Monday, August 29, 2011

Sprouted Pumpkin and Sunflower Seeds

A while back, I tried some of Kaia’s sprouted, seasoned pumpkin seeds and fell in love with them. They were so tasty and because I also like to sprout seeds, I knew that they were a nutritious snack. “Why bother “sprouting” pumpkin or sunflower seeds?” you might ask. Why not simply eat them raw or roasted? There are a few really good reasons:

  • Soaking begins the digestion process, which makes the seeds easier for your body to digest
  • The sprouting process neutralizes toxic compounds and enzyme inhibitors that were originally produced by the seed to protect it during dormancy.
  • Sprouting initiates a cascade of enzyme and nutrient production within the seed so that it can develop into a full-grown plant. Sprouts actually have a much more concentrated level of some of these nutrients than their full-grown counterparts, which is why I love to sprout broccoli and radish seeds as well as mung beans and lentils. It makes something that’s already good for you even better for you.

Soaked or sprouted pumpkin and/or sunflower seeds are simple to prepare and can be used a number of ways. They can be eaten as a snack, added to salads or grain dishes, or as a garnish for soups. Here’s a quick and easy to prepare them (the actual hands-on time is quick, that is)…

½ c raw sunflower seeds

½ c raw pumpkin seeds

clean, filtered water

1 - 2 T apple cider vinegar

1/2 t Himalayan or sea salt or to taste

Combine the seeds in a large jar and add enough filtered water to cover them completely. Seal the jar and allow the seeds to soak overnight or for 12 hours. Replace the water once if you can.

For soaking, drain the seeds and rinse them in a wire mesh basket, then dry then with a towel. Place them in a bowl, add the vinegar and salt and mix well.

For sprouting, place the seeds back in the jar and cover it with a nylon screen or cheesecloth. Invert the jar into a bowl and allow it to sit at room temperature away from direct sun or heat. Then rinse, drain, dry, and season as above.

Spread the seeds in a single layer in a baking dish and place in a warm oven*. Ideally, it should be no hotter than 115°F to preserve the enzymes. Allow the seeds to dry completely. It took ~2 hours in a warm oven. Cool and store in an airtight container.

You can see a demonstration of sprouting in my video below:

*If you have a dehydrator, great, then it’s perfect for these.

You can also add whatever spices and seasonings you'd like, such as:

  • sea salt and garlic,
  • curry spices,
  • herbs like thyme, basil, and oregano with sea salt,
  • or even a sweet version with cocoa powder, cinnamon, and honey or maple syrup

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Black Bean Brownies

I came across this recipe in the cookbook of some friends, Andy and Hannah, who are very talented musicians. Andy also happens to be a great cook and I originally met him at one of my talks on food and energy. He and Hannah practice yoga at the same studio where I practice, which is how I stumbled upon the cookbook. Their CD HannaH’s Field, Music, Magic, Medicine actually comes with a cookbook inside the cover. How cool is that? In it, there are fourteen delicious sounding recipes, including the one below for black bean brownies.

I am such a fan of brownies, more so for the texture I think than anything (besides the chocolate-y flavor of course!). So with the original recipe, I made a slight modification by cutting the sugar in half. I didn’t miss the extra sugar at all, maybe you would. Next go around, I’ll cut the fat down as well. That, however, may make a big difference with the texture, which is what I love the most about them…

But being able to eat a chewy, chocolate-y brownie knowing that it’s full of protein, fiber and vitamins and minerals makes eating them less of a guilty pleasure and more of a guiltless pleasure.

Black Bean Brownies

½ c semi sweet chocolate chips or cocoa powder

1 c butter (or grapeseed oil)

2 cups black beans, cooked, drained, and rinsed

1 c walnuts

1 T vanilla

½ c brewed coffee (don’t like coffee, try Teeccino!)

½ c sugar (this is half the original amount - I used organic natural cane sugar)

¼ t salt

¼ cup flax seeds ground

½ c gluten free flour (original recipe called for oat flour; I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-free flour)

¼ t xanthan gum (optional)

Melt the butter with the chocolate chips and let cool slightly. In a food processor, puree the black beans and walnuts. Add the melted butter and chips, vanilla, brewed coffee, and sugar and pulse until mixed. Combine the flour, flax seeds, salt (and xanthan gum if using) and add to the wet ingredients. Mix until just combined. Pour the batter into a greased 13 x 9 baking pan. Bake at 350°F, 25-30 minutes or until the top feels firm to the touch. Cool before cutting.

These were delicious and I’ve made them with either butter or oil. I’ve also made them with ½ c of cocoa powder instead of the chips. They were perfect for me, but for you, they may need additional sugar.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Grilled Corn, Tomato, and Avocado Salad

The other day, I found this simple recipe online on a blog that I can’t find so I began searching and realized that there are variations of this recipe everywhere! The most similar recipe I found to the one I made below is from Paula Deen. It’s the first recipe I’ve ever seen of hers that didn’t call for butter. Seriously, I love her bubbly personality and her recipe sounds delicious!! She adds oil and the lime zest, which I didn’t do. The zest would taste great and I don’t think the oil is necessary because the avocado gets creamy and serves as a fat. But a little olive oil wouldn’t hurt. And since it’s summer, I also took advantage of fresh corn that I grilled and removed from the cobs. This is so simple and so tasty as a side dish, or for lunch. I would even eat it as a snack.

Grilled Corn, Tomato and Avocado Salad

4-5 ears of corn, grilled and removed from the cobs (*see instructions below)

~20 cherry tomatoes cut in half lengthwise, or 2 medium tomatoes, cut into chunks

½ medium red onion, diced

handful of fresh cilantro, washed, dried, and coarsely chopped

juice of 1 lime

sea salt to taste

1 avocado

In a medium bowl, mix the corn, tomatoes, red onion, cilantro, lime, and sea salt and mix well. Chill for at least 30 minutes. Just before serving, chop the flesh of the avocado into small pieces and add to the salad. Stir well so that the avocado gets a little creamy. Serve immediately.

*To grill corn, pull back the husk and remove the corn silk. Replace the husk, then soak the ears in cold water for a few minutes. On a grill set to medium heat, place the husks directly on the bottom rack, or wrap each ear in foil first then place them on the grill. They will have to be checked often and turned. Alternatively, place the ears in a baking pan, cover with foil, and place on the grill. Check after 15 minutes. They should be tender and plump. Remove from the heat and let cool before cutting kernels off the cob.