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.

Yoga Journal 21-Day Challenge (Day 3)

I apparently slept 9 hours last night, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t toss and turn as much as I normally do. In fact, I slept so hard, for so long, that my back was incredibly stiff and sore this morning. It took me a while to feel like dragging my ass out of bed. Imagine my reaction when I read the description of Day 3 of the yoga challenge:  “If sleep is a time of rest and repair, then why do we feel so stiff and creaky in the morning? You can try figuring that out, or you can try this practice, designed to banish stiffness and creakiness and awaken the whole body.”

The sequence started out with some side bends and spine twists, then moved on to several sun salutations, and finished in a few standing poses (Warrior II, Triangle). Day 3’s workout was definitely just what I needed this morning. I didn’t exactly feel like it was a “beginner” workout, but I modified the poses myself and made it through. Now, I’m feeling much better than before I started.

Yoga Journal 21-Day Challenge (Day 2)

Just finished Day Two of the 21-Day Challenge. It was fun. It actually required the use of a block. I don’t remember the name of the pose, but I felt like I was going to fall over the entire time. The woman in the video said something about how the pose was meant to teach us not to take ourselves too seriously. Ain’t that the truth!

Mean Green Juice Machine

Yesterday I watched two fantastic documentaries. The first was “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead,” and the second was “Hungry for Change.”

“Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead” was about an Australian man named Joe Cross, who went on a 60 day juice fast, while traveling across America. Joe was overweight and had an auto-immune condition called Urticaria (basically, chronic and uncontrollable hives–I can’t even imagine it). After the 60 days, he had dropped a lot of weight and was able to reduce or go off of a lot of the steroid medications he had been taking to manage his Urticaria. Along the way, he shared his message about juicing and getting off of processed foods, and he actually helped an overweight trucker named Phil Staples, who experienced a remarkable transformation, by going on a juice fast. The film is available for streaming on Netflix. I highly recommend it.

Once I finished watching FS&ND, Netflix wanted to recommend a number of similar movies (of course). I had heard of “Hungry for Change” and decided to watch it next. I heard about this movie through Jon Gabriel, who is one of the featured interviewees in the film. His evening visualization/meditation is something I listen to every night, without fail. I fall asleep to it, and I am convinced that it is helping me to realign my emotional and mental attachments to foods and to being overweight.

The gist of “Hungry for Change” is that the American food supply is toxic and filled with chemicals that our bodies have never evolved to thrive on. So, instead of going on one diet after another to lose weight, we should be focusing on feeding our bodies what they genuinely need; then, they will heal themselves and find a healthy balance.

This is what I have been striving for. One of the best recommendations in the film is not to allow yourself to get into the mindset of “I want it, but I CAN’T have it,” but instead, to maintain the mindset of “I can have it, but I don’t WANT it.” One way to move toward a healthier relationship with food, and to properly feed our bodies is to find ways to get the “good” foods (real, organic, whole, etc.) into our bodies, and crowd out the “bad” foods (fast food, junk food, sugar, artificial sweeteners, etc.). So, they also recommend adding fresh vegetable juices.

I’d like to point out that they aren’t suggesting that we should drink high-glycemic fruit juices, like orange juice (particularly if it’s been packaged and pasteurized), but that we should drink fresh juices from lots of leafy green vegetables and from a broad spectrum of vegetables (think, every color of the rainbow). Several years ago, I had gotten a Jack LaLanne juicer, because I was going to try a juice fast. Ha! That lasted all of about one morning, but I kept the juicer; I’m glad I did.

I don’t plan on going on a 60 day juice fast, because I know that I am likely to feel deprived and unlikely to stick with it, especially since I am cooking most of Lauren’s meals. I still believe I need to eat a variety of foods, from all 3 macronutrient groups (protein, fat, and carbs), but I also know I need to be better about getting vitally important micronutrients (which I can get in abundance from a variety of vegetable juices).

Yesterday, I went out and got a bunch of organic vegetables, with the intention of drinking a Mean Green Juice this morning. Here’s what went into it:

photo 1 (Kale, celery, parsley, cucumber, 1/2 lemon, 2 granny smith apples, and some ginger.)

And, here’s what it looked like:

photo 2

It was quite tasty. About 30 minutes after drinking it, I had my goat milk kefir and a cup of coffee. It’s now been a couple of hours, and I still feel great. I feel like I have energy, but I don’t feel stuffed. It’s the perfect feeling to have before doing some yoga.

Namaste.

Yoga Journal 21-Day Challenge (Day 1)

Part of my journey toward healing has included yoga, although, I haven’t been able to implement a regular (daily) practice. So far, I’ve been able to get to SBCC, once or twice a week, for a 30 minute yoga session. I’ve also got a yoga DVD with about 3 or 4 different workouts on it, but I’m already getting bored of doing the same workout even every other day.

One thing I’ve been doing to try to get and stay motivated is read Yoga Journal. I’ve got it on my iPad, which is an awesome way to read any magazine, in my opinion. Yesterday, I came across this little snippet in the “Connect With Us” section of the magazine:

“Do you ever find yourself thinking, after a really great yoga session, “I know I would feel amazing if I did this every day?” If so, you should try Yoga Journal’s 21-Day Challenge! This free program of expert asana instruction and inspiration is designed to help you create (and maintain) a daily home yoga practice. Check it out! www.yogajournal.com/21daychallenge

Boy, did that sound like exactly what I’d been searching for! I immediately signed up for the Beginner version, and I received my first email this morning. I got out the yoga mat and started the first day’s sequence around 11:00 AM, this morning. It felt great. It wasn’t too difficult. It wasn’t very challenging, either, but that’s just fine for me. For right now.

I need to find ways to move my body that won’t cause me more pain, particularly in my low back. I know that yoga is ultimately going to be one of the best things I can do for myself. Here was today’s workout.

I’m committed to doing each day’s workout, every day, for the next 21 days. Cheers!

Gut Bacteria and Weight Loss

I saw this in the New York Times this morning:  Gut Bacteria and Weight Loss

It reminded me about why I’m doing all of this.

Continuous Kombucha Brew Started (B1 Mother)

Today, I received my 2 1/2 gallon water crock, so of course I had to start my continuous brew system tonight. I brewed 2 Kombucha Brooklyn tea bags in 2 quarts of boiling water (reverse osmosis water in the electric tea kettle). I did this directly in the new water crock and then realized I probably shouldn’t have put boiling water in there. Oh, well. If the system works as intended, I’ll never need to add boiling water again.

I added 2 cups of Zulka Morena Pure Cane Sugar. When it had dissolved, I added ice and additional RO water until there was a little more than 2 full gallons of sweet tea–a few inches from the top. I then covered the crock with cloth that I held in place with the plastic ring that came with the crock.

After dinner, Lauren and I swiped the original B1 mother from the batch I started on Friday (3/22). (Lauren had not yet had the privilege of meeting a SCOBY in person.) I dropped the SCOBY in the water crock tea mixture and it sank. I’ll check in a day or so to see if she emerges.

About 10 minutes later, I realized I hadn’t added any starter kombucha. D’oh! Since I didn’t want to disturb my existing batches (any more than I already had), and they’re not yet fully mature, I added a bottle of the kombucha I’ve been buying from Sandbox Coffee House. And now I wait. From what I understand, this batch will take about 10-14 days to finish brewing.

New Kombucha Batches (A4 and C1)

I just started 2 new batches. I was able to separate one daughter from the existing SCOBY (which is still the original, smaller, Kombucha Brooklyn SCOBY and one daughter). The new 3rd batch (C1) will use one of the daughters I removed today.

Variations for C1:  Lauren would like a batch made with weaker tea, so for this batch, I only steeped the tea for about 13 minutes. I was also out of the prepackaged sugar packets from Kombucha Brooklyn, so I used some of Lauren’s sugar from the cupboard, Zulka Morena Pure Cane Sugar, 1 cup.

Vacation (Weekend) Update

Lauren and I went to San Diego this weekend, and I found myself worrying more about my ferments than I was about our cats. (That’s probably only because we have a webcam to check in on the cats. And did, a few times over the weekend.)

Saturday morning, I replaced the goat milk in my kefir grains and left the lid loosely placed over the jar, so it wouldn’t explode while we were away. When I checked them this morning, the milk had been fermenting for about 48 hours. The flavor is not really any more sour than my first batch (after 24 hours), but it is definitely richer and thicker. I can also detect some fizziness, which is not as bizarre as I had feared. I could easily get hooked on this stuff. Oh, and no bad side effects, so far, either.

Because we were going to be away for a couple of days, and because the weather has been warmer, I unplugged the heating mats on Saturday morning. When I got home, the temperature of the kombucha batches (A3 and B1) was around 70 degrees. They were unplugged for a total of about 36 hours. After plugging them in again last night, they were back up around 78 degrees this morning.

My A3 batch has only been brewing since the 19th (6 days), but I’m going to go ahead and bottle it, harvest a daughter SCOBY, and begin batches A4 and C1 (with the daughter) today. I’m only harvesting it today, because I used heating mats, and the temperature of both batches was consistently above 78 degrees.

My First Glass of Kefir (from Goat Milk)

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I decided to be brave today and actually try drinking some of my kefir.

Because Lauren and I had plans last night, I forgot to change the milk in my new grains yesterday afternoon. This means the current batch has been “fermenting” for about 40 hours.

The taste is decidedly sour, but not overly so. The grains seem to be more plump, today, and the milk culture is definitely thicker. The jar was sealed, rather than using a cloth over the top. I’ve read information advocating either arrangement, as long as any closed container is checked regularly to prevent bursting.

I am very interested in observing the kefir’s effects on my body, so I’m drinking it on an empty stomach. I’ll let you know if I experience any adverse reactions.

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