Saturday, July 17, 2010

Making Whey

Ever since we moved to Redding, Jesse and I have been making "whey" for a lot of healthy changes in our diet. And I've been using all the free time before school starts to try all kinds of new and fun recipes!

It all started after reading a few choice books, including Michael Pollan's book, 'The Omnivore's Dilemma," and Nina Planck's book, "Real Food". The movie, Food Inc., also inspired our "food conversion."

(No I'm not pregnant in case you were wondering...
but we do want to start soon! :))

Living out in Redding makes it easy for us to buy whole, real food from local farms at a decent price.

It started with a weekly produce box:

So much yummy goodness. Picked the day before from local organic farms, the fruit is the sweetest I've ever tasted! I didn't know what plums and peaches were supposed to taste like until I tried ones that weren't tampered with (no pesticides, fungisides, or artificial pollination).

With all the new produce, I had to get creative. What does one do with huge bunches of kale, chard, or collar greens? Make yummy salads!

Here's a chard salad I served with wild salmon and dill sauce.

(This is out on our porch.)

I also started incorporating greens and veggies into grain salads. Here's wild rice with kale, carrots, feta, and walnuts with olive oil and lemon juice.

And then we started getting corn...lots and lots of corn.

And I'll tell ya, it's the sweetest, most flavorful corn I've EVER had. We had corn on the cob, corn off the cob, corn in salads, etc...

I found a yummy recipe for corn, blueberry and cucumber salad, since we started getting a ton of cucumbers in our weekly box as well. Just add a little rice vinegar, agave, red onion and dill and it's the bomb!

My next adventure was trying whole, raw milk. If you know and trust the farm you're buying it from, raw milk is safe and so so good for you because the vitamins and nutrients haven't been burned off by pasturization. It's delicious!

Grass fed beef, pasture eggs, and butter, cold-pressed olive oil, coconut oil, soaked almonds, and wild fish, are amongst the other foods that we've been eating a ton of. And I tell you I've never felt better! This food is so good!!

My next endeavor was homemade vanilla ice cream, made with 100% maple syrup instead of sugar. It turned out pretty good, although it was a little icy because I only used one egg...should have use 2 or 3.

We just had some for breakfast. :) Hey, we consumed less maple syrup than if we had pancakes, and we got the added benefit of nutritious eggs, and good whole, raw milk, so I think ice cream is a healthy start for the day. (Haha! Maybe just occasionally). :)

Since I was on a role, I decided to try making my own lacto-fermented foods. That means food fermented with whey. What is whey exactly? It's what you get when you separate the solid part of milk or yogurt from the watery part.

How I made whey:
1. First I dumped about a cup of whole, organic, plain yogurt into a colander lined with cheese cloth that was over a glass bowl.
2. I let it drip for a few hours.
3. Once the dripping slowed, I attached the cheese cloth to a wooden spoon and let it continue to drip over the bowl over night.
4. The finished product was cream cheese in the cloth and whey in the bowl.

Why bother? There are many wonderful health benefits to eating lacto-fermented foods (sauerkraut, kombucha, sourdough, pickles, ketchup, etc). They are one of the richest sources of healthful probiotics. Probiotics strengthen your immune system, supporting healthy digestion and preventing disease and infection.

To find out more about the benefits of lacto-fermented foods, click here.

What is whey for? Fermenting things. For instance, I had a ton of cucumbers so I decided to make pickles using a simple recipe.

Pickle recipe.

I also made some of my own hummus (not lacto-fermented). I was disappointed to find that even organic hummus is usually made with canola oil. So I made some with just garbanzo beans, olive oil, garlic and a little salt. Tasty!

Here are my finish products! (Half eaten.)
(Cream cheese, pickles, hummus, and whey)

I also made my own lacto-fermented ketchup!

Ketchup recipe.

Good Lord, that's a lot of ketchup!
(In this picture it's still fermenting on the counter.
It's supposed to sit out for a few days before jarring and refrigerating.)

Jesse and I use ketchup often enough to make this more cost efficient than buying organic. Plus it's made without vinegar and sugar which makes me feel better when I'm dipping potatoes and meat loaf.

So yummy!

I stored the leftover whey in a glass jar (it can last up to 6 months) to use for soaking my oats and grains. To learn more about why to soak your grains and nuts go here.

So what's next? Homemade Kombucha!

I feel like a new woman. I could go into all the reasons for my "food conversion," but I don't want to overwhelm or bore you. If you're curious, you can read about another woman's conversion, since it lines up pretty well with mine (including the part about annoying friends with all the new food information...I'm learning to throttle back on my sharing).

My Food Conversion

Yes, we've been having some fun over here at the Skinner household. And Jesse is appreciating the new Jessica. I hope I can keep most of this up when school starts. It's so fun and rewarding! But we'll see how busy life gets. At least we'll keep getting our produce box, buying grass fed beef, etc...The lacto-fermenting and homemade ice cream might take a back seat.

If you're ready for a "food conversion," or just curious, I highly recommend reading the aforementioned books. I also just starting using the cookbook "Nourishing Traditions" which is amazing!

That's all for now!
Until next time...

More recommended websites (where I get all my recipes):