Thanksgiving has come and gone, and now we are in the countdown for Christmas and New Years. The holidays are certainly a time of year when one realizes quite quickly how well his or her digestive system is faring. The truth is, most people have liver and gallbladder distress; and when excess rich foods (cream and butter!), sweets (cookies and pies!) and alcohol (eggnog and champagne!) enter the system and try to be processed in someone whose liver is already burdened, it hurts.
Ideally the liver and gallbladder can process fats, sweets and alcohols without glitch. But after years of being hard hit by mediocre diets or improper digestion (even something as simple as chewing too little) they begin to slow down. What happens is that the liver has a hard time detoxing the sugars and alcohols/toxins, and the gallbladder begins to get clogged with thick, viscous bile that cannot move well. These have larger implications, but for the purpose of our conversation today: it can make one feel very, very uncomfortable very quickly after a big meal. And even a small meal!
Signs that you may have a hard time digesting your fats and processing toxins:
Kvass is my magic elixir. A traditionally fermented beverage originating from Russia, it can be made with many different vegetables and flavors, though most commonly beets. Beets are so important for gallbladder and liver health - most notably, beets help thin the bile to keep flowing and digest fats, thus eliminating any sort of nausea and putting good fats to use in the body. When fats are digested well, it shows in our skin and our hair; we are able to heal from disease or injury faster; and it helps all other systems perform optimally.
Our liver is alleviated of the burden it had with improper fat digestion, and also benefits from the sulfur compounds found within beets to help aid in detoxification. Beets also give high doses of vitamins and minerals, especially when fermented: B vitamins, Vitamin C, potassium and manganese. And of course, being fermented, kvass is full of great probiotic and enzymatic potential, helping digestion, healing damaged intestines and balancing intestinal microflora.
It's super easy to make, and has much more health benefits homemade versus buying at the store. Spend a quick 15 minutes making kvass and your liver and gallbladder will be thankful you did.
Cardamom Ginger Beet Kvass
Makes 1 Qt.
Ingredients & Supplies:
Do: Wash beets and trim ends (do not peel). Cut into ½”-1” cubes, and place in jar. Slice ginger into 1/8” slices, add to jar. Crack open cardamom pods, add to jar. Add salt and water, stir to dissolve. Seal jar, and keep at room temperature. Daily and as needed, slightly unscrew/open jar to “burp” and release gasses. Depending on room temperature, Kvass is ready in 4-7 days – color of liquid will be deeply pink. Strain (you can discard solids), and keep in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
Start with one teaspoon 15 minutes before meals, working your way up to a small juice glass' worth.
Note! You should be seeing many bubbles accumulate on the surface – if you do not, start over with a little less salt and smaller beet cubes to help ferment. Very warm temperatures (over 78 degrees) will speed the fermenting process – not necessarily a good thing – while very cool temperatures (under 67 degrees) will take considerably longer. Also, a fine surface of white or gray yeast may develop – this is normal, just spoon it off. However, if it begins to look moldy and smells rotten, throw it out.
Kvass should have a slight effervescent taste, and should not taste overly salty. Tasting it daily will allow you to figure out when it is ready. Everyone prefers it differently – play around with your favorite combination!