Archive for Sprouting and Fermenting

5 Uses for Kombucha (other than drinking)

A few months back, I embarked on a challenge. You see, I don’t like kombucha. I don’t like it one bit. But I wanted to try to learn to like it because it’s good for you.

Kombucha is a fermented tea drink (yeah, I realize that sounds gross) that’s actually pretty good for you. It has probiotics in it, which can help with things like digestion and they also support your immune system (not to be underrated as we move into cold and flu season).

5 Uses for Kombucha

Sure, there are other forms of probiotics, like other fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchee, sourdough and miso. But kombucha is a pretty convenient source of drinkable probiotics.

Lots of people love it. I have many friends that like it as a kind of substitute for drinking wine. But for me, I have a hard time with it. It has a kind of vinegary taste to it that I find (literally) hard to swallow.

A few months back, I decided I’d try to see if I could learn to like it. The beginning of that process was learning to make my own. First I learned how to grow a SCOBY (which is the “mother” or the thing that ferments the tea. Once you have a SCOBY, it’s a snap (although it takes a week to ferment) to make your own kombucha. Here’s how:

 

The idea for me, with making my own, was that it would be easier to make it to my own taste. I discovered that green tea makes it a lot more palatable than black tea, and also that doing a second ferment with some fruit and mint leaves went a long way.

So, my learning curve with kombucha is… curving. But I still don’t love it. I am, however, discovering other ways of integrating it into my diet without drinking it.

5 Uses for Kombucha

Vegan Kombucha Pretzel Knots: in this case, kombucha makes a great leavener for these home-made pretzels.

Kombucha Salad Dressing: Sub out the vinegar in your fave vinagrette recipe with kombucha. It works great! Here’s a recipe.

Fruit fly traps: It’s not so bad now that the weather is cooling a little, but this summer (and most summers) fruit fly infestations in my kitchen are something I really hate! To be safe, I move my compost outside, and I also make sure I store my fruit in the fridge instead of on the counter. But kombucha makes a great fruit fly trap. I use a small glass, and pour some kombucha into the bottom, maybe about 1″ worth. Then I cover it with a piece of plastic wrap and pull it down tight. Finally, using a skewer, I poke holes in the top of the plastic wrap. The fruit flies are attracted to the sweetness and the fermentation of the kombucha (better that than my wine!) and crawl in through the holes and either can’t get out or drown.

Cocktails! Okay, now we’re talking!! Here’s the thing: kombucha is brewed and fermented just like a lot of your favorite alcholic bevvies. It does have a very tiny amount of naturally occurring alcohol in it, about 1%. Kombucha goes great in mixed drinks, especially with cocktails like a Moscow Mule, which uses something a lot like kombucha called Ginger Beer. Here are some to try.

In the garden: Kombcuha has properties that help acidify, and it can be useful for everything from spraying on plants to deter pests, to using to water your garden, to burying leftover SCOBYs in your soil.

What’s your favorite way to use Kombucha (other than drinking it)? Share in the comments below.

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Vegan Jerky

One of the common questions that vegans and vegetarians get a lot of the time is “where do you get your protein?”

It’s actually pretty surprising how easy it is to get plant-based sources of protein in your diet. Not all protein needs to be a big steak!

vegan jerky

For me, personally, peanut butter is something I eat pretty much every day, and cheese is a pretty big staple for me. I also eat quite a few legumes: beans, chickpeas and lentils (my freezer is still full of chickpeas from that time I wrote an Aquafaba cookbook). You might be surprised to learn quinoa is also packed with protein.

And then there’s tofu. Look–I’ve been pretty honest with you guys about how I feel about tofu. It’s not my favorite. I have a hard time infusing any flavor into it, no matter what I do to it. But I do still eat it some.

Tempeh is kind of like tofu’s cousin. Regular tofu is made from soybeans, but tempeh is made from fermented soy. Fermenting makes it easier to digest, if you have a tough time eating beans. Additionally, just one cup has 30 grams of protein! Not bad at all…

I recently ran into a new, local tempeh manufacturer here in Vancouver called Tempea. I discovered them at The Wellness Show, but you can run into them at Farmer’s Markets all over the Lower Mainland. I love to support local business, so the Tempea Tempeh is the basis of this recipe.

Now, let’s talk Jerky for a sec. Once thought to be the food of late-night 7-11 runs and hunters, the Paleo/Primal movement has caused a resurgence in jerky’s cool factor. When made with meat, jerky is basically cured and dried to the point where it won’t spoil. It becomes lighter, and very portable and packable. Full of protein, it makes a great snack to take a on hike or a longer trip where you won’t have access to purchase food. For the rest of us, it can make a great post-workout snack.

While traditional jerky is usually made with meat, you can make vegan jerky using tofu. This vegan, however, is made with tempeh. It’s pretty simple to do. You marinade the tempeh (cut in thin slices) overnight, then dehydrate them the next day. I used my dehydrator for this, but you could just as easily do it in your oven at very low temp.

Et voila! A light, portable, tasty, full-of-protein snack!

Tempeh Jerky

Vegan Jerky

Ingredients:

  • Tempeh (I used Tempea)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce or wheat-free tamari
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 6 drops liquid smoke
  • a couple dashes of hot sauce
  • 2 tbsp your favorite BBQ sauce
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil

Method:

  1. Slice the tempeh thin and set aside.
  2. In a mason jar, combine all the marinade ingredients and shake well. Add the tempeh and make sure it is all well-coated in the marinade. You can add some water if you like to give it more volume. Place in the fridge overnight.
  3. The next day, remove the tempeh from the marinade and dry on paper towels.
  4. Place in a single layer in your dehydrator, and allow to dehydrate for about 2-2 1/2 hours on 225 degrees. If you don’t have a dehydrator, place in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 200 degrees, for about 2-2 1/2 hours. Store in an air-tight container.

 

 

 

 

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