Thursday, August 30, 2018


Fermenting foods not only extends the storage life of fruits and veggies, but it also enhances their nutritional profile by adding, you guessed it, bacteria! These bacteria are not bad, in fact they play a critical role in maintaining the ecosystem of our bodies. We are host to trillions of bugs, both on and in our bodies, that maintain our immunity and prevent diseases. Fermented foods contain both probiotics, the bacteria themselves, and prebiotics, food for the bacteria. Incorporating these types of foods into your diet helps grow a healthy gut garden.

I was skeptical of home fermenting at first but now I have been doing it for years and am constantly cultivating something in my kitchen. I have a whole fermentation shelf! This kimchi is super simple, quick to prepare, and the perfect amount of spice.

Homemade kimchi
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 inch piece of ginger
  • 1 Hawaiian chili pepper (or 1 Tbsp chili flakes)
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 daikon
  • 3 green onions
  • 1 head wombok (aka Chinese cabbage, napa cabbage)

Place the garlic, ginger, salt, and chili pepper into a food processor and blend until smooth. In this batch I used Alaea sea salt so the mixture is a bit pinker and chunkier, but with regular salt it becomes sort of a paste.

Grate or shred the carrots and daikon. I have a julienne peeler that I use to make longer strips. Chop the green onions into 1 cm pieces and the wombok into 1 inch pieces.

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Using clean hands, massage the wombok until the liquid begins to pool in the bottom of the bowl. The salt and pressure from massage will help draw the moisture from the vegetables, making the brine for your kimchi. If your hands get tired just take a break! Cover the bowl and set it aside for 10 to 15 minutes, letting time do some of the work. You are ready to jar your kimchi when it has almost halved in volume.

Sanitize a large mouth mason jar with boiling water by either submerging it or pouring it over top. When the glass has cooled slightly start to pack your kimchi into the jar. This size batch usually fits into one quart sized jar. Press kimchi down with each handful, removing any air pockets and allowing the brine to cover the kimchi. If there is any remaining brine in the bowl pour it on top, all veggies should be fully submerged in brine. Top with an airlock lid or a breathable material such as fabric, cheese cloth, or a coffee filter.

Store in a cool dark place in your kitchen. Check kimchi daily, you will need to pack it down as the fermentation creates bubbles throughout the jar. Try to keep the top layer fully submerged in brine throughout the fermentation process. In the heat and humidity of Hawaii, fermentation happens quick. My kimchi is ready within 4-7 days. Taste test along the way to get it how you like it, in colder climates it may take up to 10-14 days. Once it's ready put a proper lid on the jar and place it in the fridge. Refrigeration will slow the fermentation considerably, making it last for weeks in the fridge.

My fermenting adventures were inspired by My New Roots, click the link to check out their Fabulous Fermentation Week post. 

For more info on the microbiome I highly recommend Robynne Chutkan's The Microbiome Solution, or check out her website and blog, Gutbliss.

Friday, August 3, 2018

miso butternut squash tacos

It doesn't have to be Tuesday to have tacos in my house. I love Mexican inspired cuisine. It is so simple and versatile, easy to load up the veggies and still pack with spice and flavor. This dish is a fusion, pairing classic tacos with miso coated butternut and homemade kimchi on top. I am in complete content with these tacos and a fresh margarita. Yes.

As for my homemade kimchi, I just realized I have never done a blog post for it! I have posted homemade saurkraut and karrot kraut, but never my own kimchi recipe. It is so simple, spicy, and I can get everything at the local farmer's market. Until I get that posted, check out My New Roots Fabulous Fermentation Week post, I used this recipe the first time I made kimchi and have adjusted it from there.

And on to the tacos. The farmer's market always has these cute little butternuts for only $1 each! So naturally, I buy two or three. Each one is the perfect size for dinner for two. Miso is another fermented food that I always keep in my fridge. I use it in dressings, sauces, soups, and even spread it on toast with avocado, yum. There are several types of miso paste in stores today, my favorite is Japanese style red miso. Most importantly, I look for the one with the least ingredients.

Stock your tequila shelf and start squeezing some lime because you'll want a margarita with this dinner!

miso butternut squash tacos
  • 1 small butternut squash (about 2 cups peeled and cubed) 
  • 1 Tbsp miso paste
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 2 tsp cornstarch 
  • corn tortillas
  • your choice of toppings- avocado, salsa, cucumbers, red onion, cilantro, or in my case-- kimchi

Peel and cube the squash. Whisk together the miso paste with hot water and cornstarch in the bottom of a mixing bowl. Add the squash and toss to coat. Pour the squash with remaining miso mixture onto a lined baking sheet and spread out into one layer. Bake at 400 degrees F for about 10 minutes, flip and bake for 5 more minutes.

Meanwhile heat up those tortillas and prep your toppings. I like to wrap the tortillas in foil and throw them in the oven at the same time, but you could also heat them on the stove top.

When squash is tender, remove from the oven. Assemble and enjoy!