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It’s been a busy past few months — to put it lightly. I’ve been taking some pretty amazing continuing ed classes and certifications and now I have a few new letters to put behind my name. Read on to find out what I’ve been up to!

Certified GAPS Practitioner (CGP)

So… you’re probably wondering what is GAPS and if you can get a good pair of jeans there? GAPS is short for Gut and Psychology Syndrome or Gut and Physiology Syndrome… depending on your presentation. It is an absolutely beautiful healing diet by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride and focuses on sealing and healing the gut in order for the body to heal itself of its ailments. We’ve been successfully using it in our house for a year to help heal myself and my husband and I just fell in love with it! It’s effective for autoimmunity, fertility, autism, ADD, ADHD, dyspraxia, dyslexia, IBS, bipolar disorder — the list goes on and on! GAPS is not for the faint of heart and really takes some doing but the final result is amazing!

Restorative Wellness Solutions (RWP)

I’m sure you’ve never heard of this one. So don’t feel bad. It’s specific to Nutritional Therapists. In this class, I learned how to use the DUTCH Adrenal test, various saliva cortisol tests, the MRT, and a stool test in order to better assess HPA (Hypothalamus, Pituitary, and Adrenal) Axis health, colon health, and food sensitivities. I also have the power to legally order these tests. The MRT tests for mediated response. Basically, when we get allergy tested, they’re looking for antibodies. The problem is that antibodies are only about 25% of an immune response. The rest of that immune response is mediated. This test checks for that and lets you know which foods and chemicals are causing hidden inflammation. It has completely changed my outlook and I am enjoying using this tests alongside GAPS for wonderfully effective healing!

And there’s no rest for the weary! In January, I’ll be starting a class on interpreting Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis and the second class in the Restorative Wellness Solutions offerings – which will cover hormone testing for both men and women. I’m excited!

If you’re interested in learning how these tests can help you achieve your health goals or are interested in learning more about how the GAPS diet might work for you, request your free 30-minute consultation below.

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Napa Cabbage Soup

It’s been a few weeks since I last posted a recipe. I sprained my ankle right before Christmas and was down for the count. I’m finally getting around enough that cooking, carrying plated food over to the window where I take my photos and balancing a camera… and maintaining balance myself, aren’t daunting tasks. Not to mention that the natural lighting has been working against me. It’s been exceptionally dark and dreary these past few weeks – even for Oregon. We’ve been socked in fog “‘thicker than frozen snot on a door knob,” according to Portland’s National Weather Service Office. So much so that my dad, who’s an umpteenth generation Oregonian, commented on how miserable it is.

Today’s soup is perfect for the dead of winter. I have fond memories of playing at a friend of our family’s farm out of Troutdale, OR. They lived in a house up on a bluff above the Sandy River and running around exploring and tormenting the older brother was heaven (it was two girls against one boy – poor kid!). They were (and still are) basil farmers and their house always smelled of the delicious, rich smell of fresh basil. So many fond memories in that house up on the bluff. My family was so taken with this simple soup that my mother had to ask for the recipe and it’s been a staple ever since in our family. I’ve made a few modifications to it over the years but for the most part, it remains the same. The best way to describe this soup is simple Italian peasant food. It’s nothing remarkable when you look at the ingredients but the flavors meld themselves together in such a harmonious blend… it’s impossible to not over-indulge and have one too many bowls.

It’s the kind of soup that will pump the lifeblood back into your bones on a cold winter’s day (or a day with dense fog) and won’t leave you overly full…. and only takes 30 minutes to cook! (Eat your heart out, Rachel Ray!)

But before the recipe, a few notes: You really want to use napa cabbage (also known as Chinese cabbage) with this soup. It’s far more delicate than your typical “green cabbage” and cooks down nicely. You retain much of the crunch and texture of the cabbage but it’s not your “normal” thick pieces. Napa cabbage can easily be found at a farmer’s market or a natural foods store – if you aren’t sure which is napa, just ask!

 

Napa Cabbage Soup

  • 1 head organic napa, shredded
  • 5 pieces organic, nitrate-free, pastured bacon, sliced (can also use half a pound of a clean pancetta – this gives it an even more delicate Italian flavor)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 28-oz can organic diced tomatoes, BPA-free lining
  • 7 cups meat stock
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 12-month aged, raw Parmesan for garnish (optional)
  1. In a medium-large stock pot, over medium heat, cook bacon (or pancetta) until done. Remove bacon from pan, leaving fat at the bottom. Cut up cabbage while bacon is cooking.
  2. Add garlic and saute in the bacon fat until golden, stirring often.
  3. Add tomatoes and juice from can and shredded cabbage. Stir.
  4. Add filtered water and meat stock and stir. Cover with a lid and simmer on low for about 20 minutes, or until cabbage is cooked.
  5. Add bacon back to soup and add sea salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Serve with shredded Parmesan (optional) and an extra dollop of fat (such as coconut oil, grass-fed ghee, or more bacon fat) (optional).
A quick and easy GAPS, RESTART Program, Keto, Paleo, Whole30, and, most importantly, DELICIOUS soup that only takes 30 minutes to make!

Fruit Vinegar

Some of you may recall grandparents talking about sipping vinegar “back in their day” and how it was good for their constitution, gout, the sugar or insert-any-other-old-timey-ailment-word-here. And really, they weren’t all that off. Although their Windex-styled fix-it-all solution is hilarious, they really were on to something.

Natural raw vinegars, ya know, the ones with the mother in them, are quite good for you and are a great source of good bacteria that aid in the health of your gut and overall body. (If your gut is horrid, the rest of you is going to feel horrid because you’re not getting the necessary nutrients to pass through the blood-gut barrier or you’re getting mal-digested nutrients passing through. Bottom line – it’s horrid.)

Anyway, fruit vinegar is easy to make and isn’t super vinegary. In fact it makes a great mocktail. In the heat of the summer, I’ll grab a tumbler, throw a few ice cubes in it, some gassy mineral water (San Pellegrino is my fave) and a bit of the vinegar. The result? A light and refreshing drink that’s outta this world.

You’re going to look at it and wonder how you ever bought your own vinegars. Trust me. I do it to myself. In the mirror. True story. I frequent vinegar shops all the time and have been known to drop $100 on a few bottles of fruit vinegars. Yea. I did that. A lot. Whoops.

A few key things:

  • Your fruit shouldn’t be moldy or rotten.
  • They should be fresh, not frozen (I made that mistake once).
  • Scraps work, too! And they’re economical. Which I like. Bruised fruit is also okay. Use peels, rinds, cores, etc.
  • Use organic. If you can’t afford organic, ask your organic grocer if they have “seconds” in the back. Sometimes they’ll sell you those for a discounted price.
  • Also, if you can’t use organic, stay away from using peels.
  • It’s a lot of sugar, but you need to feed the bacteria something. By the time it’s all processed and fermented, the sugar count will be much less, making it usable if you have a special diet. 
  • Keep fruit submerged with a glass plate, rock, plastic lid (like a yogurt lid, BPA-free).
  • A bowl or wide-mouth jar works best because it encourages oxygen.
  • Save the mother!!! If it develops a mother, save it for a starter for the next batch (and omit the apple cider vinegar).
  • The ratio is 1 part fruit to 2 parts water.

Fruit Vinegar

  • 4 cups fruit scraps or fresh fruit
  • 1 qt filtered water
  • ¼ cup organic sugar
  • 1 tbsp organic raw apple cider vinegar (such as Bragg’s)
  1. Put scraps in the jar or bowl.
  2. In a separate container, dissolve water in the sugar and pour over fruit. (There should be about 1 part scraps to 2 parts water, just eyeball it and add more fruit if necessary.)
  3. Use a rock, plate or a plastic lid to keep fruit submerged. If it won’t stay under, stir daily to prevent mold growth. 
  4. Cover the jar or bowl with a cheesecloth or a coffee filter and secure with a rubber band. (Make sure fruit flies can’t get in, they LOVE this stuff!) 
  5. Let it sit on the counter for a week and then strain out all the fruit using a fine mesh colander and a coffee filter. 
  6. Return the liquid to the container and cover it again with the cloth or filter and let it sit another 3-4 weeks. 
  7. If white yeast develops, called Kahm yeast, try to scrape it off – it’s not bad for you. So don’t worry. Otherwise, you can strain it out in the end. If mold develops, also known as the fuzzy stuff, pitch it.
  8. Bottle in narrow-neck bottles, cover and store indefinitely (as in it doesn’t go bad) at room temperature.

Dilly Beans with Scapes

I freaken love all things dill. When I was a baby, I would beg my mom and her friends for their kosher dill pickles when we were out at Rose’s (a New York deli here in Portland – back in the 80s, they were in their heyday and their food was FANTASTIC). After a few kosher dill pickle spears, my lips would be white from all the vinegar. I didn’t care. I wanted more. And my mom and her friends wanted to laugh even harder. It was a win for everyone.

Fast forward 30 years, and I still love my dilled foods. I bought a bunch of green beans two weeks ago and realized that with my neck, any and all cooking wasn’t happening. So, before they had an opportunity to rot on me, I shoved them in a jar with some scapes I had also bought with the dream of sauteing them in butter… Yea. Not happening, either.

Two weeks later, I cracked open the jar and my goodness! Childhood memories of eating dill pickles until my lips turned white came flooding back. They are so. so. so. good. Even the roommate who sometimes thinks my food is a bit hippie (admit it. I know you think this – and I know you’re reading this post), wanted more.

Okay. Enough of me typing. You want to hurry up and make these. And then wait two weeks. It might be the longest two weeks of your life but you’ll have to deal.

The end result is fantastic.

Times 10.

Note: The grape leaves sound random but they help maintain the crispness of the vegetable. Other options are a bay leaf (or two).

Dilly Beans with Scapes

  • 1 lb fresh, organic green beans, with ends snipped
  • 4 organic scapes (garlic spears)
  • a handful of fresh dill – about 1 ½" in diameter if you hold the bunch together
  • 20 black peppercorns
  • ½ tsp red chili flakes
  • 2 grape leaves (organic and non-sprayed)
  • 33 grams sea salt (no iodine or caking agent) to every quart of  filtered water
  1. Leave water out for at least 30 minutes to evaporate trace minerals. In the meantime, weigh out the salt and rinse green beans and scapes. Trim both so will fit in the jar.
  2. Add the salt to the water, stir to dissolve and set aside.
  3. In your jar, layer the red pepper flakes, peppercorns, and dill on the bottom.
  4. Place the green beans and scape spears on top of the spices, stick straight up. Stuff the grape leafs on the side.
  5. Pour the saltwater solution atop of everything and work out any bubbles. The veggies or grape leaves cannot be above the water line.
  6. Place a dunker (either a clean rock or a glass weight) atop to keep the veggies below the brine line.
  7. Seal tightly with a lid and allow to ferment for 3 to 10 days. The beans will get tangier as they age. If mold forms, dump it.
  8. Transfer to cold storage and enjoy on warm summer days! (I’m willing to bet these would taste really good in a Bloody Mary!)

 

Lacto-Fermented Ginger Carrots

I know I’ve been focused on fermenting lately but the bacteria that natural ferments provide are such an important part of the diet.

Here’s why: In a healthy gut, up to 5 pounds (yes – you read that right, 5 pounds) of healthy bacteria should be living symbiotically with our body. That’s crazy! Fermented foods aid in that symbiosis by providing the gut with new waves of bacteria as old ones die off.

Vitamin K2, a vitamin that is totally and completely underrated but rocks my socks, is found in ferments. Dr. Weston Price identified it during his research days as “The X Factor” (not to be confused with the television show). He posited that there was some factor in these indigenous foods that was allowing for good calcium absorption and assimilation that resulted in healthy teeth, bones and tissues. Science, unfortunately, had not caught up with him and only recently have they discovered what he was talking about. Natural foods FTW! (I’ve talked a little bit about this in my butter post.)

So these carrots. They are my favorite. So much so that sometimes I eat too many of them. If that’s even possible! ha! They’re gingery and tangy and full of delightful goodness. On a warm summer day, pulling one of these bad boys out of the fridge is just so refreshing. They’re also super super easy. And super quick to put on. And super cheap. All three are a super win in my book. (I’ll stop with the “super” superlatives, don’t worry! – hehe. See what I did there?)

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South of the Border Zucchini Pancakes

These guys. So tasty. I had plain zucchini pancakes recently and wanted to give them a little flavor kick. (I’m obsessed with savory for breakfast, what can I say?) So these babies were born. I originally served them with fresh pico de gallo, sliced avocados with pink salt and hot sauce. Always gotta have the hot sauce. After I’m done with my 21 day sugar detox, I’ll serve them with a bit of crème fraîche (French fermented cream that tastes a lot like American sour cream – you can buy it relatively cheaply at Trader Joe’s) or some whole milk cojita cheese. Latin American Sauerkraut would also taste fantastic with these. Enjoy!

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A little note: conventional zucchini is a GMO crop (when at the grocery store, conventional crops start with a 4xxx, organic a 9xxx). Make sure you buy organic zucchini or buy conventional ONLY at Trader Joe’s as they do not carry any GMO products in their produce department. Their open statement on their commitment to non-GMO is only another reason why I love T.J.’s with all my beating heart.

South of the Border Zucchini Pancakes

  • 4 organic zucchini, shredded
  • 4 organic soy-free eggs, beaten
  • ¼ pound bacon, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  1. In a medium frying pan, cook the bacon over medium heat, stirring often to prevent burning. Reserve the fat in the pan.
  2. While bacon is cooking and using a cheese grater, shred the zucchini. Add all of the other ingredients and stir until well incorporated. Once the bacon is done, add to the mixture.
  3. Over medium heat, and using the bacon grease in the pan, ladle about a 1/3 cup (pancakes should be about 3" wide) of the mixture. Cook each side until lightly browned, only flipping once.
  4. Serve immediately.

    Note: nightshades are not allowed for some on an anti-inflammation diet. If you do not tolerate cumin, red chili powder or cayenne pepper, simply omit.

Homemade Mayo

If I had known mayo was this easy to make, I would have stopped buying Best Foods/Hellman’s years ago. (And, no – I haven’t bought it for a few years anyway.) The flavor is a bit different than the conventional brands as mine was soy-free and the oils are different. But it’s creamier and nuttier.

My only tip for you – pour the oil very very very slowly. As in very very. A few drops at a time kind of very. This will allow the oil to be blended in completely and won’t break apart the fragments that give it that wonderful floral bouquet once it hits the tongue. Break them apart and… well, it’s nasty, bitter and you’ll want to dump it out.

On to the eggs – farm eggs are the best. Soy-free, organic and free-range. If your local farmer doesn’t wash the eggs first, make sure you do prior to cracking them – and really, this only needs to be done if your eggs have visible dirty spots on them. Which, at that point, if your eggs are crazy dirty, the farmer isn’t tending to his nesting boxes very well and you might want to find a new farmer.

So here’s my recipe. And my roomies had better watch out – I might be dumping their Best Foods/Hellman’s. But it’ll be doing them a favor. No more excess estrogen from the soybean oil and no more nasty fillers. Just good ol’ simple and real foods ingredients.

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Homemade Mayo

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • ½ cup macadamia nut oil or avocado oil (both cold-pressed and extra-virgin)
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  1. Whisk all the egg yolks, lemon juice, sea salt, vinegar and dijon mustard together until well blended.
  2. While continuing to mix (a hand blender, set on low works best), slowly drizzle the macadamia nut oil, a few drops at a time and blend until completely incorporated. Repeat until all oil is done.
  3. Next, add the olive oil, blending a few drops at a time, with a  hand whisk, until all incorporated.
  4. Stores in the fridge for up to 7 days.

Beet Kvass

I’m sure by know you’ve noticed that I’ve been on a fermenting kick… it’ll end. I promise.

… Maybe.

Truth is, having a healthy gut is going to let you absorb the nutrients you’re taking in so much better. I can give you recipes that are “this”-free or “that”-free but if you haven’t given your gut time to heal, given it the nutrients that the body needs to facilitate healing and have repopulated it with healthful bacteria, all of that is for naught. So my latest ferment: Beet Kvass. Sounds tasty, doesn’t it? (Kidding.) It’s definitely an acquired taste and the first few times you make it, you probably won’t like it. But stick with it! Your taste buds will be adjusting and usually people come around.

Kvass is salty and picks up the earthiness of the beets. Historically, it was an Eastern European tonic and was more or less the Windex of that area. (Three points for you if you recognize that movie reference.)It’s weird to think that they have carts in Eastern Europe selling this stuff. But, unlike our fried and greasy food carts or 7-11s selling food laden with high-fructose corn syrup and other nasty additives, this stuff is super healthy.

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(Kvass Wagon from a photo on Wild Fermentation)

According to “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon (which, btw, I highly suggest adding to your library), kvass is

“valuable for its medicinal qualities and as a digestive aid. Beets are loaded with nutrients. One glass morning and night is an excellent blood tonic, promotes regularity, aids digestion, alkalizes the blood, cleanses the liver and is a good treatment for kidney stones and other ailments.”

Traditionally, kvass was not made with beets, but with stale sourdough rye bread. I personally am more than happy with the beets. In an article from  The Weston A. Price Foundation,

Folk medicine values beets and beet kvass for their liver cleansing properties and beet kvass is widely used in cancer therapy in Europe. Anecdotal reports indicate that beet kvass is an excellent therapy for chronic fatigue, chemical sensitivities, allergies and digestive problems.

So here’s the recipe, inspired by “Nourishing Traditions” – enjoy!

Beet Kvass

  • 2 quarts filtered water
  • 2 tsp sea salt, non-iodized and no anti-caking agents (add an addt’l 2 tsp if you do not have sauerkraut juice)
  • 1/4 cup sauerkraut juice
  • 3-4 organic beets, gently scrubbed with peel on, and cut into ½” cubes  (any color beet will work and avoid finely chopping or grating the beets, which can lead to very rapid fermentation and alcohol production)
  • Place beets, sauerkraut juice and salt in a half gallon glass container (2 quarts).
  • Add filtered water to fill the container to just below an inch from the top and stir well and cover securely.
  • Keep at room temperature for 2 days before transferring to refrigerator.
  • When most of the liquid has been consumed, you may fill up the container with water and keep at room temperature another two days. The resulting brew will be slightly less strong than the first.
  • After the second brew, discard the beets and start again. You may, however, reserve some of the liquid and use this as your starter instead of the whey.

Preserved Lemons

These are fantastic and they take a bit of patience. As in, waiting a month until they’re done. After they’re preserved, they’ll last from one to two years. (That’s right. You read it correctly. Two years.)

So what exactly is a preserved lemon and why do I make them instead of buying them? To answer the second question first, I’m cheap. I said it.  I’m not afraid to admit that I like to save buck or two where I can. To buy 12 oz. of preserved lemons from Williams and Sonoma, it’s going to cost $14.95 and 12 oz is probably going to get you only two lemons. That’s $6.50(ish) per lemon. At that price, they had better be grown in a pristine environment and completely organic with only the freshest and most pure air and water available. My lemons (and I made 8 of them, btw) cost me less than $5 and about $0.45 for the salt. Umm – yes. I can afford that. The whole lemon becomes edible, rind and all – so I’m really getting my dollars worth.

Okay. Now for the fun part and to answer the first question: Preserved lemons are a staple in Moroccan food. If you’ve never had Moroccan food, you’re missing out. It’s packed full of flavor and lots and lots of spices (namely turmeric which my stomach seems to love more than any other spice out there for its anti-inflammatory properties). They’re used in chicken dishes and other flavorful delights. When these puppies are done, I’ll post the recipe for the roast chicken.

I’m wondering what a piece of rind would taste like in a martini, but that’s just me and I might have to try it out when these are done. I’m willing to bet it would be fabulous! The rind also tastes delicious in a vinaigrette, or add a little bit of the fermented juice for a bit of a zip in your dressing! Or toss a little bit of the rind in your fresh salsa for a citrus zip (your guests will never guess) or toss some some minced rind with some cauliflower and capers prior to roasting. I’ll be providing recipes once they’re done. 🙂 Basically, the possibilities are endless. They also make WONDERFUL Christmas, birthday or host gifts.

The lemons will continue to ferment after the period of one month. Feel free to keep them on the counter for that one to two years if you like. However, the flavor will continue to change and will ultimately have a nice minty flavor. If you like the flavor that they’re at, simply put them in the fridge and fermentation will stop/slow down.

So, here’s what you’ll need:

Lemons. Duh. Organic is best. But, if you have to, conventional lemons will work, too. Just make sure you remove the wax coating on the outside. To do that, drop the lemons in a pot of boiling water for 10 seconds. Remove and, while the lemon rind is hot, wipe away the wax with a clean dishtowel. Repeat until all lemons have been stripped of their wax.

A large jar. I really really like Fido canning jars. They’re easy to pack and look pretty on my kitchen counter. (Let’s face it, fermenting lemons are GORGEOUS sitting on the counter!)

Sea salt. I’ve said this a few times in my fermentation posts, but make sure it is non-iodized (no iodine). Iodine has anti-bacterial properties. If we’re trying to make a bacteria rich environment, it’s a little counter-productive to kill off the buggies that will be preserving the food for us. I like this salt, but really, any sea salt is going to work well. Also, make sure the salt is free of anti-caking agent. You want salt that just says “sea salt” on the ingredients label. If it says anything else, put it down and look elsewhere. (Trader Joe’s, Fred Meyers, and any health foods store or specialty market will have sea salt.)

Last thing: Make sure your hands are clean as you’ll use your hands a lot in this process. Avoid using anti-bacterial soap when cleaning your hands, but do wash for 20 seconds, making sure to clean under your nails, between fingers, etc.

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Preserved Lemons

  • 6-8 organic lemons, or conventional lemons with wax removed as outlined above, plus extra for juicing and topping off the jar
  • Sea Salt (lots of it)
  1. Cut the stem end off of the lemons and then cut the lemons into quarters, being careful not to fully cut through and separate them. See picture below.image
  2. Stuff 1 tbsp sea salt into the cut cavity of each lemon and press it down into a clean canning jar. Punch it down with your fist until it’s squished and juicing. Repeat until the jar is full.
  3. Squeeze a few more lemons and pour the juice on top of what’s already in the jar.
  4. Using a clean rock or some other weight, push the lemons down below the liquid line and leave in place.
  5. Store in a cool, dry place for a month. Do not open, except slightly so as to “burp” – this should be done daily.

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Note: If weird colors start growing (namely black colors), dump immediately. But really, lacto-fermentation is very safe, given all tools are clean.

Sauteed Cabbage

My best friend flew in late last night and I needed something quick to feed her for breakfast before she hopped her train north. I’ve also been on a cabbage kick – it’s a winter veggie and it’s best to eat veggies that are in season locally. They have the nutrients that your body needs to help you cope with whatever season you’re in. Sauteed cabbage is sweet and delicious and filling – especially when coupled with a protein. This morning, the protein came by way of salmon. Always a win in my book!

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I tend to cook my cabbage in some way before I eat it and never ever eat it raw. For those who have thyroid health problems, namely hypothyroidism, it is best to avoid raw cabbage as it brings thyroid hormone levels down even more. I like avoid that and still get the vitamins A, C and K, phytonutrients (which act as antioxidants) and lots fiber, folate, calcium and potassium my body needs. Basically, cabbage is a powerhouse and one that I would rather not miss out on!

Sauteed Cabbage

  • 1 head green cabbage, shredded
  • ½ medium onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp bacon fat
  • pink salt and pepper to taste
  • a splash (about 1 tsp) raw apple cider vinegar
  1. In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt the bacon fat and add onion.
  2. Saute until onions are almost translucent and add cabbage.
  3. Add salt and pepper and vinegar and saute for about 10 minutes, stirring often.
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