The simpler the recipe, the more important it is to use quality ingredients.
It is finally Friday! It has been a busy week and I need to get ready for a busy weekend ahead. The Kutty clan (Raj’s family) and the Chan clan (my family) are having a big Thanksgiving dinner together on Sunday and I am doing all my grocery shopping tomorrow. Then on Thanksgiving Monday, Raj and I have a baby shower to attend. I am so excited for everything this weekend, but tonight, I just want to relax in my pajamas with a blanket, Sex and the City reruns, and some nourishing hot chocolate…
This dairy-free, soy-free, sugar-free, nut-free, and vegan hot chocolate is definitely a nourishing upgrade from the standard hot chocolate at your generic coffee shop.
- 1 cup water (filtered)
- 2 tablespoons cacao powder (raw, organic)
- 2 teaspoons coconut oil (cold-pressed, organic, extra virgin)
- healthy sugar substitute (i.e. monk fruit sweetener, stevia, erythritol, xylitol, etc.) to taste
- the tiniest pinch of sea salt
- In a small saucepan over low to medium heat, whisk all the ingredients together until the mixture heats up to a simmer.
- Pour the frothy mixture into your favourite mug and enjoy!
Enjoy a comforting mug of healthy hot chocolate this fall and winter without spiking your blood sugar and without the pro-inflammatory effects of dairy. You can also add extracts of your favourite chocolate complementary flavours (i.e. peppermint extract for chocolate mint flavour, orange extract for orange chocolate flavour, etc.). Cheers!
Drinking water kefir is my current favourite way to build a healthy gut flora and prevent dis-symbiosis-induced bloating.
So you want a probiotic food source for better digestive health and a flatter tummy, but:
- you are lactose intolerant and cannot consume yogurt or dairy kefir
- fermented vegetables like kimchi and sauerkraut are too high in sodium
- you are trying to avoid fermented soy products like miso or tempeh, because they may be genetically modified or because of their phytoestrogen content
- you need to stay away from kombucha due to its caffeine content
- you are simply not patient enough for the fermentation process
Well, I have got some great news! My friend, fellow Nutritionist, and fermentation connoisseur, Suzanne, introduced me to water kefir, which is a non-dairy, caffeine-free, probiotic drink that only takes one to five days to make! Not only did she make me some of her blueberry-flavoured water kefir to try for my first time, but she also gave me some of her extra water kefir grains so that I can start making my own! This delicious and good-for-you beverage tastes mildly sweet and slightly tangy. Also, it may or may not have added flavour and/or carbonation. I have not seen water kefir sold in stores (yet). So if you would like to try this drink, find a knowledgeable water-kefir maker in your area and then try making your own perhaps! If you can get your hands on water kefir grains from a health food store, from online, or from a trusted water-kefir producer, here is how I have been making this healthy beverage successfully (thanks to Suzanne for the recipe and all her help and guidance):
I was so shocked by how quickly the grains multiply and how fast the water-kefir making process is compared to kombucha making! Water kefir is ready for consumption in as little as 1 to 2 days!
- 1 cup (250 mL) to-be-boiled filtered water
- 2 cups (500 mL) cold (refrigerated) filtered water
- 1-litre glass jar
- 1/4 cup organic sugar
- 10 drops ConcenTrace trace mineral supplement (Instead of this, Suzanne uses 1 tsp of molasses, which is also mineral-rich and works.)
- 1/4 cup water kefir grains
- an elastic band with a coffee filter or cheesecloth or towel to cover the jar
- plastic strainer
- glass bottle or glass jar with a lid for completed water kefir
Water kefir grains need a mineral-rich environment to thrive. I find that 10 drops of ConcenTrace trace mineral supplement per 1 litre or so of sugar solution with the water kefir grains works well. Suzanne uses 1 tsp of molasses for this same amount instead and she has great success with it. I have heard of some other successful alternatives such as eggshells, raisins, and sea salt, but do some research on the amounts before trying any of those out.
- Boil 1 cup (250 mL) of filtered water and add it to a 1-litre glass jar.
- Dissolve 1/4 cup of organic sugar in the jar of hot water.
- Add 2 cups (500 mL) of cold (refrigerated) filtered water into the jar.
- Add 10 drops of ConcenTrace trace mineral supplement or 1 tsp of molasses into the jar.
- Add 1/4 cup of water kefir grains into the sugar and water mixture, which should be lukewarm. (If the mixture in the jar is warmer than that, place it in the fridge until it is not warmer than lukewarm BEFORE adding the water kefir grains. Hot water can kill the live bacterial cultures.)
- Cover the jar with an elastic band and a coffee filter or cheesecloth or towel. Let the jar sit somewhere at room temperature away from direct sunlight for 24 to 48 hours. Since fermentation occurs more rapidly at warmer room temperatures, both Suzanne and I like to keep our jars on the kitchen countertop beside the stove.
Some signs of thriving and healthy water kefir grains include some floating grains and some bubbles (particularly arising bubbles when you tap or slightly move the jar). I flavoured my first batch of water kefir with a few fresh ginger pieces during second fermentation and it was DELICIOUS!
- After 24 to 48 hours, the liquid in the jar has turned into water kefir! Strain out the water kefir grains with a plastic strainer (the live bacterial cultures dislike metal) and repeat steps 1 to 6 with the strained grains for your next batch of water kefir! You can drink your first batch of water kefir as it is, or you can flavour and carbonate it during a second fermentation process.
- To flavour your water kefir, add pure fruit juice/jam, dried/fresh fruits, herbs, spices, ginger pieces, and/or whatever else you want to try and let this concoction sit at room temperature for a second fermentation period of 1 to 3 days before drinking. For carbonation, seal this mixture with a lid or bottle it up during the 1-to-3-day flavouring period. Make sure to taste test the water kefir daily as it carbonates, because it can carbonate quite rapidly and you do not want any explosions!
My second batch resulted in even more water kefir grains! Soon enough, I will have to start giving away my excess grains to friends and teaching them how to make water kefir! I flavoured my second batch with this rose flavouring that Raj’s parents brought back from India. It was SO GOOD and even more delicious than my first ginger-flavoured batch!
Note: The water kefir grains will multiply during every batch, so you will start to accumulate more and more grains. Soon enough, you will have too many grains. I recommend you share these excess grains with friends and teach them how to make their own water kefir for good health! Cheers!
The recipe was a success! I liked it better than any of the almond milk chai tea lattes I’ve had at cafés.
A chai tea latte is Raj’s go-to drink at cafés and coffee shops and it’s one of my favourite kinds of tea lattes. The special combination of spices makes this tea so uniquely flavourful and it gives the tea various health benefits (i.e. source of antioxidants, digestive aid, immune booster, anti-inflammatory support, etc.). So when I found out that Raj can make chai tea lattes from scratch, I HAD to get him to teach me how! The chai tea latte that we made was foam-less (which is how I like my lattes), but if you like foam in your latte, use a milk frother before serving. Anyways, here’s the recipe with step-by-step pictures…
Add 2 cups of your favourite dairy-free milk to a pot over medium to high heat and then add 2 bags of black tea leaves to the pot.
Add 1 tsp. of fennel seeds and 1 whole star anise (broken up into pieces).
Add 1/2 tsp. of ground cinnamon and 5 cardamom pods.
Add 2 tsp. of chopped ginger and 2 tbsp. of coconut sugar.
Add about 10 whole peppercorns and stir everything together. Bring mixture to a boil. Then, reduce heat and let simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Pour mixture through a sieve and strain out the spices and tea bags.
Pour the liquid into 2 cups. Serve and enjoy! Makes 2 servings.
This was actually Raj’s first time making chai tea latte with almond milk (he normally uses 2% dairy milk) and he really liked it! We used almond milk, because I’m lactose intolerant and because it’s my favourite non-dairy milk. If you don’t have or don’t like almond milk, feel free to use low-fat dairy milk or any other dairy-milk alternative instead. Also, if you don’t want to use black tea leaves like we did due to the caffeine content, feel free to try using unflavoured decaffeinated tea leaves or unflavoured rooibos tea leaves. You can even adjust the spice measurements to suit your liking, if you like more or less of a certain spice. This is a simple recipe that can be easily tailored to suit your preferences. We hope you check it out!
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