There are several products that I get lots of questions about and collagen peptides are definitely one of them. Whenever the topic comes up I find myself referring to various online discussions about it or write Facebook comments detailing some of the many benefits. I thought it was high time that I actually write a post that explains exactly why I use Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides and why we sell them at Kickshaws.
In the last several years bone broth has been a hot topic in the natural food communities. The Weston A. Price Foundation often refers to traditional foods like bone broth for their ability to miraculously heal the body. Truth be told, bone broth has been used for centuries in many cultures for its healing properties and for very good reason. The broth resulting from slow cooking of healthy bones contains various trace minerals, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous in one of the most bioavailable forms. It also contains chondroitin, glucosamine and gelatin- compounds that are very often supplemented for various joint and tissue issues.
So what’s the big deal with Collagen Peptides and are they any better than bone broth? While bone broth contains some of the most important minerals and compounds, collagen peptides contain high amounts of certain amino acids (glycine, lysine and proline) that promote collagen and cellular development in the body. That helps your body more effectively rebuild protein structures like joint and connective tissues. This can help to reduce inflammation, improve joint stability and benefit skin condition. While collagen gelatin hold most of these same benefits, the molecular structure is larger so collagen peptides (hydrolysate) are much more easily absorbable like bone broth.
Should I do bone broth or peptides? My honest opinion is that generally speaking you cannot really over do it with these healing foods. I use both bone broth and collagen peptides on a nearly daily basis. I suffer from a number of issues including rheumatoid arthritis which causes pain and discomfort in many of my joints. Consuming broth and collagen peptides helps support my joints and when I am regularly using them, I rarely feel pain. We always recommend, like any healing food, go slowly and see how things go. Because we are not medical or nutritional professionals we always recommend speaking to an osteopath, natural doctor or nutritionist who can offer you some good guidelines on the best way to introduce collagen peptides for you.
For more information about Collagen Peptides and the benefits check out these sites:
Most folks know about my long journey to healing, which is always continuing. A few years ago I started AIP (Autoimmune Paleo Protocol) to eliminate triggers and promote healing. It is not something that may be right for everyone, but it certainly has been a huge help for me. On my personal blog Cake Cooks Gluten-free, I added an update to my journey as well as a link to an update from a year ago when I guest blogged on Paleo Parents. (awesome AIP recipe with that one!)
Eliminating any large food group is very hard. Because its such a hard process, one of things that we talk a lot about it support. Support and access is exactly why we opened Kickshaws Downtown Market. This coming month, we are introducing a new AIP Freezer Meal Workshop. It will be a great opportunity to meet others who are on the same journey as you, get support and information and learn about meal prep for your new AIP lifestyle. The first workshop will be July 19th, 2pm-4pm. The cost will be $25 and include AIP Approved spice blends that you can use during the workshop. To sign up, please shoot us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) so we can get you set up with a shopping list. If you bring your shopping list to Kickshaws, any purchases made for the workshop will be 10% off. Registration is limited to 8 people (space is limited!) so please register as soon as possible.
There it is… your SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast)… sitting on your counter. It appears to possibly be staring at you, it is alive after all. You made your first batch of sauerkraut and it is doing its fermenting thing, but this thing… it sort of scares you. So what do you do now?
In class we do a demonstration of what you are doing through your first ferment. You get to see and touch a living SCOBY and of course, get your own to take home with you. Because we feel that transporting a gallon of fermenting kombucha to and fro would be a little arduous, we only demo kombucha brewing. But we have found that folks are really hesitant to get moving forward on brewing.
After the class:
First and foremost- the most important thing to remember is that you should use your SCOBY much sooner than later. If it remains dormant for too long (refrigerated or room temp) or with its starter evaporating out in the open, it will become stale. What is stale for a SCOBY? Stale basically means that those amazing colonies of bacteria are dying off. Ideally you should use your SCOBY within two weeks of receiving it. The longer it sits, the less you have to work with.
I always fall back on the movie The Robinson’s when I think about failure. The motto of the Robinson family is “keep moving forward” and they celebrate the failures because you learn from them. So let’s just say for instance you brew a batch of kombucha and it tastes horrible? Celebrate; glitter, streamers- shoot- go out to dinner! Why? Well because at least you have started and from that, you are beginning to learn. When you get back from your dinner, brew some tea, blend in the sugar and start again!
There is very little to really worry about. If you use best practices when brewing your booch, you are NOT going to kill yourself or anyone else. That being said, I have heard some horrible stories of folks brewing their batches under bathroom sinks and such… which, let me tell you- that is just a terrible idea. TERRIBLE. Be certain that all your brewing materials (bottles, fermenting vessel, blending spoons, etc) are all clean. A good vinegar wash or run through the dishwasher (no soap needed, just heat) will ensure that you’re starting off with a clean working surface. And for the love of Pete, place your fermenting kombucha in a place of glory, on a shelf or on top of the fridge or build a dedicated pedestal for it- just don’t stick it in a dark dank place that is breeding with nasty UNHEALTHY bacteria.
Ok… mold is the enemy to fermentation… seriously. BUT do not mistaken dark spots in your SCOBY or dangly dark bits as mold. If you see some funky things happening, look at the surface of your SCOBY… is there fuzz? No? Keep moving forward (cautiously). Just keep an eye on it; check on it every few days to see how it is developing. You do see mold? Welp, it’s time to find a new SCOBY. There are ways to recover a SCOBY, but really, the easiest and healthiest thing to do is find a new SCOBY (which we usually have in the shop). Whatever you do, DO NOT consume moldy SCOBY booch…it tastes terrible, but more so, it could make you sick. But with all honesty, mold is a somewhat rare occurrence if you follow the guidelines above. So don’t be afraid… just keep moving forward.
My mother had Amish Friendship Bread when we were growing up. A co-worker gave her a starter and she kept going forward with it. I remember watching the bag fill with air and look like it would pop and she would add the next ingredient and mash it all together. It was tasty… but she hated it so much because it was a continuous bread making adventure. It took a considerable amount of commitment to keep it going.
Kombucha is sort of like Amish Friendship Bread… only the benefits are much better. For a little time, it gives you amazing gut health, probiotic benefits and so much more. Plus… the minimum you want to let your booch run is a week-10 days, but if you let it go for several weeks… well benefits are still there too. You can brew your kombucha for a week or taste it and brew it until you like the way it tastes. After you have been brewing for a little while, you will get a feel for your own preferences in your first ferment. If you happen to totally forget about your booch and it tastes like some wicked vinegar… it’s ok. Keep moving forward. Just dump the batch, be sure to keep enough fluid to use as a starter for a new brew (at least ½ cup) and start again. If you are worried there won’t be enough oomph (a.ka. bacteria) to start a new batch, you can always add some already made kombucha that is store bought (just be sure it is raw and unflavored).
Stinky, vinegary, bubble-less? There are a lot of things that can happen when you are brewing. The longer you do it the more comfortable that you will get in what you are doing. I tend to fall back on a number of great resources like Len Porzio, a kombucha fanatic and master. He has an incredibly detailed page called Balance Your Brew which offers an amazing breakdown on some troubleshooting once you start to get a little more comfortable with what you are doing. I find that the longer I brew, the more I get into the details of balance of flavor, dryness, sweetness and more. He is a great resource for finding that perfect booch balance. I often reference Jill Cicirelli in class as well, a great resource for awesome small batch fermenting. She has a page dedicated to kombucha making here and of course there is her book- Fermented, A Four Season Approach to Probiotic Foods.
Don’t be too hard on yourself if after a few brews you are the only one who will drink your kombucha. First of all, well, yay, more booch for you! Secondly, as you keep going, your brew will get better. I had been brewing for several months with very skeptical looks from my kids until one day my second ferment just suddenly disappeared… into their bellies. Once you get the hang of your first ferment, you can start to work some magic in your second ferment. But, you don’t have to do a second ferment to have beneficial kombucha. Enjoy what you are doing, experiment and have fun. Remember if you screw up, you can usually just start over. So… just keep moving forward.
Each month (first Sunday of the month, 5-7pm) we have a hands on class on kraut-making as well as a demo on kombucha brewing. It is an exciting opportunity to see, touch and feel while having someone offer insight on several years of fermentation. It can be daunting to start fermenting if you’ve never done it before but with a little help some of that fear can be abated.
After the class we encourage participants to ask questions, send photographs- anything to help you on your way in your first few batches of ferments. But we thought that we would put some information here on our site to help you along while you get going. This post today will focus on the first portion of the fermentation class: krauting making. We hope to answer many questions about the process as your sauerkraut is fermenting. Of course, as always, if you have any additional questions, feel free to stop by, email us or give us a call with any questions.
Class is over now what?
So you just went home with your first batch of kraut. Where to start?!
You don’t need any fancy tools to make sauerkraut. Sandor Katz believes heartily in using tools that you already have on hand and that is generally what we go with. Having said that, there are many tools that you can utilize to help make you feel a little more comfortable in your fermenting.
Weights keep your kraut blend submerged in the brine. Weights can come in a variety of styles including ceramic weights, vegetable cores (we demonstrate in class), large rocks or even a small jar. They all serve the same purpose- keeping your kraut under the brine and healthfully fermenting.
Air locks can make things a little simpler because you can be a little less hands-on with your kraut. The air lock serves to release the carbon dioxide that is building in the kraut while fermentation is beginning and continuing. There are a few brands that secure right on to a mason jar if you are working on small batch ferments. If you have to travel or otherwise just don’t pay as much attention to your ferment, airlocks can be very helpful in keeping your batch pretty safe. Even with airlocks brine evaporation occurs, so do check your water levels.
You want to place your sauerkraut in a dry and draft-free place. Remember that it needs to stay at least 5 feet away from any other ferment or cross fermentation will occur and one will inevitably die. The temperature should stay in the 65-75 degree range, anything lower and fermentation will slow or not occur at all. Higher temperatures could speed fermentation, but watch carefully for water levels, the higher the temperature the quicker the water evaporation.
My kraut is overflowing!
As fermentation begins, within the first 24-48 hours you will notice your kraut is overflowing as bubbles begin to start the fermentation process. This is lactic acid releasing from the vegetables causing , hence lacto-fermentation. You will get to a point where you feel like it will never stop overflow, but it will. Be sure to continuously check the water levels in the first week of fermentation. When the first portion of the fermentation slows down, there will be a low water level. Be sure to add more water (brine… 3 parts water, 1 part sea salt) and keep the water level above the kraut. Should you notice the water is low, skim off any kraut that has been exposed to air and add the brine and continue to ferment.
There are various schools of thought on mold. Some people are extremely sensitive to molds (like myself). I try to keep my sauerkraut mold free by consistently checking on it and maintaining a good brine level. Generally I won’t eat kraut that has developed mold because like about 1/3 of the population I have developed a severe reaction to mycotoxins. However, many hardcore fermenters simply say, skim the scum and you are good to go. Sandor Katz himself has a breakdown of the creation of molds in fermentation and how to avoid it here.
The Fermenters Club also has some great info about mold and even a video on skimming.
The bottom line is that you should (in my opion) be cautious about molds, but if there is scum or mold present, it doesn’t necessarily mean your whole batch is done for. Here is a great infographic to give you some guidelines on mold.
I think the last question I usually get is “how long do I leave it fermenting?” There are many guides that can give you some ideas on how long to ferment your kraut. As fermentation continues your kraut changes and develops the flavor. Once your kraut gets that pickly-briney flavor that YOU are happy with, go forth and eat it! If your still a little concerned here is a good graphic that gives you some more detail on the process through time.
For us, we generally let our kraut ferment between 4-6 weeks. Then once we start to eat it… we start a new batch!
I hope that answers some sauerkraut fermenting questions. NEXT: Kombucha… what happens next?
Every few days folks come in to find bones for broth. It is no wonder, with all the benefits of regularly consuming bone broth, why wouldn’t you buy some bones to make your own? Ok, ok, there are a number of reasons why you might not, including the very long cooking times, but really the negatives are outweighed by the positive tenfold.
So you may ask- what exactly are the benefits of bone broth? What’s the big deal? Why does it have to be “healthy” bones?
There are countless articles out on the interwebs that discuss the benefits in depth, so I am going to keep this quick and dirty and move on to the making of broth. So, here we go:
Bone broth contains a variety of nutrients and minerals that are important for your body including- calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulfur chondroitin, glucosamine, and a variety of trace minerals. Why is that important? Can’t you get that from a supplement? Yes… and no. When you consume foods that naturally contain certain nutrients and vitamins, they are more bioavailable for absorption. That means that your body can actually use all those nutrients much more effectively.
Hydrophilic colloid. We all talk extensively about “gut health” and why it is important. (if you are unfamiliar, that will be a whole other article) but did you know that the hydrophilic acid present in bone broth is a gelatin that helps to hold liquids in place like the ever so important digestive fluids that help your digestion.
Bone broth helps you fight infection by reducing inflammation. Did your mom ever give you chicken soup for your cold? Probably. Did you know that aside of just making you feel cozy, it was actually part of your body’s healing? Yes!
Making Bone Broth:
Making bone broth doesn’t really require any heavy instruction or require any complicated equipment. Planning ahead, you can have gut healing bone broth ready to go every day. Here are a few tips and directions for getting the most out of those bones.
Choose healthy bones!
I cannot stress this enough. You know how if you cut down a tree, you can see the rings of the tree and with some research learn a great deal about the health of the tree from year to year. Our bodies, while very different, are somewhat similar. As we grow (mammals) the nutrients and minerals that we consume are present down to our bones. Of course the converse of this is that all the bad things like pesticides, chemical treatments and more are also present in our bones. Additionally, the fats in our bodies hold the highest amount of the chemicals and bad stuff that we have consumed, been administered or been exposed to. So, logic would state that if we consume an animal who was treated with lots of antibiotics, hormones, chemicals and more, that we would be consuming those as well, right? Indeed. With our bones being the rings of our tree, we need to be sure that the bones we use are sourced from healthy animals that were forage fed, pastured, grass-fed and finished and free of all GMOs. This sounds a little daunting, but honestly, the bones are the cheapest part of the animal, so even if you can’t afford to eat 100% grass-fed/finished meats, splurge on those bones. (and choose organic for the meats if when not choosing grass fed/finished)
Different treatment for different bones
Each type of animal bones requires slightly different cooking times to get the most out of the bones. A seasoned bone broth maker rejoices when they get a resulting broth that is so jelly that you can turn it over without any spillage once it’s refrigerated. (you don’t know joy until you have totally jelled your broth). Follow these guidelines to cook your bones for the best result:
Chicken: 12-24 hours, cook until the bones can be crushed or broken by hand
Pork: 24-48 hours (bones will still be firm, but softer)
Beef: 24-48 hours (bones will still be firm, but softer)
Can’t leave your bones that long? The longer the cooking time, the better flavor and nutrient value, generally speaking. But that doesn’t mean if you only cook your bones for 12 hours that you get nothing, so forge ahead!
Just as with anything, the resulting product is only going to be as good as the materials used to make it. Start off with purified water so that you don’t have the added fluoride and chlorine affecting you.
Awesome start to a good broth by Maureen at 25 30 Espresso
4 quarts water
2-4 lbs healthy bones (chicken, beef or pork)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (like Braggs) or white vinegar
2 stalks celery
4 cloves garlic
Add the water and bones to a crock pot or heavy bottom pot.
Roughly chop all the vegetables and add to the pot.
Set the crock pot on low and allow it to cook for 12-24 hours (or more depending on the bones you are using)
When your broth has finished, using a strainer, strain the broth and use as desired.
You don’t have to add those veggies if you don’t want to, but they will give you a pretty tasty broth at the end of the day (or several days). Additionally- you can get the very most of your bones by first using them to make a meat stock (simply boil the bones with your clean water for 10-15 minutes) and then once you get your meat stock, transfer them to a crock and add more water and continue to cook. In our family we love getting the very most out of our meats so using the bones to make a quick soup and then bone broth is our normal.
Because it can take some time, we do have fresh bone broth now available at Kickshaws on a regular basis. If you can’t find it in the refrigerator, we might have it at the kitchen ready for a hot cup of gut healing goodness.
Last week I was in pain, a lot of pain. If you happened to come by the store, I apologize for my lack of chipper, I was definitely moving slower than I normally do. It doesn’t happen all that often these days, but I do occasionally have the flare up of my bigger autoimmune symptoms. When I do, it really stops me in my tracks.
Often, people ask me how I have recovered from my illnesses. The answer always varies a little, but remains relatively the same- I haven’t. Four years ago, I was largely bedridden. I saved up energy during the day to be able to be some kind of mother to my kids when they got off the bus. By 8pm, I was absolutely done. Over the last several years I have worked very hard to tackle my medical issues so that I can actually live a somewhat normal life (and start a business!), but it hasn’t been easy. I have eliminated many things and altered the way that I live so that I can become a healthier and happier person. Even still, usually with some sort of trigger like diet or stress, I have issues. Ever so often I have a super kind customer that asks me (knowingly) how I am feeling. Sometimes that question can be hard to answer because I simply don’t feel well. But I do believe that the best answer, the one that can actually help others, is the truth.
A while back I read this post from Elana Amsterdam of Elana’s Pantry (and author of a number of great cookbooks) about her Multiple Sclerosis (MS) diagnosis and coping with. When I first began treatment, my first diagnosis was MS and like her, I thought that that would be the end of everything. I was certain that from that moment on I would only get sicker and my children would see their mother die. I had a few supportive friends and family that really helped encourage me and of course my amazing husband. I was able to really start to get myself into a routine, like Elana talks about, that made sense for my body and its ability to heal.
Healing for everyone is a long journey. If you have suffered with pain and illness for most of your life, recovering from it can be something that may take the rest of your life. But with that healing, there are those times when you can actually enjoy the day or month or year, where when you had not been working towards recovery, you may not have. I know that for myself and many others, healing is a process that requires many things. I maintain a strict schedule of sleep, light exercise, hydration and good nutrition. If I stray, I pay for later. But, with diligence and prayer, I can get through my day and accomplish the things that I want and need to do. But my biggest lesson is that I need to listen to my body.
If you don’t suffer, be thankful, but remember for every person who lives a healthy life, there is a person who is ill. They may not tell you, you may not be able to see it, but they ARE suffering. Be kind, be patient and be supportive. You kindness means more to people like me than you could possibly know.
Recently I was sitting in a local coffee shop and overheard a conversation between a few folks enjoying a morning brew. Obviously they were unaware that I was the owner of the new trendy, hispter-y grocery store that opened up in town, otherwise the conversation may have been different. They talked for a long while about how people are feeding into these food trends like lemmings. They mocked the very idea that folks have so many “issues” with various foods; just take the whole gluten-free and organic crazes for instance. They ended their conversation with a devout commitment to never follow such ridiculous food trends and act like all those hipsters. (as they sat sipping beverages in the coffee shop)
So this all begs to answer one very big question: does what you eat really matter?
Everyone knows the basics; if you don’t drink enough fluids, you become dehydrated and could die. If you don’t sleep enough; you usually get sick. But then what about the details like what you eat, what you drink, what is in the food or drink? I have often used the analogy of a race horse to get the idea across. A horse that is groomed during its entire life to win a Kentucky derby isn’t fed cheap feeds with lots of fillers. They are fed the best feeds, electrolytes, vitamins, good water and more. They are meticulously cared for their entire lives so that their bodies can function at their most optimal level and at the end of the day, they can win the race.
It sounds like an extreme analogy, but when you really look at it, what we put in our bodies predicts exactly what we get out. Today people are so used to feeling sick that it has just become the norm. Each day we cope with headaches, reflux, heart burn, joint pain and many more even more severe issues. These pains and discomforts have just become part of life; it should not be this way.
The fuel that we fill our bodies predicts how we function. Our nutrition affects every aspect of our lives from the time we are born, to the day we die. We should not wait until we are so sick that we are out of options and finally begin to look at what is on our plates. If focusing on my nutrition and that of my families makes me a hipster, I guess I am.
Over the last several months I have had the opportunity to participate in a few events that highlight “Ark of Taste” foods and products. I admit, for a while I was totally unfamiliar with the term as I am sure many people are. Simply put, Ark of Taste is a catalog of foods that are on the brink of extinction that we are trying to preserve. Think Noah’s Ark and the animals two-by-two, same idea here, we are creating a list of foods that need to be put on the Ark to allow them to continue to be grown, harvested and enjoyed for generations to come.
What is the purpose of Ark of Taste?
Sure, having a list is great but how does that lead to preservation of certain foods? The Ark of Taste catalog serves as a resource for farmers, ranchers, fishers, chefs, grocers, educators and consumers. By finding these products in the Ark, we can then discover and promote them to save them from extinction. For us, at Kickshaws Downtown Market, that means carrying products that carry the Ark of Taste distinction to help maintain that food but also educate others about them.
How can you help?
There are a few ways that you can help the Ark of Taste
Explore the Ark of Taste Catalog.
Do you see items that you can find locally from local farmers or even produce yourself in your area? Search for them, try them, and share them! By doing this you are helping to preserve these foods.
Nominate an item to the Ark of Taste.
Is there a food that your family has passed down recipes for through generations? Have you ever talked to a cook or chef about an ingredients and never been able to find it? Is there an artisanal food you know that isn’t too common but has a rich history? Nominate it to the Ark!
Slow Food USA works hard to help share and educate people nationwide about local, artisanal, heritage and rare breeds and foods. Help by donating to Slow Food USA to keep these rich traditions moving forward.