Thursday, January 22, 2015

Sprouting Seeds for Fresh, Year-Round Goodness

Mung beans and sunflower seeds sprouting in the Hub kitchen

One way eat fresh local veggies year-round is to sprout seeds.  Sprouting seeds is the simple, quick and cheap.  Because of our need for these fresh "live" foods and the enzymes and healing properties these foods contain, it is encouraged that a variety of sprouting seeds be a part of every diet. These would include wheat and other grains, lentils, peas, beans, and small seeds like alfalfa, clover, radish, cabbage, broccoli, sunflower, etc.  It’s easy! 

We really enjoy the succulence of mung bean sprouts in stir fries and ramen noodles, and the spicy flavor of radish sprouts to liven up sandwiches.  You can purchase small amounts of seeds, beans and nuts in the bulk bins of our local grocery stores, and experiment to see which sprouts you like best in your household!

Supplies needed:
Sprouting containers. Use wide mouth quart jars for alfalfa and other small leafy greens; trays for beans and wheatgrass, as well as buckwheat or sunflower "lettuce."
*the Hub Tool Share has sprouting jars available to check out! 
Sprouting lids. (available at health food or preparedness stores), create your own out of cheese cloth or a piece of fiberglass screen to cover jar opening. (In dry climates, a piece of nylon stocking works well.)
Sprouting seeds. Any seed capable of growing into a plant will sprout.

Ready, Set, GO!
1. Sort and soak dry seeds. All seeds should be sorted, removing broken seeds and small pieces of debris. Place in a quart jar. Place sprouting lid or fabric (see suggestions above) over the top of the jar. If using fabric, secure with a jar ring or wide elastic band. Rinse seeds well, then pour off water and add soaking water-twice as much water as you have seeds. (Because of the excess salt in softened water, and the chlorine in city water, it is best to use purified water for soaking and rinsing.)
2. After soaking, pour off water and drain well. Whether you leave seeds in the jar or transfer to a tray, tipping the container slightly will help seeds drain better. Most failures at sprouting occur because seeds are not drained properly. (After soaking beans, pour onto sprouting tray and remove any seeds that have not expanded and are still hard; they will not sprout.) When no water drips from sprouts, roll jar so that most seeds coat sides of jar. To sprout in trays, spread seeds evenly, drain well, and cover with a lid or cloth to retain moisture and keep out light. Move to a warm (about 70°F) place and rinse with lukewarm water 2 times a day (or just often enough to keep moist, for small seeds like alfalfa) until sprouts have reached the desired length.
3. Harvesting. Any seed CAN be eaten when the sprout has pushed through the outer shell of the seed. Most grains, beans and larger seeds are best when the sprout is as long as the seed. For instructions on growing "lettuce," wheat grass, and long, fat bean sprouts, see Natural Meals in Minutes, pp. 84-85.
4. "Greening." When leaves have appeared on small seeds like alfalfa, and sprouts are about 1" long, place jar in a light place (not in direct sunlight) to "green" for 3-4 hours, allowing the chlorophyll to develop.

Store sprouted seeds in a covered container with paper toweling on the bottom and between layers. Use within 4-5 days. Sprouted beans and grains can be frozen for later use. Mung and soy beans that are sprouted to about 2" long turn limp when thawed, but can still be used in cooking. I put 2-cup portions of sprouted grains or legumes in quart zip-loc bags, force out excess air, then stack flattened bags in the freezer where they store well for 1-2 months.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Warm up your kitchen--bake bread!

Last week's single digit temperatures didn't phase us in the Hub Kitchen. With the ovens cranked up to 450F, and the classroom filled to capacity with eager bakers, we were plenty toasty all afternoon.

Our Guest Chef Alex Chambers shared his enthusiasm and know how for handling wet dough, and how to work sourdough bread baking into your weekly routine. We focused on slow-ferment, wet dough because it is easier to schedule around, doesn't required kneading, and delivers excellent flavor and texture (no-knead bread recipe). While it is very forgiving and great for beginners, the wet dough can be hard to handle and difficult to get used to, so we provided hands-on exposure.
After shaping and proofing, we popped our loaves into a hot oven, with a baking stone and a shallow pan of steam (for a crispy crust, and extra oven-spring).

Most of us imagine lengthy kneading sessions when we think of making yeast breads, and since kneading can be such a pleasurable part of bread baking, we offered that experience as well, along with recipes for traditional, enriched sandwich bread.

Our multi generational group enjoyed tasty samples, great conversation and each took home a warm, hand-crafted loaf of bread.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

It's Fun and Frugal to Find Free Food

Often in the Youth Garden program, students will harvest & cook whole food snacks such as Kale chips, roasted veggies such as beets, parsnips and sweet potato.

Last Wednesday students from the MHC’s youth garden program prepared a meal using some of the sweet potatoes and kale they grew in the garden. As they prepared the food we talked about the differences between whole foods, minimally processed foods and overly processed foods. The students were asked to figure out how many whole foods they used to prepare the meal verses processed foods they used. The hope was that students would experience a tasty meal and recognize that eating whole foods actually taste great. Last we asked the students, “Why they thought it was important to eat more whole foods (real food) and less processed? The students soon began to share answer they had learned from previous weeks, “whole foods have more nutrients in them,” “whole foods give your body energy,”  “our bodies work harder to break down the processed foods,” and last, “processed food will not give you energy that lasts, but whole food will.”

As the students sat down to enjoy the meal they had prepared each student shared the things they were thankful for.  Several students included garden club, the garden and their worm bin to their list of thanksgivings.

The meal was a complete success! Everyone enjoyed all that was prepared with the exception of one student who said he doesn’t like anything that taste like tacos, but he liked everything else. Our meal consisted of Humus Tacos, baked sweet potato fries, Kale chips and an oatmeal apple crisp for desert. Look below for the recipes!

Terms they learned:

Whole food= A fresh grown or raised food that hasn’t been changed from its original form.
Example; Fresh vegetables, fruits, grains such as oats, and rye, eggs

Minimally processed food=a fresh food which has been changed or added to in order to preserve naturally
Examples; butter, milk, whole grain bread (debatable), organic yogurt, juices, cheese

Overly processed food= foods which have been changed a lot from their original form before they are cooked, or foods that have added chemicals or artificial ingredients.
Examples: cereal, most breads, crackers, frozen pizza, boxed mac and cheese, fruit roll ups, frozen prepared meals, fast foods

How many whole foods can you identify in our menu?

Taco Hummus

 Taco Seasoning Mix (spices, herbs and salt)
15oz Chickpeas
2 Teaspoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 Tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
¼ cup crumbled queso fresco cheese

1.     Drain chickpeas, reserving liquid. In blender or food processor, place chickpeas, oil, lemon juice, Garlic and remaining 1 tablespoon taco seasoning mix and cilantro (optional).
2.     Cover; blend until smooth. Add reserved chickpea liquid, 1 teaspoon at a time, until desired consistency.
3.     Spoon humus into corn or flour tortilla, add a sprinkle of cheese and serve cold or warmed.
4.     Toppings idea’s (salsa, spinach, lettuce, tomato
5.     This dish is also nice as a dip with tortilla chips or in a quesadilla.

Sweet Potato Oven Fries

 3 large sweet Potatoes (peeled)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
¼ Teaspoon salt
1 Pinch of Black Pepper

Preheat oven to 400. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Peel sweet potatoes and slice into thin fries. Toss oil, salt and pepper in fries and mix well. Place fries in a single layer on cookie sheet and bake 20 to 25 min. or until fries reach desired crispiness. 

Cooking Kale chips

1 bunch Kale
1 Tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon season salt or regular salt

1.     Wash and spin Kale
2.     Line cookie sheet with parchment paper
3.     Tear Kale into small pieces, remove stems
4.     Sprinkle olive oil and salt over kale and toss to evenly coat
5.     Bake on 350 until edges are browning (10 min.)

As tasty as an apple pie, but much easier to make, and lighter in calories.

4 cooking apples, such as Granny Smith (or use 2 cups of frozen apple slices)
1/8 cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
A pinch of nutmeg

1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (or half whole wheat)
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
A pinch of salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup uncooked “old-fashioned” oatmeal
¼ cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 375° F. Peel and thinly slice the apples. If using frozen apples, don’t defrost. Mix them with the granulated sugar and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon. Spoon them into a 9-inch pie plate and press them flat. Mix the flour, brown sugar salt, and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or 2 knifes until the consistency of cornmeal. Stir in the oatmeal and walnuts. Sprinkle the topping over the apples; press into a flat layer. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the topping is brown and the apples are tender. Serve warm or at room temperature.