Friday, October 30, 2009

Sprouting Stuff

Happy Halloween! Today's blog has absolutely nothing to do with Halloween; I don't get into it since my son grew up, but I do have a cute Halloween sweatshirt that I wear once a year. Do I know how to live large or what?

I thought I would show you my sprouts. I've sprouted seeds for years, off and on. Right now I'm on and discovering ever more seeds, also beans and nuts to sprout. Did you know that sprouts can have up to 50% more nutrition than eating them unsprouted? I kid you not. Those dried lima, pinto, and navy beans in your pantry look sort of dead, huh? Chances are, they will sprout if given the right amount of moisture and TLC. The best ones I've done lately are lentils, good thing for me, since I kept buying them because they're healthy, and I can't stand the taste of them.......until I learned that they'll sprout! The sprouts are delicious. I also don't care much for broccoli, but I've ordered broccoli seeds to sprout, and fenugreek seeds (for enhanced immunity). I also buy mixed seed blends like mung/snow peas/chickpeas in the health food store, and those are yummy.

I love sprouts on salads mostly, but I also like smaller ones like alfalfa or radish on sandwiches. You can buy some interesting sprouting trays and kits, but I like various sized jars mostly, and you can cover them with special sprouting lids or with new nylon stocking net or cheese cloth and hold it on with rubber bands. I'm going to make some sprouting bags out of unbleached muslin, but I tried some little gift bags I had, and even though I washed them really well, the seeds immediately took on a strange odor, so I threw them away. Lesson learned. But I like sprouting my own, rather than buying them in stores because I know they were handled with care and with filtered water.

Place a couple of tablespoons of seeds in the sprouting container and rinse well, then cover with water and leave overnight. Next morning, pour off the soaking water and rinse again, draining as much water out as you can. You may leave them inverted, on a dish drainer for example, but I like mine right side up. Preferably twice a day but at least once a day, rinse and drain the seeds. They'll be plumper with each day. When delicate sprouts appear, I rinse and drain more gently. They don't need direct sunlight but near a window is fine. Kind, encouraging words are helpful as well. When they're ready, rinse and drain a final time and place them in the fridge. They will keep for 4 or 5 days, so you can judge when to start the next batch and always have fresh sprouts.

Along the way, you may discover whole jars of seeds that refuse to sprout or that the water remains milky, sour smelling, or bubbly. Throw these away (or put them in your compost bin) and start with a different variety. Occasionally the life force has left them, but they're inexpensive, you're not out much effort, and you'll have other jars bursting with happily sprouting seeds.

These are approximate sprouting times, depending on room temp, number of rinses, the age of your seeds, etc. Some seeds get bitter if they're allowed to sprout for too long.

Aduki.........................3 days
Buckwheat............... 2
Flax............................2 (These require LOTS of rinsing!)
Green Pea..................2
Pumpkin (hulled).....1
Sunflower (hulled)...2
Water Cress...............4-5
Wild Rice..................4

Monday, October 26, 2009

Feeding the Cookie Monster

Jim calls me the Cookie Monster and tells people that he lives in constant fear that a stranger will say, "Here's a cookie, little girl," because I would follow them anywhere. Well, it's not quite that bad, but what is bad is being a cookie monster and finding out that you can no longer have sugar or chocolate! The migraines said no quite a few years ago, and so I've either been good and done without or been bad and paid for it later. It helps that I've always been a health-nut and know my way around healthy eating; sugar was just the last guilty pleasure to go. But I've been refining a recipe using Agave Nectar, and folks, this is about as good as it gets for a reformed sugar addict. Everything in them is healthy, lots of fiber and super nutrients. I was especially proud of the idea to include ground flax seed because the oil tastes kinda yucky, and I've tried grinding the seeds and putting it on salads, but it's a lot like sprinkling powdered concrete onto your food; in these cookies, though, the powdered seeds serves as a binder to keep them from being so crumbly, and makes them extra healthy with Omega 3 & Omega 6 oils. It's a win/win!

If you're among the happy majority who still eats Chips Ahoy and Nutter Butters, they'll taste pretty much like cardboard, but if you don't currently eat sugar, they taste amazing!

I won't label ingredients in the recipe as organic, but everything is, when I can find it. If you use the recipe, especially if you change ingredients, I would love to hear about your results. It lends itself to using whatever's onhand in the pantry.

Cat's Health-nut Cookies

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup oat flour
1 cup ground almonds (I grind them in the food processor, leaving small pieces for the crunch)
1/4 cup finely ground flax seed (I grind these in a coffee mill, but you can get them already ground)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup carob chips
1/2 cup agave nectar (You could also use honey)
1/2 cup coconut oil (I love the taste of this stuff, but any healthy oil will do.)
1 whole egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
Mix wet ingredients in a smaller bowl and stir into the dry ingredients.
Form balls, about 1" in size, and place on a non-stick cookie sheet, pressing the balls down with a fork.
Bake for 12 minutes or until edges begin to brown. This yields about 30 cookies.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I've gone on a killing spree!!

Here's a topic I haven't covered, and it's guaranteed to make you itch as you read. The cleanliness of our homes affects our emotions and our sense of well being as well as our general health, and lately I've been on a crusade to get rid of dust mites. This was spurred on by a couple of winters with chronic breathing problems at night. The more I learn about the nasty buggers, the more I realize the necessity to get and keep them under control. Did you know that 10% of the weight of a 2 year old bed pillow can be dead dust mites and their refuse? Yuck! They feed on our dead skin cells, and you've got them on your clothing, in your hair and on your skin right now. A female dust mite lives for around 80 days and can lay 100 eggs, so you have an idea of the exponential growth of a colony of dust mites, and they're so small that 3 of them could fit on this period. Breathing in their waste material and fragments of their dead bodies is what causes breathing problems. We recently got rid of our mattresses ( still in great shape but nearly 20 years old) and got a new one that's natural latex, much less likely to harbor dust mites, and I've got all new bedding. I would love to have all our carpeting removed, but Jim thinks his feet have to have the cushy softness. However, whatever mattress, bedding, pillows, carpet, etc., that you have can still be made healthier by frequent vacuuming and routine precautions, and most of us clean our homes but stop a little short of chasing dust mites.

I've also brought in the ladder and have been dusting the tops of cabinets, walls, and cornice that hadn't been cleaned in a long time. Today I'm planning to buy a better vacuum cleaner, one with a HEPA filter, and here's my latest use for one of the essential oils, which I've always loved for their scents. There are chemicals that you can spray to kill dust mites, but I shy away from chemicals because they usually have side effects that are as bad as the problem they're trying to solve, but eucalyptus oil will kill dust mites, and the best way to use it is to fill a spray bottle with vodka (Yeah, we're gonna let 'em die happy.) and then add several drops of eucalyptus essential oil (the good stuff like you find in health food stores) and spray carpets, drapes, bedding, stuffed animals, anywhere that they could be living. Let it sit overnight and vacuum thoroughly the next day to get the dead bodies. Another tip, when you finish vacuuming, dispose of the bag. Live dust mites can crawl out, bet you hadn't thought of that one. Your house will smell wonderful, and the light mist of vodka dries quickly. I bought Gem Clear which was the cheapest vodka in the store; hey, I'm sending 'em off happy, but Jim would have a heart attack if I gave them his Absolut. (Be sure and test it on fabrics that it might stain or spot) I think you could do the same with water & eucalyptus oil, but it may not mix quite as well or dry as fast. Here's wishing you a healthy and dust mite free day.............well, logically you can't get rid of them all, but you can make a big difference in their numbers and their effects on yours and your family's health.