low glycemic

Fire Cider: an herbal tonic for wellness!

Fire Cider

We’re deep into cold season here in Minnesota. My partner, my friends, and most of my clients seem to be dealing with nasty colds right now! I’ve managed to stay illness-free so far (knock on wood), and Fire Cider has been one of my stand-by immune system support allies the last few weeks. Fire Cider is a keep-on-hand pantry classic for good health. As a general health tonic, taking a shot of Fire Cider is an awesome way start your morning or as a pick me up when you're feeling low. It's also indispensable to help kick out the early stages of a cold!

In the kitchen, Fire Cider makes a great culinary ingredient, for use cocktails, sparkling water, or in salad dressings and marinades. I used some as part of the dressing on a bean salad recently, and it was a hit.

Why buy bottles of packaged Fire Cider at the co-op or Whole Foods when you can make a batch at home yourself (or with friends!) and take an active role in supporting your own health? Get on it and build that healing pantry yourself.

What is Fire Cider?

Fire Cider is a combination of herbs and medicinal foods soaked in vinegar, so named by the great Rosemary Gladstar years and years ago. Every herbalist has their own version of Fire Cider, and the internet is bursting with variations. This bold mix of horseradish, garlic, ginger, onion, turmeric,  chili peppers, lemons, raw honey, and a few other herbal allies is a naturally anti-viral, anti-bacterial dream come true, helping to stimulate the immune system, support the qi (your body's functional energy), increase circulation, promote detoxification, and kick out pathogenic factors with every zesty dose.

The spicy, sour, bitter, acrid, and sweet flavor combination is very moving and stimulating to the body's blood, qi, and fluids, making it a great choice if you're feeling a cold coming on, are "stuck in a rut" or depressed, have tight achy muscles, spend a lot of time sitting at a desk all day, have cold hands and feet, have a slow-moving digestive system, have phlegm stuck in your lungs, or are recovering from a few too many cocktails last night....

As for my version of Fire Cider, I like adding I like adding thyme, rosemary, dried, shredded astragalus root, and shredded fresh burdock root. Thyme is nourishing and moving to the qi, and rosemary stimulates digestion. Both work together to support the qi, loosen and transform phlegm and mucous, and resolve pathogenic factors like colds and flus.

Astragalus (huang qi) is one of my herbal sweethearts, a wonderfully tonifying herb that helps to build the body's blood and qi, support the Lungs, and promote stable energy levels and digestive function. In Chinese herbal medicine, astragalus is also treasured for its ability to boost protective qi and protect your body against pathogenic factors -- that's Chinese medicine talk for your immune system.

Burdock root is a long, slender, wily-looking root, with a rough brown exterior and a cream colored, starchy interior. When exposed to oxygen, shredded and sliced burdock root turns brown very quickly -- as evidenced by the deep brown color in the photo above. Burdock has powerful detoxifying, heat clearing, dampness draining, and external pathogen clearing effects. I like adding sliced burdock root to broths, stocks, and stews, and often throw dried burdock root in liver-supportive herbal tea blends.

How does it taste?

It tastes like it means business -- spicy, sour, bitter, sweet, acrid, and awesome. It's called Fire Cider for a reason.

Is there anyone who shouldn't use Fire Cider?

While Fire Cider is considered generally safe, there are some situations where it may not be the right fit for certain individuals. People taking prescription blood thinners (like Coumadin or Warfarin) may want to avoid Fire Cider completely, or use extreme caution -- many these herbs have blood thinning properties, so you will want to work with you physician to make sure your INR levels are stable. Additionally, the immune-stimulating properties of Fire Cider may be problematic for individuals with autoimmune conditions. Caution should also be taken by anyone taking several prescription medications, or individuals who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Finally, if you're a hot tempered or easily irritable person who is warm all the time, sweaty, and gets easily red and shiny in the face, this Fire Cider may just be a little too much, um, fire for you. Try some soothing green tea, lemon balm tea, nettle tea, or mint tea instead.

If you have questions on whether Fire Cider is right for you, speak to your healthcare practitioner.



 A jar of beautiful and powerful ingredients, ready to get doused in vinegar!

A jar of beautiful and powerful ingredients, ready to get doused in vinegar!

Fire Cider Recipe

yield: 1 quart

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar

  • 1 cup fresh horseradish root, grated (do not peel)

  • 1 cup fresh burdock root, grated (do not peel)

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • ½ cup peeled garlic cloves, chopped

  • ½ cup fresh ginger root, grated (do not peel)

  • ½ cup fresh turmeric root, grated (do not peel), or 1 tablespoon dried powdered turmeric if fresh is unavailable

  • rind and juice of 3 small, organic unwaxed lemons

  • 2 jalapeño peppers, sliced

  • ¼ cup dried, shredded or sliced astragalus root (optional)

  • 1 tablespoon dry thyme leaves, or a few sprigs fresh

  • 1 tablespoon dry rosemary leaves, or a few sprigs fresh

  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns

  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • ¼-½ cup raw honey

Instructions:

Scrub all ingredients well, and prepare as directed above.I used the largest holes on a box grater to grate the horseradish, burdock, ginger, and turmeric roots. If grating by hand isn't your style, you could probably use the grating/shredding blade in a food processor, but I've never done it this way! Take caution while grating horseradish and chopping onions and peppers, to ensure that your eyes and skin are protected. Wear gloves, or make sure to wash hands well after contact with these ingredients!

Layer all ingredients EXCEPT honey into a ½ gallon (aka 2 quart) mason jar. Cover with vinegar. Put a square of wax paper or parchment over the top of the jar, then screw on lid over the wax/parchment paper. Steep for 4-6 weeks, shaking daily. Check often to make sure ingredients are covered completely by apple cider vinegar, topping off with more vinegar as needed.

After 4-6 weeks, open jar and strain out vinegar into a bowl through a fine mesh sieve lined with cheese cloth. Squeeze ingredients in cheesecloth to get out remaining vinegar. Stir honey into vinegar, to taste. Transfer into air-tight bottles or jars, and store in a dark, cool place. Done! Shake bottle well before each use. As long as the contents of the jar stay uncontaminated, this stuff lasts for a long time - feel free to keep in the fridge for longer storage.

Dosage:

  • As a general health tonic, take 1/2-1 oz shots daily, or as needed.

  • For acute cold symptoms, 1/2 - 1 oz shots every few hours at the first sign of a cold, until symptoms subside.

  • As a culinary ingredient, use as you would vinegar, adding to dressings, marinades, sauces, or mixing in cocktails or sparkling water.

Variations:

This recipe is endlessly versatile. Here’s a handful of ways to change up this recipe…

  • if you can’t find an ingredient listed above, that’s okay, you can always make it without

  • use other types of hot peppers

  • add a few green onions

  • swap out lemons for limes, oranges, or tangerines

  • add additional herbs with medicinal properties, like oregano, sage, schisandra berries, licorice, or dried medicinal mushrooms like shiitake or reishi

*The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.

*Heads up! This post may contain some affiliate links. If you buy something through one of those links you won't pay a single cent more, but I'll get a small commission that helps keep the content flowing. P.S. I only recommend products I use in my own daily life!

Recipe: Homemade Vanilla Salt, Two Ways

Recipe: Homemade Vanilla Salt, Two Ways

Vanilla Salt

There are all kinds of fancy salts out there for you to blow your paycheck on. Confession: I own many of them

Thankfully, one of my favorite salts is one that I make at home. Vanilla salt couldn't be easier to prepare, and the end result is lovely. I have two methods for creating vanilla salt, yielding different yet equally delightful results. I am sharing both methods with you; try each one and see which fits you best. I use my vanilla salt in baked goods, with fruit, over roasted sweet potatoes or squash, sprinkled over chocolaty desserts, or with roasted or grilled meats (helloooooo pork and chicken). I think you'll like it too. If you decorate the jar with a cute label and a bit of ribbon, you have a wonderful homemade gift. 

Vanilla beans are über-expensive if you buy them one-by-one or in small quantities. The trick is to buy a big bag and split the cost with a friend. A fellow foodie and I split the cost of this 1/2 pound bag of vanilla beans. We each ended up with about 30 beans for only about $13 per person. Sweet deal, right? 

Recipe: Cabbage Apple Slaw (gluten-free, vegan, grain-free, ACD)

Recipe: Cabbage Apple Slaw (gluten-free, vegan, grain-free, ACD)

Cabbage-Apple Slaw

Simple slaws are ideal for every season of the year. They are crunchy and light, yet satisfying and filling, and endlessly adaptable to a variety of seasonal produce. Despite this, my favorite time of year for slaws is late summer and fall, when farmers markets are bursting with fresh, crisp cabbages. The sweet, glistening, unblemished leaves tempt me from every vendor table, and inevitably, I go home with a weighty cabbage in my market basket.

I was inspired to combine my beloved green cabbage with another locally grown favorite, the spectacular Honeycrisp apple. The Honeycrisp was developed by the University of Minnesota's Horicultural Research Center in the 1970s, and has won a devoted following of fans. There are a number of wonderful orchards in the Minnesota and Western Wisconsin that grow this apple, and every year I anticipate the arrival of locally grown Honeycrisps at my farmers market and co-op. The flavor is sweet like honey and slightly tart, and it has a marvelously crisp, juicy texture that is, in my opinion, the sign of a perfect apple. Equally good for eating raw or baking, Honeycrisp is one of my favorite apples, hands down. 

The combination of sweet, fresh cabbage, sweet and tart apple, plump golden raisins, toasted caraway, and a hint of nutmeg in this slaw is magic. It only takes minutes to prepare, and it holds up in the fridge for 2 days without becoming soggy. 

Oh me oh my, autumn tastes so good. 

Recipe: Coconut Curry Pepita Brittle (gluten-free, vegan, cane sugar-free)

curry coconut pepita brittle

Over the weekend, we had our seventh gathering of the MPLS Food Swappers. The MPLS Swappers is just one of the food swapping groups that has popped up around the world in the last year. I started the group after being inspired by the lovely Kate Payne and her swaps in Brooklyn, NY and Austin, TX. Since then, swaps have have popped up all over the place, and it's a huge trend in the local foods scene. So far we're the only one in the Twin Cities area (and I think all of Minnesota) and we've gotten a lot of local press. I guess you could say thatwereallylovepublicity.  

My inconsistent and transitional housing situation lately has not made it easy to keep up with canning, so I'm feeling a little possessive of my preserved food. I was left scrambling to come up with what I would bring to swap. Instead of bringing something from my larder, I whipped up a tasty batch of this Coconut Curry Pepita Brittle using ingredients I had on hand. I was inspired by a recipe in an old issue of Martha Stewart Living which featured a recipe for Coconut Curry Cashews. While it looked great, I wanted something a little different but with the same flavor profile and made without cane sugar. So, I set forth on a kitchen experiment!

It was a total victory, a delightful combination of sweet-salty-spicy-crunchy that always wins me over. And it was a total hit at the swap. In exchange for bags of my lovingly prepared pepitas, I received frozen crappie filets, delicata squash, homegrown horseradish, red pepper jam, pickled garlic, homebrew beer (a great gift for my dad!), roasted pepita-chickpea mix, lemon-herb butter, and a gorgeous bunch of homegrown kale.  I love my swappers.

To learn more about how our food swap works, check out the MPLS Swapper blog. And in the meantime, enjoy some brittle. Happy Thursday!

bags of Coconut Curry Pepita Brittle awaiting bids at the MPLS Swappers food swapwhat I got in exchange for my bags of Coconut Curry Pepita Brittle - score!!!

Coconut Curry Pepita Brittle

yield 6 cups

This makes a very large batch, big enough for a party or perfect for gift giving. Feel free to cut this recipe in half or thirds if you want to make a smaller batch. The spice from the curry powder is tempered by the sweetness of the maple syrup and coconut. And the saltiness combines the holy trinity of flavors to keep you going back for handful after handful. Keeps for two weeks at room temperature, but I promise you, it won't last that long. 

  • 1 cup real maple syrup
  • 6 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons curry powder (mild or hot, the choice is up to you)
  • 1 tablespoon unrefined salt
  • 6 cups raw unsalted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 1/2 cups finely shredded coconut

Heat oven to 350º F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

Place curry powder in a small saucepan and heat over low flame until it is lightly toasted and fragrant. Be careful not to let it burn! Then add maple syrup, coconut oil, and salt, whisk to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, then remove from heat. 

Meaure pepitas into a large bowl, then pour maple mixture over them, stirring to mix. Divide pumpkin seeds evenly between two parchment-lined cookie sheets, spreading coated seeds evenly over the surface in a thin layer. Place in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring every 7 minutes and rotating between oven racks. Remove from oven, divide coconut evenly between the trays and stir into mixture, then bake for another 15-20 minutes, stirring every 7 minutes and rotating between oven racks, until seeds are golden. I know, I know, it's a lot of stirring and rotating, but you don't want burned seeds and coconut. Then remove from oven.

Place baking sheets on wire cooling racks and let cool completely. The seed mixture will harden as it cools. Areas of the brittle will be very crisp, while other areas will be a little chewy and caramel-like. That's okay! 

Break cool brittle into chunks. Serve immediately or store in an air-tight container and consume within 2 weeks. 

This recipe is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesday at Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free. Check it out for tons of great recipes!

Update

on 2011-10-15 18:37 by Kim

I just made some adjustments to the recipe - I realized I had made some typos! If you've already printed this recipe off or copied it to use, please use the adjusted recipe above. I hope you enjoy it! xo

*The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.

*Heads up! This post may contain some affiliate links. If you buy something through one of those links you won't pay a single cent more, but I'll get a small commission that helps keep the content flowing. P.S. I only recommend products I use in my own daily life!

Recipe: Marble Layer Cake with Chocolate Fudge Frosting and Strawberry Jam (grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free)

Recipe: Marble Layer Cake with Chocolate Fudge Frosting and Strawberry Jam (grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free)

 

Do you the blog The Spunky Coconut? If you haven't visited yet, I suggest you do. Kelly creates wonderful recipes that are flavorful, unique, and easy to prepare, and I am consistently inspired by her positive attitude and creative vision. It was she that inspired this beautiful cake!

A few weeks ago I was in search of a recipe for a gluten-free cake for my cousin's birthday. When I landed upon Kelly's recipe for Marble Cake, I did a happy dance inside. Not only was the cake gluten-free, it was totally grain-free. A cake made of beans?! I had to try it. I found a chocolate frosting recipe in another post. Hoping for something a little more extravagant than a sheet cake, I decided to make a chocolate frosted marble layer cake, with my homemade strawberry-chocolate mint jam sandwiched between each layer.

Working with this cake and frosting was an absolute pleasure. Her cake recipes were easy to follow and simple to prepare. The cake was firm and moist, and came out of the pan easily. The frosting was also very simple to prepare, and the result was thick, sweet, and easy to spread. I was amazed; it actually behaved better than some conventional frostings I made in years past! As I sampled bits of cake scraps smeared with frosting and my strawberry jam, I knew this cake would be a winner, and smiled. I haven't made many layer cakes in the last few years, and I was having a blast.