Faux Kombucha

[Our potluck salad feast!]

Last week, I alluded to the annual potluck I host for my nutrition buddies. As it turned out, 2011 was the first time in eight years that I missed it (why thank you horrible flu, awful weather, and chaotic schedule with 200 student assignments to mark within one week).Β  Needless to say, my friends and I all felt the omission, so I thought I’d use the warmer weather to make up for our lost time.

Since the habitual party takes place in December, the menu is fairly standard with stews, soups, and lots of holiday-themed baked goods.Β  Switching to May altered the menu as well; I thought we should aim for something fresher and lighter (hmm, sounds like the HH’s description of me every time I lose a few pounds).Β  πŸ˜‰

My notion for an all-salad party was sparked initially by an exchange with a friend about a salad tasting party. Why, such a great idea, I thought!Β  Less than a week later, I flew out to Monterey for the Dole Salad Summit, where I experienced true salad immersion: every dish in our lunch and farewell dinner contained Dole Salad ingredients!

Suitably inspired, I invited my friends to a pot luck Salad SoirΓ©e.Β  Everyone was asked to bring a salad of one sort or another: it could be raw, with fresh greens or other veggies; legume-based, like the Warm Butternut-Chickpea Salad (which is still on regular rotation in the RH household); grain-based, like my favorite Buckwheat-Quinoa Salad; or any combination of the aforementioned.

Our Party Table

Here’s what we ended up with on our party table:


Raw Collard Wraps with Mock Chopped Liver, shredded carrot and red pepper

Our Salads Included the Following:

[clockwise from top left: Greens with Avocado Pesto Dressing; Warm Chickpea and Artichoke Salad; Wild Rice and Cranberry Salad (with cheese in separate bowl for vegetarians); Curried Tofu-Cauliflower Salad; and Three-Bean Salad.]

[This Arame-Edamame Salad is a long-time fave of mine. . . .]

[. . . I also made this Creamy Pesto Pasta Salad. . . ]

[. . . . and this Warm Chickpea and Artichoke Salad.]

Other offerings included these:

[Kale Salad with Pear, Smoked Tofu and Balsamic Dressing in the foreground; Creamy Pesto Pasta and Three Bean Salads at back.]

[And two Asian-inspired Salads: Snow Pea, Jicama and Sesame, above; and Napa Cabbage Salad (far left in the first photo at the top of the post).]


Some of us sipped on wine. . . and this:

[Almost-Instant Homemade “Kombucha” (see more, plus the recipe, below).]

And Finally. . . Dessert

[Raw Fudge-Topped Brownies (bet you thought it would be fruit salad, right? Heh heh! Recipe coming up next!)]

As usual, the evening was brimming with giggles, squeals, gasps, oohs, aaahhhs, OMG!s, “She said WHAT?”s, “No, you didn’t!“s, “Tell me more!”s, “That’s just tooooo funny!“s, “What’s in the recipe?“s, plus the usual array of stories about work, spouses, social lives, health, plans and dreams for the future, alternative health, catching up on the past, admiring of outfits, and sharing of experiences in personal growth. (“And don’t forget the yelps, barks, growls, ‘I love those treats!’-s, ‘How about another treat?’-s, ‘Let me give you my paw for a treats’-s, and ‘Zip it, Chaser’-s, Mum!“)

All in all, a fantastic evening with good friends.

And while I never got to make the new salad I had planned (I’ll mix it up in the next week or so and post it then), I thought that today I’d shareΒ  the drink I served up alongside the wine, which was inspired by Lexie’s apple cider knock-off that she made back last November.Β  Although there were only two of us in attendance who didn’t drink wine, every single person sampled the “kombucha” and loved it.Β  Comments ranged from, “So refreshing!” to “This is great, what is it?” to “I LOVE THIS DRINK!”.

I’ve loved kombucha tea, a naturally-fermented and probiotic-full beverage gaining popularity in recent years, from the moment I first tasted it.Β  Unfortunately, though, the price can be prohibitive. True, you can make it at home, but it takes more than a month for the tea to ferment properly, and it doesn’t always work, sometimes leaving you with a foul smelling, fungal mess.

This faux kombucha, on the other hand, employs sparkling water for the fizz factor and apple cider vinegar to reproduce the characteristic “sweet-and-sour” flavor profile of real kombucha; it also delivers its own healthy probiotic from the vinegar.

Let’s Make It the “Summer of the Salad”!

The salad-only concept turned out to be such a success–and everyone loved both the variety and freshness of the selections on offer–that I’ve decided salads and raw foods will be a trend on the site this summer.

How many of you are salad fans? Would you like to join me in celebrating the Summer of the Salad? I’d love to know your favorite recipes and any ideas for salads you’d like to see me feature on the blog! (Feel free to share in the comments).

In the meantime, here’s that Kombucha my guests were raving about. πŸ™‚

[Freshly poured. . . with some fizzing action.]

Β© Ricki Heller

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  1. oh my gosh how fun!! and what an OUTRAGEOUS looking buffet! That artichoke salad looks beyond delicious — so does dessert!! thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks so much, Caralyn! The artie salad recipe is already posted on my blog. . . and the brownies are coming up! πŸ™‚

  2. That salad buffet is a dream. Why doesn’t the world have more salad buffets?!

    • Ha, ha!! I Know what you mean. . . there may be salad buffets around, but they’re all filled with preservatives, sugar, unhealthy oils. . . etc.! We all felt so truly nourished after this one! πŸ˜€

      • This salad buffet looks delicious- I wish I was there to personally sample them! The kale salad looked very tasty, I will definitely be trying that soon. I think it’s a great idea to do a salad pot luck. Salads can be very filling and nutritious- who said they’re just a side dish? Thanks for sharing these pictures!

        • Thanks, Millie! The kale was really good. πŸ™‚ And I (obviously) agree-salads are very nutritious on their own, especially with added legumes and/or nuts!

  3. That looks like my kind of feast! So many delicious salads. I’m also a big fan of that chickpea + artichoke recipe (just made it again a couple of weeks ago actually). I’m keen to try the arame + edamame salad too, but do you think it would be good with hijiki- that’s the most similar seaweed I have on hand I think..
    As for other salads I’m enjoying atm- I’m in love with this chickpea salad w/mango dressing http://mynewroots.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/garbanzo-bean-salad-with-mexican-mango.html and this balsamic strawberry + cashew salad http://www.veggie-wedgie.com/?p=15. Love fruit in salads πŸ™‚

    • Thanks for the links, Emma!! Can’t wait to go check those out! As for the edamame/seaweed salad, I am guessing hijiki would be fine if you like its flavor. . . I find it a bit stronger than arame, which is why I like the arame in mine (and the original that I was trying to copy used arame as well).

  4. I love how you made so many of your favourite salads! A blog rehash if I ever saw one! I’ve made my own kombucha but the wait can be prohibitive.. glad to see I can make an instant version, too. πŸ™‚

    • I think I do have to try my own kombucha one of these days, but that night, it was all about ease and timing (which is why I made all my fave salads as well! I had one new one on the menu–but ran out of time!). πŸ™‚

  5. I just bought myself a huge jug with a spigot to start making my own kombucha- but I am going to have to try this to help with the cravings until it’s ready! Store bought it just wayyyy to expensive in my area!

    • I know what you mean, Gabby. . .that’s why I turned to this “instant” of mine. πŸ™‚ But I’m so intrigued by homemade–gotta try it!

  6. This is a perfect post for those of us participating in Angela’s “Salad A Day” fun – I’ve picked up many ideas for the coming weeks.

    And…I must recreate that kombucha knock-off. I’ll be on the look out for mineral water today.

    Thank you Ricki!

    • I’ve been hooked on kombucha ever since you and Gillian introduced me to it, Lisa!! But it’s just way too expensive, so I had to come up with a substitute. πŸ™‚ I saw Angela’s post, too–I was originally going to do a summer-long event as well but thought it was just too close to hers. But it will still be the Summer of the Salad in the DDD household! πŸ˜€

  7. Oh wow! All those salads look amazing! My kind of party! πŸ˜‰ What a great kombucha substitute! Yum!

  8. all those salads look scrumptious – my main request with salads is not too many leaves so I would be so happy with all of these – though my heart really skipped a beat when I saw the pics of your fudge – am really looking forward to that post!

    • Thanks, Johanna! It was a very veggie-dense meal–I think you would have approved!! πŸ˜€ The raw brownies are only half fudge (though truth be told, a raw brownie base is pretty fudge-like on its own). πŸ™‚

  9. I’ve loved your Chickpea and Artichoke Salad since you first posted it. I think this ‘Kombucha’ is also going on the ‘love-it’ list. The store bought stuff IS incredibly expensive (special occasion stuff) and homemade is just too intimidating to try. I’m taking the recipe to California with me and hoping Rita and I have time to try it.

    • Thanks so much, Gretchen! I do hope you get to try it–it may not be “real” kombucha, but it is such a refreshing, delicious drink! πŸ™‚

  10. Such delicious fun times for sure! I love that photo at the top for all the salads as much as I do the lovely background. It transported me there. πŸ™‚

    And while I’m not a kombucha fan, I know so many who are and they will love this recipe! Thanks, Ricki!


  11. I would love an all-salads potluck – it means you can eat more food and try bits of everything! I’ve only bought kombucha drinks a few times and I love them but not enough to buy them frequently! I really like the vinegary taste of them, so adding apple cider vinegar to sparkling water and tea sounds like it would work really well!

    • Yes, the apple cider vinegar in here really does imitate the fermented flavor fairly well. πŸ™‚ And I took your approach to the potluck! πŸ˜‰

  12. All-salad potluck!? What an AMAZING idea! So many options, so much deliciouness. I have been sipping on my own Kombucha “cocktail” recipe this week, because quite frankly I think there is no better summer sipping.

    Thanks for sharing, Ricki πŸ™‚

    • Thanks so much, Meghan! It was actually Hallie’s idea, but I ran with it. πŸ™‚ It was an incredibly delicious evening, yes! I must go check out your kombucha cocktail as well. πŸ˜€

  13. This is my kind of feast! Seriously I’d love to attend a potluck like this πŸ™‚ (The only problem is that my friends would have NO IDEA what to make and we’d end up with a lot of quinoa all around. Not that that’s a bad thing but when it’s the only thing? Maybe.)

    • Ha ha!! Well, I guess my advantage is that my feast was populated mostly by other holistic nutritionists–we all know our salads! πŸ˜€ Would love it if you could attend, Cara! I just made the sweet potato-poblano salad you recommended. . . superb. πŸ™‚

  14. What a fantastic, abundant spread of food! I wish I’d been there!!

  15. The salads look heavenly β€” exactly the sort of feast I love. Can I come next year?

  16. that looks amazing! You’re inspiration to up and move to Canada. I’ll need a lot of food so I can tolerate the snow. πŸ˜‰

    • Ha ha!! Believe me, I also need a lot of food (and scarves) to tolerate it myself! πŸ˜‰ Yes, please come on up! Or, wait–I think I’d rather go down there! πŸ˜€

  17. Cool idea for the kombucha! What stage of the Anti-Candida Diet would this be for? I thought that vinegar was generally prohibited?

    • I’m already in Stage 3 and almost at maintenance. Vinegar in general IS prohibited, but the one exception in some cases is apple cider vinegar, which has anti-fungal properties. Some diets don’t include it, but many do. See this post, or this one. πŸ™‚

  18. LOVE your kombucha recipe! So clever. The salads look divine!

  19. Everything looks YUM YUM YUM!!! πŸ™‚

  20. Oh Ricki, this sounds like too much perfection! How can one person even cope with that much deliciousness, particularly when heightened by the company of good friends?!

  21. Awesome! I do brew my own kombucha, it’s not so bad once you get into a brew cycle. I tend to brew mine for just 2 weeks, but perhaps I should try it for a month! This looks delicious and refreshing in its own right πŸ™‚

  22. Hi Ricki!

    Great post and definitely making this homemade kombucha!

    Sometimes Wholefoods has deals on Synergy kombucha FYI! πŸ™‚

    Question; is it safe to consume kombucha with tinea versicolor (a type of candida infection)? I hear mixed reviews. Would love to hear your thoughts on this!

    • Thanks, Charmaine! I think different practitioners have different opinions about kombucha at any stage. I found that, for me, it was way too sweet at the beginning. Even now, I’d have it no more often than once a month. πŸ™‚


  1. […] third beverage was based on Ricki’s Almost Instant β€˜Kombucha’  (her party recipe is way down that page) that was the inspiration for one of my beverages on this […]

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