Thursday, August 30, 2012

Adventures in Sprouting

I've been thinking a lot lately about sprouting my own lentils.  For a while now I have used a commercial sprouted organic lentil that's been sprouted and then dehydrated for a long shelf life.  I like the whole concept behind sprouting - it just makes so much sense to me.  Locked in a dormant state, each legume, grain or seed holds the potential to become a living plant.  Soaking brings them out of that dormant state and unlocks concentrated energy, vitamins and nutrients needed by the seedling to grow until it produces leaf to start photosynthesis.  The nutritional value is at it's highest in this state and because of their small size, you are able to eat hundreds of them in a serving verses eating hundred of mature fully grown plants.  Wow!

look at those happy sprouts!
                                        My first attempt at sprouting lentils was very successful!

pretty tricolored quinoa sprouts

You don't need expensive equipment to sprout - I used a couple of 2 liter mason jars with some cheesecloth held on with wide elastics.  In the photo below I have buckwheat and oat groats sprouting.  I've seen sprouting done in colanders and mesh nut milk bags.  It's as simple as soak, drain, then rinse and drain every 8 - 10 hours until sprouted  to your preference.  Grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds all contain natural enzyme inhibitors which protect the seed by preventing germination in unfavorable conditions.  Soaking removes that inhibitor and allows the seed to germinate and release those wonderful nutrients.  While sprouting, it is important to rinse and drain the sprouts every 8-12 hours and to keep them ventilated so that they don't turn moldy or dry out.  Sprouting pretty much turns them into vegetables and the sprout eats up some of the starch.  Spouting allows you to eat them uncooked if you are a raw food vegan (or even if you're not!).  They are wonderful in salads and stir-fry's, and some even like them out of hand as a snack. You can find a dietary seed  sprouting guide here.

Are you wondering yet what I did with these grains I had sprouting?  Along with some sunflower seeds I sprouted I made fresh raw granola  (recipe below) and also, with the addition of soaked almonds, made  some "gRAWnola" in my dehydrator from a recipe I found here  at The Renegade Health Show site.  This next picture is the dehydrated version and the second is the fresh raw one.  Both are delicious and nutritious!

gRAWnola with dried cherries added

sprouted raw granola
*Sprouted Raw Granola*

1/2 cup buckwheat sprouts
1/2 cup oat groat sprouts
1/4 cup sunflower seed sprouts
2 Tbsp dried currents
2 Tbsp chopped pecans, toasted (see note)
2 teaspoons maple syrup or honey
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon ( or to taste)

Mix everything together.  Serves two.  Enjoy by itself or with almond or coconut milk.

Note:  toast pecans on small baking sheet for 1-8 minutes at 350F

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Benefits of Coconut

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of coconut oil and I try to substitute it in whatever I can whenever I can.  Most fats are pretty equal when it comes to calories - coconut oil 120, butter 101, olive oil 120, margarine 102, per tablespoon.  Coconut oil is what's know as a medium-chain triglyceride fat (MCTs) and is believed to aid weight loss because it is metabolized differently than other fats.  It is 90% saturated fat which has been given a bad rap, but research has confirmed that coconut oil can actually raise your good HDL cholesterol and has antioxidants similar to berries and dark chocolate.

Some still maintain that saturated fat contributes to heart disease but man has been eating saturated fat (butter, lard, coconut oil) for thousands of years and it's not until we started eating polyunsaturated vegetable oils (corn, safflower, canola) and margarine in the last century that heart disease became so prevalent. What's up with that?  It is also diabetic friendly because it helps to regulate blood sugar lessening the effects of the disease.  Weight loss has also be attributed to other coconut products, which contain some of the oil, like coconut flour, coconut cream, and coconut milk.

Just recently I made biscuits using coconut oil and coconut milk and they turned out wonderful.  I also substituted half of the white flour with whole wheat flour.  They were light, flaky, and tasty!  If your oil is in a liquid state, refrigerate until solid.

*Coconut Oil Biscuits*

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour 
1 tablespoon baking powder  
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coconut oil (chill if in liquid state)
3/4 cup coconut milk (canned)

Preheat oven to 425.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Sift or whisk together all the dry ingredients.  Cut chilled coconut oil into flour mixture with two knives or a pastry blender.  Stir in coconut milk to form a soft dough; turn out onto floured surface.  Pat into a rectangle about 1/2 " thick.  Cut into 12 squares and carefully transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet.   Bake for 15 - 17 minutes.   Cool slightly and enjoy!