½ cup butter
3 tbsp coconut oil
½ cup coconut sugar
⅓ cup maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla
½ cup cocoa powder
⅓ cup toasted oat flour
¼ cup coconut flour
1 tsp baking powder
Hefty pinch sea salt
2 tsp ceylon cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom
Dash cold coffee
¾ c bittersweet chocolate chips
½ cup soaked & toasted, and chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease bread loaf pan with butter and dust with cocoa powder (instead of flour).
Melt butter, coconut oil, sugar and syrup in large saucepan. In another bowl, beat eggs until fluffy. Temper eggs by slowly adding melted butter-sugar mixture to eggs. Beat until incorporated. Add vanilla and coffee splash. Stir in cocoa powder, flours, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Mix in chocolate chips and nuts. Pour into loaf pan evenly. Bake for 15 minutes. DO NOT OVER BAKE. I like to turn oven off at 13 minutes, open the oven door and let the brownies continue to bake a bit while they slowly cool off, about 5 minutes (and if you are making these in the winter, it’s lovely to huddle next to the stove, smell the delicious chocolate and receive the last of the oven’s warmth). Let brownies cool on countertop. When completely cool, slice into squares with a butter knife, sprinkle with sea salt, and store in fridge for one week.
1 stick grass-fed butter (room temp)
½ cup unrefined coconut oil (room temp)
2/3 cup (200g) coconut sugar + 2 tbsp molasses
1 egg (room temp)
2 cups (170g) old-fashioned rolled oats
1.5 c toasted oat flour (if you can’t find toasted, good ole oat flour or coconut flour works. We like to stay away from almond flour because of bees)
1 tsp baking soda
2 heaping tsp sea salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 15 oz can pumpkin with liquid squeezed out
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Drape a thin linen towel, cheesecloth, or paper-towel over a small bowl. Delicately dump the canned pumpkin unto the cloth. Squeeze the liquid out of the canned pumpkin as best you can. (this makes your cookies crispy and less cakey!). Set aside. With a mixer or whisk by hand, beat butter & coconut oil until smooth. Slowly add sugar + molasses until the mixture is light and fluffy. Lastly, beat in the egg, vanilla, and pumpkin. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Gradually add dry ingredients to wet, mixing evenly. Lastly add the oats. Scoop the dough by heaping tablespoons onto a cookie sheet topped with a Silpat* . Once on the sheet, pat down the dough balls with your finger pads to form 1/2" thick discs. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cookies are browned around the edges. Remove from oven and let them rest on sheet for 2 minutes. Then, transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, add a dollop of Shatavari Chocolate Ganache (recipe below) and let set in fridge so chocolate hardens.
Shatavari Chocolate Ganache Recipe
1 cup coconut butter (if you can’t find this- I typically order in bulk online because it’s so dang good!- you can use coconut oil)
1 c bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup cocoa powder
½ cup Shatavari root powder
1/3 cup Psyllium husk powder (thickens and adds fiber)
2 tsp Cinnamon
Pinch sea salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
Splash coffee (this is optional but really balances out the chocolate)
In a double boiler with water gently simmering, melt chocolate and cocoa butter until relatively smooth. Mix in remaining ingredients and stir until you have a silky consistency. Let cool to room temp. When your cookies have completely cooled, you can dip the cookies into the sauce or put a pretty spoonful on top, possibly topped with a toasted nut to finish it all off. This recipe makes extra sauce that you can store in a mason jar in the fridge for at least a month (it will definitely be gone by then).
This ganache is bitter and only slightly sweet, but the bitterness compliments the sweet pumpkin and activates those bitter receptors critical for beneficial anti-inflammatory and digestive function.
*Silpats are a baker's best friend. These silicon sheets are totally nonstick so you don't have to deal with greasing and lining your pans.
What is Shatavari?
Everyone is raging over Ashwaghanda right now, but have you heard of Shatavari? Traditionally, Ashwaghanda is viewed in Ayurvedic medicine as a man’s herb, promoting endurance, fertility, immunity, and confidence. The literal translation is “Sweat of the Stallion”. Though once specific for men, research is showing the hormone-balancing and immune-boosting effects can be equally useful for women. Shatavari, on the other hand, is a traditional nourishing woman’s herb. Translating to “She Who Has 1000 Husbands”, it’s obvious that we have another herb useful for enhancing fertility and strength. Shatavari (Asparagus racemosa) belongs to the Asparagus family. If you took a look at her massive root system, you might be able to understand why humans were inclined to use this plant for reproductive purposes- beneath one plant are many substantial roots, resembling a fat handful of pale carrots bundled together. Shatavari is a nourishing tonic herb for our adrenals and endocrine (hormones) system. When we are stressed, our body uses the ingredients for making healthy sex hormones to make stress hormones instead (this is why it’s hard to feel amorous when we are under too much stress). Nourishing tonics are meant to be take daily- you must be diligent about taking your herbs daily if you want the results you desire. Shatavari is also mucilaginous, nourishing, healing, and removing inflammation throughout our entire GI tract. She also helps re-establish imbalanced vaginal pH. Clinically, Shatavari has been shown to reduce symptoms of PCOS, PMS, and amenorrhea to name a few.
Is Stomach Acid!!!!
I’m going to keep this brief (kinda) because I want everyone to read it. We live in a world of information overload. You can Google anything and get 500 different answers. Everyone has an opinion, and this is great; however, it is also dizzying. Here’s my opinion: trust your gut. But how can you trust your gut if it’s a hot mess?
No one should live with acid reflux. It is PREDOMINATELY preventable. If you are reading this, you likely have the luxuries of sleeping indoors and access to ample resources. At this point in our evolution as civilized beings, we have access to all the tools we need to thrive, and yet many people are living with consistent stomach pain. This should not be the case.
A healthy gut operates by means of: a well-nourished mucosal lining, strong stomach acids (pH=1-3), and digestive enzymes. All these components are connected. Unlike the rest of the body, the stomach needs to be very acidic so it can pulverize the things we eat. What’s more, enzymes can only be activated in an acidic state. Stomach acid and unlocked enzymes cause digestion. Insufficient stomach acid and dormant enzymes cause indigestion. Over time, undigested food can irritate and inflame the mucosal lining, perhaps wearing it down and eventually escaping into other parts of the body (i.e. leaky gut).
It’s amazing that our bodies create hydrochloric acid (HCl), a main ingredient of stomach juice. It can eat through metal! Stomach acid not only unlocks enzymes, but it also keeps bad bacteria out. As we age, we loose the ability to create powerful stomach acids. When we eat an excess of certain foods, we loose the ability to create powerful stomach acids. When we rush our meals and don’t take time to chew properly, we aren’t allowing our body to kick into digestive mode to secrete stomach acids. When we don’t eat bitter foods before meals, an evolutionary cue to promote gut secretions, the body is less primed to digest fully. When we don’t have sufficient stomach acids, the LES (lower esophageal sphincter the separates esophagus from stomach) is never cued to close. Acid doesn’t belong in the esophagus, and hence heartburn is felt. Gas, bloating, indigestion, heartburn- there are many causes of digestive pains, but the key ingredient to solving all these issues is acid!
Conventional protocols for acid reflux can be over-the-counter acid neutralizers (antacids), or prescribed acid blockers (histamine H2-receptor blockers and proton pump inhibitors). Acid neutralizers “work” by balancing an acid with an alkali (calcium, sodium, aluminum, or magnesium). They don’t interfere with the process of your stomach secreting acid; rather, the alkali salt combines with your HCl to neutralize it. Antacids are transient, working only until all the antacid molecules are used. For occasional use, they can be helpful. If taken consistently, they can seriously mess with the functionality of your gut. First off, your food can’t be digested in such a neutral state, so you are robbed of vital nutrients and minerals. They can cause elevated blood pH, excess calcium in the blood, and kidney failure; this is called milk-alkali syndrome. Some women are led to believe that antacids in the form of calcium-carbonate can do double duty as a calcium supplement for osteoporosis prevention. This is a terrible misconception; in fact, calcium can only be absorbed and properly deposited in an acidic environment.
Histamine H2-receptor blockers “work” by chemically inhibiting the process of stomach acid secretion. The hormone gastrin stimulates histamine-producing cells that stimulate stomach acid secretion (the body is complex!). With the histamine signal blocked, stomach acid is not secreted. No stomach acid secretions means no enzymes unlocked, no vital nutrients and minerals absorbed. Additionally, messing with hormone signaling causes adverse side effects with our sex hormones (not something to be tampered with).
Proton pump inhibitors “work” by tinkering with the cells that line the stomach. Their “proton pump” mechanism is responsible for secreting HCl. These pills are effective: they can reduce acid secretions by up to 95%. Once again, with deficient stomach acid, your food simply isn’t digested. Over time, this creates uncountable issues. Our bodies are designed to produce acid to digest food. Let’s cut to the chase and just promote this natural process rather than interfering with it.
What you can do:
Stop diminishing your stomach acid and start building up that nutrient-unleashing digestive power! There are ample natural remedies to restore gut health to its full vitality.
This method is FREE and universal:
These methods are affordable and versatile. Find the combination that works for your unique situation:
1. Take bitters.
The bitter reflex stimulates the digestive process to kick into action. This taste is largely lacking from the modern diet, and partially explains our rampant gut issues. Bitters come easily in the form of tincture, but even just having a bitter green salad before the heft of your meal (this is traditionally why salads proceed your main meal). The bitter stimulus triggers a positive waterfall of chain reactions whose effects reach far beyond healing your gut. Guido Mase’s Urban Moonshine and David Winston’s Herbalist & Alchemist both carry great bitter selections... as do the Herb Girls! I can’t stress the importance of bitters enough! (( Plant insight: Wormwood, Artemisia absinthium, Dandelion Root (Taraxacum officinale), and Artichoke leaf (Cynara scolymus), and Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) are some classic and powerful bitters. Gentian (Gentiana lutea) is another classic bitter but I shy away from recommending it as it is in danger of being overharvested.))
2. Pop a DGL.
Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) maintains all of licorice’s healing properties without its effect on blood-pressure. Licorice’s demulcent, soothing nature restores the mucosal lining of the stomach, reducing pain and inflammation. It is also strengthening to the immune and endocrine system and trophorestorative to the liver. These tasty, sweet, melt-in-your-mouth tablets can be taken as needed throughout the day. Substitute your antacids with DGL. They will bring the same relief with positive side-effects rather than negative ones. Planetary Herbs has a great DGL product.
(( Plant insight: The legume Glycyrrhiza glabra is a staple in traditional herbal medicine. This starchy root has a profound capacity to nourish the adrenals, often an underlying issue in many chronic stress relating disorders. It also nourishes and heals respiratory function and all sorts of gastrointestinal issues. ))
3. Get on the Manuka honey train.
Manuka honey is made from the blossoms of the Tea tree (Melaleuca alterniflora). Manuka honey is wildly delicious, antibacterial, and soothing to the entire respiratory and GI tract. Like licorice, it restores the mucus membrane and reduces pain and inflammation. ManukaGuard makes a product, Nutralize, that combines Manuka honey with raw apple cider vinegar. Taken before meals, this both heals the gut and stimulates digestive juices.
4. Consider Digestive Enzymes. You simply can’t break down food and absorb nutrients and minerals without sufficient enzymes. Gas, bloating, and mineral and vitamin deficiencies will be your fate without these crucial elements. Arthur Andrew Medical Divegest offers a potent yet gentle blend. It contains peptidase which breaks down gluten and casein, two common food irritants. Over time, if you work up your stomach acids and find the foods that your body was built to digest, you might not have to rely on these.
5. Protect your gut.
I can’t stress enough the importance of an intact and un-inflammed gut lining. This mucus membrane is your first line of protection from corrosive stomach acid and unwanted bacterial visitors. If this becomes eroded, all that good stomach acid can cause pain and bacteria can proliferate. Additionally, bad bacteria proliferate when the acidic pH raises to an alkaline state- herein lies the connection between long-term use of acid-inhibiting pills and stomach ulcers. LifeExtension’s CarnoSoothe both rebuilds the mucus membrane and provides protection from H. pylori bacteria, the cause of many stomach issues. The star plant Picrorhiza kurroa is a Himalayan herb used traditionally for rebuilding and protecting the stomach lining.
(( Plant insight: Herbs categorized as demulcents are critical for folks recovering from gut disorders. Demulcent herbs are soothing and nourishing to the mucus membranes of our entire GI tract, and facilitate smooth elimination. They include Marshmallow, Althea officinalis, Plantain (Plantago major), Licorice, and Slippery Elm (Ulmus fulva). However, Slippery Elm is in danger of being overharvested, so vie for the more renewable sources. ))
DISCLAIMER: This is all educational material and from personal experience. In more serious cases of severe reflux and/or esophageal damage, definitely consult with a physician before withdrawing from acid blockers or antacids. Be patient! Positive change wills come- it will just take a bit more effort. You can do it!
Why Stomach Acid is Good for You, Jonathon V. Wright, MD & Lane Lenard, PhD
-2 sticks Grassfed Butter
-8oz bittersweet/unsweetened chocolate
-1/4 cup raw sugar
-3/4 cup raw cacao
-6 farm fresh eggs
-1 Tbs Ancho Chile Power
-2 Tbs Cinnamon
-4 Tbs reishi or multi-mushroom powder
-splash vanilla extract
-pinch of sea salt
Preheat oven to 325 F
Melt butter in a double boiler with chocolate squares. Remove from heat when silky and let cool a bit.
Stir in raw sugar and raw cacao.
Whisk in eggs, add the splash of vanilla, and a good pinch of sea salt. Then add reishi powder, cayenne, Ancho Chile powder, and cinnamon.
Pour into a buttered and cocoa powdered 9” cake pan. Bake for 18-23 min.
DO NOT OVER BAKE!!!! You want it seemingly raw in the middle. When it cools, it will be gooey, silky, spicy heaven. Served with cinnamon whipped cream.
Fermenting. It may be the single most powerful and affordable remedy for lasting health. Anybody can and should ferment. Human bodies are dependent on fermentation, and this relationship is deep, evolving overtime. For one, fermentation made food available to our ancestors during the hungry winter months. Every culture has a fermentation tradition. If they didn’t, they died. Secondly, fermentation makes digestion easier and nutrients more bioavailable (available for our cells to use). Thirdly, fermented foods provide a healthy dose of probiotics (our mutually symbiotic good bacteria). Fermentation has the potential to eradicate numerous modern diseases characterized by chronic inflammation and poor gut health.
Diets rich in fermented foods foster healthy lives. This all has to do with the microbial life in our gut. The bacteria in our bellies dictate every aspect of our being. If we can maintain healthy microbial life in our gut, we are laying the foundation for good health. Daily fermented food is the ultimate preventative medicine. And it is much more affordable than relying on supplements.
Wild fermented food uses naturally occurring bacteria to transform raw veggies to vitamin and mineral rich food. Fermentation is alchemy! Food has a ton of potential energy in the form of nutrients, but if we can’t access those nutrients, we are missing out on a wealth of quality nutrition and allowing waste to accumulate inside us. Oftentimes, we are unable to absorb all of food’s energy because of either poor digestion, lack of enzymes, presence of toxins, and/or poor food preparation. These problems are connected, and they can be solved with ferments.
First off, we need adequate stomach acid (pH 1.5-3). Our body uses this powerful acid to completely dissolve food and to send signals to our sphincter valve, telling it to close. The sphincter valve separates our tender esophagus from our tough stomach. If it remains open, stomach acid will splash up into our esophagus. Adequate stomach acid signaling prevents this from happening. When we have deficient stomach acid (which worsens with age), food can’t be dissolved and our sphincter valve remains open. This is a primary cause of heartburn- not excessive stomach acid, like antacid companies would like you to believe. Furthermore, enzymes, which break down food, can only be activated in acidic environments. No enzymatic action because of low stomach acid means further indigestion. Lastly, our body kills bad bacteria, fungi, viruses, and protozoa by creating a highly acidic environment that allows the acid-tolerant beneficial microbes to pass through into the small intestine. If your stomach acid is deficient, the bad guys aren’t killed, passing through into the small intestines, colonizing them, and causing all sorts of issues. We can remedy this imbalanced state by fostering sufficient stomach acid for complete digestion.
Much like apple cider vinegar stimulates gastric juice secretion, the acidity of fermented foods tells our bellies it is time for digestion. The bacteria that ferment food are the bacteria that reside in our guts. When bacteria ferment food, they start the digestion process for us. When we eat a fermented food, we aren’t only welcoming healthy populations of good bacteria into us, but we are ingesting a food already primed and prepped to be easily absorbed by our hungry, hardworking cells. If food can’t be broken down completely, waste accumulates, jeopardizing every body system and setting the stage for numerous discomforts and disease. Heartburn, colitis, arthritis, high blood pressure- if it’s connected to inflammation, it’s connected to gut health in some way.
Adequate stomach acid, promoted by fermented food, fosters healthy microbial populations, or probiotics. Probiotics are live microorganisms that provide health benefits to their host.
The gut is the jungle of the body- it is a biodiverse region teaming with trillions of microbes (bacteria and yeasts). Even germaphobes who eat no fermented food or veggies are still internally crawling with bacteria. It’s a complex environment that we are only beginning to understand. But we do know one thing: chronic inflammatory conditions, degenerative diseases, and neurological imbalances like autism and depression are all linked to insufficient probiotics in the gut.
A little bit of live ferments goes a long way. Just as too many “bad” bacteria wreck havoc, too many “good” bacteria can also turn into a negative situation, or dysbiosis. For example, someone who eats bowls of kimchi, liters of kombucha, sourdough bread, and nutritional yeast with every meal might be feeding his bacteria rather than his own cells, causing him belly distension and discomfort. It’s all about the balance. “Good” bacteria in wild ferments keep the bad guys like Candida and E. Coli at bay, but healthy guts need these “bad” guys in small numbers to maintain the balance. It’s only when they invade areas they aren’t supposed to be or proliferate extensively that issues arise. By eating a little bit of fermented food each day, washing your hands, meat, and vegetables, and keeping simple sugar ingestion to a minimum (Candida and cancer cells need simple sugar to thrive), you are ensuring that you have a well balanced microbial community with the right ratio of good versus bad guys.
The gut is the source of life! Foster a healthy one by eating wild ferments every day.
A Very Abbreviated List of What Gut Bacteria Do
Wild Fermented Veggie Recipe
Handful of carrots
Handful of radishes
Optional- any hard veggie (otherwise, it will be mushy) : onion, garlic, kohlrabi, turnip, etc.
Coarse sea salt
Crushed black pepper, cumin, coriander, fennel seeds (any spice you like, or none!)
Cabbage naturally has a lot of bacteria on it- you will use these wild bacteria as your wild starter culture, rather than buy a prepared and standardized culture kit. A culture refers to the living microbial communities that create and perpetuate fermentation. Cabbage is cheap and has great texture, but you can use any veggie. For any veggie you ferment, be sure you get organic. Organic veggies have more naturally occurring bacteria on them and no harmful pesticide residue. If you don’t have access to organic, just be sure you thoroughly wash and remove the exterior leaves and/or peel.
Chop up all your veggies. The finer you chop, the more surface area you expose to be colonized by your good bacteria, speeding the fermentation process. Gradually sprinkle coarse sea salt on your chopped material as you go. This will start to draw out the juices, beginning the fermentation process.
In fermentation, the bacteria will gradually turn plant sugars to lactic acid, pre-digesting the plant fibers and unlocking extra nutrition. Fermentation of veggies happens in three stages of bacterial populations, much as succession in a forest takes place with each previous population transforming the environment to allow subsequent populations to flourish. All of this is dependent on pH.
First Coliforms colonize the veggies, creating a more acidic environment for Leuconostoc populations to thrive. This stage creates carbon dioxide as a byproduct of acid formation. As pH continues to drop, Lactobacillus populations colonize for the complete fermentation process.
Place all your chopped, salted veggies in a large bowl or bucket. This is the stage where you want to really want to start bruising the plant material, drawing out even more juices. You can use your fist, picking up handfuls of veggies and squeezing repeatedly. Or you can use a wooden spoon to pound and crush. You don’t want to use silverware, as it is very antibacterial. Hands and wood are the best tools here. Continue sprinkling salt and crushing until liquid drips from a handful of squeezed plant material. Salt not only draws out water, but it’s a preservative and safeguard against bad bacteria that turn the veggies mushy.
Stuff your crushed and salted plant material into a wide-mouth jar. Wide mouth jars are good because you can stick your hand deep into them and they offer a large target for air microbes to colonize your veggies. The tighter you pack, the better! Keep packing and pressing down with your fist or spoon. You want to completely submerge the densely packed plant material in its own briny juices. The good bacteria are anaerobic- this means they don’t like oxygen and prefer being submerged in water. Sometimes it takes a few hours for the salt to draw out enough liquids. You can return periodically to keep packing it down, or you can go ahead and add some raw apple cider vinegar or a brine made of 1 tbs. salt per 1 cup water. However, if you are using fresh veggies and have adequately chopped, salted, and pounded, it should completely submerge in its own juices. The amount of salt used can vary greatly. I typically come out using about 1 tablespoon per quart chopped veggies.
When you’ve packed down all your veggies as much as possible, get a clean plate, can, or heavy jar to weight down your veggies. Anything could work- just find something that fits snug inside your jar. Cover this with a clean piece of cloth, the more breathable the better. Fasten with a rubber band if you wish. Place the jar on a shelf away from direct sunlight. If you store it immediately in the fridge or in a cool basement, the fermentation process will occur slower and last longer. If you make it in the summer and leave it on a warmer shelf, it will ferment faster and therefore go bad faster. I typically like to leave it out on a shelf for a few days, checking up on it to ensure it’s all still submerged and packing down more if need be. Then, I’ll pop it in the fridge and start eating it. By the time I’m down to a quarter left, I’ll start a new batch using that same bacteria-rich brine. If you continue using this starter culture every time you make a new batch, your fermented veggies will become increasingly probiotic. You can even strain off some of the extra brine and use it as a daily probiotic swig. Dr. Mercola has a starter culture of probiotics especially effective at manufacturing the much-needed but little-respected vitamin K2.
Any plant material not submerged in the salty brine will mold. If this happens, it is okay! Just scoop out that portion and make sure the rest is still packed down in liquid. This mold is merely a surface phenomenon of plant material in contact with the air.
Eileen Brantley & Amy Wright
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