Eat sauerkraut. Your gut needs it.

I’ll admit. I have never liked cabbage. Before this year I could count on one hand the number of times I have ever eaten cabbage. Actually I didn't even need hands to count it. It was zero. Since reading Kimberly Snyder’s the Beauty Detox I decided to give cabbage a second chance… I decided to give cabbage a first chance! This sauerkraut recipe is so special to Kim (we’re on a first name basis) she describes it as ‘sacred’. So I had to try. For my mate Kim

Sacred cabbage eh? What’s so special about it? For starters it actually tastes good. Cabbage. Tastes. Good. Promise! 

Skimming the Beauty Detox I recognised sauerkraut (as I knew it to be) and I knew exactly where to find it in the super market. I over enthusiastically marched to the supermarket to buy my first jar of sauerkraut! KIM! I am heeding your words sister! Let’s kraut! However, having not quite finished the page on sauerkraut (my enthusiasm can be stronger than my sense sometimes!) I found myself in the traditional sauerkraut/pickle isle at the local supermarket aka Helena’s second home! My first experience with sauerkraut was not exciting at all. All limpness and salt. You see. It was the kind of sauerkraut that was… I cant even say it without tearing up… pickled in vinegar!! This can’t be what Kim wanted for me? Why Kim?! WHY!?! I huffed straight back to the Beauty Detox to confront Kim. Oh. Lightbulb. Reading reveals information! Real fermented cabbage, real purposeful sauerkraut, the kind that actually helps your digestion and not hinders it, it fermented and refrigerated. Huh.

I re-assessed and like to goody-two-shoes I usually am, I was on the hunt for exactly what Kim described: live, bubbling, kissing sauerkraut - sweetheart of a sauerkraut. Nothing from the shelf! It had to be refrigerated (the first  sign of real sauerkraut!) And oh my goddess! It was…. bliss… live refrigerated sauerkraut is zesty and sour and teeming with good stuff for your body. Refreshing, filling and all mine. 

 Store bought limpy kraut
Delicious homemade kraut

If you want to get all sciency about it (and I do!! I dooo!!), sauerkraut is made through a process of ‘lacto-fermentation’, where the (good) bacteria converts the sugars in the cabbage into lactic acid. Lactic acid is a natural preservative that inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria in your gut and is super good for you. Super. Good. For. You. And me. And Andy (my bedfellow). And you. Helena too.

Now that Kim and I are back on good terms I wanted to follow her doctrine more carefully, while I was well and truly in my obsessive phase. Upon realising that eating the quantity of this gorgeous digestive Kim emplored me to eat was unaffordable - a jar of this life enhancing simplicity goes for $14-$18 in Australia!! -  I decided to make it myself. Unlike Helena’s limp and salty efforts to make ‘The Life Changing Loaf of Bread’, I was loving this sauerkraut and needed to make it. Now!

When you make homemade sauerkraut you are basically making your own probiotics in a jar. Take that Yakult! I made you!! Fermented cabbage is so packed full of good bacteria that it promotes digestion and healthy gut life. And with a healthy gut, you poop more. In case you were wondering. And you should wonder! We wonder! Helena and I talk poop all the time!

Back to sauerkraut! Best of all its super cheap and super easy to make. Let’s talk cheap: all you need is a mason jar (really any jar you have!), a head of cabbage and some salt. Easy: all you need to do is chop up the cabbage, then pack it into the jar by smushing (a technical cooking term) each layer down with a rolling pin (or any blunt object) to ensure it’s really packed in tightly. Then make a brine by mixing some filtered water and some sea salt (roughly one tablespoon for a small – medium size jar). Done! You can make some fancy additions or swaps here. I use unpasteurised miso paste and the ginger. I find this gives the kraut a delicious flavour!

When you’re done smushing in the kraut, leave 1-2 inches of room at the top of the jar. Pour the brine over the mixture until it’s just covering the cabbage. Take the leftover outer green cabbage leaves, roll them up and pack them into the top of the jar. Do this so no air is left at the top of the jar which could lead to moulding. 

Then you simply seal the jar, place them in the cupboard and wait. I usually see my mixtures start to ferment within 2-3 days, the smaller the mixture the quicker it starts to ferment.  I get so excited when a new batch starts to ferment and you can see the little bubbles in the jar. After about 5-7 days I normally taste my kraut to see if it has that certain krauti-ess that I love!! When I’m satisfied with he flavour I move it to the fridge. For your first time making it, I would recommend you buy a ready made jar of sauerkraut from the fridge isle so you have a good idea as to what the crunch and flavour should be like. Try and emulate this and when your confidence and knowledge of kraut flavour increases you’ll know what you want and what satisfies you! This beauty will last you a couple of week - enjoy every bite!! I top any homemade meal with the kraut, or serve it as a side dish. 

And that’s it!

If you love your kraut half as much as I do it will become your new baby, and in some ways I treat it like one! I ‘burp’ by jars every few days, just by opening the jars slightly to release the gas build up. I’m always checking up on my kraut to see if it’s happily bubbling away. When it gets a little too excited and oozes a little juice at the top, don’t stress. I smile and pat my sweet jar knowing that ooze is a good sign. Ooze means my kraut-baby is growing and fermenting like it should. I lovingly place my jars in a plastic bowl to make oozing clean up easier. There there baby, ooze away.

Update! I have just found out that you can make sauerkraut with cabbage’s even less popular cousin, the Brussel sprout! Stay tuned for kraut part II where we’ll experiment with fermenting some Brussel sprouts!

Helena here! 

I looooooove me some sauerkraut!! Bred like a real Pole (on sausages, pierogi and sauerkraut) I am well seasoned  in the art of sauerkraut consumption. Poles make all kinds of things with sauerkraut and they pickle a lot of their own foods - cucumbers, carrots, cabbage etc. Its so delicious! Before vegan, bigos was my number one most loved dish! Ever. In the whole world. Bigos. It was lovingly cooked for ages, sauerkraut with onions, sausages, pork bits and tomatoes. My favourite version now is heavily ladened with mushrooms. My mum makes the quick version which is still so delicious! Basically fry up some mushrooms, onions and garlic. Add some sauerkraut, a bay leaf and pepper and you got yourself something worth fighting over! I’ll have to make some for you! 

Raw, bubbling, kissing and sweet hearted sauerkraut is actively better for you. I see that now! And bugger me it tastes good! Better in fact than the store-bought kind! Its a meal in a of itself!  I have made my own sauerkraut once before, but even a simple recipe like this made me nervous! I know nothing about fermentation Jon Snow! I didn't add any brine and I put the jar packed with smushed cabbage straight into the fridge. So. Nothing happened. And I tried it. I was just eating raw, brownish cabbage. And thats where my adventure into eating homemade kraut ended. But I have a personal teacher now (Jess) who’s been personally coached by Kim (not really, you too can get this ‘personal’ coaching from the Beauty Detox). And when all else fails, I’ll simply raid Jess’s cupboard and blame it on Andy. Yum!

Love Helena and Jess

Bright and Joyful 'Bread'

This ‘bread’, this rectangular brown thing imitating bread, this rectangular brown thing of brightness and joy reminiscent of bread (for its purpose) is genuinely crazy! 
Around the beginning of my vegan/health days I met up with some girlfriends for a long missed catch up. I explained my transition to vegan and they delved deeply into a conversation about their ‘nutty’ health friend who is constantly brewing up the worlds most amazing dishes, one of which was life-changing. It was ‘The Life Changing Loaf of Bread by My New Roots. My friend proceeded to describe how she herself had made the bread – and FYI, by-the-bye, my friend is a gin-u-wine lazy lady! If it’s not simple, it’s not happening!

‘So all you do is mix the dry, mix the water and you’re done’. Yep. My brain couldn’t comprehend this. I nodded pretending to understand this ‘bread’. ‘It’s so great’ she continued ‘I just made it, it sat there for… god I don’t even remember how long and I cooked it maybeeeee…. 20 min… yyeah bout that. So good! I sliced it up for the freezer, left a little out that got mouldy but that’s my fault!’ Alright – maybe that part was TMI but like I said – lazy lady! 
‘Oh how amazing’ I said. ‘How amazing, how great! Change your life with bread! Great concept!’ 
And what did I do? Nufin. I sat on this recipe for… close to 2 years.
I’d look at it from time to time. It was pretty. And I would buy random ingredients fully intending to make it. Particularly psyllium husks! Whatever the fuck they were! And then I met Jess *queue fireworks, marching band, love-heart-eyed-smiley emoji, yodeller with a goat* and a year or so into our courtship friendship I flicked her ‘The Life Changing Loaf of Bread’ and the bitch made it that night! Well. Premise for blog created! So I made it the following night! I had all of the ingredients there, looking at me like I’m a dumb-dumb – ‘ahhhh doi Helena-bot! Everything you need is right here in front of you! All you gotta do is take it!!’ And guuuuuuuuurl/boooooooooiiii not eating this bread is a travesty! And once you’ve made it, the possibilities are endless! The psyllium husks act as a binder so everything else can be variable as long as it’s a clumpy dough with psyllium husks that mofo will stick together.

Basically all you need is 3/4 of the tin dry mixture, 1/3 of the tin water and an appropriate amount of psyllium husks! If you use a regular rectangular bread tin use bout 3-4 tablespoons of psyllium husks. Let the 'bread' sit! For at least 2 hours then bake for 20min till it looks brown, rectangular and brings you brightness and joy! And now that you’re thoroughly confused with my inability to explain recipes, I’ll show you:

For the proper recipe check out ‘My New Roots’. For the improper recipe, refer to above.

Things to learn from this:
  • Accept the wisdom and advice of your friends experiences, it can save you a lot of time and bring you immeasurable joy
  • Be ready to change and understand when the catalyst comes for you, there is no going back (every other loaf of bread is practically wasting my time…)
  • Simplify and bring your own unique understanding to your life – you know it better than anyone else
Update! I brought my amazing brown rectangle of brightness and joy to work (for avid consumption - as you can see I like to take me bread for walks and pile greens up high!), shared a slice with a work buddy (LIFE. CHANGED. You’re welcome!) and prepared a slice for my post-lunch-post-smoothie-post-banana-pre-dinner-snack at 4.18pm (approx.). And, lo. Some other worker-bee was preparing their post-lunch-post-smoothie-post-banana-pre-dinner-snack at 4.18pm (approx.). I should’ve offered her a slice of my brown rectangle, I know. Her three perfectly round corn cakes were smeared with evenly proportioned triangular soft cheese, waiting to bed the plastic covered smoked salmon beside her. I looked at my brown rectangle – bubbling with imperfections, crunch, smooth avocado and zingy lemon – and couldn’t help but smile. 
My life was changing.

Hey Jess here
(aka the bitch who made the bread first!)

My compulsive need for control leaves me blinking in the headlights of this unstructured 'recipe' of Helena's! I want need to follow more of a prescribed recipe as outlined in My New Roots... but you really can throw close to anything in this 'bread' - as long as you have the psyllium husks, it will work. The other day I had some left over quinoa so I threw that right in there along with everything else. I also tend to add some extra coconut flour or almond meal just to make sure it all binds together.
I'll admit I like need to line the baking tin with baking paper because I'm risk adverse like that (there'll be no sticking to the tin on my watch!).

Calling anything 'life changing' is a pretty big call, but given how much I (we) now make of this 'bread' and eat!! - I stand by it.

Love Jess & Helena

Beautiful Bali Beginnings

Where did this journey begin? It’s hard to pick an exact time, but if I had too, banana against my head, I’d probably say things started to change around about the time I was in Bali.I spent the week with my best friend, a vegan girl named Helena. 
Now I know what you’re thinking… vegan? Yeah I was worried too. But as fortune would have it, Bali is the perfect place for any vegetarians or vegans because it’s brimming with fresh organic delicious local produce - particularly Ubud. I’m talking vegetarian food so good it will make you tear up a little.  
We learnt about Balinese food too. We took a vegan cooking class, learning all about the auyvedic properties the Balinese people know about food. 
You see to the Balinese, food is medicine. Food is what heals. That’s what auyvedic medicine is, its knowing what foods to eat to heal specific aliments, and more excitingly what food to eat to help you burn fat and become more beautiful (but more on that later!)
What happened post Bali was a slow infusion of the concepts we learnt while in Bali, and it’s what we'd like to share with you via this blog.We offer you a space to bear witness to this journey. A place free of labels and free of judgement. Our own auyvedic space where we can nourish our mind, bodies and spirits. We’d love for us to share this experience of new discoveries and weight loss together. Will you come with us now on this journey?
Helena here! I’ll follow on from Jess’s Bali experience and delve into myself in the ‘about’ section.
Something clicked for me in Bali too. It’s kinda crazy that it did. Going to Bali was a bit of a last minute trip for us both. Everyone who comes back from Bali has barely any words to explain it: ‘Bali’s just… ahhh…amazing’ ‘Yoga! Everyday!’ ‘So relaxing’ Generally I had high expectations – yoga, great vegan places and generally awesome. We went to yoga once – it was great and hard and hot and long but great. The Balinese people are beautiful and their attitude in combination with their food culture created and unforgettable experience. Needless to say, Bali’s most lasting impact on me was the the food. I had no restrictions when it came to eating. I could walk into any place (essentially) and get vegan food. Luckily Jess was open and easy to steer towards vegan places! They were divine! Fresh beautiful wholesome food!
Being aware of ‘how awesome' Bali was going to be, I kept on waiting to see when the Bali magic would hit me. In the moment, like most travel experiences, it’s all an adventure, an experience. It was practically on our last day, and the days that followed back in Melbourne, where I truly felt and understood the respect and connection that Balinese people have to their food. I loved hearing about the ayurvedic properties of food from the Balinese perspective (principles I was aware of in theory before but not in practice) – their constant consumption of turmeric, ginger and chilli kept their stomachs in balance. They practiced a proactive health scheme. They were proactive in their health - by eating fresh vegetables regularly - rather than reactive - waiting till they get sick to do something about their health.

Balinese culture towards food bled into their respect and love for their society, village and family. Generally, the Balinese live in family units and in the same villages for decades (we stayed on a compound that they family had lived on for 150years!) Traditionally, women cook the daily meals - be it the wife, the mother - women cook. Their families are so grateful for her contributions that even if the foods too spicy, too salty or not seasoned enough – they will thank their mothers/wives for their meals because they know and respect the effort they’ve put into taking care of their family and that theres also so much other work for her to achieve throughout the day. Usually there’s one meal prepared in the morning that is eaten through the day. Whatever can be found in the garden! I love this style of cooking – it promotes ‘zero waste’ and allows for what’s in season to be eaten. The Balinese also store certain foods for the winters, knowing that crops won’t be available all year round. The Balinese primarily eat vegan/vegetarian and only eat meat on holy days. In Balinese tradition only men cook on holy days and on these days they cook and eat meat.  All the young children look forward to holy days to eat the ‘special food’ - meat!  When they cook it’s a ruckus! Loud and laughing! But when they eat – they eat in complete silence.

What can we take out of this?
  • Eat for your health, prevent future illness whenever possible
  • Be grateful for the people around you, who care for you and put love into the food they provide you
  • Eat everything you have, waste nothing
  • If you eat meat, appreciate it for the life it once had

Love Helena & Jess

So This Is Where It Begins...

We're starting a blog. I suppose its already started. And our focus will be... health. We're both on a bit of a health journey you see and we're acknowledging all the information we've chosen to previously ignore. And whats been most prevalent is the connection between food and your mental state.

We'll set up the blog as such - a discovery of food. Why we love it, why we've ignored it and how we're going to keep it in our lives.