Tag: nourishing traditions



  With prayer and fasting in the Lenten spring, the Christian clears the self’s soil of stony sin and makes rooms within for the birth within of the pierced heart and bleeding  flesh of Jesus.  “A new heart I will give you and a new […]

fast friendly paleo chocolate delight

fast friendly paleo chocolate delight

To no longer live exclusively for myself, but for God, also means that I now live for my neighbor, loving him as myself. + Elder Aemilianos of Simonopetra   My kids often want a sweet during Great Lent.  But I also try to keep sugar […]

garden beet salad

garden beet salad



Do not say “this happened by chance, while this came to be of itself.”  In all that exists there is nothing disorderly, nothing, indefinite, nothing without purpose, nothing by chance…. How many hairs are on your head?  God will not forget one of them.  Do you see how nothing, even the smallest thing, escapes the gaze of God? ~Saint Basil the Great


During the summer, we crave salads.  They are a nice cool addition to any meal, or can be served as a meal on their own.  You simply can not “beet” the simplicity of a garden beet salad.  These particular beets are gems straight from our garden, but any from the store or farmer’s market will do.  We planted these in early spring.

I actually hadn’t planned to harvest them, but I accidentally pulled one out while weeding…  it looked so good, that we harvested the rest from that bed!  Beets have a sweet earthy flavor, and are a mineral rich nutritional powerhouse.  They have more iron than spinach, and are an excellent source of calcium, magnesium, copper, and phosphorous.  They’re also packed with  choline, folic acid, iodine, manganese, organic sodium, potassium, fiber and carbohydrates (in the form of natural easily digestible sugars).   Quite simply, they are superfood.

One great benefit of the beet is that is alkalizing to the body and that’s great news in a nation with a standard diet that is acid forming.  Beets are a stimulator of liver health.  They also have many cardiovascular benefits.  They can be helpful in reducing cholesterol and their rich potassium content benefits blood pressure.  Fermented drinks like beet kvass have been known throughout history as a blood tonic.  And the list goes on.  Some studies have also shown that beets are preventative for skin, lung and colon cancer, they support the structure of our capillaries, and can also aid in the slowing or prevention of macular degeneration.

Beets, they do a body good!


Garden Beet Salad


  • 9 beets, washed but not peeled
  • 4 tablespoons goat cheese in small chunks to drop into salad
  • 3 tablespoons pinenuts, slightly toasted
  • 1/4 cup  finely chopped red onion, green onion tops or chives
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350F and place beets on a cookie sheet.  Top loosely with foil and place oven for about an hour.  They should be tender.

Remove from oven and let cool.  Once cool, using the edge of a knife or a vegetable peeler, peel of the outer skin of the beet.  Your hands will get very red!

Next, cut the beets into bite sized pieces.  Place all ingredients into your favorite salad bowl and toss lightly to incorporate.




Additional Resources


i heart organic strawberries

i heart organic strawberries

“For a long time now we have understood ourselves as traveling toward some sort of industrial paradise, some new Eden conceived and constructed entirely by human ingenuity. And we have thought ourselves free to use and abuse nature in any way that might further this […]



Blessing “the “hands that feed me”… To bless doesn’t just mean “think good thoughts” or “be nice.”   To bless is far more radical. It is to actually give life, to have one’s cup run over into the lives of others. To have one’s parents’ […]



Farm Fresh Cabbages

“I have come to the conclusion that the most important element in human life is faith.  If God were to take away all the blessings, health, physical fitness,  wealth, intelligence, and leave me with but one gift, I would ask for faith— for with faith in God, in God’s goodness, mercy, love for me, and belief in everlasting life, I believe I could still be happy, trustful, leaving all to God’s inscrutable providence.” —Rose Kennedy


Most people would agree that we live in a germ-ophobic country.  YET, all around us and within us there is a microscopic world, things invisible – an interconnected multitude of fungus and bacteria.  (uh-oh…)  From the beginnings we coexisted with these little organisms; we even harnessed their help to age and preserve our food without refrigeration.  However, when Louis Pasteur uncovered the role of bacteria in disease, (which is a great thing!) we began to fear them as dangerous enemies and in fearing them we forgot about their role in health.

Not all bacteria and fungi are bad.

In our modern antiseptic world, it can take a leap of faith – and maybe even a little science – to calm our fears, reacquaint ourselves and get comfortable with the microcosmos around and within us.  A little reminder that the world God created is good  (it was also raw and unpasteurized, by the way!) and that I can rely on that whole food creation -more than food scientists and industry- for the plentiful nourishment of my family!   You know what?  So can YOU!

The word sauerkraut is German for “sour cabbage” – but the French call it choucroute.  Whatever you call it, sauerkraut is probably to most widely known fermented food behind, pickles, olives and yogurt.

Probably the most widely known sauerkraut is Bavarian style, which is shredded cabbage, salt and seasoned with caraway seeds.  Some other German styles use juniper berries to season the kraut.


A word on the nutritional virtues of sauerkraut.


Fermented sauerkraut is not only pre-gested thereby making it’s nutritional profile more bioavailable, it is also low in calories, high in fiber, and is a good source of vitamins K, C and folate and also the minerals potassium, calcium, magnesium, copper, manganese and iron.  It has a great profile of antioxidants and is anti-inflammatory.  Cabbage is exceedingly nutritious on it’s own merits, but let it ferment and it’s full potential is silently revealed.

Studies that “analyzed cabbage before and after fermentation to see how the elements had changed  found that the glucosinolates in cabbage dissolved into a class of enzymes that have been shown in prior studies to prevent cancer.” (Preventdisease.com)

But that’s not all!  Sauerkraut also helps to maintain the acid/base balance of the body, helps to regulate blood sugar levels making it useful for hypoglycemics and diabetics and has been associated with preserving ocular health.

Like all ferments, sauerkraut  is high in naturally occurring lactic acid which helps maintain a healthy acidity in the large intestine, thus creating an environment that is hostile to parasites  and yeast but comfortable for good bacteria.


Ready to give it a try?


Fermentation takes neither much time, or effort.  It’s a great way to add great nutrition to the table, and making it yourself is a real money saver when you’re on a budget and feeding a large family.

It’s super nourishing, unassuming and delicious.  We eat it because it tastes great.  On it’s own, adorning a brat or hot dog, or even as a great garnish on a wintery day’s BLT.  You can buy sauerkraut in the store, but if you want all the benefits of the ferment, then it’s best to look for small batch, artisinal, organic, lacto-fermented varieties that are also non-pastuerized.




Michael Pollan says about fermenting, “Koreans, who know a thing or two about fermentation, distinguish between the “tongue taste” of various foods and the “hand taste“.  Tongue taste is a simple matter of molecules making contact with taste buds – the kind of cheap and easy flavors any food scientist or food corporation can produce.  Hand taste is the far more complex experience of a food that bears the indelible mark – the care and sometimes even the love – of the person who made it.  The sauerkraut (and most anything else) you make yourself will have hand taste.

That makes a lot of sense here at Nourishing Grace, because the word nourish is quite beautiful and comes from the latin nutrire, which means to feed or cherish, to preserve, look after or suckle. That implies a “hands on” relationship!


“Better is a dish of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it.” —Proverbs 15: 17


Of all our nourishment let it be rooted in goodness and love as we prepare and enjoy our meals with loved ones at the table!



how to make your own sauerkraut


1 – 1 gallon Ceramic crock or  wide mouth mason jar

plate or plastic that will fit inside


ingredients for sauerkraut

2 medium heads fresh cabbage (fresh local cabbage is the best because of it’s higher moisture content the salt will draw out more water for the brine.

3 tablespoons sea salt



chop or shred the cabbage.  We use a food processor

As you process the cabbage, place in bowl and sprinkle salt on each layer.  The salt osmotically draws the water out of the cabbage.  This becomes the brine in which the cabbage ferments without rotting.

mixing the sauerkraut
mixing the sauerkraut


Mix the ingredients together and you can either pound the cabbage, or massage with good firm squeezing.  That will all serve to draw out the brine.  You can also mix it and leave it for a half an hour and then start the pounding or massaging.


massaging the cabbage
massaging the cabbage


Transfer the mixture to the crock or mason jar.  Tamp it down firmly.  You can use a tamper or your fist.  I use my hands.  Push the cabbage below the brine level.  Fermentation works because the vegetables stay below the brine.  So in this oxygen deprived environment, anaerobic, only the good bacteria are able to survive and thrive.  Place a clean weight over in the crock over the cabbage to keep it down.  This can be a smaller jar with water in it.

To be honest, I do not always use a weight.  My ferments are always on the kitchen counter, so I wash my hands and push it beneath the brine several times a day.  But if you are not able to do that, it’s best to use a weight.


Sauerkraut on the Ferment


The sauerkraut will develop at a rate directly correlated with temperature.  At 45 Fahrenheit, fermentation is very slow, at 90 Fahrenheit it is notably faster.  Lower temperatures, in the 70 Fahrenheit range make a superior kraut.

After 3-5 days, give the sauerkraut a taste.

See if it suits you.  Some people love the flavor of an immature green kraut.  If it’s not the flavor profile you want, let it sit longer for the flavors to develop.  Once it is to your liking, place in smaller jars and move to the refrigerator or other cool spot (like a root cellar).  The slows down the fermentation process.

Taste-testing the developing sauerkraut has become my daughters job and her taste buds are definitely evolving.  We currently have a jar of sauerkraut that has been on the counter for three weeks.  We are using it, but she has not asked to have it moved the fridge.  Surprisingly it has not gotten very very sour, just more delicious.

There are many ways to enjoy your kraut, most recently we had ours atop BLT’s served on a great sourdough made during the big snow storm.

sourdough BLT with sauerkraut
sourdough BLT with sauerkraut




Katz, Sandor Ellix. The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes From Around the World.  White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Pub., 2012. Print.

“What Are The Benefits Of Sauerkraut Juice?”. Livestrong.Com

Ten Reasons to Eat Fresh Unpasteurized Sauerkraut | Vitality Magazine | Toronto Canada alternative health, natural medicine and green living

matzoh ball ~ soup for the soul

matzoh ball ~ soup for the soul

The unleavened, cracker like Matza is arguably the best known biblical food – and with a little love and tenderness, this meager and often stale tasting bread can be transformed into a warming and nourishing soup – the Matzoh Ball!

winter ferments – gingered beet and carrot slaw

winter ferments – gingered beet and carrot slaw

Ferments have a self sufficient versatility – but at the same time, pair well with a variety of dishes. Fermenting your own vegetables is an artisanal delight that is flavorful, healthy and when made with your local harvest good for the planet too!

On the Ferment – the amazing health benefits of fermented foods

On the Ferment – the amazing health benefits of fermented foods

“Monastic cookery, as it has been practiced through the centuries, is cherished for its emphasis on simplicity, wholesome frugality, basic good taste, and the seasonal rhythms of the ingredients used.

Monastic kitchens always strive for a healthy and balanced diet, fully aware from past experience that the monk and the nun must be properly nourished to serve God well.

The human body is the temple of God, and its dietary needs must be respected.”  Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette

Ferments, in all their glory and wonder, are an amazingly simple way to boost the nourishment of vegetables, boost immune function and honor our body’s dietary needs.  They are a staple in the pantry stocked for ease of meals and vibrant health.  It seems strange to us that people from earlier generations knew how to extend the edible life of their vegetables without the use of freezers or pasteurization.  But, throughout the ages, people around the world, without any awareness of the scientific principles involved, utilized and prized fermented foods.

One of the benefits of fermentation are the formation of probiotics.  These are friendly tiny little micro-organisms that promote digestive wellness.  These healthy communities of beneficial microflora and bacteria in our gut have an intensely positive impact on our overall health.

Most people these days are aware that 80% of our immune system resides in the gut BUT did you know that the vast majority of the DNA in you does not even belong to you!  It’s a pretty amazing fact that

You have ten times more bacteria in your gut than you have cells in your body.  And those bacteria comprise 99 percent of the DNA in your body.  If only 1 percent of our DNA is human, and 99 percent is alien, you have to ask the question, who hosts whom??  These bacteria are called your microbiota…  The microbiota function much like an organ, and they act as a major part of the immune system.  They protect us from microbial and parasitic diseases… and contribute to our rate of aging.  (Lipski, 2012)

In that light, it’s clear that we were designed to live in symbiotic harmony with these bacteria.  Yet, modern advances – while wonderful in many respects – have led to an age where antibiotics, stress, over consumption of refined processed foods, alcohol, and over the counter prescriptions easily disrupt the delicate balance of of our digestive biome.  As a result, we are the first generation needing to consider how to refortify our diets with these helpful organisms!

There is still so much to be known about this remarkable ecosystem within us – but, thus far, we have learned a lot!  Did you know that:

  • Probiotics maintain the integrity of the intestinal tract. Each different probiotic has specific effects on the human digestive system and is able to compete with disease causing bacteria. Thriving microflora in your gut actually fights for your very health and survival!! Think about that for a minute!

  • Certain probiotics secrete large amounts of acetic, formic and lactic acid, which makes the intestinal environment inhospitable to invading microbes and helps prevent or lessen the severity of food poisoning.

  • Probiotics manufacture vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12 and K

  • Probiotics aid in the digestion of lactose and dairy products and digest proteins.

  • Probiotics increase the absorption of minerals.

  • Probiotics reduce intestinal inflammation.

  • Probiotics balance intestinal pH.

  • Probiotics improve or prevent irritable bowel syndrome.

  • Probiotics prevent and treat diarrhea from antibiotics and traveling.

  • Probiotics manufacture essential fatty acids and short chain fatty acids. These fatty acids actually feed the cells of the colon and optimize the colon’s pH for improved or optimal colon health!

  • Probiotics prevent and control vaginal yeast infection, thrush and bladder infection.

The list above is just a partial highlight of the amazing things that go on inside you when you eat simply and well!  It’s clear that intestinal microbes play a vital and front line role in our immune defenses.  Because they only reproduce in our digestive system for a few weeks before being eliminated – probiotic rich foods are a staple of a well balanced diet.


Properly prepared ferments add probiotics in the trillions per spoonful, with an efficacy far superior (and cost effective) to probiotics in tablet form.


When selecting your foods, keep in mind, variety is the spice of life.  If the only fermented food you eat is yogurt, you are missing out on all of the anti-inflammatory benefits of foods like sauerkraut, kimchee, kefir, brined pickles & olives, and various slaws.

Each different ferment provides a variety of bacteria and the different vegetables all bring their unique health properties to the table.


Local Seasonal Cabbage
ready for duty!


New to ferments?  Wondering how to introduce them to your family?

Okay, I totally understand that!  If you have infants and toddlers, you are in the best situation.  Little ones tend to accept new flavors readily.  We started later on the journey, with some pretty opinionated tastebuds and peer pressures.  So what was helpful was to keep in mind that a little goes a long way.  It’s really not necessary to eat a lot.  Just a tablespoon as part of each meal yields wonderful health benefits!  Build up from there if you wish.

Taste buds vary among our kids and some enjoy ferments more than others.  Our oldest loves the sauerkraut and salsa.  She usually takes more than a spoonful at each meal.  The youngest isn’t the biggest fan and she gravitates toward gingered carrots, beets and pickles.  Any vegetable can be fermented – even green beens and asparagus.

A great friend of mine from Bulgaria, actually remembers her parents and grandparents fermenting all their summer vegetables because, during communism, there was not a year round supply to be found in stores during the winter.

I was in awe!


Sauerkraut on the Ferment
Sauerkraut on the Ferment!


Ferments have a self sufficient versatility – but at the same time, pair well with a variety of dishes.  Fermenting your own vegetables is an artisanal delight that is flavorful, healthy and when made with your local harvest good for the planet too!

fish broth

fish broth

“The proof of love is in the works. Where love exists, it does great things. But where it ceases to act, it ceases to exist.” —Saint Gregory the Great   This is a simple fish broth and it’s also a very inexpensive one too.   In […]