Tibicos; probiotic soda

This is for you, Clee; Thanks for the push to get busy over here again. :) And thanks go out to all my followers for hanging in there while I've all but abandoned this page. A big Hello! goes out to all those who joined since my last post! :)

I wasn't raised on soda, barely knew what it was. It wasn't until my thirties that I started in on it, and became addicted (at the time it was Barq's Root Beer). Eventually it became evident that I didn't need all that caffeine and sugar, so I followed conventional "wisdom", and started buying diet soda. (Ick!)

Then, I figured out my body *really* does *not* like artificial sweeteners! :(

A couple years ago, I discovered Tibicos, aka "water kefir" (pronounced ke-FEAR; first half as in kettle, second half as in afraid, with emphasis on the second syllable.)

These little critters are sooo cool; fun to watch brewing, and a great replacement for sugary soda. They are a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) somewhat like the kombucha that's all the rage these days.

They are really easy to do. Simply mix the tibicos crystals with water and sugar (yes, sugar. But don't worry, the tibicos eat most of that to make the brew) on a 1:1:1 ratio (well, sort of...)

One tablespoon tibicos, one tablespoon sugar, one cup water (chlorine free).

Once you source your crystals, you typically will get enough to start out with a quart. But don't use a quart jar; you need some room for the brew to off-gas. Unlike kombucha, this brew is done with a lid on.

I use a half gallon jar, filled with spring water to the half point. Add in 4 tablespoons of muscovado, and my water kefir (tibicos) grains. Four tablespoons will be good for that amount of sugar water, but they will grow! Once you have more than 6 tablespoons, it's a good idea to take some out. (You can dry them for later, or pass them on to a friend.)

Cover & let it sit, for 1-3 days, depending on the temperature, and your personal taste. When my house is less that 70* I like to let it go 3 days. The longer you go, the less sugar is left (and the more tart the taste!) But, don't let it go too long, the tibicos need to eat! On warmer days it only takes a day. Taste as you go, and find out what you like.

When you deem it ready, filter out the crystals and start a new batch with them (this is an ongoing project! But you can store them in the fridge for a few days in the sugar water if you need a break. They will consume the sugar slower that way, and buy you some time.)

The filtered out liquid can be consumed as is, but I prefer to give it some flavor by second fermenting it with juice.

So, into the half gallon jar (filled half way with finished water kefir) add in four cups of whatever juice you want for flavor. Be sure it is free of any additives that could kill the brew though! Organic is best.

My fave is two cups grape juice & two cups apple juice. All apple works well too. You are only limited by what you can find (or juice yourself). Strawberry nectar (Bionature) works well, as does pear. Just be sure you are getting pure juice. Don't want to kill your brew!

Then let it sit for another day or two, at room temp, until as bubbly as you like. Then pop it in fridge, to slow down the ferment. It's ready to consume at this point.

You can put it in individual serve bottles for the second ferment, but due to pressure buildup, sometimes they will break! I find canning jars work best, as the lids let some of the gas escape. (As an aside: the lids that come with canning jars contain BPA. I use Tattler lids.)

I've also had great results with adding in honey, water, and lime for the second ferment, instead of juice. (Roughly four cups water, 2-4 tablespoons raw honey, and the juice of one or more limes. All to taste, bearing in mind some of the sugars will be consumed by the the beneficial bacteria in the finished brew) Cherry lime is fantastic! (1-2 cups cherry juice in place of the same amount of water.)

For those of you following an all raw diet, fresh juiced will work just fine. Just be sure to only use it in second ferment. If used in the initial brew (with the water kefir crystals) little bits of the pulp will get incorporated into the critters, never to come out again! Same goes for putting dried fruit into the brew. Works for flavor, also feeds the crystals and can help them grow faster, but sometimes little bits get trapped! It doesn't really *seem* to be problematic, but a bit unsightly.

I've seen folks recommend using egg shell. I really didn't see it was all that helpful. Muscovado has minerals in it, so that is feeding the critters' needs. But even when I used evaporated cane, it still worked fine without the shell.

Pictures will come eventually... really need to come up with an easier way to get those uploaded. :^P



Red, White, & Blue and Granola, too!

Sometimes, I really enjoy a bowl of "cereal".  This one, in the pic, is simply banana, blueberries, and raspberries, with sunflower seeds and nutmylk.  Very Yummy!

If you prefer a more traditional looking, and tasting, "cereal" give this granola a try:

coconut cream   3 to 4 tsp

maple syrup    1/4 cup (more or less to taste)

sea salt          pinch

cinnamon     1-2 TB

Handful or two of each:

apple   1/4, chopped small



sunflower seeds

Bob’s Red Mill “7 grain” flakes  1/4 - 1/2 cup (optional, not raw)

Buckwheat groats  3/4 C, soaked 1 hour & sprouted for four hours.

Toss all, and dehydrate until dry.  (Or, eat as is!)

The bf likes this very much!  But, I found I liked this much better before it was dehydrated!  I have come to find that I am not overly fond of most dehydrated foods.  I much prefer fresh, like the one in the pic above!

Notes:  The coconut cream I used was by Tropical Traditions.  If you use Artisana "butter", or WIlderness Family "spread" (or some other) it may take a tad longer to dry.  That's a guess, as they both are considerably runnier than Tropical Traditions.

For those that celebrate this day, I hope you are having a fun, and safe 4th!



Stuffed Mushrooms

These are quite tasty.  Even the bf liked these before he started eating raw voluntarily!

juice of lemon
julienne carrots
button mushrooms

Put cashews in the food processor with a bit of juice from a lemon.  The quantity of cashew depends on how many caps you have to fill.  Use as much lemon as you need to get the cashews creamy (if you have a lot, you may need more than one lemon).  Once they are creamy, add in julienne carrots, pecans, and basil & pulse until almost smooth, but a tad chunky.  Remove the stems from your mushrooms, and fill.  That's it!  If you have a dehydrator, you could warm these up a bit-- in 2 to 4 hours they look and taste like cooked stuffed mushrooms.  The ones in the pic are fresh.  I like 'em better that way.



Blueberry Peach Tarts


8 dates

1/2 C pecans


2 peaches

1/2 C blueberries

1 tsp lemon juice

1 T  honey, maple syrup, or agave

Dice peaches, saving two whole slices for decoration.  Toss all filling ingredients in a bowl.  Let sit in 'fridge to let flavors mingle, while preparing crust.

Pulse crust ingredients until fine and crumbly.  Pat into two individual sized tart pans.  Place in freezer for approximately one hour so shape will set for easy removal from tart pan.  (Pans with a removable bottom are recommended.  Otherwise you could just leave it in the dish for serving.)

Remove crusts from tart pans.  Spoon in filling, top with reserved whole slices, and enjoy immediately!



Yummy Green Sprouts!

I'm not blessed with a green thumb.  I learned this at a very early age.  As a child, my mother insisted that I couldn't even keep clover alive, at which I promptly plucked some up from the yard, and planted it in a pot to see.  I really don't recall the clover's demise, but I do seem to recall that it lasted longer than anything else I had previously tried to keep.  To this day, I occasionally try my hand at keeping a plant alive, but have for the most part given up on spending any money to do so!  I'm drawn to holding onto seeds from produce I have eaten, and have managed to keep a few avocado plants around for a while, none of them longer than a year, so far.  I am quite pleased with the fact that I still have five date palms I planted spring of '08!  Hardy little fellows, that tend to like being neglected, apparently.

One area I have found I can excel (anybody can!) is sprouts.  How much damage can one do in five days?  ;~)  If you've yet to try this, you really should give it a go.  My first try at it, was over 20 years ago.  Since then, I've learned a great deal more than simply alfalfa and mung beans exist.  A great site I highly recommend is sproutpeople.com.  They have more information than you'd ever need, and it's all free on their site.  Sure they sell seeds & supplies too, but they don't require that you buy from them, to use the information they provide.  A couple other sites I've also had good purchase experiences with are sprouthouse.com & wheatgrasskits.com.

There are so many kinds of sprouts to choose from!  One of my favorites for a couple decades has been broccoli.  The pic above shows some more of my favorites: pea shoots on the right, and a mixture of sunflower greens and buckwheat greens on the left. 

Recently, I discovered Milk Thistle seeds, and they were advertised as sprout-able (even though I was not on a sprouting site.)  Well, not one to let that opportunity pass by, I purchased them, and excitedly started up a batch in a jar when they arrived.  They took a bit longer than most, but that may have been due to somewhat cool temperatures at the time. (Actually, only about 10% of them sprouted, and upon writing the company that I purchased them from, they credited me.  But that is a whole other story, and I am no worse for the wear.)  The thing is, they were quite ugly to the taste buds!  Bitter little things!  Their look reminded me somewhat of miniature sunflower greens, but had no where near that wonderful sweet flavor.  If anybody has tried these, and actually liked them, do let me know!  

Do you sprout?  If so, what are your favorites?



Peach Avocado Salsa

I ate this as is, but think it would be wonderful topped over a bed of salad greens!




lime juice

chili garlic

Peel and cube the first three ingredients, and combine, along with any juices collected when cutting.  Juice the lime over fruit.  Add chili garlic and toss *well* to coat evenly.

Tips:  Be very light handed with the chili garlic if it's new to you.  (I used one peach, one avocado, handful of frozen -thawed- pineapple pieces, juice of half a lime, and about 1/8 to 1/4 tsp of chili garlic.)

Chili garlic can be purchased at an asian market, although some regular grocery stores cary it in an ethnic section.  It is a thick paste of chili pepper and garlic finely chopped and mixed into sesame oil.  I am not sure if it is raw, but I use so little of it, I'm ok with that.  Alternatively, you could probably use hot chili flavored oil, or chop a fresh chili pepper and some garlic into the mix, with or without added oil.

I may try this out again with mango, in place of peach, since I have those on hand.  Feel free to vary up any of the ingredients, and let me know how it goes!



Over the past couple years, my diet has been evolving to more and more natural and healthy food.  First to go was the fried food.  Oh how I loved fried food!  Amazingly, one day I just didn't want it any more.  I have not tried to weed out anything from my diet,  I've just been listening more and more to what my body wants.  I simply wasn't drawn to it like I once was, and I ate fried foods weekly!  The deep frier was the most used appliance in the kitchen.  Seriously!  My body must have decided it had taken enough abuse.

I ate a fairly healthy diet in my twenties (or at least what I thought was healthy at the time!  Lots of cheese and fruit.) But in my thirties I was acquainted with soda and chips and all manner of SAD foods. Ugh!  I enjoyed it at the time, but my body really paid for it.

Cheese was out this go around, as I had found out I am allergic to dairy; anything cow, actually (beef too).  But I have enjoyed having fruit back in my diet.  Seems with all those soda's, chips, and other fried foods, I just wasn't wanting any fruit.  But with most of that now gone, my desire for fruit was a bit overwhelming.  Now, it's the bulk of my diet.

I have been having fun trying various "superfoods" over the past couple years.  Some I have been obsessed with (raw honey), others not so much (lucuma).  I'll elaborate more on that in the coming days.

It's good to be back!  I look forward to sharing more yummy (and sometimes the not-so-yummy) stuff with you.

By the way, the juice in that pic up there is apples and a pomegranate that I ran through my Green Life juicer.  YUM!