Probiotics Getting More Positive Attention

I came across this article from Mother Jones this morning. I’ve been learning a lot about probiotics, prebiotics, and inflammation in a number of books I’ve been reading lately, but it’s reassuring to see an article about them in a slightly more mainstream publication.

Some of the books I’ve been reading (which have already been around for years), if you’re interested in learning more about the subject, include:

1. The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from Around the World by Sandor Ellix Katz
2. Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats by Sally Fallon
3. Bacteria for Breakfast: Probiotics for Good Health by Dr. Kelly Dowhower Karpa
4. The Body Ecology Diet: Recovering Your Health and Rebuilding Your Immunity by Donna Gates

Like I said, it’s reassuring to start seeing this information in other sources (even Mother Jones). I only hope that scientists are not just looking for a way to sell us another “supplement,” when we should just be getting these little life-giving critters in our food, everyday. On the other hand, if enough scientific studies prove the efficacy of a healthy and balanced microbiome (gut), perhaps our doctors will finally find value in reembracing the idea of letting food be our medicine. What a shocking concept!


Sprouting Mung Beans

I recently decided to try making an Indian dish called kitchari. I came across the recipe in the Yoga Journal. The recipe called for mung beans, which I finally found at the local health food store. I was so excited to find them that I kind of overbought. They were in the bulk bins, and I just kept scooping them into the bag. I was a little horrified when I got them home and saw how many I had gotten.

At any rate, I have a shload of mung beans now, and I need to figure out what I can do with them. I came across this site and have decided to give sprouted mung beans a shot.

I took about a cup or so, rinsed them well, and set them aside in a bowl of purified water at around 11:30 this morning. I’ll rinse them and replace their water before I go to bed tonight. The next step is to find an appropriate container for the sprouting.

Kombucha Update

Big news this week:  I drew some kombucha off of my continuous brewer on Sunday. I had started that brew on 3/27, and Sunday (4/7) marked day 11. The pH checked out at around 4, but Lauren thought it was still too sweet. I pulled about 2-3 quarts over the course of the day, and checked it again the next morning, before feeding a gallon of new sweet tea to the crock. It was noticeably less sweet on Monday morning, with less volume in the container. It’s only been 24 hours since adding the new tea, and it still tastes pretty sweet. I’ll be checking it every day or two. I’m sure that as the SCOBY gets bigger, the brewing time will go down. (*fingers crossed*)

Somehow, my week got away from me, and I didn’t get around to harvesting my B2 batch on Friday. I bottled it and started a new (B3) batch on Saturday morning. The extra day didn’t adversely affect my B2 batch, but now my schedule is slightly skewed. Meh.

C1 and A4 were both harvested on schedule (4/1 and 4/3, respectively–7 days each), but then, I discovered a new problem. When I needed to brew more tea for my continuous brewer, I discovered I was on my last Kombucha Brooklyn tea bag. So, C2, which was scheduled to be bottled on 4/8, will now be bottled today 4/9, now that I have more tea bags (but not from Kombucha Brooklyn).

I had previously decided that I would try using regular old black tea bags once the KB tea was all gone. I just figured I’d get some Lipton individual serving bags and experiment with the number I’d use in each batch (5 or 6). Today, I was at a local health food store and had trouble finding just plain ol’ black tea. The store has one of the largest tea sections I’ve ever seen, but the tea was all herbal spices and flavorings, or about 9 different green teas, some white teas, etc. I know I could use green or white tea, but I just wanted to continue using black tea. I don’t want to experiment THAT much. Yet.

I was just getting ready to leave the aisle, in disgust, when I saw on the endcap that they carry Newman’s Own Royal Tea. “Ingredients:  Organic Black Tea.” Perfect. Also, the box has 22 “Family Sized Tea Bags.” Each bag makes 1 quart of tea, so technically, I would need to use 1.5 of the Newman’s Own tea bags to equal 6 Lipton single serving tea bags. Since the Newman’s Own calls for a steeping time of 3-5 minutes, I think I’ll be OK to use 1 bag, and steep it for 10-15 minutes.

We’ll see. C3 is coming up today, and I’ll be using the Newman’s Own Royal Tea.

Note to self for a future experiment:  Oolong tea.


UPDATE:  I just checked Kombucha Brooklyn’s website and it looks like their teabags are actually a blend of black, white and green teas. So, it looks like C3 will be an experiment, with just the black tea. Since I have really enjoyed the flavor of the KB tea, I’m going to be getting some white and green tea bags, so I can figure out a blend that works for me.

BATCH C2 UPDATE:  This was the batch in which I had used 1 1/2 cups of sugar, instead of just one. I just bottled it. When I tasted it, it was more sweet than any batch I’ve made, so far. I’m hoping that the sweetness continues to break down while it sits in the bottles.

Yoga Journal 21-Day Challenge (Day 7)

My first week finished. Woohoo!

Today’s workout was a hip opener, which I was really looking forward to, because I think my lower back issues are at least partially related to tightness in my hips. I have spent years working at various desk jobs, and my general lack of activity hasn’t helped.

I’ll be honest, there were not a lot of poses in this workout that I could actually get into, or even attempt. I have a hard time with a lot of poses that require me to be on all fours, because I get some pretty extreme, burning pain in my right knee when I kneel on it. Also, a lot of the poses were brand new to me. I know I’m still a beginner, but I only recognized about 20-30% of the poses in this workout. I am looking forward to returning to this sequence, once I’ve gained a little more yoga experience.

Yoga Journal 21-Day Challenge (Day 6)

After squeezing in 2 days’ worth of workouts yesterday, I was thrilled to see that today’s workout was all seated. In a chair.

It was a shoulder opening workout. And, even though it was seated, my upper back feels like it got a lot of work, and my shoulders do, in fact, feel more open.

Gabby (my cat) even joined me in today’s workout.


Yoga Journal 21-Day Challenge (Day 5)

I actually had enough energy, this evening, to do a second yoga workout and get back on track for my 21 day challenge.

This workout was focused on the core. It was very basic and simple but surprisingly effective at targeting the core muscle groups. I was wishing during the workout that I hadn’t eaten dinner, yet. (I usually don’t eat that close to a workout; but, I made it through.)

I was not able to do some of the poses–particularly, some of the poses in which we were on our bellies, as well as the bridge pose. I still get excruciating pain in my very low back. But, after all, that’s why I’m doing yoga now, isn’t it?

Gluten-Free Pizza Is Amazing


How  I made it:

Start with Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix from The consistency is like cake batter, and our pizza pan has holes in it, so I used a cookie sheet. I used coconut oil in the batter, and coated the pan in coconut oil, because we don’t use Pam or other spray on oils.

I cooked the crust for about 15 minutes; then, I took it out of the oven to add the toppings. I drizzled olive oil over the crust, almost completely covering it. I added tomato slices, crumbled some soft goat cheese, and grated some hard goat cheese. I don’t remember the kinds of cheese off the top of my head, but I can let you know, if you’re curious. The pizza went back into the oven for another 10 minutes.

The pizza crust already has Italian seasonings in it, so the flavor is amazing. The consistency is a little undercooked, but that’s how I like my crust. Another 5 minutes or so would probably provide a more crisp crust. Also, the water in the tomatoes made the crust a little soggy in places, so I’ll probably towel dry the tomatoes before adding them next time.


Yoga Journal 21-Day Challenge (Day 4)

You might have noticed that this post was due yesterday. It was. But I didn’t do any yoga yesterday. I probably could have found the time to do it, but I think I was a little afraid of the workout, frankly. Most of these daily challenges have only been about 20 minutes, but this workout was almost 36 minutes long. And, it was all standing poses.

Luckily for me, this process is not about perfection but about progress. So, I won’t beat myself up about missing yesterday’s workout. I’ll just accept my fear for what it was and strive harder to overcome it, next time.

The good news: I was much better at maintaining my balance in tree pose than I have ever been. This was especially exciting for me, because I am able to start seeing the results of my workouts.

Kombucha Update

I’ve decided to record a weekly update for my kombucha batches, because I’m now going to be harvesting one of three batches on each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Not to mention, I’ve got a continuous brew going that I will harvest whenever it appears to be *ready*.

On Friday, I started batch B2, using my usual method and 1 cup Zulka sugar.

Today, I harvested batch C1, which I brewed using tea that had only steeped for about 13 minutes. It’s delicious. I think it has more to do with the fact that the brewing jar was kept at a near constant 80 degrees than anything else. It really has been making a difference to have the heating mats, especially considering the temperature in Ventura has been in the mid 60s for the past week or so.

Then, I started batch C2, steeping the tea for only 15 minutes (I got impatient), and using 1 1/2 cups of sugar (it was the end of the bag of Zulka, and I thought I’d experiment a little).

Note to self:  buy more sugar before Wednesday.

Coconut Milk Yogurt?

Another ferment I’ve been dying to try is home-made yogurt. I’ve acquired a yogurt maker, equipment and a couple of cultures to make greek yogurt at home. I was going to use goat milk to make my first batch, but Lauren wants to continue avoiding all dairy for another six weeks or so.

I was a little bummed, because I’ve really been looking forward to trying the yogurt, but this morning, I had a flash of inspiration. I googled “coconut milk yogurt” and discovered that you can indeed make yogurt from coconut milk. It takes a little longer, and requires the addition of a thickener (I’ll be using tapioca flour), but it utilizes the same cultures as dairy yogurt.

So, I’ll be starting a batch of coconut milk yogurt in the next few days. I’m really looking forward to seeing how it tastes.

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