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 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,  it becomes inoculated with microbes from your environment and  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.
(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
silicone muffin liners (my preference, but you can get creative)
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!
Yogurt 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
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.)
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.
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!
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:
– 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.
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.
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!
I’m going to be honest with you, I’ve never been a big smoothie fan. When I started down my health journey, I had a smoothie every morning for breakfast for about 2 years, then hit a wall and haven’t enjoyed them in years. However, so many people love them, and they are a great healthy option for fast and on-the-go meals, so I’ve always kept them in my arsenal when working with clients.
Recently, smoothies have totally been my jam. This is for a few reasons:
It’s summer, crazy hot and I am 7 months pregnant
My stomach is small so a liquid breakfast allows me to get in more nutrition right now
I have a lot of appointments so I often come back from the gym, have a half hour turn around and am out the door to the chiro or midwives. Or I’m seeing clients of my own. So even though I’m not a big fan of eating on the go (it’s important to relax in order to digest friends!), taking a smoothie in the car has been a life saver some mornings.
It’s hot. I’m hot. Smoothies are cold and therefore taste AMAZING. For breakfast, lunch or dinner. Did I mention I’m hot? (#pregancyproblems)
If you haven’t read my detailed post on How To Build a Healthy Smoothie – go read it now! It also has a recipe for a chocolate smoothie – which is great for moving kids (or adults) over to a real food breakfast when they’re used to sugar-filled ones.
This recipe for my Green Mango Smoothie has been my go-to this summer. The tropical flavour combination is so delicious, and it’s a great opportunity to get some extra veggies in, as well as collagen protein (one of the amazing nutrients found in bone broth, that is critical for bone/connective tissue development – key for pregnancy, and healing in general)! Not to mention protein when my stomach is feeling small, haha.
Choosing a Protein Powder
This can be a bit of a learning process to find your favourite. Here are some of my suggestions:
Collagen Peptides by Vital Proteins – hands down my favourite. No flavour, incredibly good for your entire body (gut, joints, bones, skin, hair, nails – pretty much everything.). It’s often available on Amazon.ca but as of pressing publish on this post (July 14/16), it’s out of stock right now. Alternatively, Great Lakes Gelatin Collagen Hydrolysate is a good option and can sometimes be found at health food stores like Healthy Planet.
safe on the autoimmune protocol
great for kids
not a complete protein, so not a good post-workout option (at least not on its own), but great as part of a balanced diet that includes whole protein sources like meat, fish and eggs.
Organic, Grassfed or New Zealand Whey – the most bioavailable, easy to use protein, BUT made from dairy. So if you do not tolerate dairy, this is not an option for you. If you do tolerate whey protein, getting a plain, high quality protein is your best bet. My favourite brand is Prairie Naturals because it’s much more local than New Zealand whey, but nutritionally they are on par.
SIDE NOTE: it took me 5 years of strict dairy-free and epic amounts of gut healing before I was able to reintroduce whey protein.
Hemp Protein – I like the Manitoba Harvest brand because they use coconut sugar to sweeten, instead of stevia like most other natural brands (which can be a gut irritant for some). It’s a little grainy, so I often recommend using a half dose in combination with a scoop of collagen.
Pumpkin Seed Protein – the only brand I have seen is Omega Alpha. It’s similar to hemp in that it’s grainy, but it has no other ingredients.
Brown Rice Protein – this is my least favourite, personally, because it tastes like sand to me. But it’s my husband’s favourite. He thinks it’s less grainy than hemp or pumpkin, and doesn’t tolerate whey. His go-to is the Prairie Naturals brand (full-disclosure, he formulates products for them, so has a slight bias towards the company. But he also works for them because he loves their products and values as a company!)
Things to avoid in protein powders:
aspartame, sucralose and acesulfame-potassium (all artificial sweeteners)
pea protein, a common component of most plant-based/vegan protein powders (very cheap, incredibly hard on the gut)
soy protein (unless it’s organic, it’s guaranteed to be GMO and covered in RoundUp, not to mention soy can be very estrogenic, which can be useful under the direction of a practitioner, just don’t go it alone)
Green Mango Smoothie
Green Mango Smoothie
Healthy, nutrient dense and tastes like the tropics!