Alewives: Brewing Ale, Brewing Controversy

Some of what I have been reading recently has helped me reflect on the complex ways religious communities portray godliness and immorality when it comes to economic activity and gender. These reflections have come from a somewhat surprising source: the history of beer.

Given the male dominated/bro-centric nature of the beer industry in our culture, I was delighted to learn that brewing was once the preserve of women. Like bread and other daily necessities, for centuries ale was a largely domestic product. Its productionbarrels-1005376_1920 generally fell within the domain of women’s household tasks. It was common practice for women to sell their excess ale to neighbors and passers-by. Not only did this prevent waste, it also enabled medieval European women to earn an income from their domestic labor. In larger towns, women had a near monopoly on the production of ale for commercial sale.[1] Barrels of ale would be sold to colleges, churches, public houses, private homes, and, sometimes, cup-by-cup by an alewife taking her brew out onto the street.

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Hops, growing innocently.

The early modern era saw the gradual eclipse of alewives by male brewer’s guilds. This process was complex. The increased use of hops in brewing served as one factor. [4] While hopped beer had a much longer shelf life than ale made with traditional recipes, hop cultivation required a significant investment. Most early modern women lacked the necessary access to capital for such enterprises. Guilds, which were often powerful political/economic entities in medieval and early modern European towns, did have such access.

Social shaming also played a role in the downfall of the alewife.  As Christine Peters, historian of early modern England, notes:

“The making, and especially the selling, of ale strengthened the idea of women as the deceivers of men. The stereotypical alewife served poor quality ale in false measures and tempted men into drunkenness and immorality. Such associations conspired to diminish the social status of the alewife.”[2]

Some research even suggests that our Western archetypal image of a witch stems from negative portrayals of alewives and brewsters: cauldrons for brewing, cats to keep mice out of grain, pointy hats for standing out in a crowded street as an alewife sold her wares. Sounds familiar, does it not? [3]

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A seventeenth-century engraving of a dubious alewife from Oxfordshire

 

Courtesy of: Wellcome Library, London. http://wellcomeimages.org http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/Male brewers were able to use the stereotypical negative image of the alewife to their advantage. When churches were built, local guilds often provided a large portion of the funds needed for construction. These contributions gave the guilds some degree of authority when it came to the artwork and decoration placed in the church. Scattered throughout England are several pre-reformation churches whose decorations depict alewives being carried off to hell, tankard in hand, by demons. These overtly negative portrayals are found where professional guilds were strongest.[5] These carvings, tapestries, and paintings convey a clear message: alewives are immoral, hell bound, and worthy of reproach. This church-sanctioned propaganda, combined with the shifting economic landscape, proved effective in marginalizing traditional female brewsters. When the London Brewer’s Guild made their constitution in 1639, it detailed the exclusion of women on the basis of their being “unfit to brew or sell ale and beer.”[6]

brewing-ingredients-11298304793fPJ

Reading about the presence of alewife-damning images in churches gave me pause. Given that most of the population was illiterate in this time period, the importance of visual art as communication tool in religious instruction can not be understated. Economically powerful guilds wanted to exploit the negative image of their female competitors and they used their financial clout in local churches to help them do it. The women involved in the traditional ways of making and selling ale were seen as destined for hell largely because those with power in that particular economic landscape willed it to be so.

The economic elements of church art and decoration are a physical reminder that while every church is a worship space, it is not only a worship space. Its structure and theology have been influenced by the economically active humans involved in its construction. With or without membership in a medieval merchant guild, humans will carry their economically active selves into the church. These often unacknowledged forces shape the portrayal of various economic identities within the community. In my scholarly work on complementarianism I frequently come across theological arguments for particular “Christian” family economic arrangements. In these arguments mothers working outside the home, and the fathers that “allow” them to do so, are given the alewife treatment.[7]

Unwitting participation in unjust theologizing of economic activity is still participation. It is not always easy to name or identify the ways our individual churches have a hand on our notions of praiseworthy/condemnable economic activity. Hopefully the historical example of Mother Louse and her alewife sisters can prompt us into some contemporary reflection. And maybe those among us who indulge should have a glass of ale in their honour…I will.

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Drinking beer as an act of feminist resistance. Next stop, home brewing!

 


[1] Christine Peters, “Work and the Household Economy” in Women in Early Modern Britian, 1450 – 1650 (New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), 53. For example, the 1425 tax rolls of one Welsh town, Cun, list 27 female brewsters and only one male brewer.

[2] Ibid. The closest contemporary cultural parallel I can think of is the stereotypical image of a sleazy used car salesman who hawks vehicles of dubious quality as though they are in mint condition. The stereotype is negative, but many people still buy used cars. There may have been negative stereotypes associated with alewives and female innkeepers, but people still gave them their custom.

[3] I came across this thesis while taking in an exhibit on women and brewing at a local regional museum. A write-up about the exhibit from our local news station can be found here: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/kitchener-waterloo/halloween-witch-beermaker-1.3289646

[4] Hops had been around for a long time. In fact, the wonderful polymath and doctor of the church Hildegard von Bingen wrote about hops in the twelfth century. Sections of her Sacra Physicadetail the usefulness of hops as preserving agents and the health benefits of consuming beer brewed with them. She advised the nuns in her convent to consume a measure of beer daily to aid digestion and assist with maintaining a rosy complexion. So along with being a mystic visionary, a physician, scholar, and abbess, Hildegard was a skilled brewster. Queue imposter syndrome!

[5]As Theresa A. Vaughan observes, “portrayals of rural alewives are somewhat benign, but urban brewsters … were increasingly targeted in the Late Middle Ages and into the Early Modern period.” From “The Alewife: Changing Images and Bad Brews” in AVISTA Forum Journal Volume 21.1/2 (2011), 34. Vaughan’s piece makes interesting comparisons between depictions of alewives and the Virgin Mary in English art. Her article also contains many images of the church art I discuss here but did not have the license to post online. Her article can be accessed in full online: http://www.academia.edu/3428837/The_Alewife_Changing_Images_and_Bad_Brews

[6] Peters, 53.

[7] In case you are unfamiliar here is a clip from a prominent complementarian advocate. Disclaimer: this clip gives me rage cramps.

Author: Allison Murray, A PhD student in the History of Christianity.

https://womenintheology.org

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Jack O’lantern Pumpkin Pie

Like you read in my Fall 2017 Bucket List, I never pass up the opportunity to have pie – pumpkin pie, especially. Last year, I baked my first pie. it was peach and scrumptious. I can’t tell you how proud I felt. I made this delicious thing! I mean, sure, it was quite an ugly pie, but it was gone before we could gawk at it. For those, like myself, who are hardly talented, this Jack O’lantern Pumpkin Pie is festively-designed, without requiring the skill of a pastry chef! Plus, look at how adorable it is!

Ingredients

Dough:
Filling:

Directions

For the dough: Whisk together the flour, granulated sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Using your fingers, work the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles yellow cornmeal mixed with bean-sized bits of butter. (If the flour/butter mixture gets warm, refrigerate it for 10 minutes before proceeding.) Lightly beat 2 eggs in a small bowl. Stir them into the dough with a fork or by hand. If the dough is dry, sprinkle up to a tablespoon cold water over the mixture.

Alternatively, make the dough in a food processor. In a machine fitted with the metal blade, pulse the flour, sugar and salt until combined. Add the butter and pulse until it resembles yellow cornmeal mixed with bean-sized bits of butter, about 10 times. Lightly beat 2 eggs in a small bowl, add them to the machine and pulse 1 to 2 times; don’t let the dough form into a ball in the machine. (If the dough is very dry, add up to a tablespoon cold water.) Remove the bowl from the machine, remove the blade, and bring the dough together by hand.

Form the dough into a ball, then cut in half. Form each half into a disk, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 1 hour.

On a lightly floured surface, roll 1 disk into a 12-inch circle about 1/8-inch thick. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie dish and trim the edges, leaving about 1 extra inch hanging over the edge. Tuck the overhanging dough underneath itself to form a thick edge that is even with the rim. Flute the edge as desired. Freeze the pie shell for 30 minutes.

Line a baking sheet with parchment. On a lightly floured surface, roll the remaining disk into a 12-inch circle about 1/8-inch thick. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet and freeze for 30 minutes.

Position 2 oven racks in the center and lower third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Put a piece of parchment or foil over the pie shell and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake on a baking sheet on the center rack until the dough is set, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and lift the sides of the parchment paper to remove the beans. Continue baking until the pie shell is lightly golden brown, about 10 more minutes. Cool on a rack. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

Meanwhile, make the pumpkin cut-out. Lightly beat the remaining egg in a small bowl. Remove the rolled dough from the freezer and, working on the baking sheet, cut out a solid 9-inch circle. Using a pattern or working free-handed, cut out two circles for the eyes, a triangle for the nose, and a toothy grin to resemble a jack-o’-lantern’s face. Mimicking the ribbed indentations of a pumpkin, cut out indentation markings along the top, bottom, and sides of the face (these will act as vents for the filling as well). Using a scrap of dough, cut out a “stem” and attach it to the top of the face using the beaten egg wash as glue. Return the face to the freezer for 20 minutes.

For the filling: Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, eggs, brown sugar, half-and-half, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, salt and nutmeg until smooth. Return the pie shell to the baking sheet and pour in the filling.

Brush the frozen pumpkin face with the beaten egg, then lift it off the baking sheet. Place the face gently over the filling.

Bake on the lower oven rack until the top crust is golden brown and the filling is set but the center is still slightly loose, 50 to 60 minutes. (If the edges get very dark, cover them with aluminum foil.) Cool on a rack. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Cook’s Note

When measuring flour, we spoon it into a dry measuring cup and level off the excess. (Scooping directly from the bag compacts the flour, resulting in dry baked goods.)

 

 

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Roasted Butternut Squash Hummus

Nothing compares to a freshly made hummus platter from my favorite halal cart in East Harlem. Still, making hummus is actually insanely easy! Check out this awesome Roasted Butternut Squash Hummus recipe!

Ingredients

Directions

Special equipment: Halloween (spooky) cookie cutters

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.

Toss the butternut squash with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and some salt and pepper. Transfer to one of the prepared baking sheets and roast until golden brown, 35 to 45 minutes. During the last 5 to 10 minutes of the squash roasting, add the cleaned squash seeds to the other prepared baking sheet and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil and a large pinch of salt. Roast until puffed and brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Let the squash cool slightly.

Put the garlic in a food processor and process to break it up a little. Add the squash, chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini and some salt and pepper and puree until smooth. With the processor running, slowly drizzle in the remaining 3/4 cup olive oil to incorporate. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if desired.

Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Cut the tortillas into shapes with spooky cookie cutters (you may need to stack the tortillas to press the cutters through) and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Bake until crispy, 12 to 16 minutes.

Top the hummus with a drizzle of olive oil and the roasted squash seeds. Serve with the spooky tortilla chips.

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Spiced Pumpkin-Raisin Cookies

Both my Dad and I absolutely adore oatmeal raisin cookies! Spiced Pumpkin-Raisin Cookies is a quick spin on a classic, just in time for your Halloween festivities!

Recipe courtesy of: Giada De Laurentiis
Episode: Haunted House

Ingredients

Directions

Watch how to make this recipe.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line 2 heavy large baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, oats, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and allspice. Stir to blend well. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, pumpkin puree, oil, syrup and vanilla; whisk to blend. Using a flexible rubber spatula, gradually stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture. Stir in the raisins.

For each cookie, drop 1 generous tablespoon of batter onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing the mounds about 1 inch apart (or use a mini ice cream scoop). Using moistened fingertips, flatten each to a 2-inch-diameter round. Sprinkle each cookie with a bit more raw sugar.

Bake the cookies until brown and a bit firm to the touch, 17 to 20 minutes. Using a metal spatula, transfer the cookies to a rack and cool completely.

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Meal Planning for Low-Income Families

When I started MIM about a year and a half ago, I really wanted to write articles about frugal living that were realistic and practical for low-income individuals and families. I really missed the mark.

Why? Well, because I wasn’t food insecure. I wasn’t getting 50% of my food from food banks or pantries. I wasn’t living in a food desert or a homeless shelter.

Instead, I wrote articles about grocery delivery and online coupon clipping with the assumption that people living in poverty, living in the projects, living in shelters, could realistically afford the grocery delivery fee or even had access to the internet, or a computer, or a printer, or the literacy to do such a task.

Life has been funny to me, I’ve experienced several different kinds of poor, all of which is very different.

There is a difference between having a choice to spend $22 dollars a week on groceries, and not having a choice to spend $22 dollars a week on groceries. So, today, I write this article for a different demographic.

In the past, I’ve written specifically with urban living in mind, with New York City being its focal point. So, I will continue to gear my posts, at least minimally, to locals.

When it comes to meal planning, there are many variables to consider including, of course, access and affordability. For example, a low-income family living in New York City can buy a carton of eggs, quite easily, for $1, while that is certainly not the case elsewhere. So, although I’ve religiously recommended the consumption of eggs, I do realize that it is not a viable option for everyone.

What is a viable option for everyone? A lot of the time, it is the pantry goods, including canned goods. Why? Because they’re affordable everywhere and everyone has access to them.

No matter where you are, here is a list of easily obtainable food products that are universally affordable.

Breakfast

  1. Pancake mix
    1. Pancake mix can be extremely affordable if you don’t care for name brands. Generic brands of pancake mix, including those you can find at Dollar Tree, for example, might not be your Aunt Jemima, but they’re equally filling.
  2. Oatmeal
    1. Again, same concept. Oats are extremely cheap, even more so if you’re willing to ditch Quaker. To maintain some of the nutritional value, don’t buy Quick or Instant oats – stick to Old Fashion.
  3. Corn Flakes
    1. I’m convinced the government is stockpiling cornflakes because there is always a $1.79  gigantic off-brand box of this stuff on sale.

 

Lunch / Dinner

  1. Bread
    1. Buy the store-brand stuff. Wheat if you can manage it.
  2. Bologna
    1. You can fry it, you can eat it cold, it’s the cheapest deli meat.
  3. Canned tuna
    1. If you have an Aldi near you, GO THERE. It’s 69 cents.
  4. Canned beans AND dry beans.
    1. Canned beans spiced up to your liking paired with rice will fill you up.
    2. Buy dry beans, soak them overnight, and cook them in bulk.
    3. A bag of beans will often cost you about the same as 1-2 cans, but it produces 5x the amount.
  5. Rice
    1. Long grain, or whatever it cheapest near you.
  6. Canned pasta sauce
    1. It’s not as tasty as your Ragu, but it’s ⅓ of the price. You can season it up and add ground meat and anything else you has lying around.
  7. Hot dogs
    1. Keep in mind that although hot dogs are often eaten on bread, they also make great fillers.
    2. Buy in bulk, if possible.
    3. Buy a generic 10-pack.
    4. Drop them in your chili, pasta sauce or box mac n cheese.
    5. Fry in a pan with potatoes and cabbage.
  8. Instant ramen
    1. Buy them by the case, it’s cheaper.
    2. You can toss Spam, Vienna sausage, eggs –  just about anything to bulk it up.
  9. Cream of ___ soup (preferably mushroom)  
    1. With ground beef, frozen veg of choice, and pasta or egg noodles.
  10. OFF-BRAND ONLY canned meals and soups
    1. Go to Aldi or Dollar Tree. You’ll get the same product for $1 and it’ll taste exactly the same.

 

This list is definitely work-in-progress, and something I’d like to build over time. Feel free to add to it!

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Aldi Harlem “Mini” Haul, Savings Galore!

After watching about a zillion Youtube videos, I’ve FINALLY popped my Aldi cherry (Harlem location)! I’ve been dreaming of this shopping experience for quite some time, but have yet to make my way there. In 2017 alone, I’ve moved from Manhattan to Queens, back to Manhattan, and luckily for me, I am now approximately 15 blocks from this Aldi location (as well as Target – control yourself, Jocelyn!)

It is true when people say that you can easily save 50% on your grocery bill by simply coming to Aldi. You don’t have to wait for sales or use coupons to save a lot of money here. I haven’t tried many of the products yet like other bloggers and YouTubers have, but I can say that the produce is fresh and well-priced. For example, you won’t find wilted salads here! Like many others have mentioned before me, Aldi supplies their own off-brand products, which so far, have been of very good quality, with many low-priced organic and GMO-free varieties to choose from. A few things you should keep in mind: They don’t bag your groceries, and you have to pay for plastic bags if you don’t bring your own. The same can be said for a shopping cart.

Unfortunately, because my husband and I have to lug back everything we purchase, we can’t shop too heavy. And, let’s face it, the bigger the value, the heavier it is! I’m not even kidding – the canned goods, the rice, the bag of sugar, flour, potatoes, etc. – that’s heavy stuff, and we only have 4 arms combined. However, the great thing is, those prices won’t disappear. They’ll still be there next week.

So, I’ll begin by sharing with you all what I’ve purchased along with a list of meals I plan to incorporate with these items. Then, I will share some good finds that I weren’t able to purchase and carry home, but felt it was worth mentioning.

Before I begin, keep in mind that I am meal planning under certain circumstances such as limited refrigerator space and cookware. This haul is meant to last 2-4 days, with a focus on snacks, lunch, and dinners. We are also shopping to stretch our food stamp dollar the absolute furthest possible.

PRODUCE:

Bag of navel oranges — $1.49, probably the best deal from this haul!

Baby carrots — .99

PANTRY:

3lb Long grain rice — $1.39, again, you won’t find this price elsewhere

2 cans of black beans — .69 ea, ^^^

2 cans of vienna sausage — .49 ea, I’m not quite sure why I bought this, I used to eat them straight out of the can as a child and it’s kind of a treat when I’m feeling homesick

Peanut butter wafers — $1.09, my husband’s guilty pleasure

DELI:

Bag of hard-boiled eggs — $1.89, this is a pure convenience purchase; we share a community kitchen with our neighbors and any time I can save in the kitchen goes a long way

Kielbasa sausage — $2.29

2lbs of potato salad — $2.49, I love potato salad, what can I say?

Honey Ham, cold cuts — $2.59, makes about 3-4 sandwiches, depending on how generous you want to be

Smoked Turkey, cold cuts — $2.59, ^^^

Cheddar cheese slices <3 — $1.89

DAIRY:

Strawberry yogurt cups — .49 ea

FROZEN:

Chicken fried rice — $3.09, meal for 2 type of thing

Frozen peas — $1.05

 

Right now, we have a decent amount of cereal, cereal bars, and granola bars, which, by the way, are mostly from Aldi as well! With that in mind, we didn’t shop for any breakfast foods. For lunches, we plan to have sandwiches with a cup of yogurt, an orange or handful of baby carrots. I have some salad dressing and hummus in the fridge to jazz things up. For dinners, we will be enjoying A LOT of rice and beans, and rice and peas (with carrots too)! We plan to throw in some kielbasa, eggs, or even some sliced ham. I will probably divide our kielbasa up between 2-3 meals and have some of it sliced, browned on the stove, then put on some bread with potato salad on the side.

Flavors will depend on what we have on hand from take-out condiments such as soy sauce or hot sauce.

In all honesty, I am a very simple eater. I am very satisfied with a bowl of rice and eggs with a little soy sauce or hot sauce. Chances are, we may go back for more kielbasa because it’s literally $2, and we can’t deny how versatile it is for meal planning – they have all-beef smoked sausage, lean turkey, etc. so there is some variety to choose from. Next time, I also plan to pick up some canned tuna because they’re .50 a can! Another simple meal I enjoy is diced tomatoes tossed in with some tuna (preferably tuna in-oil) with a few tablespoons of fish sauce stirred in over hot rice.

A few goodies I spotted but wasn’t able to purchase:

$1.99 box of fruit bars that I really wanted, but would melt before I got home :/

MILK – it’s $1 less than anywhere else I’ve been!

Spices, sauces, dressings, and condiments.

Basically all baking and staple pantry items such as flour and sugar.

What are your favorite Aldi products? What would you recommend to new Aldi shoppers?

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The Magnificant Health Benefits of Kefir

Is Kefir For You?

The irony of living in the age of information, with the internet always at our fingertips, is that not everything we find on the web is actually factual — and there is quite a lot of fake news and fake information to sift through. Although modern society has granted many of us more access and more opportunity to live more health conscious lives, the consumption of fast food, along with high sugar and salt diets has become the norm among us. This has done nothing but leave us with terrifying statistics of heart disease and other seemingly avoidable health concerns. Surprisingly enough, the response of the natural health community is the evolution of superfoods trends.

I have combatted high stress, anxiety, and depression in the past, and can attest that ongoing mental illness can cause physical ailments. Stress alone can affect your immune system and how well you can fight off a cold. It can cause digestive problems. Additionally, it can cause weight gain and even stop your period dead in its tracks causing an array of reproductive health problems affecting both ovulation and fertility.

So, as you can imagine, at the barely ripe age of 25, my body was indeed out of whack! I wasn’t taking shits or getting my period. My stomach was permanently upset, and I had month-long lingering colds. A friend with similar health concerns recommended I give Kefir a try to help combat my long list of problems. To be honest, at first, I was skeptical. I had, quite literally, heard it all. Once a woman standing in line at the grocery store swore to me that a lemon wedge swimming in a mug of warm tap water was the cure to all human ailments. What most of us failed to realize is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to our individual health concerns. Additionally, those chia seeds don’t work like a fairy godmother. You can’t blend it into your morning smoothie and magically you’re cured. This is why, in no way, am I suggesting Kefir is the end all be all, because yes, it takes more than a fermented dairy beverage to get your life in check. However, through evidence-based research and consulting with my physician, I’ve come to a realistic solution to a variety of common ailments.

5 Powerful Health Benefits of Kefir (Backed by Science)

Health Benefits of Kefir

The main health benefits of Kefir is its nutrient density and probiotic properties. There is possibly no better solution for digestion and gut health than Kefir. Before we jump the gun, I’m sure you’re wondering what exactly we’re discussing here. Kefir is a fermented drink, traditionally made with cow’s and goat’s milk. It is essentially a more powerful version of yogurt with a much thinner consistency. It is also much less complicated to make, as well. This extremely tart and sour beverage are made by adding kefir grains to milk and allowing it to ferment for 24–72 hours. What is so unique about kefir is these grains can be used more than once, really allowing you to get your money’s worth.

The name is derived from the Turkish word keyif, which means “feeling good” — that’s exactly how you’ll be feeling once you finish a small 6oz glass of it!

High Nutrient Density

Like I mentioned above, Kefir is extremely nutrient dense, and you benefit much from even a small glass:

According to Dietitian Joe Leech, a 175 ml (6 oz) serving of milk kefir contains:

Protein: 6 grams.
Calcium: 20% of the RDA.
Phosphorus: 20% of the RDA.
Vitamin B12: 14% of the RDA.
Riboflavin (B2): 19% of the RDA.
Magnesium: 5% of the RDA.
A decent amount of vitamin D.

Fight Infection and Other Harmful Bacterias

Although the most common known probiotic food product in the western world is yogurt, kefir is actually a much more potent source of this. In fact, kefir contains about 30 different microorganisms, making it the best-fermented dairy product. Additionally, certain probiotics are known to protect against infections and harmful bacterias. Lactobacillus kefiri, unique to kefir, does just that. Studies have shown Lactobacillus kefiri prevent the spread of Salmonella and E. coli, for example.

Digestive Problems and Lactose Intolerance

Probiotics such as kefir can help restore the balance of friendly bacteria in the gut. If you suffer from IBS or other digestive problems, kefir can give that poor tummy of yours a break. The great thing about kefir is those with a sensitivity to dairy can consume it safely! In fact, kefir is 99% lactose-free!

According to the article titled 9 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Kefir, “Regular dairy foods contain a natural sugar called lactose. Many people, especially adults, are unable to break down and digest lactose properly. This condition is called lactose intolerance. The lactic acid bacteria in fermented dairy foods (like kefir and yogurt) turn the lactose into lactic acid, so these foods are much lower in lactose than milk. They also contain enzymes that can help break down the lactose even further.”

Reproductive Health

Experts in women’s health recommend kefir during pregnancy, as well as to those trying to conceive. To an even bigger surprise, they recommend it not just every once in a while, but regularly — daily if you can manage it.

To start, “it helps create a healthy inner ecosystem in your birth canal before the baby is born. This matters because your baby will then inherit this beneficial bacteria and yeast, creating an inner ecosystem in his/her digestive tract that will help digest your milk while building a stronger immune system.”

According to Alyson Lippman, RN, “pregnant and nursing women can drink kefir or yogurt to prevent the overgrowth of a bacterium called Group B Beta Strep. There is potential for passing (Strep) to the baby, where it can be harmful and cause infection.”

Women can also take kefir to reduce vaginal itching, yeast infections, and general problems of immunity while aiding hormonal balance.

Mental Health

Did you know that probiotics may have psychiatric benefits, as well? Is gut health the secret to sustainable mental health? Consider this — “Kefir contains tryptophan which is an amino acid that raises the levels of serotonin in your brain. According to WebMD, “serotonin acts as a neurotransmitter, a type of chemical that helps relay signals from one area of the brain to another. Although serotonin is manufactured in the brain, where it performs its primary functions, some 90% of our serotonin supply is found in the digestive tract and in blood platelets.”

How To Make Milk Kefir 101

What Are You Waiting For?

There is simply no reason to not try kefir! Although this very sour and tart drink is difficult to adjust to, you can make it a much more pleasant experience by adding fresh fruit or even honey, too. Don’t forget your favorite granola, nuts or seeds! That’s how I like mine — crunchy!

Sources

4 Benefits of Milk Kefir That Could Change Your Life. (2015, November 11). Retrieved June 24, 2017, from https://bodyecology.com/articles/4-benefits-of-milk-kefir-that-could-change-your-life

Leech, J. (2017, January 24). 9 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Kefir. Retrieved June 24, 2017, from https://authoritynutrition.com/9-health-benefits-of-kefir/

Pregnant Women and Kefir. (2017, May 03). Retrieved June 24, 2017, from http://www.benefitsofkefir.com/pregnant-women-and-kefir/

Schizophrenia, Depression, and the Little-Known “Mental Health”/Dietary Link: An Interview with Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. (2011, October 07). Retrieved June 24, 2017, from https://bodyecology.com/articles/schizophrenia_depression_dietary_link.php

The Secret to Happiness? Gut Health. (2017, April 12). Retrieved June 24, 2017, from http://lifewaykefir.com/mental-awareness-month-kefir/

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Christmas Morning Casserole // Irresistible Spicy Sausage Hash

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Christmas morning is all about two very important things: food and presents. Not particularly in that order! My Christmas morning usually starts with a cup of coffee, and even with dozens of presents under the tree, I still find myself stumbling to the kitchen first thing in the morning. If you’re anything like me, you’ll want something hearty and flavorful on Christmas morning, and I think I’ve got the perfect breakfast to satisfy the appetites of everyone in your family!

What you’ll need:

// 4-6 servings //

1 roll (or package) of spicy breakfast sausage // I recommend Jimmy Dean’s hot sausage, although any breakfast sausage will do just fine!
8 large eggs
4 medium Idaho potatoes
1 cup of shredded muenster cheese // Cheddar works just as well.
1 cup of chopped scallions
Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

Begin by browning your breakfast sausage until cooked. While your sausage is cooking, begin chopping your potatoes into small cubes. Drain your sausage and set aside. Go ahead and clean and dry your pan – now heat a little bit of olive oil in your skillet and fry potatoes until golden brown and cooked through. Chop your scallions – don’t be afraid to be generous here! Whisk your eggs, and combine all of your ingredients (don;t forget the cheese!) Mix well. Transfer mixture to a baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until cooked through and browned on top. Enjoy!

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10 MUST-HAVE Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Products (And Where To Get Them!)

One of the many things that I look forward to during the holidays is limited edition products. I wait all year for Dunkin Donuts to come out with their pumpkin flavored drinks and donuts! And, by the way, the classic pumpkin glazed donut at Dunkin Donuts is to die for. I just had one earlier this week and I’m probably going to get another this weekend. LOL. Because these products are only available for a limited time, it really does make the experience of enjoying them that much more meaningful. So, with that being said, here are my favorite pumpkin spice products and where to get them!

  1. Lindor Pumpkin Spice Bag, 19 Ounce 61fW8X7-UhL._SL1000_.jpg

  2. Quaker Pumpkin Spice Limited Edition Instant Oatmeal 8 Ct, 1.51 oz Packets 91J0ocwhXSL._SL1500_.jpg

  3. General Mills Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Cheerios – 12 Oz 81ynjqkyuxl-_sl1500_
  4. Twinings Chai Tea, Pumpkin Spice, 20 Count 91NqhkfB9+L._SL1500_.jpg
  5. Krusteaz Pumpkin Spice Pancake Mix A1oyhWmVpKL._SL1500_.jpg
  6. Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts – Pumpkin Pie (Limited Edition) – 12 Toaster Pastries 61FO7RRC0gL.jpg
  7. Nestle Coffee-mate Pumpkin Spice Non-Dairy Creamer 15 oz 81Lmy7FFdxL._SL1500_.jpg
  8. Hostess Twinkies Pumpkin Spice 10 count box (13.58 OZ) 515tDwP2b6L.jpg
  9. Kraft Jell-o Instant Pudding & Pie Filling, Pumpkin, 3.4-ounce Boxes (Pack of 4) 81fwqWYlPIL._SL1500_.jpg
  10. Ghirardelli Fall Pumpkin Spice Caramel Medium Bag, Pumpkin Spice Carmel 7166-gFskOL._SL1500_.jpg

 

 

 

 

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Chinatown, NYC // Manhattan Adventures // Mini Haul

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A lot of people don’t know how absolutely tiny Manhattan is. It is literally a teeny tiny little island. What you may understand as New York City – the neon lights and skyscrapers, is just a tiny fraction of the whole pie. In a span of just a few short blocks, you can walk out of the Financial District, into Chinatown, and out into Little Italy. So, in essence, you could pass by a courthouse, pick up a pork bun (which my husband is particularly obsessed with. LOL.), then swing by a pizza place on the way home. That isn’t entirely what I did on Friday, but it’s pretty darn close!

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It’s been a hot minute since we’ve had an adventure. The last time I spent an ample amount of time out in the city – just exploring – was when my parents came to visit from Hawaii. Not only that, but I’ve been starving for many homesick essentials, particularly Asian foods that I grew up with and enjoyed as a child. These *essentials*, which I guess aren’t *really* essentials, range from fish sauce, to shrimp crackers, to green tea with roasted brown rice!

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Every week, for the last month, we’ve found ourselves in Chinatown. Each time we discovered something new that we loved. One of my favorite places to visit (and try) is Asian bakeries – I absolutely adore Chinese and Taiwanese pastries. My mother enjoyed going to them often while I lived in Hawaii. Our favorite bakery was Saint-Germain, also known as Dee Lite Bakery in Ala Moana Shopping Center. It was always such a treat to get a hot dog bun. In NYC, we have a small Asian bakery chain called Fay Da that serve delicious low-cost pastries, bread, cakes, and cookies. My favorite item of theirs is the green pea & scallion twist. They also serve a variety of cakes including Taro and Mango topped with fresh fruit. Some stores serve mochi, custards, and a mix of all other types of yummy Asian goodies.

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Before heading out, I checked Yelp for the best Asain supermarket in Chinatown. We ended up at New Kam Man on Canal Street, and believe me, we didn’t regret it! I was able to snatch up all of my essentials for a fraction of what I usually pay for. In fact, nothing I bought was over $2! Can you believe that? The best bargain was definitely a 23 oz. bottle of Lucky Brand Fish Sauce for 1.95! At the grocery stores nearby, it would run me $6-7 dollars for a small little bottle! I also picked up 4 packs of Doll Instant Noodles in a variety of flavors, 2 bags of Nong Shim shrimp crackers, a small jar of Huy Fong chili garlic sauce, Yamamotoyama’s green tea with roasted brown rice, and Meiji’s chocolate Hello Panda! Most of these foods have sentimental value. Both the tea, as well as the shrimp crackers, were foods I enjoyed regularly in my childhood. I had tea in the morning with my grandma, and my grandpa used to buy these chips for me after school every day.

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It was definitely a nostalgic experience to eats these foods again after nearly 6 years of not having them.

What are your favorite Asian foods? Do you have a particular Asain comfort food that comes to mind? I’d love to hear from you!

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