Welcome Spring and 5 reasons why you should eat more sprouts



It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want - oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!  Mark Twain

A change of season is a great time to pause, review, and to appraise your state of health. Use this opportunity to identify neglect, weak areas that need special care, and to calibrate your basic health habits

This is a great time to reward health landmarks with new equipment, a spa visit, fun activity, or classes to learn a new skill. It is also time to reset personal health goals and challenges.





Roasted Vegetable Tart
1 roll puff pastry, defrosted
1 large egg, beaten
1 c ricotta cheese
1 bunch asparagus, washed and trimmed
1 packet cherry tomato, halved
1 pinch salt and milled pepper
150 grams basil pesto
baby arugula

Preheat oven to 200°C. Trim off edges of pastry, this will help it rise better. Use a butter knife to gently score a 2cm border into pastry. Be careful not to cut all the way through. Place pastry on a greased baking tray. Lightly brush scored pastry border with egg. Roughly spread ricotta onto pastry (excluding border). Toss asparagus, tomatoes and seasoning together in a bowl. Scatter on top of ricotta. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden and cooked through. Serve drizzled with pesto and topped with baby arugula.



Spinach Mushroom Soup
2 T butter
1/4 c chopped onions
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 c peeled, diced potatoes
3 c tightly packed fresh, tender spinach leaves
1⁄2 t dried oregano
A pinch of baking soda, optional
10 large button mushrooms
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Heat a medium, heavy bottom sauce pan with the butter. Add onions, and sauté on medium heat till translucent.  Add the garlic cloves and cook 30 seconds or till the garlic is fragrant. Add the mushrooms and sauté on medium heat till they brown a little, about 5 minutes. Then add the potatoes, a pinch of salt and 4 cups water. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer till the potato cubes are cooked. Add washed spinach leaves, oregano and salt to the pot. Immediately add a pinch of baking soda to the spinach; this will keep the spinach green when cooking; but this step is optional. Boil for about 1 minute or till the spinach is wilted. Turn off the heat. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup till smooth. If you don’t have an immersion blender, pour the soup into a regular blender and carefully puree. If the soup is too thick, add 1⁄2 cup water and blend again. Serve warm, with a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper. Serves three.  recipe from Veggie Belly



Bistro Dinner Salad 
This is a perfect light and quick, yet refined meal. The mustard tarragon vinaigrette complements the slightly bitter salad greens, while the pear adds a hint of sweetness.

3 T finely chopped walnuts
4 large eggs      
2 bacon slices (uncooked)
8 c gourmet salad greens 
1/4 c crumbled blue cheese 
1 Bartlett pear, cored and thinly sliced 
1 T white wine vinegar
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1/2 t dried tarragon
1/2 t Dijon mustard
4 (1-inch-thick) slices of baguette, toasted


Place nuts in a small skillet; cook over medium-high heat 3 minutes or until lightly browned, shaking pan frequently. Remove from heat; set aside. Cook bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat until crisp; cool slightly. Remove bacon from the pan, reserving 1 teaspoon drippings. Crumble bacon. Prepare poached eggs in egg poacher. Combine walnuts, bacon, greens, blue cheese, and pear in a large bowl. Combine 1 teaspoon reserved drippings, vinegar, oil, tarragon, and mustard in small bowl; stir with a whisk. Drizzle over greens mixture; toss gently. Arrange 2 cups salad mixture on each of 4 serving plates, top each serving with 1 egg and 1 toast slice.






Vinaigrette 

Vinaigrette generally consists of 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar whisked into an emulsion. Salt and pepper are often added. Herbs and shallots are added, especially when it is used as a sauce for cooked vegetables, beans and  grains. Sometimes mustard is used as an emulsifier. A vinaigrette can be composed from a selection of different oils, vinegars and citrus juice. Try a different, super nutritious oil: walnut oil, coconut oil, hemp oil, grapeseed oil or Udo's oil.


Citrus Vinaigrette
zest of one Meyer lemon
zest of one orange
juice of one Meyer Lemon, about 2 T
Juice of one orange, about 1/2 c
2 t white wine vinegar
1 T honey
2 T olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

In an 8 ounce jar (or larger) zest and juice the lemon and orange. I use my hands instead of a hand-held juicer because I think the pulp adds a nice element to the dressing. Add the remaining ingredients. Screw on the lid and shake to combine.  Taste the dressing and adjust as needed.  The amount of juice in the orange and lemon will vary.  You will likely need to balance the flavors by adjusting the salt, oil or vinegar.


Spicy Mediterranean Vinaigrette
1/2 t black mustard seeds
1/4 t ground coriander
1/8 t ground cumin
1/2 c carrot juice
2 T golden raisins
2 T red wine vinegar
4 sprigs fresh cilantro
1 T low fat plain yogurt
1 t honey
1 1/2 t crushed red pepper
1/4 t salt
freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/4 c olive oil
Yield: 3/4 c

Heat mustard seeds, coriander and cumin in a small dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add carrot juice and simmer over medium heat until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Place raisins in a blender and add the hot juice. Let stand for 5 minutes to plump the raisins. Then add vinegar, cilantro, yogurt, honey, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper and blend until combined. Pour in oil and blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.




Crudités with Green Goddess Dressing and Dip
1 c olive oil
1/3 c unpasturized apple cider vinegar
several dashes sesame oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 t fresh grated ginger
2 T cilantro
1 t ground, dry pan roasted cumin seeds
pinch cayenne pepper
sea or Himalayan salt
1 avocado

Blend all of the ingredients together. Serve with fresh vegetables or salad.






Minted Peas Salad
1 1⁄2 c cooked, chilled petite peas 
1 c sugar snap peas, trimmed 
1/4 c finely chopped fresh mint

Orange-Dijon Vinaigrette
1 T olive oil
1 T orange juice
1 T apple cider vinegar
1 t Dijon mustard

Dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together oil, orange juice, vinegar and mustard. Pour vinaigrette over salad and toss well. Serve.




Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
1 c quinoa, cooked
1 can lentils (19 oz), rinsed and drained
2 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 c black olives
1 t salt
2 T fresh mint, minced
2 T fresh dill, minced
1/4 c fresh parsley, minced
1/3 c green onion, minced
1 green or red pepper, chopped
1 stalk of celery, minced
1/2 c feta cheese, crumbled
1 tomato, diced
1/2 c chopped walnuts or toasted almonds or sunflower seeds
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c lemon juice

Mix all ingredients in large bowl, adding lemon juice and olive oil last. Add salt to taste.



Sprouts


Try growing your own sprouts. All you need are some seeds, a large, clean jar and some netted fabric secured with a band. Soak seeds that have been thoroughly rinsed for the first 24 hours in clean cool water, draining and refreshing the water several times. Store in the dark. Then rinse twice a day with fresh clean water, drain thoroughly, and set in sunlight. Your sprouts will be ready to eat in a week. 

All viable seeds can be sprouted, but some sprouts should not be eaten raw. The most common food sprouts include:

  • Pulses (pea family): alfalfa, fenugreek, mung bean, lentil, pea, chickpea, soybean

  • Cereals: oat, wheat, maize (corn), rice, barley, rye, kamut and then quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat (these last three are used as cereal even if botanically they are not)

  • Oilseeds: sesame, sunflower, almond, hazelnut, linseed, peanut

  • Vegetables and herbs: broccoli, carrot, spinach, cabbage, celery, fennel, onion, parsley, radish, turnip, leek, watercress, mustard, rocket (arugula), lemon grass, lettuce, clover, milk thistle. Although whole oats can be sprouted, oat groats sold in food stores, which are de-hulled and require steaming or roasting to prevent rancidity, will not sprout. Whole oats may have an indigestible hull which makes them difficult or even unfit for human consumption.

All the sprouts of the solanaceae family (tomato, potato, paprika, aubergine or eggplant) and rhubarb cannot be eaten as sprouts, either cooked or raw, as they can be poisonous. Some sprouts can be cooked to remove the toxin, while others cannot.

With all seeds, care should be taken that they are intended for sprouting or human consumption rather than sowing. Seeds intended for sowing may be treated with chemical dressings.

Note: Processing for sterilization and refinement results in the destruction of the living germ in seeds. These seeds cannot be sprouted. Recently, I tried sprouting organic sunflower seeds purchased from Vita Health (they are sprouted in their natural, in-the-hull state and are my favourite) but they had been heat-treated and could not be sprouted! Quinoa in its natural state is very easy to sprout but when polished, or pre-cleaned of its saponin coating (becoming whiter), loses its power to germinate.

Sprouting creates a living food that has more nutritional potency. 


5 REASONS TO EAT MORE SPROUTS

Huge amounts of enzymes: Experts estimate that sprouts can have up to 100 times more enzyme levels than raw fruits and vegetables. Enzyme supports your body to better use vitamins, minerals and other nutrients from the food you eat.

Improved protein source: When sprouted, the protein profile of beans, nut and seeds changes, improving the levels of certain amino acids.

Increased fiber: Sprouts contain much more fiber than their unsprouted counterparts. Fiber is very important for health, as it helps to flush systemic toxins, lower cholesterol levels, and help in fat digestion.

Better vitamin content: Some vitamins dramatically increase during the sprouting process. Sprouts usually have high levels of vitamin A, B-complex, C and E. With only a few days of sprouting, some food can increase their vitamin level by up to 20 times!

Improved mineral absorption: During the sprouting process, minerals bind to proteins making them more usable in the body, especially calcium and magnesium.




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