The how and why of Sprouting

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A super healthy way to consume beans!

Since spring’s just around the corner I thought why not share something healthy with all of you. I know this is a longish post but I hope by the time you finish reading it you’ll understand the science behind sprouting better and also might want to try it out in your own kitchen!

Science behind sprouting

We already know these foods are nutrient dense powerhouses. But for our bodies to be able to absorb all that richness, we need to first understand the phytic acid connection.

PHYTIC ACID is found in all plant foods in variable amounts. It’s not all that bad because it attacks cancer cells and is also an antioxidant BUT when consumed, it binds to important minerals like iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium and copper in the gastrointestinal tract forming PHYTATES which can’t be absorbed and so are expelled from the body resulting in deficiencies of minerals mentioned.

Coming to the rescue is PHYTASE – an enzyme found in the plant food, that deactivates the phytic acid. Rye, wheat and buckwheat are high in this enzyme while oats and corn are pretty low.

We humans cannot produce this enzyme but we can use methods like SOAKING n SPROUTING to activate this enzyme.

Here is a simple and easy breezy way to start. To begin I assemble a few old pickle jars, poly mesh bags cut into squares and some rubber bands and some mung beans. That’s all! 

SOAK

1. Place the beans in the jar/s and wash them a couple of times with water until the drained water looks clean.

2. Pour room temperature water into the jar to completely submerge the beans.

3. Add some sea salt if soaking nuts, seeds and beans. This helps activate the phytase.

4. Cover the mouth of the jar with a square of poly mesh bag and keep it in place with a rubber band.

At the end of soaking period, you’ll notice that the size of the grains or beans has increased.

SPROUT

1. After the soaking period, wash and drain the water from the jar through the mesh a couple of times until water is clear.

2. Make sure that all the water has been drained out. Now slightly invert the jar at an angle over a folded towel or rack and cover that bowl with a cloth in a dark area of the kitchen away from direct sunlight.

3. Twice a day – morning and night or every 12 hours, rinse and drain the beans for the designated sprouting period.

This process removes some more phytic acid as well as releases the vitamins and makes the food a lot more digestible. As soon as the sprouts are ready, wash them one more time. I prepare only small amounts of sprouts at a time and cook them right after they are ready by gently boiling them in water OR by steaming them. I make sure that they are consumed in 1-2 days.

NOTE – It is very important to handle the sprouting process very meticulously using CLEAN hands, kitchen equipment and counter tops to reduce contamination and food borne illnesses such as Salmonella and E coli.

What’s the best way to eat sprouts?

Sprouts always carry a risk for contamination as they grow under moist conditions. So it is safer to COOK them before eating. They can be added to soups or stews or they can be sauteed in olive oil. You can 

Actually I choose to sprout only mung beans (I’ve got so used to them). But you can try black chickpeas also. The process is similar to that of mung beans. So give this a try this spring and share your experiences with me. Happy Sprouting!

 

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My favorite essential oil!

Lavender of course! If I could own only one essential oil it would be lavender hands down. I will not dwell upon the botanical facts of the plant from where this amazing oil is extracted…instead I will jump right into the reasons I love this EO.

  • Calm – First and foremost it’s my go-to oil for calming down. You know how there are those days when everyone and everything around you needs your attention asap – those are the moments when I grab my lavender roller bottle. I roll it on the wrists and take a whiff or into the palms rubbing them together and placing them gently on the face, inhaling the calm and peace.
  • To the rescue – Have you ever burned your finger while simply turning the quesadillas over on a hot griddle or deep frying something? Ouch! That can hurt a lot…well for those once-in-a-while days I dab a little lavender on the burn and voila it takes away the searing sensation.
  • Catch the zzzs – How many times have I gone to bed just to end up lying there – simply unable to sleep. It may be nervousness, boredom or nothing at all. That’s why I keep a lavender roller bottle next to me – massage some on my hands and forehead and then wait a little before I fall into a sweet slumber.
  • Beauty – I have already mentioned the use of this oil in my beauty recipes in earlier posts – Nourishing face oil and DIY lip balm
  • Pet grooming – Finally I come to our beloved pets! I keep a container with ¼ cup cornstarch mixed with 5-6 drops of lavender EO. Every once in a while I sprinkle a little of this mixture into my maltese’s coat followed by brisk brushing. The result? I can buy some time before his next grooming.

Before I forget let me share the Roller recipe. Mine is a 10ml bottle. I fill it with grapeseed oil (it’s light in texture) and 6 drops of lavender oil followed by rolling it gently between palms. I usually make a couple of them and keep them closeby. I always keep one in my bag.

NOTE – A very dear friend of mine who also happens to be a physician however suggested that we not use this oil around kids as it’s very calming in nature and kids need to be focused and be able to concentrate on their school work or other activities most of the time.

Do you know of any other uses of this oil? I would like to know.

Nourishing face oil

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I am always looking for beauty products that are as natural and non toxic as possible and nothing can be more natural than those you can create on your kitchen countertop with your own hands! So here I present my very own soothing and nourishing face oil for those cold dry wintry months! You can use this oil on your face as such or under your regular moisturizer.

The EO in this recipe stands for essential oil. I buy the Aura Cacia and Now brands from Sprouts or Natural Grocers.

Now for the scoop on the oils! All the oils mentioned here are absolutely amazing for the skin and are so good at moisturizing but they also have some special qualities-

  • Frankincense and Helichrysum are anti-aging with the former working on wrinkles and the latter working on scars and discoloration.
  • Rose is anti-inflammatory but I use it mostly for its uplifting aroma.
  • Lavender is my absolute favorite as it’s so calming. (I add it to almost every recipe).
  • Avocado oil is a carrier oil (something that carries the EOs) as one shouldn’t use EOs directly on skin. It has a good shelf life of about a year and is rich in vitamins A and Bs and oleic acid and boasts some UV protection.
  • Vitamin E has moisturizing and UV protective qualities. It also extends the shelf life of the product!

Ingredients

1 drop frankincense EO

1 drop helichrysum EO

5 drops rose EO

1 drop lavender EO

2 vitamin E oil capsules

60 drops avocado oil

A clean dry amber colored glass bottle with dropper

Method

In a clean dry bottle, add all the ingredients. Keep it in a cool dark place.

DIY lip balm

 

Ever since I walked down the Essential oils aisle in Sprouts about 4 years ago, I have been intrigued by the healing properties of those oils and as I read up on them I became more vigilant about using commercial products even something as simple as a lip balm. So, I decided to experiment and after a few clumsy takes I came up with this simple method that became my go-to lip balm recipe.

It’s easy to prepare and has two of my favorite ingredients – Lavender essential oil and Avocado oil. I picked lavender for its anti-inflammatory and calming effect on the skin as well as mind. I chose avocado oil for its long shelf life (1 year), UV protective factor and its high oleic acid content which makes it a great moisturizer in the cold dry months of winter. I opted for Vitamin E as it boosts the shelf life of the balm and provides a decent amount of sun protection.

Ingredients

Avocado oil – 1 ¾ tsp

Beeswax – ¾ tsp

Vitamin E capsules (400 IU) each – 2

Lavender essential oil – 2 drops

2 Lip balm containers clean and dry

Method

Place a pan of water with a heat resistant glass bowl over it on medium flame. Add the beeswax and let it melt slowly. You can lower the flame to medium low. As it begins to melt, stir in the avocado oil using a silicone or wooden spatula. Remove from the flame and quickly squeeze out the oil from the vitamin E capsules into the mixture along with the lavender oil. You’ve got to be swift here as the mixture starts solidifying soon so quickly pour it into the lip balm containers and let them cool before capping them.

I make a batch of 3-4 balms and keep them in the fridge to keep them fresh and last longer. Yields about 2 balms. Don’t worry if there’s a little leftover! Store it in a tiny container for your bag.

Try out this recipe and let me know what you think about it!