Thursday, January 10, 2013

2013 So Far: Going 'Mad Scientist' In the Kitchen

I have so many things I want to blog about. I literally have a list going, but for whatever reason other things keep getting in the way. But I'm right here, right now writing so let's do this. One topic at a time. Keeping it simple and interesting is the goal.

I got a bug up my ass near the end of 2012 to do things a little differently in 2013. I had my offseason and it worked well. The passion and the desire to train hard again came back. As did the desire to take a healthy lifestyle to another level. I mean, nothing crazy in terms of being overly restrictive and/or depriving myself. Yuck. Rather, incorporating some even healthier things into the routine that haven't been there before. Food for example: Trying some things outside the box of "mainstream healthy foods," I guess you could say, plus taking a money-saving approach in doing so, i.e. not buying such things at a higher price from Whole Foods or wherever. I give WF enough of my money as is! Sheesh!

Nourishing Traditions
It started with a Christmas gift to John and I, from Santa (aka me), with a book called Nourishing Traditions. I heard of this book through our sports nutrition podcasts on Endurance Planet and was intrigued. It's considered "the cookbook that challenges politically correct nutrition and the diet dictocrats." I'll be honest, I was more excited about this book than John was... but once I started yapping about the contents and then turning our kitchen into somewhat of a foodie science experiment, I think I piqued his interest.

Description of NT from

"This well-researched, thought-provoking guide to traditional foods contains a startling message: Animal fats and cholesterol are not villains but vital factors in the diet, necessary for normal growth, proper function of the brain and nervous system, protection from disease and optimum energy levels. Sally Fallon dispels the myths of the current low-fat fad in this practical, entertaining guide to a can-do diet that is both nutritious and delicious.
Nourishing Traditions will tell you:
  1. Why your body needs old fashioned animal fats
  1. Why butter is a health food
  1. How high-cholesterol diets promote good health
  1. How saturated fats protect the heart
  1. How rich sauces help you digest and assimilate your food
  1. Why grains and legumes need special preparation to provide optimum benefits
  1. About enzyme-enhanced food and beverages that can provide increased energy and vitality
  1. Why high-fiber, lowfat diets can cause vitamin and mineral deficiencies
Topics include the health benefits of traditional fats and oils (including butter and coconut oil); dangers of vegetarianism; problems with modern soy foods; health benefits of sauces and gravies; proper preparation of whole grain products; pros and cons of milk consumption; easy-to-prepare enzyme enriched condiments and beverages; and appropriate diets for babies and children."

Sounds cool, right? Well, I already have the high-fat thing going, and I'm careful with grains. But more foreign to me are other things extensively covered in the book such as lacto-fermentation. Exert from NT on lacto-fermentation. That said, this week I got some supplies to go for it. The priorities on my list were: 

1) homebrew kombucha
2) ferment cabbage aka make sauerkraut

Here's my list of supplies for both those tasks below. Take notes if you're interested in doing this as well! Easier than it seems, so far at least ;)

Needed to buy:

1) Gallon glass jar
2) quart-size, wide-mouth, glass mason jars
(I bought in bulk; 12 jars for about $13).
3) dish cloths (the thin, white kind)
4) rubber bands
5) organic cabbage (farmers market!)
6) caraway seeds
7) full-fat goats yogurt (to make whey)
8) raw, organic kombucha (got Dave's GT)
9) organic black tea bags

Things I had at home already:

for kombucha
1) pot to boil water
2) organic sugar
3) leftover kombucha bottles for bottling (duh!)

and for sauerkraut
1) large mixing bowl
2) strainer
3) medium glass bowl 
4) wood pounder
5) sea salt

...I think that's all.

And so it began...

Kombucha: Grow the Scoby First
Most of you probably know the benefits of kombucha, minus it's high cost to buy... So no need to explain my desire to brew. Also, a lot of you probably know that to make kombucha you need a scoby as a starter. Last night I started growing my scoby. It's pretty simple to do, just takes time though.

Instructions that I followed: Buy a kombucha. Brew some black tea and add 1 tbsp sugar. Let tea cool entirely then combine that and the store-bought kombucha in the gallon glass jar. Cover with a dish cloth so it can breath but be protected. Then wait until scoby is about 1/4" thick. Then you can brew.

Next up...

I've always loved sauerkraut and didn't realize it could be such a health food - rich in probiotics and enzymes, helpful in digestion, among other benefits. Unfortunately, though, what we know of sauerkraut on most store shelves is not a health food at all. That's because it goes though pasteurization and preservatives are added, thus killing off any good bacteria and/or nutrients and adding in crap that we don't want.

Well I want the good stuff! In addition to NT, I've been reading a lot of blogs on making sauerkraut, and some people say use the whey as a starter, some people say just use salt. I did a jar of each so we will see. The whey helps "do it right" by acting as a starter, promoting the growth of good bacteria, lacto-bacilli. I had fun making the whey (see pic/instructions below). more fun was seeing John's look of curiosity as to what the heck I was doing.

After the whey is ready, you can make the sauerkraut. The recipe from NT on this is all over blogs online, so no need to repeat. Here's a well-written one that I found. (She also linked to the same thing I linked to above, so I approve.) I also have some pics of the process below...

Now I Gotta Wait?!
The crappy part about all this fermentation stuff is that I start making it and immediately want to try. But I can't. Talk about a test in patience. Also, let's hope things go well for my first try. There is a chance that these things may not work - could go bad, or whatever. Just gotta wait and see though.


Making Sauerkraut in pictures:

#1) Whey
To make whey, get full-fat yogurt first. Then line a strainer with a dish towel and place that over a larger bowl, then pour yogurt onto towel. Let it sit for quite a few hours (I waited 5), and the whey will drip into the bowl. Use that for the sauerkraut, and save the top part for eating - it's thicker and tangier like cream cheese, so good!
#2) Prepping the cabbage

add whey, salt, caraway seeds; mix, then smash more.

#3) Canning the cabbage
stuff in jar

leave room, and juice, at the top.

I'll leave you with this... a funny email I just got from John, somewhat related. hehe. Oh, our poor household!

Urban Dictionary "word of the day"

January 10: Healthy Gas

The gas (fart) produced from a person who has eaten healthy foods like cabbage, beans, broccolli, grains, or other high fiber, high carbohydrate foods.
Bart: "Eeeeewwww! What's that smell"?
Homer: "That's just me, emitting healthy gas".
Bart: "Healthy my ass! All you eat is donuts and beer".
Homer: "Don't forget the four burritos Bart. And that egg sandwich on whole grain bread".
Bart: "I'm impressed Homer. Impressed how stinky your farts are".
Lisa: "Mom! Don't light the stove yet! Homers been eating healthy again, and has healthy gas"!


  1. Yo Coach Tawnee!

    There's nothing wrong with this post. One of my motto's is "Animal fat makes everything better". There's a reason why a lot of people like butter, bacon, etc etc...

    Healthy Gas... that's a good one!

  2. Yum. I love brewing my own Kombucha. My experience is that green tea and brown sugar is better than black tea and regular sugar.

  3. Hey Tawnee,

    I've long time follower of your blog, kind of more than couple of years...but never commented here due to being lazy...

    I saw this pic of yours on Well + Good NYC, and thought should share with you if you aren't aware of it...

    Have fun...