I love kombucha

Bottled kombucha
I mean I really love kombucha. For me, it even tops chocolate. I get lots of questions about kombucha so I thought I would do a 'how to' post. I took a couple of pictures when I was making a new batch the other day.

 A little about kombucha, according to whatiskombucha.com:

Kombucha is a tea-based beverage that is often drunk for its health benefits or medicinal purposes. Kombucha is a living health drink made by fermenting tea and sugar with the Kombucha culture. The result can taste like something between sparkling apple cider and champagne, depending on what kind of tea you use. 

 The first recorded use of kombucha comes from China in 221 BC during the Tsin Dynasty. It was known as “The Tea of Immortality”. Kombucha tea has been reported to be a cure-all for a wide range of conditions including baldness, insomnia, intestinal disorders, arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, and cancer. 

 Supporters say that Kombucha tea can boost the immune system and reverse the aging process. Kombucha tea is said to contain antioxidants, compounds that block the action of free radicals (activated oxygen molecules that can damage cells). For people who have cancer, proponents claim the tea can improve the body’s defenses (especially in the early stages of cancer) by detoxifying the body and enhancing the immune system. After the body has been detoxified, the tea is said to help repair and balance the body and fight off disease. In rats it’s been shown to protect against stress and improve liver function. 

 Kombucha is available commercially and can be made at home by fermenting tea using a visible, solid mass of yeast and bacteria which forms the kombucha culture which is often referred to as the “mushroom” or the “mother”.

I don't know about all the cure-all benefits but I do know how it makes me feel and that is nothing short of awesome! I no longer have coffee in the morning but have 2 glasses of kombucha (please do not start drinking that amount from the get-go, start with 3 oz and work your way up - your digestive tract will thank you!). I have more energy than I ever thought possible. I'm getting more accomplished in day than I ever thought I could. I feel, for a lack of a better word, cleaner. Meaning, my body seems to be functioning better.  Workouts at the gym feel like nothing. I'm making weight gains lifting every few days. My joints feel like they've been lubed up and oiled. I'm stretching as part of my gym routine but I seem to be getting more flexible than I have been in years.

Brewed tea with sugar cooling on the counter
  1. I make mine in 1 gallon glass jars. Be very careful about using ceramic or any other kind of reactive container as the acidity of the tea will leach nasties into your drink. For 1 gallon of kombucha, boil approximately 1 gallon of filtered water in a stock pot and add one ounce of loose tea or about 10-12 bags of your tea of choice. My favourite is jasmine green tea. Let it steep for about 15 minutes or so. 
  2. With a fine mesh colander, remove the tea while transferring the liquid to your vessel of choice.
  3. Add one cup of sugar to the brewed tea. Any type works, I just use a white sugar. Make sure you are using sugar cane though and not sugar from sugar beets as this is a GMO. Stir until dissolved.
  4. Let the tea sit and cool to room temperature. The next step is to add the scoby (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) and if you add it too soon, you could kill it. You can get a scoby (also known as a kombucha mushroom or mother) online or from a friend who brews. I got my starter kit from Oregon Kombucha on Amazon.
  5. Make sure that the tea is room temperature and, with clean hands, add the scoby and one cup of kombucha from the previous batch. If you have a starter kit, the scoby will be swimming in kombucha, just add the entire contents to your sweet tea.
  6. Put a clean tea towel over the mouth of your vessel and secure with string or elastic. This will keep out dust and bugs while enabling your scoby to breathe.
  7. Store it in a dark cabinet/area for anywhere between 7-25 days. Start tasting after 7 days, the drink will be sweeter as the scoby will not have consumed all the sugar. Just keep tasting everyday until the flavour is perfect for you. I personally love a 15 day ferment, slightly sweet with a vinegar/acid tang.
  8. Once it's ready, remove your scobys (there will be 2 now because a "baby" would have formed during the ferment) and put put them, along with 1 cup of kombucha, in a large bowl (these are ready to go for your next batch).  You can bottle your bucha and start drinking right away or you can store it in the fridge for an extra 2 days for a secondary ferment which will produce more carbonation. When you transfer it to covered bottles/containers, this is also the time to add flavourings if you like. One of my favourites is lemon and ginger juice.
  9. And repeat until the end of time!!
Too hot!! Should be around 72F
Scobys in the pool awaiting the next batch

Fermenting with scobys
Covered and fermenting in my pantry

Enjoy this fabulous drink!!



What's in my pantry

Some of my friends and family have been curious about what is in my pantry and what I use to make paleo/primal recipes on a regular basis. Well, here it is:

It may not seem like a whole lot but most of my food is fresh and in the fridge in the form of veggies, fruits, grassfed butter, tallow, nuts, seeds and almond flour. My proteins are generally in the freezer (except for the 6 dozen eggs in the fridge). If people want, maybe I'll do a "what's in my fridge".

So, top shelf - organic coconut chips (bigger than shreds, good for toasting and snacking), shredded unsweetened coconut, brewing kombucha (fermented sweet tea, full of probiotics and everything good), brewing red wine vinegar (just because I can).

2nd shelf - you can't see it but I have organic chicken stock, then organic (and bpa-free) diced tomatoes and tomato sauce, pickled beets (not sweetened), cans of wild caught salmon, sardines, oysters in olive oil, cans of tuna, organic coconut milk (also bpa-free), dry roasted almonds, primal fuel protein powder (a la Mark Sisson's primal nutrition), nori sheets (great for wraps, sandwiches and snacks), teas.

3rd shelf - box of white wine for sauces, various salts (pink, coarse, fine, etc), bragg's apple cider vinegar, other vinegars (red wine, balsamic, etc.), gluten-free noodles (made by my MIL for thanksgiving, they are tapioca flour based and the kids love 'em), stone ground spicy mustard, honey, grassfed gelatin, almond butter, sun butter and various coconut oils (extra virgin, deodorized, etc.)

4th shelf - appliances and flours including arrowroot, tapioca, coconut and ground golden flaxseed meal. 

I also store sweet potatoes and onions in the bins at the bottom of the pantry but aren't shown here.

I also have a ton of goodies in my lazy susan:

My organic dark chocolate (every lady needs a stash!), vanilla (be sure that it is gluten-free, if it doesn't say it, assume that it does), liquid stevia, baking soda, canning salt (for fermenting veggies), tea and then a million spices fill up the rest of it. We recently bought a smoker so we've been experimenting with dry rubs as well.

So that's about it, no cookies, crackers, or boxed processed food of any kind.

I should mention that on the counter we have a cookie jar for kale chips and one for veggie chips (which currently has beet chips in it - sometimes plantain crackers).

Let me know if you have any good suggestions on how I can expand my pantry selection. I'm always up for some variety.


Now on Facebook....

I finally got around to doing this!! I try to blog at least one a month, sometimes it happens, sometimes not but here's an easier way for me to update in conjunction with the blog. Check out the new Facebook page for daily advice, happenings, the latest research and everything paleo and autoimmune disease. Please like my page!!




Time to get stronger

In the 6 months since I had my little girl, I had been losing the baby weight slow and steadily....had been.

I'm pretty much stuck right now and it's becoming quite disheartening. I know that a lot has to do with the fact that my 2 year old is getting up multiple times during the night and I have had only one night in the past 2 1/2 months that could be considered a restful, full nights sleep. I'm a person who needs 8-9 hours of undisturbed sleep per night. The lack of sleep wreaks havoc on my body, my personality and the state of cleanliness of my house! It's a slippery slope because if I'm feeling poorly, I don't have the energy or attitude to get my kids organized for the day, get the stuff done I need to and get to the gym. The whole bloody cycle just repeats itself day after day. So, if anyone has any advice for getting a 2 year old in the "fraidy cat" stage to start sleeping through the night again, I'm all ears.

Despite my sleep troubles, I decided to start a new 12 week program and began yesterday. I started Strong Lifts (stronglifts.com) which is a barbell centric, heavy weight lifting routine. I can do the 5x5 reps at the gym and one of the trainers has agreed to check my form regularly. Yesterday I started with weighted squats, benchpress and rows. Needless to say, I can barely move today. And the kicker is, I didn't even use any weight on the bar (the bar does weigh 45 lbs however) except for the rows. I looked fairly ridiculous next to the 2 huge ex-OSU football players pressing about 300lbs but they were very supportive of my endeavor. I took an ice bath (holy mother of f-ing god!!) in the hopes that it makes my recovery a little easier. If it did anything, I would hate to even think about what I would be like today if I didn't do it, I can barely walk down the stairs. I'm going to take another tonight. Getting my legs numb last night gave me some much needed ibuprofen-free pain relief - regardless of what it actually does for my muscles in the ensuing days.

My goal is to get a lot stronger and to lose body fat. Long, long gone are the days when I sported 12% body fat as a competitive figure skater. Long gone, also, is the thought of having the body I had when I was 16. I really just need more strength to keep up with my kids and everything else life throws at me. I eat a clean diet and I'm med-free so getting stronger and perhaps a little sleep here and there should make me that much more able to keep up with a family of 5.



Wow my little munchkin girl just turned 5 months on Sunday. I really do not know where the time went! My oldest started kindergarten and she is just beside herself with excitement. Mum however is a little sad but also incredibly excited for her!

I wanted to talk about the supplements that I take everyday as I think that I've got a regimen down now that really benefits my insides and outsides.

First and foremost, I take fish oil. I take the Kirkland's brand from Costco. For a while they started adding soy for some insane reason but it currently doesn't contain any. Make sure your fish oil is pure! No additives like soy or other vegetable oils. I take 8 pills per day (3 in the morning, 2 at lunch and 3 before bed) which is 8000 mg or 2400 mg of DHA/EPA per day. It's a lot for a normal person, who could get by with about half that amount but I have lupus, I'm nursing and I'm post pregnancy.

Next, if I don't get a chance to get outside in the sun for at least an hour (without sunscreen!) I take Vitamin D. I take 10,000IU/day. I use the Now brand from Amazon and they are 5,000IU each so just 2 pills per day.

I also take magnesium. Right now I have liquid magnesium ions which I just squirt into my herbal tea. I take about 400 mg/day. These taste pretty terrible so when they're gone I'm ordering magnesium gluconate pills.

Finally, I take probiotics both in pill form and I brew my own kombucha and drink 8oz per day.

And that's it! My 3 daughters, who also eat a paleo diet (5 month old through nursing ;)) and take the same supplements (lower dosages) except no kombucha and their probiotic is a sugar-free chewable  by Yum-yum.

Take care!

-- Robyn


Cleaning out my closet

Yes, I'm cleaning out my closet both figuratively and literally! You can kind of understand the literal part of it - my closet has a bunch of crap on the floor that needs to be picked up and sorted and I need to start getting rid/give away my maternity clothes because yes, I pretty much fit into my old clothes, yay!!!

So, to the figurative part, in an effort to have a greener, safer home, I've started making a lot of my own cleaners, lotions, detergents, etc. This not only reduces the number of toxins my family is exposed to but also (insanely) reduces the amount of money I have to pay out for these types of items. I have to thank wellnessmama.com for planting the seed and making many recipes available. And, then the internet, always! Who knew your bathrooms could get so clean with baking soda and vinegar?!

I started by making lotion bars. These little cakes are heavenly and only contain coconut oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, vitamin e, beeswax and essential oils.

Air freshener
Then, I made room air fresheners with only some small mason jars, decorative paper, baking soda and essential oils.

Then, I made my own laundry detergent, yes, you heard me right! I made approximately 5 gallons for about the cost 2 cents/load versus 18-24 cents/load for the store bought stuff. It doesn't have any of the harsh detergents and chemicals either and still works just as good or better depending on the type of stain. I only used water, castile soap, baking soda and washing soda. And, by using lavender scented castile, my laundry smells fantastic!!

I then moved onto an all purpose cleaner. My next item is fabric softener.

I also started on the "no (sham)poo" band wagon. It's been about a week and a half and they say to give your hair about 3-4 weeks in order to get your scalp's oil production back to normal so I'll also let you know how that goes.

I have a busy day ahead of me but I'll post recipes or links in my next entry. I really can't believe how much better I feel about making my home a less toxic place!

-- Robyn


Sunny, sunny love!

Well, I'm finally back from holiday and what a wonderful relaxing time I had. I feel totally rejuvenated. There really is nothing better than staying at a beach house on the ocean and swimming and snoozing in the hot sun. Yes, I said "hot sun" and yes, I was out in it and did not get burnt to a crisp and did not trigger a flare! I've been off Plaquinil for 2 1/2 months now and have already noticed a huge difference in my sensitivity, or shall I say insensitivity to sunlight. I don't need to wear sunglasses 24/7 and a 50spf sunscreen slathered on at regular intervals kept me from burning (2 years ago, while on 400mg of Plaquinil, I did a 50spf, burned a little and consequently flared). Basking in the sun actually felt wonderful, playing with my children on the beach felt wonderful. It's just so good to do normal things and not constantly worry about what I'm going to feel like the next day because I know I'm going to feel just as good as I do right now.

This was also the first vacation I've ever taken where I actually lost weight! How fantastic is that!

So, my brand spanking new daughter has been having some internal issues which quite frankly, scared the shit out of me initially. I started to see blood in her diapers when she went #2, and because I'm nursing, this was pretty much every time I changed her. I was following a more primal type diet and eating dairy occasionally just because I love cheese. I talked to our pediatrician and dairy is the first culprit to eliminate in cases like this so bye bye cheese. Blood stopped. Then my eldest daughter had her 5th birthday party and I made the cake. I tasted it to be sure it tasted okay, it was literally a couple of bites, and it was dairy free - but not gluten free (for the 20 kids at the party - stupid, stupid). The next day, blood in diaper. So, the short of it is that my baby has both dairy and gluten sensitivities via breast milk. While most people are just shocked at this and deluging me with sympathy and worry about the fact that my daughter (and me for that matter) basically cannot eat anything in their opinion, I'm so glad that I learning about the paleo lifestyle 2 years ago. In trying to forever be an optimist (an autoimmune disease can do this to you - make you or break you), this "problem" my daughter has will first, keep me in line and on track - the fact that a couple bites of gluten affected my child so much that she had internal bleeding is a constant reminder of how powerful this yucky stuff is and quickly my own health could take a turn for the worst. Second, my baby is a blank slate, she doesn't know what a krispy kreme, snickers bar or bowl of fettuccine alfredo tastes like. Her palate will thrive on delicious, whole, organic and healthful foods. I wish I (and my first 2 daughters) were so lucky!

Oh and a final note, I made kale chips for the first time in my dehydrator yesterday and they are delicious! I finally found something that has a bit of that potato chip crunch that I've been missing ever so much! Here's the recipe:

2 bunches of kale (I used organic lacinato kale)
2 tbsps olive oil
2 tbsps apple cider vinegar
1 tsp sea salt

Put the oil, vinegar and salt in a large bowl and mix. Remove the ribs from the kale and tear into potato chip size. Add the kale to the mix and toss the kale with your hands until the mix thoroughly coats the kale (really massage it in there!). Place the pieces on your dehydrator trays in a single layer. You can pack them pretty tight as the kale will shrink a bit. I put my dehydrator on 115F for 9 hours. Enjoy!!

-- Robyn


A first look into my paleo eatings and how I move some heavy things....

Today was a delicious day! I hope that by keeping this journal I will inspire others with delicious healthy meals that are easy to make and make you feel fantastic while being incredibly healthy!

I started off with paleo pancakes, my girls adore these and eat them with berries on top. Seriously, I have made countless paleo pancake recipes and these are by far THE best! Light, fluffy, nutty, yummy!!

Here's the recipe:

2 bananas
1 apple peeled and diced
1/4 cup blanched almond flour
1/4 cup almond butter
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vanilla

Put the bananas and apple into a food processor and pulse until smooth. Then add the rest of the ingredients and process for 45 seconds. These seem to cook at a lower temperature so I set the griddle at 275F. Grease griddle with extra virgin coconut oil. These make about 18 pancakes the size of silver dollars.

For breakfast I had about 6 pancakes that were about 2 inches in diameter with a few fresh raspberries and 2 cups of decaf coffee with a little dab of extra virgin coconut oil stirred in.

For lunch I had a scrambled egg and a gigantic salad with a grilled chicken breast dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette (just equal parts extra virgin olive oil and organic balsamic vinegar).

Dinner included a grass fed beef hamburger complete with patty on lettuce with tomato, pickle, mustard, roasted butternut squash and onions and mushrooms fried in extra virgin olive oil.

Oh, I also had 4 squares of a Lindt 90% chocolate bar and now I'm having a gorgeous glass of cab to wind down the day.

Told you nursing has made me famished almost all the time!!

And for movement. I completed a kettlebell workout. I started the Skogg kettlebell system and I'm loving it so far! It's a 12 week program and I'll keep you updated on my results. So excited about this! I'm so incredibly out of shape now!

So, that was my day, until tomorrow!

Oh the bandwagon...

Happy Sunday!

My daughter is 2 1/2 months old now and I thought that taking off the pregnancy weight would be a little easier than it has been with all the breast feeding and all. Not a chance! I still have 20lbs to go to be 'pre-Micah' weight and a bunch more to be 'pre-all 3 girls' weight. I got the go ahead to start exercising again so I should start seeing results. I was playing around a bit with my diet while I wasn't allowed to do any real activity (c-sections take a while) and I really discovered how dairy affects me. As soon as I delivered I started a strict primal diet but I found that once I lost 15 lbs I kind of plateaued. The 15 came off very quickly, most likely excess fluid and then everything came to a halt. I did some Robb Wolf podcast listening and decided to eliminate dairy and see what would happen and low and behold I lost a couple more pounds. I also started to feel a lot less sluggish (which I totally attributed to sleep deprivation). This is pretty good for me as I've never been able to drop weight without implementing a consistent exercise routine.

My other issue is that I'm famished all the time and I think nursing has a lot to do with it. I'm also still craving sweet. And, just between you and me, I've cheated a few times (stupid jelly beans...60% dark chocolate...smarties...ice cream...okay no wonder I plateaued)!

Reading this back it seems like I'm a little obsessed with losing the baby weight! Maybe a little ;) but seriously, who isn't? I really feel like I have to get back to 'normal' whatever that is. I just feel very uncomfortable, hate looking at pictures of myself right now and desperately want to get back into all my clothes. So for now I'm going to turn this blog into a bit of a food and exercise journal. I'm going to pretend that I have a million followers reading this everyday forcing me to be accountable. I'll start with yesterday.


2 cups of decaf coffee with a 1/2 tsp of extra virgin coconut oil melted in
Turkey 'sandwich' - turkey with tomato and mustard wrapped in lettuce
2 slices of leftover meatloaf (ground beef and port with fresh herbs)
1 large orange
1 giant salad (talking humongo) with 1 grilled chicken breast in a balsamic vinaigrette

Movement (other than chasing/cleaning after 3 kids under 5)

Walked for 1 hour while pushing a stroller with my daughter in it

That's about it for yesterday. I'll post again tonight with my eatings and doings from today.

One other thing I should mention, I HAVE BEEN COMPLETELY MED FREE FOR 2 MONTHS NOW!!! First time in 6 years!! And no symptoms at all.

-- Robyn


Green juice

I think one of the most important aspects of the paleo/primal diet is the incorporation of copious amounts of vegetables. Due to the fact that food preparation does tend to take longer than the SAD diet, newbies and those with little free time may focus more on their protein and fat intake. Paleo parents may also need to skimp on their children's veggies due to typical young palettes. My girls (4 and 2) eat a lot of veggies but getting in those leafy greens is a bit of a struggle. Packed with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fiber, veggies (especially greens) are essential to proper regularity and cell function. One way that my family gets a whole lot of green in one quick punch is through green juice. Not only is it delicious but I can get about a pound of greens in one juicing.

There are many different types of juicers out there and I won't go through them all but the one I own and recommend if you don't have a whole lot of time to spend juicing a day is the Breville Elite or Breville Ikon.

They juice quickly and efficiently. You don't get as much juice from leafy greens as compared to a masticating juicer (like an Omega) but they are faster and clean up a whole lot easier. One tip I can give is to run the pulp through the juicer a second time and you'll get about an extra 1/3 of a cup.

My go-to green juice recipe

1 head of romaine
1 cucumber (peeled if not organic)
4-5 leaves of kale
1 thumb sized piece of fresh ginger root
1 lemon
2 organic apples

Put a few ice cubes into the collection cup (chilling this juice makes it even tastier).

Juice on low setting: romaine, cucumber, kale and ginger. Juice on high setting: lemon and apples. Enjoy!!


My kids and I adore this emerald jewel of a juice and they demand it everyday. Yum!