Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Best Sprouting Info EVER

Well, so far anyway :) This person put together A CHART! I love charts like this. When they make life so much clearer and simpler. Everything you wanted to know about sprouting on one page: Well, OK not everything, that would take books. But all the basics, and that's really what I want to know when I'm trying to prepare food.

Sprouted Grain Salad

This recipe is tweaked from one out of "The SparkPeople Cookbook" called Lentil and Bulgar Salad but doesn't really look or taste much like it at all. The original recipe is here:

Minutes to Prepare: 15
Minutes to Cook: 10
Number of Servings: 8

Sprout Lentils 3 days before making this salad, wheat berries 2 days before, or earlier but kept in fridge.
This salad does have quite a bit of protein so could be a light meal in itself. We ate it with salmon, which was good each on it's own but didn't work well together for me. Carlie liked it as it was, but I would eat the salad as it's own meal next time.

Salt, 1 tsp
 Black Pepper, 1 dash
Celery, raw, 1 stalk, medium
Basil, 1 tbsp
 Garlic, 3 cloves
 Lentils, 1 cup
 Onions, raw, 1 medium (2-1/2" dia)
Spinach, fresh, 2 cup
Wheat Berries, dry, .5 cup
 Beans, black, 1 cup
 Bell Pepper, 1 large (3-3/4" long, 3" dia)
White Balsamic Vinegar, 2 tbsp Olive Oil, 2 tbsp
 Zucchini, 1.25 cup, sliced
 Heritage Tomatoe 1 medium chopped
Walnuts 1/3 cup

Place 2 cups spinach in a large bowl and set aside

 Put sprouted lentils in a medium-sized saucepan, cover with water, and bring just to the boiling point. Turn the heat down, partially cover, and allow to simmer without stirring for 5 minutes. While those are cooking, chop the veggies. Add the minimally sprouted wheat berries to the pot with the lentils, and let cook 5-10 minutes more till lentils are soft but not mushy. Drain well, and then transfer to large bowl on top of spinach, to wilt spinach lightly.

While the lentils and wheat berries are cooking use 1 of the Tablespoons of Olive oil to cook most of the the walnuts (set a handful aside for topping), red onion, garlic and basil until the red onion starts to clarify, then add the zucchini and cook just until it's softened a bit.

 Add black beans and everything else to the lentils, except tomato chunks. Mix gently but thoroughly. Cover tightly and refrigerate. Just before serving, top with tomatoes and a few walnuts

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Comfort Foods the Healthier Way - Savory Recipes

What do you think of when you think of comfort food? What do you tend to reach for? I lean towards carbs and creamy things. It's been a hard couple of days, and I've been doing really good about not over indulging in foods that will make me sick and keeping to delicious healthy yumness. I'm pretty proud of me in fact. And the last couple of days have been really challenging. But here's some of the comfort foods I made, so that I could have guilt free yumness:
Carlie's Turkey Chili
Walnut Deep Dark Chocolate Fudge 
Coconut Milk Chocolate Bars (no bake)
Peanut Butter Caramel Dip (really good with the fudge on top of the last of last week's mango sorbet)
Almond Cookie Dough Truffles (covered in chocolate and frozen, not baked)
Chocolate Cookie Dough Dip & Dark Chocolate Chunks (no baking required)
And this morning I made Pumpkin Coconut Curry Soup with Coconut Macadamia Crunchies. SO GOOD! 

So I know, you must be thinking none of that sounds healthy Sean-Michael! And you're right it doesn't SOUND healthy. But trust me, they are all much healthier than they sound. Actually you don't have to trust me, just check out the recipes. I'm working on variations, and a group of my brave friends will be trying them all out, so the recipes I'm about to post are tentative and probably not exactly what they'll be in the end. But we enjoyed them as they are. I'm just a perfectionist and I like to tinker and tweek my recipes until they're just right.  Plus, I'm seriously considering writing a cook book some day for people who want recipes that are delicious while being healthy. For now, I've decided to perfect a few recipes I can give to friends and family for the holidays, and maybe even trade barter and sell locally. Stay tuned for more on that. Today I'm going to focus on the savory recipes out of the bunch. Please feel free to make them yourself and see how they turn out, and if you have any suggestions, please let me know!

Carlie's Turkey Chili is a long time favorite of ours. She likes to make extra because we all love it so much. It has a decent amount of protein, low carbs, and turkey is a low fat meat. It's a nice mild chili which is great with melted cheese on top. I like to use a Monterey Jack and Chedder mix. I don't have any photos of this, will try to remember to take one next time we eat it. In the mean time, here's the recipe: ENJOY! 

Sent some to a friend for taste testing
Pumpkin Coconut Curry Soup which happens to be vegan. I just created this recipe this morning because I had seen a recipe for a curry soup but didn't have the ingredients. If I were going to change any one thing about the recipe it would be that I'd add a bit of lemon or lime, but I'm allergic to those, so I may try adding a bit of citric acid and see if that gives it some acidity. But if you're wanting a warm, comforting, creamy soup, give this one a shot and let me know what you think. Although Patch is not a pumpkin fan, and hates Curry (she says it smells like stinky feet) she ate this and said "Wow, that's actually pretty good!!" and then polished off her bowl. Here you go, give it a try and please let me know what you think. oh and I made these crunchies to sprinkle over the top with some chopped mint:
More on the rest of these recipes soon.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Sprouting Wheat Berries

Repurposed Ricotta Cheese Container
Since I'd used up a container of ricotta cheese the night before which had a nice little basket in it, I decided to repurpose that container and basket for sprouting. As you can see from the photos, it worked well for the wheat berries (tho a few did get through at the beginning before they started to swell) I decided to eat 1/2 of them as minimally sprouted to see what that was like, and left the other half out to continue sprouting, to see how that goes. They were chewy and a nice addition to my breakfast, in a way that my body will be able to process more efficiently, and from what I've read are a safer way to eat grains for diabetics. I'm still experimenting with it, but so far my blood sugars have been fine even when eating a breakfast on the higher end of my carb goal, and presumably that is because they were grains with a higher protein count such as quinoa, and because I'd sprouted them. I'll keep testing and see what happens.

There are a lot of videos and even books about sprouting wheat, why you would want to do it, how to do it, various stages and why they're good, etc. This article has a lot of great information and is a pretty easy read:

Here's a few videos I found helpful:
Clear and simple instructions:

Quick and easy description video about how to sprout wheat:

Video about the health benefits of wheat grass (which is apparently what you get if you let the wheat keep going after it sprouts):

I'm not a dietitian so I'm not going to go into why it's good to sprout various grains, beans, nuts, etc. However the link at the top of this blog entry does, and I would suggest reading it if you're looking for some answers.

One thing I've learned is to leave 3 times as much room for water as wheat berries because they will absorb the water and they will expand. I found this very helpful because it expands about 2 times it's original size by the end of the first 10 hours, and even more in the last 10. You can sprout it longer than 20 hours, but I was only going for a small amount of sprouting, called minimally sprouted wheat berries, for some breakfast cereal.

I also looked up how to sprout lentils ( and quinoa because I've got a lot of each in the pantry, and this guy had some really clear and simple videos that gave me the confidence to just go ahead and try it. This one is my favorite because he talks about how there are a variety of sprouting methods:

Friday, September 14, 2012

Quick breakfast

Overnight oats and sprouted quinoa in cinnamon apple flavor, with an apple pear aka Asian Pear and some string cheese. Quick n easy! Only down side, this had more carbs than I usually eat. Still within the range I was told I can have, but more than I shoot for. Still, super quick and easy. Gotta love overnight muesl!

Tomorrow I'm going to try some with sprouted wheat berries and raw protein added. I haven't decided on tomorrow's flavor yet, but I'm thinking strawberry sounds good.

What do you do for a quick and healthy breakfast when you have to run out the door or don't have the energy to make something when you first get up? Do you have any favorite meals you make the night before and eat for breakfast?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Black Bean Italian Flavored Burgers

Did not end up eating the pasta, the rest was plenty
Marjorie from the Healthy Recipe Sharing group on Facebook shared her Black Bean Burger recipe with me. It sounds really good, but you know me, I had to tinker with it a little bit. I happen to have some extra ricotta cheese laying around and was looking for recipes to include it in, so here's the tweaked version that I came up with:

Since there is no meat in this burger, it is safe to taste the ingredients before pressing into patties and cooking. I would suggest doing just that to get the flavors the way you like them.
This might be a good recipe to try out with sprouted black beans, but since I couldn't wait to try it, will have to do that next time.

Black Bean Meatles Burger Mix looks a lot like Meat

1 can black beans or 1 1/2 cups rinsed and drained
3 cloves garlic, minced/pressed
1 red bell pepper finely choppped
10 leaves fresh basil finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
3 Tablespoons already prepared marinara sauce
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup rolled oats
salt and pepper to taste

Rinse and drain 1 can black beans (or 1 1/2 cup)
mash about 1/2 of the black beans with a fork, leaving the rest for texture
mince or press 2 cloves garlic
finely chop 1 red bell pepper
finely mince 4 leaves fresh basil
grind flax seed and measure out 2 tablespoons
Mix all ingredients, taste and add salt and pepper in whatever amounts you prefer
Form into patties and fry up in a tablespoon of olive oil  or bake in an oven at 400 degrees F for about 10 to 15 minutes (tho baking may make them dryer than you'd like, it will reduce the fat content)

Tested Various Patty Sizes, Liked the smaller ones
If you like hamburger buns go for it, or serve in 1/2 a pita or thin wrap bread to lower the carb count, or open faced with no bun to lower even further. Next time I might try this out with 1/2 the beans and replace them with some grated eggplant instead. I think this would be delicious with caramelized red onion on top.

I made these to go on the side with an egg replacer instead of the eggs:

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Overnight (no cook) Breakfast Cereal

Overnight Breakfast Cereals by
I am really enjoying Pinterest! Lately I've found some great recipes on there, and today I finally got up the guts to try sprouting some quinoa and making overnight breakfast cereal. Here's one of the main articles that inspired me to try my hand at this:

So first off let's get to the good stuff, here's the recipe.

Sprouting the quinoa first is not necessary, but adds to the nutrients. I set mine out this morning after eating overnight oatmeal with the intention of making the overnight breakfast cereal I'm posting here.
Some people do not feel oats are gluten free. If you do not eat oats, you could make this with just the quinoa
Be sure to grind the flax seed or your body can't process it and you won't get the binding/thickening properties (I use a coffee grinder we have set aside for nuts, seeds, flax, etc)

3/4 cup sprouted quinoa
1/2 cup dry whole rolled oats (or you could sprout oat groats to use in their place)
1/2 cup apple sauce
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons coconut palm sugar
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
1 dash of salt
1 cup coconut milk

mix dry ingredients well, add to sprouted quinoa, then add 1 cup coconut milk (the light kind that is the same amount of fat and less carbs than 1% milk, not the whole fat kind that comes in a can although I'm sure that would be delicious as well)
Stir well, cover container and leave in fridge over night.

Makes 2 servings

Now to the cool (to me) part... how to sprout Quinoa. I have been wanting to learn to sprout various grains, seeds, beans, etc. for a while now, because it raises their nutrient value. It's a really cool little trick of nature, that when they start to sprout, apparently that's when the most nutrients are easily available to the body, because it's when the nutrients are trying to provide what the plant needs to grow. Obviously it's great to plant food and grow your own food, but if you're going to eat grains, seeds, nuts and beans, may as well eat them at the peak of their health impact right? Here's a neat little instructable on how to sprout quinoa: and here's a video using the same method: plus there are some great kits out there, but all I used was a sealable plastic container, as shown above. It would probably be best to do this in a glass container now that I think about it, or anything but plastic. I put the quinoa in, put about twice as much water which turned out to be more than I needed, just need enough to cover the quinoa ... and then after the movie I got rid of the floaties, and put more water (from the filter) to just over the quinoa, then covered and let it sit all day, then rinsed again, and used it in the above recipe. They had started to sprout so I didn't feel the need to sprout them any further at that point.

Apparently some people do not do well with raw quinoa, so be aware of your body's response to eating such things, but I've never had a problem eating or processing raw foods. Actually, the entire meal could be considered a faw food breakfast, because nothing in it is ever cooked. I did heat mine up a bit in the morning just for a nice hot cereal feel, but it tasted just the same cold of course, so that's a personal preference issue.

Some people like to dehydrate their quinoa and use them in baking, or as the crispy part of foods like to make cookies have a crunch, on top of yogurt, to coat fish, etc. I'll try that out after we finish building our solar dehydrator and let you know how it goes! In the mean time, give this super easy breakfast cereal a try. It made it really great this morning when we were in a hurry to get out the door because I had a healthy breakfast all ready to go. Once my vegan protein powder arrives, I'll probably add that to it as well.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What is your diet?

First of all, let me just point out for those who haven't been keeping up with this food blog, that I am not dieting. I am working on finding delicious foods that contribute to my health. I also am not on a weight loss plan although I am losing weight, and will probably continue to do so for a while. Part of getting healthier is weight loss for me, tho not for everyone, and I certainly have no intention of ever being skinny or muscle bound. I would like to be a nice healthy weight and to improve my musculature, but I do not want to over do in any area.

Secondly, I will sum it up for you like this. I am eating twice as many vegetables, and half as many carbs with  at least 8 cups of water a day. Most days I drink 8 -10 cups of  water. Of course that is not the entirety of what I'm doing, but that's the simple description, and if that were the only thing I did, it would have improved my health. I am also avoiding most processed foods, and limiting those processed foods I do eat, to mostly things with as few ingredients as possible, and that those ingredients are things easily pronounced such as whole wheat, salt and water = egg free pasta or rice, basil, water as the ingredients on some simple crackers. Things made with whole foods are more likely to end up in my grocery cart than highly processed foods, and whole foods themselves are the most likely to end up there. This along with eliminating foods I am allergic to or intolerant of has made a huge difference in my health.

I use as a free food and exercise tracking device, and I also use their site for getting recipe ideas, networking with others who are working on their health. Sometimes I take a day or week off from tracking food, but during that time I still eat in the same basic manner. If I don't feel like measuring things out with actual measuring cups, I use this plate planning method: which is basically 1/2 a plate of vegetables, a fist sized portion of protein and a first sized portion of carbs. Sometimes I have a piece of fruit or glass of milk with it. Often I save my fruit for dessert.

Healthy fats. There are a lot of disagreements out there about what healthy fats are, but I have noticed that when I eat more plant based fats I lose more weight, and my cholesterol has been lower, so I've been sticking to that. If I want to eat something higher in carbs, I make sure it's combined with protein and healthy fats, as I learned from the Prevention Magazine titled DTOUR, and later in the DTOUR diet book. I do not follow the DTOUR diet and exercise plan 100%, but I have used it to help me plan my meals. The cook book is great,  so I'm hoping to get that in the future. Every recipe I've gotten from them is pretty easily altered to avoid allergens, and the cookbook has helpful lists of replacement foods for just such a situation. (I scan it every time I'm at a book store) it's really helped me to manage my diabetes and so far I've been able to get off 2 medications since starting to eat more vegetables, less carbs, and all the rest I said above.

Avoiding chemicals has also been really helpful to getting rid of my migraines and reducing my chronic pain. I'm still having a difficult time during Monsoon season, but other than that I have been seeing some great changes. Some are gradual, and some are almost instantaneous. For example the hives I have suffered multiple times a week for my entire life, haven't happened in quite some time. They stopped as soon as I eliminated all allergens and foods I'm intolerant of. Since then I have been able to add some foods from the intolerance list back in carefully bit by bit, but others I haven't been able to add back in. I've come down to a list of about 30 things to avoid. It used to be a much longer list. That, the addition of stretching and relaxation techniques, and avoiding flashing lights, I have greatly limited my migraines which used to be chronic cluster migraines which affected me daily for almost 2 years in a row, but now are much milder and happen much less frequently. I had a migraine the other day after accidentally eating some dehydrated meat with chemicals in it, and then seeing lightning. So they do sometimes still happen, but at least it was only a couple days of being sensitive to light and having a headache instead of months worth.

Two new things I've been trying are natural sweeteners with a lower glycemic index than fructose or sugar, and sprouting things to get higher nutrients from them. In 2 weeks I'll meet with a dietitian to discuss I will write separate posts about each of those as I come to some conclusions.

Hope that helps answer some of the questions people have had. :) Please keep asking questions, and I'll keep posting my experiences. And please feel free to share what has helped you to be more healthy! I'm just learning as I go.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Coconut Mango Vegan Ice Cream/Sorbet

A friend of mine was sharing a simple vegan ice cream recipe made of nut milk, salt, cinnamon and maple syrup. Sounded delicious, but I happen to have coconut milk and mango, so thought I'd try a different recipe. I did a search for home made coconut milk ice cream and found a few recipes:

of course one could always just buy one of these:
and we've done that, but I figured I would like to try my hand at making some from scratch. After all, I have a delicious mango and some coconut milk, why not?

Here's my first attempt at a recipe. If I tweak it, I'll let you know:

1 cup coconut milk (unsweetened)
1 mango (minus rind and pit)
1 dash of sea salt
1/8 cup coconut sugar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

I don't have a machine, so here's what I'm doing:

Put a shallow metal pan in the freezer the night before, mix ingredients well, taste to make sure the flavor is what you want and adjust as necessary, chill over an ice bath, then pour into the frozen pan and stir. You can put it in the freezer about 10 minutes afterwards to firm it up if you want. The above link has much more detailed instructions and reasoning.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

My first attempt at gluten-free scones

Found this old post sitting in the unpublished drafts section:

Inspired by the Gluten-Free Guru and memories of lemon scones made in college with a loved one, I absolutely had to try to make gluten-free lemon scones for breakfast. Besides, I had the rest of that lemon from the lemon oil cookies to use up! So here's my first attempt at gluten-free scones. 

12 oz GF flour mix
4 tsp guar gum powder
2 plentiful pinches of sea salt
4 tablespoons of brown sugar
3 oz of unsalted butter
4 oz mixed, dried fruit
2 large eggs
4 fl oz of fat free plain yogurt 

2 tablespoons myer lemon oil
zest of 1/2 lemon 

1 Preheat the oven to 375 f (190c)

2. Sift all of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl

3. Using a fork, cut in the butter so that the mix resembles fine bread crumbs

4. With a wooden spoon, stir in the dried fruit

5. Whisk together eggs and yogurt

6. Make a well in the center of the dry mix and pour in the yogurt, egg and lemon juice

7. Turn out onto a floured surface and lightly kneed until the dough comes together and is smooth in texture.

8. Roll the dough out so that it is 1 1/2 inches thick, cut out with a small glass or cookie cutter

9. Place on a floured baking tray and cook in the oven for 10 minutes or so, or until brown and slightly risen.

Sweet Potato Quinoa Casserole

We were out of all vegetables and almost all fruit so we made a trip to the closest store. First I did a search for recipes with Quinoa, because a friend had mentioned it, and we hadn't made any lately, but I have a LOT of the stuff in my pantry.

This recipe  sounded different, so I bought all the ingredients for this, some things that were on sale, some organic leafy greens and such that looked delicious, and some cherry tomatoes that were on sale. It was a good shopping trip, not too much money for a lot of food. Ironically, Patch also decided to stop by the same store about an hour later on her way home from work.

We'll just have to make sure to eat LOTS of vegetarian meals and salads in the next couple of days. She also did much better at getting a lot of food for a little money, since she only bought things that were on sale in the 50% off section, whereas Carlie and I had some things we knew we needed for the week. It's all good, the house feels bountiful again, and the options for making healthy meals has greatly improved!

Sweet Potato Quinoa Casserole with Cantelope & Wilted Spinach
I actually modified the recipe since the original had a pretty high carb count: this one has about 1/2 the carbs, a bit less fat, and higher protein. It is vegetarian, not vegan like the original, so if you're vegan, use the original recipe :) Or at least use the things which I replaced with cheese. My recipe has more whole, unprocessed vegetables. Be sure to grate the sweet potato, and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

No Bake Coconut Chocolate Bars

I have a thing for chocolate, and recently I had gotten some coconut oil to try out in various methods of cooking. One thing I had heard you could do with it, is mix in cocoa and a bit of sugar to have a chocolate bar. Here's the recipe I used, and it turned out delicious.

3 Tablespoons coconut oil (solid at room temperature)
3 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon of brown sugar
.25 cup of shredded coconut
plus 1 tablespoon shredded coconut to sprinkle over top

Made 8 servings about 1 inch square

Mix 3 Tablespoons coconut oil with 3 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder and 1 teaspoon brown sugar until smooth. Add a quarter cup of shredded coconut and mix well. Pour into shallow air tight container and spread across the bottom. Sprinkle remaining 1 Tablespoon shredded coconut on top and freeze. Easy-peasy!

We enjoyed these and they were ready about 20 minutes after putting them in the freezer. After that we moved them into the fridge, where they remained in good condition but didn't last long because we ate them up pretty fast.