit your taste. Generally for me 1 good sized lemon is enough for 2 cups of water. If my lime is really small, I may use 2 limes.
Step 2 I like using stevia to sweeten my food. But you can use anything. If you use raw honey you may want to heat 1 cup of your water to melt your honey in before adding all the other ingredients. Real maple syrup is another excellent sweetener that is full of wonderful minerals. If you want to use sugar, then at least use raw sugar.
Step 3 Mix every thing together and enjoy. Remember fresh squeezed is best for nutritional value. For a variation you can add the juice of 2 or more oranges.

 Coconut water is naturally high in electrolytes.  If you don’t want just plain coconut water, blend it up with fruit like berries.

Lemon Ginger Zinger Healthy Drink

Ingredients

  • Ginger root (about 1" by 1" slice)
  • 1 lemon (juiced)
  • 1/8 teaspoon Himalayan Salt
  • 2 cups water (filtered)
  • sweetener of choice

Directions

Step 1 You can add more or less ginger to suit your taste. Ginger is a wonderful herb to use. Always use fresh ginger root. Take your piece of ginger and cut off the peel and slice into about 5 pieces. Put in a pot with 1 cup of your water and cover with a lid. Gently simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Do not boil. You can let it steep for an additional 10 minutes if you want.
Step 2 Strain out the ginger pieces and if you are using raw honey as your sweetener, add it to the warm water to mix in easier. Mix in your Himalayan salt, the additional cup of water and/or ice and stevia if using. Drink warm or chilled. If you drink it warm, then you can simmer the 2 cups of water with the ginger.
Step 3 Mint Variation - Lemon Ginger Mint Zinger
After simmering the ginger, add 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried mint leaves (or 2 to 4 teaspoons of fresh leaves) to the water with the ginger and let steep for 10 minutes. Continue with Step 2.
 

Himalayan Salt Sole

For a no frills basic electrolyte you can just mix some Himalayan salt into water and drink.  The citrus helps with the potassium but the Himalayan salt has 84 minerals.  There are many benefits of drinking Salt Sole.

To make the sole, which we keep in our kitchen all the time, you just take 3 large chunks of Himalayan salt and put into a glass jar with a lid about a pint in size.  Cover with filtered water and let sit for 24 hours.  As long as there is some salt in the jar, you have the perfect sole.  If your salt chunks dissolve, then add another one.  Take 1 teaspoon of this every morning straight up or in a glass of water.

I like to mix 1 teaspoon salt sole (that is the salty water from above) into 1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar with ½ cup water and 4 drops of stevia and drink.  This is my easy grab sports drink or how I start my morning.

Flavored Water

Some of you just don’t like to drink plain water.  Whether or not you like it, your body needs it! There are tons of ways you can enjoy your water.  One thing you might consider is that your water really doesn’t taste good and you may want to consider filtering your water.  We love our Nikken water system and all our customers think our regular tap water tastes pretty amazing once it is filtered to 0.02 microns clean (that means it is as clean as a kidney dialysis machine).  Send me an email if you would be interested in knowing more – it is actually affordable.

Carrot Juice
Carrot Juice by KEKO64 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Adding fruit to your water is an easy way to create a fun drink.  Think of frozen berries, slices of watermelon, cucumber slices, mint leaves, and more.  Here are some interesting recipes that you might not think of.  And here is another list of recipes you can try.

If you have the option of owning a juicer, fresh juices are a fantastic refreshing beverage that is much cheaper than buying the commercial version and so much healthier for you. 

It really doesn't take extra time to prepare beverages to drink.  You save a lot of money, get more value, save on calories and get a lot more nutrition. 

Coming up next in Part 4, I’ll share with you my favorite beverages.

What are your favorite recipes and drinks that you make at home?

Drink for your health!Kally Drink for your health

Kally

P.S.  I recently took a trip out of town for a week.  Guess what, no one made juice or any of the healthy drinks I normally do.  And, Mark could really feel it.  He was so excited for me to be home mixing up our healthy drinks.

Chocolate Almond Bites, Healthy Chocolate Desserts

I love playing around in the kitchen and creating yummy healthy chocolate desserts.  Yes the yellow rose pictured is from my garden.  I love roses.

Mark's big question was, "If we are avoiding chocolate how are you getting these chocolate treats?"  They are that good that he couldn't believe they were that good for you.

Sometimes I think we can have a false idea that if it is good for you, it can't taste good.  Part of that reason is our love affair with white processed sugar and white processed flour.  We have just moved away from healthy food Healthy Chocolate Almond Bites Thumbin our society.

You would have a hard time going wrong with this recipe.  Most of the time I make it, I don't measure.  It is a little of this and a little of that.  This weekend I made them again and instead of almond butter, I put raw almonds in my food processor and ground them up.  Then added the other ingredients plus some raisins.

The basics of making these are some dry ingredients and something to hold it together.  Nut butters and or dried fruit help with that.  I love using coconut oil because when chilled it is hard, but turns to a liquid during processing making it easy to mix.  Plus coconut oil is is a good healthy fat.  If you don't like almonds try cashew, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and so on.  Soak your nuts then process in your food processor.  If you use dates, soak them in warm water as it makes them easier to mix.  Save your 'date water' and use in a smoothie.  If you are not a chocolate fan,  just leave it out.

Have fun and enjoy.

Kally

Chocolate Almond Bites

Serves 30
Prep time 30 minutes
Dietary Diabetic, Gluten Free, Vegetarian
Meal type Dessert
Misc Child Friendly, Freezable, Pre-preparable
By author Kally Efros
This is a real easy basic recipe. It is raw and doesn't need to be cooked. It is healthy and gluten-free.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup coconut butter*
  • 6 dates, Medjoul (seedless)
  • 1/3 cup almond butter (or any nut butter of your choice, you can even use more coconut butter)
  • 1/3 cup cacao powder** (or more if you like it really chocolately)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup coconut shredds (unsweetened)
  • 1/4 cup cacao nibs
  • 1/4 cup coconut shredds (unsweetened to roll the chocolate balls in)
  • sweetener*** (see direction for options)

Directions

Step 1 Mix in a food processor your coconut butter until smooth. Add the dates and blend until dates are chopped. This will give you bites of dates in your dessert. If you want them to blend in, soak your dates for a few hours and then blend them until smooth. You can also chop the dates in the food processor first before the coconut butter and remove them. Add your chopped dates at the very end for chunkier dates in the dessert.

*Coconut butter is a wonderful product that you can make yourself in the food processor or high speed blender. Simply take 3 to 4 cups of dry shredded unsweetened coconut (do not use fresh) and mix in a food processor for 10 to 20 minutes or a high speed blender for 5 to 10 minutes. It will turn those coconut shreds into a butter and be smooth and creamy and very soft. The soft stage only lasts while it is still warm. By morning you will have a coconut brick unless it is hot. Coconut butter can be purchased and is used in a lot of desserts. I just like to eat it as is. Sometimes I make a quick dessert by mixing coconut butter, coconut oil, stevia and cacao powder. Done. Chocolate fix satisfied.
Step 2 Add in the almond butter and coconut oil and blend until smooth. Add your** cacao powder. Use more or less depending on your desired chocolate taste. Check it after adding the sweetener. I like to use a little carob powder or just carob powder. Carob is sweeter than cacao and helps the stevia to be sweeter. I will often do 1/3 cup cacao and 1/4 cup carob or something like that.
Step 3
Add your ***sweetener. Here is where you have options. You can just use stevia and sweeten to taste. You can use about 2 tablespoons of honey or agave, use about 3 to 4 tablespoons of coconut sugar or xylitol or a combination of sweeteners. I have made it many different ways and it always turns out.
Step 4 Add your 1/3 cup coconut shreds and if you like add other chopped nuts or dried fruit. It really is an easy mix to customize as you like.
Step 5
You want it to be a bit soft but not runny, something you can work with and roll into balls. Shape pieces into 1 to 1 1/2 inch balls and roll in the 1/4 cup coconut shreds. You can also roll in cacao powder or finely chopped nuts. Place on a plate and put in freezer to chill. Remove and put in a bag or container with a lid and keep in the fridge.
Healthy Chocolate Almond Treats
Step 6
Creamy Option: Whip some cream and gently mix into your chocolate mixture above. Then put into cupcake pan (silicon is easy as you can just pop them out then they are frozen) or use cupcake papers. Put in freezer to harden. When frozen keep in a plastic container in the freezer. Take one out for a frozen delicious chocolate treat.
Whipped Cream freezer Chocolate Treat

Note

You really can't go wrong with this.  Add more or less and different nuts, seeds, or dried fruit.

Chocolate Whipped Cream Frozen Dessert

The Good, The Bad, and the Tasteless of Beverages Part 2

Healthy drinks. What makes something good or bad for you? In other words, what makes a beverage supporting for your body or not?  There are many drinks on the market “claiming” to be healthy for you.  Are they really?  Can you trust the labels?  No.   Beside I can't even pronounce most of the words on some of these commercial beverages.  Why would I want to drink a chemical storm?

Now here is where it gets a little tricky.  Don't believe everything you hear.  Always look at the ingredients. I can't name all the products for a couple reasons. First, there are just too many and second, I don't want those big fishes coming after me.  They hold fast to the right to claim nutritious and healthy.   This is a follow up article from my post Healthy Drinks Part 1.  So if you missed reading that, go check it out for some supporting beverages.

Sweeteners and Calories

First of all - zero is not really zero (remind you of algebra?).  If you are going to market electrolytes, which are salty tasting, you need to add sweeteners and flavors.  Many sweeteners don't even have to be listed in the ingredients.  You have your sugar which can come from genetically modified beets or any number of the artificial sweeteners by their many names.  A popular one is sucralose and it is an artificial sweetener.  They are not broken down by the body and all artificial sweeteners should be avoided.  You can’t have something for nothing – it doesn’t exist.  If you actually get something with a good healthy sweetener like stevia – you will pay a lot more for it and if you are not, then you are not getting just stevia.  Stevia is a healthy no calorie sweetener made from a plant in South America.  I actually grow the plant in my yard and those leaves are rather sweet and tasty.

Did you know aspartame, one of the many artificial sweeteners, has known side effects that include headaches, anxiety, abdominal pain, nausea, heart palpitations, and irritable bowel syndrome among other unpleasant things?  Fake sugars increase your cravings for carbs and do not benefit you in anyway – even if you have diabetes.  In fact, it is worse for you.

Natural Flavors

Then you have your natural flavorings which might make your head spin if you knew where they came from. Natural doesn't always mean it is good for you or that you would even want it. If you really want to know more Lemonade by savit keawtavee at FreeDigitalPhotosabout so called 'natural flavoring' check this article out.

Sports Drinks

Electrolyte drinks were designed to hydrate you.  Electrolytes keep your body functioning as it should.  Do you really need an electrolyte drink full of refined salt and sugar and food coloring?  No you don’t.  In my next post I’ll share some homemade electrolyte drinks that will outshine any commercial versions.  It takes a good 60 minutes of high intensity training to really even need to supplement with electrolytes.  If you're not going hard at marathon training, chances are you're just filling up on unnecessary sugars, carbs, and calories.  Looking at the label, most of them don't resemble healthy drinks at all.

Coconut Water is becoming very popular as an electrolyte drink.  It has more potassium than four bananas and is very hydrating.   It is called Mother Nature's Sports Drink because it is naturally full of electrolytes.  Most brands have not added artificial ingredients. But always check your labels.  You don’t need to spend your money on this on a regular basis.  Many packaged coconut waters are loaded with more sugar than you need and most don’t actually contain the amount of potassium listed on the label.

Fruit Juice

Fruit juice counts as a serving of fruit doesn’t it?  No…UNLESS you are juicing it yourself fresh.  The stuff you buy in the store is pasteurized and there isn’t much nutritional value left.  Many of them contain high fructose corn syrup, sugar and fake sugars.  No value here.  What about store bought OJ – a staple of breakfast?  Companies will often add chemicals and flavors back into OJ during the pasteurization process, just to make it that much more appealing to the taste buds. It all comes down to sugar: one study in 2008 found that drinking just one glass of orange juice per day increased a person's risk for diabetes by 24 percent.  You are not off the hook by buying sugar free juice either.

Sodas

Don’t even get me started here.  I can’t find one redeeming quality to soda.  Avoid diet sodas like the plague they are.  A recent study followed 2,500 New Yorkers for 10 years. Those who drank diet soda every day were more likely to have a stroke, a heart attack, or even die from a cardiovascular disease.  Another showed that people were more likely to develop metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

Powdered Drink Mixes

Powdered beverage mixes - you know those neat little packages.  Read the ingredients.  They are not what you think.  Many have an interesting blend of chemicals.  They get their bright colors from some unhealthy sources.  Food dyes are responsible for causing food sensitivities and hyperactivity and many other challenges.  I find it interesting when I visited Mexico and Europe that candy there is made with natural food dyes like beets and carrots.  Many countries recognize the risk and require regulations with food dyes.

Water Bottle by John Kasawa at FreeDigitalPhotosBottle Water

The only truly zero calorie beverage is water - filtered water.  All the bottled water I have tested is acidic and your body doesn't like that either.  Fiji Water is the only bottled water that is alkaline.  It has been in the news that you are paying a lot for bottled water that is no better than tap water.

The Good

Drink water and if that doesn’t quite do it for you, I’ll have some easy to make-at- home healthy drinks that will hydrate you and taste great in the next article.

If you really have to drink something on this list that isn’t good for you, well then make it an occasional thing like once in a blue moon.  I can’t even remember the last time I had a soda or some powdered Kally Efrosmix to drink.  There was a time I drank them all the time.  I know if I started up again, it would be easy to make it a regular habit.  But I care about my health way too much.  I have more energy than people half my age; I know I can live with that.

Do you have a regular drink you just have to have?  Leave a comment below if you would like me to make a suggestion for a healthier alternative.  If you have a good story to share about switching over to better beverages, share that with us as well so we can help each other.

Kally Efros
Indigo Mountain

Photos provided by FreeDigitalPhotos.net:  tivery lucky, John Kasawa, & savit keawtavee

Pumpkin Cookies for Everyone

These Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies are for everyone.  I love making them with my kids.  For a while I stopped making desserts with the family because it was too depressing.  I couldn't eat it and so it wasn't fun.  Then I felt guilty for not cooking with my kids and making cookies.  It was hard finding healthy cookie recipes that tasted good so I started experimenting.  Now the web is full of recipes and it is bit overwhelming.  My kids don't care whether the treats we are making are good for them or not.  All they care about it time with mom, cooking, and getting a treat.  Even more important is that I'm teaching them from an early age how to eat in a healthy way.

I have realized that me and white flour don't get a long to well.  I have not been diagnosed with anything, but when I consume white flour and too many grains, I feel sluggish, tired, and I gain weight.  It also kicks psoriasis into a higher gear.  For a while that depressed me and frustrated me.  But I had to decide that life is what it is and I can be stuck or I can flow, adapt and change.  I've learned a lot about myself along the way.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies on Plate

I learned to find foods that give me that same wonderful feel good sensation that I used to get eating grains and foods made with flour all the time.  You need that or you are just fighting an uphill battle.

I choose to say yes to my body for treats!  I choose to experiment with healthy cookie recipes because I want to and it is fun.  It feels great.  My treats are good for you so there is not guilt, no battle of wills, and no side effects.

My husband Mark recently gave up sugar and gluten at least for a little bit.  His most favorite cookie of all times is a Pumpkin Drop cookie with chocolate chips.  He misses them.  We were recently around family a couple of weeks ago and they were passing around the pumpkin cookies.  Mark was real good about turning them down.  But he sure missed them.  So I had to make something to reward him.  I presented him with this plate of Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies and he actually got chills.  He was like a kid in a candy store.

They are really very good and while I made enough to share...... with the kids....  I don't want to.

You have to realize that there is a strong connection to our food and emotions.  Most people can't just give up certain foods, you have to replace them with something.  And you need to create the same happy feelings with healthier foods.  When Mark saw that plate of cookies, his brain literally released lots of feel good chemicals.  It was a surprise for him and now he has a new association in his brain with happy feelings and healthy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies.    When I work with people on their food addictions, we work on the memories, feelings, creating new memories and associations, and a plan that works for them.  You need to say yes to you and your body and healthy treats and no to junk food because you want to.

Pumpkin Chocolate Cookies for Everyone

Serves 40
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 25 minutes
Total time 40 minutes
Allergy Milk, Wheat
Dietary Diabetic, Gluten Free, Vegetarian
Meal type Dessert
Misc Child Friendly, Freezable
By author Kally Efros
You can adapt them to your needs to be totally gluten-free and completely sugar free using stevia.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cups pumpkin puree (You may need to add extra coconut flour if you use fresh pumpkin, drain well.)
  • 1/3 cup cup coconut oil (melted)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour ((you may need a little more depending on the wetness of the ingredients))
  • 1/4 cup almond meal or flour***
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder (use gluton free baking powder if you want it completely gluton-free)
  • 1/2 cup Chocolate or Carob Chips
  • Sweetener** (See directions for amounts)

Optional

  • 1 teaspoon allspice powder
  • 1/3 cup nuts (chopped)

Directions

Step 1 Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 2 *Sweetener options: 1/4 cup honey (very sweet); 1/4 cup agave syrup; about 30 drops of stevia; 1/4 cup zylitol; or 15 drops stevia & 2 tabl zylitol; 1/4 cup coconut sugar (or more) If you use something besides honey or agave, you may need to add a little more coconut oil or decrease slightly the coconut flour to make up for the liquid from the honey or agave.
Step 3 Combine Pumpkin, coconut oil, eggs, vanilla and sweetener*.
Step 4 Add coconut flour, almond meal, cinnamon and nutmeg to your pumpkin and mix well. Add your chocolate or carob chips. Note that the chocolate chips may contain gluten and for sure sugar. I like using carob chips - no extra sugar. You can also use cacao nibs for a little extra crunchy. Add nuts if you desire. ***Note if you wish to leave out the almond meal, increase coconut flour to 1/2 cup.
Step 5 Coat a cookie sheet with oil or use parchment paper. Scoop out cookie dough onto your pan. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the bottom is done. Cool and enjoy.