Raincoast Books – Donna Schwenk & Cultured Foods!

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but cultured foods, sourdough breads, kombucha and kefir have really made a comeback in the last few years! It’s really awesome that they have – because these foods are SO good for you! Sure, there is that phrase “everything in moderation”, but I think a lot of these foods you could eat wholeheartedly and not suffer too many side effects.

What are cultured foods? They’re foods that have undergone a change due to the effect of microbes working. Think sauerkraut or pickles. They used to be cabbage and cucumbers. In the case of sourdough, it’s the lactobacilli and yeast that are working in the starter that then affect the dough. It’s the same for kombucha and kefir, one has a scoby, one has grains. Each affect the original food.

When I first started looking into cultured foods, it wasn’t long before I came across Donna Schwenk and her website. Not only is Donna passionate about cultured foods, but she’s also involved in the Weston Price Foundation, she teaches classes to help others learn about cultured foods, and she has written three books! Thanks to Raincoast Books, I now have all three books and they are fabulous!

The first book is called Cultured Food for Life. As Donna says, “this book is part memoir, part how-to guide, and part cookbook.” She shares her history of why she turned to cultured foods (her daughters), she gives a quick lesson on the basics of the body, and she shares stories from along the way.

This book introduces you to kefir, kombucha, cultured veggies, sprouted grains and sourdough. In each case, Donna gives the basic recipes, information on the cultured food, different options and even an FAQ! That takes up only about the first quarter of the book and the rest is a delightful blend of recipes using the cultured foods! Would you like to make your own cottage cheese? Perhaps a smoothie with kefir for added goodness? How about the Cultured Border Salsa? Sprouted Whole Wheat Bread. Or how about the intriguing Strawberry, Lemon, and Basil Kefir Pie? Her sourdough bread recipe is delish!

The second book Donna created is called Cultured Food for Health – A Guide to Healing Yourself with Probiotic Foods. Once again, this book also gives a wee bit of history, a wee bit of biology, and also a lesson on the triology of kefir, kombucha and cultured vegetables. Sound familiar? However, because this book is about Health, she also includes a whole host of issues and her experience with cultured foods affecting them positively.

Once again, this comprises about the first quarter of the book and then we’re onto the yummy recipes! Don’t expect the recipes to be the same though – oh no – Donna has a whole slew of fresh, new recipes for you to test! I just wish I could test them all – it’s going to take me awhile! Naturally, because the trilogy includes kefir, kombucha and cultured vegetables, you will find all the basic instructions and recipes for each. But then there are the Breakfast Treats and Smoothies, the Dips and Appetizers, Main Courses, Side Dishes and Salads, Desserts. She also includes Beverages and Condiments, Dressings, Flavourings and Pickles. Lastly, there is the 21-Day Trilogy Program. This is a way to introduce your body to cultured foods without trying too many at once or too quickly! Your body does need to adjust to these foods and some people will actually have a healing crisis as their body heals and adjusts to these foods.

And that brings us to Donna’s most recent book, called Cultured Food in a Jar!  I love her dedication in the front of this book – “To my invisible 100 trillion microbes, thank you for being my best teacher and constant companion.” Now that is the dedication of someone who has learned to love microbes! This book is a bit different than the first two in that the recipes were all created because Donna and her family were selling their house and they were doing lots of renovations. She discovered that she needed quick and easy so that she could keep her family eating the good stuff! Healthy fast food, as she calls it! However, the trilogy is exactly the same – yup – you got it, kefir, kombucha and cultured vegetables! So you see, all you need to do is learn a bit about these wonderful little microbes and pretty soon you can have all sorts healthy goodies! Donna even includes recipes for making your own non-dairy milk, just in case you need that option. I really need to try her recipe for Hibiscus Tea Kombucha, the best kombucha I’ve ever tried was Hibiscus and Rose Hip! Her Cocoa Kefir Krunch Puff Breakfast sounds delightful too! I need to make smoothies on occasion for breakfast, lately I’ve been on an egg kick! Have I mentioned I really, really like sauerkraut? Well Donna’s recipe for Lemon Ginger Kraut sounds delightful! And Strawberry Kefir Cheesecake sounds like a great way to finish a meal!

I’m so glad I’ve come across Donna and her blog “Cultured Food Life”.  And her books are a fabulous – every one of them is a great introduction to cultured foods. Every one of them will give you a great base of information to start learning how to create foods that will help your body heal from the inside out! Every one of them will give you over a hundred recipes to start you on your cultured food journey! I highly recommend everyone take a trip over to Donna’s blog and join the fun!

Thanks to Raincoast Books for sending these my way! They’re fantastic books and they hold a host of fantastic information!

**Disclosure: The product(s) mentioned have been given free of charge from the company or PR firm in exchange for being featured on Glimpse. The opinions expressed in this post are those of Glimpse and have not been influenced in any other way. Please see the full Terms of use.  


  1. I would enjoy reading this book. It sounds fascinating and would like to learn more about microbes.

  2. Elizabeth Matthiesen says:

    I guess that I’m not a fan of cultured foods since I don’t like kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut nor pickles. Sourdough’s fine though.

  3. I don’t know much about Cultured Food, so this book would be a great way to learn!

  4. kathy downey says:

    What a wonderful way to learn about Cultured Food,thanks for sharing!

  5. I take Probiotics daily, I never really think about getting them from foods.

  6. Cheryl Grandy says:

    A friend has introduced me to cultured foods. I’d like to read these books to get more information and try some of the recipes.

  7. Elizabeth Matthiesen says:

    Another thing I do like is German pickled red cabbage, it’s made with apples and isn’t sour really. I used to add more apples to it and enjoyed it.

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