Brewing kombucha at home: growing my SCOBY

After years of obsession with the fermented tea drink we all know and love, Kombucha, I have started to brew my own batch at home. So far, my experience has been very positive and I decided I would share my process for those of you interested in trying it out yourself. Kombucha costs anywhere from $3.00-$6.00 in stores, so brewing at home is a fantastic money saving option, plus you control exactly what goes into it.

I will do a few separate posts as I do this process. This one will cover how to grow a SCOBY, the next will talk all about the first fermentation process and then I will talk about bottling for the second and final fermentation.

If you want more information on what Kombucha is and a little bit about it, check out my previous post.

The first step is to either grow a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast), purchase one online or get one from someone. I am a member of a fantastic Facebook group of kombucha home brewers which is really where I learned everything I know. They are incredibly knowledgeable on brewing, what to look out for and even give some amazing flavor suggestions.

If you are wanting to get started with brewing, I highly suggest you become a member of the group. It’s also a great place to see if someone near you has a SCOBY to spare (and they grow like crazy, so there’s a good chance someone has some they want to get rid of).

I chose to grow my SCOBY at home for two reasons. A. It’s extremely easy and B. I knew exactly where it came from. I ended up growing it in an IKEA jar that my boyfriend had laying around from his cold brew coffee brewing and it worked great.

Here is how I grew my SCOBY:

Ingredients:

2 Cups of Water

4 Organic Green Tea Bags (you can use black or white tea instead)

1/2 Cup of White Sugar (some people use organic, that’s fine, I just used regular ol’ sugar)

1 Bottle of GT’s Original Kombucha

Recipe:

  1. Make sure your jar is clean, wash with warm soapy water, rinse very well. Then, do a second rinse with mostly water and about two tablespoons of vinegar to make sure it’s clean. Again, rinse well. Let dry completely.

  2. Bring two cups of filtered water to a boil, once it reaches the boil turn off the heat. Then, you will want to toss in your tea bags and let it steep for 15 minutes.

  3. When the 15 minutes is up, dissolve your sugar into the tea. If it isn’t completely dissolving, turn on the heat for just a few seconds while stirring until all the sugar is gone.

  4. Let the sweetened tea cool completely to room temperature. This will take a few hours.

  5. Once tea is cooled, pour in one bottle of GT’s Original Kombucha in your jar, followed by your room temperature sweetened tea mixture. Stir it up with a clean spoon.

  6. Cover with part of an old, clean t-shirt and secure around the top of the jar with a rubber band.

  7. Let the jar sit at room temperature, preferably in a dark spot like a pantry or closet for two weeks, undisturbed. You will start to see your SCOBY grow slowly over the two weeks.

  8. Once your SCOBY is grown, you can start your first fermentation.

 

*Note that room temperature, amounts/types of tea used, sugar content and more can mean a different brewing experience for everyone. You will learn what works well for you as you go.

Here are some pictures of the progress I had over the two weeks:

It’s very exciting to see how your SCOBY forms slowly each day! I hope you all give this a try, let me know in the comments if you have any questions or other methods that have worked for you.

-Emily


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Super easy + healthy breakfast recipes

I will firmly admit that I don’t eat breakfast every single day, but when I do, I really enjoy it. I find that breakfast is the perfect opportunity to eat both dairy-free and vegan, which I do not follow throughout the rest of the day (I’ve tried, it’s not for me, I’M SORRY VEGANS… I RESPECT YOU).

I had my fair share of yogurt parfaits and avocado toast with egg over the past few years, and while those foods are delicious and filling, I find that I tend to enjoy lighter, easier meals in the morning.

These two (super easy, I’m not claiming to be an innovator here) recipes are what I’ve been mainly eating over the past few months.

  1. Berry Banana Smoothie

This could not be simpler. All you need:

  • Frozen berry medley (I get mine from Whole Foods frozen fruit section)
  • 1 or 1 1/2 bananas (depending on your preference)
  • Coconut water
  • Optional additions: baby spinach, chia seeds

Blend all of these wonderful ingredients together and you have an easy, amazing smoothie. I’m seriously obsessed with this and I drink it in the dead of winter in Chicago, I don’t care! I sometimes sprinkle it with some granola, but that’s just if I’m feeling like I need a little more to fill me up.

2. Peanut Butter Oatmeal Dream

What you’ll need:

  • Whole grain oats, make sure the only ingredient listed is OATS. (I use instant, but I hear those aren’t the best for you. If you want to take the longer, healthier route, go ahead.)
  • Unsweetened vanilla almond milk (obsessed with Califia Farms brand)
  • Real maple syrup
  • Real peanut butter

Follow the instructions for making the oatmeal, but use the almond milk instead of dairy milk or water. Then stir in about a tablespoon and a half of peanut butter (two if you’re feeling it) and pour in about a tablespoon of maple syrup. This has been the most filling and amazingly delicious breakfast. It would also be great if you add sliced banana and cinnamon to the top.

These have been my go-to’s and I think for good reason.

Let me know if you guys give either of these a try and let me know if you have any good breakfast recipes for me to try in the comments. I’m always looking for new food.

Thanks for reading,

Emily

Easy Mini Pumpkin Pies

Hello everyone! I’m sorry for abandoning you for quite some time, but I am back with an honestly really delicious dessert recipe to make up for it. Thanksgiving is coming up next week, so I wanted to make sure I had this available for you guys.

Let’s be real… it’s not Thanksgiving unless you gain a few pounds. So, don’t be afraid of these potentially fattening little heaven machines. I promise your family (and yourself) will love them. But, be careful.. they’re really addicting.

*My one suggestion is to make these the NIGHT BEFORE. They need to set up before removing them.. which takes a little bit*

Here’s how to make your own ADORABLE mini pumpkin pies:

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Ingredients: (Makes about 20 Mini Pies)

  • 2 Packages of Pie Crust (the kind you lay out and bake)
  • Two 8-oz Cream Cheese Packages, softened
  • 1 cup of Sugar
  • 4 Eggs
  • One 16-oz Can Solid Packed Pumpkin
  • 1/2 Cup Light Corn Syrup
  • 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice (if you don’t have this.. just double up on cinnamon)
  • Cool Whip or Canned Whip Cream (or fresh if you’re fancy)

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What You’ll Need:

  • Cupcake/Muffin Baking Tray
  • Hand Mixer
  • Big Bowl for mixing

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray baking tin with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Roll out your pie dough and cut out small circles. You want these circles to cover the bottom up until half way to the top of each one. Do this for each and every hole until they’re all filled. Set aside.IMG_2941IMG_2942
  3. Beat cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time with mixing in between.
  4. Add in all the other ingredients. Mix until well combined. Beware: the smell will make you want to drink the batter.IMG_2943IMG_2944
  5. Fill in each of the dough cups. Fill it until the batter is almost to the top of the tin. It will cover the dough and that is FINE. They don’t grow very much in the over so don’t worry. IMG_2945
  6. Bake them at 350 degrees for 40-42 minutes. They will begin to puff and crack in the middle. Take out and test with a toothpick. It should come out MOSTLY clean.
  7. Let them sit to cool for about an hour and a half. Then refrigerate until needed (this also helps them set). You can serve them either cold or heated up.. both are delicious.
  8. Top with whipped topping of your choice and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

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And that’s the finished product.

Perfect for each person to have their own pie and it’s JUST ENOUGH to satisfy your craving.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and if you plan to or do try it out please let me know in the comments!

Have a great Thanksgiving!!

-Emily

End of Summer Recipe — Pineapple-Mango Green Smoothie

I have been on a crazy smoothie kick lately after taking a break (I was SMOOTHIED OUT). It helped having my wisdom teeth pop through my gums and make solid foods really hard to eat.

This smoothie is a perfect taste of those last few weeks of Summer. It is tropical, fruity and all kinds of refreshing (and HEALTHY). I prefer to drink my fruits and vegetables and this drink has really helped me do so. Don’t think it’s just limited to summer either, you can drink this whenever you are craving a taste of the tropics. (Don’t worry, Fall Lovers, I’ve got you covered with a smoothie recipe soon).

GUYS, this is so good.

Recipe:

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  • 5 Full Cubes O’ Ice
  • 3/4 Cup Baby Spinach
  • 1/2 Cup Frozen Mango
  • 1/2 Cup Frozen Pineapple Chunks
  • 1/4 Cup Frozen Strawberries
  • 1/2 banana
  • 3/4 Cup Non-Pulp Orange Juice
  • 3/4 Cup Water
  • OPTIONAL: Chia Seeds, Honey and Granola

Directions (VERY EASY):

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  1. Prepare all of your ingredients. I have a specific order of adding things in (this works well if you have a Nutribullet, If you don’t.. I’m not totally sure it matters). This is the order: ice, spinach, mangos, pineapples, strawberries, banana, liquids. Throw them all into the blender.
  2. BLENNNNNNNNND. I usually let it go a solid 2 minutes to make sure all the ingredients have fully blended for a perfectly smooth smoothie. If you notice it’s struggling or too thick, add a little bit more orange juice or water.
  3. Pour into a glass, or into a bowl to top with granola, chia seeds, bonus fruit and nuts (smoothie bowl!)

FINISHED PRODUCT:

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You will have ALOT to drink. This is about 1 & 1/2 Smoothies. I always drink it all, but if you can’t.. save the rest in the fridge!

I hope you guys enjoy this recipe and try it out

-Emily

Perfect Summer Breakfast: Blueberry Acai Smoothie Bowl

Chances are you’ve heard of these Acai (HOW DO YOU PRONOUNCE IT?!?) bowls. I was a little skeptical to give it a try because they looked like purple mud, but it is now one of my absolute favorite things. They are incredibly filling and keep you full and happy well into lunch. Here is the recipe and process for my own personal Acai Bowl:

Ingredients for blender:

  • 1 Pack of Sambazon Unsweetened Acai Smoothie (They come in a pack of 4. I get mine at Whole Foods)
  • 1 Banana (The more ripe, the better. Even if they’re brownish)
  • 1/2-3/4 a cup of Frozen or Fresh Blueberries (if you prefer more, do more)
  • 1/4 Cup of Water
  • *2 Tbsp of Honey if you like it sweeter*

Toppings: 

  • 1/2 Cup of Honey Almond Granola (got mine at Whole Foods) or any Granola you love.
  • 2 Tbsp of Chia Seeds (THEY KEEP YOU VERY FULL AND ARE SUPER GOOD FOR YOU)
  • 1/8 Cup of Raisins
  • Extra blueberries
  • *you can literally top these with whatever you like such as Peanut Butter, Banana, Strawberries, Pineapple, Chicken Tenders… knock yourself out*

RECIPE:

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  1.  take your Sambazon Acai Smoothie Pack and run it under warm water for 5 seconds to loosen it up. It’s impossible to get out of the plastic without this step. Then, empty contents of the pack into your blender, NutriBullet, or Ninja. Break your banana in half and throw it in. Drop in your blueberries. Pour in your water. It should look like the picture below.

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2. BLEND. If you run into a little difficulty with blending, add a bit more water. Continue until smooth (about a minute). Then, pour your smoothie into a bowl. It should have the consistency of a smoothie, not a soup.

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3. Top your smoothie bowl! This is really where the creative, personal choice comes into play. I top mine with granola, raisins, blueberries, and chia seeds and I LOVE the taste. If you want an Instagram-Worthy photo op, line your ingredients as neatly as you can. If you don’t really care, just sprinkle them on top like a wild animal (MOSTLY WHAT I DO because I am INDEED a wild animal). IMG_1392

AND HERE IS THE FINAL PRODUCT:

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I hope you guys give this recipe a try, or even make it your own and switch it up.