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Fermented Cabbage Stuffed Peppers

Fermented Cabbage Stuffed Peppers

If you’ve been around Almost Bananas for a while, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of fermented foods. All the probiotics are beneficial for your health in so many ways, confirmed by science. Fermenting preserves food, and tastes amazing while it’s making us healthier.

Fermenting food is kind of like having a running science experiment in your kitchen. Jars full of bubbling mixes, smells that we are no longer used to. Guests will wonder what on earth is going on in your kitchen.

Once upon a time these were normal foods. And now, we often have to accustom our taste buds to fermented foods, as many grow up without tasting them at all.

Here in Slovakia an old and common ferment is cabbage stuffed peppers. It’s warm enough here to grow peppers and this is a great way to preserve them for the winter. Click to continue reading

Nuts in Honey: a handmade gift

Nuts in Honey sweet Christmas gift

When do you start getting ready for Christmas?

In general, I start thinking about gifts in September but then do nothing until the last ten days beforehand. I want to make all sorts of cutesy crafts with the kids and get into that holiday spirit, but we’re lucky if we get some paper snowflakes cut out and taped to the window. I plan handmade gifts for everyone I know, and then end up with none.

This year, I’m going to get it all done in a timely manner. And trim my expectations to be a little more realistic.

Now, however, is a good time to start thinking about handmade gifts. If you feel intimidated by the idea, it can actually be quite simple They don’t have to be fancy, you don’t have to be crafty. Click to continue reading

Super Easy Sauerkraut

I’m a huge fan of fermenting foods, for probiotics benefits and more, but I’m an even bigger fan of healthy being simple and easy. This method of making sauerkraut utilizes time in place of work, making health and food preservation that much easier.

Lazy Sauerkraut

So, I totally and completely blew my 31 Days of Probiotics and Fermenting. It wasn’t for lack of ideas. I had more than 31 ideas of both information and recipes.

I was unrealistically enthusiastic. I forgot that I have kids, and that time management is still an area where I have room for much improvement. I still want to write on both topics though, so I’ll continue to update that page as an index.

Right now I have a recipe for super easy sauerkraut. If you have a food processor, you could even call it 5 min sauerkraut, because that’s about how much active time is involved. I don’t have a food processor, therefore cutting all those strands by hand takes a little more time (aren’t they lovely and thin strands?).

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Fermented Red Onion

 

Fermented Red Onions

 

As a ‘real foodie’, I have this idea that I should therefore like all real foods. I have a confession to make; I don’t like raw onions. Cooked onions are wonderful. In the winter, I go through kilos of onions in soups and stir fries. Caramelized onions, yummm. But raw? Nope. Only if they’ve been marinated for a very long time.

My oldest daughter, on the other hand, loves raw onions. She will voluntarily ask for raw onions on buttered (sourdough) bread, a very Slovak thing to eat. I gladly prepare it for her, because onions are healthy and all that. “Yumm, Mom, this is SO good! Have a bite.” Er…no thanks dear, I’ll let you enjoy it.

But then I came across the idea of Lactofermented Red Onions over at Delicious Obsessions and thought I’d try it.

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Baek (White) Kimchi

Kimchi, a Korean fermented pickle, is well known for it’s red colour and spicey flavour. This version of kimchi, baek means white, is actually probably older than the better known version, but just as delicious.

kimchi text

In my hometown in Canada, there has been a Korean restaurant or two at all times in the last 15 years or so. Buses full of Koreans come on tours through the Rocky Mountains, and they stop at the Korean restaurants, keeping the business running in a small town. These restaurants were my first introduction to metal chopsticks (harder than wood), lettuce rice wraps (so good), and sweet potato noodles (love. miss.).

My parents knew the owner of one of the restaurants, and my father called  her  up when we went there once as a family on one of my visits home. For us, she cooked real Korean food as opposed to the versions made for an American palate. What. A. Feast. Little dishes of various condiments, marinated beef still on the hot plate, dandelion kimchi, and those amazing noodles. The table was covered with various dishes that we shared. I rarely go to restaurants and am even more rarely impressed, but I still have visions about that meal.

Kimchi is a staple in Korea and I think it’s the cat’s meow that a fermented veggie is a national staple. According to a video I watched, 94% of Koreans have it every day, and 96% make it themselves instead of buying it in a store.

(What if 96% of North Americans and Europeans made their own yogurt? Or sauerkraut? Dreaming…but I digress.)

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Basil Lemon Walnut Cookies

These delicious raw cookies use basil, normally a savoury herb, to increase the complexity of these easy cookies. Lemon adds a touch of sunshine to a walnut and honey base.

Basil Lemon Walnut Cookies

I recently attempted to do GAPS. Attempted is the key word.

For those who don’t know what GAPS is, it’s a protocol to heal the gut. This does not affect only digestive issues (bloating, constipation, diarrhea), but helps improve other health issues as well. The acronym stands for Gut And Psychology Syndrome, as Dr. Campbell-McBride developed the program to help her autistic son.

The idea is that an impoverished digestive system can lead to a myriad of health problems because the food you eat actually becomes toxic to your body. The diet starves toxic pathogens in the gut by not eating disaccharides (like sugar, grains, potatoes, etc), heals the lining of the digestive tract with lots of bone broth (gelatin and lots of nutrients), and replaces the bad pathogens with good probiotics. As the gut heals, you slowly re-introduce foods back in, but it can take anywhere from six months to two years.

It’s pretty intensive, but I wanted to try for a number of reasons for our family, including dairy intolerance, bloating, ADHD, and a few other behavioural issues. (GAPS can also help heal allergies and food intolerances.)

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Apricot Juice Syrup

Any fruit can be used to make this juice concentrate. Keep in the fridge and pull out to make an instant glass of cold apricot nectar  to drink on hot summer days.

Apricot Juice Syrup

It’s apricot season right now, trees are laden with orange spheres of tart flesh.  It’s rather decorative, orange set against green. When tree fruits are in season, however, they come in a deluge but are soon over, gone for another year.

When we had the first basket of apricots, my husband buried his face in them and inhaled. “Ah,” he sighed, “the smell of summer.” When he was a child, his family would pick boxes of apricots and take them to sell in a spa town.  Click to continue reading

3 Ingredient AmazeBalls

3 Ingredient AmazeBalls

Sometimes accidents are happy.

I went into a bio shop (health food store) the other day looking for carob, which I happen to actually like. The package I bought was opaque and when I opened it at home I realized that the powder was much lighter than normal. It was only then that I noticed that on the package was written “raw carob”.

Most carob powder, made from the pod of the carob tree, is dark brown. Roasting the pod creates a strong, very distinct flavour. I like it, some hate it. Raw carob, on the other hand, is a light brown and has a much more subtle flavour.

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Cherry Mint Spritzer

 

Cherry Mint Spritzer

When I came to Europe, one difference that took me by surprise was the water. Europeans buy water more than I remember in North America, and there are so many options to choose from. Most people buy sparkling water, which I still haven’t really gotten used to. There are three types of water: no fizz, lightly fizzy, and regularly fizzy. Click to continue reading

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