Thursday, January 24, 2013


Tried and true, the traditional sauerkraut is one of the most beneficial additions to your diet. This time-honored condiment was once a common part of everyone's dinner plate. Even our grandparents, without all the scientific research of today, seemed to know a thing or two about what was good for you. Every winter crocks full of of finely shredded cabbage and sea salt were kept in cool, dry areas  for anywhere from one to six months. During this time the lactic acid bacteria present in the cabbage begins to ferment and the process creates thousands of live bacteria, known as 'probiotics'. 

Now, this process is not always consistent, depending on the amounts of sea salt and water, temperature or nutrients present in your vegetables, you may notice that your ferments come out different from time to time. It's a learning process but you are sure to get the hang of it and overtime you will become the expert. The addition of a small amount of whey will ensure the most consistent ferment occurs but it is by no means necessary.

So what is the big deal with probiotics anyway? The idea of supplementing with probiotic pills has become quite the trend. But these supplements are expensive and often destroyed by the acid in our stomachs before they even reach our guts where the bacteria resides. The average person has about four pounds of bacteria living in their guts where about 80% of our immunity is also based. So your immunity is affected dramatically by the amounts of probiotics in your gut. You probably won't be surprised by the fact that many aspects of the Standard American Diet feed the growth of  bad bacteria and actually destroy your body's good bacteria. The best way to restore normal gut flora is by including naturally fermented foods into your daily diet; sauerkraut being the simplest.

The Recipe
1 medium sized head of cabbage
1T sea salt

1. In a large glass bowl, core and finely shred the cabbage.
2. Add the sea salt and using your hands being to mix the cabbage and salt. The process breaks down the stiffness of cabbage and draws out the water. You want to do this for about 5-10 minutes, getting all the liquid you can to seep out of the cabbage.
3. In a quart-sized glass mason jar carefully pack down the cabbage and get the liquid to rise above the cabbage. Leave at least one inch space at the top because it will increase in size.
4. Leave out at room temperature for about 2-4 days and then transfer to a cool, dark place where you can allow it to ferment for up to two months. I would leave it out for one week minimum, then refrigerate after opening. You will notice bubbles rising to the top of the jar and liquid may leek out, this is normal and shows that the fermentation is taking place.

You can also add seeds like caraway or fennel, herbs like oregano or dill, vegetables like carrots or beets or even seaweed or raw garlic! This recipe is your foundation, the possibilities of flavors are endless! If probiotics are new to your diet then I would start small, a spoonful or so with a meal and gradually increase from there. The addition of too much good bacteria at once can actually cause some adverse reactions, so be gentle to your body. Include sauerkraut in your diet as a condiment eaten on the side of your meal or in salads, on sandwiches or hot dogs! Get creative!

You can also purchase sauerkraut but be sure it's organic, raw and un-pastuerized. I like Farmhouse Cultures and Wild Brine. You can find them at Isla Vista Coop or Whole Foods.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Simple Squash Soup

It's certainly the season for soup. And not just any soup, but the most nourishing soup made with long-simmered bone broth and locally grown winter squashes. With the addition of plenty of alliums like onions and garlic, this soup makes the perfect supper for preventing colds and flus, and even cancer!

Winter squashes are full of anti-oxidants. You may have heard of them as being full of beta-carotene but they are also full of the less commonly known alpha carotene, which significantly reduces your risk for cancer and can even inhibit the growth of cancer cell lines. They are also high in fiber and are a good source of complex carbohydartes. In comparison to simple carbohydrates that spike our blood sugar, these offer our bodies an abundance of slowly absorbed glucose that provides steadied energy over time.

Onions are garlic are renowned for their anti-biotic and anti-fungal properties. They both enhance immunity and like winter squashes prevent cancer as well. One study found that those with the highest intake of onions and garlic had the most protection from various forms of cancer. Who knew a simply soup recipe could be so potent? Made with the right ingredients you can transform all your menial dinners into disease preventing feast!

1 large winter squash (kabocha, butternut, hubbard, delicata, carnival, acorn, etc)
1 large onion
4-5 cloves garlic
4-5C bone broth
1-3T of fresh herbs like thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil, margoram, etc.
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350° and place whole squash in oven dish or directly on rack.
2. Bring broth, onions, garlic and herbs to a boil, reduce to a simmer.
3. When a knife pierces through the squash very easily, it is ready about 35-45 minutes depending on the size. Cut it in half, scoop and discard the seeds. Using a big spoon scoop out all the soft flesh and add to the pot of broth. If some parts of the squash are harder, dice into very small pieces before adding to the pot. Because the soup is blended leave the skin for it's added fiber and nutrients.
 4. Let the flavors mingle for a few minutes, then puree using an immersion hand blender or transfer to a blender.
5. Ladel into bowls, sprinkle with sea salt and freshly cracked blacker pepper, and serve each bowl with a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Like all of my recipes there is room to play around, adding different herbs, using your choice of squash. You can also choose to purchase your broth but you will miss out on the Nourishing Benefits of Bone Broth, which are needed especially in the winter season. You can purchase my favorite, high quality beef bones from Rancho San Julian at Farmer's Market on Tuesday or Saturday, and also at IV Coop.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Special New Year's Offer

The New Year is the perfect time for new beginnings. I am sure like most of the world you are making New Year's Resolutions and hoping to keep them. Maybe you want to lose weight? Maybe you simply want to feel better? Have more energy? Whatever it may be Wholesome Practices is here to help. I have worked with countless people restoring balance in various areas of their health through diet and lifestyle. Read my Testimonials page to hear about people's experiences and below is this month's 'Featured Testimony'!

"The reason why you need Dani as your personal Nutrition Consultant is because there are too many health books, experts and websites out there to know what is best for YOU.  I have tried many different diets and always have struggled with maintaining a healthy weight.  I was overwhelmed with all the health information that oftentimes seemed contradictory.  Dani was able to evaluate my personal health history, diet, and current complaints and draw from all of her training and experience to personalize an approach that would work for ME. One size does not fit all!  She even showed me how to shop, where to shop and gave me lots of good tips for getting the most out of my dollar.  So far I have lost 28 lbs in 3 months and I am not starving myself.  My cravings are gone and I feel so good about the food I am putting in my body.  Thank you Dani- you're the best!" -Gentry Z

My Personal Health Assessments take into account your health concerns while making recommendations suited to your body's unique and individual needs. My training in Therapeutic Nutrition from Bauman College allows me to make tailored recommendations that will help support your body. Wholesome Practices offers various other services but the Personal Health Assessment is centered on YOU and YOUR HEALTH. Our Special New Year's deal is $25 off your Personal Health Assesment, normally $65 now only $40!

*Contact Dani Rhoades before January 31st to secure your Personal Health Assessment at $40. Appointments can be set for a later date as long as payment has been made. Credit cards, check or cash accepted.