Probiotic 101 and How To Make Rejuvelac

In this post I will show you how to make rejuvelac easily using quinoa. I came across rejuvelac while looking for ways to make vegan cheese. I gave it a go and have since successfully made a few batches. As it turns out, rejuvelac is not only easy to make but is also rich in probiotics. 

By the way, if you want to make vegan cheeses, I highly recommend the Artisan Vegan Cheese by Miyoko Schinner which, I must say, is ah-mayyy-zing! I’ve made several non-dairy nut-based cheeses using her recipes already. Anyway, I digress…let’s get back to our topic here: rejuvelac and tiny little microorganisms which call our body, home.

Warning – I’m going to geek out a little talking about science-y stuff here because bacteria is a topic that is very close to my heart. I love them because small as they are, they play a significant role in our very existence.

So, on that note…

Did you know most of our immune system lies in the gut?

If yes, well done! You must have paid attention in Science class.

If no, well, you’ve learned something new today and you can brag about your new-found knowledge tomorrow to your friends or colleagues.

Here’s another fun fact. A healthy human body is home to around 100 trillion bacteria.

That’s a hell lot of bacteria! That’s 100 microbes for every 1 gene in our bodies! We have more bacteria in us than we do genes.

Fascinating isn’t it?

Each of us has our own unique ecological community of microorganisms called microbiome that literally share our body space, living in our gut, mouth, skin, etc. Some of them are good, some of them are bad, and some just sit and watch the fight between the two. They can even make us fat.

A  recent study showed that when a scientist took gut bacteria from human twins — one lean and one obese — and transferred them into lean mice, the mice with bacteria from fat twins grew fat; those that received bacteria from lean twins stayed lean. This just goes to show how  important our gut bacteria are to our metabolism and our digestive system.

 

How To Make Your Own Probiotic

Probiotics are good bacteria which serve to prevent the overgrowth of potentially harmful microorganisms. Although study on probiotics is limited, we have tons of anectodal evidence that they are beneficial to our immune system and our digestive health.

And yes there’re still more research that need to be done to better understand how probiotic helps to promote health but I don’t see what you can’t self-experiment – most (great) scientists do it. I do it. Configure your body to promote healthy bacterial colonies and see how you feel.

You can get probiotic supplements from most health stores, but  they can be quite expensive; and why buy when you can make your own probiotics at home, by making rejuvalac.

Rejuvelac

Rejuvelac is an enzyme-rich, probiotic living drink made by fermenting sprouted grains such as rye, barley, millet, buckwheat, rice, quinoa, or other grains. It contains lots of vitamins B, K and E, proteins and enzymes that aid digestion, and the growth of good bacteria such as Lactobacillus bifidus and Aspergillus oryzae.

It tastes slightly tangy and earthy with a subtle hint of lemony sour. It is slightly fizzy and refreshing to drink. Again, it is very easy to make and quite inexpensive. You basically soak the grains, rinse daily until they sprout (i.e., produce a cute little tail at one end), add water, wait a few days while it ferments,  strain and voilà, you just made rejuvelac.

I highly recommend using organic quinoa as they are quick and easy to sprout, but feel free to use other whole grain if you wish, bearing in mind that it may take longer to sprout other grains. Avoid grains that are already sprouted, and irradiated grain (this usually done on rice) which prevents sprouting. If you’re a first-timer, go with quinoa. Get the freshest and the best quality quinoa you can afford to give yourself the best possible chance of success.

Rejuvelac

Here’s a simple recipe which you can experiment with.

How to make Rejuvelac

Rejuvelac (makes total of 4 cups)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup organic quinoa
  • Water, preferably filtered but I tried with Sydney’s tap water and it worked
  • Mason glass jars big enough to accomodate 2 cups of liquid, I used ex-pasta sauce glass jars

Method

Step 1. Sprout the quinoa

  1. Rinse and drain 1/2 cup of quinoa.
  2. Fill up the jar with water. Cover with cheesecloth secured with a rubber band.
  3. Soak overnight. My quinoa sprouted the next morning so if yours do the same, just drain the water and proceed to Step 2. Otherwise, continue below.
  4. Drain the water, leaving the quinoa moist, but not covered in water.
  5. Rinse and drain quinoa a couple of times a day until they sprout (maybe once in the morning and once in the evening).
  6. Note: It only took 24 hours before my quinoa started to sprout.

Step 2. Ferment sprouted quinoa to make rejuvelac

  1. Fill the jar containing the sprouted quinoa with 2 cups water. Cover with cheesecloth secured with a rubber band.
  2. Place in a cool dark place.
  3. Taste each day until it develops an earthy, tangy, fermented taste – usually 2 to 3 days depending on the temperatures.
  4. Once ready, pour the liquid into a glass and serve.

Step 3. Drink and make a second batch

  1. Serve rejuvelac with some fresh lemon juice. You can store it in the fridge in an airtight container for about 7 days.
  2. To make a second batch. Add another 2 cups fresh water to the soft seeds so they are just covered, and after a further 1-2 days pour off your second batch.
  3. Discard the quinoa seeds or add them to your salad.

Tips

  1. If you see some white bubbly scum on the surface of your rejuvelac during fermentation, just scrape it off.
  2. Always check the smell. It should smell fermented but not off. If it smells bad or if there is the slightest sign of mold, throw the whole lot away.
  3. I like to drink it chilled with some lemon juice.

So I hope you would try making your own rejuvelac. And if you do give it a go, let me know what you think.

Keren x

Interview with Kim Miller from Kinda Bacon

My first taste of Kinda Bacon was at the Sydney Vegan Festival last year. I was handed a packet by one lady to give out to other volunteers and the chefs who were doing cooking demonstrations. She looked stunning, tall and slender with such clear skin and the best boy-cut I’ve ever seen in my entire life. I later found out that her name was Kim, and she was the founder of Kinda Bacon – a delicious, crunchy, bacon-y snacks made from coconut.

Fast forward another year, and I had the privilege to interview Kim. Kim is such a lovely and cool person to talk to. She has a lot of experience in the twists and turns of life and you could tell from the interview how passionate she is with what she does and with her vegan lifestyle. Hope this interview will inspires you as much as it has inspired me.

Healthy Vegan Anzac Cookies (Sugar-free and Gluten-free)

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If you’ve been looking for an easy, healthy and tasty recipe for cookies, then let me introduce you to my gluten-free, and refined sugar-free Healthy Vegan Anzac Cookies.

Anzac Biscuits are traditionally made with rolled oats, sugar, golden syrup, butter, white flour and coconut. My healthy vegan anzac cookies, on the other hand, are made using coconut oil, nut butter and maple syrup and I must admit it’s pretty hard to stop at one.

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Why you will love these cookies

These cookies are loaded with oats. Oats are low in calories (one cup gives you only 130 calories). They provide high levels of fibre and have a high satiety index which makes you feel full for longer.[1] Studies have also shown that oats can help lower your cholesterol levels,[2] reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes[3] and increase your appetite-control hormone,[4] which helps you lose weight.

The oil in these cookies are packed with good fat. I used a mixture of coconut oil and peanut butter, but if you want, you can replace these with macadamia oil, olive oil and your favourite nut butter such as almond or cashew butter.

 

Vegan Anzac Cookies

 

Healthy Nutty Anzac Cookies
Recipe Type: Baked Goods
Cuisine: Gluten free, sugar free, vegan
Author: Keren
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 20 cookies
A delicious healthy treat to feed the cookie monster in you.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut or coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup flaked or chopped almonds
  • 3-4 tablespoons maple syrup or rice malt syrup
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (melted)
  • 2-3 tablespoon of hot water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • a pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Add all the dry ingredients (oats, coconut, almonds and salt) into a bowl or a food processor (I use the Tefal Cuisine Companion).
  2. Add the wet ingredients (oil, peanut butter, maple syrup, water and vanilla extract) into the dry ingredients.
  3. Turn on the food processor – I use Cuisine Companion (dough attachment P7) and mix for about 15 seconds or until the mixture sticks together.
  4. Take a spoonful of mixture and form into a small ball. Place onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Repeat with the remaining mixture.
  5. Flatten the cookie using the back of the spoon with enough room around each cookie so the cookies don’t crowd into each other.
  6. Bake in a low 150 C (300 F) preheated oven for 20 -30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely before eating.
  7. Store in an airtight container for about a week.
Notes
If you don’t have a food processor or cuisine companion you can just throw everything in a bowl and use your hands to mix everything together. It will take about 10 minutes to mix everything through but the result will be so worth it.

 

References:

[1] European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, September 1995; 49(9): 675-90

[2] American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, August 2002; 76(2):351-8

[3] Experimental and Clinical Endocrinology & Diabetes, February 2008; 116(2):132-4

[4] Nutrition Research, October 2009; 29(10):705-9

9 Tips For Giving Up Dairy

God, I love dairy

I love butter, yogurt, cream, and cheese. Especially cheese.

I love all kinds of cheese: the hard ones, the soft ones, the smooth and silky ones, the chewy and crumbly ones, the ones with hard rind, rindsless, washed rind, pasteurised, non-pasteurised, ashed, non-ashed, white, yellow, blue, green, sweet, salty, smoky, stinky, whatever… you name it, I love them all…

I used to eat cheese every day; at one point in time, I was eating about 200g of cheese a day on average. That’s a lot of cheese! I would have it for breakfast (cottage cheese and vegemite on toast were one of my favourite breakfast meals), for lunch with my sandwich or salad, for afternoon tea, as a snack and for dessert. I got nervous when I was low on cheese and I got frustrated when I went out for meals and didn’t have any cheese nearby.

Maybe I was French in a past life. Or a baby cow.

vegan cheese

My journey to a dairy-free life

I started cutting down butter and cheese when I learned about my dairy intolerances. All these years I had been putting up with an upset stomach and bloatiness, blaming it on sugar, alcohol, fatty and spicy food, but never dairy. I was ignorant. I was in denial. I love cheese too much.

Until one day I listened to a podcast episode. It is called Motherhood and Maternal Instinct, an older episode of the Food for Thought podcast, which is a vegan podcast. Colleen (the host) reads an essay on a rescued dairy cow named Dancers. Dancers is a dairy cow. From the time she was physically able to have a baby, she has carried a baby a year. For 279 days she carried her baby, curled high in her belly, closed to her heart. One day of each year she spent giving birth 24 hours to nurse her baby, nuzzling, washing and nursing the tiny creature with her rich colostrum. Then they would come, as they always came. To seize her baby away. Boys to the vealers, and girls to be raised for the same servitude as their mother. Faith see Dancers being rescued by a sanctuary, where for the first time, she was able to raise and nurse her baby. She nurses her baby girl until she’s 18 years old.

The episode opened my eyes. How did I not see it? As much as I knew where cow’s milk is from, it didn’t register to me that cows need to be pregnant to produce milk. Pregnant. Just like us humans. I didn’t know that in order to produce milk, dairy cows are kept almost continually pregnant. I didn’t know that they would give birth, only to have their babies taken away from them. I certainly didn’t know that their calves are considered as a waste-product, sent to slaughter in their first week of life so that their mothers’ milk can be harvested for me, for my consumption. That was it for me. No more hiding from the truth.

cashew milk

Some said that what I had read isn’t necessarily true. That I should go and visit a dairy farm and see how well our dairy cattle are treated at some of the farms. And I would love to, if I had the chance. I would love to be proven wrong. I really would.

But numbers don’t lie. And I did the maths. As innocent as dairy may seem, it is anything but. At the end of the day, someone has to die. Here’s why.

If a farmer owns 200 dairy cows to start with, each year he will have 200 new born calves to look after. If none were sent to the slaughterhouses, by the second year he would have 400 calves with the calves from the previous year reaching adulthood and breeding age, and with some of the females now pregnant by this stage. By the third year he would have at least 600, plus some new calves from the second generation of female cows, and so on. How could they up with the land and feed demand. How could they keep all the cows? It just wouldn’t work. At the end of the day, someone has to die. Dairy business is a business, and that’s bottom line.

But, what about cheese?

Glad you asked. One of the first thing I did when I went on a plant-based diet was to try and find a non-dairy cheese substitute.  I had no idea non-dairy cheeses existed, let alone the fact that we can create non-dairy cheeses. I’m not going to lie here, most non-dairy cheese won’t taste exactly like dairy cheese but they taste great in their own right. But imagine having cheese that is free from cholesterol, lactose and animal sufferings. Wouldn’t you prefer that?

As part of my never ending pursuit of finding the best vegan cheese, I have tried a few different brands of vegan cheeses. I’ve tried: Sheese, which tastes like coconut flavoured cream cheese; Notzarella, a pretty close resemblance to (you guessed it) Mozzarella but doesn’t melt very well;  Miyoko Artisan Vegan Cheese, which tastes very much like a real brie and is my favourite; Sprout and Kernel’s Monster Cheddar which does reminds me of cheddar as it has a lot of depth and complexity; and Biocheese, which tastes so much like processed cheddar.  Most recently, I also attempted to make my own sharp Cheddar using rejuvelac which, I must say, makes me feel like a vegan cheese artisan.

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Life after dairy and why quitting dairy is so hard

Clearly there is life after dairy. You can make milk out of any nuts, seeds or grains and similarly, you can replace dairy ingredients with plant based alternatives. I believe the reason why it’s so hard for people to give up dairy is because it’s such a strong habit that we’ve picked up from a very young age. When everyone around you is telling you to drink milk and eat cheese for calcium and strong bones, over and over again, it’s hard to believe otherwise. The same thing happens when the media constantly portrays the idyllic yet misleading view of dairy production with images of cows happily grazing in the paddock, which is as we know now, is far from the truth.

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Another reason why giving up dairy is so hard is because dairy products contain casomorphins, which is a type of addictive morphine found in casein. Cheese is the dairy product containing the most concentrated source of casein so this explains why it can be hard to give up cheese, even if it’s our body’s worst nightmare. You can read more about the connection between dairy and cancer in Dr. Campbell’s book, The China Studywhich outlines his ground-breaking discovery of the relationship between nutrition and cancer when conducting a study in the 1980’s in rural China called the China Project. In the meantime, here are my 9 tips for giving up dairy.

9 tips for giving up dairy

9 Tips for Giving Up Dairy

1. Recognise that it’s just a habit and believe that you can change it.

Believing that you can actually do this is absolutely critical. And you can. It’s just a habit, just like many of our lifestyle choices. And just like any old habit we can only break the habit by creating a new one. Set yourself a dairy-free challenge or perhaps start by replacing your favourite dairy food with something as comforting and that you equally like, for example have a handful of nuts or a favourite piece of fruit when you feel like a cheesy toast.

2. Find your reason and continuously remind yourself of that reason.

Whatever your reason is I’m sure it’s a strong one. Strong enough to make you consider giving up dairy. Remind yourself of this when you find yourself in a sticky situation. Like many old habits, your craving for dairy can creep up on you when you’re most vulnerable (like finding yourself at a dinner party full of cheeses, cakes and ice cream). Continue to remind yourself the reason you’re doing this in the first place (e.g. better health, sustainability, and so forth)

3. Educate yourself about dairy.

Read The China Study and other research articles to understand the negative impact of dairy upon our health, and the painful reality of life for a dairy cow.  Continue to read, learn and expose yourself to the ‘truth’ so your reasons and motivations remain firm and strong.

4. Be prepared.

Planning in advance is the secret for succeeding in pursuing a dairy-free life. Always plan your meals ahead of time and always be prepared to face challenges when eating out: hope for the best outcome but always plan, and prepare, for the worst (and be prepared to send back the salad which was inadvertently served in dripping-hot butter). I believe that if we anticipate obstacles and plan for them, we’re more likely to succeed.

5. Stock up on dairy-free alternatives.

There are a lot of great dairy-free products but it’s a matter of personal preference so you need to conduct some trial and error.  Sample lots and soon you will find some brands you love. Always look for the ‘Dairy-free’ label whenever possible as identifying dairy in packaged food products can be a bit tricky. Watch out for ingredients listed as butter, casein, caseinates, ghee, whey, sour cream, paneer, and nougat, just to name few. Check out the resource links below for a dairy-free shopping list which you might find useful.

6. Let the craving dissipate.

When the craving hits, tell yourself that you’ll wait for another 15-20 minutes before reaching for that cheese.  Take a walk, make a cup of tea or read the news. After 15-20 minutes, often the craving will dissipate and you may not even remember about craving some cheese in the first place. Do this enough times and eventually you will stop craving it.

7.  Get support from people close to you.  

Habits are much easier to create or change if you have social support. It gives you a better chance of making the change work. Research shows that getting support from spouses, family members, and friends is important in making behaviour changes that affect health. After all, they’re going to be your table companions when you start passing on the butter when you go out to eat.

8. Join a group.

Find people who are on a similar path as you, especially on the internet. Connect with like-minded people, and get their support and social accountability to help you transition. Charles Duhigg, the author of The Power of Habit, writes, “The evidence is clear: If you want to change a habit, you must find an alternative routine, and your odds of success go up dramatically when you commit to changing as part of a group”.

9. Treat yourself kindly.

Last but certainly not least. You will make mistakes, consciously or subconsciously. We’re all human, after all. Don’t beat yourself up over a guilty mouthful of butter or a surreptitious slice of cheese, and treat yourself with the same kindness as you treat others. You’ve got this!

Resources: