Banana Coconut Kefir

Well, the electricity was out for the last five-six hours, so I couldn’t make my morning green smoothie in the blender. Instead, I grabbed a handful of Romaine from the garden, mi jardin, and drank my first coconut kefir I’ve had in years. I used the starter from the Fermenting Workshop I went to last night, mixed it with a small banana, mushing it up by hand, and it sure gave me a zing! This recipe, without the banana, is very good for Candida. All coconut products are superb in combating the fungus and helping maintain a healthy immune system.

Wilson came by and gave me a whole banana stalk, with about 100 bananas on it! When he first did that, and hung it up on a rope on my back porch, I said, “Now, I am an Ecuadoriana!” Because everyone has an abundance of banana trees here. And if yours aren’t grown, as mine aren’t yet, people are glad to give you their extras! Oh, my gosh, the land of abundance. I feel enormously blessed every day of my life here.

This workshop was at a  beautiful house on an acre with solar fridges even! Anyway, I got some free coconut kefir starter (no milk in it) and we made coconut kefir, banana kefir , beet kvass, cultured veggies, ginger ale, yogurt and some tzatziki dips! Yum. And ate a hugeplate of everything. It was so good.

 

Recipe of the Day – Coconut Banana Kefir

Ingredients:

2 T. starter (coconut juice with kefir grains in it, fermented)

1 1/2 liters coconut water

1 banana, mashed

1 piece of cheesecloth

Jug, Jar or Pitcher

Directions:

Fill the jug with coconut water. Let sit for 12-24 hours, but use within that time. It should have a piece of cheesecloth over it to keep out the fruit flies and other bugs. Take out some of the liquid to reserve for your next batch. Then add the mashed banana to the top of the jar. It may sink and come back up again. Wait 12-24 hours. It will have bubbles, which means its fermented! Then, you can pull out the banana, eat or discard. Or mix it all together and drink. Like I did! It’s amazingly good, and with the bubbly fermented taste, you get a real zing to your system with it! Put the rest in the fridge so it will continue to ferment slowly.

Word of the Day: jardin – garden

Tip of the Day: Eating a little fermented food each day, like yogurt, kefir or sauerkraut, will kill the bad bacteria in your gut and feed the good bacteria! It sure helps with Candida!

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Lemongrass Tea

“Hey, Roberto, can we stop at the Malacatos Nursery for no good reason,” I asked my taxi driver and friend? And after picking out lovely yellow flowers and a canela tree, she found, way in the back, ONE lemongrass bush, yeay! They call it Hierba Luisa here, and I’ve been looking for it for eight months!

It smells so good  – from the mint family, yet like lemon! And I’m so happy. You cut a bunch of it and throw it in a kettle for tea. And its from the mint family! So easy! You know how much it cost? Nothing. She threw it in for free after I bought the flowers. Wow. So many gifts here.

Lemongrass in the Wild (aka Hierba Luisa)

 

Recipe of the Day: Lemongrass Honey Tea

 

1 pot water

Handful lemongrass

1 T. honey

Directions: Boil the pot of water and add the lemongrass. Turn off water and let the herbs steep for twenty minutes. Put the honey in your teacup and pour the tea right over the honey. Stir well. Your whole house will smell amazing! You can also mix with manzanilla – chamomile, or lavanda – lavender!

Word of the Day: Hierba Luisa – lemongrass

Travel Tip of the Day: You’ll never have to buy the old box teas again. Plant mint, basil, lemongrass, lavender, chamomile in your garden wherever you’re living and they’ll take off. You’ll have an herb garden. It’s a GREAT leave- behind gift to someone hosting you or, if you have moved out of the country, like me, everyday you can go out and cut a couple leaves for your tea. You’ll always have fresh tea. You can do it window boxes or on your kitchen counter, as well!

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Aji!!

Everywhere you go in Vilcabamba, in Ecuador, every traditional restaurant has the most awesome, delectable Aji. And every day its completely different, so you know the chefs are doing it to taste. Oh, my gosh, it’s so good, and sometimes a trifle too hot, so you always taste it before you cover the rice, or veges, or avocado with it.  And I couldn’t figure out why their salsa tastes so completely different than mine!                                                                                            

So, then I went to my Spanish class, and another Gringa lady asked the same question to the teacher. And we were like, “This is ridiculous, and puts us to shame, that we can’t re-create their salsa, and feel compelled to keep buying it all the time.” So our Profesora gave us her recipe, and here it is, vamped, of course to my liking. Go ahead and play with it! You know what the secret is? Not tomatoes, but Tomates de Arbol- tomarillos that grow on a tree, and are red and roundish, oval, sometimes yellow, green or purple! They are amazing, and also make the most delicious juice you ever had. Even my son, who doesn’t like tomato juice, loves Jugo de Tomate de Arbol. It’s sweet! And that’s the secret to the best Aji!

Recipe of the Day:  Aji!

2-3 Tomates de Arbol, cooked and peeled.

1/2 c. coarsely chopped onions (about 1 1/2)

6 cloves garlic

1/4 c. coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (or more! The Ecuadorians here go heavy on the cilantro.)

2 Tab. (or more) lemon juice

3/4 tsp. garlic salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper 

1/4 tsp. salt or more to taste

1/2 tsp. olive oil

(options- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped seeded jalapeño chiles (about 4 large), vinegar, green onions instead of white)

Directions:

Cook the tomatoes, peel and blend without the skin, but with all the juices of the tomatoes. Strain. Combine onions, sweet onion, garlic and cilantro in processor. Puree until a paste forms, scraping down sides of bowl with rubber spatula several times. Add lemon and process until mixture is blended but some texture still remains. Transfer to small bowl. Stir in the salts and pepper. Add the tomatoes, then spoon in the olive oil.  Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

Word of the Day: Aji – (aH HEE) -Salsa

Travel Tip of the Day: Taste the Aji with one little, miniscule sip, before putting it all over everything!

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