Winter Staycation + Traditional Stew

Hey 🙂

How was your weekend? Mine was exactly what I needed… a few evenings at home to reset and recharge.

IMG_3943

Valentine’s Day was just what I’d hoped for; a lovely dinner at Brewbaker’s with my sweetheart featuring Thai Vermicelli, the signature vegan dish available upon request, and a glass of vino. Did you know one rose means I love you? ❤

Dinner was followed by a relaxing evening at home with chocolates, more wine, and this little party animal passing out by 10:30 😉

IMG_3946

The good news? My BodyStep instructor told me that’s the secret: start early and end early. You can have just as much fun and still make it to Step the next morning… lol

Regardless, I still felt abnormally exhausted all day Saturday. I guess it was just the busy week and previous social weekends catching up with me. We were originally supposed to head to Salisbury for the night to see Meag before she went back to the west coast but the weather was having none of that. After Friday’s weather bomb covered us in snow and freezing rain, another storm hit Saturday night that buried us again.

IMG_2593 IMG_2596

Anticipating the storm, we and decided to stick close to home, spending Saturday shopping around and running some errands. A little staycation actually sounded pretty good since I clearly needed some time to recharge.

I bought a new winter jacket which I desperately needed. It seems I only own long coats and one warm jacket which I wear to work so it smells like pulpmill… Mmm.. this super light, down alternative jacket will be perfect for to-and-from and is unbelievably warm. I was skeptical about the colour at first but the lovely lady at the Radical Edge convinced me it was a good choice. She was right. Thanks Kaylee 😉

IMG_2610

Since we were snowed in for most of the day on Sunday I decided it was the perfect day for some housework I’d been putting off. Most people would consider this laundry, sweeping & dishes….

Child’s play. I was ready to clean & organize my fridge and drawers. Don’t judge. I like clean.

IMG_2598 IMG_2601

I also made a big pot of traditional-style stew which filled our apartment with the smell of “home”. It was the perfect comfort food for a cold, wintery Sunday evening.

I usually make something like my Spicy Sweet Potato Tofu Stew but went the more “traditional” route this time. By traditional I mean the kind of stew my mom used to make with beef and lots of root veggies. By “traditional” I mean tofu in place of beef 😉

IMG_2605

If you’ve never added tofu to your veggie stew you’re missing out! It absorbs the flavour of the broth, spices, & veggies and gets oh so soft in the slow cooker…. omnomnom!

I bet you want the recipe, don’t you? If you’re an Atlantic Canadian you can totally appreciate this kind of soul warming goodness! If you’re living some place that you’re not buried in snow, you might not be as excited to dig in to a big hot bowl of stew. For my fellow east coasters, here’s what’s in the Crockpot:

———————————————–

“Traditional” Stew with Tofu

Serves approx. 8

  • 2 medium sweet potato
  • 3 medium white potato
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 small turnip
  • 3 large carrots
  • 1 head cabbage
  • 1 block tofu, pressed
  • 2 cartons veggie broth
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil
  • 2 tbsp thyme, dried
  • 2 tbsp oregano, dried
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • salt & pepper to taste

Chop your veggies and add all ingredients to a large slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. My Crockpot was FULL so it needed the entire 8 hours.

———————————————–

This is a dish best served the following day. I would almost recommend NOT eating it the day of, and waiting to enjoy it when the flavours are fully incorporated.

I’m thinking about another WIAW post this week if I can remember to photograph my meals before I devour them 😉 Stay tuned!

IMG_2604

So how about you…

Are you sick of the snow yet?
Are you a fan of homemade stews?

Liz xo

8 Chocolatey Love Day Recipes <3

Happy Valentine’s Day!:)

I totally love this day!! Ever since I was a little girl and my very first Valentine was my mom, she always did something special for breakfast and had some chocolates & a little gift waiting for me when I woke up. You don’t need extravagant plans with a significant other to spread love today. Don’t ruin the fun by boycotting Valentine’s Day just because it’s “a day to promote consumerism”.

vday

Here’s what I had to say about the day of love on my Facebook today:

I don’t care that Valentine’s Day is a made up, commercialized Hallmark holiday. Guess what? So is Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Secretary’s Day, etc. Would you boycott Mother’s Day too…? Why can’t we take one day to drop our ordinary routines and do something extra special with someone (anyone!) we love? 

You have to make your own happiness. Why not just accept this day as an excuse to dine out, eat chocolate for breakfast, and give someone a pretty card? You don’t need to spend a tonne of money or do something extraordinary. Just be happy. Wear red. Eat candy. Say I love you.

Happy Valentine’s Day to ALL of my amazing family & friends. I can’t name everyone but you know who you are ♥♥♥

I hope you all agree 🙂

IMG_1235

Something I do have to say about traditional Valentine’s Day gifts is that those heart shaped boxes of chocolates are usually pretttty unhealthy. Now, I know a day like today isn’t about being “healthy” but I because I feel so strongly about food and how it fuels out bodies, our lives, I prefer to say I love you with homemade, plant-based treats as much as possible.

I can’t feel good about saying “I love you, but here’s a bag of high fructose corn syrup that has been linked to diabetes, heart problems, and other health concerns”. Not at all…

Here’s a little compilation of some sweet treats you can feel good about this Valentine’s Day!

8 Chocolatey Love Day Recipes ❤

Chocolate Rice Crispy Squares via Georgia Trying Something New (from The Kind Food Diet)

rice crispy squares

My FAVOURITE Peanut Better Balls from Oh She Glows

IMG_2214

Crockpot Chocolate Almond Bark from Hol-Fit

crockpot almond bark

Basic Chocolate Cupcakes via Lizzie Fit (from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World)

photo 5

Double Chocolate Avocado Ice Cream from Hummusapien

dble choc avo ice cream

For the single ladies: Healthy Birthday Valentine’s Day Cupcake for One from Lizzie Fit

IMG_1512

Basic Chocolate Covered Strawberries (or pretzels, orange slices, etc.)

Melt some dark chocolate in a pot with a little coconut oil. Dip your strawberries or other fruit/pretezels in the chocolate then transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate until set then enjoy 🙂

IMG_2584

Three-Ingredient Cookies from Skinny Taste

3-ingredients cookies

More great round-ups can be found all over the blogosphere today! I suggest checking out Hummusapien and Oh She Glows for desserts and Making Thyme for Health and I Heart Vegetables for some vegan vegetarian dinner ideas.

What are you doing to spread love this Valentine’s Day?

Will you be making some heart-healthy treats? 

Happy Love Day Ya’ll ❤

Liz xo

Keep Calm & Eat Cupcakes + Basic Chocolate Cupcake Recipe

Hey, hey 🙂

How is everyone’s week going so far? I’m feeling pretty great in the second week of the Find Your Balance February challenge. This weekend was a perfect balance of indulgent and requirement. I made my very first from-scratch cupcakes for Meagan’s birthday: Chocolate Mint Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World!

photo 5

I was super excited to make them but super nervous at the same time. I read the book’s introduction to familiarize myself with necessary tools, ingredients & techniques. Then I read the ingredients and directions through about 10 times before heading to the grocery store. I bought everything I needed including a carrying tray and decorating kit then read the ingredients another 10 times.

photo 3 photo 4

I baked the cupcakes on Friday night and used every ounce of restraint in my body not to eat half the batter. OOOOMG batter 😀

photo 1

I decorated them on Saturday morning and topped them off with a piece of Camino mint dark chocolate and used the remaining morsels of restraint I had not to stuff my face before they made it to Meag’s. OOOOMG icing 😀

photo 2

They were 100% approved by vegans (me) and non-vegans (everyone else) alike. Everyone said they never would have known they were vegan and I was even asked for the recipe. WIN!

photo 5

Usually when I enter into this kind of foreign activity I either totally win or totally womp. I’m going to pat myself on the back and say this one was a win 😉

On the requirement side of things, which I guess I need to share before you think I survived on only cupcakes for the rest of the weekend, I had some delicious smoothies packed with extra power foods like wheatgrass & raw cacao. Since we had pineapple in the house I couldn’t resist a Green-a-Colada and I also bought some frozen cherries to bring back my all-time favourite chocolate cherry bomb smoothie.

photo 1

I had a few killer workouts, especially the new BodyStep – holy crap! I did not think my heart rate would stay so high in the class I consider by B-level cardio. How have I not tested the Polar at BodyAttack yet?!

photo 3 photo 4

I am also pretty proud of last week’s balance of yoga, strength & cardio workouts. Here’s my plan for this week:

Monday – BodyStep
Tuesday – BodyPump + CX Worx (core)
Wednesday – Hot Flow
Thursday – BodyAttack
Friday – Hot Yoga
Saturday – BodyPump OR solo weights session
Sunday – OFF 🙂

Now… since I’ve left your mouth totally water for cupcakes (how mean), I thought I’d share the recipe for Isa Chandra’s basic chocolate cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. They serve as the base for many of her cupcake recipes, including the chocolate mint. I’ve seen the recipe shared on several blogs & recipe sites including chow.com so I figured it was safe to share it here!

————————————————————————————-

Basic Chocolate Cupcake Recipe

Makes 12 cupcakes

photo 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp almond extract, chocolate extract, or more vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder (Dutch processed or regular)
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a muffin pan (preferably aluminum) with paper or foil liners.
  2. Whisk together the soy milk and vinegar in a large bowl and set aside for a few minutes to curdle. Add the sugar, oil, vanilla extract, and other extract, if using, to the soy milk mixture and beat until foamy. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add in two batches to wet ingredients and beat until no large lumps remain (a few tiny lumps are OK).
  3. Pour into liners, filling ¾ of the way. Bake 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.
  4. Decorate accordingly.

photo 1

*LESSONS LEARNED:

  • Do not overfill cupcake liners. If your pouring results in 11 filled liners instead of 12 your cupcakes will be a little rounded on top and the icing won’t sit as nicely (i.e. it will droop to one side and might completely fall off… so then you will definitely have to eat that one…)
  • Using an aluminum pan will make softer, fluffier cupcakes than stainless steel muffin pans. Do the magnet test: If a magnet sticks, its not aluminum.
  • Sift, sift, sift. Do not rely on just mixing. The end result is so much better.
  • Let cool COMPLETELY before decorating. This is why I baked them the night before to avoid an impatient Lizzie 😉
  • I don’t recommend trying to make these gluten-free. Basic all-purpose flour results in a totally different final product if you ask me. Lucky for the gluten-sensitive there are gluten-free cupcake recipes in the book.
  • You can sub some whole-wheat pastry flour (not regular whole wheat flour) as per Isa’s recommendations in the book’s intro BUT whole wheat flour results in a more dense cupcake.

Go get em, Martha- I mean Isa! 😉

Liz xo

Persinnamon Heart Smoothie

Well…

What a week this has been. I am more than ready for the weekend and can’t wait to tune out for 2 whole days 🙂 I don’t want to be one of those people who wait all week for Friday but I really, really LOVE Fridays! I have something to love about every other day of the week too… Bachelor Mondays, BodyAttack Tuesdays…. but no day will ever compare to Friday. Not even if Juan Pablo showed up at my door with a rose every Wednesday. My boyfriend is way cooler anyway 😉

My only worry… I woke up this morning with a throbbing sore throat! I’ve been taking extremely good care of myself so I am hoping that I can kick this before Saturday night’s events. I pulled out all the stops this morning:

carrot beet ginger

Juice
Wheatgrass shots
Echinacea
Ginger tea with lemon
And packed a lunch full of fruit and veggies (did you know kale has more vitamin C than an orange per 100 g?)

Who needs luck when you have PLANT POWER! If you want to know exactly how I’ve avoided getting sick for over a year you can read about my witchcraft here 😉

Speaking of delicious fruits, loaded with vitamin C and other bug-fighting abilities, how about them persimmon?

photo 2

These little gems have about 70 calories per 100 g and contain loads of vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants. They are a very good source of vitamin-C, especially native Chinese and American persimmon which provide 80% of the daily recommended intake.

Persimmon have many B-complex vitamins such as folic acid, pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), thiamin, etc.  For more details on the health benefits, check out this source.

photo 1

Persimmon is the star in February’s smoothie of the month, combined with the key to any great smoothie – banana, a little natural sweetness from dates, and a warm hug from a some cinnamon and spice.

photo 5

There are no cinnamon hearts involved directly, but the persimmon-cinnamon (persinnamon) smoothie holds the key to my post-yoga heart this February. Try it, you’ll like it 🙂

Persinnamon Heart Smoothie

Serves 2

  • 1.5 cups almond milk
  • 2 persimmon, peeled
  • 1 banana*
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 2 medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • pinch nutmeg
  • optional: 1 cup spinach

Blend everything up in your weapon of choice and garnish with a cinnamon stick if you’re fancy like that!

photo 4

*For a banana substitution, try 1/4-1/2 an avocado (warning: this will turn your smoothie light green) or 1/2 cup coconut yogurt. For added sweetness, toss in an extra date or 2 until desired results are achieved. For a thicker consistency, decrease the almond milk and/or increase the cashews.

photo (11)

Have an amazing weekend and stay on top of your health this winter 🙂

Liz xo

Yoga, Beer & Balance

It’s going to be a FABulous February!

First of all, its the month of love ❤ It’s also my favourite guy’s bday & my girl Meag is home for 2 weeks! We had a great weekend together, hanging out and spending money doing girl stuff and this weekend we will be celebrating her birthday with dancing, drinks & vegan cupcakes 😀

Speaking of cupcakes, let’s talk about your 2014 resolutions (did you think I’d let you forget so fast?) Now that #JumpstartJanuary has come to an end, I hope you aren’t starting to stray from your commitments. I’ve said it a million times before, you don’t need a new year, a new week, or a new day to make a change. There is nothing any different about the first of February than the first of January when it comes to setting & achieving your goals.

jump-start january 2

Whether it’s health, fitness, personal, or career-related, do something today to take a step in the direction of achieving your goals. It could be as simple as getting up 10 minutes early or swapping your muffin for a green smoothie.

Make. It. Happen.

Because you’re worth it!

End rant 🙂

So my January was pretty amazing. I completed a 30 day yoga challenge which was actually 32 days since it ran from Jan 3 – Feb 3. I only missed 1 day out of the first 30 to attend the BodyAttack new release. I tried every class at Moksha Yoga (except Barre) and loved them all but my favourite is definitely Hot Flow. I love the quick-pace & challenging poses.

photo 2

I can officially say I moved my body every day in January which was our intention for JSJ when Georgia and I teamed up for the challenge. I loved finally getting to meet Georgia and enjoyed sharing the challenge with the lovely Brittany from My Own Balance. I had no idea she was going to be doing her own Jumpstart January series of posts but she did an awesome job sharing tips & workouts throughout the month to motivate others to get back on track with her in the New Year.

To keep the motivation rolling, I signed up for Brittany’s Find Your Balance February challenge via Challenge Loop. The only requirement is to do ONE thing each day during the month of February to work towards a healthier lifestyle. The details on how to sign up and participate are outlined in her post.

This balance-focused challenge couldn’t have come at a better time.

I was beginning to burn myself out with 6 days of group-ex classes and weight training last fall. I was also counting calories and macronutrients and driving myself crazy. I let go a little over the holidays, maybe a bit more than I wanted to,  and  I was totally surprised when I returned home to find… Nothing! Not a single extra pounds on my hips, rear or thighs (lol).

what to my wondering eyes

Mind you, I didn’t go eating everything in sight. I stopped eating when I was full and incorporated salads into most meals, but I happily indulged wine & beer, cookies & chips, and a few very fun late nights. Despite not writing down each morsel of food and being off my strict schedule, the world did not end.

So this past month I decided to do a little experiment. What if I didn’t do 6 days of crazy workouts and tried this yoga thing… What if I just ate when I felt hungry even if it was more calories than I allotted for? What if I just focused on eating a variety of healthy foods, mainly plant-based whole foods, but didn’t stress over a night of beer & appetizers with friends?

Games and Dip

And guess what happened…. nothing!

Nothing, except that I was way more relaxed and enjoyed the past month more than I’ve enjoyed myself in a long time.

I seem to flow in and out of this “balanced lifestyle” concept; feeling good for some time then feeling compelled to find that rigid structure again. But I think finding your balance takes time and experience. It takes trial and error and you have to experience both sides; balance and instability.

During Find Your Balance February I will be trying to keep my January mindset. Yes I want to be “on track” and treating my body to the next level kind of health it thrives on (kefir, anyone?), but I will be slowing down by keeping 2-3 days of yoga in my week, and enjoying my beer guilt-free.

I encourage you to sign up for the challenge and work toward finding your balance as well!

photo (10)

This month I will be keeping it clean for the most part during the week and saving my indulgences for the weekend (unless something fun comes up, of course). Like I said, this weekend is Meagan’s birthday and I am 110% percent positive there will be cupcakes.

In addition to 2-3 days of yoga, I will be getting back into BodyAttack once a week with 1-2 days of strength training and/or other cardio depending on my schedule. I will still be moving my body 5-6 days a week but I won’t be pushing myself to exhaustion. I never want to dread my workout. I love to love fitness!

So who’s with me? Find your balance, choose health, enjoy life ❤

End second rant 😉

Liz xo

Currently in January

Oh hey there 😉

I’m feeling something a little different on the blog today… If you’re a regular reader of mine you know my blog is mostly informative posts, recipes, & workouts. I tend to stray from the personal posts for the most part. I guess because I feel like that’s why I started this… to inform and inspire, not to talk about myself.

But I love knowing what my favourite bloggers are up to outside of their kitchens & the gym. That’s part of the inspiration factor… What does a fitness & health blogger do when she’s not doing fitness & health related activities?

I got a lot of positive feedback about my WIAW post so I thought I’d jump on the “currently” train as well, a post theme created by Me and the Mountains. I’m sure my current eats & workouts will find their way in there regardless, so let’s do it 😉

Currently in January

Current books:

The Eco Chick Guide to Life: How to Be Fabulously Green – Starre Vartan. I’m not going to lie… I take forever to read a book. Mostly because I get busy with other tasks then lose my desire to go back to it. Plus I always seem to have a fiction and a non-fiction on the go at the same time. Currently I also have Wheat Belly half read…. get it together Liz!

EcoChick

But about the Eco Chick – awesome book so far! I’m very interested in learning about how my everyday behaviours affect the environment. The best part is that the author gives brand names of eco-friendly products she personally uses (including furniture and jeans!) and practical advice on how to change your habits.

Current music:

Lorde – Pure Heroine. I’ve had the entire album on repeat for days and Moksha yoga has been using her songs on their class playlists all month. Love it!

lorde

Current guilty pleasure:

Dipping my finger in the Dark Chocolate Dreams. At least once a day. Oh my…

July 12 009

Current nail colour:

Fingers? Au Naturel… I can’t keep polish from chipping with my job so I ALWAYS rock toe nail polish. Currently my tootsies are painted in OPI’s Jade is the New Black 🙂

IMG_2503

Current Drink:

Juice, juice and more juice! Ryan thought he felt something coming on this week so I’m thankful we started juicing regularly again (at least 3 x per week). We’ve been able to avoid getting sick so far this year so hopefully #plantpower doesn’t fail me now 😉 Current favourite recipe? The usual suspects. Check out my fave juice recipes.

IMG_2547

Current food:

These 3-ingredients cookies I saw on my friend Britt’s Instagram. Combine 2 mashed ripe bananas with 1 cup of oats and fold in 1/4 cup chocolate chips (Camino or Enjoy Life are vegan). Bake for 13-15 min at 350 C. SO YUMMY!

IMG_2540

Current favourite show:

The Bachelor. No shame. This could part of the reason for slacking on the books 😉

juan pablo

Current wishlist:

New WARM winter boots! I love my Hunter’s but they are not warm unless wearing massive socks. I’ve been eyeing these Sorel Tivoli boots 😉

sorel

Current needs:

More sleep. I’ve been getting back into bad habits of staying up late and sleeping past my first and second alarm. This leads to cranky, rushed mornings. Me no likey.

Current triumphs:

I did my first supported headstand (Sirasana) this week at hot yoga! I was shocked at how easily my legs floated upward after struggling to find the pose numerous times. My progressive strength and flexibility are amazing me every week 🙂

IMG_3815

Current bane of my existence:

My 30-day yoga challenge. I’m on day 28/30 and so far I’ve only missed one day for the BodyAttack new release class. I did a couple of weight sessions this month but put 95% of my focus on yoga. I wanted to go all in and really see a 30 day challenge could do for me.  I never imagined I would fall in love with yoga like this and I’m kind of sad my unlimited pass is almost up 😦 So what’s next?…. you’ll just have to stay tuned, of course!

Current celebrity crush:

Can a pod-caster count as a celebrity? If so it’s totally Rich Roll right now… I’ve been loving The Rich Roll Podcast and I’ve learned SO MUCH from his episodes. Every day after work I have a new fact or 10 to share with Ryan. Here’s the iTunes description of the podcast:

In The Rich Roll Podcast, vegan ultra-athlete and #1 bestselling author of the inspirational memoir “Finding Ultra”, Rich Roll discusses all things wellness with some of the brightest and most forward thinking minds in health & fitness, including world-class athletes, doctors, nutritionists, trainers, entrepreneurs & artists. Topics include: general fitness & endurance, ultra-endurance multisport training, vegan / plant-based nutrition / cooking, meditation, yoga, sustainable lifestyle and beyond. The goal? To help empower YOU to become your best, most authentic self.

rich roll

Current indulgence:

Saturday night drinks has been a more frequent occurrence lately and I’m OK with that. I enjoy having drinks with friends and decided to stop over-thinking the calories and just enjoy it once in a while. Life is too short. Do what makes you happy 🙂

Tksgvng 012

Current blessing:

A warm house, with hot water and power during this  freezing cold winter. That might sound like such a small, simple thing but after the power outages over the holidays in Ontario and New Brunswick I’ve been especially grateful for the necessities.

Current slang:

Brain trust. A guy at work uses this to refer to anyone who’s smart (or not) but drives him crazy with their ideas and theories. I told him this week I was going to take it up.

Current outfit:

Tights & heavy sweaters. Everywhere. It’s been ridiculously cold here for the entire winter so far (except for a most appreciated week in mid-January) and I can’t stand to be cold.

Current excitement:

Two upcoming weekends with one of my best girlfriends, Meag 😀 She’s been in Fort MacMurray since last March and I’ve only seen her for a few days in September since she left. I can’t even describe my excitement to spend some girl time with her ❤

thrift shop

Current mood:

Content. I am very content with where I am life and I am not questioning where I am supposed to be. This is it. The present moment is the only one that I can truly control and I am happiest when I am present 🙂

Current link:

Pandora Internet Radio! Ryan started a music channel with a few artists he likes and as Pandora started introducing similar content we’ve been up-voting/down-voting to make the channel our own personal favourite music station. We like almost all of the same music except Ryan’s not a huge fan of Katy Perry… What’s with that?!

So tell me, what are you currently into?

Liz xo

Love Your Guts: DIY Water Kefir

There are some “weird” things I started doing since taking up a plant-based diet…

IMG_2082

I quote “weird” because really these things aren’t all that weird… they’re great… just different than what the average person would be doing on a given day, like making my own sauerkraut or sprouting at home (post coming soon!)

You don’t have to be into veganism to be into health, but for me, it was transitioning to a plant-based diet that led me to this point of next level health. When I decided to make the change I started to seek out as much information as possible via books, blogs, podcasts, etc., to make the transition in a healthy, sustainable way. Because of the significant relationship between food & health I was unavoidably led to a wealth of information on health & wellness.

HHDiary

One of the podcasts I really got into was actually not a vegan podcast. The Holistic Health Diary, produced by Ange Peters of Hol-Fit and Gillian Mandich covers all things health & wellness from ultra-marathon training to making your own body scrub. I absolutely love these girls and look forward to a new episode every other Monday.

The HHDiary is what got me really thinking about organic foods and GMOs, using coconut oil as a major part of my beauty routine,  and wanting to improve my gut health….

You may have seen this stuff on the grocery store shelf:

milk kefir(Source)

This is a fermented milk product, known as milk kefir. Water kefir is similar but uses water instead of milk and still provides amazing probiotic benefits. Probiotics are essential to maintaining overall gut health.

So what the heck is water kefir and why are you brewing it in your laundry room…. ?

photo (9)

First off, kefir has more probiotics than yogurt or any other health drink. Water kefir can contain up to 453 different bacterial strains vs. yogurt which contains only 2 types (source). Most probiotic supplements also contain only a few of the vital bacterial strains, like acidophilus and bifidus.

What is water kefir?

Water kefir is a lacto-fermented beverage made from water, sugar, and kefir grains (SCOBY) They are called grains for their appearance but water kefir is gluten-free. When combined and left to ferment for 48 hours, the sugar is metabolized by the kefir grains and the result is a probiotic-rich drink containing wide variety of beneficial microorganisms, B vitamins & food enzymes. The sugar-content is also reduced to about 20% during the fermentation process.

The water becomes carbonated like soda (weird) and resembles the taste of slightly fizzy lemonade!

How do you say it?

Keff-er? Key-fer? Kuh-feer?

I’ve heard people say key-fir and some say kuh-fir… Tomato/tomato, right?

Kefir Nov 4 (2)

What are probiotics?

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) defines probiotics as “live microorganisms, which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host”. Simply, probiotics are healthy or “good” bacteria that  help maintain the natural balance of microflora in the intestines (i.e. counteract the “bad” bacteria).

What are the benefits?

Whole food probiotics contain a wide variety of bacterial and yeast strains. “Water kefir grans include include 57 lactic acid bacteria strains, some acetic acid bacteria strains, and at least four yeast strains. Up to 453 different bacterial strains have been identified in water kefir!” (source). What can this healthy bacteria do?

  • Improve digestion
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Boost immunity
  • Reduce allergies
  • Possibly slow/reverse some diseases
  • Prevent diarrhea, gas & cramping
  • Improve women’s health/promote maternal health (reduce UTIs, vaginosis)
  • Possibly aid in weight-loss
  • Promote overall health & wellness

A clean and balanced gut will and allow for better absorption of vitamins, nutrients and minerals!

IMG_1734

Where can I get the grains?

If you’re in the Fredericton area, water kefir grains are sold by a nutritionist from Pepper Creek. It’s $10 for your first batch and an information pamphlet. I checked both health food stores and found that they do sell milk kefir grains but not water kefir grains. I can also hook you up with some of my duplicated grains 😉

Otherwise, check your local health food store. Many businesses take requests for products they don’t currently carry. The only place I’ve seen them online are at Cultures for Health. If you know of anywhere else to get them please share!

How long do the grains last?

If properly taken care of… forever! Once you’ve completed a batch,rinse the grains in spring water and either start a new batch or allow the grains to dry on a piece of parchment paper then store them accordingly (see FAQ link for storage information). Discard or store any multiplied grains.

Kefir Nov 2 Kefir Nov 4

Where can I learn more?

I learned most of the basic information from the nutritionist in Fredericton but the articles I sourced are linked up below. I highly recommend the Water Kefir FAQ link before getting started. There is an answer to almost any questions you might have.

Water Kefir FAQ
Composition of Water Kefir Grains: Bacteria and Yeasts
How to Make Water Kefir Soda (with recipe variations)
Probiotics Side Effects, Health Benefits, Types, Research, Food Sources

The internet is a wealth of information. There are numerous variations and “recipes” to help you make this probiotic packed power drink a part of your daily routine 🙂

Here’s the recipe I’ve been using:

IMG_1787

DIY Water Kefir

Yield: 1 x 500 mL serving.

You can multiply the recipe and after 48 hours just strain, cap & refrigerate additional water kefir until ready to drink.

Ingredients: 

  • 500 mL spring water
  • 3 tbsp organic cane sugar
  • 1 organic apricot (available at Bulk Barn)
  • 1 tbsp water kefir grains

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a 1 L glass jar and cover loosely with a lid.
  2. Allow to ferment for 48 hours.
  3. Strain the water for drinking and rinse the grains. Discard fruit along with any multiplied grains or store grains as outlined on the FAQ page. Be sure to keep enough grains out to start a new batch if desired.
  4. Drink immediately or cap and refrigerate until ready to drink.
  5. Start all over again!

So easy. So good for you. I’ve been drinking this almost daily since the fall and I highly recommend this to anyone and everyone (including kids as a healthy alternative to soda!)

Happy culturing >:)

Liz xo