Category Archives: Cooking Tutorials

Eggshell Seedlings

FULL DISCLOSURE: I am not a gardener. This is my husband’s project. He has a MAJOR green thumb, but he doesn’t have a blog, so I’m sharing his fun project with y’all today!

 

Starting Seedlings

It’s smart to start seedlings indoors between 4 and 6 weeks before you plan to transfer outdoors. This depends on the plan, so make sure you research the duration of sprouting! Where we live, the golden-rule is to not plant anything outside until Victoria Day weekend (for my friends south of the border, that’s the weekend before Memorial Day). Even if it feels nice enough, Mother Nature will bite you with a random night of frost if you attempt to plant too early!

Eggshell Seedlings

It is common to start seedlings in peat-pots or the classic plastic-cells. We’re not fans of the plastic-cells, for obvious reasons, but the peat-pots which are a great option, come with a price tag and do require energy inputs into making them. So instead, we chose egg-shells because they are free; they are incredibly environmentally friendly (especially because they were used twice!); they provide nutrients into the soil; and they are really easy to transfer. 

Process

1. Collecting Eggshells

We started collecting eggshells in March, being careful to try and crack the egg so that 2/3s of it remained in tact. This allowed for a fairly large little pot to fill with soil! Within a few weeks we had multiple dozens ready to go.

2. Preparing Eggshells and Soil

Once we had gathered enough shells, and the timing was right, the hubby rinsed all of the egg shells, poked a hole in the bottom (to allow excess water to drain and prevent drowning) and filled them with potting soil (ideally organic) making sure not to leave any air pockets. He moistened the soil every day for a few days, before planting, to bring it back to life (his words). Which means, to give any dormant microbes the change to wake up! Microbes are important for everything! Not just gut health!

 

3. Planting Seeds

Next, he planted the seeds at depth instructed by packages. He watered every day with a misting spray bottle, so as not to over or underwater, or displace the seeds. It takes a bit more time, but it is more effective.

 

4. Transferring Seedlings

Once the seedlings are mature enough, and when the weather is nice, he will transplant them into our raised garden beds. 

Using a garden trowel or your hands, dig a hole large enough for the egg. As you place the egg into the hole, gently squeeze the egg to crush the shell. This makes space for the roots to escape! Gently cover with soil and pat down around the plant, being sure not to break the seedling. Make sure not to allow any air pockets in around the egg (which can result in fungal growth). You can avoid air pockets by firmly pressing down on the soil around the seedling.

(photo coming soon!)

NOTE: If a seedling outgrows the egg, because you planted them too early, or the weather isn’t cooperating, you may have to transfer them into a larger pot in the meantime. While it’s an extra step, the nutrients still go into that soil so make sure to dump the soil from the new pot into the garden when you eventually replant outdoors!

Fermented Carrots

Fermented foods are a staple in every single traditional culture, and their absence in the typical North American Diet, is likely a major contributor to poor health. I’ve written about gut heath and fermented foods many times on this blog already, so feel free to check out those posts:

Sauerkraut

Kombucha

Coconut Yogurt

Leaky Gut

What Causes Leaky Gut

Healing Leaky Gut 

Sauerkraut was my introduction to fermented foods, and for a lot of people this is an easy add-in to their diet – especially if you like sauerkraut, pickles and olives. However, the combination of fermentation and cabbage can be a little too much for the fermented food rookie. And if you are interested in making your own fermented foods (which I highly recommend for 2 reasons, [1] it becomes inoculated with microbes from your environment and [2] it is a fraction of the price), sauerkraut has a fairly long fermentation period – 3-4 weeks. So instead, I recommend Fermented Carrots.

These are my favourite way to introduce fermented foods to kids and adults alike. A little sweeter for the rookie-palate, and with a 4-7 day fermentation period, they are a great intro to home-fermenting. 

Fermented Carrots

(Option: Garlic Dulse Fermented Carrots)

Ingredients & Equipment

  • 2 lbs carrots
  • 4 tsp fine-ground sea salt, or garlic sea salt (my preference!)
  • OPTIONAL: 1 heaping tbsp dulse 
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 2 more heaping tsp sea salt, or garlic sea salt
  • jars
  • silicone muffin liners (my preference, but you can get creative)

 

Directions

1. Slice carrots as thinly as possible. I recommend using the slicer attachment on your food processor. (Note: save your carrot tops for making broth!)

2. Add to a bowl, and toss with sea salt, or garlic-sea salt.

3. Optional – add a heaping tbsp of dulse for extra minerals and thyroid support!

4. Toss well. Spoon into jars, packing carrots down as tightly as you can. 

5. Create a brine by mixing 1 tsp salt (garlic salt) with 1 cup of water, and adding to the jars of carrots. Add enough brine to cover carrots completely.

6. Use something to hold the carrots under the water. I like to use my silicone muffin liners!

7. Place in a cool, dark corner of the room, out of direct sunlight. But don’t put them in a closet or cupboard where you can forget about them (learned this one the hard way!). Check on them every day to make sure the carrots are still below the water. If not, add a bit more brine, or push down the muffin liner. Let ferment for 4-7 days. Start checking at 4 days to see if you like the tangy flavour. I usually ferment for 5 days.

 

I love adding a spoonful to salads, or just on the side of a meal. When I was breastfeeding, my favourite snack was to toast 2 pieces of GF bread, spread half an avocado on each piece and top with these bad boys. Delish!

 

 

What’s your favourite fermented food? Have you tried making it yourself? Share in the comments below!

Coconut Milk Yogurt

Coconut Milk Yogurt | dairy-free, gluten-free, paleo, AIP | AmandaNaturally.comYogurt is one of the foods I miss the most, since having to avoid dairy. Unfortunately there are no good alternatives out there. And while there are some expensive cultured almond or coconut snacks available, they are filled with stabilizers, gums and other weird ingredients – so I don’t touch them. Not to mention they’re always super low fat, so what’s the point? I had resigned myself to not having any yogurt ever again, until I got an Instant Pot and can now make homemade Coconut Milk Yogurt! I guess I could have used this recipe with a standard yogurt maker, or the old school way of a pot in an oven overnight, but alas, it took me getting this awesome kitchen gadget to figure it out!

Not only is yogurt super delicious, but it is another probiotic rich food. Supporting the gut bacteria through regular consumption of probiotic foods such as yogurt and sauerkraut, is one of the best things you can do for the health of your entire body! And when probiotic foods are as delicious as this coconut milk yogurt, it’s not hard to consume it on a regular basis!

Coconut Milk Yogurt in the Instant Pot

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of coconut milk (I like the brand Aroy D because it doesn’t contain any guar gum or carrageenan. I get it at an Asian Supermarket, but apparently it’s been found at places like Walmart and Superstore.)
  • 2 packets Cultures for Health Vegan Yogurt Starter OR ½ cup yogurt from your previous batch
  • 2 tsp gelatin (My favourite brand is Vital Proteins green tub, which unfortunately is still on backorder on Amazon at the time of publishing this post, but if you’re in Whitby you can grab some at our office.  Great Lakes red carton is a great alternative, available on both Amazon and at stores like Healthy Planet.)

 

Directions

1. Heat 4 cups of full-fat coconut milk (I prefer the Aroy D brand) in a pot, to 110F. Use a candy thermometer, or an electronic meat thermometer ( <– another favourite kitchen gadget). Stir frequently, it only takes a few minutes. As soon as the temperature hits 110F, pull it off the heat.

 

2. Immediately whisk in ½ cup of a previous batch of yogurt (you can use dairy if tolerated, store-bought or your previous batch) or 2 packets of Vegan Yogurt Culture (I love the Cultures for Health product, although it does have a bit of rice starch in it – something to note if you’re sensitive or following the AIP protocol). NOTE: Apparently you can use 2 or 3 probiotic capsules, but I haven’t tried this. (UPDATE: a friend told me she uses ¼ tsp of probiotic powder, or 2-3 capsules, and 1-2 tbsp of maple syrup)

 

3. Whisk in 2 tsp grassfed gelatin. Without this, it won’t thicken. You will still have a yummy, tangy coconut milk, but it will definitely be milk, not yogurt. NOTE: Apparently you can use agar agar to keep it vegan, but I haven’t tried this since I’m always looking for extra ways to get in gelatin!

 

4. Pour into jars, or a glass bowl (that fits in the pot), and place in the bottom of the Instant Pot. NOTE: don’t put the yogurt directly in the Instant Pot. Since it is stainless steel, mine retains a slight hint of what was previously cooked – usually broth. And trust me, broth-flavoured coconut yogurt is not good.

 

5. Secure the lid (or place the glass lid on), press the “yogurt” button, adjust the time to 12 hours and walk away. NOTE: if you don’t like really tangy yogurt, start checking the flavour around 8 hours.

Coconut Milk Yogurt | dairy-free | AmandaNaturally.com

 

6. 12 hours later, remove from Instant Pot and store in fridge for a few hours to let set. If you are planning to make another batch, store ½ cup in a separate container to use again later. NOTE: I have found that I can only do this a few times, before I need to reinoculate with a new batch of probiotics/yogurt starter. Likely because there isn’t enough sugar in the coconut milk to support continual growth. You might have success by adding sugar or a simple starch like potato or tapioca, to encourage more growth.

7. Yogurt lasts about 2 weeks in the fridge, although it will start to separate after about a week. That’s just what happens when you don’t use any emulsifiers! It’s perfectly fine to eat!

Add Ins:

  • In step 3, I also add in a liberal amount of collagen peptides, which doesn’t gel. This adds extra protein and extra gut/joint/skin healing goodness.
  • In step 5 you can add in additional flavours such as:
    – fruit
    – honey or maple syrup
    – vanilla extract
    – cocoa powder

 

Alternative Methods of Yogurt Prep

I love the Instant Pot because it’s a one-stop shop. It quickly became the most used (and loved) gadget in my kitchen. If you make bone broth regularly, it’s a no-brainer to add to your arsenal. However, it’s definitely not the cheapest item, and there are other ways to make yogurt that don’t require this gadget. Check out the following resources if you want to make coconut-milk yogurt sans the Instant Pot.

Simple Stove/Oven Method

Dehydrator Method

Yogurt Maker Method

NOTE: the directions in the above links use cow milk. With coconut milk, you do not need to heat it to 200F first because there is no bacteria that needs to be pasteurized out.

Dairy Yogurt

If you tolerate dairy, you can absolutely follow the same instructions, just make sure you heat the milk to about 200F first and let it cool before following steps 1-7 above. Cow, goat and sheep milk can all be used! The reason for making your own dairy-yogurt is purely for nutritional value (and cost!). It can be extremely challenging to find quality dairy that is also higher in fat, and since the fat is what contains most of the nutrients from dairy, that’s what you want to be eating! Look for grassfed or organic yogurt that is as high fat as possible. I’m talking at minimum 2-3%, but ideally higher than that. Since that kind of product is hard to come by, purchasing organic or grassfed milk (or goat/sheep milk) and making your own yogurt is a solid option – not to mention friendlier on the wallet!

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