I sprouted my own beans and am now addicted to sprouting! After hearing how easy it is to sprout beans, I decided to experiment with adzuki beans. Now I am sprouting another batch of adzuki beans, fava beans and lima beans! Needless to say, I’ve been eating bean sprouts on just about everything…I should admit I’ve even been eating them for breakfast. Since bean sprouts are a live food, they are packed with natural energy and are a great pick-me-up at any time of the day. It is also really fun to watch them grow; I must say that I was very excited at the first sight of their tiny white sprouting tails!
Sprouting beans is as easy as 1, 2, 3: 1 a plastic or glass container 2 cheese cloth (and a rubber band) 3 strainer. I used a cylindrical Tupperware container approx. 6 inches high and 4 inches in diameter. Shorter containers work just as well; I ran out of the 6 inch-ers and resorted to my smaller, 4 inch-high containers. You could even use a large glass if you’d like…
Before doing anything, rinse and soak the beans (dry beans, not canned!) in water overnight; cover the top of the container with a piece of cheesecloth and the rubber band. Pour in just enough beans to form about 2 bean-layers thick at the bottom of the container- if you use more than an inch or so of beans they will grow mold easily. The following day, strain and rinse the beans using the strainer, rinse out the container and pour the beans back into the container without adding any water (the beans will be damp but that is ok). Recover the container with the cheese cloth and store at room temperature out of direct sunlight. Repeat this process twice per day: remove the cheese cloth, rinse the beans in a strainer, rinse out the container, put the damp beans back in, and recover with cheese cloth. Make sure to do this at least twice per day; when I forgot and rinsed only once, I had moldy sprouts and had to start all over!
The adzuki beans took about 5 days to grow large sprouts. Once you have reached your desired sprouting length you can eat the beans at any time during this process, even if they just have little tails. The lima and fava beans were quick sprouters: I noticed their tiny tails after just the first day!
(You do not have to limit your sprouting to beans; you can also sprout nuts and seeds!)
This lasagna is a gastronomic experience at its best. First of all, I love fennel in Italian inspired dishes; its light sweet flavor pairs perfectly with tomatoes, basil and a sharp cheese (not to mention olive oil!). Since noodle based lasagna is often too heavy and lacking in vegetables, I decided to use fennel in place of the noodles. This does give the lasagna a different texture, of course, especially since I like my veggies crisp or ‘al dente’; you can’t cut through the fennel with just a fork as you could a noodle.
I also wanted to demonstrate how easy it is to make a homemade tomato sauce. Homemade sauces are extremely rewarding: you get to decide which ingredients to use, you can alter them to your personal preference and they taste a million times better than prepackaged store bought sauces. If you own a food processor, it’s really easy to throw a bunch of veggies and spices in, chop it up and call it a sauce. I promise your dishes will taste unique and that much better! I am addicted to making my own sauces; I don’t even remember the last time I bought a store bought sauce (the acidic taste is just too overwhelming right!?).
This dish is not heavy in spices, but rich in fresh herbs; each light flavor combines with the others to produce a beautiful array of fresh sweetness, unaltered by preservatives or fake ingredients. The only way in which I might be able to describe this dish, is that I felt like I was degusting a beautiful garden…
Fills one 24 oz dish, serves 2
1 fennel bulb
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Grated cheese for topping (mozzarella etc)
2 medium tomatoes
1/4 c chopped red onion
1/3 c fresh mint leaves (a “loose” 1/3 c- the mint leaves were not packed in the measuring cup)
1c kale leaves (tightly packed into the measuring cup)
½ clove garlic
½ c fresh basil leaves
1/3 c fresh cilantro
2 ½ tbsp organic tomato paste
Agave nectar (no more than ¼ tsp)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Equal “pinches” of the following: rosemary, fennel seed, caraway seed, oregano, nutmeg
Salt and Pepper to taste
Ricotta Cheese Filling
½ c whole milk ricotta
¼ tsp rosemary
¼ tsp caraway seeds
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Cut the top, green stems, off of the fennel. Then cut off the bottom of the bulb; you will then be able to “peel” the fennel off the bulb (this will produce thick, "curled" pieces). As you peel off the layers, you will have to cut off the bottom again to expose the next layers. Cut the curled pieces in half, giving way to flatter pieces as such:
In a pan heat 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, add fennel pieces, cover and cook for 15 minutes, flipping occasionally, every 5 minutes. **Please note that I like my fennel crunchy. If you like your vegetables a little softer cook the fennel longer than 15 minutes, according to your personal preference.**
In a baking pan pour in the fennel and oil, from the frying pan, and bake for 15 minutes (again, cook longer if you wish).
While the fennel is baking prepare the sauce:
Squeeze out the tomato centers, eliminating some water and combine all ingredients, except salt, pepper and agave nectar, in the food processor. Blend until you have reached the desired consistency for your sauce (approx 1-2 minutes). Lastly, add the agave nectar. Do not add more than ¼ of a tsp; you do not want to “sweeten” the sauce, you merely want to buffer the acidity of the tomatoes. If you do not have agave nectar you can use a tiny pinch of organic, unrefined cane sugar. Lastly, add the salt and pepper to taste.
In a tiny bowl combine the ricotta cheese, rosemary and caraway.
Once the fennel is done baking, remove the pan from the oven and start to layer: Lay out a few pieces of fennel to form a bottom layer. Spoon a thin layer of ricotta and a thin layer of sauce over top. Add the next layer of fennel on top and repeat. For the topping, shred a small amount of your favorite cheese atop the lasagna (I preferred a stronger tasting cheese so I used gruyere). Bake for 25-30 minutes.
When you remove the lasagna there will be a small amount of water at the bottom (the one minor downside I’ve found from making a homemade sauce). It does not at all alter the integrity of the fennel; I just braced the lasagna with a spoon and poured it out. I might try pressing my next sauce in a cheese cloth to further eliminate excess water…
I apologize for the lack of creative posting as of late; my thesis deadline is approaching which means I have less time to experiment in the kitchen. However, not having time to cook also does not mean resorting to unhealthy, “easy” fast foods.
People are very intimidated by the thought of cooking; they feel that after a long day, “cooking” means slaving away laboriously for hours and hours, concocting an elaborate meal. This couldn’t be any more false. In fact, I think throwing a meal together, which is very healthy, is much easier then deciding what to order off of a fast food menu, waiting for it to be delivered etc: you can leave vegetables raw, resort to raw nuts and seeds, cook a grain while chopping veggies, pour yourself an 8 oz glass of a natural fruit juice, et voilà! You are left with a super healthy, satisfying, not to mention colorful and beautiful meal!
I just wanted to write a quick post to de-intimidate you from the thought of cooking after a long day. This morning I left for work at 9am, after throwing together my raw lunch, and worked straight up until the time I had to leave for yoga class. Since I felt so great after my Jivamukti class, and also since I can’t ever get enough of yoga, I decided to stay for the following Anusara class. Yup, you calculated correctly I was doing yoga from 5:45pm until 8:45pm. By the time I changed, walked home and spent a few moments with my roommates, it was already 9:30pm. The last thing I felt like doing was slaving away over the stove, when I still had to shower and get back to work on my thesis (actually I would have much rather spent the time cooking then writing my thesis, but I must prioritize right!?). I am also going through one of those clean-out-the-pantry phases so I knew I was in for some sort of bizarre mélange.
The key to cooking quickly and efficiently is multitasking and making sure you throw in a little from each food group. Right before my shower, I put 1/3 c of rye berries into the rice cooker and set 2 handfuls of seaweed in a bowl to soak. By the time I was out of the shower, the rye berries were already half cooked which was exactly when I wanted to add the seaweed. I drained the seaweed and threw that into the rice cooker with the rye berries. For the remainder of the cooking time, I got dressed into my pj’s, chopped up some already seasoned tofu, fresh flat parsley, cilantro and mint. When the rye berries and seaweed were finished I stirred in the tofu to warm it up a bit. I then transferred the contents of the rice cooker into a bowl and topped it off with the fresh herbs (lots of them!), pumpkin seeds, raw English peas, and some tamari. For dessert, I had my usual soy yogurt with flax seeds to satisfy my sweet tooth. Who said fast food can’t be healthy!?
I have to stress that this bread is super moist and melts delectably on your tongue. It is so moist and delicious that I believe I actually made “Mmmmm” noises while letting it melt in my mouth. I may have even closed my eyes to take in the full experience…
Ok enough describing the moistness, or I will want to go eat another piece!
PS. My roommate even commented on how moist this bread was!
Ok no more about the moistness, I promise.
Anyway, chickpea flour goes a long way, in this recipe, adding protein, density, and, let’s not forget, a slight irresistible chickpea flavor. Whole wheat pastry flour balances out the dense chickpea flour, giving it a light and fluffy texture, producing a wonderful zucchini bread! Not to mention a moist one! (Sorry I couldn’t resist!)
I used agave nectar to sweeten the bread; I also added just a touch of masala powder and cinnamon because I love the way their flavors combine with that of the chickpea’s.
While this zucchini bread is amazing on its own, I also admit that spreading a small amount of almond butter on top is also not so bad…
Did I mention how moist and luscious this zucchini bread is?
Chickpea Flour Zucchini Bread
Makes one loaf
1 ½ flour total: ½ + ¼ c whole wheat pastry flour, ½ + ¼ c chickpea flour (sifted)
1 ½ eggs
¼ c butter
¾ c agave nectar
1c zucchini (chopped)
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp masala powder
½ tsp + 1 pinch cinnamon (the pinch is for a coating at the end)
(I consulted 101 Cookbook’s and Smitten Kitchen’s recipes for flour:baking powder:baking soda: egg ratios.)
Prep work: Preheat oven to 350F and place a rack in the center of the oven. Butter a loaf pan; don’t forget the corners and the sides (the bread will rise!). Chop enough zucchini (with skins) to fill one cup. I used about half of a large zucchini and chopped it using the food processor. If you use the food processor, the zucchini will become very moist; remove the chopped zucchini from the food processor and press in between paper towels until you are ready to add it to the ingredients.
Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl. Be sure you sift or pass the chickpea flour through a strainer. It can get very clumpy and grainy and creates hard, brittle bread if not sifted.
In a large bowl, beat the butter until creamy. Add the first egg and beat again until evenly combined. Crack the second egg, leaving the egg in the bottom half of the shell. Using the top half of the shell, scoop out half of the egg (yolk and white included) into the mixture and beat again. While beating, add the agave nectar and vanilla extract. Fold in the zucchini using a wooden spoon.
Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and fold gently until combined. Repeat two more times using all of the dry ingredients. Be sure not to over mix; this step requires just a gentle folding of the dry ingredients into the wet. As soon as there are no dry spots, stop folding and add the next third.
Pour the batter into the loaf pan. Evenly distribute the batter using either a spatula or a wooden spoon. Add a pinch of cinnamon to lightly coat the top and make a swirl design using a toothpick.
Bake for 40 minutes on the middle rack. Immediately remove the loaf and let cool. The loaf will be slightly undercooked but take it out anyway! If you have a trace of moisture on your cake tester, that is normal. Like cookies, the bread will still cook in the hot pan. If you remove the bread from the oven when it is fully cooked, it will actually overcook and lose its moisture while cooling. Let the loaf cool fully before cutting (it cuts much nicer when fully cooled!).
*Note: I like my baked goods very moist; if you do not, you could bake the bread anywhere from 42-47 minutes or according to your personal preference. However, I think any longer than 40 minutes will make the bread too dry. Don't say I didn't warn you!
People often ask me what I eat for lunch, since I always bag-it and never use the microwave. Lunch is simple, yet hearty for me; I like to eat as raw as possible, yet have enough energy to last me through the rest of the work day and my evening yoga class. If I realize I skimped out on calories during lunch, a small handful of raw mixed nuts at 4pm holds me until my dinner at 8 or 9pm.
Lunch always involves raw vegetables, fat, protein and soy yogurt for dessert. I interchange the fat with either nuts, olive oil or cheese (soy or dairy), and the protein with either beans or tofu. Sometimes I add a grain that I had prepared the night before, sometimes I just add more beans and raw veggies should I not have a grain ready.
Today was a lucky day since I had barley left over from last nights dinner (homemade chana masala over barely), I was able to use the rest for lunch, creating a completely different dish.
Raw vegetables really fill me up, and give me tons of energy for the remainder of the day. I love them so much I usually don’t even put any spices on my lunchtime dishes. For today’s lunch I used cooked barley (which was originally pearled), to which I added chopped broccoli, cucumber, tofu, fresh basil leaves and pine nuts. This will be perfectly tasty as a cold salad; no need for reheating, all food groups included, all nutrients and taste intact.
If the idea of eating raw vegetables scares you, you can replace the pine nuts with a splash of olive oil, sesame oil, lemon juice etc. However, I guarantee that in no time, you’ll be enjoying their natural taste as is.
Here is a list of some other raw favorites I often include in my lunch:
Red chard (leaves and stems)
Yellow, green or red tomatoes
Basil, basil and lots of basil! (I sometimes use basil in place of lettuce, for a salad, I love it that much!)
Golden or red beets
Cilantro in place of lettuce (I have not tried this yet, but was recommended to do so by a friend last night)
Raw oats (for a topping)
Play around and see what you can come up with. I’d love to hear your ideas!
**Update: This entry has been chosen to participate in the monthly Wholesome Lunchbox Event by Coffee and Vanilla