Sauerkraut: The Health Benefits & How To Make Your Own

Who would have thought that the crunchy sour condiment that some of us love to put on a hot dog could be good for you? Well, the original fermented version is very good for you! Some of you may not have even tasted sauerkraut or even know what it is.

Sauerkraut is finely cut cabbage that has been fermented by various lactic acid bacteria. It has a long shelf life and a distinctive sour flavor, both of which result from the lactic acid that forms when the bacteria ferment the sugars in the cabbage.

People have been using fermentation to preserve valuable vegetables and other perishable foods for long periods without the use of modern-day refrigerators, freezers or canning methods. It sounds a little disgusting to be eating food that has been sitting out on the cupboard for days, but actually it is so healthy.

Sauerkraut is chuck full of bacteria strains that include Leuconostoc, Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus that populate your gut environment. These live and active probiotics have beneficial effects on the health of your digestive tract, and the rest of your body too. That’s because a very large portion of your immune system actually lives within your gut and is run by bacterial organisms.

“The good bacteria living in someone’s healthy gut environment have been proved to be crucial for lowering the risk of just about every form of acute or chronic illness there is”.

“Most people, including children, are in need of a probiotic boost due to the use of prescription medication particularly antibiotics as well as high carbohydrate diets, the consumption of chlorinated and fluoridated water, and conventional foods such as non-organic meat and dairy that contain antibiotic residues.  These chemicals kill off probiotics in your system, which over time will damage your digestive tract”. Dr. Axe

As you can see, we all need good bacteria. Yogurt and supplements are not the only place to get these yummy probiotics. Fermented foods of all kinds are a great way to supply your body with these needed good bacteria, and sauerkraut is one of them.

In a nut shell, here are some of the benefits of eating sauerkraut.

What it does:

  • Improves immune function
  • Aids in digestion and the absorption of various nutrients
  • Helps prevent infections and combat toxins living within your digestive tract
  • Supports brain function and cognitive health
  • Control inflammation

What it can help PREVENT:

  • brain disorders and mental illness
  • digestive disorders like leaky gut syndrome, ulcerative colitis and IBS
  • mood disorders like depression and anxiety
  • cancer
  • asthma
  • hormonal imbalances
  • food allergies and sensitivities
  • metabolic conditions such as diabetes
  • obesity or weight gain
  • various autoimmune diseases

Are you ready to start implementing this super food into your diet? You can buy sauerkraut at the store, but make sure it is raw and unpasteurized. It will be in the refrigerated section of the store.

I like Bubbies brand when I am not able to whip up a batch of my own.

Making your own sauerkraut is so quick and easy. It only has TWO ingredients (3 actually if you want to add any garlic or caraway seeds)and takes about 15-20 minutes to prepare and a few days to ferment.

All  you need is:

  • a big bowl
  • cutting board
  • knife
  • 2 wide mouth quart mason jars

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium heads of cabbage
  • 2 Tablespoons unrefined sea salt
  • Optional crushed garlic, or caraway seeds

step 1

Remove the outer layers of the cabbage and discard. Take one more leaf off. Using the lid as a guide, cut a circle out of the cabbage. You will use this to cover the top of the cabbage while fermenting.

step 2

Cut the cabbage in quarters and remove the hard center core. Slice and shred the cabbage to desired texture.

step 3

Place the shredded cabbage in a big bowl. Add salt and other flavorings. I like to add a few tablespoons of caraway seeds.

step 4

Toss cabbage and salt together in a large mixing bowl and begin to squeeze the cabbage, kneading it thoroughly to break up the cellular structure of the shredded cabbage. (This is a good time to get out any frustrations you may have).

step 5

Continue to knead the cabbage until it starts releasing its juices. Don’t over knead or you will have soggy limp sauerkraut.

step 6

Transfer cabbage to the jars and pack in tightly! Pack until it is full, eliminating any air bubbles.

step 7

Keep packing the cabbage until it is completely covered with brine.

step 8

Place the cabbage leaf circle on top of the shredded cabbage and pack down until covered with brine. This helps keep the cabbage from molding.

Put a clean rock or a pint size jar filled with water on top of the cabbage to keep the cabbage submerged in liquid.

step 9

Place the jars on a plate or tray to catch any seeping brine that occurs while fermenting.

step 10

Cover lightly with a cloth and store at room temperature for 3-10 days, checking every day to make sure the brine is covering the cabbage and to press down on the weight to burp the veggies and allow the gas bubbles to dissipate.

step 11

After 3-10 days cover jar with a lid a place in the refrigerator, use within 4-6 months.

Lacto-fermented vegetables increase in flavor with more time, at least according to fermentation experts. One of the best thing about lacto-fermented vegetable condiments is that they’ll stay fresh and “alive” when stored in a cold place like the refrigerator for several months, instead of going bad within a week like fresh veggies do.

How do you incorporate this yummy fermented food into your diet?

This post has a lot of great ideas on how to eat it. It’s not just a condiment, I like to think of it as a supplement. Some days I just get out the jar and put a few tablespoons on a plate and eat it down. It really does help my digestive system. You can even just drink a little bit of the brine.

Adding fermented foods to your diet can be an easy process (and can save you money on probiotics and digestive enzyme supplements!) I hope you will give it a whirl.

Bring on the Bacteria!

Sauerkraut: The Health Benefits & How To Make Your Own

Ranch Dressing

Who would have thought that the crunchy sour condiment that some of us love to put on a hot dog could be good for you? Well, the original fermented version is very good for you and easy to make!

  • Course
    • Condiment
[MEDIAVINE EXAMPLE AD SPACE 1]

INGREDIENTS

    • 2 medium heads of cabbage
    • 2 Tablespoons unrefined sea salt
    • Optional crushed garlic, or caraway seeds
[MEDIAVINE EXAMPLE AD SPACE 2]

INSTUCTIONS

1

Remove the outer layers of the cabbage and discard. Take one more leaf off. Using the lid as a guide, cut a circle out of the cabbage. You will use this to cover the top of the cabbage while fermenting.

 
2

Cut the cabbage in quarters and remove the hard center core. Slice and shred the cabbage to desired texture.

3

Place the shredded cabbage in a big bowl. Add salt and other flavorings. I like to add a few tablespoons of caraway seeds.

4

Toss cabbage and salt together in a large mixing bowl and begin to squeeze the cabbage, kneading it thoroughly to break up the cellular structure of the shredded cabbage. (This is a good time to get out any frustrations you may have).

5

Continue to knead the cabbage until it starts releasing its juices. Don’t over knead or you will have soggy limp sauerkraut.

6

Transfer cabbage to the jars and pack in tightly! Pack until it is full, eliminating any air bubbles.

7

Keep packing the cabbage until it is completely covered with brine.

8

Place the cabbage leaf circle on top of the shredded cabbage and pack down until covered with brine. This helps keep the cabbage from molding.

9

Put a clean rock or a pint size jar filled with water on top of the cabbage to keep the cabbage submerged in liquid.

10

Place the jars on a plate or tray to catch any seeping brine that occurs while fermenting.

11

Cover lightly with a cloth and store at room temperature for 3-10 days, checking every day to make sure the brine is covering the cabbage and to press down on the weight to burp the veggies and allow the gas bubbles to dissipate.

12

After 3-10 days cover jar with a lid a place in the refrigerator, use within 4-6 months.

Lacto-fermented vegetables increase in flavor with more time, at least according to fermentation experts. One of the best thing about lacto-fermented vegetable condiments is that they’ll stay fresh and “alive” when stored in a cold place like the refrigerator for several months, instead of going bad within a week like fresh veggies do.

[MEDIAVINE EXAMPLE AD SPACE 3]

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Upcycled Sweater Christmas Stocking Tutorial

My felted wool scrap box is getting a little out of control so I thought I would make up some new Christmas stocking and use up some of the scraps. They turned out pretty cute.  I am going to walk you through this fun Upcycled Sweater Christmas stocking tutorial and let you download my Christmas stockings pattern for free!

If you don’t want to use felted wool sweaters, you can make the stockings out of regular woven fabrics.

Let’s get started

To make a striped Christmas stocking, you will need to cut out some strips of sweaters. You will be sewing the strips together and then cutting out the stocking, just like you would with a solid piece of fabric. I recommend cutting strips that are 2 1/2 inches- 5 inches in depth and 8 inches wide for the upper stocking and 11 inches for the foot part of the stocking. There are no rules here. The color schemes and color patterns are endless.

 

You can also make solid color Christmas stockings from this pattern. Check out some ideas here.

Get the Christmas stocking PATTERN HERE

1) Download, print and cut out the pattern.

(Due to the size of the pattern, you will need to assemble the pattern first) Easy peasy!

Upcycled Sweater Christmas Stocking

2) Cut out strips

Cut out various sizes of strips, or you can cut them all the same size. Just depends on the look you want. Arrange the strips in the order you want them. *HINT (Take a picture with your phone, so you can remember) Then stack them in order.

Upcycled Sweater Christmas Stocking

3) Sew strips together

You can use a single needle sewing machine or a serger. (If the fabric you are using will fray, you will need to use a serger or finish the edges using a zigzag stitch on your sewing machine.

4) Cutting Out front piece

Open up the strips you just sewed together, and press all the seams so they are all going in the same direction. (Decide if you want the seams exposed on the outside or not, and cut out accordingly).  Lay the pattern on top to see if you have enough strips and that they are wide enough.

Pull the fabric taught and pin in place. Cut out.

5) Back piece and lining 

Choose a fabric to use as the back piece. I used a pair of recycled denim jeans. You can use corduroy, sweater fabric or any woven fabric. You only need one backing piece.

Decide which fabric to use for the lining.

Line the pattern up with the grain of the fabric and cut out two

6) Sewing outer stocking

Place the outer lining strips on top of the back piece (Right Sides Together). Pin in place.

Sew all the way around, leaving the top open.

Turn the right side out.

*Make sure the strip seams are all facing the same way as you sew. (You may have to stop sewing and push the seam down as you sew over it).

7)  Inner lining

Place the lining pieces (RST). Pin in place and sew around, just like you did with the outer pieces.

Do not turn inside out.

8) Cutting out & sewing stocking cuff

You can make the stocking cuff out of an existing sweater cuff, or you can use woven fabric as well.

Fold the cuff in half and place pattern on fold where indicated and cut out. (I wanted this cuff to be a little shorter, so that is why is looks a little funny in the photo above).

9) The cuff

With (RST) sew the cuff seam. Turn the right side out and fold in half so the seam is in the center. Mark the outer folds with pins.

10) Stocking loop

Cut out loop on the fold where indicated on pattern. Only cut out one.

Sew the seam, and turn inside out. * HINT use a safety pin as shown to help turn inside out.

Fold the loop seam to center and press in place.

Now fold the loop in half with the seam on the inside.

11) Sewing on the cuff & loop

Take your hand and stick it in the stocking lining. Stuff the lining into the outer stocking.

Line up seams and upper edges of the outer stocking and lining.

Place the loop on the stocking lining, just behind the side seam toward the back. Pin in place.

With the WRONG side of the cuff facing out, place it inside the stocking, lining up pins with the side seams. Pin in place.

Sew all the way around. Take your time to line up the edges of all three layers as you sew. Back stitch.

12) Finishing

Flip the cuff to the outside. Ta-dah!

Stick you hand inside the stocking to push the edges out. Press upper cuff seam and all around the stocking edges.

There you have it!

If you have any questions while sewing, you’re welcome to send me note.

Enjoy!

jan1

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    Instant Pot – Comforting and Nourishing Kitcheree

    As the cool weather approaches, I find myself gravitating and craving a warn bowl of soup. This Instant Pot kitcheree recipe is one of my new favorites; it is not only soothing and comforting, it is absolutely delicious!

    Kitcheree is a traditional Indian food made from split mung beans and basmati rice. It is indeed a wonder food! It’s easy to digest, and cleansing to the digestive system.

    The combination of the rice and beans make it a complete protein, so it can be a great protein source if you are vegetarian. When prepared with all the fixings, this meal encompasses all the six tastes, which in Ayurveda is part of eating a balanced diet, as each taste feeds our body, mind, senses and spirit and satisfies each of the dietary building blocks.

    Kitcheree is wonderful when recuperating from an illness or physical stress. It promotes a calming effect when under emotional stress. I made a batch up for lunch yesterday, and my first spoonful my belly, my taste buds and my soul went ahhhhhhhh.

    Because kitcheree is easy to digest and nourishing, it can be ground up and fed to your baby when they are getting into solids.vIt can also be eaten as a mono-diet, which means you eat the same nourishing food for all meals for several days.  This is cleansing and soothing to the digestive system.

    This recipe was brought to my attention by my dear friend, Ahlea Khadro. She is an amazing woman with so much insight and love. You can learn more about her and what she does on her website.

    I adapted the recipe so it can be made using the Instant Pot within an hour. Love this! You can make it without a pressure cooker as well.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 cup mung beans
    • 1 cup basmati rice
    • 9 cups water
    • 6-7 cups assorted chopped vegetables (some ideas, carrot, broccoli, green beans, butternut squash, etc.)
    • 5-6 TBS ghee or coconut oil
    • 2 onions, chopped
    • 3 cloves of garlic
    • 1 1/2 TBS tumeric
    • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
    • 1 TBS minced ginger root
    • 1 heaping tsp cumin powder
    • 1/2 tsp crushed red chilies (optional)
    • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
    • 1 tsp cardamon seeds ( these seeds add the most unique flavor, love it)
    • 1/2 TBS sea salt

    Instructions:

    Rinse the beans and rice and soak overnight in water.

    Love this chopper! More information about it here.

    Prepare vegetables by washing and chopping into chunks. (This time I added butternut squash. It was so yummy)!

    If you have a garden, be sure to compost your veggie and fruit scraps.

    Mince fresh ginger.

    Press “saute” on the Instant Pot and add oil, onions ginger & garlic. Cook until onions are clear.

    Add spices and saute for another 5 minutes.

    Combine the rice and beans with the onion mix until coated with spices.

    Pour in the water and add the veggies. Give it a little stir.

    Place the lid on and lock in place.

    Choose “soup” and adjust time down to 10 minutes

    If you don’t have a pressure cooker, simply bring soup to a boil, cover, and simmer on low for about 45 minutes. Add more water if needed.

    When the Instant Pot beeps, bring down the pressure using the quick release method.

    Remove lid and ENJOY!

    Instant Pot – Comforting and Nourishing Kitcheree

    Kitcheree is a traditional Indian food made from split mung beans and basmati rice. It is indeed a wonder food!

    • Prep Time5 min
    • Total Time5 min
    • Yield4 Batches
    • Meta LabelLabel Value
    [MEDIAVINE EXAMPLE AD SPACE 1]

    Ingredients

      • 1 cup mung beans
      • 1 cup basmati rice
      • 9 cups water
      • 6-7 cups assorted chopped vegetables (some ideas, carrot, broccoli, green beans, butternut squash, etc.)
      • 5-6 TBS ghee or coconut oil
      • 2 onions, chopped
      • 3 cloves of garlic
      • 1 1/2 TBS tumeric
      • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
      • 1 TBS minced ginger root
      • 1 heaping tsp cumin powder
      • 1/2 tsp crushed red chilies (optional)
      • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
      • 1 tsp cardamon seeds ( these seeds add the most unique flavor, love it)
      • 1/2 TBS sea salt
    [MEDIAVINE EXAMPLE AD SPACE 2]

    INSTUCTIONS

    1

    Rinse the beans and rice and soak overnight in water.

     
    2

    Prepare vegetables by washing and chopping into chunks. (This time I added butternut squash. It was so yummy)!

    3

    Mince fresh ginger.

    4

    Press “saute” on the Instant Pot and add oil, onions ginger & garlic. Cook until onions are clear.

    5

    Add spices and saute for another 5 minutes.

    6

    Combine the rice and beans with the onion mix until coated with spices.

    7

    Pour in the water and add the veggies. Give it a little stir.

    Place the lid on and lock in place.

    8

    Choose “soup” and adjust time down to 10 minutes

    If you don’t have a pressure cooker, simply bring soup to a boil, cover, and simmer on low for about 45 minutes. Add more water if needed.

    9

    When the Instant Pot beeps, bring down the pressure using the quick release method.

    Remove lid and ENJOY!

    [MEDIAVINE EXAMPLE AD SPACE 3]

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    DIY: Upcycled Sweater Spiral Beanie

    spiral beanie
    Upcycled Sweater Spiral Beanie

    The contoured curvy panels give your head a comfy, head hugging fit, that is so comfortable to wear.

    Upcycled Sweater Spiral Beanie

    Pattern includes six different sizes. (6-12 month, Toddler, Child 3-10, Youth, Adult Large, Adult X Large).

    Mix it up by using different sweaters and colors or use all the same color. The variations are endless and it is even REVERSIBLE!

    Upcycled Sweater Spiral Beanie

    You can expose the seams on the outside for a more distinct pattern design or flip the seams to the inside for a smooth flat look.

    Fleece works great too.

    Material and Items Needed:

    • Sewing machine
    • Fleece or upcycled sweaters
    • Scissors
    • Pins
    • Fleece strip for binding

    This really is a fun and easy sewing project.

    The pattern is available right here in my shop, on Craftsy or Etsy.

    With the holidays are coming up, now is a great time to get your sewing machine out and whip up a few of these for Christmas gifts.

    I do offer pattern bundle deals in my Etsy shop. Any 5, Any 4, Any 3, Any 2.

    Upcycled Sweater Spiral Beanie

    Find some wool sweaters and fleece and give this sewing project a WHIRL!

     

    jan2

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    Yummy Shredded Chicken – INSTANT POT

    Shredded chicken is one of my “go tos’ when it comes to fixing dinner. You can use it in so many recipes. I found a way to make up a batch of yummy, savory shredded chicken in a SNAP using the INSTANT POT. I get so excited about this little gadget, (I use it everyday), that I have to share with you all these fun ways to use it.

    This method of cooking chicken breast has won me over. It always comes out moist, tender and so flavorful. It is so easy and quick to make, that I occasionally make up a batch for lunch. I steam some veggies to go with it and I am good to go. Just as quick as getting in the car and driving to a fast food joint, and MUCH healthier.

    Ingredients:

    • 4 lbs chicken breasts or 18 chicken tenders (approximately 6 breasts)
    • 1/2 c water or chicken broth
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp pepper

     

    Instructions:

    1. Add all of the ingredients to the Instant Pot.
    2. Press the “poultry” button then using the plus symbol add 5 minutes for a total of 20 minutes. If you are using frozen meat, add another 5 minutes for tenders and 10 minutes for breasts.
    3. Once the pressure cooking time has finished, carefully turn the valve from “sealing” to “venting” to quick pressure release. (This will allow the steam to escape and you’ll be able to open the lid sooner than waiting for natural release).
    4. Place the chicken onto a plate or cutting board and let it cool for a few minutes.
    5. Use two forks to shred.
    6. Store the chicken in an air-tight container with some of the liquid to help keep the meat moist.

     

    I like to freeze the chicken in quart size freezer bags for those crazy nights when I don’t have a lot of time.

    This shredded chicken is so good, that you can just eat it plain, or use it in one of your favorite recipes. Here are some of my favorite ways to shredded chicken.

    What I love about the Instant Pot vs. a regular pressure cooker is that I can just program it for what I need it to do, and walk away. I don’t have to stick around in the kitchen waiting for it to get up to pressure. Oh, I am learning how to do so much with this thing. Last week I made homemade vanilla yogurt. It was so delicious! It was the best yogurt I have ever had. I will post about that the next time I make some.

     

    Yummy Shredded Chicken – INSTANT POT

    shredded chicken
    Yummy, savory shredded chicken in a SNAP using the INSTANT POT.
    • Prep Time5 min
    • Cook Time20 min
    • Total Time25 min
    • Ready in30
    • Yield8 servings
    • Serving Size1/2 lb
    • Meta LabelLabel Value
    • Meta LabelLabel Value
    • Meta LabelLabel Value
    [MEDIAVINE EXAMPLE AD SPACE 1]

    INGREDIENTS

      • 4 lbs chicken breasts or 18 chicken tenders (approximately 6 breasts)
      • 1/2 c water or chicken broth
      • 1 tsp salt
      • 1/2 tsp pepper
    [MEDIAVINE EXAMPLE AD SPACE 2]

    INSTUCTIONS

    1

    Add all of the ingredients to the Instant Pot. Flip the valve to the pressure position.

    shredded chicken instant pot settings

     
    2

    Press the “poultry” button then using the plus symbol add 5 minutes for a total of 20 minutes.

    **If you are using frozen meat, add another 5 minutes for tenders and 10 minutes for breasts.

    3

    Once the pressure cooking time has finished, carefully turn the valve from “sealing” to “venting” to quick pressure release. (This will allow the steam to escape and you’ll be able to open the lid sooner than waiting for natural release).

    4

    Place the chicken onto a plate or cutting board and let it cool for a few minutes.

    5

    Use two forks to shred the chicken.

    6

    freezing shredded chickenStore the chicken in an air-tight container with some of the liquid to help keep the meat moist.

    [MEDIAVINE EXAMPLE AD SPACE 3]

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