So here we go, Part 1 of a multi-part recap of the DAN! Conference. I think I will go as the conference went and this happens to be one of the things people ask me most about, especially Kombucha so I will start here.
Fermented foods have been around for centuries. In the "old" days this was a way to enjoy certain veggies since they were not readily available all year long. Fermentation is a GREAT way to get good bugs also known as probiotics. Probiotic means "For Life" as opposed to anti-biotics which means "Against Life". That should tell you a lot. Probiotics are necessary for good gut health. Think of it like a movie theatre. If the seats are all filled with the good bugs, the bad bugs can't sit down. But when the bad guys take over, bad things happen in our bodies, i.e. infections and gut dysbiosis or imbalance. So, we need to take a closer look at these good "bugs".
Yogurt is a great way to get small doses of probiotics. But, if you or your child is on a dairy free diet, that can be challenging. But now there is a whole line of coconut milk yogurt these days which are good and my kids love. It is made by Turtle Mountain under the brand SO Delicious found at Whole Foods - make sure you get Coconut milk yogurt and NOT soy milk yogurt made by the same company and called SOY delicious) But I will also teach you how to make your own yogurt using nut milk. For years I made my own almond milk. I did post the recipe many months ago on this blog so I will not repost. It is easy and so much better for you than commercial nut milks out there. So I am going to post the yogurt recipe courtesy of Julie Matthews and Sueson Vess, both leading authors and advocates for children with special diets.
* Heat nut milk to 160 degrees (you don't have to do this but it will keep the yogurt from seperating)
* Cool milk to 105 degrees (otherwise you will kill the probiotics)
* Add heaping 1/8 teaspoon of ProGurt yogurt starter to the milk for each quart of yogurt, stir well with whisk. You can find ProGurt at http://www.giprohealth.com/
* Place containers in yogurt maker or dehydrator at 95-105 degrees. Leave lids off individual yogurt containers during fermentation to avoid condensation on lids that may thin yogurt. Ferment for 8 hours.
* Place in refridgerator overnight or at least 5 hours, overnight is better.
* Strain yogurt into a bowl lined with cheese cloth to remove liquid. Drain or let drip for about an hour or longer for thicker yogurt. By pressing dripped yogurt further you can make something that resembles cheese. Sueson Vess spoke about using it as a ricotta cheese sub for lasagna, I am going to try that! Straining is optional but homemade nut milk yogurt is thinner than commercial versions.
* Viola! Yogurt! This is great to add into smoothies or serve alone! Puree up your own fruit for added flavor and variety.
Kombucha - I have been asked about Kombucha a lot lately and I have agreed to teach some classes on making your own Kombucha. We are brewing our first batch and I see the Kombucha "baby" or SCOBY growing now so I will have them to pass on at these classes. If you are interested in taking a class to learn to make your own, please shoot me an email or post here. I am still working out how/where/when the classes will be so let me know if you have any days/times that are better for you. In the meantime, we drink GT's Kombucha. It can be found at Whole Foods and Sprouts for about $3.50 per bottle. Be aware, once you start talking about Kombucha someone inevitably is going to say "Oh my, do you know people have DIED drinking Kombucha!!!!!!". You can find some scary stories on the web, as you can about almost anything. It can cause acidosis if you drink large quantities without equal amounts of water throughout the day. Even too much of a good thing can be bad. And yes, if you brew it wrong, it can be very harmful, which is why you need to start with a good SCOBY and know what you are doing and know how to make sure it is a good batch. Until then, I say start with GT's and work from there. I have been drinking 16 ounces per day and am still here, going on 2 weeks later. I would say 2 cups (16 ounces) max per day personally (and much smaller amounts for kids) but you'll want to do your own research and feel comfortable with this product yourself. Given that Julie Matthews pushes it heavily (with no monetary compensation to gain from it) and she specializes in diet and specifically kids on the spectrum, I feel very confident in its safety. Yes, I give it to my children, I aim for about 2 ounces a day for them, ages 5 and almost 3. But I wanted to warn people that you may get some nay-sayers out there. But if you'll remember, a lady died from an overdose of WATER during a radio station contest and that sure doesn't mean we should stop drinking water, does it?
Sauerkraut - this is another great fermented food. And it sounded so easy to make. I am going to try it soon too. If you buy commercial products, make sure you look for the kind in the refridgerated section, yes the really expensive kind which is why I am going to make my own! If you buy the kind on the shelf you are getting the pasteurized kind which will not offer you the health benefits, all the probiotics have been killed in pasteurization.
If we get a group of people interested in making any of these things I would be willing to teach classes. Let me know if you are interested. Otherwise, take advantage of some of the premade items and feel good about what you are eating. These items will do a body good!