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Bye bye to vegetable stock cubes and HELLO organic homemade vegetable stock concentrate

 

When I got my Thermomix, the first thing I made was a vegetable stock concentrate. Probably like all of us Thermomix owners! I can’t believe I lived without this ingredient my entire life! It truly is the most versatile and most often used ingredient in my kitchen. I use it in loads of dishes, from soup to stews and even pasta sauce and risotto. If something needs a bit of a boost, that’s what I use.

I am going to share this recipe with you, because I think everybody needs to have a jar of vegetable stock concentrate in their fridge. There are many ways to make this and the best way, I think,  is to use vegetables that are left over or almost gone. It is a fantastic way to use those veggies that have been in the fridge a tad to long, but have not entirely passed away.

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion or leek, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 large sticks of celery, chopped, leaves on
  • 3  carrots, chopped
  • 1 large zucchini, grated
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme or 2 tsp of dried thyme
  • 4 leaves of fresh basil or 2 tsp of dried basil
  • a sprig of rosemary
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • 150 gr. rock/sea salt

 

Heat the oil in a sauce pan over medium heat and add all the ingredients to your pan. Stir and put the lid on. Simmer for approximately 20 min. But do stir occasionally  to prevent your mixture from sticking to the bottom of your pan. After 20 min. remove from heat and transfer your concentrate to a blender. Blend till it is a nice paste. You can put this vegetable stock concentrate into a glass jar and store it in your fridge for up to 6 months. The salt acts as a preservative, if you remove the salt it will not keep.  If you don’t have all the herbs, don’t panic, use what you have on hand. Although, I recommend at least using a bunch of fresh parsley. Other than that use what you got, fresh or dried.

1 Tbsp is equivalent to 1 stock cube.

How easy was that!

 

 

Making yoghurt

When I moved to Sydney 12 years ago, the first thing I noticed were the high prices for groceries. In the 12 years that I have called Australia home, nothing has really changed in that department. In fact, it seems that prices just keep on rising…..and quality keeps dropping…

It wasn’t until 2 years ago, that I decided that I had more than enough of paying $5 a liter for natural yoghurt. In Holland my family pays only 0.75 cents for a liter of yoghurt!!! I now pay $1.75 for 1 litre of yoghurt, if I make it myself and if  you buy the homebrand milk, it will only cost you $1.25 a litre.

This is all I use

  • pot
  • cooking thermometer
  • thermos flask or bowl with lid
  • towel

Ingredients

  • 2 liters of milk
  • 2/3 cup of milk powder (opt.)
  • smidgen of yoghurt culture

First cook your milk at 90C for 15 min. to kill all pathogens. While your milk heats and pasteurizes, add the milk powder and stir. When your milk has been cooked at 90C for 15 minutes, let it cool down to about 37-40C. Now, add your smidgen of yoghurt culture and transfer this to your lidded bowl or flask. Wrap a towel around it and keep it overnight inside a turned OFF oven.

When you wake the next morning, your yoghurt will be ready for you to eat.

How easy was that!!

 If you are as lucky as I am and have access to raw milk, you can leave out the powdered milk.

Instead of using a yoghurt culture, you can use a couple of tablespoons of good quality organic yoghurt to start your batch.

Make sure you keep some yoghurt to start your next batch!

Grain free Banana Choc-Chip Muffins

 

When I was forced to give up grains and coffee, I thought I would not make it! I am Dutch after all and this is what the Dutch love the most, bread and coffee.

Luckily, I did make it and I came out the other end a whole lot happier and healthier.

Grains make you gain a lot of unnecessary weight, hence the reason farmers feed them to their cows to fatten them up before slaughter!! Interesting…… I am glad to say, we eat grass fed beef for a whole lot of other reasons, but I will have to leave that for another post, another time.

I have been on quite a creative journey trying to healthily substitute my bread and muffins and other snacks. We don’t consume refined sugar in this house, because I regard it as drugs. In fact it is often quoted as it being “the drugs of the food industry”. It is significantly more addictive than cocaine! So why, would I want to get my beautiful children hooked on it??

I have been able to create some delicious muffins and I am excited to share the recipe here with you. My mother-in-law visited us the other day and she really enjoyed these muffins too. I know that she is looking forward to the recipe 😉

Banana Chocolate Muffins (I made 17, but it depends on the size of your tins)

 

  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil/butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 12 eggs
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 bananas mashed
  • 1/2 cup choc chips

 

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C and grease some muffin tins.

In a bowl mix the melted coconut oil, honey and vanilla.

Add the eggs and whisk well. Now add the cocoa, the cinnamon and the coconut flour. Whisk until well combined.

Then add bananas and choc chips.

Feel free to use a food processor for mixing, it will be a lot quicker and easier to do.

Pour the mixture into a greased muffin tin and bake for approximately 20-25 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean.

If you can avoid it, do not use the microwave to melt the coconut oil/butter, it really defeats the purpose of using such a healthy oil.

 

 

 

 

Flaxseed crackers

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When I started on my grain free diet in order to heal my digestive tract, I also started to make some new foods to replace the grains I could no longer consume.

Was that a bad thing? NO!

Here is is my recipe for delicious crispy flax seed crackers.

  • 500 grams of flax seeds soaked in water for at least an hour

  • a handful of sunflower seeds, almond flour, pepitas. This is optional.

  • salt to taste or a tablespoon of homemade vegetable stock concentrate

If you juice you can also add the left over pulp the juicer spits out. Add them in for extra fiber. I add pulp from:

  • Carrot
  • Celery
  • Spinach
  • Red cabbage
  • Apple
  • Cucumber
  • Tomato

Be creative!

You can also make one with banana, prunes, dates, figs, vanilla, honey and cinnamon. Real exotic!

Your flax seeds have soaked for at least an hour and are now very gelatinous. This is what makes the cracker stick together. If there is any leftover water on the flax seeds, drain it. Often, though, this is not necessary.

In a food processor combine all ingredients and whiz until well combined. This might take a minute or so. Then spread your mixture onto a dehydrator sheet, no thicker than 1 cm. Dehydrate for around 18 hours. Make sure you flip them over, so the other side dries also!

If you don’t have a dehydrator, you might be able to do it in the oven at a higher temperature, for a shorter amount of time.

Play with it, there are no hard and fast rules.

A post on allergies and the journey of recovery

On July 21st 2012, I got diagnosed with what is called ‘leaky gut syndrome‘ and a bacterial and fungal overgrowth inside my digestive system.

3 years earlier, I had just given birth to a beautiful baby boy, our 3rd child, when I became really unwell. I came down with what I thought was a sinus infection and I treated it with homeopathics, the pain cleared, but I was left with a slightly annoying blocked nasal passage. First only on one side.

Soon after that, I developed some severe throbbing headaches without any relieve, so the Dr. sent me for a cat scan. The cat scan came back clear and it showed no sinus infection either. Although, I still had a painful forehead and a blocked nasal passage. I knew that something was not right, but I just did not know where to search, so I prayed.

My slightly annoying blocked nasal passage grew worse, until I no longer was able to breath through my nose. I had a constant post-nasal drip and a very runny nose, my sense of smell and taste had completely gone, I sneezed way to much, my headaches became worse than ever, I was wheezing and I suffered from stress and exhaustion. So, after 12 months of that, I decided it was time to go back to the Dr. and find out what else they could come up with. This Dr. gave me a referral for an ENT specialist. I went a saw the specialist and he figured I was allergic or intolerant to grass! He gave me a prescription and wished me a happy life, since there was no cure. I felt devastated, I could not live like this forever, it was way to cruel..

Not soon after seeing the specialist I also developed a SEVERE cough which would start at night and would take me through the entire night, until early the next morning. It was painful and made my headaches worse, it threw my back out,  because of the force of each cough. I now also had to see a chiropractor to crack my back into line. I was not able to sleep and my exhaustion did not improve. On top of this hacking cough, the wheezing made me a short of breath which was very uncomfortable. There was no relieve and I was at the end of my tether. So, I prayed for an answer.

One morning, 18 months after my first symptoms appeared, my eldest son came down with tonsilitis. I didn’t want the antibiotics, so I went online to find a naturopath in our area. I was blessed to find one 5 minutes up the road.  After our consultation, as I was paying for the herbs, my eye fell on a little note advertising an allergy treatment. I couldn’t believe it! I made an appointment straight away and saw this practitioner that same week.

She uses a technique called NAET and with that she was able to test me for an array of different allergens. I was not only intolerant to grass but also intolerant to 17 more substances. Over a period of 18 months I was seeing her on a weekly basis, with a break here and there. She was able to clear me from the majority of these intolerances and life seemed to be more enjoyable. At one stage it looked like I was cured,  however a few of the intolerances returned and my symptoms never fully cleared. My sense of taste and smell especially never improved in that entire time.  I also started to develop severe, what looked like, asthma attacks. I was so scared sometimes that I would choke and die, because at this stage ,anything at any time, could trigger an attack. I was no longer aware which substances to avoid. When I was at the airport in Korea in June 2012, flying back from Holland, I took a painkiller for my headache, as I had often done in the past. However, this time it triggered a severe asthma attack,  the paramedics were called in and they were able to save my life. But it scared my pants off. If I had been on my flight from Korea to Sydney, I just don’t know what would have happened. Thank God, I was in an airport with access to medication. I am so thankful.

It was then decided that we needed to take a closer look into my digestive system. We discovered that I was suffering from ‘Leaky Gut Syndrome’. I had already heard about this and hoped I did not have it, because I knew I would have to give up coffee!! The fact that any form of sugar and all grains were forbidden didn’t bother me at all, but no coffee……yikes!

However, I had been praying for an answer, so I decided to go ahead and do it well. I combined an anti-candida diet with the GAPS diet. “Gut and Psychology Syndrome” is a book written by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride on the subject of your digestive system, immune system and the connection it has with your brain. How food can affect it and also how food can heal a leaky gut and help your body and mind return to health. This meant for me that the only food I could eat were homemade chicken stock (recipe here) and boiled eggs. I did that for a week or so and then started adding more GAPS legal foods.

Since my diagnosis I have also been taking several anti-fungal herbs to kill off any nasty pathogen. I take a very strong and specific probiotic to recolonize my intestinal tract. As my intestinal lining heals, the symptoms improve, since no toxic waste can flood into my blood stream.

The GP is treating my chronic exhaustion and the damage that the stress has done to my body and health, with vitamin B injections. It is pure rocket fuel which can treat not only my symptoms, but also the symptoms of severe depression and even schizophrenia. Absolutely amazing! He also put me on zinc and selenium supplements. I call this man a gift from God as he understands that the body is a brilliant machine, created to work,  not on drugs, but on what God has given us. Vitamins and minerals and clean healthy and unprocessed foods.

I started the elimination of all forms of sugar, all grains, caffeine and milk on the 21st of July 2012, as of today, I feel better than ever!! For the last 2 days my smell and my taste have returned. I love the smell of my pantry, it smells of herbs and spices. I love smelling my herb garden. I love smelling my Coco Chanel perfume. I even enjoy the smell of B.O!! It is such a gift to be able to smell and taste, without that you truly are disconnected from the world and even from people. People smell nice! What I love most is waking up in the morning, knowing that there is an end to this suffering and that I am on the road to recovery.

My allergies, asthma, headaches, coughing, wheezing, tiredness, stress, mood swings, foggy brain, poor memory and concentration have all gone. My nose is clear and I even have my libido back 😉 Halleluja, God is good to me and he does answer prayer.

If you want to know a couple of my grain free recipes, stay tuned as I will post them for you. Nothing worse than feeling deprived of food and not having a suitable substitute!

 

 

 

 

 

A word of wisdom from my kitchen pantry – part 3

Now that we have established the shopping basics and the kitchen appliances that I think are useful in any kitchen, I will go ahead and share with you some foods we see often on the menu in our house.

I have a variety of recipes I always use. They are our family favourites and if you are ever invited to dine with us you will definitely be treated to one of the best beef curries in town. Ultimately, you will have to make your own list of favourite things to cook, I can’t help you with that…..but I can tell you what we cook often.

  • I  make my own soups from my homemade stocks, see recipe here. Soup is such an easy meal to make,  it is so versatile that you will never have to eat the same soup. When I make a really large batch of bolognese sauce I will turn the left overs into soup by adding a few cups of my chicken stock and vegetable stock into the sauce. If you serve this soup with some crusty home made french bread, you will be truly satisfied. You will love cooking soups in your slow cooker, it’s easy and so yummy.
  • That brings me to my next thing, baking bread. When you think of baking bread, you might well think that it is impossible to do this at home. Well, it isn’t,  in fact it is so easy that I do it almost all the time. I not only bake bread, but also make English muffins and waffles. They are even easier to make and quicker. I have a easy recipe for bread right here. It requires little of your time, if you are working full time it is still possible to do this method of baking.
  • I also always make my own yoghurt. It is the easiest thing you will ever do and it really saves you a lot of cash. Yoghurt in this country is seriously overpriced for whatever reason, I don’t know. But I have started to make my own, since we use it in smoothies everyday or for breakfast with muesli.
  • Every morning my beautiful husband makes all of us a breakfast smoothie (this is were a blender comes in handy). The basic recipe is: yoghurt, kefir, banana, oats, almonds, flaxseed oil, LSA mix and honey. He will add different fruits everyday to keep it exciting. But the basic recipe stays the same.
  • We eat meat maybe 3x a week and often in a casserole or pasta sauce. When making pasta sauce I will make enough to also use it for a lasagna and to make soup. I will always add sprouted lentils and beans to the sauce for extra nutrition.

Of course there will be other things I also cook, but I guess these items will be eaten on a weekly basis. It keeps my life simple and my budget at a reasonable limit. I hope this post may have inspired you to do some more cooking from scratch. You can be as creative as you want to be or just keep it plain and simple.

Happy cooking!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A word of wisdom from my kitchen pantry – part 2

As promised, part 2 of the topic “wisdom from my kitchen pantry”.

Previously we discussed the principle of buying in bulk, online and direct from the farmer. This really helps not only your wallet, but it also supports the local farmers who work so hard to make a living. So, now that we have stocked our pantry, what do I do with all this food????

Here is a list of kitchen equipment i use for food preparation, I simply can’t live without them:

I have had my slow cooker for many years now. I bought it when we had our first child. It made life so much easier. You simply throw a whole bunch of ingredients in there, let it cook for 8 or so hours and away you go. BRILLIANT invention. It makes so much, that you can freeze half for the following weeks menu. AWESOME!

My Thermomix entered our family about 18 months ago. This machine is capable of anything. If you don’t believe me google it. In my Thermomix I make yoghurt, for example,  or ice cream. I knead all my bread dough in it too. Every morning we make smoothies in it. And at night I cook a meal in it. If you don’t have a Thermomix, don’t worry, you can get a lot of use out of a blender or food processor. I do believe that 1 of those items is a must in a healthy kitchen.

Of course we all have an oven! I hope…..I almost use it daily for baking. Or to keep my culturing yoghurt warm.

So, if you have access to those 3 items, than you have a very well equipped kitchen.

In the last part of this topic I will share with you a few meals we like to enjoy with our pantry items. Stay tuned!

 

 

A “soft drink” with a twist.

 

Water Kefir Grains

You may have previously read about my love for milk kefir. If you haven’t here is the article for you to read. I have since been very busy with my water kefir grains and have decided that I love them as much. In fact, I crave it.

I recently went to Europe for almost 4 weeks and was not able to have any of my probiotic Kefir drinks. I felt sick for the entire time I was away. Because I have difficulties with my digestive system it is very important for me to ingest plenty of enzymes and probiotics to help me digest my food and absorb the vitamins and minerals that body needs to function properly.

Water Kefir Grains Fermenting

 

Here is what you need for making water kefir:

  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 2 TBSP white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp molasses
  • 1 3/4 cup of cold filtered water
  • 1/2 egg shell (free range)
  • 2 TBSP water kefir grains

In a jar, dissolve the sugar and molasses in the 1/4 cup of hot water. Add the rest of the cold filtered water to the sugar/water mixture. Put in the egg shell and the water kefir grains and cover the jar with a cloth. Let it sit for at least 24 hours and no more than 72 hours. After the fermentation period of 24 to 72 hours you will strain the liquid into a flip top bottle and add your favourite juice. I use pear juice. But the options are endless. Leave the bottle on your counter for another 1 or 2 days. During this time more vitamins and enzymes are released and more carbon dioxide will build up to create a fizzy and refreshing “soft drink”.

If you are worried about the sugar in the drink, don’t be, the grains will eat it and turn it into carbon dioxide.

Water Kefir with Ginger 2nd Fermentation

 

What are the health benefits of water kefir:

  • Kefir lowers levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, cleans the gastrointestinal tract and stops the growth of cancer cells.

Water kefir contains many different strains of friendly bacteria, such as:

  •  Lactobacillus brevis, A colonizing species producing lactate, carbon dioxide, ethanol, and acetate. Resistant to gastric acid, bile acids, and digestive enzymes. Excellent adherent properties. Increases production of interferon. Metabolically unique in the production of arginine deaminase to break down arginine and reduce polyamine production, compounds associated with vaginal dysbiosis and intestinal carcinogenesis.
  • Lactobacillus casei rhamnosus , Produces more peptidases than any other Lactobacillus species. Favorably enhances innate and acquired immunity. Inhibits proinflammatory cytokine production. Outstanding colon epithelial cell adherence. Suppresses pathogenic Escherichia coli internalization. Antagonizes rotavirus and Clostridium difficile. Supports gut microflora during antibiotic therapy. May support immune function in infants with allergies.
  • Lactobacillus alactosus,
  • Lactobacillus casei casei, A hardy, adaptive transient species. Makes many proline-specific peptidases enhancing casein, casein-derived polypeptide, and gluten break down. Beneficially modulates innate immune responses. Increases the number of intestinal IgA-producing cells. Antagonizes Helicobacter pylori. Decreases proinflammatory cytokine secretion. Inhibits E. coli adherence to and invasion of intestinal cells. Decreases Shigella-mediated inflammation.
  • Lactobacillus pseudoplantarum,
  • Lactobacillus plantarum, A highly beneficial transient bacteria generally lacking in people consuming a standard Western diet while universally present in people consuming traditional plant-based diets. Exceedingly resistant to gastric acid and bile salts. Facilitates induction of the central regulatory cytokine, interleukin-12. Decreases production of inflammatory mediators. Supports intestinal barrier function. Reduces translocation of gut bacteria. Antagonizes C. difficile. Supports normal microflora in people with irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Streptococcus lactis,
  • Streptococcus cremeris,
  • Leuconostoc mesenteroide,
  • Saccharomyces florentinus,
  • Saccharomyces pretoriensis,
  • Kloeckera apiculata,
  • Candida lambica,
  • Candida valida 
  • Lactobacillus brevis has been identified as the species responsible for the production of the polysaccharide matrix that forms the grains.

Another health advantage of water kefir is that people who do not wish to consume dairy or have a vegan type diet may find that water kefir provides the living probiotics without the need for dairy or tea cultured products, like kombucha.Vegans also may like to know that through the fermentation process kefir becomes an excellent source of vitamin B12, and is high in vitamins B1 and B6.

Dr. Gabriel Cousens, a leading expert in the raw food community, writes in his book “Rainbow Green Live Food Cuisine“:

“Kefir grains produce right-rotating L(+) lactic acid, which is an important constituent of the human body. It is particularly important in the prevention of cancer and has been used experimentally with success in the treatment of cancer. In addition, right-rotating lactic acid may help maintaining healthy functioning of the heart. According to some researchers, the cells of the heart muscle obtain their energy primarily from right-rotating lactic acid.”

If you want to get an even deeper understanding into this amazing culture than feel free to have a read of this website. It is very extensive and incredibly interesting http://users.sa.chariot.net.au/~dna/kefirpage.html

So, there you go, a wonderful refreshing and most beneficial drink to share with the whole family!

Enjoy x

 

 

 

reference http://www.klaire.com/probioticleader3.htm