How To Make Kombucha And Grow Your Own Scoby

Kombucha is a fantastic beverage. Naturally fermented, it contains large amounts of gut-friendly microbes (bacteria and yeasts).  In essence, it is a slightly effervescent drink made from fermented, sweetened tea.

While you can purchase kombucha from health food stores, this can work out as a very expensive option, especially if there are large amounts of people in your family.

For example, to purchase a 500ml bottle of GT’s Original Organic Raw Kombucha from Community Natural Foods in Calgary costs $3.87. Even if I were to share one bottle between 2 people, that would still mean buying 3 bottles at a cost of $11.61 to supply my family of 6. And if I were to do that every day, it would run to a cost of $81.27 a week!  $4226.04 a year!  Just for a healthy drink. I don’t know about you, but I can think of plenty of other things that I could spend that money on,

But Kombucha is very easy to make. All you need is some tea (black or green, your choice), a fermentable sweetener, you could use pasteurized honey (Raw honey is not recommended as it has an antimicrobial action that can affect the growth of your scoby),  coconut sugar, raw cane sugar or even regular sugar as the sweetener  See this post by the Paleo Mom about using sugar. And the final thing you need is a Kombucha Scoby, which contains all the bacteria and yeast cultures that will ferment your drink and be so good for your gut-health.  Scoby stands for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeasts….  Essentially, a scoby looks a little bit like a lump of jelly.

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You could use a scoby saved from your previous batch of Kombucha, but if this is your first time making this drink you will need to obtain one from somewhere.

You could consider buying one over the internet from sites such as Cultures for Health or KombuchaKamp.

Occasionally I have seen people offering scobys on Freecycle, and I have also seen them offered for sale on Kijiji.   You could also try craigslist.  But it is also possible to grow your own Scoby from a bottle of raw Kombucha.

Growing a scoby is as simple as picking up a bottle of raw kombucha, tipping half of it into a mason jar and adding the tea and fermentable sweetener of your choice. Make sure that the Kombucha is raw. If it does not specifically state “RAW” on the label, it may have been pasteurized which will have killed all those active cultures that will ferment your beverage and grow your Scoby.

I grew the scoby pictured above from a bottle of GT’s original unpasteruized (raw) kombucha.

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I used 2 green tea-bags that I brewed in 1 cup of boiling water and added 2 tbsp of sugar.  I covered this with a cloth held in place with an elastic band and left it on the kitchen counter until it was almost cold.  Then I poured in my kombucha (I used half a bottle and drank the rest).

Then I covered the mouth of the jar with a cloth to keep out any beasties and bugs, and I then stashed it in a cool, dark place to ferment. I kept mine in the pantry.

After a week or two, you will notice a jelly like mass in the liquid in the jar.

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This is your new Scoby. Once the scoby is about 1/4 inch thick and more white than clear it is ready to use.

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Carefully lift it out of the liquid and place it in a clean jar with a small amount of the Kombucha you have just fermented – just enough to keep it moist.

When you come to make a new batch of Kombucha, you take your Scoby and add it to a jar with some tea and fermentable sugars (I use 2 green teabags and 2 tbsp of unrefined organic cane sugar to a quart jar filled ¾ full of boiled water that is then allowed to cool to room temperature) , cover it and leave it to ferment.

Don’t worry if your scoby floats, sinks like a stone or even lies sideways in the liquid – I have had scobies do all of these, although mine mostly float (they seem to have some trapped airbubbles in them).  No matter what they do, they all ferment the sugars in the tea to kombucha pefectly well.

This time it won’t take as long. After about 7-14 days, you will notice a few bubbles in your mixture and there will be 2 scobies in the jar – the original one and a new “baby”.

Carefully lift these out and store them in some of the Kombucha. The remaining liquid can either be drunk as it is, or it can be sealed in a spring clip glass bottle for a few days. If you do this, it will become slightly fizzy.

You can also flavour it using fruits or fruit juice in a secondary fermentation.  This is more likely to make it develop fizz, and will add extra flavour.

To carry out a secondary fermentation, I transfer the brewed kombucha to a clean mason jar and I then add some fruit or fruit juice.

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Favourites of mine are:

  • mixed frozen berries
  • sliced citrus fruits (lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit – either individualy or as a mixture)
  • pineapple and mint
  • individual berries (saskatoon berries taste wonderful!)
  • stawberries, mango and mint

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Try all of these or come up with your own combinations.

After carrying out a secondary fermentation in the mason jar at room temperature for 24-48 hours, you should strain your flavoured kombucha off the fruit (you may notice a substantial increase in the fizziness).  At this point I like to store it in a fliptop bottle in the fridge, but you could use any bottle that has a good seal or even another mason jar.

This is the kind of bottles I like to use – the one on the left is a flip-top one, the one on the right is an old GT’s kombucha bottle.

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Store your ready made Kombucha in the fridge and drink it within a week or two.

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At this point, you can now make 2 batches of Kombucha, resulting in 4 scobies. And they will keep doubling up in this fashion.

The scobies can be stored in the liquid in the fridge for a few weeks. But if you notice an unpleasant smell, your Scoby may have died, so throw it out and start again. If you keep a constant batch of Kombucha on the go you shouldn’t run into this problem most of the time, although I have had the odd batch where one Scoby has died for no apparent reason.

When you have more scobies than you can cope with, you could consider offering them on Freecycle, so that others can benefit from this healthy, delicious drink.

But an alternative use that I came across the other day is to dry the scobies out to use as dog-treats….that way your pooch can also benefit from some gut-friendly bacteria.

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Happy fermenting……

Shared at Real Food Wednesday 7/2/2014

Shared at Allergy Free Wednesday

Shared at Thrifty Thursday

Shared at Pennywise Platter Thursday 73

Watermelon And Mint Sorbet

This is a wonderfully refreshing desert, perfect for a hot summer day.

While it isn’t a “true” sorbet, it is light and refreshing and tastes wonderful.  And unlike a “true” sorbet, you do not need an icecream machine to make this – all you need is a food processor.

It is incredibly easy to make and only has 3 ingredients.

This recipe is sugar-free, and is both Paleo and AIP friendly.

Watermelon And Mint Sorbet

serves 4-6

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  • 4 cups of  watermelon  – seeded and diced into cubes
  • 2 limes – zest and juice
  • 2-3 large sprigs of mint leaves – removed from the stems

Freeze the watermelon cubes until solid.

Place the frozen watermelon in a food processor along with the lime zest and juice and the mint leaves.

Pulse until you have a smooth texture.

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Serve at once.

Shared at Waste Not Want Not Wednesday #78

Shared at Tasty Tuesdays #66

Shared at Paleo AIP Recipe Roundtable #33

Turmeric Coconut Cod With Mushrooms

While shopping at the farmers market the other day I came across this:

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Fresh turmeric roots.  This is the stuff that is dried and then ground up into that yellow powder that you use in cooking.

Turmeric is the spice that gives curry it’s yellow colour, and it has been used in India as both a spice and a medicinal herb for thousands of years.

Turmeric contains curcumin, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory and it is also an antioxidant, meaning that it is something worth considering including in your diet.

I decided to use some of my turmeric roots in a sauce that I paired with cod that I had in the freezer.

This recipe is gluten and dairy free, and is Paleo and AIP-friendly.

Turmeric Coconut Cod with Mushrooms

serves 6

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  • 6 fillets of cod – thawed if frozen
  • 1 onion – chopped
  • 2 cups mushrooms – sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic – crushed
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 oz fresh turmeric (if you only have dried turmeric use 1 tsp)
  • 2-3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • sea salt

Preheat the oven to 175°C/350°F.

Heat the coconut oil in a skillet and add the onion.  Saute for a few minutes until it is starting to soften.  Add the mushrooms and garlic and continue cooking until the mushrooms and onion are tender.

Meanwhile, peel the turmeric and chop it up into small pieces – it will stain, so be careful.  Place the turmeric in a blender with the coconut milk and season it with some salt.  Blend until smooth and bright yellow in colour.

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Place the fish in a shallow oven-safe dish in one layer and season it with salt.

Once the mushrooms and onions are cooked, scatter them over the fish.

Pour the turmeric and coconut milk mixture evenly over the fish and scatter it with parsley.

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Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until the fish is opaque and flakes easily.

Serve at once with the yellow sauce poured over.

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I served this on a bed of sauteed kale, along with sliced tomatoes and lacto-fermented carrots.  The tomatoes are not Elimination Stage AIP as they are a nightshade.  Tomatoes are a stage 4 reintroduction.  This was Hubby’s plate of food, and he is not AIP and has no problems with eating tomatoes.  If you cannot tolerate tomatoes, simply leave them off your plate.

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It was delicious, and looked so pretty on the plate.

Shared at Paleo AIP Recipe Roundtable #32

Shared at Full Plate Thursday

Shared at Real Food Wednesday

Shared at Waste Not Want Not Wednesday #78

Shared at Pennywise Platter Thursday 73

Packed lunch for the last day of school

Today is officially the last day of school, so this will be the last “school lunch” post that I will be making until September.  I will still be packing a lunch for Hubby and myself to take to work.

This is what I packed today:


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Clockwise from the top left-hand corner:

  • baby carrots and cherry tomatoes
  • sliced strawberries
  • sliced chicken breast meat on a bed of lettuce
  • a homemade Larabar

I also sent everyone with a water bottle full of water.

Lunch 25/06/14

There is only one more day of school after today, and this is what I packed for lunch today:

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Clockwise from the top left-hand corner:

I also sent a piece of fruit (a choice of apple, orange or banana) packed separately and a reusable water-bottle of water to drink.

Beef Jerky – Paleo/AIP

Jerky makes a great snack – tasty and protein rich, it fills you up.

But most of the jerky’s you can buy contain dubious ingredients like soy and MSG.  And they usually contain spices that are not AIP.

And then there is the cost – to buy jerky made with decent grass-fed beef costs a fortune – it is far cheaper to make it yourself.

This recipe contains no nightshade spices but it does have peppercorns – pepper is classed as a stage 1 reintroductoin.  If you know that you will react to it, or if you are strict AIP, simply leave it out.  The jerky will still taste AMAZING!

The good thing is that jerky is very easy to make.  If you have a dehydrator it is a breeze, but it is also possible to dry it out in the oven set at the lowest setting.

Black Pepper is a stage 1 reintroduction.  If you have not reintroduced it yet, or are in the elimination phase of the AIP simply omit it from the seasoning mix.  When reintroducing foods on the AIP, I recommend this guide.

Beef Jerky

makes aprox. ½lb jerky

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  • 2lb grass-fed beef (look for a lean cut – flank steak works well)
  • ¼ cup coconut aminos
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste (omit if sensitive or strict AIP)
  • 2 tsp wasabi powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp ginger powder

Trim off any visible fat, then slice as thinly as possible – ¼” thick or even less if you can manage it.  Chilling the meat in the freezer so that it is partially thawed can help with this.  Use a very sharp knife or a meat-slicer if you have one.

Place the meat in a glass bowl and add all the remaining ingredients – mix well so that all the meat is evenly coated.

Marinate in the fridge for 12-24 hours.

To dry the jerky using a dehydrator:

Arrange the slices of meat on the dehydrator tray, spacing them out evenly and making sure that no pieces overlap.

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I have an Excalibur 9 tray dehydrator which is amazing.  But you can use any dehydrator to make your jerky…

Set the temperature to the meat setting – 68°C/155°F for 3-5 hours until dry – it is ready when it is dry to the touch and shows white fibers when you bend it.

Cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

To dry the jerky using the oven:

Place a cooling rack on a cookie sheet, and arrange the slices of meat on top of the cooling rack.  You could also use a roasting rack and roasting pan for this if you have one.  The aim is to allow air circulation on all sides of the strips of meat so that they dry as fast as possible.

Set the oven temperature to the lowest possible setting – 68°C/155°F is ideal, but if your oven does not go this low just set it as low as you can.  If you have a fan oven use this setting as this increases air circulation and that will speed up the drying.

Place the trays of meat in the oven and prop the door open to allow more air to circulate – I use a wooden rolling pin to do this!

Allow the jerky to dehydrate for anything from 4-8 hours until it is dry to the touch and shows white fibres when you bend it.  It should still be slightly pliable, not crispy.

Allow the jerky to cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

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Shared at Paleo AIP Recipe Roundtable #32

Shared at Gluten Free Wednesday

Paleo Breakfast Sandwich

Back in the days before I was Paleo, I used to love a Tim Hortons Breakfast sandwich.  I usually got the sausage biscuit one with no cheese.

But these are not paleo – they contain gluten that I react to and dairy that I am allergic to.

I do find that I miss them though – and sometimes you want a portable hand-held breakfast.

I came up with this breakfast sandwich the other day, it is paleo, but not AIP as it contains eggs.  This recipe is both gluten and dairy-free as well.

It is essentially a fried egg and bacon sandwiched between 2 gluten-free pancakes.

And it was very, very tasty!

This recipe makes 6 sandwiches.  If you do not need this amount, you could just make up the 12 pancakes and freeze the extra ones to eat on another day.

These are an AIP stage 2 reintroduction.  When reintroducing foods on the AIP, I recommend this guide.

Paleo Breakfast Sandwiches

makes 6 sandwiches

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For the pancakes (makes 12):

  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tbsp coconut milk
  • 1 ripe banana – mashed
  • ½ tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1½ tbsp coconut flour
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • pinch of sea salt
  • coconut oil or bacon fat to cook

For the breakfast sandwiches:

The first thing you need to do is to make the pancakes.

Mix the eggs, coconut milk, banana and apple cider vinegar, and beat well until smooth.  Add the coconut flour, baking soda and salt and beat well.

Melt a little coconut oil or bacon fat in a large skillet.  Add 1 tbsp portions of the batter to the skillet (you can cook several at once – I usually cook 4 at a time).  Cook over a medium high heat until small bubbles start to form on the top of the pancake.  This will take around 1½ –  2 minutes.  Flip the pancakes and cook until golden brown on the other side – ½ – 1 minutes.

Remove the pancakes from the skillet and keep them warm while cooking the remaining batter.

Once all your pancakes are cooked, add the bacon to the skillet and cook until crisp.

Remove the bacon, reserving as much fat as possible.  Keep the bacon warm while you cook your eggs in the bacon fat.  Cook them to the stage you like – I like my eggs with runny yolks (over-easy), but if you like them cooked hard, cook them that way.

To assemble the breakfast sandwich you place a pancake on a serving plate.  Top with a little paleo ketchup if using.  I added this for Hubby and the kids sandwiches, but not for mine.

Cut each rasher of bacon in half and place 4 halves on top of each sandwich.

Now place the fried egg on top and add the second pancake to make a sandwich.

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Eat at once, trying to not get egg-yolk all down your front.

Took a break

I took an unscheduled break for a few days for two reasons:

1:  I was sick.

2:  Remember way back in February we had a leak in our bathroom/basement?  Well the insurance company have FINALLY got round to approving the repairs that were needed – only took them 4 months!  (We will be changing our insurance company as soon as these repairs are done!  It should never have taken them this long to aprove what should have been a simple claim.)  So we have workmen repairing drywall and the ceiling in the basement and also some repairs in the kitchen where the leak originally happened (the floor, the sink unit etc).  This meant that we were without water in the kitchen…

Anyhow, while the repairs are still going on, we now have water in the kitchen, so I can get back to cooking even if the floor tiles have not been laid yet.  That means I can get back to posting recipes.

Paleo Kedgeree – a Wonderful Brunch Dish

I make kedgeree for brunch fairly often on the weekends.

Actually, I also make it for breakfast, lunch or dinner!  It is very versatile, very quick and very good for you.

So what is Kedgeree?

According to Wikipedia, kedgeree is a dish that consists of cooked, flaked fish, most often smoked haddock or cod, along with boiled rice, herbs, hard-boiled eggs, curry powder, butter and cream.

And from About.com,   kedgeree is a traditional British breakfast dish made from curried rice, smoked fish, boiled eggs, parsley and lemon juice.

Kedgeree is a traditional British breakfast dish that originated from Indian cooking.  It originated in a rice and lentil/bean dish called Khichri.  During the British Raj occupation of the Indian subcontinent, fish and eggs were added to this simple, peasant dish, and then it was served for breakfast.

The dish was brought back to the U.K. by the returning British colonials, and was instituted as a popular breakfast dish during the Victorian Era.

Part of it’s success was that Anglo-Indian cuisine was insanely popular and fashionable. But another draw was that it could make a good use of leftovers.  Leftover cooked rice and fish could easily be re-purposed into a tasty, nutritious breakfast or brunch dish.  And this meant that it became very popular with the frugal middle-classes.

This dish can be eaten both hot and cold (which might make it a good packed lunch option?), and it can be made with fish other than the traditional smoked haddock or cod.  Actually, I most often make it with canned tuna, salmon, kippers or sardines due to the fact that it is hard to find smoked haddock or cod in Western Canada!

This kedgeree recipe would not be considered traditional because I use canned kippers rather than the traditional smoked haddock or cod, but it was still very, very good.  And kippers are a smoked fish so they taste similar to smoked haddock or cod.  But they are also an oily fish, so they are richer in omega 3 fatty acids.

This is the brand of kippers (smoked herrings) I use:


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This is what the fillets look like inside:

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Even though this fish is not authentic, I feel that the fact that herring is an oily fish, rich in omega-3 fatty acids makes it a beneficial addition.  And really, it DOES taste good!  If you can access smoked haddock or cod, feel free to use them in place of the canned kippers.  It is also insanely good with hot-smoked salmon.  You could also substitute any canned fish that you feel like using.  I have made delicious kedgerees using canned tuna, salmon or sardines.  The latter suggestion makes this a very cost effective dish (I can buy a can of sardines for less than $1… and the can of herrings I pictured above costs around $1.25).

Read the labels on your cans to check that they are in olive oil or water – many cans of fish are packaged in corn, soy or canola oil.  The brand I used for this recipe is packaged in water.

This recipe is loosely based on several recipes -Kedgeree on p 130 of the Loaves and Fishes Miracle Cookbook by Rosemary Stark (now out of print), Kedgeree on p 39 of the Complete Farmhouse Kitchen Cookbook (published by Yorkshire TV – now out of print), and Kedgeree Risotto from Feast, food that celebrates life by Nigella Lawson (p 155).

It is paleo, but is not strict AIP due to the fact that it contains some seed spices and eggs.  If you have not successfully reintroduced these ingredients, you could still make this dish by leaving them out.  It won’t quite be kedgeree, but it will still taste good.

The seed spices and egg make this an AIP stage 2 reintroduction recipe.  When reintroducing foods on the AIP, I recommend this guide.

Try it and let me know what you think!

Paleo Kedgeree

Serves 4-6

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  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 3-4 cans of Golden Smoked Seafood Snacks (or other canned fish – you may not need 3-4 cans if the fish you use comes in larger cans  than I used. When I make this with canned tuna or salmon I typically use only 2 cans)
  • 1 onion – chopped
  • 1 small bunch fresh parsley – chopped
  • 6 eggs (omit if strict AIP)
  • 3-4 tbsp coconut oil
  • ½ tsp ground cumin (omit if strict AIP)
  • ½ tsp ground coriander (omit if strict AIP)
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ¼ cup of coconut milk
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (omit the pepper if strict AIP)

The first thing you need to do is to rice your cauliflower by pulsing it in a food processor until it resembles grains of rice.  If you do not own a food processor, you could grate it using a box grater, but this is very messy.

Put the eggs in a pan of boiling water and cook for 10 minutes until hard-boiled.  Crack the shells and place in a bowl of cold water.  This makes them easier to shell.  Once the eggs are cool enough to handle, remove the shells.  Chop the eggs into large chunks.

Melt the coconut oil in a large skillet and add the onion.  Saute over a medium heat until it is tender and golden brown.  Now add the cauliflower rice, the cumin, coriander and turmeric and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Toss well until all the spices are evenly distributed.  Cook for 4-5 minutes, tossing occasionally until the cauliflower is tender.

Drizzle over the coconut milk.

Open the cans of fish and drain any liquid into the pan.  Break the fillets into bite-sized chunks and add them to the pan along with the parsley and chopped eggs.

Toss everything together until heated through.

Taste and adjust seasonings.

Just before serving, scatter with the lemon zest and squeeze the lemon juice over.

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Serve at once.

The leftovers of this dish are very good cold, and it will store in the fridge for a couple of days.

Shared at Waste Not Want Not Wednesday

Paleo Tortillas- gluten, dairy and nut-free

These tortillas are gluten, dairy and nut-free.  They do contain eggs and flax seeds however, so they are not AIP unless you have successfully reintroduced these ingredients.

They are made in a similar manner to a crepe, but are surprisingly sturdy and can cope with being used as a taco-wrapper, or to roll around fillings.   They are great to use in the lunchbox – I often spread the tortilla with mayonnaise, then top with sliced or shredded chicken and some lettuce and roll it up.  Cut into bite-size pieces and you have a tasty, nutritious lunch.

Whole eggs and flax seeds are both stage 2 reintroductions.  When reintroducing foods on the AIP, I recommend this guide.

Paleo Tortillas

makes 10-12

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  • 1 cup tapioca starch
  • ½ cup flax meal/ground flax seeds
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder (find one that is both gluten and aluminium free or make your own using this recipe)
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 egg whites
  • 2 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • ¾ cup water
  • coconut oil to cook

Mix all the dry ingredients together.

Whisk the eggs with the egg-whites and coconut oil.

Now add the dry ingredients to the wet and whisk well (you can also use a stand mixer, but this recipe will not work in a blender or a food processor as the tapioca starch turns gloppy and NASTY!).  The batter will be quite thin – thinner than a pancake batter, but that is OK.

Heat a small amount of coconut oil in a skillet, then pour in ¼ cup of the batter, swirling the pan to make sure that the batter coats the base in an even layer.

Cook for 2 minutes, then flip the tortilla and cook for a further minute on the second side.  They should be just lightly coloured, and still soft and pliable.

Remove the tortilla from the pan and keep warm.  Repeat with the remaining batter.

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Shared at Waste Not Want Not Wednesday