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Delicious, Healthy Sour Dough Rye Bread: Have fun making your own!

There is nothing like turning out a loaf of freshly baked bread in your own kitchen and sour dough rye ticks all the boxes: heavingly healthy, super tasty and easy to digest. What’s more it is simple to make and no kneading is required. It is just a matter of mixing together the right quantities of lour and water and leaving it to ferment. Do the mixing in just a few minutes at the same time each day for three days. If you do this in the evenings your loaves will be ready to bake on the fourth morning and you can enjoy it fresh for breakfast!

The Sour Dough Starter
The raising agent for sough dough bread comes from the natural yeasts that are present in the air. These yeasts are held in a mixture of flour and water which is called the starter. The process to make a starter from scratch can take a week or more and doesn't always work. It is quicker and easier to get some from a friend, you only need a spoonful. If you'd like some let me know and I can give you some. If you want to make it yourself follow this link >

Once you have your starter proceed as follows:

Day 1: Evening
Activate your starter
Time required: 5 minutes plus 24 hours fermenting.

Take one desert spoon of starter and put in to a clean jam jar that has a clean lid. Add 4 heaped teaspoons of rye flour and mix to a paste with approximately 100ml tepid water.

Put the lid on the jar and leave at room temperature. In the next 12-24 hours (depending how warm it is) the mixture will get more and more bubbles in it and increase in volume by about 1/3. After this it will deflate again.

At this point your starter is ready to use.

Day 2: Evening
First Mix
Time required: 5 minutes plus 24 hours fermenting.

In a large bowl mix together:
12oz/340g wholemeal rye flour
1 pt/550ml warm water
4oz/100g sour dough starter (as made above)
Cover and leave for 24 hours to ferment

After 24 hours your mixture look something like this:

Day 3: Evening
Second Mix
Time required: 10 minutes plus rising time over night.

To the First Mix add the following :
1lb 8oz/860g rye flour (or half rye and half spelt - spelt will put a bit more spring in your loaf)
10 floz/300ml tepid water
2 tsp salt
Mix well with a spoon. The mixture will be too wet to kneed and it is not necessary. Oil 2 x 2lb loaf tins. Divide the mixture between them using your hand. Wet you hand with cold water first to stop the dough sticking to it. Smooth the tops of the loaves then cover them with a clean tea towel. Leave to rise over night.

Day 4: Early Morning
Time required: 5 minutes plus 1 hour baking.

In the morning the loaves will be almost level with the top of the tins. If they are not leave them for a few hours longer until they are. Put them in a pre heated oven 450/230/gas 8 for 1 hour then turn them out immediately. When you tap the base of the loaf if cooked it should sound hollow. I usually  have a couple of slices right away for breakfast with a boiled egg.

The other way of doing it is leave the loaves to cool completely then wrap in plastic and rest the loaves for a day before eating (the connoisseurs say flavour is better then). Loaves will keep for about a week – much longer than regular bread -, flavour improves with keeping. They also freeze well.

Remember if you want to make the bread again put a spoonful of the fermented dough (in stage 2) aside in a jar and keep in the fridge. This will be the starter for your next batch. Keep it in the fridge and feed it once every 2-3 weeks. It should have a fresh vinegary or fruity smell.

Health Benefits of Sour Dough Rye Bread

A lot of people have difficulty digesting wheat products and yeasted bread (which is linked to stomach bloating and Candida) but get have no problem with sour dough as it activley supports digestion and has numerous health benefits.

The Facts:

  • Long fermentation breaks down cellulose allowing nutrients to release into the dough and improve nutritional value

  • Friendly gut bacteria, lactobacillus generates positive intestinal flora aiding digestion, absorption and elimination

  • Phytic acid (which is present in wheat and grains and contributes to anaemia) is neutralised in sour dough fermentation process

  • Rye bread reduces plaque and calcification in the blood vessels (which can cause high blood pressure and heart disease) and restores suppleness to vessels

Chinese medicine says the properties of the sour flavour draw us into harmony with the autumn  which is a time of gathering and the beginning of the period of contraction. Sour dough bread is said to be particularly good for those with a precariously changing personality as the sour flavours collects and hold together the dispersed.

Lastly I'd like to thanks to my lovely friend Amerasiddhi who years ago gave me this recipe, some sour dough starter and his enthusiasm for bread making.


Sally Lancaster is a registered acupuncturist and shiatsu practitioner.
She works from her home clinic Wellbeing East in Walthamstow.

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07946 590691

Wild Spring Green Soup

Leafy greens are fantastic blood builders and spring is the time to get out and gather these wild fresh greens and make them into a delicious and highly nutritious soup. Chinese medicine theory highly recommended including them now because they support the yang aspect of us - that is the ascendant and expansive qualities of spring, which are both part of us, and are rising out there in nature.

The picture below shows a selection of spring greens, sorrel, kale and nettle tops Any combination of greens is good for soup, and of course you can always buy them from the supermarket.

The keys to an excellent spring green soup are potato - to give it body - and good stock - to give it spirit. Note that a carrier bag is the standard measure for wild greens.

Wash half a carrier bagful of fresh-green leaves. Wear rubber gloves if your greens include nettle tops and discard anything you don't like the look of and any thick stalks.

Melt 50g butter in a large saucepan, add a chopped onion (or a dozen crow garlic bulbs if you want to be truly wild) and cook for a few minutes until softened.

Add a of litre stock a large potato and carrot peeled and cut into cubes and the greens.

Bring to a simmer and cook gently for about 15 minutes until the potato is soft.

Remove from the heat and purée the soup with an electric blender. If you like it super smooth, or if some tough stalks have got into the soup pass it through a sieve. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle into warmed bowls and float a teaspoonful of creme fraiche on top. As this melts, swirl in a few drops of extra-virgin olive oil and a dash of Tabasco.

Continuing My Personal and Professional Development

I have appreciated being a participant on a two week break on a meditation retreat on the banks of Loch Foyle at the beginning of February.

We woke up to a fall of snow on the first morning of the retreat and then witnessed a brief but heavy fall on the last day, it was quite magical.


The retreat context and the landscape provided an ideal environment to help connect more deeply to the elements - inside and out.

Cultivating awareness and mindfulness of the bodies energies through mediation is very much part of the traditional acupuncture and Chinese medicine.

Chinese medicine says the bodies energies are the same as those in nature so it is an important part of my personal and professional life to know these  in myself and the world as fully as possible as it helps me connect to my clients to the best of my ability when  practicing acupuncture here in my clinic.


Continuing My Professional Development

I was back in Southend again last weekend with friends and colleagues on a two day workshop on auricular (ear) acupuncture. Expert in the field Jim Chalmers (left) made learning fun. We were finding out more about the whole microcosm of points on the ear that correspond to specific parts of the body (see right) and how best to use them to treat physical pain, addiction, emotional issues and 'toxic scars'.

There is microcosm of points inside the ear correspond to specific parts of the body which acupuncturists use for treating pain, digestive problems, smoking cessation, weight loss, generalized stress and anxiety, and 'toxic scars'.

Auricular (Ear) Acupuncture

Support has an Incredible Effect

Money we raised at the E17 Arts Trail is supporting Green Tara Trust activities which include; maternal and child health awareness, health promotion, women empowerment, mental health counselling, sanitation and environmental hygiene related activities, support for local community health facilities and providing medical supplies.

Picture shows me with Jane Stephens (aka Karunamati) founder of  Green Tara Trust which has been committed to supporting poor communities in Nepal (see left) to find their own health solutions since 1999.

Help is needed more than ever after the earth quake in April this year and I was delighted to hand over the £100 we raised at our pavement cafe at the E17 Arts Trail earlier this summer. Scroll down to see how e did it.

Fun at the E17 Art Trail!

Fun was had by all at our Arts Trail Open House the last weekend in May.

My treatment room was transformed into a viewing studio and people enjoyed watching a slide show of my square foot garden. It proved popular with local gardeners friends from Higham Hill Allotment and much discussion and chat followed.

Ambaranta, Sassiraka, Andy and Rosie also showed their art work and new work was created by a visiting pavement artist . . .

. . . and the kitchen - as always at a good party - was the place to be . . .


"It's two houses together and it's really nice"

It was great to see old friends and meet new neighbours and Art Trailers who, as well as our art work, enjoyed tea and home made cakes at our pavement cafe.

Rosies black horse biscuits went down a storm in our Pop-up Cafe.

We were delightd the cafe raised £194 which was shared between Barts Hoptital and Green Tara Trust.
Thanks to eveyone who supopoted it.