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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Vegan Mofo Day 6: Quinoa Kale Salad and Sprouting

I had high aspirations for today's culinary creations. I was going to make soy free swimming rama and some cupcakes, but plans change. My family invited us over a day early to celebrate my husband's birthday. They are all omnivores, but they are pretty respectful of my dietary restrictions and choices and give me free reign of their kitchen. I brought beans, quinoa, cilantro, a pomegranate, and a few other ingredients and made Pomegranate Guacamole and a Quinoa Kale Salad. I eat and share my food, and they eat what my family has prepared as well. My brother wasn't sure about the guacamole, but, like everyone else who has doubted the powers of pom-guac, he claimed it addictive and polished off the bowl.

Quinoa Kale Salad
serves 2-3 people as a main course, or a whole family as a side
2 cups cooked Quinoa
1 bunch curly leafed kale
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic
2 Tb olive oil
1 can Pinto or "Butter" beans
1 cucumber, cubed
1/4 cup cilantro
1/2 a lemon, juiced
salt and pepper to taste

Coat a large pan with olive oil and cook the garlic and onions for about a minute. Add the kale and beans. The kale is done when it turns a brilliant green. When the kale is half cooked, add the cilantro, salt and pepper. Pour the quinoa and cucumber over the top when the kale is done, give it a quick stir, and serve.

I use Eden Organics canned beans because the can liner does not have BPAs. Making your own beans can be time consuming with a lot of soaking and rinsing. Sometimes it's just easier to use canned over dried.

People who get bored with plain quinoa enjoy this dish and it is a hearty side. Quinoa is a fantastic pseudocereal, meaning it is not in the grass family or a grain at all. Quinoa is a seed and a balanced source of all of the essential amino acids humans need. Rice and wheat do not have this attribute. Quinoa is very high in protein - about 15% is protein of its weight - and a 1/4 cup of quinoa has the same protein content as one chicken egg without risking salmonella. I won't go into ethics, but let's just call it the happier protein source.

SproutingSprouting is a great way to get a little extra nutrients out of grains, seeds, and legumes. There are machines that rinse the sprouts throughout the day while you are at work, but I prefer to use mason jars. I just don't like introducing plastic into my food.

Sprouting is always started by soaking the grains or seeds. This helps remove the enzyme inhibitors. Enzyme inhibitors are present on grains, legumes, and seeds to prevent the seed from sprouting and attempting to grow before the conditions are right. Removing these inhibitors makes it easier to break down the food to access nutrients and reduces gas by removing long chain saccharides (carbohydrates) that are on beans and aren't broken down in our system soon enough to prevent feeding bad bacteria in the colon. The saccharides are essentially sugars that feed bad bacteria like candida, and produce gas from fermentation (think of the yeast and air build leading to fermentation or alcohol in wine - the grapes provide the necessary sugar to feed the bacteria to move that process along).

Soaking: Hulled Buckwheat

For a chart on soak time for seeds, grains, and legumes, check out this link.

As a general rule, I soak most legumes and seeds over night. Buckwheat I only soak for 3-5 hours, rinsing and replacing the soak water at least once. Cover your soaking jar with a tea or dish towel to prevent light from getting to the seeds.

After my soak time has passed, I rinse the seeds and jar thoroughly, put the seeds back in the jar, and put cheese cloth or mesh over the top, secured with a rubber band. I've found that the plastic mesh bags that are used in the grocery store for selling bulk garlic or lemons works really well as a mesh jar top.

The jar on the far left is covered with cheesecloth and a rubber band
The rest are covered with reused bulk sale lemon bags cut into smaller squares
Tilt the jars at a 45 degree angle with the mouth of the jar facing towards the ground in a bowl. Remember to cover the jars with a tea or dish towel.

This is how the jars should be set so water can drain out to discourage bad bacteria
growth. Right after this photo, the jars were covered with a clean dish towel.
Rinse sprouting seeds at a minimum of twice a day - three to four times being ideal. I usually rinse my seeds before work, when I get home, and then right before bed. Most seeds only need to sprout to a quarter of the length of the seed before they are done. The exceptions are broccoli, radish, mung bean, clover, and alfalfa. I soak buckwheat during the evening and set it to sprout overnight. I rinse in the morning and usually by the time I get home from work that day they are ready to harvest.

Once your seeds have finished sprouting, rinse them very well. I use some food grade hydrogen peroxide and rinse them again before either dehydrating them or storing them to use fresh. Sprouted buckwheat is delicious dehydrated. I spread the seeds over a teflex sheet and put a mesh dehydrator sheet over the top so the seeds don't go flying around my dehydrator. I set the temperature to 105 and dehydrate the "buckwheaties" overnight.

Buckwheaties with Vanilla Hemp Milk and bananas

You don't need a dehydrator to enjoy sprouts. Peas, lentils, clover, radish, and broccoli are all sprouts I store in the fridge to use fresh. I rinse fresh sprouts at least once a day. Even in the fridge they are still growing and shedding toxins/inhibitors. Broccoli sprouts tend to mold on me easily, so I don't sprout them long and I definitely use hydrogen peroxide.

I do recommend a dehydrator though. I'm not going to claim that mine is on all the time, but even on a mid-high raw vegan diet I use it quite a bit for sprouts, raw vegan crackers, and to dehydrate fruits and veggie chips. I have a 9 tray Excalibur, but would probably get by just fine with a 5 tray model.

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