Antioxidants

Purple Sauerkraut with Fennel Seeds

We're back with another fermented recipe ... this time, it's our favourite sauerkraut recipe - made with purple cabbage and infused with fennel seeds. We love eating this with just about anything, it's such a delicious addition to a meal. You can make this recipe with green cabbage too, but we love the vibrant colour of red cabbage & the fact that it's more nutritionally dense. In fact, we recently read that purple cabbage actually has more vitamin C than oranges, as well as so many antioxidants that are healing for the body. 

Eating sauerkraut regularly has really transformed my digestion over the past couple of years. During a difficult patch of stomach issues a few years ago, I dove deep into so many nutrition and holistic health books/podcasts to try and find a cure. Once I started to uncover how much our digestion is linked to our entire system, I became so determined to heal my gut and find balance again. It's pretty fascinating that our gut bacteria is so related to our brain function, immune system, happiness and so much more.

Food can be such a powerful medicine if we look at the source of illness instead of trying to suppress the symptoms. Alongside avoiding stress, one of the most important ways to strengthen our digestion is to feed our guts with friendly bacteria. Making your own fermented foods at home is such an affordable and tasty way of doing this. Especially as it's been shown to be more beneficial if the sauerkraut has been made and fermented in your local area. This is due to the relationship between the bacteria in your environment and the original bacteria in your gut. If you buy a sauerkraut that has been produced far from where you live, you may not receive the full benefits. For more fermented recipes, click here!

Purple Sauerkraut with Fennel Seeds
Purple Sauerkraut with Fennel
Purple Sauerkraut with Fennel
Purple Sauerkraut with Fennel

Vegetable to salt ratio - the magic formula for ferments
After a lot of experimenting, we've reached a good understanding of the salt/vegetable ratio for pickles and ferments. As a general rule of thumb, we always weigh our vegetables, then add 1.75% of this weight in salt. For example, 1kg of cabbage will need roughly 17.5g of salt. 500g of cabbage will need roughly 8.75g of salt. For reference, 1 teaspoon of salt is 5.7g. 

To make 1 large jar you'll need:
1 large jar, sterilised with boiling water
1 large red cabbage, sliced finely
1.75% weight ratio of good quality salt (see above)
6 whole peppercorns
3-4 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon of fennel seeds

Method

1. Before you chop your cabbage, peel away 1-2 of good quality outer leaves and put to one side for use later.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients so that the salt is thoroughly mixed with the cabbage. If you have time, leave it for 15-30 minutes - this will help draw the moisture out of the cabbage. 
3. With clean hands (or with gloves if you don't want purple stained fingers!) begin to mix and massage the cabbage. Continue for around 5-10 minutes, until liquid squeezes out of the cabbage. This purple liquid will help the fermentation process.
4.Add all the ingredients to your sterilised jar, pushing down as you go so that no air is trapped in the bottom of the jar. Keep pushing down as you add more cabbage (the back of a wooden spoon is helpful for this). The idea is to pack everything really tightly into the jar. 
5. Once you've added all the cabbage to the jar, continue to push it down until the cabbage is submerged in some of its liquid. If your sauerkraut seems dry, leaving the jar for an hour or so between pressing down can allow more of the liquid to release. 
6. Fold the cabbage leaves you set aside at the beginning to form a 'lid' that will fit in your jar. Place this on top of the sauerkraut and again, push the ingredients down with the back of the wooden spoon. Add a weight on top of the cabbage to keep it submerged in liquid. We use a small glass with some weights inside. Cover the jar with a fine cheesecloth. 
7.Now it's time to let the cabbage ferment! Around 7 days is the perfect amount of time. If you live in a very hot climate then you may need less time. Everyday, check on your jar and firmly push down the sauerkraut with the back of a wooden spoon. You should see air bubbles rise from the bottom of the jar. The cabbage should remain submerged in liquid.
8. After around 5-7 days, taste the sauerkraut to see if it suits your taste buds. 
9..Once your satisfied with your flavour, secure the jar with a tight lid and store in the fridge. It's now ready to be eaten and shared and should last for months if sealed well. The flavour generally improves after the sauerkraut has been in the fridge for a few days. 

Purple Sauerkraut with Fennel
Purple Sauerkraut with Fennel
Purple Sauerkraut with Fennel
Purple Sauerkraut with Fennel

Have you ever fermented anything at home? We'd love to hear your experiences! 

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Potatoes with Curry Leaves and Turmeric

Sometimes life and rainy days call for a delicious plate of crispy potatoes. Us being us, we wanted to put our own twist on the classic roast potato and give them a little indian and somewhat healthier twist! If potatoes could be life changing, then these guys definitely would be. But either way, this is such a good side dish to have with curry or dal,  especially our mung bean dal which you can find the recipe for here

Turmeric and curry leaf potatoes
Turmeric and curry leaf potatoes

We've talked about our love for fresh curry leaves on the blog before, and these really transform the potatoes in this dish. They add such an aromatic flavour and become amazingly crispy in the oven. There's so many healthy benefits to these incredible leaves too, including benefiting the liver, helping with digestion issues and being full of antioxidants too. As we've mentioned before, you can find these in many indian and asian supermarkets. 

We also added the ever popular turmeric to the mix to add flavour, colour and healing properties. Turmeric is one of our favourite spices and is amazing for fighting inflammation and preventing illness. I like to think of it as the sunshine spice - it brings such a beautiful colour to our food!

Over to the potatoes.....

Ingredients (serves 6 as a side dish)
1kg of potatoes
Roughly 50 fresh curry leaves (a small handful)
1 teaspoon of turmeric powder or 1 tablespoon of grated fresh turmeric root
a generous pinch of sea salt
2 tablespoons of melted coconut oil  (or other oil of choice)

Method
1.Parboil the potatoes for approx 8-10 minutes in boiling water. Allow to cool before cutting. 
2. Once cool, cut into 1/2 inch slices and combine in a large baking tray with all the other ingredients. Make sure the oil and turmeric is well spread between the potatoes. 
3. Bake on gas mark 6 for around 1 hour or until the potatoes are golden and crispy. 
4. Allow to cool before eating and enjoy! Don't forget to eat the crispy curry leaves... these are our favourite bit of all! 

 

What's your favourite way to use turmeric?
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Where Cacao comes from (La Candelaria, Minca)

A few weeks ago, in Colombia’s Sierra Nevada, we visited La Candelaria- a beautiful, historic farm located in the misty hills above Minca. With organic avocados, bananas, lemons, coffee and cacao growing on the land, we quickly declared this place as farmland-paradise. After a 40 minute hike we were greeted with delicious homemade lemonade and incredible views, before learning all about where chocolate comes from (and tasting as much as possible of course!) 

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Coffee Beans at La Candelaria  

Coffee Beans at La Candelaria  

Roasted Cacao Beans  

Roasted Cacao Beans  

It’s a big statement, but we think it’s fair to say that chocolate is one of the best things on earth. It’s universally and historically loved; a perfect thing in both the best and worst of times in life. 

But the more we’ve pursued our passion for healthy cooking in the past few years, the more our bodies have begun craving chocolate in its purest form. A processed chocolate bar may give you a quick sugar fix, but you miss out on all of the rich, satisfying, healthy goodness that pure cacao contains.

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Unprocessed Cacao is literally full of antioxidants, iron, calcium, magnesium and much more, as well as boosting your serotonin and theobromine levels to make life a little happier. So chocolate is good for your health, but do your research and buy dark and organic whenever possible. The majority of Chocolate plantations use huge amounts of pesticides and fertilisers, as well as being incredibly unethical in how they treat their workers… so fair trade is always better if it’s on offer.

So, all chocolate starts its life growing from a Cacao tree. Each tree produces flowers and fruits, with each fruit pod containing 20-60 cacao beans. When you open up a pod, the beans are coated in a white, sticky and sweet liquid. 

Cacao tree flower  

Cacao tree flower  

A ripe cacao fruit  

A ripe cacao fruit  

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These beans are then fermented for around 7 days, in order to enhance taste and remove any residue. And then the beans are dried for a further 7 days. It's true that good things come to those who wait...

This is where two options happen: either the beans are roasted at high temperatures to produce Cocoa -or the beans are kept raw as Cacao. Raw cacao is a lot richer in nutrients than its processed partner, however Cocoa definitely still has benefits if you avoid products with added sugar.

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At La Candelaria, the beans were slowly roasted on a low heat to preserve nutrients, and then ground them into a paste. This was then moulded into blocks to be used for hot chocolate, homemade chocolates or to add into smoothies. And the most important bit: it tasted incredible, we could have eaten it all afternoon!

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Back in England, we love using raw cacao powder in smoothies, to make energy balls, mixed into porridge or even in our Mexican bean dish.  We've got a couple of simple recipes coming soon to show how we love to use this amazing ingredient. 

In the meanwhile, here’s some photos from our time in Minca; peaceful days amongst the trees, and star filled nights with lots of hot chocolate.

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Our hostel in Minca - Oscar's Place  

Our hostel in Minca - Oscar's Place  

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La Candelaria  

La Candelaria  

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Coffee Beans drying in the sun

Coffee Beans drying in the sun

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What's your favourite kind of chocolate? Have you ever tried using cacao powder?