WOW. 2014 has come and gone as quickly as this pregnancy seems to be going!
As I stare out at the fresh veil of twinkling, white snow in my backyard, I am reminded of new beginnings and fresh starts that are reminiscent of January 1. The thought of new beginnings also has me looking back over the past 12 months…thankful for the many blessings of 2014. Some are sad a year has seemingly quickly come and gone, but I am amazed at all that has been accomplished in 12 short months, savouring every last day.
Although I have some daunting feats ahead of me this year and big changes ahead, 2014 was one hell of a year to close this chapter of my life with: we rang in 2014 by playing in the Costa Rican waves, then explored the waterfalls of Maui with two of my best friends and their families, tasted the rich grapes of Sonoma Valley, took study breaks on the slopes of the Rocky Mountains, savored gelato and cannolis in the streets of Italy, learned how to make pasta from an Italian chef, and swam with the fishes of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
My biggest accomplishment, (obviously!) was anxiously launching “Love and Garnish”, sharing my thoughts and food cravings with all of you and graduating as a Holistic Nutritionist from the CSNN. I learned priceless food photography techniques from Ashley with “Not Without Salt” and honed in my writing skills with Tara from “Seven Spoons” in the bustling food city of Seattle. Last but not least, we found out we are expecting the first little babes into our family! After such a busy and productive year (well, “years” I should say!), it’s now time to settle down for our quickly arriving little one.
Are you excited for the challenges and new possibilities of 2015?!
Now onto the hot topic of January….
….a fresh start with healthy choices! Making healthier choices and even detoxing are always top-of-mind for people in the New Year. Alot of the time, making small changes and cleaning up our diet is all that needs to be done to live a healthy lifestyle. I love seeing everyone in the “health” mode in the New Year, but what happened to making healthy choices everyday?! I feel as though so many people put tremendous amounts of pressure on themselves to make drastic changes in the New Year, when really, all most people need are a few tweaks to their diet and lifestyle and healthy choices can be easy to continue all year long. If you have never taken a look at my LIFESTYLE LOWDOWN page, now is the perfect time! I give some easy tips on making healthy diet and lifestyle choices everyday.
This recipe I’m sharing with you today is a great way to clean up, not only our diet, but our digestive system as well: fermented ginger carrots and cabbage with arame.
If there was one food trend that really got my juices going this past year, it would be fermented foods. Before I began school at CSNN, I didn’t pay much attention to these bubbling probiotic creations. However, through my schooling, I have learned the vast health benefits of such a simple food.
Fermented foods have been staples in other cultures for centuries. The Japanese enjoy miso and various pickled vegetables; Korean’s dive into fresh kimchi; Europeans put sauerkraut on select foods, and in India soured milk is consumed at almost every meal in the form of lassis. What exactly are fermented foods, you ask? Well, I’m glad you asked! Fermented foods are foods that are “alive” and have been partially digested by bacteria either present on the food (like in cabbage) or by bacteria that has been added to the food by way of a “culture” (think sourdough bread). If the fermentation occurs due to bacteria already present on the food, such as on grapes in wine-making, it is referred to as “wild fermentation” (specifically, “lactic-acid fermentation” if it involves milk or vegetables like cabbage). If the food has a culture added, such as yeast, whey, or a microbial starter, then this is referred to as “culturing”. The health advantages of the beneficial bacteria in fermented foods are endless! Dr. Mercola even deemed fermented foods as the “ultimate” superfood. The most popular fermented foods are plain yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and miso, however, anything can be fermented with the right technique and culture starter!
BAD ASS BACTERIA + GUT HEALTH
These funky, fermented products with beneficial bacteria are supportive of not only digestive health, but overall well-being and immune system health. Can you believe there is over 3 pounds of bacteria in the colon with over 400 different species that establish colon health?! Diet is a large factor in determining the balance of good and bad gut bacteria (aka “gut flora”). An imabalnce of good and bad bacteria (“dysbiosis”) in the colon can create a host of health problems like IBS, constipation, food intolerances, and even Crohns disease. Sugar, processed foods and simple starches like white bread, promote bad bacteria, while fermented foods like kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and miso help promote the good bacteria.
Functions of good bacteria in the gut:
- Produce some B vitamins and vitamin K
- Break down and destroy toxic chemicals
- Protect against pollutants
- Breaks down fiber and fat
- Processes fiber and wastes in the colon
- Enhances immune system as 80% of our immune system is in our gut!
- Maintains the integrity of the intestinal lining which is needed to absorb nutrients properly and transport to the blood stream and liver
So make a big batch of these fermented ginger carrots and cabbage and try to consume fermented products daily to begin seeing changes in your gut health, thus improving your overall well-being.
I hope the “Lifestyle Lowdown” page and this recipe give you a kickstart to leading a healthy, happy lifestyle all year long! HAPPY NEW YEAR!
- 1 cup grated carrots (using a food processor is the easiest way)
- 1 cup thinly sliced red cabbage (using a mandolin is the easiest way)
- 1 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger (using a food processor is the easiest way)
- 1 Tablespoon sea salt
- ½ cup arame seaweed
- 2 Tablespoons hemp seeds
- 1 Tablespoon fresh cilantro
- 1 ½ teaspoons white miso
- 1 ½ teaspoons tamari
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons flax oil or avocado oil
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- ¼ teaspoon fresh chopped garlic
- 1. Begin by fermenting your carrots and cabbage with the ginger: combine the carrots, cabbage, and ginger in a bowl and sprinkle with the salt. Massage with your hands and pound with a meat tenderizer to the natural carrot release juices. There should be a significant amount of liquid at the bottom of the bowl when you are done. Place in a large, wide mouth mason jar and press down firmly to eliminate as much empty space as possible. Place a smaller jar or weight on top to weigh down the vegetables. The juices need to be at least an inch above the vegetables. Add more lightly salted water if needed. Cover with a piece of cheesecloth, place on a plate or in a bowl, and leave in a dark, warm place (a cupboard in your laundry room or on top of your dryer with a box over it) for at least 5 days. Check daily to ensure the water is still an inch above the vegetables. If not, add more lightly salted water. Bubbles and white foam are a normal part of the process.
- 2. Now that you have your fermented vegetables, prepare the salad. Soak the arame in water for 20 minutes or until soft.
- 3. While the arame soaks, prepare the dressing: combine all dressing ingredients and whisk to combine. Set aside.
- 4. Toss together 1 cup of the ginger fermented carrots and cabbage, ½ cup arame, the reserved dressing, hemp seeds, and cilantro. Toss to combine and enjoy!
- If you don’t have time to ferment your own carrots and cabbage, “Firefly Kitchens” makes delicious fermented, ginger carrots called “Yin Yan Carrots”. Just soak the cabbage in the carrot juice overnight to soften and continue with the recipe.