Sunday, June 28, 2015

Beet Kvass - Probiotic and Liver Cleanser



Beet Kvass is a popular fermented beet drink that is a blood purifier, liver cleanser, probiotic and a nutrition booster that can be made rather easily on your kitchen countertop in a 1/2 gallon Mason jar! Although it's becoming popular now, I recently found out that my Eastern European grandparents thrived on this drink! My paternal grandmother from Russia lived to be a healthy 107.

You use 3 simple ingredients: beets, sea salt, and whey ( vegans can omit and follow the recommended substitution suggested in the ingredients ) 

You simply soak cut of raw beets, some sea salt and some whey-let it sit to ferment for 2 days and then refrigerate. A half gallon of kvass lasts a long time (at least 2 weeks )  in the refrigerator.

What is whey? Whey is the clear liquid that you can separates in the yogurt and you can make your own whey very easily. Don't leave me yet, read the rest- you will be glad you did!



If nothing else, everyone needs a good source of probiotics to establish and maintain a healthy digestive system that digests your food properly, allows your body to absorb nutrients better, and keep the healthy bacteria thriving in your gut.

Kvass is good for you and what ails you ! I try to drink some daily. Can you buy kvass already made? I've never seen it.  But probably- but it is so so so easy to make, I think most people make their own.

How I was introduced to kvass


The first time I ever heard of beet kvass was at my friend Laura's house. Laura bought the book Nourishing Traditions, a book that serves as a manual for homesteaders who are returning to the earth and eating and living in harmony with nature. The recipe for kvass is in the book ( similar recipes are all over Pinterest)  and Laura makes it regularly to add valuable probiotics to her diet and help nourish herself and her family. Kvass is an all natural fermented probiotic product .

When Laura first introduced me kvass ( about a year ago),  I was amazed that she had actually fermented the concoction herself on her kitchen counter. I hesitantly tasted some of hers, very politely smiled, but couldn't fathom that I would ever ever ever make it. It seemed so mysterious, weird, and foreign.

However, a year later, I visited Laura at a time that I was not feeling well. I was nutritionally, physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted and run down. Laura was alarmed by my weakened condition and insisted  that I drink some of her homemade Kvass on the spot.

At that point, I gladly welcomed the nutrient rich easy to digest drink. It was like drinking a shot of pure magic energy. I felt an immediate benefit. Laura gave me a quart of her precious drink to take home, but not before she taught me how to more for myself.

For the next four days, I drank some of Laura's Kvass on an empty stomach twice a day. Truly, the effects were powerful.  My energy returned quickly, and I felt good enough to make my own new batch of kvass two days later.

Kvass is very easy to make

It only takes 5- 7 minutes of prep to prepare the kvass, but then it takes 48 hours for the finished product to sit covered on my counter to ferment. After the two days, the end product is a beautiful jar of rich red beet elixer. ( I know we are not used to leaving things out on the counter without refrigeration-but that is how things like sauerkraut, pickled vegetables, yogurt etc. ferments) Fermented food is a very important part of healthy eating.

Kvass is beneficial to drink every day. It is a liver cleanser, energy booster, and powerhouse of nourishment. It's good to know how to make health giving fermented food for yourself and your  family. It is naturally gluten free, vegan, and nut free.

How to make Beet Kvass

Author: Judee Algazi
Prep Time: 5-7 minutes
Fermenting Time: 48 hours
Makes : 1/2 gallon

Materials Needed:
  • 1/2 gallon jar ( I used a 1/2 gallon Mason Jar)
  • Whey ( you have to make your own or skip it and double the salt) 
  • doubling the salt is too salty for me,
  • How to make whey from yogurt ( very very very easy) 

Ingredients:
3-4 medium organic beets
1 tsp of sea salt
1/4 cup of whey ( or omit the whey and add an additional teaspoon of salt)
filtered or distilled water to fill the 1/2 gallon Mason jar almost to the top

Directions:
1.  Peel and cut the beets into large chunks ( if organic beets, I leave skin on)
2.  Place chunks into a clean 1/2 gallon Mason jar
3.  Add sea salt and whey. Add water to almost the top of the jar.
4.  Stir to mix and cover with a dish cloth and allow to sit on the counter ( outside of the fridge) for
48 hours.

After 48 hours, put the Mason jar lid on the jar and refrigerate. Laura says it will last weeks ( ok she said months) in the refrigerator. Just drink the juice. You can leave the beets in the jar and then discard or discard initially.




These beautiful organic beets were from my CSA farm this week 

I left the skin the beets on because they were organic

Immediately after assembling the ingredients in my 1/2 gallon Mason Jar. Before soaking for 48 hours

Beet Kvass after fermenting for 2 days- rich red color


If you are vegan, skip the whey and add an extra teaspoon of salt It will be less salty if you use whey.

How to make Whey

Ingredients:
1 cup of plain yogurt
4 sheets ( layers)  of cheese cloth
1 qt size mason jar ( or any jar is ok)
1 clip or clothespin

This is whey ( the clear liquid separated from plain yogurt) 

This is how I separated the whey from the cup of yogurt
Directions: 
Using  a piece of cheesecloth about 4 layers thick ( you can cut what you want) - place a cup of plain yogurt in the middle of the cheese cloth  and pull all the sides up together. Place in a Mason ( or any) wide mouth jar and hand over night ( use the clip to hold it) can be left out overnight, does not need to be refrigerated for the first 12 hours while separating ( my husbands family has been making this safely for generations) - OH! the yogurt will turn into Lebnah or as it is known today -Greek yogurt
refrigerate now or enjoy it warm.. yum!


Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor and am not trying to diagnose or treat disease. The information in my blog is based sharing my own experiences for educational purposes only.
Always consult your medical doctor if you are not feeling well and before changing your diet in any way.


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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Skinny "Potato" Salad Alternative






Got cauliflower? Make my homemade skinny potato salad alternative. 
Homemade potato salad is a special treat that most everyone loves, but despite how good it tastes some of us don't love eating all those carbs from the potatoes! With my skinnier version, you can cut the carbs way down by omitting the potatoes and substituting cooked cauliflower for the potatoes! It's genius!

The recipe tastes great, satisfies you yearning for potato-like salad, but is made with the great low carb impostor ( cauliflower) . Yes, once again cauliflower instead of starch like in my cauliflower crusted pizza, cauliflower breadsticks, cauliflower fried rice. ! This recipe can be ( and should be) made in advance, so it is a perfect to serve or bring to a BBQ. As with all of my recipes, it is gluten free and depending on the type of mayo you use, it can be vegan or vegetarian.

I love this recipe because it is packed with fiber from the diced raw veggies, packed a rainbow of health giving antioxidants, and lots of nutrients!

Variations:
  • Half red potatoes and half cauliflower 
  • All red potatoes- If you are not into the cauliflower and don't care about the carbs, you could still make this recipe as a strictly a delicious potato salad. 
  • All Cauliflower as the base- my way 

The uncooked diced vegetables add an interesting flavor and a nice crunch !

One large cauliflower makes a crowd size bowl! Looks like confetti! The picture below is about 1/3 of the recipe

**The secret is to allow the finished product to cool in the refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours ( overnight is better) to allow the flavors to mingle and strengthen. 

This is 1/4 of the recipe 

Ingredients:
1 large cauliflower, washed and cut into medium chunk size flowerettes
1 cup of diced celery
1/2 cup diced organic carrot
1/2 cup of diced red pepper
1/2 cup of chopped scallions
1/4 cup of chopped fresh dill
1/2 cup frozen peas ( thawed for 10 minutes) ( I didn't have any)
1 cup of vegan or regular mayonnaise ( use light mayo if desired)
Salt and cracked pepper to taste

Directions
Steam the chunks of cauliflower in a steamer basket until soft but not mushy
While the cauliflower is steaming, cut all of your vegetables
When the cauliflower is done, remove and set in a bowl to cool for 5 minutes
After 5 minutes, add the diced celery, carrot, red pepper, scallions, and frozen peas.
Mix in the mayonnaise and toss vegetables well.
Then add the fresh chopped dill and mix into the salad.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
optional: If you are a garlic fan- you can add some pressed garlic ( I didn't)
** place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight to allow flavors to mingle.
Serve cold

My notes: If you want to cut the calories down even more, you could try using 1/2 cup light mayo and 1/2 cup Greek yogurt instead of the cup of mayo. ( test a small section with the Greek yogurt to see if you like it first- it makes it tangy and not as much like potato salad-it's different but good)
The cup of mayo covers about 10-12 servings cutting the fat content way down per serving.




proportions of chopped veggies in the photo may not be exact


This is so good!




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Food is my passion. I am gluten intolerant, busy. and strive for a healthy balanced lifestyle. It has taken me many years to come up with easy healthy recipes that meet gluten free, vegetarian and real food standards. On my blog I share my journey, my struggles, my discoveries, and my new recipes. I hope you find ideas, resources, and recipes that will be helpful to you. Come Back soon.



Author: Judee Algazi
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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Tribute to My Dad on Father's Day + Potato Salad






Father's Day is a time to acknowledge dad and celebrate his awesomeness!

On Father's day in our family, our traditional family celebration is to bring all of the fathers and their families together for a BBQ.  Over the past few years, my daughter in law Wendy has been hosting! The list includes, my husband, my brother in laws,  and my sons, Wendy's father and step father and uncles as well as everyones spouses and children of course.

Despite the happy occasion, it still reminds us that some of our fathers are not with us; that includes my father. My dad has been gone for 29 years, but I still remember his devotion to our family and the many sacrifices he made for us! He was fun to be around, and he liked to cook. When I was little, he owned a deli where he made homemade potato salad to sell every day! I don't have his recipe, but at the end of the post I linked some of my favorite potato salad recipes.

My dad was called Al ( a more secular name than his birth name of Abraham and his childhood name of Abee) .
I called him Dad;  his grand kids called him Pop Pop, my mother called him honey.

Things I remember about my dad:

  • He made his own Italian spaghetti (sauce) gravy every Sunday for a spaghetti and meatball dinner.
  • He was the oldest of five : 2 brothers ( Hyman and Lou)  and 2 sisters ( Annabel and Ruth)
  • His parents were immigrants from Russia
  • His father ( Reuben)  died of heart failure when my father was  only 12 years old
  • My father died at age 73
  • His mother ( Fannie married 3 times) outlived my father and died at age 107
  • Being the oldest, my father helped support the family
  • He was very neat and organized
  • Played basketball on the school team in high school for Trenton Central High School 
  • He graduated high school in 1929 and attended Rider College for 1 year
  • Attended his 50th high school re-union ( died 4 years later) 
  • Loved to dance, danced often, and was a good dancer
  • Grew outstanding yellow, red, an pink roses along the entire side of our house
  • Loved to play cards ( poker and pinocle) and played with a group about 2 nights /week
  • Loved dogs
  • He never shouted
  • Was very generous to family and friends
  • His favorite meal was roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy
  • Loved homemade potato latkes, prune hamantashen, and kosher brisket
  • Brought me chocolate as gifts and paper cut out dolls to play with 
  • Was very likeable and had lots of friends
  • Was handsome 
  • Worked hard at two jobs to make a living
  • Loved and was devoted to family and extended family
  • Liked to have fun
  • Had two daughters-  Rita Lee from his first marriage to Harriet; Judee from his second marriage to Rae
  • Three grandchildren- Howard ( Rita's son) , Jonathan, Jason ( Judee's children) 
Potato Salad Recipes:

Vegan Potato Salad ( healthy) 

Easiest Homemade Potato Salad

Slim and Trim Potato Salad

My Skinny Potato Salad Alternative


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