How to make Kombucha

Last week in my post I mentioned that every night I like to drink a glass of kombucha and this week I’ll explain why and how to make your own!

First off, I tried kombucha for the first time many, many years ago and I hated it. It tasted like bad beer…or just bad something.

Then, maybe a year ago my friend Tiana urged me to try it again but told me I needed to try the fancy, fruity flavored kind from whole foods. I believe I shelled out around $4 (that killed me) for a bottle of pink, guava flavored kombucha. I still hated it.

But then, I was listening to NPR and heard the author of a book called Missing Microbes talking about how messed up our stomachs are from taking antibiotics, among other things. We are born with good bacteria in our gut but the good bacteria can easily be overtaken by not-so-good bacteria thanks to antibiotics and just modern life in general.

Quick background on me: several years ago I did 2 rounds of antibiotics for 3-5 months each time to try to get rid of my severe acne. FUN!! That is a whole post in itself but I have a hard time getting excited about writing about that one time when I turned 30 and suddenly got acne so bad I didn’t want to leave the house. Another time maybe.

Amazingly enough I don’t have any stomach problems (I don’t think anyway) from taking antibiotics long term. But it’s not just stomach problems that “missing microbes” can cause! It can also cause obesity, autoimmune disorders and some believe it can even be linked to autism!

So how do you fix that ecosystem in the gut? Probiotics. Where do you get probiotics from? Kombucha. You can also get it from kefir (a yogurt drink), some yogurts, miso (fermented brown rice paste) & sauerkraut. You can also take probiotic pills. My husband and I have both taken the pills and we didn’t notice any difference.

Ok, this story is getting really long now, so fast forward to a few weeks ago. I was at my friend Tiana’s house talking about kombucha because she makes her own. She gave me a sample to try and I LOVED it. And then she taught me how to make it and so now I’m posting it up here because I think everyone needs to know this stuff!

Here are directions straight from Tiana, queen of Kombucha!

How to Brew Kombucha
You’ll need:
-gallon glass container (I got this one from amazon)
-green, black, or white tea (no herbal or flavored teas like chamomile, bergamot etc!)
-sugar
-SCOBY & “starter brew” from a previous batch

First off, you can get a SCOBY (culture) from a friend, buy one on Amazon (sketch?) or even just use a bottle of kombucha from the grocery store to start your batch!

Boil water for brewing about 4 cups of super concentrated green, black or white tea (I used green). Use 4-5 bags per gallon (I used 8 because I subscribe to the more is better mentality for everything).

After you make your concentrated tea and while the water is still hot, add sugar. You need at least 1/4 cup, but can add more if you want it to turn out sweeter (fear not-the sugar is metabolized by the bacteria so the end product actually contains very little sugar unless you add a bunch of sugar).

Then cool off the tea/sugar mixture by adding cold water (hot liquid would likely kill the SCOBY). Add enough water to get liquid level to within a couple inches of the top of the jar and add the SCOBY and starter.

Cover with cheesecloth or paper towel and rubber band/string around the top. Let brew in a warm dark place. Check the top of the liquid for a film after several days. When a film forms, you’re there! It gets more vinegar-y with more time (I personally love the vinegar taste). Time can be 7-30 days to brew.

You can do a second fermentation by bottling it and putting it in the fridge-that makes it fizzy naturally. You can also add things at that point like fruit, ginger, lemon etc. Start your new batch in the exact same way.

You’ll know if it has gone bad-there might be black mold on top of the SCOBY or it will smell foul. Throw everything out at that point and start over. Use clean everything when making and handling-that’ll reduce the chance of contamination.

Alright, here are pics from my brew!
I made green tea in my glass measuring cup using 8 bags even though Tiana said only to use 4-5.

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I left mine to brew for about 2 weeks in a closet because I like it to taste like vinegar (why am I weird?). I found out it’s normal to get brown “streamers” that hang off the SCOBY. I thought my batch had gone bad but it turns out that’s all normal, it just looks really gross.

Then I bottled it up in these bottles I got from IKEA for about $4 and put it in the refrigerator to bubble up some more. In hind sight, I wish I would have “splurged” on these weck bottles because they would easily fit in the dishwasher. The bottles I got don’t really work in the dishwasher. They are $5-$6 though. Geez Laura, it’s $1 extra dollar. Get a life.

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I didn’t add any fruit/lemon/ginger to mine, I just like it straight! I’m still a beginner though so I will update with any new techniques I learn.

I have a bunch of Rocco pictures to share but since this post has turned into a novel I’ll save them for another day. I’ll end the post with just one picture of him. He’s so cute!

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Have a great week!
Laura

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What I eat in a day

Oh it’s time for one of those oh-so-exciting posts where I talk about what I eat in a typical day.
Contrary to popular belief, I really DO NOT spend much time preparing food. It’s summer, I’m crazy busy and I don’t feel like cooking.
I have seriously been eating roughly these same things for the past two months. I know that sounds crazy but I like what I eat and I don’t get sick of it! With the weather changing though I will probably change it up here soon.
Here we go!

I started my morning, as always, with coffee. I add liquid stevia and soy creamer. (sorry, no picture)

Then I went for a 2 mile jog with Rocco. He is such a good running partner!

When I got home I made a protein shake with 1/2 cup frozen blueberries, unsweetened almond milk and a scoop of vanilla vega “protein smoothie”. This picture is awful. Seriously, the worst. I think my phone was still fogged up from my run.

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A couple hours later I had some almonds and tea.

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Lunch time! I pretty much eat this salad every day. On this day I had strawberries instead of mangos. And I used this dressing, which I really love. I put tofu in the salad.

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Afternoon snack: I had carrots and pesto hummus. Pesto hummus is one of my favorite things these days. It’s just this hummus with a couple spoonfuls of this pesto stirred in.

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For dinner I have been eating this salad for several weeks straight. I’ve gotten lazy with the dressing though and now I just throw some avocado, lime juice, green salsa and a splash of water in the magic bullet and blend. Yum!

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I also had a pack of edamame sprinkled with salt and nutritional yeast. I used to hate the taste of nutritional yeast and now I absolutely love it! I seriously can’t get enough of it.

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And now here comes the weird part. After dinner I like to have a glass of kombucha, but I like to put it in a wine glass because it makes it fun.

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I’ve started brewing my own kombucha and I will do a post on that soon!

After kombucha I snacked on some rice crackers (sorry, no picture-I ate them all!).

And now Rocco stories!
Right now Rocco is mad at me because I tried to cut his nails while he was sleeping so he is hiding under the couch. He REALLY doesn’t like to have his nails clipped. We have a lot of work to do in that department.

His other projects lately include ripping the stuffing out of his bed. I am really impressed with the amount of stuffing in this bed. He’s been working on it for about 2 weeks now and it hasn’t deflated yet!

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Playing with 2-3 tennis balls at one time is his favorite game these days. He holds one tennis ball in his mouth and then chases/bats at one or two others. This high speed game is impossible to photograph.

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Thats all for now, have a great rest of the week and weekend!
Laura

4 Eyes

I got new glasses! I know this shouldn’t be a big deal but for me it is. Every year I vow to get new glasses but at the end of the year I don’t have any money left in my flexible spending account and so another year goes by and I don’t get new glasses. I think it’s been at least 5 years since I got my last pair and I didn’t realize how outdated my prescription was until I got new ones and I could see so well!
Here’s the best part…THEY WERE ONLY $95!! $95!!!!!! For the frames and lenses. Good lenses. Anti-scratch, anti-glare, uv protection. The works.

First I made the mistake of getting some glasses from the mall. They were “on sale” but still cost me $300. The problem was, the lenses were bad. Just bad. The material or something really bothered my eyes so I returned them (so glad you can return anything these days). Then my friend Karnell told me about this place, http://www.warbyparker.com, where glasses are just $95! You can order frames to try on for free but I just went all in and ordered some glasses online without even trying them on. I was a little scared of this but they have free returns, so hey, why not?! These glasses are phenomenal. I ordered them on a Sunday afternoon and they showed up at my house the following Saturday.
Anyway, I just had to share that website for any glasses wearers out there.
Here’s me in my new hipster-nerd glasses. 🙂

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I love them so much.

Rocco is doing great! He graduated from puppy school last weekend! He also won the tail wagging competition on the last day of class which was pretty cute considering his tail is about an inch and a half long.

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He’s losing teeth now and cutting his adult teeth. It looks so painful, I feel bad for him!
He really isn’t allowed in the people bed, but yesterday morning I was making the bed and he jumped in, got under the covers and quickly pretended to be asleep. It was too cute. I couldn’t kick him out. And that’s how my dogs get spoiled…

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And this is just cute.

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Have a great rest of the week! I just heard there are still 6 weeks of summer left so enjoy them!
Laura

Naughty Naughty Birthday Cheesecake

I can’t believe it’s August already! I had to go to the mall on Saturday (the worst time to go to the mall) and the parking lot was more crowded than Christmas! And then it dawned on me that everyone was back to school shopping.
I love fall clothes but the thought of buying sweaters and skinny jeans when it’s nearly 100˚ outside just sounds gross. I was at the mall suit shopping for my husband without him-so I just looked like a creeper checking out mens suiting and some mens shoes too. I didn’t find anything for him but I did make the mistake of going into lululemon and came out with 3 new things for myself! Ha!
Speaking of that husband of mine…he just had a birthday on Friday! He loves cheesecake and he loves oreos. I found a recipe (thank you pinterest) for Oreo Cheesecake Bars and just had to make them.
Let me be 100% clear: These are not health food in any way shape or form. There is nothing even remotely healthy about them and they are definitely not vegan. But I have a strong belief about desserts: If you are going to eat dessert, eat good dessert. Save the black bean brownies for another day. A birthday demands something special.

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They turned out incredible. I’m not much of a baker and I had never made cheesecake before but I think these bars are probably the best cheesecake I’ve ever had. And worth every single delicious calorie.
I got the recipe from this blog. Instead of using oreos I used Newman O’s since at least they don’t have partially hydrogenated oil or high fructose corn syrup in them. And because of that I probably should have added 1 more tablespoon of butter to the crust recipe because I think Newman O’s are a little drier than oreos. Not that I’ve ever properly compared the two…

Rocco continues to be awesome. Even though he’s only 4 months old I swear he is 100% potty trained! We hung a bell up on our back door and we taught him how to ring the bell when he wants to go outside! Of course he still loves the method of hurling his body at the blinds when he wants to go out, BUT, when we are out of the room or far away he will ring the bell to go outside and potty. We think he’s a genius.
He’s also been going jogging with me and he does so well. He’s really good at “leave it” when we run by manure. Puppy training class has definitely paid off.
He is so funny. He loves to hide and burrow.

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And here he is in my office, patiently waiting for me to finish up my work.

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Have a great week and enjoy this last month of summer!
Laura