Today’s recipe comes from Julia Mueller’s (of The Roasted Root fame) amazing new cookbook Delicious Probiotic Drinks. The arrival of this book was very timely for me as I have been reading more and more about the importance of good gut health and have been working to increase my own gut health – largely through probiotic beverages.
You can have the best diet in the world – but eating mountains of maca, bountiful berries and copious amounts of kale will not return you the desired results if you don’t have good digestion to process the food you eat and properly absorb all the nutrients. Your intestinal tract plays host to over 100 trillion healthy bacteria which do an amazing job in aiding digestion, boosting the immune system, and limiting the growth of bad bacteria – the number of healthy bacteria in your gut should outnumber bad bacteria by five to one. Unfortunately, many factors in modern day-to-day life contribute to killing the good bacteria, creating an uneven balance of good and bad bacteria. Contributing factors include taking antibiotics and some over-the-counter drugs; consumption of chlorine, found in drinking water; consumption of alcohol, cigarettes and processed foods; a diet high in fats and meats (particularly non-organic meats); and overuse and overexposure to harsh chemicals (read more about this over at MindBodyGreen)
A key way to ensure good gut health is to consume probiotics on a daily basis. Most cultures have been doing this for centuries in their national diet – for example, kimchi in Korea, sauerkraut in Germany and Eastern European countries, and kefir in Russia and the former Soviet states. Unfortunately, the modern western diet places little emphasis on fermented food and drinks which historically have played a vital role in ensuring good gut health. This is (slowly) changing, with the increase in interest in drinks such as kombucha and kefir.
With this knowledge, I have been working on including probiotics in my daily diet. I started brewing my own kefir a few months ago, which I hope to write a post on soon. However, I haven’t been too inventive when it comes to secondary fermentations and flavourings. Enter Delicious Probiotic Drinks, which contains 75 mouthwatering recipes, which I am slowly working (fermenting?) my way through. This book is the perfect place to start if your new to probiotic drinks. Not only are the recipes inventive and delicious, it’s also packed with informative instructions and tips on how to make your own kefir, yoghurt, kombucha and other fermented drinks like ginger beer (it also includes dairy free methods such as water kefir and coconut yoghurt for readers who don’t consume dairy).
The recipes range from more common and known flavours which will be sure to appeal to less adventurous brewers, such as peach soda and strawberry kefir, to more adventurous combinations such as coconut basil ginger beer and hibiscus jun. So far, my favorite drink that I have tried from Julia’s book would have to be the Chocolate Beetroot smoothie – its velvety smooth, and luxuriously rich – if I hadn’t made it myself I could have sworn that it had something more decadent in it other than beets and cacao! The flavour combination is great – think a delicious chocolate beetroot cake blended up – only healthier.
Chocolate beetroot smoothie
Taken from Delicious Probiotic Drinks by Julia Mueller
Notes: To make the cranberry kefir, combine 2 cups cranberries with 2 Tbsp sugar and 1/2 cup of water in a small saucepan and mash together over a medium heat until berries are soft. Blend with either water or milk kefir until smooth. I have also made this using plain kefir and also using additional almond milk – both ways its still delicious, so don’t let the cranberry kefir put you off if you aren’t feeling that adventurous.
1/2 beetroot – steamed, chopped and frozen
1 frozen banana
1 1/2 Tbsp raw cacao
1/2 cup cranberry kefir (see notes above)
1/2 cup almond milk
To prepare the beetroot, chop into quarters and steam in a vegetable steamer over boiling water until soft (mine took half an hour).
Cool the beetroot and chop into smaller pieces and freeze.
Peel and chop a ripe banana and freeze also.
To make the smoothie, add all ingredients to a blender and mix until completely smooth.
Julia has been kind enough to offer a copy of Delicious Probiotic Drinks to one lucky to her core reader. For the chance to win a copy of this probiotic brewing bible, simply leave me a comment below. The winner will be drawn randomly in a weeks time.