Friday, May 27, 2011

Lacto fermented Soda---for health!?!?!?

History: In 1776 Dr. Joseph Priestly created the first man-made glass of carbonated mineral water. Bottled mineral water was not well received in America until 1832 when it was considered a health practice. American pharmacist who were selling the bottled water started adding medicinal and other flavorful herbs (ie. Dandelion and sarsaparilla). Sugar Kefir grains, however, have an even deeper and more nourishing history. The sugar kefir grain combined with herbs and juices make a delectable healthy “soda”. The Kefir does this because it consumes the sugar and the by products are beneficial bacteria, yeast and minimal to no sugar and carbonation. If the average American consumes 50 gallons of sugar-laden, artificial colors, flavors and neurotoxins wouldn’t it make sense to completely avoid it and enjoy beverages that are nutritious, bubbly and very tasty? Well here’s ONE way.

Step 1:Basic Kefir Soda 1st fermentation:
Large jar with lid
12 cups filtered, chlorine free, water
1 cup sugar
1 TSP molasses
2-3 slices of lemon (preferably organic)
Small piece of organic dried fruit
¼ TSP baking soda
¼ TSP clean egg shell
2/3-1 cup Sugar Kefir grains

Fill jar with water. Add sugar, molasses, lemon, dried fruit, baking soda and egg shell. Stir until all is dissolved. Add kefir grains. Cap the lid tight. Let sit in warm room (about 68-74 degrees) for 24 hours. Open jar, stir and taste. If there is a very mild sugary taste and it’s effervescent you are done and ready to move to the next step. If it is flat and sweet cap and let sit another 24 hours. The temperature of the room will determine the length of fermentation. Strain the liquid (basic kefir soda water) out and use it in the next step. Discard used fruit, rinse grains and start over again.

Step 2: Grapes Soda (2nd fermentation):
Screw or flip top bottles
Grape juice with NO preservatives
Basic Kefir soda

In a ratio of one to one add soda and kefir to bottle. Cap tightly and let sit in a warm place in your kitchen until the outside of the bottle is very hard. Chill. Open over a sink because these can get explosive. Enjoy.

Frequently Asked questions…
General care guidelines:
Sugar kefir are like little pest that require just a little attention. They like to be fed sugar, have space and to be active they need to be warm. You will want to always start with the “basic kefir soda” recipe. To keep your grains uncontaminated do not mix with juice or syrups. For more information go to google: Doms Kefir site. Make sure you are reading about SUGAR KEFIR GRAINS.

*What is a SCOBY?
Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast. This is what Kefir and Kombucha are.

*What can be fermented into soda (2nd fermentation)?
Almost anything as long as there is enough sugar (about ¼ c in 1 Quart of liquid). I love using grape or apple juices because they already have enough sugar. Feel free to experiment with different juices or syrups. Remember fermentation is sometime unpredictable.

*Why are Lacto-Fermented Soda better for me?
Each starter culture is never the same but will contain Lactobacillus bacteria, Streptococcus bacteria, Pediococcus bacteria, Leuconostoc bacteria, Saccharomyces yeast. Naturally fermented soda aids in digestion, detoxify and purifying the body. They also provide an easy to make and consume probiotics as well as a good source of B vitamins (another byproduct). Making herbal infusions adds to the nourishing tonic as well.

*How much sugar is in a soda?
Well that depends on how long you leave it to ferment. The longer you leave it the more the sugar is consumed. I leave my second fermentation at least 3-5 days.

*Is there alcohol in these sodas? How much?
Alcohol is a natural byproduct of fermentation. The amount is typically less than 1%, hovering somewhere between .05% and .075%, so very minimal, or about the same amount that you’d find in an over-ripe banana.

*What is the difference between 1st and 2nd fermentation?
In the first fermentation you are basically creating a “base” for your soda. This base is often consumed “as is”. The second fermentation is used for flavoring and/or extra effervescence.

*What is the difference between water kefir and milk kefir?
They are completely different grains. Milk kefir feed on lactose and creates a runny yogurt sort of drink. Sugar Kefir Grains (SKG) feed on sugars. There are times when you can intermix them but I’d only do that with EXTRA grains.

Frequently Asked Questions Continued…

*What’s the ratio of juice to kefir? Typically 1:1

*What kind of sweetener can I use and can I use less?
I use plain white sugar, raw sugar, turbinado, sucanat or rapadura. You DO NOT want to use honey, agave or other sweeteners as they may weaken your SCOBY. Do not use less than the recipe.

*How long can I ferment?
You do not want to ferment more than a few days as all the sugar will be consumed and your grains will suffer and may die.

*What do I do with extra grains?
Several things. 1)Share them with friends 2) Set them on the counter to dry and have back-ups should anything happen 3)start another jar 4)eat them 5) add them to the garden/compost.

*Are there other ways to make soda?
Yes there are. The 3 ways that I am familiar with are 1)SKG (this lesson) 2)ginger bug and 3)whey (liquid from yogurt with LIVE/ACTIVE cultures).

*What if I want to take a break?
There are 2 ways that I have done and that have been successful (there may be more). 1)Dehydrate the grains: this is for long bouts of time in between. They take 3-5 days to re-hydrate and a few batches to really get working again. 2)Put up to 1 cup in a quart jar and cover them with sugar water (½ cup to the quart of SCOBY)

***IF you'd like some kefir grains and are local (Fremont Iowa area) e-mail me at and we can arrange for a pick up.****

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Chocolate Sourdough cake

Frequently Asked Questions:

What can I use my sourdough for OTHER THAN bread?
Almost anything. Tortillas, muffins, cookies, crackers, crust and much more.

Do I have to refrigerate my starter?
No. But you do have to make sure that it is well fed. If you get into a routine of baking something everyday you can keep a live, healthy, active starter on your counter with no problems.

What if I don’t get around to making what I planned and there‘s sponge waiting on the counter? What do I do?
Feed it and do it tomorrow. That’s the joy of sourdough. So many adjustments and bendable rules.

Chocolate Cake
makes (1) 8” or 9” square or round cake pan
Adapted from gnowflings

Who doesn’t like chocolate cake? This cake is perfect for the chocolate lover who doesn’t want to sacrifice nutrition and taste. Serve this with a dollop of freshly whipped cream or make plenty for cupcakes! ~Jami

1 cup fresh-ground flour (½ wheat+½ white)
1/2 cup sourdough starter (heaping)
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 to 3/4 Rapadura, Sucanat or other unrefined sugar
1/2 cup barely melted coconut oil, butter or tallow
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
¼ cup + 1 TBSP cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon finely ground coffee substitute (opt)

Combine the starter, milk, and spelt flour in a mixing bowl. Stir thoroughly, cover and let rest at room temperature for 8 to 12hours, or overnight — up to 24 hours.

After soured preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Generously grease an 8″ or 9″ square or circular cake pan with oil; set aside.

In a separate mixing bowl or mixer, combine the sugar, oil, vanilla, egg, and cocoa powder. Beat until well mixed. Add sourdough mixture, salt, baking soda, and coffee substitute. Beat until smooth.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from oven and set on a rack to cool.

Frost when cooled. We like to whip up fresh cream sweetened with stevia for a topping. It is delicious served with fresh ripe mangos, strawberries or other sweet fruit.

If you have any questions or comments you can leave them below or visit my website @

Monday, May 9, 2011

Stress tools

Stress Tools

Jamilee McQuivey

We’ve all heard the benefits of reducing stress over and over again. We buy books, listen to tapes, etc. all in the pursuit of the ever evasive secret of how to reduce stress not only in the long term but, also, on a daily basis. As an instructor, I am frequently confronted with questions revolving around stress and the emotions that come with it. Stress in our lives, relationships, and jobs eventually cause anger, frustration and/or resentment. Stress reduction can be simple and inexpensive.

First (you knew this was coming), exercise!! Exercising works for many reason, but in the interest of time I’ll mention only a couple. 1) Exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals in the brain that are responsible for positive moods. Your active body will soon begin to crave it. Optimism counter acts stress 2) Exercise will clear your thinking. Take a walk, let your mind de-clutter and your body unwind. Soon you’ll wonder what the fuss was all about.

Write it down! Stress Diaries are important for understanding the causes of short-term stress in your life. They also give you insight into how you react to stress, and help you to identify your level of stress. The idea behind a stress diary is that, on a regular basis, you record information about the stresses you are experiencing, so that you can analyze these stresses and then manage them.

Use your imagination! Imagine yourself stress free. In other words use your imagination to relieve stress. A lot of people create their “Happy place”. Create, in your mind, a place of calm, relaxing and nurturing surroundings. Piece it together in great detail, tuck it away and then take a vacation anytime that you wish. You can find yourself on a warm sunny beach, on a boat, on a swing or nestled in the mountains. The possibilities are endless. Leave any time you want and the best news’s free!!

Simply breathe! Breathing is as old as time. Its truly one of the most fundamental things we can do. Most people take shallow, short, fast breaths. Focus your mind and energy into your breaths. Fill your lungs from top to bottom, left to right. On the in breath imagine filling your body with patience, love, whatever you need. On the out breath release your stress, frustration, anger, etc. Initially it might take many breaths but pretty soon it’s as easy as…breathing!!

Meditation, focus on it!!! It’s not always sitting in the lotus pose humming (although it’s very effective) 1) Sit quietly and comfortably. 2) Close your eyes (using a timer allows you to free yourself from checking your watch and wakes you if you accidentally fall asleep) 3) Start by relaxing the hair on your head and every muscle downward until you reach the tips of your toes. Remember the little guys!! 4) Focus your attention on your breathing (above paragraph) 5) Relax, breathe, repeat!!!

Get positive!! Positive thinking and acting is essential. Many times we fall into a rut. Things get bigger than what they actually are. Try to answer questions in the positive. (Example: child: “Mom can I go outside to play?” Parent: “Absolutely, as soon as you’re finished with your chores.) Positive thinking (and acting) change your perspective and create a positive atmosphere. Focus on what you can change and let the others take their course. This is one that takes practice but pretty soon life is extraordinarily sunny.

First things first!! Kids, work, school, grocery shopping, community, etc. Prioritize!!! Pre-plan. What’s important to you? What comes first in your head and heart? Then plan for the expected. Was seeing the hurt on little Timmy face worth it when you yelled at him to hurry because YOU were late? Prioritize!! Is getting a speeding ticket on the way to work worth it because you didn’t pack your lunch last night? Pre-plan!! Remember the saying “lack of preparation on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.” That goes both ways. If you know it’s going to take extra time to get to work at a particular hour plan in advance. That way you don’t become angry, frustrated and stressed.

Honesty, honestly!! Learn to be honest always. Whether it’s with yourself, a colleague or friend. If you don’t think you can make that appointment or baby-sit while your friend goes shopping, say so. It’s better to be honest and say no than stress yourself out over it then find yourself apologizing or worse resenting. This, often times means getting rid of the guilt. It’s okay to say no, in the short and long run your honesty will be appreciated. Remember nobody appreciates a flake.

Look up, look down, look all around! Look at your environment. Is there something around you that is bothering you; that you can rid yourself of. Clutter? Broken appliances waiting for repair? A pile of things to return to others? An out of control desk? Push your sleeves up, take a breath and Do It!! Procrastination equals stress. Get it out of the way so you can focus on something worthwhile.

Stretch your way to less stress! Move your body. Focus on postural awareness. When you’re sitting in traffic and you start to wear your shoulders as ear muffs you have stress. When you’re standing in line at the grocery store and the person in front of you is paying $28.93 in pennies and your head and shoulders slump forward in agony…stress. Sit up strait, throw your shoulders back, and think tall. Stretch your neck, shoulders and back. Enjoy the moment to focus on you!!

Ahhh, the sound of silence!! Sleep!! I sit and wonder at my toddler who repeatedly, day after day, fights bed time. As an adult, that moment, when I crawl into bed is a beautiful thing. Benjamin Franklin said, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a (wo)man healthy, wealthy and wise.” Is T.V. really so important you’ll risk your health? Can that task wait until tomorrow when you can think more clearly? Whether it’s a cat nap or a full nights rest allow yourself to rejuvenate. Your body will be able to work harder and more effective for you when you’re gentle with it. Everything will be a lot clearer (and less stressful) in the morning!

Food, for stress relief??? Lastly, eat well. Enjoy healthy, invigorating, and nourishing foods. Give your body the fuel it so desperately needs to function and keep things in perspective. A lot of times the food we eat (sugar, caffeine, processed fast foods) can interfere with our ability to effectively rationalize, concentrate, and problem solve. Imagine that. Wow, the places we can go!!

To sum it up…find balance and harmony in your life. Incorporating one or many of these ideas into your daily living will drastically reduce stress. The key is consistency. Be gentle with yourself, take time, enjoy the process…it’s a journey not a destination. What have you got to lose…stress?!?!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Sourdough 101 class and recipe

Frequently asked Questions and recipe…

How can I get/make a starter? has a great selection to order online. You can find a friend who will share some or, I prefer, to make, keep and share my own. Mix 1/2 c. water and flour together in a jar. Cover loosely and set in a warm part of your kitchen on the counter. For the next 2-3 days stir in 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup water until it becomes bubbly. That's it, now you have a starter.

What’s the difference between the “sponge” and “starter” ?
The term “sponge” is used, generally, when your starter has been fed the night before. “Starter” is used to make the sponge. When you save the sponge and put it in the fridge it now becomes your “starter”

How often should I feed my starter?
I feed mine at least once a week. Remember this is a living “pet” and needs just a little attention now and again.

Is it bad when there’s murky water on the top?
No. This just needs to be stirred back in a fed a little.

What if my sourdough smells bad?
There are a few ways sourdough “should” smell. Smells like “beery” and “sour” are normal. If there’s really funky smell and your instincts tell you to run go ahead and dump it down the sink and make a new starter.

What if I am going out of town and can’t feed my starter?
I feed mine the night before I leave. Right before I go I put it in the freezer. When you get back place it on the counter overnight and feed it in the morning. Make some bread or put it back in the fridge.

Why is sourdough healthier than regular bread?

* Breaks down gluten
*Naturally preserves bread
*Has a better nutrient profile
*Neutralizes anti-nutrients
* Is easier to digest
*Keeps blood sugar regulated
*Has lower carbohydrates
*Has/uses lactobacillus (friendly bacteria)
**It tastes WONDERFUL!!!

Makes 2 Loaves

4 cups starter
1 ½ c. warm water
1 ½ c flour (½ white; half wheat)
2 TBSP olive oil
2 TSP Salt
2 TSP sweetener
4-6 cups flour ( half white and half wheat)

Combine starter, water and 1 1/2 cup flour. Allow to sit at least 8 hours-24 hours. Remove 2 cups of sponge and replace it in the jar with your starter and feed equal amounts of flour and water. With remaining (5 c.) sponge add remaining ingredients but flour. Stir well. Add flour 1 cup at a time alternating wheat and white. Begin by stirring with fingers. As it gets thicker begin to knead in dough. keep adding flour until the dough is smooth and SLIGHTLY tacky. At this time you can shape and put in 2 lightly greased bread pans. Cover with lightly sprayed plastic wrap and set aside until it rises. keep in mind that it won't rise like yeasted bread but you will see it get fluffier. The longer the better for digestion (24 hours= more sour).

Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool before you cut or it will be dense. Enjoy!

For more information on me, my cookbook or classes visit