Thursday, October 24, 2013

Sauerkraut Soup with Jerky Chews - 21DSD - Day 4


Day 4 of the sugar detox and I've noticed I am snacking less and less with each day. Before, I was having to eat periodically to keep my energy levels up.

Today, finally, I was able to satiate my hunger with a total of two big meals. One of the meals consisted of two servings of yesterday's wild salmon and veggie stir-fry. The other meal was a variation of Borscht - a soup from the Eastern European culinary tradition that incorporates fermented sour foods, specifically sour beets. But since beets are off limits on the sugar detox, I used the homemade fermented kraut I had at my fingertips in the fridge. Score! For protein, I added re-hydrated Jerky Chews for a change (soaked in broth for an hour prior to cooking). Since no preservatives are added in Jerky Chews, they were incredibly moist and flavorful. Give this recipe a try and let me know what you think!

Ingredients
  • 2 bags of Jerky Chews in 2oz, cut into 1 inch pieces 
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil 
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 cups, diced potatoes or brassicas of your choice
  • 2 cups, homemade sauerkraut
  • 5 cups broth or water
  • 2 Tbsp. grass-fed gelatin 
  • Real Salt or another unrefined sea salt of your choice. 
  • Black pepper
Preparation
  1. For about an hour, soak Jerky Chews in broth prior to cooking. 
  2. Heat coconut oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and saut√© until translucent. 
  3. Add carrots, potatoes, sauerkraut and broth/water to the pot, and bring to a boil.
  4. After the soup comes to a boil, cover with a lid slightly cracked and bring to a simmer for 1/2 hour until the fresh veggies and potatoes are tender.
  5. Taste it and mix in the gelatin and seasoning. 
  6. The flavors will blend more throughly if you let the soup sit.
  7. Serve warm with a dollop of homemade mayo. Enjoy! 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Grandma's Sauerkraut - 21DSD - Day 3

I am feeling a little better since yesterday's kitchen mishap. Surprisingly, I didn't feel the need to bury my sorrows in a pint of ice-cream. My sugar cravings are actually okay; my energy, on the other hand, could be better. But that could be due to the injury, not the detox. Or maybe both?


We've been enjoying more fermented sauerkraut during the sugar detox. What's not to like about fermented veggies? They complement every meal, and because I filled a huge jar with kraut, there is enough to feed us for weeks, which means less pressure on me to come up with a new side dish everyday. You could say that we are boring by eating the same thing, but kraut, in many traditional cuisines, is a routine element. Germans consume it with gusto and Koreans are so big on kimchi that they eat it with every meal. Eastern European's happen to love their fermented veggies, too. Kraut was one of the first foods we grabbed when we were shopping for breakfast options in Slovenia. It also doesn't hurt that the health-promoting properties of fermented veggies stimulate stomach acid production, which aids in better digestion of foods, especially meats. And you know how much we love grass-fed meat around here. :)

The sauerkraut recipe I usually prepare is my grandmother's version. Her family grew up making big wooden barrels of this stuff and eating it all through the Russian winter. But now she lives on her own and in a much warmer climate, with access to just about anything she wants. Instead of giving up on this ancient tradition, she continues it to this day by using a simplified method. These are pics of her demonstrating the process.

Grandma's 3-day Kraut ferment

Equipment

  • wide-mouth mason or clip-top glass jar (64 -oz) 
  • plate that fits inside jar or two plastic forks (food grade and compostable, anti-plastic purists stay calm)
  • paper towel or cheesecloth 
Ingredients

  • 2 large head of green cabbage
  • 4 carrots 
  • Real Salt or another unrefined sea salt of your choice. 
Preparation
  1. Slice cabbage into halves, cut out the hearts. Take one half and chop it into strips on a cutting board. Grate 2 carrots separately and add to the chopped cabbage. Sprinkle a tablespoon of salt. 
  2. Mix ingredients with your hands and squeeze to force the water out a bit. Transfer the mixture to a jar and tamp it down until juices release some more. I like to use a wood roller pin. 
  3. Repeat 2 and 3 for the second half of the cabbage.  
  4. Pack remaining content into the same jar and tamp it again. You want to fill about 90% of the jar, so cut up the second head of cabbage if needed. 
  5. Cover kraut with a plate and a weight or like my grandmother has been doing for years: take 2 plastic forks, overlapping at the center to form an "x" - press them into the walls of the jar and top of kraut. This should keep kraut submerged under the brine. 
    This ferment also had red bell pepper added
  6. Cover the whole thing with paper towel or cloth to keep creatures out. 
  7. Store the jar at room temperature. I prefer on the counter but out of the way. 
  8. Everyday, for the duration of the ferment, open the cloth and release the bubble with a wooden skewer by pressing down in between the forks. Remember to cover again and set aside. Repeat for 3 days.
  9. Transfer to the fridge and enjoy. Because my family likes a crunchy and slightly sour kraut, we ferment for only 3 days. But if you are looking for a variation that is more sour and probably higher in probiotic content, check out Balanced Bites recipe.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Food ideas to stay on track - 21DSD - Day 2

How did you start your day? Hopefully, a little better than I did. On our second day of the 21-Day Sugar Detox, the kitchen knife attacked me. As I was quickly cutting up a daikon radish for my home ferment, the knife slipped out of my hand and fell vertically on my foot, with the sharp edge down, of course. The chef reading this will tell me to sharpen my knives, I'm on it. I am okay; just left with a little wound to commemorate the attack. I hope I didn't freak you out, Mom.

While I'm taking a little break from my kitchen today, I wanted to share with you the foods I've prepared and bought to help us stay on track during the detox. We are more likely to slip up when there isn't anything in place of fast food. In our case, fast food is not your typical junk food, it's the plethora of seasonal oranges and persimmons growing outside our house that are very tempting to grab on the go. But I am saving those for after the detox; it will be interesting to know how sensitive my palate will be to the natural fruit sugars, and perhaps my desire to inhale two at a time will be ceased.

So here are some of the items that help us stay on track:



Fermented Veggies You might have already heard about the health benefit of fermented foods, Diane talks about it extensively and has a recipe for how to make sauerkraut on her blog and Practical Paleo book. My family has always been making and eating sauerkraut, but only in the last couple of years learned of its probiotic and lactic acid content that helps balance the gut flora and aid digestion. We have since started to ferment other veggies; a mix of carrots, radishes, and celery. I don't really like these veggies raw, but the fermentation makes them rather palatable and easy to digest. If I'm craving a snack, a tablespoon of sauerkraut or couple pieces of fermented carrots come to the rescue. I love that they have a long shelf-life and compliment just about every meal - we often eat some kind of protein with fat, starch, and kraut. And the preparation is simple; just takes a few days to ferment, so make sure to make in advance.

Homemade Mayo This is another great ingredient that's simple to prepare (in just a few minutes) and versatile, can be used to dress eggs, salad, or served as a dip for veggies, options are endless. Basic mayo is made up of egg yolk, salt, mustard, vinegar, and oil. It's actually a very nutritious food, but the stuff sold in stores is made with preservatives and inflammatory industrial oils, like soybean and canola that we completely eliminated from our diet. So the 3 minutes that it takes to make mayo at home are so worth it. Make it in advance and you can have tuna/salmon salad for lunch or dinner in a pinch. Now you have no excuse. I love Nom Nom Paleo's mayo recipe, but do prefer using a blender. :)

Portable Protein and Fats I didn't make Jerky Chews just because. When you are out of the house, it's good to have portable protein to ward of hunger and actually stay satiated between meals. And just because you are out and about, doesn't mean you have to stop eating healthy. Look for options with clean real food ingredients that do not launch your blood sugar into a roller coaster ride. Besides beef jerky, hard boiled eggs and canned salmon or tuna are good portable options. Coconut cream and oil are my favorite fats to eat when I'm craving something sweet. I have no self-control with nut butters, so don't keep any in the house. If that's not the case with you, get it. Pick what works best for you and stick with it.

Good thing we have some left over meat from last night, all I got to do now is add pre-prepared sauerkraut and mayo and dinner is served. Even battle scars cant stop us from eating well!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Cevapi - Minced Meat! 21DSD - Day 1

Cevapi - tastier than it looks! :)
Today, my hubby and I kicked-off our first ever 21 Day Sugar Detox, written and created by Diane Sanfilippo. After traveling for three weeks on our honeymoon, often eating out for all our main meals, our bodies were begging for a reset with food made at home using clean ingredients; sans added sugar and flour/fillers. 

Our day started with sweet potato fries cooked in duck fat, smoked salmon, and a side of homemade sauerkraut. Because we do lead pretty active lives, we will continue to incorporate starchy tubers (yams, sweet potatoes, potatoes). For lunch, I had packed Broiled Wild Salmon and zoodles that I prepared the night before. The salmon recipe is from The 21 Day Sugar Detox; very simple and fast to prepare, and super tasty! Snacks for the day: one green apple and a bag of Jerky Chews.

For tonight's dinner, I wanted to recreate Cevapi. It's Bosnia - Herzegovina's national dish of minced meat rolled into cylinders, typically served in flatbread with raw onions. Cevapi actually means cylinder in Bosnian and reminiscent of the Turkish kofta kebabs. No surprise there, the Turks greatly influenced the local cuisine during their invasion centuries back, and why you'll find variations of the dish in other parts of Eastern Europe. I personally like the simple lamb and beef variety I'm happy to share with you. 

Cevapi Ingredients:


Preparation:
  1. Heat butter oil in a frying pan over medium-low heat. Add the chopped garlic and white onion, saut√© until translucent. 
  2. Meanwhile, mix the lamb, beef, eggs, paprika, and salt in a bowl. 
  3. Add the cooked onion and garlic into the mixture. Mix well.
  4. Shape with your hands into 2 inch cylinders and arrange in a baking pan. Refrigerate covered for one hour to overnight, to let the flavors fully marinate. 
  5. When ready, preheat oven and cook on Broil, 6 minutes per side or until no longer pink in the middle. You can also grill or pan fry. 
  6. Enjoy with sliced tomatoes and onions, accompanied with your choice of veggies instead of bread. 
  7. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

21-Day Sugar Detox - Post Honeymoon


Fresh from my honeymoon trip to Eastern Europe, specifically Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia - Herzegovina, I'm inspired to recreate the tasty, savory dishes we ate. For three weeks, my hubby and I submerged ourselves in the local delicious cuisine without paying too much attention to sugar, gluten, or dairy. We would try to seek out food that represents the country's culinary tradition, so for the most part our meals were rich in variety and homemade, using seasonal ingredients. Though, we did indulge in more than our share of tourist traps, like Gelato and authentic homemade sweets anytime we took a tea/coffee break (at times up to 3/day). Blah, I know.

Since we eat out more when we travel, we don't keep as close to the dietary lifestyle that we would at home. We stick to a Paleo template at home (avoiding industrial seed oils, processed sugar, and gluten containing grains), primarily for maintaining good health and preventing obesity, diabetes, and metabolic disease that are so prevalent in America. We both have relatives whose lives have been plagued by such conditions, so paying close attention to our bodies and fueling up on foods that are nutrient-dense and of high quality is important to us; which is why I created Grass Fed Jerky Chews in the first place. And having the Chews on hand did deter us from tourist traps, for the most part, just not enough to completely resist the delicate flavors of homemade treats specific to the region we visited.  

So upon our return home, I made a pact with my hubby to jump on the gluten and sugar detox. Fortunately, there is an easy to follow customizable guide available by Diane Sanfilippo called the 21-Day Sugar Detox, that's soon to be available in print. I've personally known Diane for a couple of years now and I'm really happy for her achievements, she works her butt off to make it easier for YOU to adopt a real food lifestyle. Definitely read up more on her Balanced Bites blog if you haven't yet.

The online support group for the 21 Day Sugar Detox guide had already started beginning of this month, but I am thinking of just jumping right in, this Monday, since the recipes from our honeymoon are still fresh in my head.

Along our detox journey, I hope to share with you some interesting recipes from our trip and some of the typical ones we make at home. I can't promise that I will have a new recipe everyday since I am also attending to your jerky orders, but I'll do my best!

Check in tomorrow for my kick-off post, and a new recipe, specific to Bosnia - Herzegovina!