This is a guest blog by – Shelley Hanna. Shelley came to one of my classes and found tremendous help from cultured foods. She has become one of my dearest friends and greatest supporters. She strongly encouraged me to write my first book when I didn’t think I could, made the graphic pots you see all over my site, and came up with one of the best cultured veggie recipes, Shelley’s Cultured Veggies. Shelley has spent 25 years as a creative professional and now has her own blog and is a certified coach. She has quite a story to share. You will love her as she shares her heart and beautiful pictures. We often go to lunch and talk about our love for kefir. For you see, it changed both of our lives and brought us together. We give kefir all the credit.
Here is her story.
Why on earth am I writing about bacteria? A few years ago I was nearly non-functional. I felt terrible. I had zero energy. All food made me sick – especially healthy food. I didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything and was seriously thinking I would end up going on disability at work.
I had been to the doctor and all of my tests came back “normal.” How could my tests be normal when I felt terrible? It was no way to live and I really couldn’t imagine spending the rest of my life feeling this way.
I had been a long-time sufferer of repeated sinus infections and highly susceptible to picking up any type of nasty bug. What I didn’t realize was that the rounds of antibiotics I had taken throughout my life to fight infection had virtually destroyed my immune system.
Think All Bacteria Are Bad For You? Think Again.
We live in an “antibiotic/antibacterial” world and are conditioned to think that all bacteria are the enemy. They are something we need to kill in order to protect ourselves. What I’ve come to learn is that this kind of thinking is all wrong.
Not all bacteria are created equal. While there are bad bacteria out there that can cause illness, there are also good bacteria we need inside of us to protect us. When we take antibiotics, we not only kill the bad guys, we kill the good guys too. For me, inadvertently killing the good guys for decades with antibiotics meant my immune system was getting weaker and weaker.
What made matters worse was my diet that consisted of soda (Diet Mountain Dew was my fav), pop tarts, pizza, cinnamon rolls, all types of sweets, fast food — you name it, if it was junk food, it was on my menu. I was addicted. But as I got sicker and sicker, my body began to reject all kinds of food. I was a wreck.
Donna The Miracle Worker
At my lowest point, I went to a class taught by Donna Schwenk to learn how to make cultured foods. I had never really heard about this stuff, but felt strangely compelled to sign up. Looking back, I believe the part of me that wanted to be healthy was insisting I go. My body wanted to feel good and knew somehow that this would help even though my brain thought this stuff was flat-out crazy.
Donna’s passion for the transformational power of these foods was infectious. She shared her own story about how these foods changed her life. This gave me hope. It seemed illogical that bacteria—the very stuff I had been taught to fear all my life—could actually improve my health. While it still didn’t make sense, by that point I really didn’t care. To say I was desperate is an understatement.
The Paradigm Shift
Changing my mind about how bacteria could actually help me instead of harm me was a major paradigm shift for me. This blog is dedicated to breaking up with old beliefs. And breaking up with my beliefs about what I put into my body is exactly what happened after Donna’s class.
What I now know is that if your body is sick and feels bad, it’s virtually impossible to get your brain into a positive mindset. All of the information out there about changing how you think isn’t any good unless you really embrace the idea of treating your body with respect and giving it what it needs to serve you well.
When you learn how truly powerful these cultured foods are, you stop seeing bacteria as something gross and icky and start to see them as a supportive friend. (As I write this, the old me would have thought this was the craziest thing to say, but now I know it is SO TRUE.)
People have been using cultured foods for thousands of years to increase wellness and protect against illness. In this country, we’ve simply forgotten these healthy traditions. Let’s change that. Let’s bring healthy back!
My Love Affair With Kefir Begins
Donna taught us how to make kombucha, cultured vegetables and kefir (a.k.a The Trilogy) in her class. I jumped in and started making all of her strange concoctions. While I’ve found benefits from all of Donna’s foods, by far my favorite has been kefir. For me, it is the easiest and fastest to make. It’s like a drinkable yogurt and is very soothing and calming to my system.
Below is my process for making kefir.
Kefir: The Flexible “Fast Food”
Once you get the hang of making kefir, it’s really easy and fast to make:
Note* You can make kefir with any kind of milk, be it dairy or non dairy.
You don’t have to limit yourself to just smoothies. Kefir can be made into cheese, dips, salad dressing, and even ice cream. There is really no limit to what you can do with this magical food.