The energetic nature of sprouts are UP and OUT! All the potential life energy of the plant, breaking through the seed’s protection. Sprouts are an enormous source of energy! The first spring foods- baby sprouts and quick-growing veggies like radishes help to kick us out of our winter slumber and prepare us for lighter times ahead! This recipe uses sprouts as well as a host of liver-helping foods. Keeping the liver in tip-top shape is very important for overall health. It accomplishes an enormous amount of work to keep us ticking!
Functions of the liver include:
1 bunch radish, 8 small or 3 medium sized. Use 1 or 2 watermelon radishes instead if you can find them.
2 medium beets, peeled
1 green apple
1 handful of sprouts (try alfalfa, broccoli, mung bean, sunflower…)
Essential Salad Dressing
This is enough for about 2 recipes of salad. Extra dressing should be kept in the fridge and can be used for green salads as well.
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup flax oil
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, grated or minced
pinch chili flakes, cayenne or black pepper (opt)
pinch sea salt
To make dressing:
– Put all ingredients into a mason jar.
-Put the lid on tightly and shake before using.
– Keep in the fridge.
-Make small amounts at a time and use quickly.
-Grate or julienne hard veg and apple, mix in sprouts, add desired amount of salad dressing, enjoy!
Countless times as a healthy cooking instructor - during cooking classes, baking demonstrations and seminars - I have had someone ask me ' what it is about wheat that is so bad? !' Or they tell a familiar story of not having Celiac disease, but their symptoms (weight gain, IBS, skin problems and many other inflammatory conditions is just the tip of the iceberg) decrease or disappear when they avoid wheat and/or gluten altogether.
The rise up against the grain
Since my early days as a cook, fresh out of culinary school, I have been asked for a lot of 'mods' - special requests for a gluten-free or wheat-free version of something that's on the menu. My station in kitchens was often making pasta from scratch or making pastries. The answer was usually 'no', with chefs and cooks muttering under their breath (or some of them proclaiming loudly) that they hated accommodating these 'fake' allergies and fad diets. Yet bakeries and pasta kitchens were going out of business all over town, the ones who survived were offering alternatives to wheat and/or gluten on the menu. The Atkins diet was the first that I saw of a wave of anti-wheat, anti-gluten and now anti-grain diets like paleo and keto.
I am a lover of pasta, bread and cake, and I saw no reason to quit enjoying these foods. Although I did not share some of my fellow cook's disdain for people's diet requests, I was glad that I was not among those who needed to single themselves out in a group and ask if there was something different for them at dinner or dessert.
Discovering wheat intolerance
A few years down the road, as I was attending nutrition school, I tried out a cleanse on myself (one which excluded glutenous grains)mostly out of curiosity for what I might notice, having no major complaints health-wise. And then everything changed. My symptoms were so status-quo to me, that I thought that the bloated feeling after meals, the hung-over feeling every morning, the constipation and the brain-fog were all the normal state-of-affairs for my health. Had I not done this cleanse, I might not have known what 'better' felt like. The bar for my new 'normal' state of health and energy had been raised. After methodically re-introducing foods after the cleanse, I realized that wheat (and I thought maybe gluten in particular) was to blame. I found that I had what is known as 'wheat intolerance', and that I was among the growing masses of people who are finding that there's something about wheat that does not do our bodies good.
I know that my story is pretty low-stakes. I am fortunate not to be among the many who have serious inflammatory issues, allergies and more serious health concerns. But I was my own case study for school, and I looked at my symptoms as warning signs to pay attention to before anything more serious cropped up. I dutifully ate a diet free from gluten for a couple of years. Thankfully, this was before the plethora of gluten-free junk-foods had showed up on the market, so my diet was pretty basic and whole-foods oriented, with a lot of whole grains and very little flour at all.
The modern wheat problem
No food has been so revolted against as wheat, and later, the protein gluten was singled out as a culprit for people's growing suspicion of wheat as the cause of their weight gain, digestive woes and many other symptoms.
Yet grains- and wheat to a large degree, has been the backbone of agricultural society and staple food for generations, and if our ancestors largely thrived on it and with inflammatory conditions, allergies and auto-immune disease on the rise (especially in North America), the question should not be 'what's bad about wheat?' but 'what's changed about wheat?'
Well- in short, three things:
1) The processing of wheat flour. Our ancestors learned to grind grains between stones, which moved slowly- powered by animals or water or by wind. This slow processing didn't create the heat that modern steel roller processing does. The heat created by modern milling denatures the fats in the germ of the grain, causing whole flour to go rancid quickly. Rancid fats are one cause of free-radical cellular damage, which can lead to a variety of chronic conditions. Another processing issue is this: the label 'wholegrain' on flour in North America does not mean what you might think. Most 'wholegrain' flour is actually white flour, which has had all of the germ (vitamin E-rich healthy fat) and bran (fiber, most of the vitamins and minerals in the grain) removed. Some of the (now potentially rancid) germ and the bran is added back to the white flour and is called 'whole'. Hmmm...
2) The toxic load of a chemical called glyphosphate which is permissible and abundant in conventional wheat is now being pointed to as a likely culprit for more and more people having issues with wheat. Symptoms include but are not limited to: bloating, indigestion, constipation, allergies to wheat and other foods, skin problems and inflammatory issues of all kinds. This is because the chemical disrupts the functioning of bacteria in the gut , throwing off the healthy balance of microbiota. The answer here (in addition to expressing outrage that this chemical is allowed in our food system by calling for a ban of Monsanto's Roundup) is to buy organic.
The spraying of this chemical is so far not allowed on organic foods. In addition to avoiding conventional wheat, supplementing your diet with probiotic-rich foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, fermented pickles and yogurt helps keep a balanced micro-flora; imperative for digestive and immune functioning.
3) Our grain-eating ancestors prepared grains carefully for maximum benefit. Wheat (and other grains) in its whole and unprocessed form is not properly digested and is high in an anti nutrient called phytic acid . Consuming a diet too high in this anti-nutrient causes malabsorbtion of minerals, especially zinc and iron. Grains that go through the process of soaking, sprouting and/or fermentation are not only much lower in phytates, but are also 'predigested', making them much easier for our bodies to absorb the nutritive value from the grains.
Opening up to sprouted grains and enjoying fluffy, healthier cake!
After a couple of years eating a gluten-free diet out of fear that the uncomfortable symptoms I had lived with for years would crop back up, I started learning more about modern wheat and farming practices, heirloom relatives of wheat and about the processing of glutenous grains for digestibility. I started by making my own sprouted kamut and spelt crackers and then branching out to learn how to make sourdough breads and sweets. My food world blew wide open again! After years of avoiding sweets and breads, or occasionally putting up with the GF versions that were never quite as good or were full of other dubious ingredients, I could enjoy whole-grain crackers, cakes and breads.
So in our baking classes, I recommend either or both methods of preparation if you want to keep enjoying bread and baked goods made with heirloom glutenous grains.
Learn to bake with sprouted ancient grains
Our upcoming class by guest baker, Lexi- is all about sprouted flour, its yummy (also all vegan) products and how to work with it. The Sprouted Bread Frontier class is on Sept 17- so join us!
All the flour in our class is from Abbotsford's One Degree Organic Foods mill <3 <3 <3
The photo is one of Baker Lexi's beautiful vegan creations. It's a sprouted grain carrot cake. It's as moist and yummy as conventional, but unlike conventional wheat cake, it will love you back too.
Makes about 4 liters (serves 8)
1 medium butternut or other winter squash
2 Tbsp coconut or sunflower oil, or ghee
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 chipotle peppers (canned, in abodo sauce. Or use 2 dried whole chipotle chilies, re-hydrated). Use less if you don't like too much spice.
1 tsp sweet(mild) smoked paprika (use regular paprika if you don't find the smoked)
2 tsp ground coriander
2 cans coconut milk
About 2-3 liters good (chicken or veggie) stock or water (depending on how big the squash is you used.)
This recipe happens to be free from wheat, dairy and eggs, while remaining very moist, just sweet enough and satisfyingly your dark-chocolate craving. The addition of beets keeps it moist and adds a serious nutrition booster.
Topping this with chocolate avocado mousse or whipped coconut cream makes it an extra special healthy treat. This is a great base for a birthday cake.
2 cups spelt flour (or use ½ spelt and ½ kamut). Use sprouted whole grain (spelt) flour if you have access to it.
1/2 cup cold-pressed sunflower or avocado oil. You can sub melted coconut oil if you prefer (makes a denser cake)
½ cup dark cocoa powder
2/3 cup whole sugar such as sucunat or coconut sugar (coconut sugar effects your blood sugar 1/3 as much as regular sugar! It's a great sub 1:1 for sugar in most recipes)
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup milk alternative (I like almond milk or cashew milk)
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 cups raw shredded beets – peeled first and packed to measure
2/3 cup good (dairy-free) dark chocolate chips (optional. Add 2/3 cup chopped pecans or walnuts if you prefer)
*These can also be made into muffins/cupcakes! Simply spoon them into the cupcake papers in muffin tins and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the tops crack a bit!
Roasted Balsamic Beets with Nasturtium Greens
6 medium beets (red, Chioggia or yellow)
1 handful of nasturtium leaves (or substitute arugula), whole or slightly torn
A few leaves of basil, Thai basil or mint, or a combination
¼ cup balsamic vinegar, divided
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt to taste
Preheat oven to 350F
Clean beets, cut off greens and reserve for another use (use as any other cooking green.)
In a roasting pan or pyrex dish, pour about ½ inch of water and add beets. Add half of the balsamic vinegar to the dish and cover with a lid or aluminum foil.
Bake for about 45 minutes, or until you can poke the beet with a knife without it sticking.
Cool beets enough to handle and using a kitchen towel (that you don’t mind staining!), slip the skins off of the beets.
Chop the beets into big-ish bite-sized chunks and add to a mixing bowl with other ingredients, adding the rest of the vinegar, olive oil and seasoning with salt to taste.
This makes a nice warm or cold side salad. Add goat’s cheese for a decadent touch.
Sesame Summer Greens
This inspired by one of my Japanese cuisine favourites- Gomae. I change it up a bit and am pretty loose with which greens I use and how they are seasoned. I also enjoy this both warm and chilled. It’s a wonderful way to get a ton of greens on your plate and in your body! Adding lemon juice or vinegar greatly enhances the ability for us to absorb the calcium. Lemon juice enhances absorption of iron from the greens as well, as it is a source of vitamin C.
1 lb (450g) of fresh cooking greens. Include kale, chard, nasturtium greens , arugula, mustard greens, turnip greens, bok choy or spinach, or a combination. A spring variation can be enjoyed with stinging nettles and radish tops. Wash well shake dry.
2 Tbsp sesame oil (toasted)
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated. Substitute for 2 garlic scapes, finely chopped if you have them.
2 Tbsp tahini or any nut or seed butter
Juice of ½ a lemon, or about 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
Tamari, soy sauce or sea salt to taste
Sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds
In a wide-bottomed pan or pot with a lid, over medium heat, add sesame oil, being careful not to over-heat oil (it should never smoke!). Add garlic and greens, stirring before putting the lid on top to steam the greens.
Steam for about 2 minutes, or until you peek in and see the greens wilting down.
Add tahini, lemon or vinegar and your choice of tamari, soy sauce or sea salt to taste.
Take off of heat and plate the greens- sprinkling with sesame seeds to garnish.
These greens taste good both hot and cold.
Nasturtium Greens Pesto
Enjoying a diversity of greens is what my summer garden is all about! When I learned that nasturtium greens are edible and full of peppery goodness
(just like arugula greens!), I got all excited and started adding them to pesto, salads and cooked greens.
Enjoy this pesto as you would any other fresh summer herb sauce: on omelettes, on fish, as a sauce on pasta or gnocchi, add to mayonnaise for a nice sandwich or wrap spread.
Collect a couple of good handfuls of leaves (or substitute arugula) Wash and pat or spin dry.
Add some basil leaves if you like
1 clove garlic, or 1 garlic scape (the curly sprout of the garlic that comes up about June)
lemon juice, to taste (or if you have it- sorrel is a lemony-sour herb)
optional- hemp hearts (a couple tablespoons adds a creamier texture)
Salt to taste
To make pesto:
Add all ingredients except for olive oil to a blender or food processor (or an old-school mortar and pestle) and blend to combine, adding enough olive oil to blend smooth.
Adjust lemon and salt to taste and pour into a clean jar.
Pesto like this one keeps for about a week in the fridge, or freeze well for longer storage.
What is a cleanse? What is a detox?
I am often asked ‘what is the right cleanse ? Do I need to cleanse ? There is a confusing array of cleansing pills and boxed supplements out there. These can be bought in health food and supplements stores. They are readily available, but choosing the wrong one for you may be ineffective or even dangerous! The safest and most effective way to cleanse is actually by eating everyday, cleansing whole foods! There is no one size fits all cleanse!
Let's start with some terminology:
Cleansing: The body’s natural breakdown process. Removal of buildup. The composition of certain foods and drink can be used to aid in the bodies cleansing process.
Detoxification: Removal of toxins from the body or neutralizing or transforming them through abstinence from food, increase in hydration or through the use of specific nutrients, treatments and herbs. A specific type of cleansing.
Why cleanse? Cleansing can reduce symptoms of congestion, let the organs rest, to slow down, help us to lose excess weight, improve flexibility, rejuvenate the body and mind, and can help us to become more organized, inwardly focused, conscious, clear, attuned to nature, energetic and relaxed.
This said, cleansing is a process that is happening all the time in your body. Cleansing especially happens when the organs of digestion are at rest, so by all means, any 'lightening of the load' of digestion (intermittent fasting is gaining popularity), consuming liquids only (like a bone broth cleanse)helps the liver do the work of filtering the blood most effectively. For most of us, following everyday healthy eating habits like not eating before bed, chewing our food very well, choosing fresh, wholesome foods that are in season... all of these practices help support the body's cleansing process to keep everything running well.
Signs and times that you do not need to cleanse are: constant coldness, underweight, serious blood sugar problems and also do not cleanse deeply during building times, like pregnancy or during childhood and adolescence.
All this said, everyone lets their self-care practices slide sometimes as life gets busy. Eating well is a form of self-care that sometimes we need a reminder about. And springtime is a natural time of renewal, so let's review some practices that help us to cleanse!
1) Phase out non-foods like refined sugar, caffeine and non-prescription drugs.
You can do this one step at a time. Start by cutting down one cup of coffee. Substituting naturally energizing green drinks like a spirulina smoothie is a great way to reduce reliance on sugar and caffeine. Click here for green smoothie recipe!
2) Support your cleansing process by taking lemon juice and water or unpasteurized apple cider vinegar and water.
Both of these tonics help to cleanse the liver ( hint: the taste sour stimulates the liver and gallbladder). They also increase digestive fire, maximizing our digestion and therefore absorption of nutrients.
Check out this recipe for tonifying warming and tasty apple cider vinegar tea! Click here for stomach fire tonic recipe!
2a) Drink more pure water!
Water transports toxins. Cleansing without adequately hydrating causes toxins to re-circulate. Water comes in many forms- from sipping on herbal teas to enjoying broth soups and eating refreshing vegetables like cucumber and melon, you are contributing to deep hydration. Remember that drinking water, especially ice water with or just before a meal actually extinguishes your digestive fire!
3) Reduce congesting foods and Include more cleansing foods
Step three is where you can really customize your cleanse. Starting exactly where you are in your diet, choose congesting/ building foods and replace them with cleansing foods. What on earth are congesting foods? The biggest culprits are poor quality fats (deep-fry, cheap 'vegetable' oils, processed foods, packaged baked goods) and refined sugars (as in sugar in all it's names as well as flour. Even the GF refined flours like white rice or cornstarch)
An example of this is to replace potato chips with snacking on sprouted mung beans or raw veggie sticks.
Check out this Liver-Loving Salad recipe that I made especially for a nice and tasty spring cleanse dish.
4) Eat lighter- don’t stuff yourself! Especially at night.
As a general rule, eat until you are 2/3 full. You will benefit from more sustained energy and smoother digestion. Chewing well increases absorption and satiation. Healthy fats like coconut oil and flax oil are great during cleanses. Eating too little fat causes sugar cravings and hunger.
5) Light exercise and reduce stress. Rest and relax
Cleansing happens in the body naturally when we are in a relaxed state. Take time to go inward and listen to your body during your cleanse.
I wish you renewed energy and the sense of freedom that comes from shedding the winter 'coat' (both mentally and physically!)
Genuine energy comes from nourishment, not stimulation!
Increasing the green foods in your diet benefits on a daily level by increasing energy levels and decreasing cravings for junk food. Add this smoothie to your daily routine and especially to your cleanse!
Caution- more is not necessarily better! Spirulina’s cleansing properties can cause stomach gurgling and loose stools if over-done. Start with 1 tsp and work up to 1 Tbsp gradually.
Make this smoothie your breakfast or as a mid-afternoon pick-me up instead of coffee.
1 banana, preferably frozen
¼ cup frozen berries (optional)
3 Tbsp hemp seeds (Optional but awesome!)
1 tsp spirilina powder
Water up to the 8 oz mark on the blender, or use 4 oz yogurt or almond yogurt and 4 oz water.
1 inch of ginger, grated
pinch of cinnamon ( especially for cold people)
1-3 tsp bee pollen (Note- stay away from bee pollen if you're allergic to bees!)
1-tsp- 1 Tbsp flax oil