fermented vegetable medley

Cauliflower, carrots and beans
carrots
carrots, beans and cauliflower

I'm on a serious gut health kick this week. And for good reason. Admittedly I've been slacking a bit the last few weeks. Work became stressful, keeping up with everything felt overwhelming and I mindlessly gravitated towards, for lack of a better word, shit food. It had gluten free plastered all over it but just because it was gluten free doesn't mean it was good for me. 

It's easy getting trapped in the "it's only a few" mentality but the truth is, if you have gut issues, a few every day is just enough to bring all the symptoms back and make you feel like garbage. I felt a bit hypocritical because here I am, a big proponent of real food stuffing my face with gluten and dairy free food like stuff. 

Without much fanfare and self loathing, I decided to just get back to eating real and minimally processed food. And sure enough it's made a big difference. I've mentioned before that I don't like being overly strict because it feels suffocating but it's important to remind ourselves that a lot of what we see on store shelves is not providing any nutrients or any benefit aside from sheer pleasure because it does taste so damn good. 

So what to do when you've gotten off track? Start by getting back to the good stuff. For me that always includes nature's probiotics in the form of fermented vegetables. I mean yes, you can go and buy a bottle of expensive probiotics but why when you can just get them through food! Truly one of my favorite ways of undoing some damage is by eating fermented vegetables. 

Do you feel intimidated by the idea of making your own ferments? Don't! It's surprisingly simple and versatile and your little gut bugs will be very happy to say the least. 

As far as vegetables, you can use whatever you'd like but I find certain combinations work better than others. This assortment is one that my grandparents often made and it's simply cauliflower, green beans and carrots. You can eat fermented vegetables on their own, as a side or chop them up and add them to your favorite dishes. 

All you need is a large jar, filtered water, salt and vegetables. 

fermented vegetable medley
fermented vegetable medley
fermented vegetable medley

fermented vegetable medley 

  • prep time: 5 minutes

  • fermenting time: 2 weeks +

  • yields: 1 half gallon jar

Ingredients:

  • 1 small head organic cauliflower

  • a good handful of green beans

  • bunch heirloom or regular carrots

  • 2 tbsp sea salt or pink salt

  • 4 cups warm filtered water

  • 1 clove garlic sliced

  • 1/2 tsp whole peppercorns

  • a few springs of fresh dill

Equipment: 

Directions: 

Combine warm water with salt and stir until salt is fully dissolved. Let cool.

Break cauliflower by hand into desired size pieces. Chop carrots in whatever shape you wish, either strips or rounds. You can leave the beans whole or cut them in half. 

Add all vegetables, garlic and dill to the jar and add saltwater until vegetables are fully submerged. Twist on lid and keep away from any places with temperature fluctuation such as stoves or dishwashers. 

Let ferment for 14 or more days. You can "burp" your ferment daily if you want to release some pressure but it's not mandatory. That just means twisting the lid off and back on.  


Want a simple and cheap way to get more probiotics in your diet? Try this delicious fermented vegetable medley. All you need is salt, water, cauliflower, carrots and green beans. #fermentedfood, #fermentedvegetables, #calmeats, #paleo, #vegan, #whole30, #fermentation, #probioticfoods, #guthealthyfoods #guthealth #howtoferment #easyfermentedrecipes

paleo mayo two ways

paleo mayo and chipotle lime paleo mayo
chipotle lime paleo mayo
basic paleo mayo and chipotle lime paleo mayo

The name of my blog is calm eats. The images shared are carefully curated to represent a life of calm, slow moments and lots and lots of free time. Which is exactly what I'm dreaming of when I suddenly see a minion toy fly in my direction and quickly snap out of it. 

Yes, it's ideal but it's not reality. Anyone who has young kids and says otherwise is a liar, a lunatic or has discovered nirvana. No, as any parent knows, life is packed with toys, chaos, crying, fighting and the like along with being wondrous. 

It was a day like any other day, going about the usual stuff and preparing lunches, when it dawned on me that I was missing the key ingredient - mayo. Yes, I could have gone the vegan route and worked on making a vegan version with avocado but my son, after years of loving it decided he's done with avocado "forever", so plan B. Make my own. 

The problem though? I didn't have 2+ hours to let an egg come to room temperature and had about 20 minutes to work with. So, I took a shortcut. I placed an egg (please only use pasteurized eggs) in a cup of warm (not hot) water and let it sit for 10 minutes. It was the exact consistency I was looking for. 

So I got to work. Well, correction, my food processor got to work. This paleo mayo recipe is uncomplicated and there's hardly any effort involved. I used Dijon mustard, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, salt, a sprinkle of paprika, the room temperature egg and slowly drizzled a cup of light tasting olive oil. I have to add that I prefer light tasting olive oil over avocado oil or regular olive oil as the taste is just too intense. I've tried it with both in the past and just wasn't impressed. 

This mayo is foolproof and takes only a couple minutes to whip up. Needless to say, lunch was saved. 

But why stop there? I decided to use half the mayo and make myself some chipotle lime mayo, which I have a serious weakness for. All I did was add chipotle powder, lime zest, lime juice and oh my god, I could eat the whole thing straight out of the food processor (sans utensil). It's fantastic on roasted vegetables, grilled meat of any kind or as a snack for your 2 year old. True story - my daughter loves it.

There you have it - two ridiculously easy paleo mayo recipes that take just minutes to prepare. Both store in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.  

basic paleo mayo
lemon slices
paleo chipotle lime mayo

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paleo mayo two ways

  • prep time: 2 minutes (if using cold egg 12 minutes)

  • blending time: 2 minutes

  • makes: 1.5 cups

Ingredients

Basic paleo mayo

  • 1 pasteurized room temperature egg

  • 1 tsp lemon juice

  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar

  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 1/8 tsp paprika

  • 1 cup light tasting olive oil

Chipotle lime paleo mayo

  • 1/2 cup basic paleo mayo

  • zest of one lime

  • 1 tsp lime juice

  • 1/2 tsp chipotle powder

Equipment

  • Food processor

Directions

If you don't have a room temperature egg, simply take a refrigerated, pasteurized egg and place it in a cup of warm water for 10 minutes. 

For basic paleo mayo: Add all ingredients aside from olive oil, turn on food processor and very slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Turn off food processor when the mayo has reached consistency. The whole process should take about 2 minutes. 

For chipotle lime paleo mayo: Combine all ingredients in either the food processor or simply in a bowl and stir until well incorporated. 

Here are two super quick and simple recipes for making basic paleo mayo and chipotle lime paleo mayo. All you need is a food processor to help speed up the process. #paleomayo, #paleochipotlelimemayo, #paleomayonnaise, #calmeats, #whole30mayo, #whole30chipotlelimemayo

how to make sauerkraut

A basic recipe for making probiotic rich sauerkraut at home with just two ingredients.

My gut healing journey has been an eye opening experience. It's been exactly a year since the day I decided to give up gluten and dairy for good. It stands out as it was decisive and transformative. I vividly remember driving home from work, listening to a podcast on gluten sensitivity. What I was hearing hit me like a pile of bricks. I finally asked the question: "could gluten be at the root of all the issues I'd been struggling with?" I had to put the theory to the test and it turned out to be the best decision I ever made. 

If you're wondering why I gave up dairy as well - the answer is simple. Like gluten, cows milk proteins act as an allergen and can cause a similar immune response. 

But let's get back to the gut and more importantly to how to make sauerkraut. When it came to healing my gut, removing trigger foods and allergens was good but not enough. Working towards re-building what had been broken for so many years required that I focus on repopulating my gut bacteria. 

One surefire way I've done this probably the best way is by consuming fermented foods regularly, in particular sauerkraut. The stuff is truly miraculous. I believe out of all fermented foods, sauerkraut packs the most benefits in a very small serving. 

A basic recipe for making probiotic rich sauerkraut at home with just two ingredients.

What are the benefits of sauerkraut? 

  • Improves digestion

  • Improves nutrient absorption

  • Better focus

  • Increases energy

  • Boosts immune system

  • Reduces inflammation

  • Improves cognitive function

Some sources state that something like 10 trillion live bacteria can be found in just two ounces of home made sauerkraut, which is the equivalent of a 100 count of bottled probiotics.  Another interesting article on the benefits of consuming sauerkraut and fermented food sheds some scientific light on this ancient food. 

Why make your own sauerkraut? 

My reasons are cost effectiveness and also knowing exactly what goes into it. A small jar of refrigerated sauerkraut that contains only salt and cabbage usually costs somewhere around $4-$5 dollars. Making your own will save you money and yield far more sauerkraut.

Easy on the sauerkraut the first time you eat it.

If you've never eaten sauerkraut before, I suggest starting out with only 1 tsp and building up to a few table spoons a day. Eating too much too soon can actually have some negative side effects such as upset stomach or diarrhea.  

How to make sauerkraut? 

I keep things very basic by using clean mason jars, one head of cabbage, that's been finely sliced and fine pink salt. I prefer pink salt because of the milder taste and added nutrients. You can either hand hand massage the cabbage and salt together or you can use a sauerkraut pounder in order to speed up the process. You can also choose to use a fermenting stone but it's certainly not a requirement.  

A basic recipe for making probiotic rich sauerkraut at home with just two ingredients.
A basic recipe for making probiotic rich sauerkraut at home with just two ingredients.

how to make sauerkraut

  • prep time: 5-10 minutes

  • fermenting time: 2 weeks to several months

Ingredients: 

Equipment: 

Directions: 

Ensure your work space is clean. Wash and dry mason jars. 

Cut cabbage in two and and finely slice the cabbage. Add to bowl along with salt and massage cabbage with both hands or sauerkraut pounder for about 5-8 minutes until cabbage starts to release a liquid. 

Stuff cabbage in jars and pour in liquid dividing it between jars. Press the cabbage firmly into jar ensuring the liquid bubbles to the surface. Option is to add fermenting stone. Twist on lid firmly and store in a cool, dark place and allow to ferment for 14 days to several months. Once you open the sauerkraut, store it in the refrigerator. 

*Tip: While fermenting, keep sauerkraut away from fluctuating temperatures such as dishwashers and stoves. The ideal temperature is between 65-72 degrees Fahrenheit. 


 

 

simple fermented vegetables

fermented pickles, carrots, and radishes
carrots
fermented vegetables (4 of 16).jpg
fermented vegetables (10 of 16).jpg
fermented vegetables (9 of 16).jpg

When I lived in Romania, my family shopped at the local farmers market and ate seasonally. There was really no choice as it was that or starve. We didn't have well stocked grocery stores so we had to be prepared. In anticipation of cold, long winters, my grandparents would ferment large quantities of vegetables that were not available in the winter. Little did I know just how beneficial fermented vegetables were. 

Why eat fermented vegetables

Our western diet has done a number on gut flora and our digestive system as many of us are eating foods our body simply does not know how to assimilate and has a difficult time digesting. But I'm a firm believer that by eating fermented foods daily we can rebuild our healthy guts. This is in turn helps with food absorption, improved digestion and overall health. After all, if our gut isn’t healthy, then every other system in the body will be affected.

Fermented vegetables provide natural probiotics

I’m a proponent of supplementation but I’m also a firm believer that we can get everything we need from food. And one of the best way to populate and heal our guts, is through consuming probiotic rich fermented foods daily. It is a cheaper and healthier alternative to taking a pill every day.

How to make fermented vegetables

In order to demystify fermenting, I wanted to share some very basic recipes I frequently make. The easiest way to start is by using brine and cut up vegetables.

To make brine, all you need is a quart of room temperature water and 2-3 tbsp of fine sea salt. I prefer using fine salt as it dissolves quicker. Once the salt and water are combined, your brine is ready.

Feel free to add the seasoning of your choice. I prefer dill and garlic. Here are 3 basic fermented vegetable recipes to get you started. 

fermented vegetables (3 of 16).jpg

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simple fermented vegetables

  • prep time: 15 minutes

  • makes: 6-8 (12 oz) jars

  • fermenting time: 8 days-2 weeks

Ingredients

  • 1-2 lbs organic carrots cut into sticks

  • 1 bag organic radishes, sliced

  • 6-8 organic pickling cucumbers

  • 1 quart filtered water

  • 2-3 tablespoons fine sea salt

  • 2-3 sliced cloves garlic (or more)

  • a few sprigs fresh dill

Equipment

  • medium sauce pan

  • jars with lids (i use these)

Directions

To prepare brine, combine warm water and salt and set aside to cool.

Slice garlic cloves and add to jars along with as much fresh dill as you want.

Slice radishes and cut carrots and pickles to be slightly shorter than the jar. Tightly pack each into jars, as many as can fit. Pour the cooled brine and fill all the way to the top ensuring that vegetables are covered completely. 

Twist on the lid and let ferment at room temperature for 7-14 days. Keep away from an area with temperature fluctuations such as a stove. If you have leftover brine, store it in the refrigerator and used at a later point. 


If you're on a gut healing journey, the best thing you can do is consume fermented vegetables on a regular basis. Not only are they easy to prepare but they're far better for you than bottled probiotics. Check out this simple recipe you can keep on hand to ensure your gut functions the way it's intended to. #icanpicklethat, #fermentation, #fermentedvegetables, #traditionalcooking, #ferments, #pickling, #calmeats, #vegan, #paleo, #gaps, #whole30, #vegetarian

 

 

taco seasoning mix

taco seasoning mix, spoons and bowl
spoon and chili powder

I walk through the door. It's a peaceful Tuesday evening. I had a remarkably easy day at the office. No stress, no emails or timelines - a smooth day all around. The smell of food makes my mouth water. The gentle sound of Bach becomes more audible with every step I take. I notice my children are quietly reading books. They're too enveloped in them to notice I'd stepped in. The house is in order, no toys in sight and my husband declares that dinner is nearly finished.

No, this never happened. I hallucinated from exhaustion as I've been awake since roughly 2:45am. Sleep deprivation is something I've come to accept as a fact of life right now.

Life is messy and chaotic and while we try to keep things in some sort of order, it's nearly impossible to do so for more than 10 minutes..okay 5...more like 2. Things are unpredictable. My 19 month old biting her brother's marker and staining her mouth and fingers blue earns a parenting award. My son flushing house keys down the toilet is another gem. 

spices in bowl

So yes, things are anything but orderly with a 4.5 year old and a 19 month old. It's usually an incessant chorus of whining over not being allowed to have snacks before dinner or fighting over the same toy. But it's my life and I wouldn't change a thing. I lovingly gaze at my glass of wine and thank it for its magical powers. I do say, one glass of wine a day, keeps the insanity at bay. Plus all the polyphenols, am I right? 

But back to dinner. Yes, dinner has to be made and quickly. Tonight it's tacos. I make them often. Whether pulled pork, chicken or just good old ground beef tacos, I need to have taco seasoning on hand. The store bought version contains too many unpronounceable words for my liking and the 2 billion grams of sodium, generally leave me feeling like a blow up doll in the morning. So I make my own.

It's a good one to keep on hand whenever you need a quick taco mix and it also holds up well.

spices and bow with spoon
cumin on spoon
  • prep time: 5 minutes
  • cooking time: none
  • serves: 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Equipment

  • small bowl

Directions

Combine spices and use right away or store in an air tight container. 

print recipe
taco seasoning mix
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
Instructions
1. Combine spices and use right away or store in an air tight container.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4-6