Thursday, December 18, 2014

Nuts, Grains and Beans, Oh, My!

Nuts, grains and beans are packed with healthy fats, protein and minerals, but to get that all good stuff assimilated into your body, it is recommended that you prepare them by soaking them. See, nuts, legumes and seeds contain phytic acids and enzyme inhibitors to keep them from sprouting until nature delivers the sun and rain that they need to grow. Have you heard people, maybe even yourself, say “nuts or beans are hard on my stomach”? Well, enzyme inhibitors/phytic acids are the reason. By soaking, enzyme inhibitors are neutralized, the beneficial enzymes are activated and the vitamin content increases. Soaking makes seeds, nuts and legumes easier to digest and the nutrients more easily absorbed. The process helps to alkalize the body. Why is this important? Bacteria and disease don't seem to flourish in alkaline environments. When nuts are soaked or sprouted, their pH increases, which makes them more alkaline and in turn can be a part of an alkaline-rich diet that takes your body from more of an acidic state (think inflammation), to an alkaline state. The process helps to alkalize the body.

How to use? It depends on what sprout we’re talking about and how to use it but in general I love adding fresh sprouts to salads, sandwiches, smoothies, or as a snack.

Sprout seeds: With sprouting seeds such as alfalfa/broccoli/mung bean/clover sprouts I use these mostly in salads and sandwiches because they’re much lighter in texture and mesh really well.
Grains: With grains such as sprouted quinoa or buckwheat I love making cereals, granolas, or desserts with them.
Legumes: With beans/legumes, I’ll cook them after sprouting or steam them and enjoy them just as you would cooking them without the soaking/sprouting process.
Nuts/seeds: With nuts and seeds I enjoy these soaked using them in homemade nut milks, or sprouted and dehydrated for a crunchy snack and cinnamon to them.

Guide To Soaking and Sprouting

STEP 1, SOAK // In a large glass mason jar, pour your seed/grain/legume along with enough water to cover completely with an each or two above. The measurement of water doesn’t matter here, it’s only for soaking purposes.

Where to buy: If you’re looking for sprout seeds (alfalfa, broccoli, mung, etc.), check out your local health food store (such as Whole Foods) or online retailers.

STEP 2, WAIT // Let the nut/seed/grain/legume soak for the given time. Soaking and sprouting times differ amongst each grain, seed, nut, or legume. Refer to chart above on specific times.

STEP 3, RINSE // Follow the soaking process with thorough rinsing. Rinse the water until it becomes clear, pour the old water out, fill with new clean water and repeat until clear. If you’re using a sprouting jar this is incredibly easy because you just pour water through the mesh lid and rinse as well- no needed to use a strainer. If you’re using a strainer simply rinse water on top and pay close attention for the water to become clear.

The process can stop here for most nuts/seeds and grains as they can be used just soaked and not sprouted. For example, making your own nut milks from the soaked nuts/seeds is perfect. Also, if you want to cook immediately your soaked grains and legumes, you can do so. Another option is to continue to STEP 4 with nuts/seeds/grains/legumes and sprout them, dehydrate, and then enjoy.

STEP 4, SPROUT // Refer to the soak/sprouting chart above for the times on how long it will take each nut/seed/grain/legume to sprout as they all differ. Essentially what you will be doing for this sprouting time is rinsing with filtered water several times/day- think of it as “watering” a plant (do this at least twice/day). The goal is to rinse the nut/seed/grain/legume and drain the rest of the water off (I do this by putting my sprouting jar upside down at about a 45 degree angle in my kitchen dish drying rack, it’s perfect because all the excess water goes right down the sink and gives the seeds enough air circulation to grow!

STEP 5, GROW // As the nut/seed/grain/legume starts to sprout, you’ll notice tiny “tail” coming from the seed, this mean it’s growing and sprouting! Sprouting times can vary from 1-4 days, you’ll know it’s finished when the seeds have a tail or they’ve sprouted greens!

STEP 6, STORE // Keep sprouts fresh in the fridge by wrapping them in a mesh cheesecloth and use within 3-4 days.

Note: sprouts are at risk for contamination with food illnesses and bacteria such as e. coli. This can simply be avoided by keeping your kitchen clean, jars cleaned, hands washed, and purchasing organic seeds/nuts/grains/legumes. I’ve been sprouting almost weekly for the past 8 years and I’ve never had an issue. Just make sure you consume them fresh out of the fridge and within 3-4 days.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Holiday Cheer, Not Fear

This blog was inspired by the need for my patients to have a special holiday plan during the month of December so they stay on track with their nutritional recommendations and not fear the holiday season with all the extra sweets around. The holiday season is the hardest time of the year to stay on track with holiday parties, extra holiday treats at the office, and the holiday desserts we think we must have when we celebrate. We justify one cheat that throughout the month turns into a month of cheating and weight gain. With a little extra thoughtfulness both can be avoided.

1) Have snacks around

You never know when your coworkers are going to bring in something to the office that looks irresistible and you know you shouldn't have it. Worse yet, when you are starving and so will power takes a back seat. Or if your spouse brings home leftovers. It's best to have snacks around at the office or home that are part of your diet and you enjoy. This way you have a back up plan so when you are hungry you don't reach for whatever is around or when there is something hard to resist you have a better chance of resisting it with a replacement option.

2) Plan ahead

Besides planning snacks ahead of time it is a good idea when going to any holiday gathering where there is going to be food you bring your own dish. It always looks thoughtful for you to bring something and this way you know there is going to be at least one thing there that you can eat. This also brings the temptation down to cheat.  You can also eat before going to a party.  Being full creates less temptation at the party.

3) Be creative

We all have childhood memories around the holidays of having special treats. Whether it was a certain cookie, pie, or main dish the emotional connection makes it extra hard to resist so the best thing to do is if it has ingredients that you aren't supposed to have to again plan ahead and find a recipe that does work. There are so many alternative healthy recipes at the click of a button when you Google. Substitute apple sauce for eggs, coconut sugar for white refined sugar, and almond flour for regular flour. You don't have to figure it out yourself just Google a healthier recipe. And if you have any questions about a new recipe feel free to ask me! You can still have your favorite holiday treat, just a healthier version.

With these three steps the holidays can actually be more enjoyable because you aren't feeling the aftermath of eating poorly or the weight gain either. Enjoy the season, for health is wealth!