Probiotic Fizzy Lemonade

I follow @theculturedclub on Instagram.  Not… by the way … ‘The Culture Club’.  Am I giving my age away by mentioning that band?? 🙂 🙂  I also have the book entitled ‘The Cultured Club’ ….subtitle ‘Fabulous Funky Fermentation Recipes’  by Derbhla Reynolds.  To make my first batch of probiotic fizzy lemonade I just followed Derbhla’s video instructions on Instagram.  There are a couple of video posts dated around end of March 2021 on how to make Lemonade from ‘Ginger Bug’.  There is also a recipe in the book but it is so much easier to follow a visual when you are starting something new.  The ginger bug is like a little production factory of beneficial yeasts and bacteria.  When the fermentation process is established it provides a starter culture added to other ingredients to make a fizzy probiotic drink.  The ginger bug liquid acts in a similar way to a ‘starter dough’ or ‘yeast’ that is added to a bread recipe.

I have to say I am in love with making my own summer fizzy drinks now.  I have tried lemon flavour on its own.  Love it!  I have tried orange flavour on its own.  I’m not so keen on this, it just doesn’t have the same kick [thirst quenching bite] that the lemon has.  However, my favourite combination so far is lemon and lime.  It is simply delicious.  I can hardly stop myself drinking the whole lot once I start.

There are two components to making your probiotic fizzy drink.  The first is making the ‘Ginger Bug’ and the second is making the fizzy drink, we’ll say lemonade, but you can experiment with any flavour you like.

Making the ‘Ginger Bug’

Please note that you only need to make this once after which you just keep it alive.  I’ll explain how further down.

You will need:

  • Organic root ginger and root turmeric  –  1 or 2 stems of each
  • Sugar
  • Filtered water
  • A big enough glass jar with a lid [that would hold approx. 1 litre]

Why organic?  I haven’t tried non-organic so I can’t say for sure, but many of the commenters on the related Instagram post said their attempts using supermarket root ginger and turmeric didn’t produce results and the advice was to use organic.  Perhaps the chemicals used in non-organic doesn’t allow for the same beneficial microflora to grown on the food and subsequently in your ‘ginger bug’ mix.  I bought mine at ‘The Green Door Pantry’ a farmers market in Dublin which sells fresh organic produce.

What to do:

Step 1:  Cut the root ginger and turmeric into small chunks and place them in the glass jar.  Make sure that the jar has been thoroughly cleaned and sterilized (especially if it is a food jar that is being re-used).  Next add the filtered water leaving a good inch or two of space at the top.  Add 1 tablespoon of sugar.  The sugar can be white or brown.  I tend to use brown because that is what I usually buy.  Stir it well.

Step 2:  For the first 24 hours leave the lid off the jar.  In order for the mixture to interact with the microorganisms in the atmosphere you will need to place it outdoors, if possible.  I covered mine with a Lidl mesh bag to keep out anything that wasn’t ‘micro’ e.g. flies etc.   [After this initial ‘lid off’ 24 hours, the lid will always be closed on the jar, except when you are feeding or burping the mixture].

Step 3:  Feeding the ‘ginger bug’ initially.  Add 1 tablespoon of sugar.  Empty a little of the liquid off and add a little bit of fresh water.   Repeat this for the next 3 days.  The fermentation process is underway.  On the 4th day your ginger bug should be ready for use to make lemonade.

Making the Lemonade

You will need:

  • A separate glass bottle [you can use an old wine bottle with a screw top]
  • Ginger bug starter liquid 
  • Sugar
  • Lemons / Limes  (I find the juice of 3 in total is enough to add to make a pint of liquid)
  • Filtered water

I use measuring spoons for the ginger bug liquid and sugar, but the amount of juice from the fruit doesn’t have to be exact.  You could add 100ml or more.  You can adjust this to suit your own taste.  Derbhla’s instructions says to add 200ml but it’s up to you!!

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons of the ginger bug solution
  • 4 tablespoons of sugar
  • 100-200ml  of fresh squeezed lemon/lime (or other flavour)
  • Filtered water [Enough to fill the rest of the bottle to about 1 to 1½ inches below the neck]

What to do:

You can directly use the glass bottle to mix.  If so, you may need a plastic funnel otherwise it might get messy.  I use a separate plastic pouring jug to mix and then add the mixture to the bottle, before adding the water.

Scoop out 4 tablespoons of the ginger bug syrup from the jar (the ginger and turmeric solids remains in the jar).  Add 4 tablespoons of sugar.  Add your 100-200ml of freshly squeezed juice.  Mix.  (Add this mix to the bottle now if you are using the jug).  Now fill the bottle up to no more than 1 to 1½ inches from the neck with filtered water.  Put the cap on and give it a good shake up and down to mix it well.

Leave your lemonade to stand for 3 days at room temperature.  The warmer the temperature the quicker it will ferment.  More fermentation equals more fizz.   After 3 days have a little taste to sample it.  If it is fizzy enough for your liking you can now put it in the fridge to chill.  Once chilled it is ready to use and enjoy.  Otherwise, you can leave it to ferment for another couple of days and then refrigerate it.

‘Ginger bug’ maintenance

Okay …. don’t panic, it really is NO big deal.   Feeding and temperature are key factors in keeping your ‘ginger bug factory’ alive and ready for lemonade production.

Now that your ginger bug is established,  feeding it is just a simple matter of adding one spoon of sugar, emptying off a little of the liquid and replacing it with a little fresh filtered water.  That’s it!!

You will notice when you add the sugar the ginger bug fizzes up before your eyes.

If your ‘ginger bug’ is sitting with it’s lid on at room temperature 20°C, or warmer,  fermentation will happen.  If that is the case you may need to ‘pop’ or ‘burp’ it once a day.  My ‘ginger bug’ is in a flip top jar [photo above].  I just flip the lid open to release the gas.  It makes a sort of popping sound, similar to when you open a bottle of fizzy drink.  Close it again straight away.  Warning:  Due to carbonation, pressure can build up in the closed jar over a few days and result in an almighty pop when you open the lid or, worse case scenario if you have left it much longer, the jar may explode!!!  So, if in doubt place the jar in the fridge until you plan on using it again.  The cold temperature slows down the fermentation process completely.

For example…. if you only want to make one bottle of lemonade per week and you fear you might not remember to ‘burp’ the ginger bug, OR, if you are going away for a few days or weeks, the best thing to do is to simply place the jar of ‘ginger bug’ in the fridge.

To start up fermentation again, take the ginger bug out of the fridge the night before or early on the day you want to use it again, letting it reach room temperature for at least a few hours before using it.  When you have taken out your starter liquid to make the next bottle(s) of lemonade, remember to feed it again (one spoon of sugar, remove some liquid and top up with fresh water).

Why bother making your own?

For one thing it is just so delicious.  It is made with natural fresh healthy ingredients.  What about the sugar??  The sugar is NOT for you it is what feeds the friendly yeasts and bacteria.  They get the sugar and we get to enjoy the by-product – a probiotic drink!!  That means it is full of beneficial, gut friendly bacteria.  Without going into too much detail, it contains many and varied strains of friendly bacteria including lactobacillus which has many health benefits.

Comparing this drink to a shop bought fizzy lemonade which contains all sort of sugars and chemicals and which might at best be ‘thirst quenching’, but is definitely not health promoting.

More than 2000 years ago the father of modern medicine ‘Hippocrates’ suggested that all diseases begin in the gut.  We now know that 70-80% of our immune system lies directly behind the gut wall.  Increasing the amount of friendly microbes you consume in your diet is key to crowding out pathogens (harmful, disease producing microbes) and is one of the best ways to support your gut, brain and immune health.

It is now widely accepted that adequate beneficial bacteria act as immune modulators.  This means that they are instrumental in regulating how our immune system responds when it encounters harmful (pathogenic) bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites (microbes).  A modulated immune system responds appropriately, neither over or under reacting to a threat.  This ‘appropriate’ balanced response is when the immune system is working at its best.

Not to mention that this is a really, really cheap and tasty way to enjoy homemade lemonade while at the same time benefiting from the probiotics it contains.

I hope you will give it a go and enjoy the fruits of your labour.

Reference:

Instagram @theculturedclub

The Cultured Club’ ….subtitle ‘Fabulous Funky Fermentation Recipes’  by Derbhla Reynolds.

Shamrock Guac!

Holy Guacamole! 

Its green and it’s packed full of goodness, so its the perfect dish to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day!  Guacamole has its origins with the Aztec’s of Mexico.  By most accounts, the ancient version of the dish was originally made with mashed avocados, chili peppers, tomatoes, white onions and salt.  Not that much has changed but there are more versions available today.  My recipe for guacamole is at the bottom of this post.

Guacamole is comprised mainly of avocados which are ranked as one of the top five healthiest foods in the world.  Although avocado is actually a fruit, it is great in both sweet and savoury dishes.  Its ‘superfood’ status has been cast into the shadows for years while low fat diets have been promoted in the media as a healthier option.  But, avocados are high in monounsaturated fatty acids [MUFA] that are critical for health and deliver many health benefits.

A food qualifies as a ‘superfood’ based on the amount of beneficial nutrients it contains and avocados are packed full of nutrients that promote many health benefits.  Even the perceived downside of it being a ‘high fat’ food does not warrant leaving it on the supermarket shelf.  These are healthy fats that actually help you absorb the other nutrients the fruit contains.

100g of avocado contains between 10-26% RDA [recommended daily allowance] of Vitamin E, B6, B5, Potassium [more than bananas], Vitamin C, Folate and Vitamin K.  It contains smaller amounts of magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, zinc, Vitamin B1, B2 and B3.  160 calories, 2 grams of protein, 15 grams of healthy fat, 9 grams of carbohydrates, 7 of which is fibre.  No cholesterol or sodium.   The fatty acids are oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat like that in olive oil.  These fats help with absorption of fat soluble vitamins and antioxidants.  Speaking of antioxidants, avocados contain carotenoids including lutein and zeaxanthin.

Here are just some of the health benefits of consuming nutrient dense avocados:

Improved heart health:  By balancing blood lipids with high monounsaturated fatty acids [oleic acids].  Vitamin K helps with circulation and fibre, magnesium and potassium are shown to reduce blood pressure.

Healthy skin and eyes:  Again the healthy fats lubricate and nourish the skin from the inside out.  The carotenoids including lutein and zeaxanthin are very beneficial for eye health.  Avocados are anti-aging.

Helps weight loss: Yes, you heard it right!  Diets that are lower in carbohydrates (especially glycaemic loaded foods like refined carbs) and higher in healthy fats, are known to accelerate weight loss.  So, if you are looking to lose weight fast, eat more avocados and less white refined carbs. Also, fats are more filling and increase satiety hormones that help you eat less overall.

Improved digestive health: Avocados are rich in fibre that feed your beneficial gut bacteria and bulk up the stool.  This makes for easier transit through the colon helping the body remove waste and toxins.

Protection from diabetes: Avocados are rich in MUFAs that promote healthy blood lipid profiles, improve insulin sensitivity and regulate blood glucose levels.   MUFA dense foods can help decrease glucose and insulin concentrations for hours compared with carbohydrate rich foods.

Better mood and balanced hormones: Because various neurotransmitters and hormones are made in the body from fatty acids in the diet, you will automatically benefit these systems when you eat enough healthy fats.  Considering 60% of our brain is made up of fat, it is not surprising that healthy fats are good for brain function, mood and memory.

The following guacamole recipe serves 4 and is gluten free, dairy free and vegetarian.  It’s just like they serve it in Mexico.  It works well as a side dish or with crudities or oat cakes.  Once made it will keep in the fridge in an airtight jar or container.  Just pour a thin layer of water over the top, then put the lid on and pop it in the fridge – this will stop it browning.  When serving, drain off as much of the water as you can, give it a good mix and it will be as good as new.

Guacamole

Source: Google Images

Ingredients:

  • 2 large ripe avocados
  • ¼ large red onion, diced
  • 10g (¼ oz) fresh coriander finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Coarse salt and pepper

Method:

Cut the avocados in half, remove the pit, scoop the flesh from the skin and add it to a large bowl.  Add in the onion, coriander, garlic, lime juice and a good pinch of coarse salt and pepper.

Mash everything together with a fork so it is chunky / smooth to your liking.  You can also use a blender.  Taste and add more salt, pepper or lime to your liking.

Serve straight away or store as suggested above.

Have a Happy and Healthy St. Patrick’s Day 🙂

© Limelight Nutrtion 2019

Perfectly Fluffy Basmati Rice

I pull these instructions out every time I need to make Basmati Rice.  I have it many years.  It’s printed and stored with some other old reliables.  In December I posted a recipe for Turkey Curry to use up the left overs.  I had friends over Stephen’s Day and made Turkey Curry, and Cashew Curry for my vegetarian guest.  What could be better with any curry than fluffy Basmati rice.  I haven’t mastered the art of making Naan bread…. yet, so that had to be bought.  I just added heaps more garlic and butter.  All in all it was a very tasty meal, (says I) 🙂 ….. well no one complained!  I even had a request for the instructions on how to make the rice fluffy, so here it is for one and all.   I just made the plain version but you can jazz it up.

But First Some Nutrition Facts
Source: Google Images

Just so that you can enjoy it even more, here are a few nutritional positives about Basmati rice.  Brown Basmati has about 150 calories per 60g uncooked.  It contain 2g fibre and 1.5 of healthy fats (oil).  Brown Basmati has a small amount of iron and B vitamins.   The white version has 160 calories per 60g uncooked but with the fibre and oil removed this makes it less nutritious.  Both provide 3-4g of protein.  Combined with eggs or other animal protein this provides a complete amino acids profile.  Brown Basmati rice is lowest on the glycaemic index of all types of rice.  With the removal of the fibre and oil white Basmati is higher but is still on a glycaemic par with long grain brown rice and rates lower than ordinary white rice, making it a better choice for diabetics or anyone trying to control blood sugar levels.

Here’s what to do:
  • Rinse the rice in fresh cold water until the water runs clear
  • Put 750ml of water in a pot and bring to the boil
  • Add the rice and simmer rapidly, uncovered for 8 minutes
  • Stir occasionally to stop the rice from sticking
  • After 8 minutes drain the rice in a colander or sieve
  • Pour a half inch of boiling water (from the kettle) into the pot and place the sieve on the pot, ensuring that it isn’t in contact with the water (this would result in soggy bottomed rice).
  • Cover the pot and rice with aluminium foil, return to the heat and simmer for 10 minutes after which time, you’ve got it…… perfectly fluffy rice.

Note:  I just used a stacking pot with a steaming section and the lid on for steaming.

Options to Jazz it up:  
  1. At the stage the rice is added to the pot of boiling water – add 4 cloves and 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric.  The cloves add an lovely aromatic flavour while the turmeric gives white Basmati a vibrant yellow appearance.
  2. Add 1 cinnamon stick and 3 bay leaves.
  3. At the steaming stage add some finely chopped already sautéed onion and toasted almonds.
References:

Original instructions came from a website called Suite101.com   The website is still there but I can’t find these instructions.  Its been a while 🙂

You can download my pdf of the instructions here.

You can download my pdf of Turkey Bone Broth and Turkey Curry in previous post ‘Gobble Gobble’

Banana Oat Snack Bars

Wait… don’t throw out those spotty bananas.  Here’s a recipe I often use to make these delicious and filling seed/nut bars.  It is so quick and easy to put together.  If you’re someone that skips breakfast at home because your morning schedule is hectic then these are perfect to transport and eat when you can eventually take five!  Also ideal for a mid-morning or afternoon snack or the kiddies school lunchbox.

Nuts and seeds are so full of essential minerals but we are often low on ideas of how to include them in the diet.  The sweetness and moisture of these bars comes from the ripe bananas, maple syrup and dates.  These increase the glycaemic load [GL], so don’t go overboard, it’s still a sweet treat!!  However, the 183 calories per bar are not ’empty calories’, they’re packed with healthy nutrients.

One bar gives you 8% of your recommended daily intake [RDI] of sugar and 10% RDI of fibre which will help dull down that sugar spike.  The cinnamon will also help balance blood sugar.  High in natural polyunsaturated fats including 25% RDI of Omega 3.  High in essential minerals and trace minerals especially manganese at 44% RDI.  Manganese is an important trace mineral needed for many vital functions, including nutrient absorption, production of digestive enzymes, bone development and immune-system defenses.  You are also getting Vitamin E, some of the B vitamins including a high amount of B5 to keep you calm, and the amino acid ‘tryptophan’ at 129mg per 100g to help regulate mood, sleep and hormone balance.   Well worth the 10 minutes it might take to mix it up – ready for the oven.

The great thing about this recipe is that most of the ingredients have a long shelf life making it easy to include as one of your regular bakes.

Recipe

Source:   Eat Your Greens.com

180g rolled oats (use gluten free oats for ‘gluten free’)
50g sunflower seeds
50g pumpkin seeds
35g almonds, roughly chopped
35g walnuts, roughly chopped
45g pitted dates, chopped
3 small or 2 large ripe bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or 1 tablespoon of Maple Syrup)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Butter or coconut oil, for greasing baking tray

Method

Preheat oven to 350°F / 180° C or 160° C (Fan).  Grease the bottom and sides of the baking tray or line it with greaseproof paper.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, seeds, nuts and dried fruit.  Place the bananas, vanilla or maple syrup, salt and cinnamon in the bowl of a small food processor or blender and process until smooth. This can also be done without a blender. Pour the banana puree over the oat mixture and stir until all the dry ingredients are evenly moist.  Press mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan.

Bake for 30 minutes, until firm and lightly browned on the edges.  Let cool completely and cut into 12 bars.  You can store them in an airtight container for a couple days.  They will keep in the fridge for a week or more.  You can also wrap them individually and place them in a freezer bag or container and freeze them for up to 3 months.

You can really enjoy this ‘sweet treat’ knowing your body is getting the nutrients it needs to stay healthy 🙂   Oh…. and they really do taste Yum!

Recipe adapted from 'Eat Your Greens - Nut & Seed Banana Oat Bars' 2013

Magnesium Rich Snacks

Here are a couple of ‘magnesium rich’ snack ideas to help you include more magnesium in your diet in a delicious and nutritious way 🙂

Cacao Coco Nut Balls

Source: Google Images
  •  12 dates
  • 140g ground almonds
  • 70g shredded/desiccated coconut [extra for rolling]
  • 70g melted coconut oil
  • 33g cacao powder
  • 2 tblsp milled chia seeds
  • 90g chopped hazelnuts

Method:

Process dates, ground almonds, coconut, coconut oil, cacao powder and chia seeds until mixture comes together.  Place in a bowl and take a small amount and form a ball.  Roll the ball in the coconut.  Chill in the fridge on a baking sheet or tray.

These can be frozen and kept for 1 month.

This mixture makes 12 balls.  Each ball (44g) is about 267 calories, so don’t go mad, it’s a sweet treat!    High in magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, manganese and copper.  High in Vitamin E and Biotin (B7).


Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Source: Google Images
  • 4 tblsp coconut oil (40g) melted
  • 2 cups (260g) of raw pumpkin seeds
  • 4 tsps of tabasco sauce
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Method:

Heat the coconut oil in a large pan over medium heat.

Add pumpkin seeds and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until they start to pop and turn golden brown.   Add cayenne and tabasco, toss and continue to cook for another minute.  Transfer to a tray lined with parchment paper, carefully spread out in a single layer and set aside to let cool before serving.

A perfect accompaniment to a green leafy salad.  Divided into 8 portions, 1 portion would contain about 237 calories.  High in magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper and iron.   Pumpkin seeds are also high in Vitamin B3 and the amino acid Tryptophan so all in all really good for keeping you calm! The cayenne can stimulate your body’s circulation and reduce acidity. It’s a powerful, spicy little pepper and touts many health benefits like helping decrease appetite and retarding or slowing the growth of fat cells.

Receipt:  Adapted from Dr. Axe - Magnesium Recipes