3 Simple Recipes for Sprouts

For those of you who don’t know, I have been absolutely going crazy with growing my own sprouts. It is simple, cheap, and so so easy! But now I have jars of sprouts, and I am looking for some creative ways to use them. Here are some of my recent recipes with sprouts that are equally simple and also healthy!

1. Sprouted Wheat Bread:

sprouted wheat berries

The beauty of Sprouted Wheat Bread is its simplicity- all you need is the sprouts. Here is what I do:

2-3 Cups wheat/rye berries (organic) – after sproutingA splash of olive oil

A pinch of salt

Put the olive oil in a food processor, then the wheat berries and the salt. Run the processor until the wheat has a texture like oatmeal.

It will be sticky, so oil your hands too. Preheat your oven to 250 F. Spray either a baking pan or cookie sheet and place the “dough” on it to bake for 45 min- 1 hr.

Now, what I have done in the past is make smaller, flat loaves. This is to help decrease baking time, and also so I can easily take one or two with me in a sack lunch. (Sorry I forgot to take a picture at the end… and then I ate them with some Dhal.)

2. Raw Hummus

1.5 Cups Sprouted garbanzo beans (chickpeas)

Lemon Juice, 2 Tbsp.

Water, tap, 1 Cup (8 fl oz) – add more if desired.

Garlic, 3-4 clove 

Tahini, 2 Tbsp.

2 pinches Cumin

1 tsp. Salt

Pinch of Oregano

Boil a large pot of water -4-6 cups. Remove from heat for 1 minute, Then add the garbanzo beans for 1 minute (do not skip this step). Rinse and drain the beans again before adding to the hot water. Drain and put the blanched chickpeas into the food processor with other ingredients. Run the processor until well blended. Check the consistency, if you want it thinner add more water.

3. Sprouted Black Bean Burgers

sprouted black beans

1.5 Cup black beans – after sprouting

7-8 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley (about 1 cup)

1 tsp. finely chopped parsley

1 tsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. dried hot red pepper

3 cloves of garlic

1/2 – 1 tsp. cumin – to taste

1-5 Cup tap water, as needed

1/3-1/2 Cup oatmeal

Boil a large pot of water -4-6 cups. Remove from heat for 1 minute, Then add the black beans for 1 minute (do not skip this step). Rinse and drain the beans and put into a food processor. Add all ingredients (except oatmeal and water) to the food processor and blend – adding water and oatmeal to smooth and assist the FP until you have a “dough like” consistency. 

I also save some whole oats to mix in after the processing is finished to add a little extra texture to the mix. Make “patties” on teflex or parchment paper.

You can either cook these now in a frying pan or oven (just a minute is fine, or more if you want to), or put in the freezer for another day! These are delicious with salads, or with your sprouted wheat bread.

* The patties fall apart easily so handle with care!



Ready, Set, Germinate!

There are several ways to begin sprouting, but since I have only done this one way (and it has been very successful) I am only going to take you through one of the many processes that is fresh sprouts. Here it goes:

Equiptment:
Mason Jars (as many as you want, I use one for every seed type I am using)
Mesh screen (make sure this is small enough to keep small seeds from falling through)

*Jar- don’t overfill, drain thoroughly with sprout screen or cheesecloth

Mason Jars, sprouting beans/seeds and my sprout screen (in front).

How to Sprout:

SOAK:  8 hours to overnght
RINSE: every 12 hours
DRAIN: well, to prevent rot (but don’t let them get too dry!)
HARVEST: pick any ripe sprouts out from the rest
STORE: in a plastic bag in the fridge and eat within a week or two.
ENJOY!

From left to right:
broccoli seeds, mung beans, wheat berries and alfalfa sprouts.

IMPORTANT:

**** Use ORGANIC seeds!! ****

These are what will sprout. PLUS, you are eating them raw, you don’t want anything that is modified or has pesticides on them.

Seeds with water.

And now here is a lovely table with the recommended amount of seeds to sprout for each type, the approximate amount of days it will take to sprout, and what tail length to harvest them at. Notice that the rule of thumb is: the smaller the seed, the longer the tail. The other way around would be the larger the seed/bean, the shorter the tail before harvesting.

Sprout

Amount         

Days        

“Tail” Length

Alfalfa/Clover/Radish/

Salad/Mix/Broccoli

2 Tablespoons

4-7

1 ½ – 3”

Almond

1-2 Cups

1-2

0- ⅛”

Wheat/Rye Berries

1 Cup

2-3

¼ – ½”

Rice (must cook)

1 Cup

1-3

⅛”

Munt/Aduki

⅓- ½  Cup

2-5

½ – 3”

Lentils

¾ Cup

2-4

¼ – 1”

(before leaf)

Chickpeas

1 Cup

2-4

¼ – ½”

Black Beans, Black-Eyed Peas,

Lima, and other “Big Beans”

¾ Cup

2-4

½ – 1 ½”


The “Budding” Sprouter

Spring is here and I have an itch to grow things. Unfortunately I have the tiniest apartment ever and no balcony, so my planting dreams can only be so big. So I decided to start sprouting.

I recently went to a mini sprouting workshop hosted by a student org here on campus where I got to learn all about the tools, techniques and common mistakes. But the most surprising thing I learned was the incredible health benefits of sprouting seeds.

At first I thought eating sprouts was healthy because you are eating raw food. This is certainly true, but sprouting is oh so much more! So what is it?

A seed is a storehouse for all that a plant needs to grow- carbohydrates, proteins, oils, etc. But as a dormant seed, these and more nutrients are locked up and our bodies do not actually get the chance to digest them, leaving much of the nutritional value to waste.

When a seed germinates (or sprouts), all of these nutrients are activated to help the plant grow. Suddenly there are vitamins, minerals, proteins and amino acids all available to energize our bodies! What is more, this version of a seed/plant is young and is so much easier for our bodies to digest, making it possible to obtain even more nutrients. Sprouts also have fewer calories than a seed because they have used their energy to germinate (you heard me- that means MORE nutrients for LESS calories!).

So now you know WHY to sprout, and now I will tell you WHAT to sprout.

#1 Broccoli Sprouts

Broccoli sprouts contain cancer protecting agents and activate enzymes that assist in detoxifying cancer causing chemicals in your body. Broccoli sprouts have up to 50% more cancer fighting benefits than mature broccoli.

 

#2 Alfalfa Sprouts

According to sprouts-as-medicine.com alfalfa sprouts are especially beneficial because of their saponin content. Saponins are important because they encourage the growth of “friendly” bacteria in the large and small intestine, and decrease harmful ones. This helps keep the “system” clean and reduces intestinal toxicity.


#3 Mung Beans

Beans and legumes are extremely helpful in reducing heat disease, but mung beans are especially helpful in decreasing your chances of colon cancer and heart disease. Like alfalfa sprouts, mung beans are really helpful to anyone with a delicate digestive system, are high in fiber and contain no cholesterol.

 

#4 Sprouted Wheat (or Sprouted Grains)

The biggest difference between sprouted wheat and processed wheat is being cooked/processed. Sprouted wheat still contains its natural enzymes which are hugely helpful in digestion. In its cooked form, wheat can cause allergic reactions and constipation.  However, if it is sprouted the starch is converted to simple sugars, which means that many wheat intolerant people are able to eat sprouted wheat bread! (See my blog post Glut-what?)

Other things that can be sprouted:

  • clover
  • lentils
  • peas
  • radish
  • black beans
  • chickpeas
  • barley
  • rye
  • rice
  • almonds
  • peanuts
  • pumpkin
  • sunflower
  • garlic
  • arugula
  • cress
  • flax

Over the next few weeks I will be keeping a sprouting journal on my sprouting adventures- including my tools, seeds, how often I rinse, when I harvest and what meals I use them for! It will be an adventure, but please don’t expect complete success; I am just a budding sprouter.


5 Ways to go “Green” and save some Green (College edition)

Yes it sucks to be a college student, and it is hard to find alternatives in our lifestyles that are environmentally friendly without simultaneously breaking our bank. But really, every little bit helps, and incorporating some simple habits can actually save you money too! Thats right- SAVE- do I have your attention now?

1. Turn down the heat

Now, depending on where you live, this may or may not be a challenge. But for many people, heat in the winter is a cozy and relaxing necessity for keeping your toes happy. I grew up on a farm in Wisconsin and believe me, I know cold (waiting for the bus at 6 a.m. in the winter is no picnic). But one thing I did learn from my hardened midwestern mother was to dress warm so we could keep the heat down. Also- see #2.

2. Insulate your windows 

Piggybacking on #1, insulating your windows in the winter is a great way to be energy efficient and keep out the cold. There are several ways to do this: heavy drapes, plastic covers, weather sealing, draft snakes.. there are many ways and all are effective.

3. Shorten your shower time

This one is hard for a lot of people. Showers are sacred, comforting, cleansing… but can also be incredibly inefficient. Shortening your shower time even by 5 minutes (preferably 10) each day will reduce gallons of water per week. Other options are to turn off your shower while you soap up/shampoo/conditioner, and/or get a more efficient shower head. This can really help your water bill and save water for our planet (awwwww).

4. Buy less food

We are all starving college students. At some point the choice comes down to spending money on food or beer, and if you are like me… well, you know what you choose. Even though you might think that you already have too little food, analyze how much you actually eat and what gets thrown away. Do you use all of your leftovers? Is there anything you let expire? Be more efficient with your grocery shopping and make sure you make clear meal plans so nothing goes to waste. Then you can actually save more money for more beer!

5. If its yellow, let it mellow…

Ok, no more Ms. Nice Girl. Here is one great way to be more green: don’t flush your toilet every time. I’m serious. Unless you have a super fancy toilet (with the dual-flush buttons), then your toilet flushes about 3.5 gallons each time. If you are like me and drink a lot of water (or coffee….) in a day, then you probably use the toilet a lot. Now, one thing I heard once several years ago was this rule: if it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down. Ok, some of you are freaking out right now (OMG that is so gross!!). Fine, don’t do it in public restrooms or at friend’s places. but no one ever has to know you do it in your apartment. Also, this will save so much on your water bill, not to mention hundreds of gallons of water. I’m just sayin’.

There you have it: some basic, money and planet saving habits that once incorporated will make a huge difference and are really not that difficult to follow up on. I will delve more into these topics through the next two weeks for facts and tips about each of these topics. Stay tuned…


Glut-what?

The latest fad in the health/food world is gluten-free. And just when you were tired of seeing it everywhere, now I am writing a blog about it.

I was recently visiting a very good friend that I hadn’t seen in a very long time, and when I commented on how great she looked, she excitedly told me that she was “completely-well almost-gluten-free!” I congratulated her; being a vegetarian I know how difficult it is to change your diet. But later it got me thinking… why would gluten make a difference in your health?

First of all- what is gluten? Gluten is a protein composite that is found in processed wheat (and some other grains too- but mostly wheat).  Gluten is what helps dough rise and have its chewy texture, hence, why baking with gluten-free flour is so difficult. Celiac’s disease is a reaction to gluten that damages the lining of the small intestine. When this happens, the intestine is unable to absorb important nutrients and a person can become malnourished.

I am not a stranger to a gluten-free diet. Within the last year nearly all of my cousins have found out they have varying levels of gluten intolerance, and even before that I had eaten gluten as a meat substitute in some foods (also known as seitan). From an allergy perspective, I had thought that I “got” gluten, or at least, what it is nutritionally and where it comes from. But then when my friend started talking about a gluten-free diet, I realized there were  still some things I did not understand. What is it about this one protein that would make you more, or less, healthy?

So here is the dish.

An article in Health Magazine actually talks about this fairly simply. If you choose to go “gluten-free,” then yes, you can lose weight! But it isn’t because you aren’t eating gluten. The fact is, you are not eating breads, a.k.a. carbs. And along with that, you are also not eating the fats in those baked goods either. This is great and healthy if you are choosing to replace that with more fruits, veggies, and unprocessed foods.

However…

There is a catch. If you are doing the gluten-free route, but are instead eating bagels/muffins/breads that have “gluten-free” flour, you probably won’t shed any weight. That is because these foods have the same amount of calories as either gluten counter parts, or sometimes more because they are often made with more sugars to compensate.

I was still curious about how life with a gluten allergy is, so I asked my wonderful cousin *Ceri to give me a picture, and here is what she wrote:

First of all, some people think that gluten is bad for you. But… I think those are the people who just want to be in the new diet. Honestly, a ot of gluten free food is really really unhealthy. I just read the ingredients on a bag of bagels and the second ingredient after water was corn starch. I really don’t think my body would enjoy that much cornstarch in one bite. So back to my answer. No, gluten is not bad for those of us who don’t have negative reactions to it. I do believe too much of anything is a bad thing and most americans eat too much gluten. 

What makes so many of intolerant to it? Well, that is debatable and dependent on the individual.  Genetics can be one reason ( my mom has it and she could possibly be the reason I have it). If one damages their intestinal mucosa they can also develop a gluten intolerance. Crises and especially stress also have huge impacts on peoples health. I know one girl who’s intolerance is directly related to her stress level.

Bread, pasta, bagels, beer, pretzels... all contain gluten.

But my own person experience has taught me this. I know of 3 or 4 people including myself (who suffer from gluten intolerance) that can eat bread (gluten) in Europe and have much lighter effects or none at all. I am not exactly sure why but these are a few of the things I can think of. First, they use Kamut (Khorasan wheat) which is an ancient grain that has a very low gluten content and has not been messed with like our normal conventional wheat ( I can eat this and have no problems whats so ever). Or… they ferment their bread for at least 8 hours which makes the gluten protein more digestible. Most bread in the past used to require long rising time, but now rise our bread for a max of 2 hours. We also add more yeast and other fast rising agents to make it more efficient, but I think that is causing damage to our health because of this. One person said it like this “We are not gluten-intolerant; we are allergic to the accelerating haste of modern life!”

So if you are super excited to hop on the gluten-be-gone bandwagon, I sincerely urge you to ask yourself why you are doing so. Is it for the right reasons? And if you are doing it for health, make sure to analyze other processed foods in your diet, don’t just replace one unhealthy meal with a different one. In all things that you do- please remember, moderation is always best.

If you still have doubts, or would like to know more about diet and health relating to gluten, the Mayo Clinic has a great website with some great lists on what food does and does not contain gluten.

*Ceri is a health guru and cook extraordinaire! Her passions lie in vegan cooking, juicing and photography. She has co-published a vegan cookbook and we all hope she will publish again soon. She also has a vegan food blog called Small Foods .


Soup & Bread

About two weeks ago I went to a local event at one of my favorite Madison venues (The High Noon Saloon), which was hosting a fundraising event in honor of Occupy Our Food Supply. The event was simple: people and restaurants brought in their home-made soups and breads to be given out for free, and all donations went to a local charity- Madison’s The Porchlight, which gives food and resources to the city’s homeless.

The goal was to bring in the community around good food for a good cause. And it did- the soups were amazing and the atmosphere was heart-warming. Families, friends and neighbors all chatted together and visited, discussing their favorite soups and exchanging recipes.

Soup and Bread Cookbook: Building Community One Pot at a Time

This was all made possible by a woman named Martha Bayne from Chicago’s Hideout, and author of Soup and Bread Cookbook (@soupandbread). I got to meet Martha, and was excited to hear about her mission- to explore and bring communities together- using none other than soup! I love soup, so it was pretty easy to be excited, but as I got home and researched more, I was really blown away by her message of food and social justice. Food and health are my passion, but Martha takes it one step further into making it her service.

When I make soup, it is usually with whatever leftovers are in my fridge. Beans, kale, potatoes, squash, rice, carrots broth… you name it- it goes in the pot. It was not difficult for me to suddenly realize Martha’s symbolism: soup is the product of a kitchen’s “outcasts,” that are given a second life in providing a healthy and warming meal. I had always wondered why it was always called a soup kitchen until now, which would not have such a deep and cultural meaning if it was called a “leftovers” kitchen.

Through our brief interaction, I got to find out she is organizing many more Soup and Bread functions to help support homeless shelters and bring people together. Her movement is not the only one of its kind; Slow Food and community gardens are certainly doing their part to promote community involvement.

Food is the heart of our lives and we should give it the attention it deserves: as the center of our wellness, society, and outreach.

Now I am hungry… I think I will go make some soup.

My favorite soup is Lentil Soup!

Want to see some of Martha’s recipes? Want to see how to get involved? Visit Martha’s Website. “It’s about Soup. And Bread.”


A Land Ethic in Wisconsin

In celebration of my hero, I hereby dedicate this blog to Aldo Leopold.

Aldo Leopold

As I write this, there are dozens of children running around me in the complete joy and discovery of nature. The Wisconsin Institute for Discovery hosts an event called Science Saturdays and today it is Leopold Discovery Day. Stations are set up all around me where kits can make dinosaur fossil models, dissect owl pellets, learn how to read tree rings, listen to a reading of The Lorax and so much more! If Old Aldy had been here today, he most certainly would have smiled at their excitement. I myself got to walk away with some silly bands and a pocket notebook (a science student always needs one).

My swag! Notice my homework in the background: A Sand County Almanac and Changes in the Land (I have an exam on Wednesday).

The cumulation of community, science and learning is a perfect example of the land ethic in action.

But what is a land ethic? This term was first coined by Leopold in his book A Sand County Almanac. This term means that within society are rules of ethics that govern how a community behaves, but a land ethic is an extension of these to not just include members of conventional society, but the other members we may not think of: plants, animals, trees, and even the soil. Without these things, our own system has no foundation and to even exist. Leopold saw this at a time in America where few did, and unfortunately, we still don’t. So many businesses and politicians put all of their assets into finite resources, without thinking about the consequences when those resources run out.

A current example is something that is rapidly growing in Wisconsin (and many other states), and that is fracking.  Fracking is a type of mining that uses water and sand pumped at very high pressure to extract oil or natural gas. I dislike mining for many reasons, but after reading Blue Gold: the Fight to Stop Corporate Theft of the World’s Water by Maude Barlow and Tony Clarke, any type of mining that includes using water just appalls me. First, this system uses up valuable (and rapidly disappearing) water that is necessary for drinking and growing food. Secondly, in order to increase the flow, companies will also add chemicals to the mix, further making the discarded water unusable. I will certainly be talking about this more in another blog, but the point is, it is not just unwise, but downright stupid to use such a valuable and necessary resource like water to mine for energy sources that are also limited when we could be spending more time on innovation to create more renewable energy to carry us into the future.

Furthermore, it defies the land ethic that compels us to care for our community: the earth. In the race towards capitol, society constantly forgets the backbone of our world- which is nature. We cannot survive without the functions of nature. The irony is: without us, nature would survive without us. If some random event were to happen that killed all human beings tomorrow, Earth would just barely blink. She has survived many extinctions- ours would be no different. What is important therefore, is to realize that incorporating a land ethic is for our very own survival. Call me selfish, but I want to keep on living, and I want my children to as well. So that is why I take the time to gain awareness about how I use my energy, eat my food, buy my clothes, and then incorporate sustainable habits into them.

So in honor of Aldo Leopold Weekend, and in the hope of having a tomorrow, I encourage you to be a part of your community; weither it is supporting a local group or cause or taking quiet time outside, we can all use a little more interaction.

To read more about the land ethic, you can pick up your own copy of A Sand County Almanac or just read the essay.

This is not my book, but I wish it was.

“The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land.”


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