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Cacao-Vanilla Coconut Kefir w/ Almond-Sunflower Granola


Coconut milk-based kefir is a non-dairy alternative to dairy kefir - a fermented milk-based beverage that, like other homemade ferments, is very easy and economical to make at home! A bit thicker in consistency than milk, it mimics a yogurt-like beverage. It may be flavoured in numerous ways!

Any ferment is pre-digested (by its beneficial lactic acid bacteria) - bacteria of which provide the sour taste we love! Therefore, ferments are more easily digested by the body.

THE BASICS

Ingredients & Supplies Required:

  • 1 can organic, full-fat, coconut milk

  • 1 probiotic capsule of your choice (*See "Note" below)

  • 1 glass jar (ideally just slightly larger than the volume of the coconut milk contents) (~500 mL)

  • Parchment paper (ideally unbleached, as the unbleached option doesn't contain any unnecessary chemical additives)

*An alternative to using parchment paper and the lid of the mason jar is to ultimately cover the jar with a piece of cheesecloth, fastening it to the jar with an elastic band placed around the rim.

Note: *If you are not already equipped with a probiotic supplement at home, I highly recommend you consult with your primary health care provider (or a Naturopathic Doctor, or a Nutrition Professional like myself), prior to investing in one. This way, the practitioner is able to determine if this type of natural supplementation is appropriate for you, and which one would be most beneficial.

Directions:

1. Empty the contents of the can of coconut milk into a mixing bowl. Whisk, to thoroughly mix the contents (cream and fluid) that likely separated while in the can.

2. Open your probiotic capsule and add the contents to the coconut milk. Whisk once again, to thoroughly combine these two ingredients.

3. Pour this mixture into a sterilized glass jar (a 500 mL mason jar works very well). About an inch of headspace (space remaining) will remain at the top. *Be sure to use a spatula to clean the mixing bowl, so as to not leave valuable ingredients behind!

4. Place a square piece of parchment paper (larger than the circular opening of the jar) between the jar and the lid as an added seal. Screw on the jar lid, until you meet resistance; the lid is not intended to be screwed on tightly with ferments, so there is some "breathing room". *Alternatively, as noted above, lay a piece of cheesecloth over the top of the jar, fastening it to the jar with an elastic band to secure it in place.

5. Set the jar in a dark place at room temperature, so as to allow it to ferment for 24 hours without being close to a direct heat or light source. I will often set this jar in the corner of my kitchen counter where direct light is not hitting the jar. These conditions will allow the fermentation magic to happen!

6. After 24 hours, stir with a clean spoon and taste! You will notice the mixture is already sour. *You may certainly taste test the mixture prior to 24 hours, to see how it is progressing - just be sure to use a clean spoon each time and to not double-dip! The mixture will resemble that of sour cream once sour (just not nearly as thick). *You may also certainly let it ferment a bit longer, if you'd like it to become even more sour, yet the longest period of time I've let it ferment at room temperature is 48 hours. That should be plenty!

7. Place the lid back on the jar and place in the refrigerator to chill (if you'd like to consume it directly after flavouring it, later). Otherwise, flavour and then store in the fridge to chill, prior to consuming. *This kefir may also be enjoyed plain, as-is!

*Be sure to consume within three days of refrigeration.

FLAVOURING: Cacao-Vanilla Coconut Kefir

Yield: approx. 1.5 cups

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Fermentation Time: 24 hours

Total Time: 24 hours, 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Coconut kefir (from above) (approximately 1.5 cups)

  • 2 tbsp. raw cacao powder (I love Organic Traditions)

  • 1/2 tsp. alcohol-free vanilla extract (I love Simply Organic)

  • Pinch of sea salt (I enjoy Himalayan pink sea salt)

Directions:

1. Pour the 1.5 cups coconut kefir into your high-speed blender. 2. Add the cacao, vanilla and sea salt and blend thoroughly. 3. Store any remaining portion not immediately being consumed back in the mason jar used for fermentation. Refrigerate.

*This kefir may be enjoyed a variety of ways!

  • Add a small portion to your smoothie (i.e. 1/4 cup)

  • Enjoy a portion with some granola and fresh fruit (see recipe below!)

  • Drink some as it is!

*A 1/4 cup serving is plenty! Ferments are concentrated with bacteria, so a little bit goes a long way. If ferments are new to your diet, you can certainly decrease this serving size and try a couple of tbsp. a time, to test how your body responds.

A Sneak Peek at Probiotics

Numerous strains of beneficial intestinal bacteria perform several critical functions within the body[i].

The three types that appear to be particularly important in the body are:

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus (most well-known; known for reinoculating the gut with beneficial bacteria following a course of antibiotics)

  • Bifidobacterium bifidum

  • Streptococcus faecium[ii]

Beneficial probiotic bacteria are supportive of the following roles/processes in the body:

  • Keep pathogens (disease-causing bacteria) in check

  • Produce B vitamins and Vitamin K

  • Aid digestion (by producing lactic acid)

  • Reduce toxins in the colon

  • Bulk up stools when they die

  • Enhance mineral absorption by the body

  • Reduce cholesterol, as they break down bile so that it may be reabsorbed into the blood)

  • Strengthen the Immune System

  • Protect the intestinal wall lining from damage due to cortisol (our stress hormone) , prescription drugs and the birth control pill

  • Support liver detoxification

  • Improve skin health

  • Reduce cholesterol levels[iii]

AMPLIFY: Almond Sunflower Granola

Yield: approx. 4 1/2 cups

Prep Time: approx. 10 minutes

Bake Time: 25 minutes, + 20 minutes to crisp up in the oven with the heat turned off

Total Time: approx. 50 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups gluten-free rolled oats

  • 1/2 cup oat flour (or all-purpose, gluten-free flour)

  • 1/2 cup raw almonds

  • 1/2 raw sunflower seeds

  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon

  • 1/4 pure maple syrup

  • 1/2 cup sunflower seed butter

  • 2 tbsp. organic/unrefined coconut oil (melted)

Directions:

1. Combine the rolled oats, flour, almonds, sunflower seeds and cinnamon into a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly with a fork or spoon.

2. Pour the maple syrup over the mixture and stir thoroughly to combine.

3. Spoon the sunflower seed butter over the mixture and stir thoroughly to combine (you'll further mix it with your hands, later.

4. Pour the melted coconut oil over the mixture and stir thoroughly to combine.

*At this point, I wet my hands (so the ingredients don't stick to my hands as much), and dig into the bowl with my hands - thoroughly combining the mixture so all dry ingredient is wet.

5. Spread the mixture over the lined baking sheet, lightly spreading it out in an even layer along the surface of the sheet.

6. Place in the oven and set the timer for 25 minutes. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven to flip the mixture with a pancake flipper as best as possible. Return to the oven and let bake for the remaining 10 minutes.

7. Once the bake time is complete, turn off the heat and let the baking sheet remain in the oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until crisp. Monitor periodically.

8. Remove from the oven and let cool.

9. Once cool, spoon some (i.e. 1/2 cup) into your favourite bowl and pour some Cacao-Vanilla Coconut Kefir overtop. Garnish with some fresh fruit of your choice (i.e. fresh cherries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries or blackberries are my favourites!) and enjoy!

*Additional, optional garnishes include: cacao nibs (as shown below) and/or unsweetened, shredded coconut

*Storage: Store the granola in an airtight glass container on the countertop or in the refrigerator for future enjoyment.

*Consume the granola within one weeks' time. Place in the freezer to preserve for longer.

I hope these recipes have inspired you to try this at home! Please don't hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions - connect@jessicapecush.com!

ENDNOTES

[i] Haas, Elson M. (2006) The Fundamentals of Nutrition: The Complete Guide to Diet and Nutritional Medicine, 21st Century Edition (p. 272). New York, NY: Random House, Inc.

[ii] Haas, Elson M. (2006) The Fundamentals of Nutrition: The Complete Guide to Diet and Nutritional Medicine, 21st Century Edition (p. 272). New York, NY: Random House, Inc.

[iii] Haas, Elson M. (2006) The Fundamentals of Nutrition: The Complete Guide to Diet and Nutritional Medicine, 21st Century Edition (p. 272). New York, NY: Random House, Inc.

#fermentation #vegan #plantbasedprotein #snacks #fats #organic #breakfast

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