In My Kitchen: The Versatility of Sourdough, Benefits of Water Kefir, and a Health Update Too!

It’s been a month since we’ve changed our eating habits to a completely “traditional foods” diet, so I wanted to update on the differences we’ve noticed.

Granted, the changes for us weren’t as drastic as for someone coming from a “SAD” (Standard American Diet), but it’s still interesting to see the effects!

The main changes have been:

  • Switching from just fresh-ground whole grains to only soaked, sprouted or fermented grains, and eliminating the few refined grains we were still letting slip in (mainly from the few prepackaged foods we still occasionally purchased).
  • Eliminating conventional dairy. We’ve been purchasing and using raw milk for several years, but still used other conventional dairy products like cheese, sour cream, etc. We’ve cut all those out and have been using only raw dairy products.
  • Eliminating all vegetable oils. We’ve only cooked with olive and coconut oil for a number of years, but a few were still getting by, mainly in the few chips and crackers that we were still purchasing.
  • Eliminating the refined sugars we were letting get by. We keep only sucanat, honey, and maple syrup to cook with, but were allowing candy and other refined items to creep in more often than we should.
So, we’ve been eating lots of coconut oil, butter, and cream these last few weeks! We’ve had plenty of homebaked goodies, mostly sourdough as I experiment with my new starter. We’ve also been making and consuming a lot of chicken stock and have been drinking water kefir every day. We’ve enjoyed fried onion rings, several flavors of homemade ice cream, pancakes, pastas with cream sauce, and much more.

And yet, my husband and I have both lost weight! I’ve lost about four pounds and he’s lost over ten! My small eczema flare-ups have been less severe and I haven’t had to use any prescription cream on them, and my skin is clearer than it’s ever been. Karate Kid hasn’t had any stomachaches or “shaky” spells when he gets hungry and my husband’s digestive issues have disappeared. We’ve all noticed that we have more energy and sleep better at night, and my older kids have commented on how yucky they felt after eating too much “junk food” at a Superbowl party.

It’s amazing what a difference these relatively small changes have made, and how much easier they’ve been to implement than I thought they would be! Not to mention, with the elimination of the last few convenience-type foods we were still sometimes buying, my grocery budget is under control better than it’s been in months. And the whole family is loving it! There have been a few dishes that were less than favorites for one or two of the kids, but no total bombs, and several that they absolutely beg to have again (ice cream, egg drop soup, and English muffins come to mind)! No one is missing the items we’ve eliminated…we’re too busy enjoying the even better stuff we’ve been replacing it with!

So what have I been up to in the kitchen the last couple of weeks?

Water Kefir


We’ve got a great routine down with our water kefir now! I keep a half gallon jar brewing each day, with another batch being flavored, so we always have two or three flavors available. Everyone, from the adults right down to Monkey Boy, is loving this fizzy drink! The favorites have been blackberry (made from some we had in the freezer from our last pick-your-own trip), blueberry, and peach mango. We’ve tried several other flavors and they’ve all been good.

I also really think the daily intake of this stuff with all the probiotics saved Karate Kid and I from a nasty stomach bug this week. There’s been a bad one going around, and we both started feeling bad a few evenings ago. I rarely get those bugs, but when I do, I usually end up dehydrated in the ER. They hit me hard! Well, we both spent a good part of the night with nausea, stomach cramps, and chills, and Karate Kid was sick once, but that was it. My hunch is that the water kefir made a big difference in our ability to fend this bug off!



Oh my goodness! Who knew you could do so much with sourdough?! I certainly didn’t! Bread and pancakes, sure, but that’s about all I knew! I’m working my way through the GNOWFGLINS course on sourdough and I’m simply amazed at it’s versatility! Here’s just a sampling of what I’ve made in the last couple of weeks:

  • pancakes
  • sourdough battered onion rings
  • crepes
  • tortilla chips
  • pie crust
  • the most amazing English muffins I’ve ever had (Which I’m nearly certain will be replacing my everyday sandwich bread from now on!)
  • I know I’m forgetting some…
This week I’ll be making a chocolate cake, and I’m working on trying to convert some of my favorite recipes to work with my sourdough starter. I’ve always put off soaking all my grains because it seemed overwhelming, but actually working with sourdough makes me think it’s entirely possible to make nearly any baked good we might want or need with all the health benefits and no more hassle than using unsoaked flour.

I’ll check back in soon and report on what else I’ve tried.

What’s been going on in your kitchen lately?

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  1. OMG Kara!! I love this! You are awesome and inspiring. I always complain of the "SAD" diet but I really don't have time to implement all the necessary changes to really make a difference. I am a full time student right now getting my degree in Biology, with two kids and a hubby, you can imagine the need for quick, easy foods right now..i hate it! It is so hard to find healhy snacks (that are affordable) that my bottomless pit 6 yr old daughter will like. I really need to replicate your efforts and get the crap out of our diet. We have chickens who lay us wonderful eggs but no cow for the raw milk. It is so difficult to purchase that and if I can find it, it is far away. Everytime we have raw milk we are all convinced that we will never drink anything pasteurized again…but end up buying it b/c it's our only choice for convenience sake. i will graduate in about a year and a half and you have inspired me to take all these steps too. My husband has the most terrible digestive system and would so benefit from your suggestions. Keep the ideas coming and good luck!

    • Yay! I'm glad it's motivating for you, Margo! Thank you! I SO understand where you're coming from with the time factor! It's hard for me to cook in the evening because somebody has some kind of activity (dance, karate, etc.) pretty much 6 days a week, so I'm playing chauffeur at dinnertime, plus my husband doesn't work regular hours. But we're making it work. I'm blessed to have a husband who likes to cook and is probably a better cook than me, so we work together to make it happen. And yup…my almost 6 year old is my pickiest, and my biggest lover of junk food, so I'm with you there too! I'm jealous of your eggs! Even though it's legal in the city limits, it's against our deed restrictions, so I have to rely on friends or my mother in law for our fresh eggs. We get our raw milk from a dairy in Schulenberg. They deliver all over the area and I bet there's a group getting deliveries near you…you might try calling and asking them if they do any deliveries in your area of Austin. They're the nicest people! It's Stryk Dairy ( Keep me updated on how it's going…we'll talk more soon. 😉

  2. I love hearing about this. It sounds like we are where you were food wise before this last month. I've loved the idea of sourdough but failed miserably with homemade sourdough starter. Did you make your own or buy it from elsewhere?

    • I tried to make my own starter a couple of times several years ago and never really got anywhere either. I'd like to try again now after seeing how it was done in this class I'm doing and see what happens! But I ordered mine from Cultures for Health. There's a link in my sidebar up at the top to C for H…it says "300+ products, Real Food LIfestyle". It was easy to revive and seems to be very happy and bubbly! The water kefir grains I ordered from them are thriving too. I encourage you to keep after it! I dabbled a little a few years ago and abandoned it as too difficult, but now, with the help of the GNOWFGLINS class it seems totally do-able!

  3. Thank You for responding! Cultures for Health was exactly where I was considering buying some from.

  4. Renae, I never could "catch" a good strain of sourdough, then I heard you could make an "instant" starter by mixing water kefir and flour. It worked wonderfully. I've been maintaining this starter for 3 or so weeks now and it is now very flavorful and complex. So maybe you want to order kefir grains instead? 🙂

  5. Oh, I wanted to say, my husband and I are also losing weight, ever since I started us on a completely traditional foods diet this fall. When we took some time off at Christmas time we both gained back a few pounds and we felt terrible! I got my one and only cold of the year during that time.

  6. I'm so happy for you guys! We've been transitioning to a traditional foods diet for a number of years now, and I am so much healthier than I've ever been. I really need to try out the gnowfglins sourdough ecourse. I've been experimenting with soaking my grains this month, and I'm shocked at how easy it is, and how much it improves the texture of my baked goods!

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