Fermenting foods: it’s freaking me out!

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl: I really like the idea of adding the Rejuvelac as my green smoothie base, but I’m honestly totally freaked out to leave something perishable on my countertop in an unsealed container for several days. What are the chances that “bad bacteria” get in there and make me sick? I really appreciate any feedback you have. It sounds like a great opportunity to make green smoothies do even more for me, but I can’t get over the initial concept. –Grace

Answer: Grace, I think it might help if I explain the concept a bit more. Fermented foods are part of your diet already, if you eat yogurt or sauerkraut, or even beer. The manufacturer had to let it sit at room temperature for a time, to grow the cultures.

Also, before refrigeration, human beings had a stronger inner terrain and microbes rarely harmed them. Of course, now we have antibiotics that have seriously damaged most people’s balance of beneficial microorganisms colonizing the digestive tract. We also have refined foods weakening us, and few, if any, cultured foods strengthening us. We now seem to believe that killing a couple million of the billions of microscopic critters around us will somehow do the trick.

It’s a weird modern concept that everything we eat has to be sterilized—ancient peoples lived amongst billions of organisms very peacefully for thousands of years. So maybe our food is sterilized, fumigated, pasteurized, irradiated…..but there are billions of organisms everywhere ELSE (which makes the antibiotic wipes a pointless waste of money).

So, it feels unnatural to you but only because of our strange modern traditions, and the fact that we’ve gotten away from eating foods that nurture our gut’s need for healthy colonization. Just ONE course of antibiotics can change the gut’s internal terrain forever.

Every culture of the world eats cultured foods. Some chew up a food and spit it, with their saliva, into an earthen pot, and drink it a week later. (I won’t be teaching you those methods, don’t worry.) There are literally hundreds of types of cultured foods, in traditional / indigenous peoples, and in people who have not completely adopted processed diets.

The most complete and well known work on this concept is Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions, which has some good info but advocates for lots of meat and dairy and a very rich diet. My 12 Steps to Whole Foods program deals with it in a condensed way in Ch. 8 and uses what I feel are a do-able, moderate amount of probiotic foods that do not require us to purchase $10/lb. animal parts. My work focuses on culturing vegetables, optionally some raw, antibiotic- and hormone-free milk, or coconut liquid. (I now culture my coconut liquid before using it in Hot Pink Breakfast Smoothie).

My blog on 9/15 talks about learning vicariously through others—the examples I gave were learning from others’ health disasters. But you can learn from my health victories, too. Does it help you to know that I have had a quart or a half gallon of raw kefir, or yogurt, or coconut kefir, or sprouts, or Rejuvelac, or sauerkraut, on my counter, pretty much every day of my life for the past 17 years? We have had zero instances of problems, illness, food poisoning.

It also helps if you understand the process of how food has historically been preserved. You can preserve foods a few ways. One, drying it to dramatically slow oxidation, which often involves lots of salt. Two, can it by killing all its lifeforce (enzymes and vitamins) so that there’s very little to oxidize, and then sealing it against air and bacteria. Third, utilizing lactobacillus and other beneficial organisms and lactic acid to break down the proteins and preserve the food (fermenting).

The way I make sauerkraut (see Ch. 8 of 12 Steps) is that the unrefined salt preserves it for a few days while the (slower) lactic acid begins to take over. I have two-year old raw sauerkraut (that I preserved with whey from my yogurt/kefir) that has been unsealed (but covered tightly with a lid) that we are still eating. It’s too soft, and it’s better, texture-wise, at six months old. But it’s preserved, and the healthy bacteria help my family stay healthy.

It might help to address the semantics. The word “fermented” has a negative connotation. (Although beer drinkers who wouldn’t be caught dead eating fermented vegetables drink PLENTY of fermentation.) When you think of fermented, do you think of ROTTEN? We aren’t eating any rotten foods at my house. We could mentally replace that word with a much nicer one: cultured!

So, don’t eat fermented foods. Eat cultured ones!

If “bad” bacteria gets into your cultured foods and makes them “go bad,” you will know. They will taste bad and/or mold. I have almost never had this happen. Once it happened with a bottle of sauerkraut. Never with kefir or Rejuvelac.

My Rejuvelac ferments in a day. At CHI, they told me 3-5 days, but mine tastes plenty tart 24 hours after I blend the sprouts and water, and put it on the counter to grow (aka ferment, aka culture).

Here’s my new video showing this easy, inexpensive habit that has the potential to see you through the winter without viruses or infections!

How much is your health worth?

Yesterday, I rode my bike on my usual path. It’s a 20-mile ride up and down Provo Canyon, turning away from Sundance, to the top of South Fork. The road dead ends there, in front of the Girl Scouts’ Trefoil Ranch.

On the way up, a bull moose in my path took my breath away. I’ve heard moose (Meese? Meesen?) bellowing at each other, but I’ve never seen one up there! I stopped and tried to take a photo, but then he snorted so I figured I’d better get a move on!

On the way down, just past Bridal Veil Falls, there was a bighorn sheep in my path! I have never seen one, outside of the zoo! I had to slam on my brakes to stop short of him. Then he ran down and kinda chased a terrified jogger off the path and into the trees. Then he ran back up into my path and trotted towards me. Scary, because I couldn’t have turned my bike around on the narrow path if I’d wanted to.

I got a picture, but it’s just his tail; you can’t even tell what kind of animal it is.

This made my day and I had a giant grin on my face all the way down. My life is ridiculously awesome because I’m blessed to be so physically active—even though I was fat and ill, 20 years ago. Sometimes when I’m skiing, biking, or just won a tennis tournament, I feel a little guilty. I think of all my peers who couldn’t make it up that 10-mile ascent if they were handed a $15,000 decked-out Trek road bike.

Tons of people my age are coming home from work and going into “energy conservation” mode, plopping into the La-Z Boy every night after work and doing as little as possible until bedtime. They don’t even LIKE television, but it’s all they have the energy for. Some of my peers are sidelined by diagnoses like ALS, migraines, obesity, diabetes.

Somebody said to me recently, “If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.” Your work, your hobbies, your relationships, everything is impacted negatively, eroded, as you lose your health. The cool thing is, you can regain it—incrementally, gradually, but you CAN regain it, but only if you’re willing to put in some effort.

I have gone to Zumba the last three nights in a row with Matthew. Last night, the teacher’s music was so LOUD that our ears were ringing and we both left before the end.

Today he sent me an article about how verbal persuasion is the LEAST effective way to motivate people. The MOST effective is personal experience. A study showed that nurses who had suffered a hospital-acquired infection were much more likely to tell others to wash their hands.

But, nurses in the study were just as motivated if a close friend or family member suffered an infection. So, vicarious experience can be just as powerful! This is exciting news—apparently, we DON’T have to learn everything “the hard way!”

Matthew wrote in the same email, “Why were you and I the ONLY people saving our ears and walking out? No one even asked the teacher to turn it down! It’s like people eating stuff that hurts them because everyone else is doing it.”

I like the fact that MY experience can help you avoid the same fate. Matthew also wrote, about the quote from the article that nurses were “turning their hand hygiene into a moral passion:”

“This is totally you, when you teach your class!”

When I teach, I tell my story, of 21 CHRONIC HEALTH CONDITIONS I had at the age of 26, that went bye-bye because of my excellent diet and simple but consistent lifestyle habits. When I teach, I tell about the desperate health crisis of my baby boy, once on constant antibiotics, steroids, and bronchodilators, who is now a 6’3″ drug-free, illness-free college-prep athlete. Learn vicariously from my story, rather than doing it the hard way!

It’s so worth the time I’ve spent educating myself and developing new habits. Drinking Rejuvelac every day, my new habit from Creative Health Institute, makes me happy! I don’t really love the stuff yet, but I don’t hate it, either. And I love the thought, “Wow, I just drank a big glass of enzymes and probiotics!” It’s SO easy to make, and now it’s the base of my green smoothies and no one has even noticed!

I am going to learn something new and awesomely cool everyplace I go in the coming year, and I’m going to teach it to you when I get home!

Creative Health Institute, part 3 of 5

Here’s a video of Ed and me. He makes a living selling processed food, and he came to CHI because his mom paid for it and told him to go. He had no idea what he was getting himself into. I told him, “That’s because if she told you about the wheat grass implant, you wouldn’t have agreed!” He acknowledged this is likely the reason. That said, he’s glad he did.

I’m always looking for easy preventative nutrition habits that enrich my life and keep me well. I have MANY years of spreading my message, raising my kids, spoiling grand- and great-grandchildren, seeing the world, and tennis, biking, and skiing left to do! My takeaways, from CHI, for my permanent lifestyle so I look and act as young as Madeleine 23 years from now? Two new things:

First, I am going to add Rejuvelac to my habits. My first batch is just finished and sitting on the counter. It’s so easy, extremely inexpensive, and a habit I’ve decided is worth my time. Soak a cup of soft white wheat berries (or quinoa) in water overnight. Rinse and drain it twice a day, covered, for 2 days. Blend it with 8 cups water and let it sit, covered with a tea towel or in a jar with a mesh lid, several days. Then refrigerate it in jars and drink 2 glasses a day. I was a little afraid of it at CHI, but the taste isn’t strong and I acclimated quickly.

Madeleine had a fabulous idea that I use it instead of water in the base of my green smoothies. I might as well—it’ll put probiotics in the smoothie and my kids won’t even notice.

Second, I’m going to start rebounding again. I have a rebounder in my bedroom that I haven’t used in a long time. It’s so incredibly great to move lymph fluids–nothing else really compares. The lymph system is something we take for granted and rarely talk or think about, but if your blood delivers the groceries, the lymph system takes out the garbage. Even a few minutes a day is helpful, and add some lymphatic massage and EFT tapping during that same few minutes.

You’re wondering about this “wheat grass implant” business. It seems foreign at first, and some of the people at my session had NO idea what they were getting themselves into. The three-bag enema cleans anything out of your colon, and then you put 8 oz. of wheat grass into your colon with the enema bag. Best if you can KEEP it in. It is powerfully detoxifying, and it travels that rectal vein very quickly to the liver and cleanses it and opens the ducts for that all-important release of many toxins directly into the colon for elimination. This is a tough one to add to an everyday routine, but a week of wheat-grass juice implants, once a year, is a powerful preventative.

Tomorrow I’ll talk about people I met at CHI and how they’ve impacted my life and studies.

Creative Health Institute, part 2 of 5

Here’s a video of our teacher, Madeleine, talking about Rejuvelac, and a great idea for green smoothies—and the “banya” by the Coldwater Creek that is my favorite part of the CHI experience.

If ALL you got at CHI was any two of the following things, the experience is well worth the money–and of course, you get all five:

1. The education in the form of classes every morning and afternoon, and the chance to learn from Bobby Morgan. (He was unfortunately not there when I was, as his daughter got married; however, I heard 100% good things about his knowledge base, teaching style, and overall nurturing personality.) I had Madeleine instead, and I’m so crazy about her I’m talking to her about co-teaching a retreat next summer. You’ll learn about everything from affirmations, to genetically modified foods, to how to stimulate peristalsis in the colon. I did a guest lecture and so did our scholar-monk (another guest at CHI), Bhante. You’ll get lots of food demos: how to make Rejuvelac (an enzyme-rich probiotic drink from sprouted wheat or quinoa), seed cheese, almond milk, raw treats, sauerkraut, and more.

2. The wheat grass juice. You get three 2-oz. shots a day, 8 oz. to put in your bath every other night, 8 oz. twice a day as an “implant” (I will explain in a minute), wheat grass face masks, and more. While I was there, our lung-cancer patient was given poultices for his chest. Our eye-infection patient put it in her eye. Someone with a foot fungal infection was offered foot baths. If you’ve ever juiced wheat grass, you know it’s highly time consuming, requiring special equipment. You are getting about 30 oz. a day, which would cost you about $60 if you called in an order to your health food store or Jamba Juice! You’ll be treated to a tour of the wheatgrass greenhouse, and they teach you to grow your own.

Their grass tastes sweeter and far better than what I get here in Utah. In fact, despite a 15-year aversion to the stuff (it’s a long story), I did fine taking three shots a day, putting it on my face, and even in my bath. When I got home I got a 4-oz. shot at my health food store, and I gagged at the taste like I usually do—far more bitter and….I don’t know, yucky!

3. Raw-food meals (and Rejuvelac that you drink 16 oz. of daily) made for you. The first three days are raw red-cabbage sauerkraut, and “Energy Soup” (you add flaxseed and kelp or dulse) only. Energy Soup is like green smoothie, only no fruit, and you eat it with a spoon. On Day 4 forward, they offer you salads, sprouts, fruit, and some gourmet raw dishes and even an occasional treat. The chef, B.J., is very solicitous, and you can make a special request if you want. I didn’t, but I saw Chris got blueberries every morning, and other guests’ requests were honored.

4. The social atmosphere. It was amazing how emotional it was to leave the 15 others participating in the Detox and Rebuild program because we’d bonded so much. My detox symptoms consisted of one zit I got that lasted a day. I got up early in the morning and went for my usual run, though much shorter than I do at home, partly to get back in time for the 30 min. rebounding class. But other guests were experiencing headaches, nausea including vomiting, depression, and loss of energy. They usually lasted a day and the next day the guest’s eyes cleared and he or she felt better. But the shared experience–camaraderie, humor, wide diversity of age, health, race, religion, and goals—made the whole experience enjoyable and even fun as well as physically rewarding.

5. The detox protocols. The most important one, IMO, is enemas followed by a wheat-grass implant, and while you do them yourself morning and night, you’re given the equipment and careful instruction and support. This is invaluable, because it’s a lost art in modern culture, and it’s critically important. Coffee enemas or wheat-grass enemas are widely used by the alt-docs I am studying, including Nick Gonzalez, Hippocrates Institute, and the Gerson Therapy.

But another fun amenity at CHI is the “banya” or Russian sauna that Victoria Boutenko and her family built. It was my favorite part of my experience at CHI, getting in there half-naked with Melinda and Ed-and-Ed and whoever else every night. Then I’d leave, plunge into Coldwater Creek 10 steps away, and go back to the banya for more sweat-lodge therapy. Hot-and-cold practices like this are health practices followed by many around the world. You can get a professional colonic or massage or reflexology session at CHI as well (not included, but affordable). You do skin brushing and use the Chi machine. You do a bentonite-clay-and-wheat-grass mask on your face in the morning. You do yoga and meditation sessions. You participate in a half hour of rebounding, lymphatic massage, and EFT tapping every morning together. You are asked to get in the sun at least 15 minutes, and the grounds are beautiful, on the bank of a creek, so the outdoors will draw you out.