summer recipes

Healing Tonic: Beet Kvass Recipe

Beet Kvass is a fermented, healing tonic. It originated in Eastern Europe, where it was originally prepared by fermenting stale bread. The resulting liquid was taken to fight against illness and disease. Today, you’ll find that kvass made from beets is just as healthy (if not more). Plus, it’s a bit tastier than stale bread! 

Beets are a delicious ruby-red root vegetable, most abundant during the late-summer and fall months. They have a unique grassy, earthy flavour that helps you feel more energetically rooted to the ground. 

You’ll find that a shot glass full of fresh-made kvass will have you looking and feeling healthy and vibrant. In fact, it will even provide you with a more sustainable energy boost than your 3pm coffee fix. Beets are already full of nutrients, but when fermented, you get a dose of gut-friendly bacteria to boot!

Benefits of Beet Kvass:*

  • Aids in digestion
  • Cleanses the liver
  • Boosts energy
  • Promotes blood alkalinity
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Excellent source of fibre (which is great for staying regular)

This tonic is simple to prepare with only 3 ingredients (water, salt and beets). You can have up to 2-4 ounces per day. I usually take about ¼ cup daily. Drink up, or use the liquid to make my gorgeous Cherry Blossom (Cauliflower) Kvass

Cheers to your health! 

Beet Kvass

Ingredients
2 cups water
1 ½ tsp. sea salt
1 medium beet, small dice

Equipment
1-litre glass Mason jar with lid
Mesh strainer

Directions

  1. Combine the water and salt to create brine. Set aside. 
  2. Fill the Mason jar with the diced beets. 
  3. Pour the brine over the beets, leaving one inch of space at the top of the jar. 
  4. Place the lid on tightly and let it ferment at room temperature, about 70-85° F (21-20° C).
  5. Let it sit on the counter for 2 weeks, turning it upside down every day for the first week. This will allow the gas to build up so that the beets stay covered in the brine.
  6. When ready, strain the liquid into a clean jar and store it in the fridge. You can use the leftover beets in salads and rice bowls. 

Ready to fall in love with kvass? Let me know what you think of this recipe in the comments below or join the conversation on Instagram

*Reference: Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.

Preserve Summer: Dill Pickles Recipe

As the summer ends, there’s a lot to start missing about the season. Sunny days at the beach or pool, excuses for long weekend trips and longer daylight hours are just some of summer’s best qualities. But there’s another thing I’ll be missing as the weather cools: cucumbers! Luckily, fermentation allows my favorite vegetables to be preserved well past their usual prime. 

If you’re like me and don’t want to let cucumber season get away, pickling is a great option. Not only do you get to continue enjoying them, but your body also gets to enjoy the many health benefits of cultured foods. 

Pickles are just one example of a fermented food that people love, but most store-bought varieties have skipped the fermentation process. Instead, they’re made through a quick-pickling method, meaning they get their flavor by adding acid. This way, the pickles don’t have to formulate healthy bacteria. 

My Dill Pickles are actually fermented, meaning they undergo the lacto-fermentation process to self-preserve by creating beneficial bacteria. This method is healthier and better for your gut. Win-win!

Dill Pickles

Yields: 1 gallon

Ingredients
4 lbs. small cucumbers
2 bulbs garlic, peeled and chopped
1 handful dill weed
1 handful grape leaves (or other tannin-rich leaves)
1 Tbsp. peppercorns
2 tsp. minced horseradish
1 tsp. hot chili pepper flakes
2 ½ quarts spring or filtered water
¼ cup sea salt

Equipment
1-gallon crock or jar* 

Directions

  1. Get the pickles ready: Gently wash the cucumbers. Place the garlic, dill weed, grape leaves, peppercorns, horseradish and chili pepper flakes in a 1-gallon crock.
  2. Fill the crock: Tightly pack the cucumbers in the crock, placing larger cucumbers at the bottom. Combine the water and salt to make brine and pour over the cucumbers. Put a plate or other weight on top of the cucumbers and add brine to completely submerge all of the ingredients. Cover the crock with a towel held in place with a rubber band.
  3. Time to ferment: In a few days, fermentation will begin. Bubbling can last anywhere from 2-4 weeks, depending on the temperature. When bubbling has ceased, sample a cucumber. If it has not pickled through to the center, give them some more time. When they are fully pickled, transfer to fridge for storage. (A half-sour pickle will still be raw and crunchy in the center.)

*Gut Girl Note: This recipe can also be made in two 2-liter jars—simply divide the seasonings between them.

Heal Your Gut! My Dill Pickles recipe is just one of many ways to prepare fresh ingredients that will assist in maintaining a healthy gut flora. If you want more information, check out my free Daily Gut-Healing Checklist

Fermented Macadamia-Nut Feta

You probably already know the health benefits of nuts—they’re full of protein and unsaturated fats. But what you might not know is that each kind of nut has unique health benefits. Another little-known fact? They can be made into delicious dairy-free cheeses!

I love using macadamia nuts when making fermented cheese, because they contain vitamin A, iron, protein (two grams per serving!), thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. They also contain small amounts of selenium (an antioxidant), calcium, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium.

What all of this means is that macadamia nuts support digestion, bone health, and protect skin and hair. So you can probably guess that I love finding excuses to use these in my dishes. If you’re still not loving macadamia nuts, almonds are another great option for this recipe.

New to using nuts? One tip: nuts are best soaked or partially sprouted because they contain enzyme inhibitors that can strain the digestive tract when consumed in excess. Soaking your nuts makes them easier to digest and their nutrients more readily available. Salt also activates enzymes that neutralize enzyme inhibitors.

Now, on to the recipe…

Fermented Macadamia-Nut Feta

Yield: 2 cups nut cheese

Ingredients
2 cups raw macadamia nuts
1 cup coconut kefir, or 1 cup water with 2 capsules of probiotic powder
1 Tbsp. finely chopped green onion
1-2 tsp. nutritional yeast flakes or miso
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. minced garlic
¼-⅛ tsp. salt, plus more for soaking the nuts

Equipment
Jar for soaking the nuts
Nut cheese bag (Pro Quality Nut Milk Bag or Iqzeens Nut Milk Bag) or a paint strainer bag from you local hardware store. Alternatively, try this cheesecloth.

Directions

  1. Soak nuts overnight in salt water, then dry in a warm oven or dehydrator.
  2. Blend nuts and coconut kefir in a high-speed blender and continue to mix until smooth. Add more of your liquid if necessary to form a smooth, creamy texture. 
  3. Pour into a nut bag or cheesecloth-lined strainer. Allow to strain for 18-48 hours.
  4. After the fermentation process, remove the cheese from the nut bag or cheesecloth. Combine with the green onion, nutritional yeast, lemon, garlic, and salt.
  5. Refrigerate the cheese until ready to use. Season further or sweeten your cheese as desired before serving.

Gut Girl Notes

  • Be sure to store your cheese in an airtight container in the refrigerator; nut cheese will last for up to two weeks.
  • When straining, you can place the nut bag over a bowl or a colander with a weight on top. This will apply pressure and push out the excess liquid over the process time. The longer it sits the more tart your nut cheese will be, so feel free to give it a little taste along the way. I like to let it sit for a couple of days.  

Next week I’ll be sharing my Watermelon & Fermented Goat Cheese Summer Salad, so be sure to check back for a fun way to use your new cheese-making skills. And you can always let me know what you think in the comments below, or snap a picture and tag us! I’d love to see what you create.

Summer Sipping Vinegars

You’ve probably heard by now that apple cider vinegar (ACV) is really good for you. It helps detoxify your body and clear out toxins. But for many, its tangy taste can be a little hard to get down. Good thing there’s is a new drink in town, called Sipping Vinegar! Well, it’s actually not so new. People have been drinking it for centuries, but it’s all the rage right now. 

My first vinegar-based recipe was called the Flu Shot a.k.a. Fire Cider. This was made from a combination of apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, orange juice, fresh herbs, turmeric, garlic, ginger, peppercorns, horseradish and more… I’d let this infuse for about 6 weeks and take a tablespoon or two to keep cold and flu germs away. 

So when I came across the idea of Sipping Vinegars, I knew they were for me. I’m all about the powerful health benefits and immunity boost. I also knew I could have some fun in the kitchen, because the flavours are vibrant, fresh and exciting. 

For the base, you can use any type of vinegar from ACV to balsamic to champagne. The creativity comes with the plentiful array of summer fruits and herbs you can add. For example: strawberry and basil, blueberry and thyme, raspberry and mint or ginger and cilantro. The list can go on and on.

To make Sipping Vinegars, I refer to the recipes featured on Ellen Ford’s DIY Network blog. They’re quite simple and quick to make—and as you know, I love simple! 

Summer Sipping Vinegars

Basic Formula:

1 cup vinegar
1 cup fruit
¼ cup herbs
½ cup sugar

Recipes:

For recipes and flavour combinations, check out Ellen Ford’s blog, “How to Make Drinking Vinegar.” (We have our eye on the Cherry & Sage in Champagne Vinegar.) Give one a try and enjoy a delicious, non-alcoholic sip all summer long! 

Don’t forget to let us know what you think in the comments below. Or, post a pic on Instagram. Tag us with the hashtag #summersips.