Before and after: broccoli, red clover, radish and salad sprouts.
As week 4 of my ‘100 Day Raw Food Challenge‘ quickly approaches, my menu repertoire is finally beginning to solidify. I was clear from the onset that keeping proteins and carbs in my diet was going to be an absolute essential. While nuts, seeds and oils are certainly a cornerstone to such a diet, I was not willing to abandon my propensity for the complex carbs I have grown to know and love. But if I couldn’t cook them, then how the heck was I going to eat them? It turns out that you can sprout things- a lot of things. It was news to me that sprouts are actually a living food, rich with vitamins, minerals, proteins, and enzymes. One of the most complete and nutritional of all existing foods, sprouts actually continue to grow and increase in vitamin content after been harvested, even as they sit in the fridge. So far, I have been enjoying great success with quinoa. Forty eight hours of sprouting on the windowsill (and rinsing twice daily) results in a delightful, crun-chewy flavour extravaganza that makes for a uniquely delicious salad booster. Chick peas take a full four days to sprout, though they are well worth the wait. When they are ready to use, sprouted chick peas can be tossed into a salad as is, or whirled up into an arugula hummus or a sun dried tomato dip. The next ingredients on my list of things to attempt sprouting are puy lentils and sunflower seeds. Click here to learn more about how to make your own sprouts.
The dried seeds to get you sprouting are readily available at most health food stores, as are ’sprouters’ designed to house the process. After inspecting a few different options, I decided that the $20 being charged for such a kit was a waste of money, as one can easily be fashioned at home using a mason jar, some cheese cloth and an elastic band. That cash would be much better spent on more seeds or put towards other, more exciting kitchen gadgets….. Ah, the allure of the kitchen gadget. Most avid home cooks just can’t get enough of these culinary toys. It seems a constant struggle to draw that defining line between what will actually be useful and that which simply looks like fun to play with. Making ruthless decisions early on will help to shut out future dust collectors destined to clutter up precious kitchen real estate.
I have to say, this raw business has made me a whirling dervish with many of my beloved gadgets….. the food processor, blender, dehydrator, juicer and now, my latest acquisition- a spiral vegetable slicer. At first glance, it appears less than impressive. Flimsy, cumbersome and fabricated from mostly 100% pure, genuine plastique- I was somewhat skeptical when first opening the box (instructions were also minimal, so I had to phone the store to figure out how to work the darn thing). But once up and running, what this baby does is pure magic. Beets, carrots, zucchini, daikon radishes and more are all transformed into spectacular lengths of pasta-like ribbons. Raw foodists often make ‘pasta’ by preparing zucchini this way and then topping it with a raw sauce, such as ‘Marinara’. Any of these spiral veggies also serve as an extremely impressive addition to a salad, providing truly dynamic colour, shapes and textures to accompany greens, sprouts and so on. They also store well in the fridge for a few days, sealed in a tightly lidded container.
Spiral Vegetable Salad with Sprouted Quinoa
1 medium zuccini, turned on the small setting
1 medium beet, turned on the small setting
1 c sprouted quinoa
1 cup mixed greens, roughly torn
2 T parsley, roughly chopped
1/4 c raw pumpkin seeds
1 tomato, medium dice
salt + pepper
1/3 – 1/2 c ‘Green Goddess Dressing‘
Toss all ingredients and serve immediately. There will be extra dressing leftover. Keep in a lidded jar in the fridge. You will be glad to have extra on hand when whipping up a quick salad.
Green Goddess Dressing
1/4 c nutritional yeast
2 T Tamari sauce
3 T apple cider vinegar
3/4 grape seed or canola oil
3 T water
1/3 c roughly chopped parsley
To blender, add first ingredients. Whirl to combine. While blender is still on, slowly drizzle in the oil and then the water. Add the parsley last. Whirl to combine.