Fashion, Fad OR Food that matters?

After years to slowly BUT surely delving into the wonderful world of fermented foods, I am delighted that I am no longer alone.

They have become quite the buzzword on the food scene amongst chefs and health food enthusiasts alike and the requests for kimchi have knocked coleslaw off the plate.

So whilst we throw words like sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha and kefir around with ease, what are these foods? The science behind fermentation has a complex and confusing sound. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization describes fermentation as the “slow decomposition process of organic substances induced by micro-organisms, or by complex nitrogenous substances (enzymes) of plant or animal origin.”  In the simplest terms,  fermentation is the process of breaking down the carbohydrates and sugars in food to produce a lactic acid OR an alcohol.  In the case of our food, it is the lactic acid we are after as it is in this process we create a predominance of lactobacillus bacteria, which moves the whole process into the realm of probiotics.

So now you get, whilst these foods nestle somewhere between fresh and rotten (what I like to refer to as funky!) it is the good bacteria (the probiotics) which are doing all the work holding them in this preserved place. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that help maintain the balance of microorganisms in our digestive tract.

Probiotics have been widely studied for treating gastrointestinal distress, but newer research suggests they can help with cancer, inflammation, autoimmune disorders and even weight loss. The research goes on with promising results so far.

Are we on the frontline of a food revolution?

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Tomorrow at Bloom Garden Show in Dublin

Food matters tent @ 5pm

Join the discussion.

#foodmatters

 

 


All kinds of Kimchi

I am delighted that food heros such as Jamie Oliver and Sarah Wilson are extolling the virtues of fermented foods, in particular a certain national favourite of Korea: KIMCHI.

Kimchi and other fermented vegetables are a powerhouse of goodness containing a favourable dose of good bacteria for optimum gut health, organically created through the process of fermentation.  Something as good as kimchi has earned its place as a world heritage dish and has a festival dedicated to it.

Once discovered this food never leaves your taste memory.

Making kimchi for me, is more than a weekly occurrence, I make it a range of Fabulously Funky Ferments on demand and I see the growing desire to get our hands on this heritage food growing week after week.  In fact I cannot keep up and it is truly my desire that you clear YOUR kitchen counter and make space in your life to make a batch of kimchi.

So, for the kimchi kraziness of it, I put the three different recipes to the test.

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Tasting Table Teases

 

 

After a hugely successful pop-up dinner last year at Helen’s Bay Organic Gardens, we are delighted to welcome you back for an evening of taste bud tickling treats.  The tasting table is a 6 course meal set in the very farm that grows some of your food.  Our focus is to present food in a clean way employing some traditional fermentation techniques and  raw food preparation to deliver new tastes to the plate.   Fermented foods will weave their way into each plate as part of a tasty nutritious serving. We have been slowly foraging, gradually gathering and internationally perserving some treats for you already and now the fun part begins as we plan a tasting menu for you to explore many new flavours.

Our menu is shaping up nicely and at present we have the hard task of taste testing these dishes:

Aged miso egg, smoky pesto, dukkah, wild flowers

Indian buttermilk soup, buckwheat cracker, nut cheese

Or

Beet Kvass & Saurekraut soup Polish style

 Cabbage roll tamale, mushroom & nut stuffing, celeriac, apple, kimchi dust

Fermented daikon radish carpaccio, beetroot & horseradish, wild garlic chimcurri

Raw seaweed falafel, sticky seaweed pickle, asian cucumber pickle salad

Fermented apple & goji berries compote, coconut yoghurt, buckwheat crispies

 

There will be a welcoming beverage from Panacea drinks.

You are welcome to Bring your own alcohol

 BOOK YOUR SEAT at our Tasting Table.  We look forward to spoiling you

(Vegan alternative will be provided upon prior notification.)


The Culture of Culture.

As I wait for my soul to catch up with the fact that my body has flown across 11 time zones, I can indulge in the dreamtime state that is jet lag to reflect upon the journey we have been on before it seems like a distant memory.

I feel grateful for the opportunity I have recently had to travel back to Australia with my family in tow. It has only been 8 years of longing to be reunited with some dear friends there and to relax into the warm glow of the southern skies.  Ok, it is more like a harsh, burning sun, but when you come from Ireland, any suggestion of blue sky is welcome!

The energy from the sun inspires me naturally towards a healthier way of life, so taking up the role of resident fermentation expert and chef on a sustainability project really was a dream come true.  Eating whole, real food is joyful, abundant and true.

What better place to experiment with those recipes I have been dreaming up in my mind than on a willing and hungry audience of like-minded folk.

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And so the kitchen journey began, with jars of Kimchi, Salsa, Sauerkraut, Dilly beans, Radishes, Carrots, Broccoli stems, Kombuchas, Jun, Kvass, whey drinks, ginger bugs, switchel and kefir all fermenting away in the sun, to be worked in and out of every meal.

All three weeks of Breakfast, Lunch and dinner, with rarely a meal repeated, was a creative flow of giddy, bubbling, foodie imaginings with lots of meal plans scribbled, as below,  not only keeping everyone fed, but keeping me challenged and  interested.

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Breakfasts including:

  • Banana polenta with LSA, vanilla kefir, maple syrup.
  • Buckwheat Porridge with apples, greek yoghurt, nuts, honey,
  • Over-night summer oats with berries, tahini, Kefir, seeds, maple syrup
  • Millet, buckwheat & chia, porridge with banana, coconut flakes, walnuts, goji berries and moringa
  • Rice porridge with carrot, apple, raisin, ginger, lemon, nuts, honey

Lunches featuring all manner of fermented goodness hidden in various ways:

  • Kimchi pancakes with broccoli satay salad
  • Chilled BeetKvass & Saurekraut soup with Nut & Seed Bread
  • Raw Falafels, Cauliflower tabboleuh, fermented Radish and eggplant
  • Watermelon Gazpacho served Purple eggs & Fermented Mayonnaise
  • Buckwheat crepes, Bean slaw, fermented red pepper dip, fermented mayonnaise
  • Chilled Avocado and fermented cucumber soup with beetroot burger and spinach dip

Various dinners abundant in energy giving goodness including:

  • Moroccan tagine & herby quinoa
  • Chocolate chilli with buckwheat crepes
  • Lentil & sweet potato salad with fermented eggs and dilly beans
  • Laksa, enough said!
  • Curry with Indian Socca and fermented relish
  • KIMCHI, KIMCHI, KIMCHI everywhere with all kinds of salads.

That is just an idea.  Three weeks of food, a menu free from gluten, diary, refined sugar, full of energy, probiotics and love and relatively no waste.  Fermentation fits beautiful into the sustainable dream, whether you are trying to achieve that in the house you build, the garden you grow or the food you eat. It awakens your connection to your body and to the earth. It feeds your life whilst respecting every living thing and the planet we share.

Could I do it again? Yes, in a heart beat.

Could I open a restaurant? I don’t think I have enough hours in the day.

Could I detail all the recipes for you?  Hell yeah, I am just about too and the book will be available SOON.

 

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I forgot to mention what happened to all the fermented drinks on the go.

Depsite the milk kefir, which made its appearance mostly at breakfast or as a savoury salad dressing,  mid-morning refreshments were a necessary part of the day.  Kombuchas, Traditional lemonades, ‘Fizzy grapefruitade’ orangeade, lemon & limeade (all made with kefir whey), Ginger bug drinks and the hugely thirst quenching and “hip” SWTICHEL, as illustrated, hydrated the team.

This was a kitchen of abundance and filled with jars and bottles displaying different projects feeding the bodys and minds of inspiring folk.  Every bite of good food is an invitation to be healthy, happy and whole again. If truth has a taste, is it alive.

If you would have me, I’d glady come to a sustainability project to spread bacterial goodness with you.

Dearbhla  www.theculturedclub.com


 

“Every meal a surprise of different flavours, colours and textures.  Guaranteed a meal full of nutrients, life and love- everything your body needs.”

“Every meal unique and beautifully presented.  Each ingredient lovingly sculpted, raw, fermented, blended deliciousness that tantalises the tastebuds and gives the stomach a big hug”

“Noting wasted but resourcefully crafted to create a new delicious healthy meal”

 


Culturing your kitchen.

It has often been said “If I could just take you back to my kitchen”  as customers dip their tastebuds into the delicious world of fermented and cultured foods.

Each time I hear it I genuinely think “I would love too do that” but in reality there are not enough days in the week.

However it did start me thinking : What if I could come to your kitchen?

Well, now, I can!!!

This day long workshop is designed to

  1. Introduce the principles of fermenting your food
  2. Set up the various cultures which will do the magic bit for you
  3. Introduce an hassle-free system to maintaining these Cultures.
  4. Demonstrate how easy it is to turn your food into superfood
  5. Introduce your tastebuds to this new and lively taste
  6. Leave you with a range of dishes and meals you can easy create yourself.

The Day will start at 10am finishing up at 4pm in which time you will be guided through the various fermented foods and drinks that are so easy to make.

You will learn:

How to make water kefir,  kombucha, kvass and traditional lemonades and these will be set up to ferment in your kitchen with clear instruction on how to bottle and store them when fermented.

How to make milk kefir and alternative milk kefir and a variety of ways to use these superfoods.

How to make Laban cheese from kefir and hoe to make alternative nut cheeses, spreads and dips

How to make a fermented food using a two different techniques.

How to ferment your condiments such mayo, mustard or ketchup

How to make scrap vinegars to reduce waste in your kitchen.

How to a easy assemble a meal from these ready made foods.

You will enjoy:

An introductory smoothie packed full of superfoods to start the day.

A light lunch featuring of a variety of fermented foods.

Demonstrations and hands-on making of these traditional foods using two techniques.

Food preparation for a hassle free dinner.

All this will be enjoyed with a friend, your ‘Cultured Buddy’ of choice!  This can be important to help you share your excitement of these foods alongside helping you retain the information!!

 

There will be a consultation before the arranged workshop to establish any food intolerances or allergy. Fermented foods compliment any diet and as powerful healing foods may help ease any food sensitivities.

All food will be provided on the day and inclusive of any jars.  A starter kit of basic utensils will also be included.

Once your tastebuds have been exposed to the ‘living’, vibrant taste of these foods you will want more and lucky they will be ready in your kitchen to enjoy !

 


“The mouth is the mirror to the body”

“The mouth is the mirror to the body”  Sir William Osier  (a founding father of modern medicine)

Today is the day that I have been looking forward to for many years because today the last mercury filling in my mouth is to be removed.   I was part of the ‘drill & fill’ regime and I am sure that lots of the fillings could have been avoided but the reality is some of these fillings had been in my mouth for 30 years or more. ( These pictures below are not my teeth by the way, they were not far off, but you get the idea!)

 

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It seems unusual for me to suggest enjoyment and dentistry in the same sentence as there was a time when I had to be strapped to the dentists chair.   For the past 2 months I have skipped my way into the dental clinic, always early, excited about new understandings I will encounter and giddy that a little more poison would be removed.

 

I have been present through every removal, deeply breathing to relax my body & mind and I have been loving the release as I prioritise this health protocol.

 

This has been a long journey which was first suggested 10 years ago when I was diagnosed with mercury poisoning.  I can detail this diagnosis another time, but in the recent years of clean eating and detoxing I am highly aware of  areas needing attention in my body and my teeth have been continually reminding that I need address this huge source of toxicity.

 

In valuing my overall well-being, it has also taken me this all time to find the right dentist, a holistic dentist.

 

Any dentist can take out an amalgam filling and pop in a neat little white one, but only a holistic dentist can offer this treatment as one part of a much bigger picture of your overall health.  I would not only recommend Belfast’s only holistic dentist, I would go so far as to say, a consultation with him will expose more about your health than you could ever imagine!

 

There is so much reference to the notion that all disease begins in the gut, a particular area of interest for me, but it is well documented that disease may also start in the mouth, where the gastro-intestinal tract begins.

 

It seems alien now that I once considered the teeth as just the teeth, doing their thing, chomping, chewing etc etc independent of the rest of the body.  The fact that you go to the dentist for your teeth and the doctor for the rest of the body perhaps supports this notion!

 

No one had ever suggested that our teeth are connected to energetic pathways called meridians and there is a relationship between our teeth to other body parts.  This relationship between problems in the teeth and their direct influence on another organ (or organs) in the body resonated immediately.  Just like a piano, each tooth being a key.  The key is pressed and it causes a hammer to strike a note which creates a vibration and a sound.  Each key produces a different sound.

Your teeth aren’t just your teeth!

tooth_organ_relationship

 

One thing that instinctively lead me to cultured and fermented foods many years back was the feeling that my digestive tract needed a little support and help.  No wonder, as a few years prior to this I had undergone a tooth extraction which related specifically to the large intestines & lungs. As the teeth are connected by nerves to your brain, these nerves send nerve impulses or messages to specific parts of the body.  If there is no tooth, I guess their is no message and this area in my body needed extra help.

 

I am delighted that these foods were already an established part of my routine and have kept me in good health, enabling me to respond so well to an intensive series of treatments to a mercury free mouth!

 

The mercury detoxing continues for at least the next 6 months, as stored mercury in the body still needs to be removed.  The approach will be  to chelate out heavy metals the longer, slower way, by means which Nature has provided and a a pace my body can naturally cope with.

 

Natural chelating agents include:

  1. Acetic acid is a natural substance found in fermented foods and drinks, i.e. sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, kvass, apple cider vinegar, etc.
  2. Copious amounts of coriander, garlic and chlorella
  3. Amino acids, obtained from proteins, mainly eggs.
  4. Citric acid which is found in citrus fruits, i.e. lemons and limes
  5. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) found in many foods including vegetables and fruits.
  6. Lactic acid  found in dairy products, i.e. whey, kefir, and yogurt and fermented foods.  Double servings of my traditional fermented lemonade, Thank you very much!.
  7. Natural fats, such as butter, unrefined coconut oil.

 

Instinctively  for the past two months I have been religiously oil pulling at least once a day, sometimes twice.  I figured that since I have invested so much in my mouth already the extra expense of a spoonful of coconut oil might keep me right for a little while longer.   I am feeling the benefits of this as part of my mercury detox protocol.

 

This was forever on my to-do list. The satisfaction I now feel ticking this one off is beyond words.  I really do feel a toxic burden has lifted.

Recognizing that amalgams are dangerous to health, getting them properly removed by a trained dentist is necessary to reclaim your health.  Getting them replaced with biologically compatible composites, and continuing to detox mercury from your body will improve your overall wellbeing.

 

If you are feeling inspired to address the toxicity caused by mercury fillings, I urge you to make an appointment with Dr David Hefferon Holistic Dentist at Elite Dental Practice.  Tel 02890459696

(News to come soon regards a part time Dublin Clinic starting up soon)

 

You won’t regret it!

 

 


What are Probiotics anyway?

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that play a very important role in your health.  They can be considered as an army of good guys offering support to the immune function by secreting chemicals that battle pathogenic bacteria, viruses, fungi, mold and yeasts thereby keeping you healthier.  Yes, there is a war going on inside you daily!

Besides boosting your immune system probiotics perform many other important functions such as:

• Lowering cholesterol
• Lowering blood pressure
• Aiding in digestion 
• Improving iron absorption and other minerals 
• Helping you synthesize nutrients from your food 
• Reducing inflammation 
• Cleaning and scrubbing the lining of your intestines
• Helping with allergies
• Helping manage urogenital health
• Managing irritable bowel syndrome and colitis
• Support the development and functioning of the gut
• Giving you energy

 

The majority of probiotics take up residence in the large intestine and  when the digestive tract is healthy, these beneficial bacteria filter out and eliminate things that can damage it, such as harmful toxins, chemicals, and other waste products.

Probiotics in a healthy person number up to 100 trillion. In a healthy person these beneficial bacteria will outnumber your own cells by a factor of ten to one. Up to seven pounds of you is actually probiotics- Mind blowing, right?

13-400-species-probiotics

So, how can I get some?

During child birth through the vaginal canal, a newborn baby leaves its sterile environment in the womb and picks up its blue print of bacteria from the mother.  However as I assume that you are now of more mature age to read, you might be hoping that I will recommend a pill, and yes, you can get a probiotic pill which will certainly contribute to restoring the balance of your intestinal microflora.

 

However, raw fermented sauerkraut and kimchi made from cabbage are an excellent sources of probiotics along with other cultured and fermented foods in cases offering six times more beneficial bacteria per serving than any tablet.

When nature gives you a natural piece of the puzzle, surely this is the piece we pick to complete the whole picture?

If you are interested to learn more and enjoy your first taste if these delicious foods, join me at The Cultured Club to get friendly with these very helpful little bacteria!

Probiotics want you to live. It is in their best interest for you to live and to be healthy because they depend upon their host (you) for their own survival.

 

 


Summer’s End

The summer is almost over which signals one very clear and welcomed thing: It is back to routine!

 

The central thing about a holiday is that the clock that governs the rest of our lives is briefly turned off.  It can be a hard thing to swallow when you have a business to run, but with two little beings run running around looking for distraction.

I recall reading an article as summer began about how the summer should be a time of rest for children. I have made sure that they are now experts in making do with what they have and have enjoyed hearing their imaginative play.

Doing ‘nothing’ is part of the summer ritual that gives us the chance to relax and recharge.  The year ahead is a busy one.

September let’s be having you! It has always been my favourite month.

At The Cultured Club here’s what we have on offer:

 

 

  • We will be offering demonstrations and tastings of some of our Fabulously Funky Fermented favourites in IKEA on September 12th as part of their new catalogue launch.

 

  • And we are delighted to be returning to Kilruddery on September 13th for a wonderfully indulgent masterclass on fermented foods & condiments.

 

  • We have a few spaces left on the quarterly Introductory course to the wonders of these foods, on October 4th in Ox Restaurant, Belfast

 

Plans are afoot to move to a new premises to start a bigger scale production of our Fabulously Funky Ferments, but for now ordering email is on its way to your inboxes.

Sign up here if you would like to know more.

 

“Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.” ~ Sam Keen


A Polish holiday

I have just returned from a Holiday which has truly ignited and excited me.

 

After having the privilege of being reintroduced to Poland by a native, a country I visited 21 years ago, I feel a huge gratitude that fermented foods are part of my life.

It is wonderful to witness a Culture which holds on strong to its traditions, sometimes unaware as to why.  However oddly, there is just an overall sense that these foods are good for you, without really understanding why.

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Sauerkraut and the traditional pickled cucumbers are available everywhere from the local shop to the market place and I certainly enjoyed their abundance.  It was in some respect a busman’s holiday, as ferments are often a challenge when I leave the comfort of my own home.

One surprise was sauerkraut juice, sold by the bottle in your local supermarket.  A surprising fizzy, salty indulgence.

 

 

 

 

This has remained me to revise and detail exactly why we should be fermenting our foods and making sure we get our daily dose, as they do in Eastern Europe and beyond!

Consuming traditionally fermented foods provides you a number of benefits, including:

  • Important nutrients. Some fermented foods are outstanding sources of essential nutrients such as vitamin K2, which help prevent arterial plaque buildup and heart disease. For instance, cheese curd is an excellent source of both probiotics and vitamin K2.  Fermented food is also a potent producer of many B vitamins.
  • Optimizing your immune system. An estimated 80 percent of your immune system is actually located in your gut. Probiotics play a crucial role in the development and operation of the mucosal immune system in your digestive tract, and aid in the production of antibodies to pathogens. This makes a healthy gut a major factor in maintaining optimal health, as a robust immune system is your top defense system against all disease.
  • Detoxification. Fermented foods are some of the best chelators available. The beneficial bacteria in these foods are highly potent detoxifiers, capable of drawing out a wide range of toxins and heavy metals.
  • Cost-effectiveness. Adding a small amount of fermented food to each meal is home economics at its finest. Why? Because they can contain 100 times more probiotics than a supplement!
  • Natural variety of microflora. As long as you vary the fermented and cultured foods you eat, you’ll get a much wider variety of beneficial bacteria than you could ever get from a supplement.

 

 

 


A weekend of workshops

Helen’s Bay Organic Gardens

22nd-23rd AUGUST

 

The growing season is gathering its force and the end of the summer will deliver a bounty of wonderful produce.  Whilst eating food fresh is the most desirable during the summer months, traditionally we relied on ways to preserve this goodness to see us through the winter months.  Fermentation provides a wonderful technique in not only preserving but boosting the nutritional quality of our food.

 

Join us for a weekend of workshops at Helen’s Bay Organic Gardens were we will explore the techniques of fermentation and the many varieties of fermented foods awaiting your discovery.  Using freshly harvested organic produce from John Mc Cormick’s wonderful farm we will focus on the techniques and the process fermentation.

An Introductory workshop will explore all the various techniques with a tasting selection of what one can expect from these foods.

Introduction to Fermentation       Saturday 22nd August         12pm-4pm          [su_button url=”https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=6JNMU2N6P89S8″ target=”blank” style=”soft” background=”#a8acb0″ size=”7″]Book now[/su_button]

 

The Preservation workshop will be a hands on experience were we create all kinds of wonderful fermented foods from the gardens to take home and enjoy.

Preserving the Harvest    Sunday 23rd August   12pm-4pm               [su_button url=”https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=8VM7TANCH65Z8″ target=”blank” style=”soft” background=”#a8acb0″ size=”7″]Book now[/su_button]

 

SPECIAL BOOKING OFFER for both workshops available here: [su_button url=”https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=6REFALY4R4XNE” target=”blank” style=”soft” background=”#a8acb0″ size=”7″]Book now[/su_button]

 

 

 

                                                                 Photo courtesy of Helen Sloan Photograph.


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The Cultured Club is dedicated to reviving this lost tradition and bringing the control of our health into our own kitchens.
'Let food be thy medicine and thy medicine be food' is a hard philosophy to live by when we are so removed from the food we eat.

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