Tag Archives | food and drink

Kombucha: A Health Tonic You Can Make at Home

At this point, most Americans have probably heard of kombucha. The beverage has been getting a lot of press in recent years thanks to its numerous health benefits. For some folks who want to enjoy the drink, however, the cost may not be justifiable. While most bottles go for around $3, some of the fancier varieties can get up to around $5 or even $6.

Fortunately, kombucha is something virtually anyone can make at home. But before we get to kombucha homebrewing, let’s cover some of the basics.

What is kombucha?

Kombucha is a fermented tea. It is typically prepared with black or green tea leaves, or with a blend of the two, and a large amount of sugar. Don’t worry, the end product isn’t sugary — the sugar is added to feed a SCOBY, or a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. By the time the batch is finished fermenting, an eight-ounce serving of kombucha will typically have only a few grams of sugar. This is great news for those who are trying to replace sugar-laden energy and sports drinks, which can cause a 1.5% to 3.1% loss of your tooth enamel. By making the switch to kombucha, you can preserve your tooth enamel and keep your oral health in tip-top shape.

Kombucha was reportedly first brewed over 2,000 years ago in China. In the past few years, it has exploded in popularity in the United States, with Nielsen pricing the industry today at roughly half a billion dollars. The effervescent probiotic beverage has enjoyed such broad appeal due to both its taste and health benefits.

What are the health benefits of kombucha?

Drinking kombucha is believed to have a positive effect on digestive health. While there needs to be further study, it is thought that the bacteria present in kombucha serve as probiotics, which can contribute to a healthy microbiome. Of course, kombucha is just one component of a healthy lifestyle. Diet and exercise are key — unfortunately, only one in three children get physical activity every day.

Since it’s a tea, kombucha also contains all the beneficial compounds we associate with unfermented tea. The most notable of these are polyphenols, antioxidants that help combat free radicals in the body.

Does kombucha contain alcohol?

Kombucha contains trace amounts of alcohol. Unless it is specifically labeled as 21+, kombucha has less than 0.5% alcohol by volume. Thanks to tight regulation, any kombucha with an ABV that exceeds 0.5% requires valid identification with purchase. Given that 11% of all alcohol in the United States is consumed by people aged 12 to 20, it is good news that this industry is carefully monitored and regulated.

How do you make kombucha at home?

To make kombucha at home, first brew seven cups of tea. Then mix in half a cup of sugar and let the mixture cool to room temperature. Put in a SCOBY and some starter tea from a past kombucha batch, and wait one to two weeks. Once the batch has fermented, you can either drink it or bottle it in airtight containers for a second fermentation which will add effervescence. This is also the time to add any fruit, juice, or other flavors you want. Give another week for a second fermentation to occur, then enjoy.

Have fun exploring the tasty world of kombucha, and happy brewing!

6 Ways to Get the Most Out of Organic Stone Fruit While It’s in Season

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It’s stone fruit season! Wondering what stone fruit is? Stone fruit is any type of fruit that has a single seed or pit – for example; apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums, and cherries. Any time a particular type of fruit is in season, it’s a great idea to buy in bulk and stock up. There are several great ways that you can get the most out of the stone fruit that you purchase. It just takes a little creativity and a few different ways to preserve the stone fruit and you can enjoy it all year long. Read on for my 6 favorites ways to get the most out of these sweet fruits.

#1: Bag It!
We recently purchased a large quantity of organic stone fruit – however, there were several pieces that were not ripe. To ripen them up quickly so that we could use them, we put them in a paper bag for a couple of days. Works like a charm.

#2: Grill It!
It’s grilling season too and a fantastic way to enjoy stone fruit is fresh off the grill. Peaches grilled quickly on each side and then topped with organic vanilla ice cream is an amazing fall treat. You won’t be disappointed and it is a super fun dessert for those get-togethers.

#3: Add It!
Stone fruit isn’t only good on it’s own, or as a dessert – it tastes amazing when added to the main course. I like to add cut up stone fruit to salads, salsas, and side dishes during the summertime. It’s adds a ton of flavor and a pop of color to our meals. The possibilities are endless!

#4: Can It!
While purchasing stone fruit in a large quantity while it is in season is a great idea, what if you can’t use it all before it spoils? Can it! Stone fruits can be used in jams, syrups and salsas, so why not get to cooking and preserve some of that sweetness for later in the year. Can you image a yummy stone fruit syrup, salsa or jam during fall, winter and spring?

#5: Dry It!
Who doesn’t love dried fruit? What could be better than dried peaches or apricots. You can either dry the fruit in the oven at 200° F for three hours or use a food dehydrator to get the job done. Dried fruit lasts a long time and will be perfect as a lunch box snack during the school year.

#6: Freeze It!
Whatever stone fruit you have leftover should be frozen before it spoils. Frozen stone fruit is amazing in smoothies and desserts, just remove the amount that you need from the freezer and enjoy!

2 Healthy Magnesium-Rich Recipes, Including Cinnamon Plantain Bites!

Magnesium is one of those minerals that people are generally aware of but don’t really know what it is or what it can do for your body. Magnesium is a nutrient that the body requires in order to stay healthy. It plays a critical role in regulating muscle and nerve functions, blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and making protein, bone, and DNA.

Oftentimes, people don’t get enough magnesium in their diets. While it takes a while to start noticing the effects of a magnesium deficiency, symptoms can include loss of appetite, nausea, weakness, muscle cramps, and an abnormal heartbeat. Since magnesium is critical for over 300 enzyme processes in the human body, it’s important to get a good dose of the mineral every day. Below are a few healthy recipes rich in magnesium for you to try!

Salmon Salad Bowl

This power veggie bowl features fresh salmon and a raspberry balsamic glaze. It’s rich in flavor and antioxidants, and organic too!

Ingredients:

  • 4-oz organic grilled or baked salmon
  • 3-4 cup organic seasonal greens
  • 1/2 cup organic slices zucchini and squash
  • 1/2 cup organic raspberries
  • 1 tbsp organic balsamic glaze
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon avocado or olive oil
  • dash of organic sea salt
  • dash of organic pepper
  • 2 organic thyme sprigs
  • organic parmesan crumbles
  • organic lemon juice

Luckily, salads are super easy to throw together. After slicing the veggies, sautee in a skillet with oil, salt, and pepper. Once the vegetables and salmon are cooked, begin to build your bowl. Greens first, then veggies, then salmon. Top off with the balsamic glaze, thyme, and the remaining oil. After tossing, throw in some raspberries with a touch of lemon juice and parmesan.

Cinnamon Spice Plantain Bites

These heavy-packed protein bites are full of spices, are grain-free, and require no baking!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup coconut or almond flour
  • 1/2 cup plantain flour or ground plantain chips
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup nut butter of choice
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cloves (ground)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground anise
  • 1/2 tsp butter or vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tbsp molasses

Begin by grinding up the plantain chips. Then, after mixing up the dry ingredients, add in nut butter extract, molasses, and honey. After mixing, roll into bite-sized balls. Freeze right away and use coconut or almond flour to roll the bites in after they’re frozen. To maintain freshness, store in fridge or freezer.