May 8, 2008
Here we have a humble quinoa salad. I find I much prefer food simply prepared for everyday eating, and this is one of those meals that is both quick to prepare, elegant looking and very satisfying to eat. Most of my meals take shape without much of a recipe, but I am learning to write these quick little meals down and share them because everyone always wants to know. Even though I LOVE the ease and availability of deli or restaurant food – and now we have that option more and more with live food, thank God! – I’ve always taken time to prepare my own food, usually more often than not. I mean, live food has only been available recently as a take out option! But even when I was cooked, I could easily find myself in the kitchen whipping up a batch of this or that rather than making a shopping trip, because there is just something about home-made meals, as we all know by now. With GMO’s and pesticides so prevelent, the safe feeling I get from knowing what each ingredient is and where it comes from – down to knowing who the grower is and how they farm – makes my meal that much more loving to my body. Now it just so happens that I know and trust the person who makes the raw food I most often get for take away, and I would eat his delicious meals everyday if I could, but even so, I do enjoy taking a spin in the kitchen myself and always have. It’s wonderfully creative process that engages nearly all of my senses.
This recipe, as I said, just came together without much thought, but I’ll outline it here for you in case you are new to sprouting grains. You need at least a one day headstart to sprout the quinoa. I sprout for two days, so this is a make ahead sort of recipe. If you make a big batch of the sprouts, you can also use them in a hearty breakfast by stirring in a 1/2 cup or so of nut cream or seed yogurt. I’ll blog a yogurt recipe soon.
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and sprouted for one or two days. I prefer two.
1 cup of grated carrot
1 cup of finely grated or sliced cabbage
large handful of sunflower sprouts, to stir in just before serving (they’ll wilt in the vinaigrette if you let them sit too long)
vinaigrette, your choice
spirulina flakes and nutritional yeast to sprinkle on top, optional
SPROUT THE QUINOA: Rinse about 1 cup of quinoa in a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl and swish it around to really wash them. Change the water once or twice. Quinoa has a biochemical protective coating, a type of saponin, that tastes very bitter and seems to make digestion difficult for some so rinse well! I leave it in the mesh strainer over a bowl, (either a very large bowl or a very small bowl so that there is air circulation for the sprouts), and put a plate over the top of the strainer to protect from bugs (fruit flys LOVE sprouts) and help retain moisture. If you have a sprouting jar, great. I like the air flow of the strainer, so I prefer that.
Rinse every morning and evening. If it is very hot in your kitchen, (a bit early in the season for that for most people, but here in the tropics it’s already warm weather), then rinse again throughout the day; sprouts will generate their own heat and can get quite hot, facilitating mold growth, so keep them fresh and rinsed.
After the quinoa has sprouted, rinse and drain 10 minutes or so to dry it out a bit and then toss it together with the other ingredients. It’s really too simple. If you’re not into oil, then use an avocado or a handful of hemp seeds to make a great creamy dressing in the blender with citrus, herbs and spices – I always get great results by just using whatever I have around and adding a pinch of sea salt and freshly crushed peppercorns. Lately I love adding one shallot to the mix, it really has a very different flavor than onion and is a French classic in vinaigrettes for a reason. Give it a try.
My personal favorite, and I think this makes the salad, is to add a generous sprinkle of both nutritional yeast and spirulina FLAKES – powder just doesn’t do it – right before serving. It’s not as nice if you stir it into a big batch and then let it sit. It gets mushy and yucky. However, without the sprinkles, this salad keeps very well in the fridge in it’s marinade. I think it’s even better after sitting in the marinade a few hours or even overnight. All of the ingredients soak up the flavor of the vinaigrette and still retain their own identity so that it becomes more than the sum of it’s parts, making for quite a fulfilling meal. It’s nice to serve this in tender, young cabbage leaf cups or tat soi spoons. Enjoy!
May 7, 2008
My morning vegetable smoothie. Mostly kale, celery, cucumber, cilantro and parsley, but today I added a carrot and half a beet and got the scintillating, vibrating RED smoothie that comes with any addition of beet. Very beautiful. And, who knew? I just read, here, that Montel Williams juices and blends seventy-five percent of his food! Wow, this is great! Whether or not you watch his show, (I don’t even own a TV, but I have heard of him!) he reaches a huge audience of people who can all benefit from his positive example if they choose to. Very exciting.
On another note, because it’s too obvious to ignore, I’ve got to ask if anyone can name the odd green cylinder in the photo. I’ll do a post on how I used it soon, but for now, who can correctly guess what it is? I’d love to offer to mail one to you as a prize to whomever correctly names it but it won’t pass airport inspection. (I’ve tried!) I could send it to you in dehydrated form, but I don’t think it would taste the same. These are in season right now though, so I should definitely try that as there are an abundance of them! I usually just eat them fresh.
So how about it? Anyone know what this is?
May 6, 2008
I have no reservations about eating while I’m at my computer. In fact, it’s where I eat most of my meals, if I’m absolutely honest about it. At some point I’ll be happily sharing meals with an actual human, but until then, this little laptop is my most frequent dining companion.
If I’m working especially hard online that day, I’ll often find myself in need of a snack and some of those snacks do pass for a meal, occasionally. This is one of them. It’s a quick protein blast that satisfies and nourishes me without taking much time away from whatever project I’m working on.
I’ve always got a supply of dehydrated flatbreads in my “cookie” jar on hand for times like this. And as I’m continuously recipe testing, they are frequently experimental in nature, for better or worse. This one was not perfect, but it worked for a quick snack at home. It was a buckwheat-based flatbread, spread with a hummus I made from sprouted black sesame seeds. I topped that with hijiki and was good to go. The protein and minerals from the seaweed and sesame seeds really serves me well and I’m satisfied until dinner when I can put some greens in my body. (And, um, yeah, a couple of dehydrator cookies are part of the snack equation too : )
This would be great with sprouts too, but I didn’t have any and I was only looking for the quickest thing so I didn’t worry about it, though something green would add to the experience, for sure. Sometimes something, is better than nothing, and this was one of those times as it tasted just great the way it was. I recommend it!
May 1, 2008
Wish I could explain away my lengthy absence by saying that I flew away to South America to plant trees in an Amazon reforestation project for Earth Day and have only just returned today but, well, I didn’t. Along with the delay caused by a wonky WordPress glitch, (grrrUMBLE!…) (All fixed now! It seems that clearing the Cookies from one’s system is the answer to most every problem, hmmm…how appropriate, yes?)
So, I’ve merely been occupied by life, plain and simple. Amidst all this, I did manage to produce my first successful batch of homemade sauerkraut, and I must say I am rather excited about it. It’s tricky, here in the tropics where the median temperature is always just right for all the wrong bacteria. But! I had Faith that Courage would see me through and low and behold:
This gorgeous bowl of hot pink and orange sauerkraut vibrating off the screen with pro-biotic action and vital life force is the result! See those little black balls nestled in all cozy betwixt the tart and juicy strands of cabbage and carrot? Those, dear friends, are juniper berries and they are DIVINE in the BRINE, I must say! And what a surprise to me. My neighbor just happens to be German and so I asked her for some roots info on sauerkraut and she said: juniper berries. They became my favorite part! I am going to put in many more on the next batch. I should look them up to make sure I don’t unwittingly dose myself in some crazy way, but I’m pretty certain it’s fine. I’ll update on that too. ***Updated here.
I have a mandoline but as this was a small trial batch and, wanting to practice my knife skills, I chose to hand slice it all paper thin, along with a few huge, sweet carrots. Next I massaged it with a very tiny bit of seasalt and let it sit for a while to get juicy, giving it another few squeezes every so often over the course of about an hour to generate as much liquid as possible.
Then I sprinkled it with a large pinch of probiotic powder and stirred in the juniper berries. It all went into a quart sized mason jar, topped with a clean, inner leaf of cabbage. I was afraid that, even washed, an outer leaf might pollute the batch with unkind bacteria. Then I pushed down firmly to bring the juices to the top and weighed it down with a crazy contraption that kept the juice covering the cabbage. (I used a tiny juice glass pressed ontop of the cabbage leaf which just fit inside the rim.) It was then covered with a clean dish towel, sealed with a rubber band and left on the counter top for about 4 days.
About 1/2 an inch on the top turned greeny/grey from oxidation, with very little mold and that only on the upper most layer. I’ve heard that is normal and fine, because you throw the discolored cabbage away. I tossed a good inch below the discolored kraut to eliminate whatever mycelial action might have established itself. The taste test was delicious.
This sauerkraut was so good I can’t wait to try other combinations, including Kimchi style. Another fun note was that my hale was being re-roofed while this was going on and the roofer was, by pure chance, newly raw! He’d just completed an Arise and Shine cleanse with juicing and looked spectacularly terrible from the detox! He’d lost a lot of weight (all the toxins the cleanse purged and he’ll soon regain fresh, wholesome weight), but was doing well. Of course, I offered him a bowl of sauerkraut and that was the well-spent end of that first batch. A great success all around, I’m happy to say.