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Posts Tagged ‘Beverages’

My post from April 9,  Fabulously Frugal, Sprouted Lentils, reminded me that I have been wanting to share another fabulous way to save money on natural, gluten-free, and organic foods. A few months back I began actively seeking coupons, weekly sales, and special discounts for items that we regularly purchase from stores. At first I was skeptical – I though that there wouldn’t be coupons and sales for natural and organic foods – yet over the last few months I have found several ways to make these types of small savings add up – all without compromising on buying mostly local, fairly traded, and organic food! This week I’ll share my strategies for gluten-free, organic, and natural foods couponing.

Initially, I was inspired to investigate the possibilities of natural foods coupons by the Chinook Book. The book costs $20, but can be found on sale for $15 (we bought one at the Better Living Show for $10). It is filled with coupons for discounts on natural foods and at natural foods stores (and for many other green-ish businesses). In my household the Chinook Book quickly pays for itself. For example, for each of Portland’s Co-Op’s (People’s, Food Front, and Alberta Street) there are coupons for 5 dollars off a purchase of 25 dollars. That’s 25% off our groceries!

Click here to view a list of the natural grocery coupons in the Chinook Book.

Click here to view a list of the local grocery store coupons in the Chinook Book.

Keep an eye out for coupon books in your favorite grocery stores. New Season’s and Whole Foods each have in-store coupon books. (Whole Foods coupons are also available online.) People’s, Food Front, and Alberta Street Co-Ops (and other co-ops) share the bi-monthly Co-Op Advantage coupon book, though not all of the products are available at every store. Free, bi-monthly publications like Remedies for Life, Taste for Life, and Delicous Living frequently contain coupons, I pick them up at Food Front in Hillsdale. Other print publications frequently contain coupons, I like to scan neighborhood and weekly newspapers, as well as my favorite print magazines devoted to healthy lifestlyes. (Living Without and Whole Living frequently contain natural foods coupons.)

I’ve found a few coupon websites devoted to natural foods. Mambo Sprouts Coupons is affiliated with the coupon giant Coupons.com and is regularly updated with new coupons. Coupons.com, like the Sunday paper coupon inserts, is mostly for conventional foods, however, there are occasionally natural products coupons to be found on/in both. HealthESavers.com is also dedicated to natural foods, but it is updated only occasionally Whole Foods coupons are updated bi-monthly, but (of course) they are only good at Whole Foods.

Click here to view Mambo Sprouts coupons

Click here to view Coupons.com coupons.

Click here to view HealthESavers coupons.

Click here to view Whole Foods coupons.

Some natural foods companies offer coupons to people who sign up for their mailing lists or become their Facebook fans. Look for mailing lists and facebook pages that offer specific coupons when you sign-up or ‘like’ the company. I’ve had repeated success with directly contacting companies and requesting coupons. I send quick e-mail note telling the company what at I appreciate about them, which products I buy, and I request coupons. (Some even send samples!) I encourage you to contact some of these exciting companies.

Columbia Gorge Organics

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap (they make coconut oil too),

Food For Life (sprouted and gluten-free breads)

Nancy’s Cultured Dairy & Soy

(These links provide you with the contact page, but you must make the request.)

All of this may seem exciting and overwhelming, so here are three things that I do to keep couponing helpful and under-control.

#1. My own rule has become that coupons must be for something I would normally purchase (even without the coupon) or for special treats on special occasions. (They’re for saving money not spending more!)

#2. Organization is key. I keep a small 3-ring binder with clear pockets to organize all of my coupons. It’s cute, tidy, and fits easily into my purse or shopping basket. I’m sure to keep it with me and I’ve seen other shoppers eyeing it enviously!

#3. Combining coupons and sales is always best, so next week I’ll share how I keep track of sales.

Do you have any tips for gluten-free, organic, or natural-foods couponing? I’d love to hear any suggestions in the comments below.

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Flower Power Kombucha

Makes 2 ½  quarts

This combination of fragrant, uplifting, and naturally sweet flowers is the perfect tonic for spring. Rose petals soothe and relax; St. John’s Wort is detoxifies the liver; red clover purifies the blood; and chrysanthemum is anti-inflammatory and aids digestion. (See cooks notes for contraindications for these herbs.)

Before you make herbal kombucha set aside a mother mushroom that has not been in contact with herbal brew. The addition of herbs may change the composition of bacteria and yeast in the s.c.o.b.y.. Discard any mother or daughter mushrooms that have been in herbal teas or use them to culture future batches of herbal brews (but not regular brews (see cooks note)). If you are making kombucha to maximize the specific health benefits that are associated with the tea please follow the recipe for 5-Step Kombucha.

3 quarts clean water (well, spring, or filtered)

1 cup evaporated cane juice (preferably organic and fairly traded)

3 tablespoons organic rose petals

1 tablespoon St. John’s Wort blossoms and leaves

1 tablespoon red clover blossoms, about 3 large

1 tablespoon chrysanthemum blossoms, about 3 large

1 tablespoon organic green tea

½ cup finished kombucha or ¼ cup apple cider vinegar

1 kombucha mushroom (s.c.o.b.y.)

1.            Bring one quart of the water to a boil. Pour the water into a one-gallon heat safe glass bowl or jar. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the herbs and tea to a muslin spice bag, or oversized tea bag. Steep the mixture for as little as 15 minutes, or until the tea is cool. Remove the tea bag. Add the remaining 2 quarts of water.

2.            Add ½ cup kombucha from a previous batch or ¼ cup apple cider vinegar (this acidifies the tea and prevents contamination from other microorganisms). Place the mushroom dark side down in the liquid.

3.            If you are using a bowl cross several strips of masking tape over the top (to keep the cover from falling into the liquid). Cover with a cloth or paper towel. Secure the cover tightly with a string or rubber band (insects may be attracted and must be kept out!). Label with the date made. Store in a warm, well-ventilated place, out of direct sunlight.

4.            Depending upon the room temperature, the kombucha will be ready after 6-12 days. Kombucha is ready to drink when it looks relatively translucent and a ‘baby’ kombucha mushroom has formed above the mother. It will cease tasting of tea. Most people prefer kombucha sweet to pleasingly tart. After it has fermented about one week taste it daily. When the flavor suits your taste, bottle the tea.

5.            To bottle kombucha, remove the mother and the baby mushroom from the brew. Use a funnel and glass jars or bottles with tightly fitting lids (or flip-top bottles). Fill the jars to the top. Place a sheet of wax paper underneath the lid. (The paper prevents the acidic kombucha from contacting the lid.) Store in the refrigerator.

To restore effervescence to chilled kombucha, remove from the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Strain the tea just before serving.

Cooks note:

The mother and baby mushroom can be separated and used to make additional batches of flower power or other herbal kombuchas. Don’t use them for regular kombucha because the balance of bacteria and yeast within the s.c.o.b.y. may be altered.

Don’t use rose petals if you are pregnant. Don’t use chrysanthemum if you have a known allergy to ragweed. Don’t use St. John’s Wort if you are pregnant or nursing, or if you take any of the following medications: cyclosporine, tacrolimus, irinotecan, and imatinib mesylate, protease inhibitors, or nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors. Don’t use red clover if you are pregnant or nursing, taking oral contraception, estrogen or progesterone therapies.

This post was shared at Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday, Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday, and Nourishing Gourmet’s Pennywise platter Thursday blog hop.

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Herbal Super-Foods Smoothie

Makes 3 ½ cups

Berries, homemade kefir, and an abundance of locally-grown and organic super-foods – it’s my favorite way to start the day!

1 ½ cups high-quality kefir

2 large egg yolks, from pastured hens (optional)

1 tablespoon local, organic bee pollen

1 tablespoon roasted dandelion root powder, see cooks note

1 ½ teaspoons nettle powder, see cooks note

1 cup frozen strawberries

1 cup frozen blueberries

1 large, fair-trade, organic banana

3 tablespoons organic flax meal (freshly ground flax seeds)

3 tablespoons organic, extra-virgin coconut oil

In the pitcher of a blender combine the kefir, optional egg yolks, bee pollen, nettle powder, and roasted dandelion powder. Blend on low until the powders are fully incorporated. Add the strawberries, blueberries, banana, and flax meal. Pulse on high until the fruit is fully incorporated. You may need to scrape down the sides of the pitcher and push the fruit towards the blade.

In a small saucepan, over low heat, warm  the coconut oil until just melted, about 1 minute. With the blender running on low, slowly pour the coconut oil into the pitcher. Blend until the oil is fully incorporated, about one minute. Serve immediately or store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to one day.

Cooks note:

Dandelion root can be harvested from your backyard or garden and roasted quite readily. However, it is nearly impossible to grind into a fine powder without industrial grinding equipment. For this smoothie I recommend purchasing organic, ground, roasted dandelion from a reputable herb purveyor (like The Herb Shoppe in Portland and Brooklyn or Mountain Rose Herbs online).

Gathering wild stinging nettles and drying them at home is simple and quite rewarding (if you’re into it!). The best way to learn is always from someone else who has knowledge of the herb. Otherwise, purchase organic nettle leaf from a reputable herb purveyor (like The Herb Shoppe or Mountain Rose Herbs) or purchase wildcrafted nettles in the market and dry them at home. Grind dried nettle leaf in a clean coffee grinder until it is reduced to powder, about 30-60 seconds.

Click here for my Kefir Recipe.

This recipe was shared at the Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday blog carnival, at Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, at Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday, at Mind, Body, and Sole’s Wildcrafting Wednesday, and at Recipe Lion’s Favorite Spring Recipe Share.

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This evening while making beet kvass I noticed tiny tops sprouting from the mature beets. I was reminded of three things. The first was the resilience of life. The beets have been in storage for months, they’re still alive, and ready for spring! Secondly, was the beauty of the chioggia. The electric pink rings impress me every time. Finally I was reminded that beet kvass, though beautiful, delicious, and full of nutrition, is not very well known, and I’d like to change that…

Chioggia skins

Sprouting beets

Are you ready to try? Here’s a quick and simple recipe for Beet Kvass.

Did you know that Fermented Beverages Are Homemade Probiotics and Multi-Vitamins?

This was shared on Real Food Wednesday.

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How do I make my homemade kombucha as fizzy as the store bought brands?

I pondered this question for years. Some of my batches bubbled over but others were relatively flat. Then I learned of a process called secondary fermentation (or bottle fermentation) that’s used when making sparkling wines. It is easily adapted for use with kombucha and yields a reliably carbonated brew.

A breathable cover is essential for brewing kombucha, but it allows the carbonation to escape. The solution is to culture the sweetened tea, but only allow it to partially ferment. The brew is then bottled and fermented for the remaining time. The natural yeasts become more active in the airless environment and the carbonation they produce is trapped. The result is a wonderfully fizzy kombucha tea.

Here’s what to do:

Brew the kombucha and store it to ferment as called for in the 5-Step Kombucha Recipe (go through step 3). Only allow the fermentation to continue until the new s.c.o.b.y. (also called a mushroom) becomes opaque, in 3-5 days, depending on room temperature. The kombucha should taste sweet, but should be entirely cultured. The fully formed new “baby” s.c.o.b.y. is a sign that the brew is ready to be bottled.

Remove the mother and baby s.c.o.b.y. from the brew. Use a wooden spoon to mix in the sediment in the bottom of the jar. The sediment contains yeasts that are important for carbonation.

Use bottles with tightly fitting lids. Fill the bottles full – leaving only ¼-inch of head space. This creates a nearly airless environment. Place a layer of wax paper under the lid.  The wax paper acts as a gasket to help trap the carbonation inside the bottle.

After the kombucha has been bottled the secondary fermentation process is already underway! Store the bottles in a warm (about 72 degree F) place. After 2-3 days test one bottle by unscrewing the cap. If there is a noticeable release of carbon as the lid is opened then move the bottles to the refrigerator. This may take up to 4 days depending on the room temperature.

Use caution and patience when opening bottle fermented kombucha. During warm weather (over 75 degrees F) the bottles are more likely to bubble over when quickly opened.  This is especially true if the brew is allowed to warm to room temperature before opening, just like our favorite store brands!

Six Steps to Carbonated Kombucha

  1. Brew kombucha according to the 5-Step Kombucha Recipe (through step 3).
  2. Only allow the brew to ferment until an opaque “baby” s.c.o.b.y.  forms.
  3. Remove mother and baby s.c.o.b.y. from the brew.  Stir the sediment in the bottom until it is evenly distributed.
  4. Bottle the kombucha in jars with tightly fitting lids. Use a sheet of wax paper under the lid.
  5. Store in a warm place until noticeable carbon releases when the bottle is opened, in  2-4 days.
  6. Move into the refrigerator. Strain before serving.

This was shared on Real Food Wednesday and the Probiotic Foods Challenge.

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Considering their array of health benefits, it’s no wonder people are looking for ways to introduce fermented foods into their diets. Basic fermentation involves creating conditions where beneficial bacteria (probiotics) thrive. It may sound complex, but it is actually simple and rewarding. While the list of fermented foods is quite long, I especially treasure three quick, easy to prepare, and highly nutritious beverages: kombucha tea, kefir, and beet kvass.

Fermented foods undergo many seemingly miraculous changes. They are transformed into their most digestible forms. (For example, the milk sugar lactose is converted into the more easily digested lactic -acid[1]. )Vitamins are created (commonly the B-vitamins 1, 2, 3, and 6, and folic acid[2]). Powerful enzymes that aid in digestion and absorption are preserved when ferments are eaten raw[3]. Additionally, the live bacteria in raw fermented foods help establish a healthy balance of microorganisms within the gut[4].

Although these feel-good bacteria are the latest buzz, they are also among the oldest of man’s benefactors. Prior to modern refrigeration and canning, peoples around the world relied upon the nutritional quality of long stored fermented foods. Now in the post-modern era we understand that our optimal nutrition still depends upon these tiny creatures.

I rely on beverages like kombucha tea, kefir, and beet kvass as daily supplements to my diet- as probiotics and multi-vitamins. They require no special meal planning because they can be consumed along with meals or between meals as a snack. I regularly incorporate them into other foods like ranch dressing made with kefir and soups garnished with beet kvass. When fermented foods are easy to prepare and convenient to eat I find that including them in my diet is a joy rather than a chore!

This was shared on Real Food Wednesday and at the Probiotic Food Challenge.


[1]Sandor Katz, Wild Fermentation: The Flavor Nutrition and Craft of Live-Culture Foods (White River Junction: Chelsea Green, 2003.) (p. 6)

[2] Katz 6 Sandor Katz, Wild Fermentation: The Flavor Nutrition and Craft of Live-Culture Foods (White River Junction: Chelsea Green, 2003.) (p. 6)

[3] Sally Fallon-Morell Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats (Washington: New Trends, 2001) (p. 47)

[4] Sally Fallon-Morell Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats (Washington: New Trends, 2001) (p. 89)

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Kefir Recipe

Kefir

Makes about one quart

Simple and forgiving kefir is one of the most ancient and prized cultured milks. It’s made with a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (s.c.o.b.y) commonly called a kefir grain (though it isn’t a grain). Kefir grains thrive and reproduce in raw milk from cows and goats (and other traditional dairy animals!). Excess kefir grains can be used to culture a variety of foods. My favorites are coconut milk kefir, grape juice kefir, and kefir-kraut.

1 quart high quality milk, non-homogenized and not ultra-pasteurized

1 tablespoon active kefir grains (see cooks note)

In a one-quart glass canning jar combine the milk and kefir grains. Cover with a cloth or paper towel. Secure the cover tightly with a string or rubber band. Store at room temperature. Kefir is ready when it has thickened slightly and become pleasingly tart, about 1-4 days. Check twice daily by stirring with a wooden spoon and tasting.

Use a non-reactive strainer (or clean fingers) to separate the kefir grains from the finished kefir. Store in a tightly covered glass jar in the refrigerator. Place a sheet of wax paper underneath the lid. (The paper prevents the acidic kefir from contacting the lid.) The flavor remains stable for up to one week.  As the kefir is stored longer the flavor becomes increasingly tart. Store for up to two weeks.

The grains can be used to make additional batches. Store kefir grains for up to one month, covered in milk, in a tightly sealed jar in the refrigerator. Longer storage requires re-activation (see cooks note).

Kefir may be served alone, sweetened with maple syrup, or used in fruit smoothies.

Cooks Note:

Long-stored kefir grains may need to be re-activated. To re-activate 1 tablespoon of grains place them in a small jar and cover with ¼ to ½ cup milk. Cover with a cloth or paper towel. Secure the cover tightly with a string or rubber band. Store at room temperature until the milk separates into solid curds and liquid whey. Strain out the grains. Discard the curds and whey. Repeat a second time. The kefir grains are now active and ready for use.

This was shared at the Probiotic Foods Challenge.

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