Tuesday, April 15th, 2008
Yesterday I covered why sprouts are bad-ass. Today, I’m covering how to grow them yourself.
There are two methods from which to choose for your sprouting. I use them both. You can use the old, tested, tried-and-true method of sprouting in glass mason jars, tipped upside down on an angle using a dish drying rack. I love this method (I started with this method) because of the aforementioned reasons (yesterday’s post) about seeing these in your kitchen growing while you tend to them only briefly each day. The other method is to use a machine, such as the Tribest FreshLife Sprouter. I definitely like the FreshLife Sprouter and I do recommend using it. It’s easy (so is the jar method though) but the plastic container they grow in is dark, so you can’t really see the little guys growing, which is really important to me. So, I do them both. I do the jar method and have 1-3 jars going at once. Then, so that I can grow even more sprouts to eat (or to grow wheatgrass), I use the FreshLife Sprouter.
Directions for the “Jar Method”
You will need several 1/2-gallon and quart size glass mason jars, plus plastic screen lids (available online or at places like Whole Foods’ produce section – or just use cheesecloth with a rubber band, but this can get a little messy), a dish drying rack (the folding kind that looks like an X from the side), seeds, and water. You can use a variety of seeds, start with alfalfa and practice with that. Then, you can start adding other combinations such as clover, onion, broccoli, etc.
2 Tablespoons seeds
Purified, filtered or spring water
Soak the seeds in the water overnight in a half-gallon jar filled with water. The following morning, drain them.
You will then be sprouting the seeds for approximately 5-6 days (tip them upside down and set them on an angle on the dish drying rack), rinsing them and draining them 1-2 times a day (usually only once/day is necessary, but there are times when they might seem dry and a second rinsing and draining might be helpful. Caution here though, if they’re too wet, they can get moldy.) I know that sometimes it’s hard to imagine what I’m saying. If you’re taking my class next week, I’ll show this process step-by-step.
You can sprout these on your counter top (out of direct sunlight). They don’t need to be covered or placed in a closet. On the last day or two of sprouting, you can give them a little extra sunlight to develop the chlorophyll. I still avoid direct sunlight for the most part so they don’t get dried out…maybe for a few minutes is fine, but then I put them back to their area on my countertop.
On about Day 6, rinse the sprouts in a large bowl of water to loosen their “hulls” (the outer shell of the seeds). Drain off the hulls and water. You’ll see that they easily come off as you gently agitate the water with your hands. Put the sprouts back into the jar and on the counter for this last day.
Store them in the refrigerator for up to a week in an airtight container or a glass sprouting jar covered with a mesh screen. Continue to rinse and drain every few days until you’ve gobbled them all up!
Remember, you’re starting one jar, but when that jar is done, you’ll have to wait another 6-7 days to enjoy sprouts again. For this reason, I recommend always having about three jars going. Start one; then start another, two days later; and then another, two days later; and so on.
If you get mold or your sprouts don’t turn out for any other reason, don’t worry, just try again. You’ll quickly get the hang of it and develop a sense for when to rinse and drain them. My first attempt years ago was not a success. But, my second attempt and on have been pure sprouting bliss!
Mung sprouts take less time to sprout (Yay!). Follow the same instructions as above, using 1/4 cup seeds. And, they’re ready to eat within 2-3 days. No hulling is needed for these; you can eat them once they have their little sprouted tails. These are an excellent source of protein!
I know that when most people hear that I love sprouts, they automatically presume that I don’t shave my legs and that I hug trees in my spare time. And, when people learn that I grow my own…look out, because I might as well be from another planet – haha. But, when people learn how easy, fun, nutritious and inexpensive it is, they’re all too eager to ask me how to do it. Right now, I have alfalfa, radish, broccoli, and mung sprouts growing in mason jars on my counter. They’re adorable. (Oh yeah, and I “do” shave my legs!)
“Sprouting” is when you cultivate seeds in a non-soil environment just long enough for them to “wake up” from their dormant stage, burst into life, and sprout little, tiny stems and tiny leaves… and then you gobble ‘em up! Sprouting is one of the best tools you can use to helping you stay on the Raw lifestyle path. I’m going to let you in on a little secret (the gardeners among you might know this already)… aside from the physical/health benefits of eating sprouts (which many people speak about) few people recognize sprouting for what it does to your mental outlook. The process of growing your own sprouts is simply amazing! When I walk into my kitchen every day and see these little babies growing from seed to fresh sprout, it makes me smile and I’m reminded about the pure, “living” lifestyle I lead… it’s impossible to miss it, because these little foods are growing and sprouting before my eyes. It inspires me and I reflect on the clean, pure, fresh, and green lifestyle I’ve chosen for myself. It imbues a kind of energy, like warm sunlight shining on me, that is hard to describe, but every bit as real as their food/nutritional benefits. And, if you have kids…this is one of the best activities that you can do together. It’s an awesome way to get kids excited about eating sprouts.
My week has been filled with enjoying many salads comprised mostly of sprouts. They’re delicate, hearty by the handful, and bursting with delicious and nutritious juicy flavor in every bite. There is no doubt that sprouts are one of the healthiest foods you can consume because they’re considered a “pre-digested” food, making them more easily assimilated by your body. It’s during the sprouting process that the seeds’ protein transforms into amino acids, and the starch converts to simple sugars, making these optimal for digestion. They are a good source of vitamins A, C, E and B-vitamins; hence, they are a source of anti-oxidants. Plus, they contain chlorophyll. See? Gone are the days of pushing sprouts to the side. They are a staple in my lifestyle.
Get this! Researchers at John Hopkins University found that broccoli sprouts can have as much as 30-50 times the concentration of protective chemicals found in the mature broccoli plants. Even though they can be a little stinky, they taste delicious so don’t let a little stench put you off. And, alfalfa sprouts have saponins in them, which have been found to bind to cholesterol to help prevent it from being absorbed into the body. The University of Toronto shows that dietary sources of saponins may lower the risk of human cancers, too. Pretty bad-ass, huh?
I enjoy sprouts in many different ways. I eat them in salads, juice them, add them to my smoothies and simply snack on them by the handful all by themselves (before I leave the house, I throw a few handfuls of them into a baggie, squeeze a little fresh lemon, lime or orange juice on them, and toss it into my cooler for the day, along with my mason jars full of fresh green juice and green smoothie). They’re such a light and refreshing snack. If you’re signed up for my next class on April 26 (Weight Loss & High Energy), get excited because I’ll be teaching you how to easily grow your own! If you’re not signed up, you better do it today because I only have a few seats left.
Cheers! I’m off to munch on some more sprouts.
Wednesday, April 9th, 2008
I’m not a fan of the taste of maca. It reminds me of feet. Can’t help it, it just does. I’ve tried it many times in Raw food and was never able to enjoy it (or more honestly, I’ve never been able to ignore it in recipes) until I used it here. (Here you go Bonnie :) Hope you like it.) Now, I don’t know if the sun was in the right position in the sky or if my hormones were in line when I tried this, but I ended up loving it. Go figure. If you’re like me and you usually pass on the maca…you can cut this recipe in half just in case you want to try a small amount first.
Maca is known for having some amazing properties, which is why I was determined to make a recipe I could look forward to. According to Navitas Naturals website: Athletes have found in Maca a natural endurance builder, due to its sterol and saponin content. A yang or fire tonic, Maca is widely prescribed in herbal medicine as a stress adaptogen. Recent studies have identified four alkaloids present in Maca known to nourish the endocrine system, benefiting reproduction in both women and men. In the West, Maca is rapidly gaining attention as a potential treatment for chronic fatigue, menopause and loss of libido.
See why I really want to get more maca into my life? It’s impressive. It’s also availalbe in capsules, which is something I might look into. I could always fill my own veg-capsules from the powder I have (there’s an idea for you, Bonnie!).
Love Nest Maca Smoothie
Yield 1 quart
2 cups water
2 cups frozen raspberries
3 dates, pitted
1 tablespoon Vitamineral Green Powder
1 tablespoon Raw carob powder
1 tablespoon chia seeds
2-3 teaspoons Navitas maca powder
3/4 teaspoon cherry extract
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Blend it up and enjoy!
I woke up today and came downstairs to see a beautiful bouquet of flowers from my boyfriend. He is so sweet. They’re sitting next to me right now and I can’t help but grin at how lucky I am to be loved so much by him. He’s romantic, wickedly brilliant, funny, supportive of all my crazy ways, eats what I put in front of him and loves every bite (he’s usually licking the plate at the end), tells me he loves me at least 15 times a day, adores my dog (now “our” dog), and buys me flowers (and so much more of course, but I have other things to cover in today’s post) – *grin*
In my attempt to have a very balanced diet with a wide array of produce, my attention is focused on kiwi today. It’s not something I eat often, and shame on me for that. It’s an AMAZING fruit with an impressive resume. I’ll point to a few shining aspects here:
~Stimulates cellular repair (Boohyah!)
~Filled with an army of disease fighting phytonutrients (Gotta love that!)
~Loads of vitamin C (Twice as much as oranges!)
~Magnesium, fiber & potassium (Nice!)
~The Journal of Medicinal Food reported that kiwi has an amazing ability to reduce oxidative stress in human plasma. (Enough already! Bring me kiwi!)
See? Pretty darn great!
Here is a fabulously fresh recipe that is perfect for spring. I loved it so much that I’m already drinking my second one!
Cinnamon Kiwi Green Smoothie
Yield 3 cups
1-2 cups water
1 LARGE! handful spinach
1 kiwi (peeled or not, it’s up to you – I peeled 1/2 of mine)
1 whole apple, chopped (yep, core and all)
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Blend this sassy baby up and enjoy the powers of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients going to work for you. YUMMY!
A Great Day - Well, obviously my day started out wonderfully with flowers from my guy, then it continued with delicious Raw liquids (green juices and the smoothies mentioned above). The sun is shining and I feel awesome. I’m working away at my laptop, switching between Oprah and Ellen on TV, and getting ready to take a great big walk with my dog. Later tonight, I’m going to the bookstore to relax and read (one of my favorite ways to spend time). Hugs to everyone out there reading my blog :)
Daily Conversation Question:
Which long lost childhood object would you most like to find?
Thursday, April 3rd, 2008
I’m still amazed (and tricked almost every time…okay, who am I kidding, I’m still tricked every time) when I look at the illusions in the following article. I’d swear one was bigger than the other. I’ve even taken out the scale and ruler…to make sure I’m right…just to find out…WHAT? It can’t be!
There is a great lesson here about portion control with respect to our food consumption. In a world where super-sizing and obesity go hand-in-hand, it’s important to get a grip on our portion sizes now. This article shows how we can easily trick our minds (even when we think already know the answer!), and this comes in handy when eating.
Some of you might be asking, “Why would I need to control my portion size when I’m eating Raw?”
My answer: Not everyone who reads my blog is 100% Raw. And, even if you are, I’ll bet there are times that you still eat too much Raw food. When it comes to longevity, more scientists show that reducing our caloric consumption might be the key. Yes, many Raw foods are already low in calories, but let’s be honest. Are we all snacking on apples and carrot sticks all day long? Not likely. I’ll bet that a number of you are still consuming a lot of calories due to the high caloric content of most nuts, seeds and oils, while still accustomed to big portions. Not to worry though, we can still enjoy our delicious gourmet Raw foods…just eat smaller portions. And to do that just right…we need to simply use smaller plates, cups, bowls, etc. It works and it’s effective!
So, are optical illusions making you fat or hindering your weight loss efforts? No worries! Turn that problem around and use it to your advantage. Throw out the dinner plates and start using those salad plates for your next entire meal and you’ll find yourself consuming fewer calories, yet being more satiated than before. It’s like magic.
For those of you interested in more on the topic, I highly recommend this fantastic read by Dr. Brian Wansink, Mindless Eating – Why We Eat More Than We Think. I read the book in about two sittings and have already passed it on to many friends.
Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008
Hating it: It’s bitter…damn bitter! I just took a swig of the green juice I made with dandelion (I put the whole bunch in and it was big!), and if you could see my face, you’d laugh your butt off at me. Major face contortions going on here, even though I sweetened it as much as I could with apples (while trying not to go overboard on sugar). I’m a hard core gal, remember. I used to compete in bodybuilding where we chugged down protein shake after protein shake (those rarely taste good when they’re made with powder and water only). So, I’m usually cool with just gettin’ it down the hatch. No pain no gain.
Loving it: Even though it’s bitter as hell, dandelion is worthy of being added to my diet any day. According to The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, the following information shows that dandelion is amazing, truly amazing. Check it out:
“The Latin name for dandelion is Taraxacum officinale, which essentially means ‘official remedy for the disorders.'” I should just stop there, because that’s great enough. I mean, come on, “official remedy for the disorders” – I love that. However, I feel the need to brag after drinking this green juice and making faces, so I’ll keep going…One of its main benefits is its ability to help cleanse and detoxify the liver (this is not to be taken lightly because it’s very important to have a healthy, functioning liver).
Dandelion is helpful for diabetes because it contains inulin and pectin. (If only I could get my dad to drink some…hhhmmm….unfortunately, this is not something I can sneak into a meal.)
Helping with PMS. (Sign me up!) If there are two things I can’t stand during PMS, it’s retaining water and mood swings. Dandelion to the rescue! It’s a natural diuretic, and it has two hormone-balancing constituents to help save the day.
Dandelion is one of the most nutrient-rich vegetables available. It contains calcium, potassium, vitamin K, beta-carotene, vitamin A, lutein and zeaxanthin (great for your eyes), and fiber.
So, blend a bunch of dandelions for your next smoothie or juice, grab a mirror, drink it down and have a laugh at the face you make because of the bitterness. You’re doing your body GOOD! I just took my last big swig and although I held my breath while drinking it, I feel G-R-E-A-T! I do believe I’m beginning to feel like a superhero right about now.
Wednesday, March 26th, 2008
I strive to live a life that is more Zen (mindful, non-judgmental, and in the moment), and believe me, I’m a work in progress – haha. That being said, I make a point to be particularly aware of my Zen-ness when I’m in the kitchen preparing Raw food. Why? Because it helps me create the most delicious food ever!
Here are seven things I do to get my Raw Zen Kitchen on. I adapted them from zenhabits.net. You’ll see I’ve changed them up a bit so they apply to my food prep.
1) Do things deliberately. Have patience and and take your time…feel yourself flow with your actions. Don’t be rushed when making your food. Before making a recipe, take the time to sit down and read the recipe. Read through the ingredients and picture them in your mind. Imagine the steps you’ll take as you review the directions. Then, when you’re ready, make the recipe and take your time with each step.
2) Don’t multi-task. Doing things in a Zen style also means doing them one at a time. For example, when you’re washing produce, simply wash your produce. When you’re in the kitchen, keep the phone and television turned off while you’re preparing your delicious Raw meals. Feel the fresh produce while you’re washing it, smell it as you cut into it, be mindful and observe it while it’s blending…these are all ways to be present while preparing your Raw food. Then, when you eat, just eat. Don’t do the mail, don’t talk on the phone and don’t turn on the TV. Simply eat your food. Taste each bite and experience all of the delicious flavors and textures exploding in your mouth. Raw food is full of exquisite flavors damn close to being worthy of worship, so appreciate it with every bite.
3) Do each task completely before moving on, and each step of the recipe, in the same way. Put your mind completely on the recipe. Don’t move on to the next task until you’re finished. When you finish the task of making the meal, don’t eat until you’ve cleaned up your kitchen (and practice your new Zen groove while you’re at it!).
4) Do less in the kitchen (and in life). For example, I don’t worry about making a bunch of different recipes all week. I take a little time every Sunday to select a few recipes for the week and I just make those. I’ll make enough so I have leftovers to last a couple of days each, thereby giving me more time to just enjoy my food. When I do less (in the kitchen and in life), then I can do those things with more focus and be more relaxed in the process.
5) Rituals Are Special. Having a ritual offers the activity a sense of appreciation and importance. I have a ritual for making my daily smoothie, my weekly recipes, etc. When I think of those activities in that way, they actually become even more exciting to do. In fact, I can’t wait to do them each day because I feel so lovely and relaxed in the process.
6) Timing can be everything. “There are certain times in the day of a Zen monk designated for certain activities. A time for bathing, a time for work, a time for cleaning, a time for eating. This ensures that those things get done regularly.” I designate time for my activities, such as a special time for selecting the recipes I’ll make for the week, as well as making my weekly shopping list. I also designate time to shop. When I get home from food shopping, I have a designated time where I prep my produce (washing some of it, proper storage, etc).
7) “Make cleaning and cooking become meditation” (boohyah!). “Cooking and cleaning are two of the most exalted parts of a Zen monk’s day. They are both great ways to practice mindfulness.” Put your whole self into those tasks, and do them mindfully with patience and passion. Be grateful you have food to prepare, a house to clean, and an able body to do both of those things.
Enjoy every moment (it’s all you truly have). Love your life and get your Raw Zen kitchen on!
Wednesday, March 19th, 2008
Back in January I woke up one morning with such horrible neck pain that I literally couldn’t move. It was very scary. Fast forward to today…it got gradually better, but still bothered me enough that I’ve been taking it easy this whole time (some days better than others). Moreover, I have not been doing much in the way of physical fitness.
Last week I decided to seek help and found an amazing chiropractor in Scottsdale who specializes in Active Release Therapy as well as acupuncture (he works with athletes). He’s helped tremendously, but I’m still not 100% (patience, I know). What’s pretty bad is that he thinks it’s the result of a car accident I was in almost four years ago. Yikes!
As I continue therapy (acupuncture might start tomorrow – wish me luck! I’ve never had it done), I’m really bummed about not being physically active. Exercise is such a huge part of my life. The thought keeps running through my head that you don’t know what you got til it’s gone. Remember that friends…get out and move, stretch, exercise, run, jump, and don’t take for granted if you’re physically capable of all of those things.
I can feel it in my body – the lack of sweating and not getting my heart rate up, the limited range of motion and movement I’m confined to. Even though the accident wasn’t my fault, I still feel bad and decided to make some extra strength green juices today in an effort to help heal my body.
The thing about today’s juice is that I used a bunch of dandelion greens, and truth be told….I can’t stand them! They’re so bitter. When I’m drinking them, it feels like some sort of penance . Here’s what’s kind of funny – while reading about them in my copy of Food Lover’s Companion, it says, “they can add interest to salads.” hhmmm…Interest? I’d say that’s quite generous!
Daily conversation question:
What’s the most beautiful drive you’ve ever taken?
*For those who don’t know, I’m adding a “conversation question” to my blog posts. They’re from these cute “conversation starter” cards I found at a little boutique. Sometimes it can be uncomfortable when meeting new people, or if there is silence while around co-workers, or maybe you’re meeting your boyfriend/girlfriend’s parents for the first time and you want to ensure stimulating conversation. These are fun and made for just that!
Tuesday, March 18th, 2008
Whew! I’m still addicted to Prison Break and just finished another mini-marathon streak of episodes. We’re into the second season and it’s keeping me on the edge of my seat.
Onto Raw things: To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, I did what I suspect many with this lifestyle did…I had a green juice. As usual, it was delicious and energizing. I felt so many wonderful nutrients fueling my cells when I drank it down. It didn’t stop there however. I also had a green zucchini and parsley salad topped with chlorophyll-filled hemp oil and lime juice salad dressing alongside a granny smith apple dipped into hemp seed butter (this is green-ish, too). For dessert, well it wasn’t green, but it was so good. I blended a frozen banana with some water, raw chocolate, and a vanilla bean. I tell ya…Raw desserts ROCK!
For those of you asking about my soup recipe from the Mandala Dinner event last week (BTW – thank you to everyone emailing me to say how much you loved the dinner – all of your emails are so very much appreciated)…I think I’ll show the recipe in my next class. If you’re going to be in the Scottsdale area on April 26, you won’t want to miss this amazing special event.
Daily conversation question:
Would you rather be the best player on a losing team or the worst player on a winning team?
I suspect some of you know these about me already. I’ll keep it short and sweet since that is the style of blog I like to read…ohhhh, does that count as one? haha
1. I have an amazingly talented, brilliant older brother who is a musical genius, an engineer, and studies nanotechnology.
2. If I were on a deserted island and could only take three cds with me, I’d take something from: Earth, Wind & Fire, Christina Aguilera and Enigma.
3. I graduated from high school early and didn’t go to my senior prom, because they wouldn’t let me attend the senior prom as a junior.
4. When I was in the corporate world, I spent time working in Hong Kong. Also, I was licensed with Series 7 & 66 licenses.
5. One of my dreams is to have a farm with animals and my own huge organic garden.
I have some catching up to do with blogging. I’m hooked watching the dvd series of Prison Break (We watched eight straight episodes last night). Have you seen it? Pretty clever show.