Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Trim Healthy Tuesdays: Garlic Dill Pickles and a Quick and Easy Eggnog Smoothie FP

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     Here's a quick an easy recipe to add more fermented foods to your life! If you are unfamiliar with all the benefits of adding fermented foods let me share a few with you:
  • The lactobacilli (healthy bacteria) in fermented foods increases the vitamin content and digestibility.
  • These beneficial organisms produce antibiotic and anticarcinogenic substances as well.
  • Our gut is our bodies first line of immune defense, building the beneficial bacteria in your gut strengthens your immune system.
  • Fermenting vegetables also increases their enzyme content which helps us digest the other foods we consume with fermented foods more easily.
  • The bacteria that makes us sick is everywhere, it's unavoidable! The only way to keep ourselves healthy is by keeping those harmful bacteria in proper balance by ensuring we have a healthy and well-functioning immune system!
     There are lots of different fermented veggies recipes out there. I highly recommend the book Nourishing Traditions if you would like lots of healthy fermented food recipes! Trim Healthy Mama also recommends fermented foods and has a chapter devoted to them.

     Let's quick talk about one of the ingredients before I give you the recipe: whey. Whey is simply the liquid you see sitting on top of your yogurt! If you make your own yogurt cheese or greek/strained yogurt, you are familiar with whey. If not, the simplest method to obtaining some yourself if to buy a plain yogurt from the store (NOT greek yogurt, and it must have live active cultures- check the side of the package).

      You can strain it using cheesecloth (if you get the cheep kind from Walmart you'll need to double or triple it up since the weave is very open) or a nylon mesh bag (found in the painting section of Home Depot or Lowe's- it should say 100% nylon) you'll need about 4 TBS for this recipe and I simply put about 2 cups of yogurt in my mesh bag, a gently squeezed out the amount of whey I needed. Then add the yogurt back to the container and mix it back up (it will be slightly thicker since you've removed some liquid but not much!)

     To contain your pickles, I used a qt. sized ball jar and a flip top lid glass contain (also about a quart) because that's what I had! If you have a 2qt ball jar or 2 ball jars those will work as well. You need a well fitting lid! There are really cool fermenting lids for wide mouth ball jars, that are on my "I want to purchase some day" list, but you can totally make this work with just a regular jar! The containers need to be very clean. You don't want any bad bacteria competing with the good bacteria (in the form of whey) that you are using to ferment your cucumbers. I usually boil water and then pour it in the glass jars for about five minutes. Then remove the boiling water and set upside down on a clean paper towel until they aren't hot to the touch. 

Let's move on to the recipe!

4-5 pickling cucumbers or 2-3 large cucumbers
1 tbs mustard seed
5 fresh garlic cloves chopped
2 Tbs pickling spice (coriander, dill seed, allspice, red chilies, bay leaves, cinnamon)

3 tbs. fresh dill, chopped

1 tbs unrefined sea salt

4 tbs whey

Filtered water

Slice cucumbers in thick rounds

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Place in a bowl and add spices, garlic and salt. Coat pickles with seasoning.

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     Place cucumbers and spices equally in your containers. (they should be full but not smooshed) Pour whey equally in each container (so if you have two equal containers that are equally full of cucumbers they should each get 2 tbs of whey). Pour in filtered water until the pickles are covered . Cover the jar and give it a few good turns to make sure the whey and salt is evenly distributed.

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   Now this needs to sit at room temperature for 2 days to ferment! Because I don't have the fancy fermenting lid, about once a day (twice a day if its really hot, above 80 in your kitchen) I loosen the lid and allow any trapped gas to escape (I do not FULLY open the lid, just unscrew enough to hear the air escape and then screw it back on. This prevents pressure from building up inside the jar.

     Because this recipe only ferments for two days, the chances of a broken jar because of trapped gas is very slim, but if you are concerned you could place the jars in a small Rubbermaid tub while they ferment. Once they have sat for two days , they can be store in the refrigerator. (I recommend refrigerating for at least 12 hours before you eat one for full flavor!)

     Cultured foods can last a very long time once refrigerated (or canned) because the lactobacilli keeps them from going bad. Also this recipe has the added benefit of having a number of ingredients that inhibit bad bacteria from growing (garlic, bay leaves, mustard, cinnamon).

      In all honesty, I am the main person who eats these in my house. My children all have a small piece that I cut from a large round with their meals (because Mommy says they must!) I am hoping overtime they will learn to enjoy the flavor more (like they have with many other foods that I have introduced them too in the same way). My husband doesn't enjoy pickles, however he will eat fermented beets and fermented ginger carrots that I make, so I don't worry about it! (if you are interested in my version of either of those recipes let me know in the comments!) I really love the pickle flavor myself and try to make sure I eat one or two every day (as long as you stay to one or two rounds these stay in the FP category for THM)
     I hope you enjoy these too and enjoy the health benefits that ferment foods bring as well!

Eggnog photo: eggnog eggnog.jpg
    And now for my quick eggnog smoothie!! Gwen over at Gwen's nest posted a great eggnog smoothie recipe already! But I get up at 6:30 in the morning to make a smoothie for my husband before he goes to work. If you are like my husband, and wake up chipper and full of energy then following a recipe may work for you first thing! I am NOT a morning person. My sweet husband has my cup of coffee ready for me when I trudge out of bed and mumble "morning" at him as I make my way to the kitchen. =)

      He LOVES eggnog and in years past we would go through a number of containers of it between Thanksgiving and Christmas! So I knew I had to come up with an easy way for him to have it regularly during this holiday season.
      I make a vanilla smoothie, the same method as the Chocolate Frappa in the book (you could follow my recipe here and leave out the Dandy blend and caramel flavor, and add in the vanilla) but with no cocoa powder, I add Swanson's Vanilla whey protein too for added vanilla flavor. Then I add 1 tsp vanilla nut flavoring (you could add a little extra vanilla if you don't have this) and 2 tsp of ground nutmeg. That's it! Tastes like eggnog and so easy! Hope you love it too!

This post is linked up on Trim Healthy Tuesdays at Gwen's nest