This past weekend, I had the good fortune of participating in our city’s first Fermentation Festival. What a brilliant way to spend a weekend day, hanging out with fellow Gut Geeks to talk nerdy about the microbiome. It really felt like a celebration of all things I love - culture, community and the power of good food.
I caught a very enlivening and inspiring workshop from Mike Doiron at Living Soil Solutions, talking about the microbiome of the soil, and its role in our overall health. The soil is really the earth’s gut it would seem; the bugs its microbiome. I highly recommend catching Mike at a talk somewhere down the line to help invigorate your comprehension of the power of good soil, and how that has the potential to mitigate carbon emissions, foster better agricultural practices, inherently ending in better health for the soil, the earth, better mineral and micronutrient profiles in the foods we grow. This can only lead to optimal health for all - the earth, the people and the community!
I had the good fortune to kick off the day in the Microbiome Room, diving in to the beauty and health benefits of the ever brilliant Beet Kvass. Many thanks to those who came to hang out and talk about the importance of looking after the microbiome via the good brew. We dove in to the science of the microbiome, its role in our body’s overall health and wellness. We also talked about how to GO SLOW if you are new to fermenting, and what signs to look for if your body is asking you to go even slower.
If you are new to making Beet Kvass, I will point you to this blog post: it features a recipe and video to walk you through how to make your own brew at home. Couldn’t be easier!
I took the chance at this class to jump into one of my tenets - PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD. My hope in putting together this hour on Beet Kvass was to inspire you to come up with your own combinations of extra flavours to add in to the mix. The idea here was to help you choose roots, shoots, herbs + flavours to reach for to help support you with your own specific health goals in mind.
To that effect, I had a request to post on the blog a roundup of ideas and ingredients one could add in order to build flavours according to certain health concerns.
Chasing Flavour will always serve you well.
dried spices like cinnamon, cloves, cardamom pods, nutmeg, star anise
flavours like fennel, fenugreek, caraway, cumin, coriander seeds, peppercorns
dried herbs like dill, tarragon, sage, thyme, dill seed, nettle, etc.
fresh herbs like dill, parsley, lovage, nettle, rosemary, etc.
dried roots like dandelion, burdock, nettle root, chicory
fresh roots like ginger, turmeric, galangal, lemongrass stalks
medicinal roots like astragalus, rehmannia root, eleuthero
make sure they are unsulphured or organic
dried like goji berries, raisins, cranberries, dates, figs, barberries
superfood dried fruit like elderberries, shizandra berries, jujube dates
dried lemon or orange peel
fresh fruit like any berries, pomegranate arils, slices of citrus fruit
fresh or dried foraged berries like rose hips, silver buffalo berries, saskatoons, sea buckthorn berries, hawthorn berries
garlic, green onions, chives
onions, horseradish root (horseradish leaves work well too!)
veggie remnants like cabbage wedges, radish peels
dried veggies like hot peppers, chipotle peppers
HERBS + FLOWERS
think loose leaf tea ingredients
labrador tea leaves, nettle, holy basil, raspberry leaf, rooibos
foraged goodies like spruce tips, pine pollen
flower petals like rose, borage, red clover, heather, calendula petals, chamomile, hibiscus
MEDICINAL MUSHROOMS + SUPERFOODS
always add a piece of seaweed to each batch (kelp, kombu, dulse, wakame, etc.)
reishi slices, chaga, cordyceps, maitake, lion's mane
shiitake mushrooms (dried)
astragalus roots, rehmannia root
COMBINATION AND FLAVOUR IDEAS
I built a list of flavour combos targeting specific health concerns, and wanted to share these here. Use them as a jumping off point to brew your own combo!
Know that Beet Kvass always supports the liver and improves detox, helps reduce inflammation, improves digestion, loves up the microbiome and takes care of the heart. Beet Kvass has been shown to bust gallstones, kidney stones, dissovle uric acid to help reduce gout flare ups. So really, a basic brew of beets + salt + time is a great place to start. Anything else on top of that is just bonus.
Build from there! Use what you have on hand to start with, and build your pantry slowly over time. And know that a shot glass is what you're working up to, before meals. TAKE YOUR TIME.
IMPROVE DIGESTION: fennel / fenugreek / caraway (strong flavours to wake up the digestive fire)
REDUCE INFLAMMATION: chamomile + turmeric + ginger + medicinal mushroom
GUT HEALTH: cabbage wedge + calendula + fresh dill
DETOX SUPPORT: burdock or dandelion root + goji or jujube dates
BONES + CONNECTIVE TISSUE: chaga + ginger + nettle
BRAIN + NERVOUS SYSTEM: lion's mane + turmeric root + rosemary
HEART: garlic + goji berries + hawthorn berries + hot pepper
GALLBLADDER: chaga + dried lemon peel + rose hips
LIVER: garlic + ginger + turmeric root + mustard seed; caraway + fennel; cardamom + clove + burdock
KIDNEYS: heather flower + dried cranberries + hibiscus
ADRENALS: rehammnia root + dried fig + fennel
THYROID: cordyceps + eleuthero root; chicory root + ginger
SKIN: shizandra berries + rose hips + fennel
IMMUNITY: astragalus root + elderberries
LYMPH: calendula petals + red clover + burdock root
BALANCE HORMONES: nigella or kalonji seeds + red clover
BALANCE BLOOD SUGARS: maitake mushrooms + true cinnamon + spruce tips
HEALTHY PREGNANCY: ginger + raspberry leaf + rooibos + rose hips
SLEEP: chamomile + nutmeg + dried cherries