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!
BBQ sauces are loaded with junky ingredients – sugar, vegetable oils, weird texturizers/emulsifiers etc. – which is why I like to make my own. To be fair, homemade BBQ sauces are definitely more work than buying one at the health food store (which are often cleaner than the regular grocery store, but still contain all sorts of gums which give me migraines), but the flavour is totally worth it!
When I go to the effort of making homemade sauces I make sure to make as large a batch as my soup pot can handle. Then I freeze in 2-3 cup portions so I have sauce on hand for the next few times I want it!
This classic-style BBQ sauce is going on a huge pork shoulder for Saturday night at the cottage this weekend (see my directions for Slowcooker Pulled Pork). I have also used it on BBQ chicken wings – simply season the wings with sea salt and pepper, then grill. Toss in a bowl with some heated BBQ sauce before serving. Easy and delicious! I can guarantee that this would be amazing on ribs as well, although I haven’t made ribs yet this summer. Stay tuned!
One of the processed foods I really caution my clients against is pre-made salad dressings. The reason for this is multi-factorial:
The oil is always a vegetable oil. Even if it says “made with olive oil”. Check the ingredients list, olive oil will be listed after an industrial seed oil such as canola or soybean. This is true even for the “healthy” or “organic” salad dressings. I don’t care of canola oil is organic, it is still not suitable for human consumption, since it is an unstable, damaged oil that causes high levels of inflammation and free radicals in the body.
It always contains at least one form of sugar, and often as many as 4 or 5. Sugar, brown rice syrup, brown rice syrup solids, corn syrup, honey, fruit concentrates, barley malt syrup or just malt syrup (note: also gluten), dextrose, maltodextrin… why so many types? Because ingredients are listed in order of highest amount to lowest. Better to list 5 low amounts of sugar, which show up at the end the list, than use just one type and have it be the first ingredient.
It is thickened and stabilized with fake foods. Things like xantham gum and maltodextrin (derived from GMO corn).
Weird ingredients are added for flavour and texture. Things like autolyzed yeast extract, corn syrup and caramel colour pop up regularly.
Natural flavour (which is just chemically synthesized from real food, often GMO foods) and artificial flavours are common ingredients.
They are notorious for containing major allergens – specifically dairy, corn, gluten, soy and egg.
I hate to break it to you, but store-bought salad dressings are simply sugary, chemical-filled, inflammatory flavour boosters. So you can see why I take all of my clients off it right? Interestingly, it’s something that I get a lot of resistance to. For some reason people are scared to make their own salad dressings, or they have no idea where to start. Little do they know that it’s super easy and way less expensive too!
Real salad dressing, made with real ingredients, are not only more delicious than these junky store-bought ones, but can have major health benefits as well! By using quality, nourishing oils and natural ingredients such as vinegars, herbs and spices, you can enjoy your salad for both the flavour and the nutrition it’s providing you. And you don’t have to do that silly old “diet trick” of dipping your fork into the salad dressing first before spearing some salad, so you get the taste without all the calories. With real salad dressing you’re going to want those calories because they contain all sorts of awesome nutrition and/or they help deliver the nutrition found in vegetables to your body.
So, how do you make your own salad dressing? It’s a lot easier than you think it is, I promise. Here’s how.
Homemade Salad Dressings
Choose 1 or 2 from each list:
vinegar (apple cider, balsamic, white wine, red wine, raspberry wine, champagne etc.)
citrus (lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit)
sea salt (always include this!)
herbs such as cilantro, parsley, dill, oregano, basil, thyme, mint, tarragon (herbs can be fresh or dry)
spices such as cumin, chili, garlic powder, onion powder, turmeric, black pepper, paprika, coriander, mustard powder, ginger (omit nightshades and seed-based spices if AIP)
aromatic vegetables such as minced garlic, diced onion/shallot/chives
other flavours like anchovies (caesar), nutritional yeast (vegan/paleo cheesy flavour), tamari sauce or soy-free coconut seasoning (aka coconut aminos in the USA), citrus zest
mustard or egg yolk, for flavour and as an emulsifier
mashed raspberries or strawberries (fresh, or thawed from frozen) or a bit of organic jam
raw honey, real maple syrup or pomegranate molasses to add a bit of sweetness
Directions for Making Salad Dressing
In a measuring cup, glass or small bowl, whisk together all of your ingredients except the oil. This might just be your acid and spices, or it might include mayo, egg yolk, mustard, honey etc.
Whisk until thoroughly combined.
Slowly drizzle in oil of choice, until the desired flavour and consistency is achieved.
Tweak ingredients as needed – add more salt, vinegar, spices etc. until your dressing tastes
When it comes to the ratio of acid to vinegar, it really is a personal choice. I recommend starting at a 1:1 ratio, and tweaking it based on your palate.
If you want it creamy, but don’t want to use avocado/mayo, use a small food processor or immersion blender instead. Combine all ingredients and blend well. Drizzle in oil while blending to achieve a creamier consistency.
Keep it simple! Start with one oil, one vinegar/citrus, sea salt and one or two herbs. Make the dressing and taste it. Do you like it? Why or why not? Too simple, add more spices. Too vinegary but you can already taste the oil? Maybe add some mustard, honey or fruit. Play around!
Keep the volume of each ingredient small when you first start out so you can toss creations that go awry. You will be more likely to be creative and adventurous, if you aren’t stressed about wasting 2 cups of oil!