AIP Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

I think this might be one of my most successful recipes to date.

I just threw it together without following any specific recipe, and it turned out insanely tasty.

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While I was grocery shopping last weekend (in Safeways), I came across a whole fermented cabbage head.

I am partial to fermented cabbage, and seeing as this head was not only unpasteurized (meaning that all the bacterial cultures were still alive), but it contained only salt, water and cabbage…

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So I bought it, and it was the inspiration for making this recipe.

I have seen people posting about fermenting whole cabbages in the past with the aim of making stuffed cabbage rolls, but I do not own a fermenting crock so I have not been able to ferment a whole cabbage myself (it is just a little difficult to squeeze a whole cabbage into a mason jar…)

If you cannot find a whole fermented cabbage to use, you could make one yourself, or you could use a regular cabbage and blanch the leaves in boiling water for a couple of minutes so that they are flexible enough to wrap around the filling.  If you do buy a whole fermented cabbage, check that it does not contain any non-AIP spices or ingredients.

Of course, because the finished dish is cooked in the oven, none of the bacterial cultures will survive.  But the sour cabbage does add to the flavour.

This recipe is 100% AIP friendly.

AIP Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

serves 4

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  • 2 cups “Nomato” Marinara Sauce
  • 8 large sour cabbage leaves (this works out at about ¼ cabbage).  If using a fresh “regular” cabbage blanch the leaves in boiling water first.
  • 1lb ground beef (preferably grass-fed)
  • 1 small onion – peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic – peeled and finely chopped
  • 8oz mushrooms – finely chopped
  • 1 cup chopped fresh spinach – packed
  • ¼ cup bone broth
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil – chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme – chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley – chopped
  • sea salt to taste
  • 2 tsp nutritional yeast (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Heat a skillet over a medium-high heat.  Add the ground beef to the skillet and brown for aprox 5 minutes.  Add in the onions, garlic and mushrooms, and cook until tender.

Add the spinach, broth, herbs and sea salt to taste.

Simmer gently until the spinach is wilted and most of the liquid has evaporated.

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Take the cabbage leaves, and fill each with 1/8 of the meat mixture.  Roll the cabbage leaf around the filling, tucking in the ends to make 8 neat parcels.

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Place 1 cup of the “Nomato” sauce in the base of a baking dish.

Nestle the cabbage rolls in the sauce, then top with the remaining cup of sauce.

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Sprinkle the finished dish with nutritional yeast if using it, then cover with a sheet of parchment paper and a sheet of foil (parchment paper next to the food to protect it from contact with the foil).

Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes.

Remove the paper and foil, and return to the oven for 15 minutes.

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Allow the cooked dish to cool for 5 minutes before serving as it will be very hot.

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Serve 2 cabbage rolls per person.

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As you can see, there were no leftovers!

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Shared at: Fat Tuesday, Waste Not Want Not Wednesday, Gluten Free Wednesday, Allergy Free Wednesdays, Paleo AIP Recipe Roundtable, Full Plate Thursday, Real Food Fridays, Lets Get Real Friday, Mix it up Fridays, Awesome Life Friday, Natural Family Friday, Gluten Free Friday, Old Fashioned Friday, Hearth and Soul Hop

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

Lacto-Fermented Gingered Carrots

Lacto-fermented vegetables add not only gut-healthy prebiotic bacteria, but also the vitamin-rich vegetables.  And they provide attractive colour, a salty-sour tangy taste and an appetizing crunch to meals. I like to include some kind of lacto-fermented food in every meal I serve.

These ginger-flavoured carrots are one of our favourites.  The have a great crunch, a pleasant saltiness that is tempered with some acidic sharpness, and a subtle ginger flavour. I like to pack these in lunch boxes, to serve them as a snack with a dip or to chop them up and include them in salads.

To gain the most benefits from the gut-friendly bacteria, you really do need to serve these raw and cold.  Think of them as crunchy, salty, sour carrot sticks.

You can obtain the un-chlorinated water in a number of ways – you could run your water through a water filter that will remove chlorine.  You could leave the water on the counter-top for a day or two (but be aware that a number of municipalities are now using chloramines in the place of chlorine to sterilize their water – chloramines will not dissipate over time, unlike chlorine.  Call your water provider to ask if they use them).   You could whirl your water in a blender for a minute or two do “de-gas” it (this does not work for chloramines), you could boil it for 10 minutes (again does not work for chloramines).  You could use bottled, reverse-osmosis filtered water.   Or you could do what I do, and not worry too much about it….  I have never had a fermentation fail due to using tap water!

Don’t be afraid of the salt – the carrots really do not absorb all that much of it – they just have a pleasant salty-sour taste from the salt-solution they were cultured in that remains on the outside.  If salt is an issue for you, please do not try to reduce it (it is there to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria), simply rinse the brine off the carrot sticks before eating them.  You may reduce some of the beneficial bacteria by doing this, but most will remain.

I recommend that you use organic carrots to make these – carrots can absorb toxins from fertilizer use that they store in their skin.  If you have to use regular, grocery-store carrots peel them first as that will remove most of the toxins.

Lacto-Fermented Gingered Carrots

makes 1 quart mason jar

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  • 1lb organic carrots (4-5 medium carrots)
  • 1″ piece of fresh root ginger – thinly sliced into rounds (no need to peel)
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • filtered/de-chlorinated water as needed

Wash your carrots well and remove the ends.  Peel if using non-organic carrots.

Cut the carrots into sticks.

Place the ginger and salt in the base of the jar then pack the carrot sticks in tightly.  I like to hold the jar on it’s side and slide the sticks in one by one, filling in any gaps so that all the carrot sticks stand vertically.  You want them so tightly packed that nothing can float to the surface.  Use an extra carrot if necessary.

Pour the water over the carrots so that they are all covered by at least ¼” of water.  The water level should be less than 1″ from the top of the jar. Seal with a lid.  Give a quick shake (gently – you do not want to dislodge any of those carrots!) to dissolve the salt.

Check once a day, loosening the lid to allow any carbon-dioxide build-up to escape. After 3-7 days store in the refrigerator. The best way to judge whether these are ready is to taste one.  If it tastes good to you – pleasantly sour-salty, it is ready.  If not, allow it to ferment for a few more days.

The carrots will continue fermenting in the refridgerator but it will be much slower.  Eat the carrots within a week or two and they should stay crunchy.

If all the carrots are fully submerged in the brine you should not get any mold growth.  But in the unlikely event that you do (most often caused by a stray carrot or piece of ginger floating to the surface) discard the entire jar. Mold most often looks fuzzy and can be white or colored (blue, yellow, green).

Shared at Paleo AIP Roundtable #28

Lacto-Fermented Food

In my drive to feed our family more probiotic rich food, I spent the afternoon making a range of foods and pickles.

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So far, I have made:

  • 1 quart jar of sauerkraut using white cabbage
  • 1 quart jar of sauerkraut using a red cabbage
  • 1 quart jar of lacto-fermented salsa
  • 1 quart jar of ginger carrots
  • 1 quart jar of  lacto-fermented beets/beet kvass
  • 1 quart jar of ginger-garlic radishes
  • 1 quart jar of kimchee
  • 1 small jar of honey-fermented garlic
  • 1 quart jar and 2 pint jars of pickled watermelon rinds
  • 2 quart jars of lacto-fermented lemonade.

Not bad for an afternoon’s work!

And this is what it all looks like lined up on my fermentation shelf:

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The lemonade is not shown in this pic as it is located on the bookshelf below the water kefir:

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And then I have my usual 3 jars of water kefir and 4 jars of kombucha that I maintain…

Lots and lots of fermented goodies!