Becoming A More Cultured Human

cultured_food_life_bookAs a professional psychic counselor and coach, the well-being of my clients on all levels is a focal point for me. Thus I’m sharing a book that is about creating wellness through some unusual foods. What I love about this book is the friendly tone and rather amazing true healing stories by the author. She has seen many people’s lives change through their incorporation of such foods into their daily diets. It’s actually fun to read and thoroughly inspiring. Who wouldn’t want the benefits she describes?

Hay House is a publishing company possibly best known for the first books they published—those of founder Louise Hay, including the over 35 million copy bestseller You Can Heal Your Life. Now, they are one of the fastest growing publishers of self-help and healing materials in the world. When I recently applied to be a book reviewer for Hay House, they saw that I pull no punches; honesty and integrity in book reviewing is vital to me, just as it is with my sessions with clients. Thus, while I am reviewing this book in exchange for a gratis copy, be assured you are getting a good assessment of it!

Cultured Food for Life, by Donna Schwenk, is an engaging and highly readable explanation of the benefits of cultured foods. Cultured, or fermented foods, here means basically kefir, kombucha, and krauts. She also adds in sprouted grains as a fourth related category—missing the good live probiotics, but still more digestible than basic grains due to the fermentation process.

Ms. Schwenk became a convert to the value of such foods in the daily diet when both she and her very ill baby had what seem to be miraculous turn-arounds by her introduction of merely small amounts of store-bought cultured food (kefir in this case) to their diets. Her repertoire has, of course, expanded by leaps and bounds since that fateful time, and hence the book. She is on a mission to make this food accessible and appealing to all. If you think, “ICK, sauerkraut!” then this is the book for you. Chocolate Kefir Waffles, anyone? No? Maybe Coconut Kefir Ice Cream? Or Root Beer Kombucha? How about Sprouted Chocolate Chip Cookies? I’m tempting you with the dessert section, but a variety of recipes abound, from interesting vegetable ferments and krauts, to cultured mayonnaise and ketchup, to breads and pizzas, and so much more.

She also describes the whys, wherefores, and intricacies of this way of eating and preparing ferments in a much simpler easy-to-understand way than I have seen elsewhere. Not only did I enjoy this explanatory part a lot, it was also very informative. In these first 40 pages along with describing the benefits, she gives the basic recipes for the “3 Ks”—the kefir, kombucha, and krauts.

My first difficulty however was also here, with the kefir section. There is a dearth of information on non-dairy alternatives. She gives a nod to these other options, but that was about the extent of it. And later in the book, when she gets to recipes, this applies as well. Though so many of the kefir-based recipes look quite yummy (I love kefir and make my own during the months when goats give milk), it’s unclear how one might substitute.

I was also disappointed when she began to discuss sprouted grains and their recipes that she did not even mention that sprouted flours are available to buy, should one not want to make their own.

Generally, however, the recipes are interesting, varied, and appealing, and also full of good information (her “Flu Prevention Cultured Vegetable” recipe mentions that sauerkraut has 20 times more available Vitamin C than cabbage!), and her joyful and effervescent descriptions make the idea of eating this way seem not only palatable, but even tempting both health and taste-wise.  Fermented hummus, anyone?


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