Archive for the ‘HEALTH & NUTRITION’ Category

  • HOMEMADE SLIPPERY ELM COUGH SYRUP

    Date: 2012.01.09 | Category: HEALTH & NUTRITION, Homemade remedies | Response: 0

    Homemade cough syrup

    This is flu season and if you ever feel the beginning of a cold or of a sore throat, reach for this easy to make healing syrup. I always have readily available for the family,  just in case!

    I don’t know about you but the stuff I find in drugstores not only tastes nasty and usually contains alcohol but it doesn’t do much for me besides making me woozy!  I have to say, since I became vegan, I haven’t caught a cold or a flu in years. But, I did feel a little tingle in my throat when I flew back from Europe. I must have inhaled something in transit. Airplane and airports are major breeding grounds for viruses and bacteria. Something about breathing recycled air for 8 hours, pressurized cabins, jetlag…

    So when I felt something in my throat I immediately reached for my handy dandy homemade cough syrup and it was gone the next day!

    Slippery Elm Cough Syrup

     

    All you need is some molasses and an herb called slippery elm in powder form. Simple enough?

    The beauty of this is that you not only get one of the most soothing herb to help your throat and everything that it touches (mouth, throat, intestines…) but you also get the nutritional benefit from molasses:  a great source of manganese, iron, calcium, potassium and more. So the goodness doesn’t stop with your throat!

     

     

    HOW TO MAKE IT:

    Mix 1/4 cup (about 4 Tbsp.) of Slippery Elm powder with 1 cup of molasses. I recommend mild flavor molasses if you are not a fan of molasses.
    Simmer and stir for 20mn. That’s it!
    If you want it more liquid like a syrup, just add some water.

    HOW TO TAKE IT:
    I like to take a teaspoon and either suck on it until it is fully absorbed or let it dissolve  in a warm glass of water or tea and drink it.

    Note: I like to add 2-3 drops of peppermint spirit to it for a fresh taste but it isn’t necessary.

    Slippery Elm can be bought at any natural food store in the bulk section with all the herbs. It truly is a wondrous herb. See for yourself, it helps pull out and expel mucus, it is an anti-inflammatory, soothes everything that it comes into contact with. So it can be used to also relieve intestinal and lung problems like heart burns, indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, ulcers, bronchitis etc. It can also be used externally as an eye wash (only using strained tea).

    HOW DOES IT WORK?
    Slippery Elm is a mucilaginous plant meaning that it produces a slippery and soothing substance that protects areas from infections, from toxic substances by absorbing them and eliminating them from the body. Pretty cool stuff and there are NO side effects!

    So if you don’t have any at home, I suggest you go and get some right away because it if the most gentle yet powerful herb I know and it safe on children, adults and pets too. My kind of remedy!

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  • Rejuvelac – Probiotic in a bottle

    Date: 2011.12.20 | Category: Beverages, sprouting, Superfoods | Response: 0

    As we approach the Christmas holidays, I wanted to share this recipe because it will come handy! First, let me start by saying that rejuvelac is an amazing drink that EVERYONE should make at home. If you are in your golden years, say goodbye to Metamucil and stool softeners and hello rejuvelac! If you enjoy occasional fastfood, you will want to ease your digestion with this homemade elixir! So many people suffer from digestive problems these days. Many become dependent on over-the-counter medicines that only alleviate the symptoms temporarily until they get used to them and they stop working! The great news about rejuvelac is that it not only helps move things through your digestive track but it replenishes enzymes that the standard American diet (SAD) robs from us. Apparently, not only do we produce less digestive enzymes as we get older but the ones we do produce get weaker over time! But, no worry, help is on the way and you can make it at home!  This is, by the way, one of the secrets of the healthiest and oldest people living in what is called the Blue zones (areas of the world where large number of people live to be active, healthy centenarians). They all regularly drink a type of homemade fermented brew. 

    Now, I have to say that I tried it 8 or 10 years ago but frankly the taste was a little too intense for me,  so eventhough I knew that it was a formidable digestive help, I just couldn’t get it down. And I love fermented food, pickles, chutneys etc.

    But someone recently suggested that I add some acidophilus capsules to the batch to get rid of the strong fermented taste and also to add more enzymes to the finished product (I poured the content out from the capsules). Bingo, the result was so light and almost sweet. I still can’t get over the difference. I should have done this years ago!

    So what is Rejuvelac? 

    Wheat berries

    It is basically a fermented drink made mostly from either soft wheat berries or rye but can also be made with oat, barley, millet, buckwheat, quinoa or other grains. You can think of it as liquid yogurt without the dairy, the puss, the fat and the congestion! It is packed not only with acidophilus-rich probiotic enzymes but with 8 of the B vitamins, vitamins E and K, a variety of proteins and lactic acid.

    How do you make it?

    As with any sprouted or fermented dish, the process will take a few days, but you can make more than one batch with it.

    DAY 1: I usually start in the evening by soaking 2 cups of soft wheat berries or rye in a 2 quart jar or smaller glass jars. Cover with 1 quart of water and stir. Seal the jar with the ring that comes with it and some cheese cloth. Soak overnight (8-12 hours).

    DAY 2: Next morning, pour off the water and rinse several times until the water comes out clear.
    Make sure to drain the jar by leaving it at an angle in the sink or on the dish rack.
    Rinse and drain the jar in the evening.

    DAY 3: Rinse and drain the jar twice a day.

    DAY 4: You will notice that the seeds produced little sprouts. Add 6-8 cups of filtered or spring water. Pour 2-3 capsules of acidophilus if you want a lighter flavored drink and cover with the screen. Set on top of your refrigerator (nice and toasty). Wrap a towel around the jar to keep it in the dark for the next 2 days.

    DAY 5: do nothing!

    DAY 6: Pour liquid into a glass bottle and serve, refrigerate the rest.

    You can make two more batches with the same berries by adding 1 quart of water and let it ferment for one day only.

    The fun doesn’t stop here, you can feed the berries to your compost pile or to the birds and squirrels. Is this great or what? Who knew you could get all of this just from simple wheat berries?

    So what does it tastes like?

    A little tart, kind of yogurty and sligthly carbonated depending how long you ferment it. Looks a little cloudy.

    How do you take it?

    Best to take before or between meals. I start the day with a glass on an empty stomach. You can add a little juice if you want but it isn’t needed.

    What to expect?

    Eliminating 3-4 times a day (that’s #2) without any effort! You are basically cleansing without even trying. Great for weight loss. If you are having a cooked meal without anything fresh in it, definitely drink a glass of rejuvelac to help digesting it. It is that simple. You may painlessly even pass small stones in the process.

    How long does it keep?

    Pour the liquid in clean glass bottles (Ikea sells beautiful clear glass bottles for less than $2) and keep refrigerated for up to one week. But since these are live enzymes, you should drink it in the next 2-3 days to get the most out of it.

    How much does it cost to make? 

    Probiotic rich rejuvelac

    It is so cheap to make, don’t bother buying it. A few bucks for several cups of berries, some pro-biotics (optional) and some water! Plus you can experiment with other grains and alter the taste of the finished product. Since most of the diseases are the result of improper elimination of the food we eat, make this a new habit for the New year.

    Serve it  in a martini glass without saying anything and you will have a par-tay!
    You can spike it with a little fruit juice of your choice, a slice of lime for a little extra flavor.

    One more thing, do share this post with anyone you know that suffers from digestive trouble.  Pain and discomfort are optional if you can prevent them!

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  • Cranberry Relish

    Date: 2011.12.07 | Category: antioxidant, Dairy free, Gluten-free, RECIPES, Superfoods, Vegan Deserts, Vegan Holiday Treats | Response: 0

    Cranberry relish

    This is one of my favorite relish recipe because it combines the tartness of cranberries and the freshness and sweeteness of oranges. You also get all their health benefits because you eat them whole and raw. Add the vitamin C, the amazing colors, which means, lots of phytonutrients. In our home, we don’t just wait for Thanksgiving or Christmas, whenever we need a pick me up side dish, that’s the one we go for.
    You can buy cranberries in the fall, freeze a few bags for later on and you will be all set!

    Ingredients:
    1 bag of cranberries
    2 medium oranges (organic preferrably)
    2-3 Tbl brown sugar

    Preparation:

    1. Pour the semi frozen cranberries in a food processor.
    2. Wash your oranges and cut the top off and cut into quarters.
    3. Add the oranges (the whole thing) by spreading them around the processor and sprinkle the sugar evenly.
    4. Process everything. you will need to stop, mix and process again until most of the large pieces are nicely processed and the sugar well mixed.
    5. Taste, add sugar if needed, this part is up to you. Some people like it tart, others more sweat. Serve.

    Nutritional facts about cranberries:

    Everyone knows that they help prevent and heal urinary tract infections, but newer research also seems to indicate that they can even prevent stomach ulcers from developing. Cranberries are a major source of anti-oxidants so they are naturally anti-cancer. They are also anti-inflammatory. So, they are now in my list of super foods and they don’t cost hardly anything! So stock up!

    You can serve it with tofurkey, seitan dish, mash potatoes and gravy. You get the idea, but don’t stop there. I love using the relish as a desert.

    Cranberry desert

    All you have to do is find a nice serving glass (or mug as in the photo), spoon some of the relish, then sprinkle some granola, then a little soy or nut milk, then more relish and finish with some granola. It is pretty, delicious and very good for you. If you want more fancy, you can add a scoop of coconut or soy icecream but it doesn’t need it.

    Ok, so no more excuses for buying cranberry sauce in a can (that looks like dog food when it comes out) or other lesser versions. You know better now!

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  • EASY NUTRITIOUS SUMMER SALAD

    Date: 2011.08.22 | Category: Dairy free, Gluten-free, heart healthy foods, RECIPES, Salads, sprouting | Response: 2

    With the plethora of fresh vegetables available this time of the year in our own gardens, why not indulge in a healthy salad, bursting with colors, textures, flavors and nutrition?

    Fresh corn is available in stores at the moment (choose organic over conventional since most of the corn grown today is genetically modified to feed cattles and farm animals).

    One of my favorite addition for this healthy salad is mung Bean sprouts. It is one of the easiest thing to sprout. You can’t mess it up regardless of the temperature, even if you don’t rinse them twice a day as it is usually required for other types of seeds or beans. They also keep refrigerated for almost a week.

    Mung beans sprouts are crunchy and produce a slight nutty flavor, making them a perfect addition to most salads and wraps.

    They may seem small and plain but don’t let this fool you. They pack a lot of nutrition in every bite. 1 cup of raw mung beans contains 3 grams of protein. It is an excellent source of folate (vitamin B for DNA and blood cells) and manganese, a mineral essential for a healthy metabolism and bone formation.

    Ingredients:
    1-2 cups of mung bean sprouts
    1 cup fresh corn kernels
    1/3 cup of diced red onion
    1/2 cup fresh or blanched green beans 
    1/2 diced avocado 
    1 grated carrots
    2 Tbl pine nuts (optional)
    2 Tbl grated coconut powder (unsweetened) optional
    Fresh mint or coriander leaves

    Salad dressing: 
    I usually don’t buy salad dressing because I have been disappointed by most of them and because they always add all kind of weird stuff to make it thick. Since it only takes less than a minute to make it why not?

    Ingredients:
    2 Tbl olive oil
    1 Tbl balsamic vinegar
    1 tsp lemon
    1 Tbl nutritional yeast
    salt, pepper to taste

    By the way, this salad tastes even better if refrigerated over night.
    I used the leftover to make a wrap with collard leaves from my garden. Talk about fresh!

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  • NEW POTATOES AND LEEK STIR-FRY

    Date: 2011.06.16 | Category: Dairy free, Gluten-free, heart healthy foods, RECIPES, Vegan Entrees | Response: 0

    Nature is such a wonderful thing we take for granted.
    Last fall, I discovered some potatoes that I had completely forgotten about and as a result had sprouted in the back of my pantry. I proceeded by cutting them into small pieces, each with a sprout and planted them in my garden covering them with thick layer of leave mulch. I knew that not much grows in the winter in the Northwest but hoped that something will come out eventually out of it. And it did. Beautiful leaves grew a few months ago and some potatoes even appeared. It was time to harvest. Wow, so many beautiful little potatoes. It was like a treasure hunt. And when I thought I was done, more were found.

    And the funny thing is that the original pieces of potatoes were still almost intact in the ground, and yet they had produced a whole family of little ones.  Next to the potatoes, some leeks also grew. And when you have potatoes and leeks, what do you do? You make potato leek soup, oven roasted vegies or a great stir-fry. We did all three.

    New potatoes are only harvested in the spring and summer so look out for them in the stores or better, grow your own. Eat with the season to  What is really unique about them is that they have a thinner skin and a high moisture content which gives them a creamy texture. They are usually used as side dish but why not making them the star of the show?

    You can lightly steam the potatoes and stir fry them with a little garlic, green onion, salt and pepper and any other condiment you like. Potatoes goes really well with rosemary for example for something different. That’s what we did in the photo. Super simple, quick and delicious. I added some vegan sausages for a little quick protein.

    Leeks are essentially giant green onions. They are from the same alium family. In terms of nutrition, leeks are a great source of vitamin C as well as iron and fiber, they are known for helping the blood and the heart.
    In terms of handling leeks, you always want to check and wash the dirt of the bottom after removing the roots. You can also stir fry the leeks with a little water and salt.

    The finished product:

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  • SUMMER CLASS SCHEDULE UPDATED

    Date: 2011.05.08 | Category: Dairy free, French cuisine, heart healthy foods, Mexican, Moroccan | Response: 0

    Please note the new dates.
    I clicked the publish button prematurely on the previous post!

    JUNIOR CHEF ACADEMY – June 6th, 13th, 20th, 5-7:30pm, Firstenburg, Vancouver, WA

    MOROCCAN NIGHT – July 6th, 6-8:30pm, Clark College, Vancouver, WA

    FRENCH CUISINE – July 7th, 6-8:30pm, St John Community Center, Portland

    HEART HEALTHY COMFORT FOODS – July 11th, 5-6:30pm, Firstenburg C.C., Vancouver

    MEXICAN FIESTA – July 14th, 6-8:30pm, St John Community Center, Portland

    A TASTE OF THAILAND – July 21th, 6-8:30pm, St John Community Center, Portland

    DAIRY FREE AT LAST – July 25th, 5-6:30pm, Firstenburg Community Center, Vancouver

    CHINESE BANQUET – July 28th, 6-8:30pm, St John Community Center, Portland

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  • MISO – THE ULTIMATE RADIATION SHIELD

    Date: 2011.04.13 | Category: radiation shield, RECIPES, Superfoods, Vegan Soups | Response: 0

    Miso soup

    Even though, the news isn’t covering the situation in Japan as much as before, the dangers for residents in Japan and people around the world is no less because of it.

    While everyone is talking about taking iodine supplement, is there anything else we can do? I found out that there is something everyone can take and it has no side effects.

    On August 9th 1945, when the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki,  the deadly radiation spred over the devastated city. Most of the residents of the city died in agony but for a small group of people, a miracle happened. The hospital of Dr Shichiro was destroyed but none of the medical staff that worked there suffered or died from the radiations.

    In the years that followed, doctor Shinichiro Akizuki, director of Saint Francis Hospital in Nagasaki investigated what could have caused the survival of these people. His findings concluded that this miracle could only be the result of a special diet the doctor and his staff had followed prior to the bombing. The diet only consisted in brown rice with miso soup and seaweed.

    What is miso? It is a traditional Japanese seasoning in the form of a paste made from fermented soy beans, rice or barley with sea salt and an enzyme to ferment it, called Koji.

    It was only in 1972 that Japanese researchers (one of them was Dr. Morishita Keiichi) discovered that miso contains dipicolinic acid, an alcaloid that can remove heavy metals like radioactive strontium, lead, mercury, cadmium from the bloodstream through our urine.
    Since this extraordinary discovery, the government is now requiring traffic officers to consume 2 bowls of miso everyday, to eliminate the pollutants they are exposed to, breathing fumes from cars all day long.

    In addition to preventing radiation from remaining in our bodies, miso is a powerful digestive helper because it contains up to 50 different enzymes (miso is a source of Lactobacillus acidophilus and other micro-organisms). It helps regulating digestion, replenish the intestinal flora with friendly enzymes. So if you suffer from acid reflux, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn disease, candida… start drinking it daily. It is also known to help with allergies because it builds up the intestinal flora by producing friendly bacteria that can break down undigested complex proteins, especially animal proteins that always cause acidosis and putrifaction.

    Types of miso

    TYPES OF MISO:
    There are 3 types of miso: Shiromiso, “white miso”, Akamiso, “red miso” and Awasemiso, “mixed miso”. The first two being the most commonly found in stores (Asian and natural food stores). The white one is lighter flavored and a good once to start with.

    USAGE:
    For prevention: drink 1 bowl morning and evening
    After X-rays or after going through an airport metal detector: 1 tsp 4-5 times a day in warm water for 2 weeks
    In radioactive areas: 1 tsp in hot water 4 times a day.


    PREPARATION:
    Because miso is a living food containing many beneficial microorganisms, you never want to over cook it. You simply add it to soups just before removing the pot from the heat.
    In addition to soups, miso can be used in marinades, sauces, dips.

    A cup of miso


    BASIC MISO SOUP

    Boil 3 cups of water, add some seaweed (rinced kombu or wakame), dice some soft tofu, thinly slice 1/2 cup of green onions. Remove from heat and add 1 Tbl of miso and gently stir.
    Note: If you don’t have seaweed, just add 1 tsp of sesame oil, it will enhance the flavor.

    A CUP OF MISO: water, miso and a little sesame oil is all you need.

    MISO SALAD DRESSING (makes 1 cup):
      3 tablespoons white miso
      3 tablespoons rice vinegar
      1/4 cup sesame oil
      1/3 cup orange or lemon juice (optional)
      1 green onion, minced
      1 tsp brown sugar

    STORAGE:

    Miso will keep virtually forever. I read that a Japanese TV program did an experiment to see of how long certain foods would keep. The oldest item was a small tub of Miso which had been kept in a cool place (not refrigerated or frozen), for (get ready!) 30 years. Turned out it was safe for consumption and edible. It gets darker and drier with time and a little saltier.

    So, now that you know how healing miso is, make sure to stock up on it and start using it in soups, stews, salad dressing etc.

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  • TOFU SCRAMBLE, the Breakfast of Champions

    Date: 2011.03.01 | Category: Gluten-free, heart healthy foods, RECIPES, Vegan Breakfast and Brunch | Response: 0

    Tofu Scramble
    Sleeping in!

    When Sunday comes and we get to sleep in a little and start the day more slowly, we usually feel a bit more hungry than usual. And the one thing that everyone seems to agree on is a nice tofu scramble. You can serve it with toasted bread (rye is great with it), some fresh vegetables on the side or if you have more time, make some pan-fried potatoes for a true American classic. And if you really want to be decadent, serve both bread and potatoes!

    This is truly the easiest dish you can put together without even being fully awake. Which could easily happen on a Sunday morning… There is no way you can mess this one up.

    Pretty much any vegetable you have in your refrigerator can be added to it (with the exception of root vegetables like carrots that would need a little tenderizing first). The trick is to dice everything pretty small so that you barely cook your vegetables, get a nice crisp texture and get most of the nutrients in the process. I like to have different kinds of greens and red veggies for the visual effect and whatever fresh herbs I have on hand (dried will work fine too). The usual culprits we have at home are zucchinis, snow and snap peas, green onions, green beans, mushrooms, tomatoes… we usually stay away from bell peppers because a lot of people don’t digest them well.

    BASIC INGREDIENTS:

    •    1 package of organic* firm tofu drained on a towel
    •    2-4 Tbl nutritional yeast
    •    1 tsp or more of turmeric** for color (turmeric does have a unique flavor, so experiment with a little at first,  then add more if you want a deeper yellow color).  
    •    1 tsp or more of garlic and onion powder
    •    1/2 cup green onions minced
    •    1 tsp ground flax seed (optional)
    •    Vegan cheese like Daiya (optional)
    •    Combination of vegetables finely diced
    •    Fresh herbs (Basil or cilantro) optional 
    PREPARATION:
    1. With clean hands, break the tofu in a bowl to loosen up the pieces.
    2. I prefer not leaving large chunks as they tend to not absorb as much flavor and come out bland. We like all our bites to be equally flavored!
    3. Sprinkle the yeast first and mix,  then the turmeric, garlic and onion powder and salt, mix some more.
    4. Add the green onions and other dried herbs of your liking.
    5. Heat up a large frying pan with 1 tsp of oil, making sure the oil is evenly coating the pan
    6. Pour the tofu mixture and gently stir over medium heat.
    7. You can start toasting the bread or preparing the salad while this is cooking because it doesn’t take much time to finish the scramble at this point.
    8. Now add the finely diced vegetables, mix well and cook a few more minutes. Taste and add seasonings if you want. Sprinkle some vegan cheese, turn of the heat and cover with a lidd.
    9. Serve as mentioned at the top. Chop from fresh herbs available and place on top.

    Bon appétit! So, this isn’t a Julia Child fancy dish but it does the trick every time, plus depending on what vegies I have in the fridge, it is never the same.

    SOME VARIATIONS:
    If you are in a Mexican mood, add some salsa and chilis and serve with corn chips or a warmed tortilla and a side of black beans.
    If you feel like adding an Indian touch, you could add some curry to the spices and eat with chapattis.

    * Organic tofu is really important because a good part of the soy grown today is fed to livestock along with the all-pervasive corn (I swear, a cob of corn should be added to the American flag for the amount we are growing and consuming). So much of these two crops have been genetically modified and no serious clinical study was ever done on human population prior to introducing these new seeds. The reason being that since it would ‘mostly’ be given to animals and they seem to handle it just fine! I love the FDA’s (Food and Drugs Administration) logic. If they can take it, why shouldn’t we! The problem with GMO corn and Soy, but mostly corn is that it is in so many by-products today, that if the manufacturers were to label GMO ingredients on their products, the vast majority of the products sold in stores would have to list GMO ingredients and traces on their packaging. So Stick to organic when it comes to soy/tofu and for corn, good luck, this may be a little more difficult.
    If you want to find out more about the largest producer of GMO products and how to protect yourself, click here.

    ** The active ingredient in turmeric is called curcumin. It is known for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, stomach-soothing, and liver-and heart-protecting effects.
    In India, it is used to aid for digestive disturbances and as a treatment for fever, infections, dysentery, arthritis, jaundice and other liver problems
    In China it is used to treat liver and gallbladder problems, stop bleeding, and relieve chest congestion and menstrual discomforts
    Given that it not only improves blood circulation but also helps prevent blood clot, turmeric offers some protection against heart attacks and strokes, the biggest killers in the US.
    For more information on this herb and how to use it, go to: http://www.nutritional-supplement-educational-centre.com/turmeric-benefits.html

    Tofu scramble delivers an impressive 4.8g of dietary fiber and 24.2g of protein per serving. Not bad for a humble bean!

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  • ODE TO THE SUNFLOWER SEED – The Mightiest Sprout of All!

    Date: 2011.02.25 | Category: Salads, Snacks, sprouting, Superfoods | Response: 0

    I was blessed to be able to go to Haiti last year a week after the earthquake to help at a Seven day Adventist hospital. I was so touched to see people from all over the world that had temporary left what they were doing to lend a hand to the Haitian people in desperate time of need. The degree of strength (moral, physical, psychological), the resilience and grace I experienced while assisting Haitians patients was so humbling. We often complain about things that are not so important when placed in a larger context.

    It reminded me of something that happened when I first arrived. I had sprouted several kinds of seeds and my favorite of all, sunflower seeds. They take a little longer to germinate than smaller seeds and you have to remove the hulls after a few days but they are totally worth the extra effort. So I had prepared some that were ready to consume and filled an entire small ziploc bag. Finding fresh food while traveling isn’t obvious and I expected living on protein bars for the next few weeks. So I grabbed the bag right before leaving for the airport and threw it in my bag pack. I had a long trip ahead of me, 2 flights, 1 night lay over and a rough 8 hours bus ride across the border from the Dominican Republic to Port-au-Prince, my final destination. I grabbed a few handfuls while in the airport and threw the bag in my backpack and completely forgot about them until about 4 days after I got there. The bag of sprouts somehow ended up at the bottom of my backpack. I had to setup my tent, hit the ground running as soon as I got there. Now, imagine 90 to 95 degree heat, intense humidity, day and night. The kind of heat that gives you a skin rash just from wiping the sweat off your face so many times!

    So I woke up almost a week later, wondering what had happened to my bag of sprouts! I grabbed my backpack, threw everything out of it and found it at the bottom. I was ready to face a stinky mess of rotten sprouts all stuck together. But to my utter surprise, the sprouts were intact. I had taken the precaution to insert a piece or paper towel and leave some air in the bag so that they would be protected in my backpack. But that was a miracle! Not only did they look great but they tasted fantastic too!  (see bag on the right)

    Sunflower sprouts are so strong, full of life, that even after having spent 4-5 days in the heat, in the dark at the bottom of a backpack, not only were they still alive, but they were striving, growing, bright green. That’s pure life for you. They reminded me of the beautiful Haitian people. Strong, kind, patient, gracious and so resilient.

    If I was stranded somewhere, the one thing I would bring with me is a bag of raw sunflower seeds. As long as I can find some water, I am good to go.
    Sunflower seeds have a delicate flavor, a little peppery, slighthly salty but not too much.

    HOW TO SPROUT SUNFLOWER SEEDS

    Never use roasted seeds! Those are dead beyond measure. Only use raw hulled sunflower seeds.They are super cheap in the bulk section of grocery stores.
    Raw seeds are basically dormant. So the first step is to soak them (1 cup) overnight preferably in filtered water (3-4 cups). Mix well to make sure all seeds are wet. This washes off the enzyme inhibitor and brings the dormant seeds to life. It also turns them into a nutritional powerhouse.That’s when the magic begins! It is virtually impossible to mess these up!

    You can sprout them in a sprouting bag or in a jar. I used clear glass jars and cut out some window screen for a lid. To secure the top, I use the ring from the lid without the middle section to keep it in place. It is cheap and can be reused many times.

    You will need to rinse them twice a day, in the morning and in the evening. I use a wooden dish rack to rest the jar at an angle. This helps draining the jar completely. Seeds will rot if they are not well drained.
     
    After 3 days, you need to remove the shells. If you leave them, they will spoil and your sprouts will spoil quickly. This process is a little time consuming but relaxing. I usually do it while watching TV. I use one bowl with water and another one empty. Hold the seed in one hand, squeeze the sides to gently remove the seedling without breaking it. This process will speed up the growth of our seeds. It is a little like birthing a new life, one seed at a time.

    I eat them by the handful, I also sprinkle them on top of salads.
    They don’t need anything really. If you are sprouting for the first time, start with mung beans (impossible to not to sprout), garbanzo beans, lentils, and of course our champion, sunflowers.

    SOME PRECAUTIONS:
     
    Storing the sprouts: They store best in your refrigerator if they are dry to the touch. So wait a few hours after the last rinse to refrigerate them. They can keep up to 2 weeks but it is better to sprout more often. It is so cool to do this in the winter when little grows in the garden.

    Taking care of your sprouting equipment: it is important to disinfect the jars in between sprouting because sprouts can rot if any mold is left in the jar. Since I am not big on chlorine, I use pure cider vinegar. I scrub it with a toothbrush then rince the jar well to remove everything and let it dry upside down. 

    Dry seed storage: Seeds will last a long time if properly stored. You need a cool, Dry and Dark place. Seeds shelf life can be increase  4-5 times by freezing or at least double by refrigerating them.

    If you want to learn more about sprouting, you can check out a few sites:
    http://sproutpeople.org
    http://www.sprouthouse.com/

    Sunflower Sprouts Nutritional Info:
    Sunflower sprouts are rich in Vitamins A, B, C and E
    Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Niacin, Phosphorus, Potassium
    Protein: 25%

    Not bad for a tiny seed.

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  • EGGPLANT CAVIAR

    Date: 2011.01.31 | Category: Dairy free, French cuisine, heart healthy foods, RECIPES, Vegan Appetizers | Response: 0

    Ok, so after an extended trip to the South of the border (3 Mexican recipes in a row!), we are going over to Europe, to the South of France where I come from, for a delicious appetizer. Traditionally, this eggplant recipe is served cold in the summer but you can also serve it warm in the colder months. It calls for the big round purple ones but you can also used the long Asian ones. There are many varieties of eggplants and all are beautiful and delicious. The only thing is to make sure that they are firm and without blemishes otherwise, you will get a lot of seeds and little flesh.

    Some cool nutritional facts:

    1. Eggplants are rich in water (92%), in minerals (magnesium and zinc) and high in potassium (260 mg/100), making it a great natural diuretic.
    2. They are also rich in easily digestible fiber if steamed or baked (forget deep frying!)
    3. The skin is high in anti-oxydants.
    4. They are good for people with type 2 diabetes because they are high fiber with a low glycemic index.
    5. If you track your calories, you will be happy to know that it is one of the lowest calorie vegetable (18 kcal/100 g), making it comparable to tomatoes, endives or lettuce.
    6. More recent studies even states that it can also help lowering cholesterol. Apparently, they have discovered that eggplant captures the fat and prevent it from seeping into the blood stream. That’s why, if you try to fry it, you will have to use a ton of oil because its fibers absorb everything! So skip the frying and instead steam or bake and let the fiber absorb the internal fat!

    No wonder, it is one of the star of the Mediterranean diet!
    So why not splurge and start incorporating it in your diet?

    INGREDIENTS (for 4 people):
    – 2 eggplants
    – 1 medium onion
    – 1 tomato
    – 3 Tbl olive oil
    – 3 Tbl lemon juice
    – 1 garlic clove
    – Fresh basil an parsley (optional)
    – salt & Pepper

    PREPARATION:

    1. Preheat oven to 300F
    2. Place whole eggplants on a baking dish and bake for 35mn until the flesh is soft when you touch it.
    3. Remove the eggplants from the oven. Without burning your finger, slice them in half lengthwise, and with the help of a soup spoon, scoop out the middle.
    4. Place the flesh in a thin thieve to drain the excess water (remember it is a sponge).
    5. Slice the onion and the garlic thinly.
    6. Gently heat a little olive oil and add the onion and garlic until golden. You can add a little water if needed. Note: If you can digest raw garlic, skip this step.
    7. Blanch the tomato. Boil some water, make a cross on top of the tomato. Drop it quickly and remove it so that you can easily peel it. Remove the seeds and dice it.
    8. Place the eggplant, onion, tomato and remaining ingredients, except the olive oil in a blender or a food processor and blend. Add the remaining olive oil and blend again. Taste and season more if you need.
    9. Pour into a nice dish, cover and refrigerate for a few hours.
    10. Serve with crackers, on sliced french baguette and with cut raw vegetables.

    Yumm!

    BONUS RECIPE:

    If you have even less time or don’t have a food processor, you can slice the eggplants with the skin, place them in a large salad bowl.  Sprinkle with a little garlic salt and drizzle with some olive oil and mix with your hands or a wooden spoon. On a lightly oiled baking tray, sprinkle with a little garlic salt and drizzle with some olive oil. Bake at 350F for 15mn, flip the slices and drizzle a little more olive oil, bake for another 5-10mn. Serve with rice, or quinoa, or in a sandwich. It is soooo good and sooo simple!

    Enjoy!

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