Monthly Archives: July 2015

The power of fermenting foods


Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Kavass, Kefir, Sourdough and Kombucha are just a few of the names given to fermented food and
drink. Beers, wine, yogurt and cheese are other name associations that come to mind when the word fermentation is used.

Fermenting food isn’t a new concept. It goes back to the first humans on this planet that needed to create a method to
preserve their food, long before refrigeration.

Bacteria is all around us and these microbial cultures are usually depicted as scary little green monsters we need to wash away with antibacterial soap to stay safe. We have become scared of food that isn’t pasteurised at high heat to kill these bacteria and to keep us safe from potential harm. With pasteurisation (often law enforced) we also kill the good bacteria with the bad. This means many of us now lack these friendly microbial cultures in our digestive tract, which play a critical role in our gut health.

Probiotics are microbial organisms that take up residence in our gut. We need them to digest our food, absorb nutrients and help eliminate toxins. We need our gut to function optimally because it is so crucial to a strong, healthy, and fully functioning immune system. We also host bad bacteria in our gut which in itself is not a problem as we can accommodate these unwanted guests. The problem manifests when we consume food that isn’t very good for us which causes the bad bacteria to multiply and overstay their welcome. The problem becomes apparent when we neglect our good friendly bacteria by not creating an environment for them to survive and by generally not looking after our gut flora with prebiotics. Prebiotics are indigestible carbohydrates which are food for probiotics. If good health is our goal, we want the good vs bad bacteria to be balanced.

We are only just starting to scratch the surface of how important gut health and probiotics are. In fact, it was a sentence I heard in a nutrition lecture I attended once that got me into fermenting food. The sentence was this “antibiotics means anti life, whereas probiotics means pro life’’. Although antibiotics are critical and necessary in medicine, this interpretation of the word made me transition towards investigating pro-life i.e. probiotics. Studies and research is being conducted globally that investigate the effects and possible benefits of fermented foods on physical, mental, and even emotional health. Some of the possible positive effects have been shown with those suffering from autism, cancer, arthritis and even weight loss. Other studies have demonstrated the many strains of good bacteria in fermented foods, some highlight findings such as there is an increase of vitamin C in cabbage (in sauerkraut) after fermentation . These are all fascinating and an area that, although it once had limited research, it is now being closely looked at.

You will see probiotic foods and supplements with the names of different strains such as lactobacillus, bifodobacterium and streptococcus. Some tell you their CFU’s (colony forming units, or live organisms) closest to the nearest billion. Other labels will state that they are by products of preparatory culturing process and can be used on the skin.

With this new age reviving of quite a simple traditional practice, one can feel a little overwhelmed at first. Our previous generations recognized good food without the technical mumbo jumbo and had a community approach to fermenting. They would share fermenting recipes, pass fermenting skills to each other, ferment large batches together and consume a variety of fermented food.

Nearly all cultures have forms of fermented food including my own. I grew up eating a pickle my mum made from carrots, green mangoes and fenugreek seeds. I had no idea this was a fermented probiotic food. It was just a jar of pickle made from a recipe passed down to her from her family where she grew up (on a snow topped mountain in the middle of nowhere). I make kimchi with fermented Arab chilli paste called Shatta. Yet these aren’t called probiotic foods, we just eat them, and they taste nice. Maybe the simplicity in knowing that real food will benefit and nourish us is the way forward because it will makes us feel good. Therefore, let’s just eat it!

fermenting post

This is the recipe for one of the easiest ferments you can make. Some say Sauerkraut, that’s because they haven’t met my mother.

Carrot Mango Pickle

You will need
1 mason jar with lid
2-3 carrots
2-3 green cooking mangoes
1 Tsp salt
1 Tsp Fenugreek seeds

Spring water

Start off with sterilising your mason jar.

Add all the ingredients into a large glass bowl. Give the ingredients a massage and make sure the salt is evenly mixed in.

Add the above to the mason jar and pack in tightly leaving around a 2 cm space at the top. Now add spring water to the mason jar filling it to the top.

Make sure no carrot or mango pieces are floating to the top. If they are use a glass weight to weigh them down.

Put the lid on tightly and rest on your counter for 24 hours. After 24 hours release the gas that has built up during the anaerobic fermenting by slightly opening the lid. Repeat this stage every 24 hours. On day 3 taste some of the pickle, if it tastes like a pickle it is ready. If it needs longer, return back to it on day 5. I have the most success when my kitchen is set at 24deg. Refrigerate once done and it can last for months.

For more information, follow me on Instagram @eatdrinkrealfood.


Nisa Yousafzai,
Founder of Juice Prescription and is a qualified Independent Natural Juice Therapist. Nisa has completed a comprehensive course covering Biology, Anatomy & Physiology, Nutrition and Juicing as well as an intensive academy run personally by Jason Vale.


the world’s only 30-day detox that includes cola and fried food (daily!) by nisa yousafzai


Now that I have your attention, yes, this detox does exist, but no, it isn’t ‘technically’ called a detox. I am talking about the month of Ramadan when just under 2 billion Muslims will fast. They abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset, being a compulsory act of faith for all healthy and able Muslims.

The ultimate goal of this holy month is to cleanse the soul – a detox for your spirituality,if you like. Muslims are given the chance to renew and reflect on their character every year during this Holy Month. However, this isn’t ‘one of those spiritual’ articles, I promise. Your social media channels and phone has suddenly become an inbox tray of a million spiritual forwards sent by happy people, all with good intentions, but it may be becoming too much. The type of forwards tell you to pray sincerely, hold your tongue, to eliminate anger and clear your heart of bitterness. However, you will change nothing, or less than you potentially can, if you don’t change what you put in your mouth. Breaking your fast during Ramadan with junk food and fizzy drinks, before going to the masajid in a self-induced ‘food coma’ and stand in prayer with full attention, is not what Ramadan is about.

I don’t believe you can act with kindness and eliminate anger when you’re fasting as your blood sugar levels are all over the place because of what you choose to eat. Nor do I believe you can hold your tongue if you are unhappy and miserable, feeling tired both emotionally and physically because you refuse to change yourself nutritionally.

This isn’t new information; way back when, the Prophet Pbuhmentioned how disappointing it would be if you complete Ramadan, and all you felt was hunger. As this fasting command has come from God, maybe we should eat the food made by Him and not products that come from manmade factories.

So what does this mean in practice?

The science bit – fasting is great for you. Fact. Fasting throughout the year, the odd day here and there is great for you too. This is because nothing uses more energy in your body than digestion. If your body uses up its energy on digesting your processed breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, and evening snack all day, every day, 365 days a year, then when does it get a break to do anything else? Your gut is linked to your immune system, and your immune system keeps you strong and healthy. Our goal should therefore be to keep our immune system strong and healthy. Our kidneys and our liver work hard to detox our body all day, everyday, but these organs need minerals and vitamins to do their job properly. Our job is to feed them these minerals and vitamins (otherwise called micronutrients) so they can work optimally. We need enzymes for every function in our body, all of which can be found in natural, real,wholesome foods.

There is a slight problem, however. We don’t eat enough vegetables,fruits and other healthy food groups to provide the correct sustenance our bodies need. We instead find ourselves feeding our bodies toxins. However, you can change this bad behaviour. You can fuel your body the way it was created to be fed. You wouldn’t make your car run on empty, or on the wrong type of fuel, and expect it to run the best it can, so it’s madness to assume our bodies can work this way. We are created perfect, with food from this planet to feed us perfectly.

During your fast (in fact, the same goes for while you sleep at night) your body is able to continue to detox, cleanse, build and repair your body. It is your job to provide your bodywith what it needs, to do what it needs to do. Own your responsibility towards your own health.

How can you do this?

It goes without saying that processed sugar, processed oils and junk food should be avoided most of the time. I challenge you to incorporate the following and not feel better physically, mentally and spiritually. Watch your taste buds change, your desire for vegetables take over any cravings and start to feel better in yourself.

What’s the easiest way to consume large amounts of vegetables and some fruits with enzymes intact in a fast and convenient way? A way that doesn’t use much of your digestive system, a method where these micronutrients can get into your blood system to be transported around your body in say, 15 minutes?

You juice.

You consume freshly extracted raw juice, NOT the stuff that comes from cartons, or bottles, not even the stuff that say ‘not from concentrate’ or ‘loaded with vitamins’ or ‘no artificial flavors’. They are all pasteurized, which makes them devoid of the very nutrition you seek.

You juice to provide your system with liquid gold in quantities we just don’t eat. Nobody wakes up for breakfast, or in the case of Ramadan, Sahoor, and thinks, “I will grab a beetroot, some spinach, carrots, apple, ginger, turmeric, celery, lemon and an avocado” and eat this with a knife and fork off a plate. Now if you throw these ingredients into your juicer you’ve just created a drink bursting with vitamins and minerals that’s delicious and nutritious. Drink it slowly, maybe with some ice, in a beautiful glass and you’ve given your body the tools it needs to do what it does best.

Now take this one step further for the 30 days and break your fast (iftar) with a date, some lemon squeezed in water, and a hearty, watery, vegetable packed soup made from scratch. Have a real food meal, stripped from oil and refined carbs (including sugar) and juice again. Make your evening juice loaded with celery, cucumbers, something green and make it tastier with an apple or pear.

By improving the way you break your fast, this can be the best Ramadan you’ve ever had and that checklist of spiritual achievements you have going on, may just be achieved.

You can juice anything you like, our goal should be to consume vegetables and use fruits (such as apples, for example) to make the juice taste nice. You can eat fruit as and when you like, and they make a really perfect sweet treat after your long prayers.

Sahoor Smoothie

2 apples

1 large handful of Romaine Lettuce

1 local size cucumber

2 celery sticks

Juice the above and pour into your blender with ½ cup of spring water and 1 avocado (blend with ice if you prefer).

This smoothie is full of minerals including potassium, calcium and Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, C, and E – vitamin E is wonderful for your skin too. Did you know: avocado is in the Guinness Book of World Records listed as “the most nutritious fruit in the world”.

Evening Juice

¼ to ½ a lemon

¼ local size zucchini

½ a beetroot

1 cm ginger

1 cm turmeric root

1 inch Fennel

1 local cucumber

1 apple

1 handful of baby spinach

2 carrots

Juice everything and pour over ice.

You may not have considered juicing zucchini before, but it is rich in minerals, including phosphorus, which is required for strong bones and optimal kidney function. Fennel can reduce gas and bloating, and is incredible at calming your digestive system. But it is also used as a natural appetite suppressant and quite useful when fasting. The list of minerals and vitamins in this one juice is so vast, it is impossible to include here, so this juice will definitely leave your body thanking you!

For more information, follow me on Instagram@eatdrinkrealfood.

Nisa Yousafzai,
Founder of Juice Prescription and is a qualified Independent Natural Juice Therapist. Nisa has completed a comprehensive course covering Biology, Anatomy & Physiology, Nutrition and Juicing as well as an intensive academy run personally by Jason Vale.


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