Archive for May, 2011

Pan Roasted Shiitakes and Millet

Shiitake mushrooms are millet are, to me, a perfect match.  I haven’t exactly thought about why, but maybe it’s that the earthiness of the mushrooms is complemented by the sweetness of the millet.  Maybe it’s the slight chewiness of the mushrooms against the softness of the millet.  Maybe it’s the colors.  Who cares, really, because they are delicious together.

Both components happen to be grown in Colorado, by the way, so this is a dish that can be done with 100% local produce for most, if not all, of the year.  If you use large, very mature mushrooms, you’ll need to remove the stems, but if you get the baby ones from the Farmers’ Market, you don’t even have to trim them.  Feel free to substitute other kinds of mushrooms if you like – this is also great with a mixed bag of exotic mushrooms.  FYI – the proper way to clean a mushroom is by wiping it with a damp paper towel.  Mushrooms are porous, so if you immerse them in water, they will get water-logged.  That said, for his recipe, I give them a quick rinse and throw them immediately onto the hot pan…

  • 1/2 lb baby shiitake mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • sea salt
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 bunch leafy greens, chopped
  • 2 cups cooked millet (see this recipe for cooking instructions)
  • 2 Tablespoons good olive oil for finishing
  • Optional – a protein such as sprouted French lentils, roasted chickpeas, or grilled tempeh

Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Give the shiitakes a quick rinse and put them into the hot pan.  Sprinkle with sea salt, cover, and leave them for about 4 minutes.  Move the mushrooms to the side and pour a little olive oil into the space you created.  Add the shallots and crushed red pepper flakes and cook until the shallots are soft, then add the chopped greens and sprinkle with salt.  Spread the cooked millet on top to keep some of that steam in and cook until the greens are wilted.  Turn off the heat, stir in the mushrooms, taste, then adjust seasonings.  Top with the protein of your choice and enjoy!


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Crispy Mung Beans with Seasonal Vegetables

I’m loving these crisp mung beans with warm cooked vegetables right now with this cold and rainy weather.  Once it warms up, though, I know I’ll appreciate how quickly sprouted mung beans cook and I think I’ll be coming up with ways use them in salads, maybe in dips, etc.  This particular recipe does call for sprouting, then cooking, then sauteeing the mung beans and that might seem fussy, but it’s really not a whole lot of work on your part and you can just do the first two steps at once, then saute the mung beans with vegetables when you are ready to eat them.

I’ve been asked quite a few times lately about why I would sprout something and then cook it, thus destroying the enzymes present in the sprouted food.  Many people associate sprouting with raw foods diets, but the purpose behind sprouting actually applies to both raw and cooked foods.  Imagine a seed in its raw, unprocessed state.  It’s dormant, waiting for the proper conditions to enable it to grow.  All of its nutrients and enzymes are neatly tucked away, encapsulated in its hull.  When it’s soaked in water, it begins to soften and open up.  When you create the proper conditions for sprouting, the seed actually starts to grow and its enzymes are freed to neutralize the enzyme inhibitors and anti-nutrients that were at work to keep it dormant.  In nature, a sprouted seed has everything it needs to grow into a plant.  In our diets, all of the nutrients that were bound up prior to sprouting are made available for our bodies to utilize.  When kept raw, we get the benefit of all those enzymes to help us assimilate those nutrients.  When it’s cooked, the enzymes are destroyed and we have to call upon our own enzymes to help digest it, but it still has many more nutrients available for us to digest because it’s been through that germination process.  I believe that our bodies are fully capable of digesting both raw and cooked foods, though each individual has a different optimal ratio of cooked to raw foods which might even vary by season.  I know that I personally do better with certain foods when they are cooked, though this is much more the case in Winter than in Summer.  At the same time, I want to optimize my food for my body, so I soak and/or sprout my grains, beans, nuts, and seeds even when I am going to cook them so that all of their wonderful nutrients are spilling out before my body even needs to do any work to digest them.  I tend to keep my nuts and seeds raw, lightly steam my grains, and cook my beans until soft and this is what works best for me.  Most sprouts can be eaten raw, so you can experiment and see what works best for you.

I typically like to use split mung beans for soups, veggie pancakes, etc.  Split beans won’t sprout, though, so whole mung beans are the ones to use here.  Whereas I find the hull to be sort of unappetizing in soups, I really like how it crisps up in this recipe.  FYI – you can buy pre-sprouted and dried mung beans (as well as lentils and quinoa), and that’s great to know in a pinch, on a trip, etc.  But, do keep in mind that going that route transforms a very economical food to a much pricier one.

  • 2 cups whole mung beans
  • water for soaking
  • 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 4-5 scallions or 1 large clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into matchsticks (or throw in some leftover roasted sweet potatoes)
  • 1/2 medium head of cabbage, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium head of broccoli, stems peeled and chopped, florets chopped separately (or chopped leafy greens)
  • red pepper flakes
  • salt, to taste

To sprout the mung beans: put them in a bowl large enough for them to double in size and fill the bowl with enough clean water to cover the beans by a couple inches.  Let the beans soak overnight.  Drain the beans into a large colander, rinse well, and set them aside.  Rinse and drain the beans well every 6-8 hours until they sprout.  How long this will take depends on the temperature of the room, as well as how long you want your sprouts to be, but count on a couple days.  How much they sprout it totally up to you.  I like to keep the sprouts relatively small, about 1/2 the length of the bean, but you can taste them along the way to see how you like them best.  Once sprouted, fill a medium pot with enough water to cover the beans and bring it to a boil.  Add the beans, turn the heat down, and simmer them for about 10 minutes, or until soft.  Drain the beans well.  At this point, you can store them in the fridge until you are ready to use them.

When you are ready to eat, heat a large saute pan over medium heat, then add olive oil and the sprouted beans.  Sprinkle with salt and cook for about 5-7 minutes, or until they crisp up a little on the outside.  Move them to the side of the pan and add the scallions, carrots, cabbage, and broccoli stems.  Cook the vegetables for about 4 minutes, then add the broccoli florets, sprinkle it all with salt again, and cook until the broccoli is fork tender.  Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and salt to taste.  Enjoy!

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Raw Avocado and Cucumber Soup

This is a great soup for this time of year and throughout the Summer – it’s light and refreshing, yet so satisfying because of all those yummy good fats from the avocado.  We can actually get local greenhouse cucumbers at the Market now, which is what inspired me to make this soup.  I think I will be making it a lot once cucumbers hit my CSA.  As the herb selection at the Market grows, I can see many different twists on this soup – fresh mint, maybe tarragon, of course dill would be nice…

In terms of serving size, this recipe will make 2-4 portions, depending on what role it’s playing in your meal.  It could also make a nice salad dressing…

  • 2 ripe avocados, medium-sized
  • 2 small cucumbers
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • 1 scallion
  • 1 large lime, juiced and zested
  • a pinch to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne or chipotle powder, or to taste
  • water, as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • for garnish – chopped tomato, minced red onion and parsley or cilantro, optional

Scoop the flesh from the avocado.  Cut the cucumber into pieces.  Put the avocado, cucumber, garlic, scallion, lime juice, cayenne or chipotle powder, and salt in a blender and blend until smooth, adding small amounts of water as needed to process.  Check texture and add a bit more water if a thinner texture is desired.  Once the texture is how you like it, taste and adjust seasonings.  Garnish with chopped tomato, minced red onion and chopped parsley or cilantro.  Enjoy!

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Carrot-Ginger Dressing

I am doing a Spring cleanse and, even though I eat well normally, I’m having to come up with some new ideas and change some habits.  Normally, I saute or roast my veggies in olive oil and, with a little salt, that makes me really happy.  This cleanse requires that only olive oil or flax oils are used, which is fine, but they have to be raw.  Makes perfect sense, as oils are much healthier uncooked and, in fact, flax oil should not be cooked under any circumstances.  But, it’s going to require a change in my vegetable-cooking routine.  Fortunately, great things come from changes in routine, even if they are hard.  If we hadn’t taken gluten out of Ethan’s diet (and, by extension, mine), we may not have discovered yummy things like popped amaranth, teff, and sprouted buckwheat and we probably wouldn’t have been as creative with quinoa and millet either.  In fact, I probably wouldn’t have ever started my business and I am so glad that I did.

So, anyway, I worried that I would get a little bored with plain steamed vegetables for seven days.  Don’t get me wrong, steamed vegetables are delicious, but, just the same, I worried about it.  The perfect solution – sauces.  This one is quite simple and is delicious served over quinoa, steamed cauliflower, and chard with some chopped almonds on top.  It would also make a nice salad dressing.  You can add herbs or spices if you wish, or just enjoy it as it is.  This recipe makes 1/2-1 cup, depending on the amount of water used.

  • 2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 teaspoons grated ginger, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon chopped shallot, optional
  • 1-2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • water, as needed
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Place all ingredients in a blender and puree until very smooth, adding water as needed to process and to get the consistency you want.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Drizzle over cooked grains and steamed vegetables, over a green salad, or whatever you wish.  Enjoy!

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