Saturday, 12 March 2011

Sprouting pulses and seeds

Sprouted seeds and pulses are a nutritious, cost-effective way of livening up your daily fare: in fact they are a superfood. You can sprout mung beans, aduki beans, chickpeas, alfalfa, radish, mustard-and-cress, broccoli, wheat, sunflower seeds...the list is nearly endless! (Do not sprout red kidney beans however; as these are toxic raw.) Even if you buy one of the mixed sprout seed packets from the health food shop (see photo), they still work out as good value in terms of the volume you get from them. Each type of sprout takes a slightly different average time to grow, they all have great nutritional qualities (rich in aminoacids, and also vitamins and minerals) and there are a variety of flavours, colours and even textures. It's amazing how much you can get from a large tablespoon of beans/ seeds, and a handful of alfalfa or sunflower sprouts have saved many a salad when my fridge has been bereft of lettuce!
Historically, sprouted mung beans are mentioned in "Sri Caitanya Caritamrita", a sacred 16th-century Vaisanava text, as  having been served with salt and ginger. In some traditional Indian dishes, mung beans sprouted overnight are used cooked.
Here are some of the sprouts I grow regularly:
  • Alfalfa: Takes about 4-7 days to grow in England; they seem to speed up in warmer weather. Nothing can beat these feathery, mild-tasting sprouts combined with hummus or a bean pate in sandwiches or on crackers, and they bring new life to your standard lettuce, tomato and cucumber salad.
  • Mung: Homegrown mung sprouts never seem to get as long and fat as the ones you get in the supermarket, but they have more flavour. Make sure you buy the larger-sized mung beans because the smaller ones have a high proportion of beans that won't germinate, leaving you with horrible, tooth-breaking, bullets hiding amongst the sprouts.
  • Sunflower: My current favourite! This is because of their instantly revitalising properties and also because you can grow them into attractive little seedlings with proper leaves and they still taste great. They grow fast, too.
  • Chickpeas: They don't get green leaves on them, are quite crunchy, and are probably best mixed with other sprouts. I have yet to succeed in making a decent raw hummus with them.
How to grow sprouts: Most books tell you to soak the seeds/ beans for a few hours first, but I don't bother any more and still get good results. You can use a wide-necked jar with muslin held in place over the opening by an elastic band, or a purpose-made sprouter. (These come with several trays so you can grow different sprouts at the same time.) The most important thing to remember to do is rinse them regularly in fresh water, or they begin to decay.and are then oinly fit to be thrown away/ composted. With most sprouts you can get away with rinsing twice a day, but I find sunflower seeds need at least 3 rinses, especially in warm weather..
What dishes do you like to use sprouts in?

Friday, 11 March 2011

Expressing love through food

"... I should like to be His confidential friend. I won't hesitiate to offer Him any food which I have tasted beforehand just to see whether it is relishable or not. If I find the food to be nice, then only shall I place it before the Supreme Lord..."
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Prabhupada
Ladu Gopala (Baby Krishna)

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Healthy Sweets- the update!

Towards the end of January, I published a  post about quick and easy healthy sweets: unfortunately I had no photos at the time, but yesterday I managed to make 2 kinds, apricot and almond rolled in coconut, and carob, sultana and walnut (with some porridge oats to firm them up) and I finally got pictures. I'm hoping that one of these when I get home from work will prevent me from raiding the biscuit tin, as I'm trying to be sugar-free at the moment...
Hope you find the pics inspiring, anyway!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

What's in your fridge today?


I took this picture of my fridge at the beginning of the week, just after we went shopping. You can't quite see the salad drawer at the bottom. And now I realise that so much of what we buy is plastic-wrapped....
  • Top shelf: Butter, cheese and lemons
  • Second shelf:  Parsnips, courgettes (hiding) and  new potatoes
  • Third shelf: Mixed bell peppers, homegrown pumpkin and helda beans
  • Bottom shelf: Broccoli and savoy cabbages
  • Salad drawers: Iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and cherry tomatoes, celery and cucumbers
  • Shelves inside door (not pictured): Stuff already offered to Krishna, like natural yoghurt, cheese, low-fat cream cheese, pumpkin chutney, beansprouts, semi-skimmed milk, soya milk etc....
I'm writing this on Friday night, and the fridge is looking a lot emptier (we shop on Sunday). With what you see in the picture, plus storecupboard stuff and some tofu, we have made: root vegetable sabji (veg stew), potato, parsnip and pumpkin rosti, broccoli in cheese sauce with roasted new potatoes, rice and peas (red kidney beans) with salad and roasted veg, tofu strifry with noodles, dal and soya shepherd's pie with roast parsnips, pumpkin and peas - plus a daily lettuce, beansrpout, tomato and cucumber salad with grated cheese or tofu for packed lunches. In case you're wondering, we buy tons of fruit, but we don't keep it in the fridge.
Now all I have to do is think of some way of using those savoy cabbages...hmmm... I seem to remember using them instead of vine leaves once.. now what did I stuff them with...? (Watch this space for the recipe if they turn out well.)
...So what's in your fridge today, and what will you cook with it? Please comment below- And how do we compare? Is mine a typical vegetarian fridge? Have I got a freaky fridge or am I a cool customer??  :)

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Spicy cauliflower, parsnip and potato soup- vegan


 Spring is in the air, but there are still some chilly evenings and grey days, and this creamy-textured soup is a warming antidote to them. It is relatively quick and easy, especially if you have a pressure cooker and a hand blender. I don't have a hand blender at the moment so I blended it in 2 jugfuls. This recipe serves 4-6, depending on portion size.
900g parsnip, cauliflower and new potatoes, in whatever proportions you want
1-2 tabs organic sunflower oil/ olive oil
2 litres water
1 dsp cumin seeds
seasalt to taste
1-2 tsps turmeric (haldi)
1 tsp hing
1 tab powdered coriander seeds
chilli powder to taste
  • Dice the root vegetables and cut the cauliflower into small florets
  • In your pressure cooker/ saucepan toast the cumin seeds in the oil until just beginning to brown then turn down the heat.
  • Add the vegetables and coriander, mixing well.
  • Add the water, salt and rest of the seasonings.
  • Prressure cook until soft (usually 10-15 mins from scratch)
  • Blend until smooth, then return to the pan.
  • Adjust seasoning and gently reheat to serve.