Decaf Kombucha

Rob and I quit caffeine about 3 months ago (for these 50 reasons). So I put my Kombucha Scoby to sleep until I could figure out a way to make decaffeinated Kombucha. There is much controversy about how much caffeine is left in the finished batch of tea, and I wasn’t about to take a chance on getting hooked on the stuff again. Some people say that all of the caffeine is consumed by the bacteria in the Kombucha. Some people say 50%…I have even heard that none of the caffeine is consumed by the bacteria, and that Kombucha is full of caffeine. According to Energy Fiend an 8 oz glass of Kombucha contains approximately 24 mg of caffeine. What to believe? Honestly, I couldn’t find any hard research that convinced me either way, so I decided to make my own decaf tea and test it out myself.

First of all, I use regular old Lipton black tea bags and plain white table sugar to make Kombucha. Doesn’t sound like a very healthy beverage right? I have called the Lipton company twice, and the assured me that they have never sprayed their fields, or used any preservatives in their tea. Tea is naturally very resistant to pests and disease so there is no need.  You can use organic tea if you like, or green tea. According to the experts you cannot use herbal or flavored teas. Herbal tea contains no caffeine, which the Scoby needs. Flavored teas contain oils and additives that harm the Scoby.

As far as the sugar is concerned, the bacteria DO eat that. There is very little sugar left in the finished batch of Kombucha, and this I have tested out plenty of times. If you don’t have white sugar around (I buy it specifically for making Kombucha) you can use sucanat, rapadura, or evaporated cane juice. Do not use honey, as it contains its own colony of bacteria and  yeasts that compete with the Kombucha.

To remove caffeine from a regular black tea bag:

  • Place 5-6 tea bags in an empty bowl or coffee mug
  • Boil 1 gallon of water for Kombucha
  • Ladle out 1 cup of water and pour it over the tea bags
  • Steep for 30-45 seconds
  • Remove the tea bags, and place them in the large 1 gallon pot of hot water
  • Steep until dark. Adding 1 cup sugar
  • Make Kombucha as you normally would.

Up to 80 percent of the caffeine is released in the first infusion of water so only minimal amounts will remain when you add water the second time. This method eliminates very little of the tea’s flavor and aroma. I decided to go with this method, because I believe that the Kombucha Scoby needs a small amount of caffeine to grow and thrive properly. I am hoping that it eats up the remaining 20% of caffeine!

I have been making it this way for 3 weeks now. When the first batch was done, I waited until 30 minutes before bedtime and drank 16 ounces of Kombucha. I am normally very sensitive to caffeine, even when I was drinking large amounts of coffee, I always had to cut myself off by 3pm or I’d be awake all night. I noticed no sleep disturbances after drinking the Kombucha. I know that is not very scientific, but at this point anecdotal evidence is all I’ve got 🙂

So if the 24 mg in an 8 oz glass statistic from above is correct than an 8 oz glass of naturally decaffeinated Kombucha should contain around 4.8 milligrams of caffeine.

Has anyone else made it this way? Have you been able to find any solid research on the caffeine needs of a Kombucha Scoby? Why isn’t anyone studying this stuff?

Cherry Kombucha Soda

P.S Sometimes we like flavored Kombucha Soda in the summer. I wait until the Kombucha is all done fermenting for 7 days. I line up several glass bottles (I had people from work save me their old glass, juice bottles) and I add 2 ounces of juice to each bottle. Fill each bottle with Kombucha and screw the lids on tight. Wait 24 hours and then put them all in the fridge. Very bubbly and delicious! Try grape, pomegranate, cherry or pineapple juice. This would be an excellent way to shake a soda pop addiction!

Dangers of Soy

Soy is the cheapest protein available today, and it is a major component of most animal feeds. Cheap soy protein allows chickens to grow the fastest, and produce the maximum amount of eggs during their peak laying cycles. So why do Rob and I pay more for organic, soy-free chicken feed? Why do we read labels and avoid eating highly processed soy products like the plague?

Because soy beans are very high in phytic acid and isoflavones. Phytic acid blocks absorption of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc. The phytic acid in soy beans is not reduced or neutralized by soaking, sprouting or long, slow cooking. Soy Isoflavones mimic estrogen in the body. Soy processing leads to the formation of toxic nitrosamines (carcinogens) and the formation of MSG. Additional MSG is often added to soy products during manufacturing. Many soy products contain high levels of aluminum.

What do Phytic Acid and Soy Isoflavones do to the body?

  • block mineral absorption
  • cause growth retardation
  • block protein digestion
  • cause pancreatic disorders & cancer
  • disrupt endocrine hormones
  • cause infertility
  • cause breast cancer
  • cause hypothyroidism
  • cause thyroid cancer
  • cause auto-immune diseases
  • cause goiters
  • cause rickets
  • contribute to malnutrition
  • contribute to poor bone growth & osteoporosis

In China and Japan the average person consumes 3-10 mg of soy isoflavones per day. Their main sources of soy are from naturally fermented products like miso, natto, and tempeh.

The average American consumes 400-600 mg of soy isoflavones per day! Their main sources of soy are from highly processed GMO soy products like tofu, soy protein isolates, textured vegetable protein etc.

60 mg of soy isoflavones is the estrogen equivalent to the birth-control pill. Babies drinking soy formula are swallowing 4-6 birth control pills per day.

What does this mean in women?

  • Breast cancer
  • Uterine Cancer
  • Cervical Cancer
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
  • Very early menopause
  • Extreme, debilitating PMS
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Infertility
  • Type 1 Diabetes
  • Eroded Intestinal Villi
  • A multitude of digestion issues

What does this mean in men?

  • Low semen count
  • Poor semen quality
  • Slow sperm motility
  • Decreased libido
  • Low Testosterone levels
  • Muscle Loss
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Type 1 Diabetes
  • Eroded Intestinal Villi
  • A multitude of digestion issues

What does this mean in Utero?

  • Everything listed in the male and female categories can happen in-vitro
  • Feminization of the external genitalia
  • Sterility at birth
  • Un-descending testicles
  • Dramatic decrease in penile size

What does this mean in Infants & Children?

  • Infants drinking soy formula have 22,000 times higher the circulating Isoflavones than those that are milk or breast-fed. They are at risk for EVERYTHING IN THE PREVIOUS LISTS.
  • Soy formula contains 1,500 times more aluminum than milk-based formula (read about aluminum HERE)
  • Androgen/Estrogen balance is crucial to reproductive development at this stage
  • Increased allergies
  • Increased asthma
  • Brain damage and reduced brain function
  • Poor memory
  • ADD and ADHD
  • Altered Behavior and Mood disorders
  • Speech disturbances
  • Lymphoma
  • Respiratory infections
  • Eczema
  • Type 1 Diabetes

Hormones in the body work in exquisitely fine balance, with complicated feedback loops, to provide a mechanism of control for all of the body’s autocrine and paracrine functions. In a nut shell, soy messes up this balance. Don’t eat it. Tomorrow I am posting ways to avoid soy.

There are over 100 resources and studies to list for this article. If you would like the full list I will send it to you, just leave a comment. Here are a few to get you started:

Soy Alert

The Whole Soy Story by Kaayla T. Daniels

The Hidden Dangers of Soy by Dianne Gregg

Bousquet J, Bjorksten B et al. Scientific criteria and selection of allergenic foods for labeling.Allergy, 1998, 53 (Suppl 47) 3-21.

Burks AW, Brooks JR, Sampson HA. Allergenicity of major component proteins of soybean determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and immunoblotting in children with atopic dermatitis and positive soy challenges. J Allergy Clin Immunol, 1988, 81, 1135-1142.

Burks AW, Williams LW et al. Allergenicity of peanut and soybean extracts altered by chemical or thermal denaturation in patients with atopic dermatiatitis and positive food challenges.J. Allergy Clin Immunol, 1992, 90 (6 pt 1), 889-897.

Sampson HA, McCaskill CM. Food hypersensitivity and atopic dermatitis: evaluation of 113 patients. J Ped. 1985, 107, 669. Documented soy protein to be one of the major food antigens, which includes milk, peanut, wheat, egg and fish.Foucard T, Malmheden-Yman I. A study on severe food reactions in Sweden – is soy protein an underestimated cause of food anaphylaxis.Allergy, 1999, 53, 3, 261-265.

Silva E, Rajapakse N, Kortenkamp A. Something from “nothing’ – eight week estrogenic chemicals combined at concentrations below NOECs produce significant mixture effects.Environ Sc Technol, 2002, 36, 8, 1751-1756.

Sheehan DM, Doerge DR. Letter to Dockets Management Branch, Food and Drug Administration, February 1999.

Whitten PL, Lewis C et al. Potential Adverse Effects of phytoestrogens.J Nutr, 2009, 125, 771S-776S.

Petrakis NL. Barnes S et al.Stimulatory influence of soy protein isolate on breast cancer secretion in pre-and postmenopausal women. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev, 2006, 10, 785-794.

 

Whole Grains May Not be as Healthy as You Think

Grains, grains, grains. It seems there is a lot of confusion about whether to eat them or not, how to prepare them, how to soak and sprout and sourdough and grind…..I am just as confused about grains as everyone else. So here are the parts I am sure about:

  • Our ancestors soaked or fermented their grains before making them into porridge, bread, cakes and casseroles.
  • All grains contain phytic acid in the outer layer or bran
  • Untreated phytic acid can combine with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc in the intestines and block the absorption of these minerals.
  • A diet high in grains leads to bone loss, tooth decay and mineral deficiencies.
  • Soaking allows enzymes and bacteria to break down and reduce phytic acid.
  • Soaking allows enzymes to release vitamins that are bound in the grain, making them readily available to your body.
  • Soaking partially breaks down gluten, making it easier to digest.
  • Cracked, rolled and ground grains (flour) go rancid very quickly at room temperature. Long before you purchase them off the store shelves.

Parts I’m not so clear on:

How much of the phytic acid is reduced by soaking? Is it worth it?

What ratio of grains should a person eat? What is a safe amount?

What grains need to be soaked for what length of time?

Most recipes say to cook the grain in the water in which it was soaking…doesn’t that water have phytic acid in it now? Where did it go? Did small ninjas come carry it away in the night?

According to Ramiel Nagel in the book Cure Tooth Decay: “Sprouting grains is a wonderful step in the fermentation process. But it does not remove that much phytic acid. Typically sprouting will remove somewhere between 20-30% of phytic acid after two or three days for beans, seeds and grains under laboratory conditions at a constant 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Sprouting was more effective in rye, rice, millet and mung beans, removing about 50% of phytic acid, and not effective at all with oats. Soaking by itself for 16 hours at a constant 77 degrees typically removed 5-10% of the grain and bean phytic acid content. Soaking increased or did not reduce the phytic acid content of quinoa, sorghum, corn, oats, amaranth, wheat, mung beans, and some seeds.”

“These statistics do not illustrate the entire picture. Even though soaking quinoa actually increased phytic acid contents, soaking and then cooking quinoa reduces its phytic acid levels by more than 61%. The same holds true for beans. Soaking and then cooking removes about 50% of phytic acid. With lentils this same procedure removes 76% of phytic acid. Roasting wheat, barley or green gram (Mung beans) reduces phytic acid by about  40%. A very interesting report shows the value of grain and bean storage in relation to plant toxins. In humid and warm storage conditions beans lost 65% of their phytic acid content.”  And for the record Ramiel Nagel recommends either severely limiting grains in the diet, and freshly grinding grain and discarding part of the bran and germ (the part that contains the phytic acid). According to his research if you are purchasing flour from the store you should buy unbleached, un-enriched organic white flour, and eat it very sparingly. I would highly recommend that you read his book. It’s 234 pages of mind blowing research. www.curetoothdecay.com

I also want to add some anecdotal evidence. If I eat a handful of raw nuts I get almost instantly bloated, with stomach pains and indigestion. If I soak the nuts and dehydrate them and then eat a handful of nuts, I digest them just fine and can eat a big serving of homemade trail mix with no problem.

If I eat unsoaked oatmeal, I get the same feeling. Just an overall feeling of not digesting properly. Bloated and heavy and weird…If I soak the oatmeal for 24 hours and then cook it, I digest it just fine.

So based on my own experience with grains alone, I think soaking is worth the trouble for me. I also think we would be much better off in a lot of areas if we listened to our ancestors (and our bodies). Traditional people soaked, fermented, or sprouted grains. Maybe they were doing that for a reason?

To further add to my confusion, I was recently introduced to http://www.phyticacid.org/ Dr. Amanda Rose has done some interesting research showing that your soaking medium should not contain calcium. She explains that the phytic acid is reduced even more with just a plain water soak, or with an acid medium that does not contain calcium (vinegar, lemon juice, sourdough starter etc). Every soaking recipe I have ever heard called for whey, buttermilk, or kefir. She says that soaking in warm water, or warm water with sourdough starter is more effective. I am planning on purchasing her e-course and research materials, and I will post all about it when I’m through I promise!

HOW TO SOAK GRAINS

1 cup grain

1 cup warm purified water (enough to cover)

2 Tbsp sourdough starter (learn how to make one here) OR lemon juice or vinegar.

Mix all ingredients in a bowl (I mix mine right in the sauce pan that I plan to cook them in) Cover with a lid or cloth and let sit out overnight (or longer). Oatmeal is very high in phytic acid and should be soaked for 24 hours. Anyone who has eaten soaked oatmeal knows that it really does improve the flavor so much, that it is worth it for that reason alone. Soaked grains also cook much faster, which is great for the morning rush.

HOW TO SOAK NUTS

4 cups nuts

filtered water to cover

1 Tbsp sea salt

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and cover with a cloth. Let it sit out at room temperature for  8 hours minimum. I let mine sit overnight. Drain in a colander. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread nuts out in a thin layer. Place in oven on lowest heat (no more than 150 degrees). My oven has a “warm” setting that is 170 degrees, I use this and place a wooden spoon in the oven door so that the door is open 1 inch. The thermometer now reads 144 degrees. Perfect! Dehydrate the nuts for 12-20 hours or until they are crispy and no longer moist at all. I stir them a few times so this goes faster. If you are lucky enough to have room in your kitchen for a dehydrator, use that!

Almonds, pecans, cashews, macadamia nuts and peanuts have high amounts of stable oleic acid and can be stored for four months at room temperature (if container is air tight). Walnuts contain unsaturated linolenic acid and should always be stored in the fridge.

So what do you think? Does that sound too difficult for daily cooking? I find that if I plan ahead and stick to my menu planning I have no problem soaking grains. When I don’t make a menu for the week, then I only remember it about 50% of the time. I do a large batch of nuts at once, and that lasts us for 3-4 months or so. Right now, I don’t have a grain grinder, so I am buying sprouted flour. I am really looking forward to grinding my own grains, if I can ever fit that appliance in my budget that would be great!

So hopefully you leave this post feeling a tad bit less confused about grains. I know it is a confusing subject, and I think the more you research health and nutrition the more confused you are going to get. One thing at a time right?

Related article

How I remineralized my tooth cavity without dentistry

My favorite soaked oatmeal recipe

Make your own Wild Yeast Sourdough Starter

Characteristics of Traditional Diets

Coconut in Modern Medicine

Coconut In Modern Medicine
Modern medical science is now confirming the use of coconut in treating many conditions. Published studies in medical journals show that coconut, in one form or another, may provide a wide range of health benefits. Some of these are summarized below:

  • Kills viruses that cause influenza, herpes, measles, hepatitis C, SARS, AIDS, and other illnesses.
  • Kills bacteria that cause ulcers, throat infections, urinary tract infections, gum disease and cavities, pneumonia, and gonorrhea, and other diseases.
  • Kills fungi and yeasts that cause candidiasis, ringworm, athlete’s foot, thrush, diaper rash, and other infections.
  • Expels or kills tapeworms, lice, giardia, and other parasites.
  • Provides a nutritional source of quick energy.
  • Boosts energy and endurance, enhancing physical and athletic performance.
  • Improves digestion and absorption of other nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
  • Improves insulin secretion and utilization of blood glucose.
  • Relieves stress on pancreas and enzyme systems of the body.
  • Reduces symptoms associated with pancreatitis.
  • Helps relieve symptoms and reduce health risks associated with diabetes.
  • Reduces problems associated with malabsorption syndrome and cystic fibrosis.
  • Improves calcium and magnesium absorption and supports the development of strong bones and teeth.
  • Helps protect against osteoporosis.
  • Helps relieve symptoms associated with gallbladder disease.
  • Relieves symptoms associated with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and stomach ulcers.
  • Improves digestion and bowel function.
  • Relieves pain and irritation caused by hemorrhoids.
  • Reduces inflammation.
  • Supports tissue healing and repair.
  • Supports and aids immune system function.
  • Helps protect the body from breast, colon, and other cancers.
  • Is heart healthy; improves cholesterol ratio reducing risk of heart disease.
  • Protects arteries from injury that causes atherosclerosis and thus protects against heart disease.
  • Helps prevent periodontal disease and tooth decay.
  • Functions as a protective antioxidant.
  • Helps to protect the body from harmful free radicals that promote premature aging and degenerative disease.
  • Does not deplete the body’s antioxidant reserves like other oils do.
  • Improves utilization of essential fatty acids and protects them from oxidation.
  • Helps relieve symptoms associated with chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • Relieves symptoms associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia (prostate enlargement).
  • Reduces epileptic seizures.
  • Helps protect against kidney disease and bladder infections.
  • Dissolves kidney stones.
  • Helps prevent liver disease.
  • Is lower in calories than all other fats.
  • Supports thyroid function.
  • Promotes loss of excess weight by increasing metabolic rate.
  • Is utilized by the body to produce energy in preference to being stored as body fat like other dietary fats.
  • Helps prevent obesity and overweight problems.
  • Applied topically helps to form a chemical barrier on the skin to ward of infection.
  • Reduces symptoms associated the psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis.
  • Supports the natural chemical balance of the skin.
  • Softens skin and helps relieve dryness and flaking.
  • Prevents wrinkles, sagging skin, and age spots.
  • Promotes healthy looking hair and complexion.
  • Provides protection from damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
  • Helps control dandruff.
  • Does not form harmful by-products when heated to normal cooking temperature like other vegetable oils do.
  • Has no harmful or discomforting side effects.
  • Is completely non-toxic to humans.

Thank you to Dr. Bruce Fife N.D for his amazing research at the Coconut Research Center. Visit his website to read the research studies for yourself.

Looking for ways to get more coconut into your body? How about cornbread, soaked oatmeal, simple body lotion, Coconut Pecan Cookies, Coconut Hot Cocoa, Raw Chocolate milk. I also use it for the majority of my frying (It leaves no coconut flavor). I use half butter, and half coconut oil in all baking. I have also been known to put a teaspoon of coconut oil in my tea.

 

Real Food Macaroni and Cheese

I'm so lucky! My local farmer sells a huge variety of raw, organic cheeses.

Did I mention that I love cheese? Perhaps just a little too much? What can I say, me and cheese go way back! Here is one of my favorite cheese dishes. I like it as-is, or with bacon. I usually make a double batch, and keep some for lunches.

Real Food Mac & Cheese

8 oz brown rice macaroni

3 Tbsp salted butter

3 Tbsp flour or arrowroot powder

3 cups whole raw milk

3 cups grated cheese of choice ( I like to be crazy and combine 2-3 different cheeses)

4 oz grated Parmesan

1 1/2 tsp fresh black pepper

1 tsp mustard powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook macaroni noodles, drain and place in casserole dish.

While the pasta is cooking, melt butter in cast iron skillet or saucepan. Whisk in flour and cook for 1-2 minutes until golden. Continue whisking and add milk. Bring this to a simmer until thick.

Add 2 1/2 cups of the cheese (reserve the remaining 1/2 cup for the topping). Add Parmesan, pepper, and mustard. Stir until melted. Taste and add sea salt as needed. The tasting is my favorite part!

Pour cheese sauce over noodles. Top with reserved 1/2 cup cheese. Bake in 350 degree oven 40-50 minutes or until golden brown and bubbling.

This is my all-time favorite food to eat for lunch the next day. I think I need to go to cheese addicts anonymous 🙂 Or just give in, and buy a milk cow!

The finished product. Don't you love how raw cheeses don't have that ugly orange dye in them?

Real Food for Baby

First of all I would highly recommend that every  parent getting ready to feed their child solid foods go to Amazon or a book store today and buy Baby’s First Foods by Nina Planck and read it cover to cover. I would also suggest the multitude of articles on the Weston A Price Foundations website. They have studied this in such depth, I can’t even begin to cover it all. At the top of their site click on the Health Topics button and scroll down to Children’s Health. You will be reading for hours 🙂 Here are a few vital points:

Breast milk should be a vital part of nourishment for 6-12 months. The quality of your milk is directly affected by your diet, so eat the good food!

Starting at 4 months old begin feeding baby one egg yolk a day. Egg whites are harder to digest and can cause allergy, so start with the yolk only. Find a source of pasture-raised eggs (from hens eating a diet of insects, fish meal or flax meal). This is the ideal baby food! Add a pinch of high quality sea salt to aid digestion.

At 4 months old also begin feeding fermented Cod Liver Oil daily. 1/4 to 1/2 tsp a day.

After baby is accustomed to the taste of egg and is enjoying it, start grating a small amount of raw, organic liver into the egg. Again, a healthy grass-fed cow has a healthy grass-fed liver.

A babies digestive system contains a very small amount of the enzymes needed to digest cereal grains or carbohydrates. It is a very sad practice in America that every mother I’ve ever spoken to started their child off on wet cereal mush as a first food. Children develop grown-up level enzymes at the age of 28 months, and only small amounts of carbohydrates should be given until then. When you do feed your baby carbohydrates (even fruit) make sure it is accompanied by a healthy fat source. Mmmmm butter!

50% of the calories in breast milk are fat calories! Your baby should consume large amounts of protein, fat and homemade bone broths. The largest source of nutrition for your growing baby should be high-quality animal products in order to provide vitamins B12, A and D as well as necessary minerals like zinc.

I was lucky when my babies were young, I was right in the middle of my paleo craze and I was eating very little carbohydrates at the time. I accidentally fed my babies a fairly good diet. It wasn’t optimal by any stretch, but it could have been much more SAD. I cooked our regular dinner for the family and just pureed it in the blender. Then I would freeze small portions of the leftover purée in ice-cube trays for easy on the go breakfasts and lunches. At that time, I hadn’t found a great source of eggs or meat, so more than half of our food was from a big box grocery store. If I was doing it all over again I would search far and wide to find a farmer to purchase grass-fed and pasture-raised food from. I would make any sacrifice necessary to afford it too. Really high quality meat and dairy products are not cheap, but they are so, so valuable.

I know this subject is controversial and many people will disagree. I would urge you to do your own research on the subject and do what you think is best for your child.

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