Archive for June, 2010

Sprouts & All Things Green At Union Square!

This morning I took a trip to the Union Square farmer’s market to visit my favorite vendor Windfall Farms from Montgomery, NY. Windfall Farms specializes in organically grown specialty greens, micro greens and sprouts and is where many of the top chefs go to shop!

My daughter and I just love going first thing on a beautiful Saturday morning and picking out gorgeous produce that is in season and supporting our local farmers! Today I was on a mission to buy sprouts!

Before you snub your nose at sprouts, they are not just bland hippie food of years past! Sprouts have been around for thousands of years and were originally used by Ancient Chinese physicians who prescribed them to cure many disorders over 5,000 years ago. In the 1700’s, it is recorded that Captain James Cook even had his sailors eat them to prevent scurvy!

Sprouts are a live, nutrient-packed “superfood“! They are literally baby plants that sprout from seeds, and contain all the nutrients they need to grow to maturity. In contrast to other vegetables that are cut out of the ground and shipped to you or your local grocery store, sprouts are still living and are bursting with life. As a result, they are much more nutrient rich and full of live enzymes!

What type of sprouts can I find?
Sprouts can come from alfalfa, sunflower, broccoli, peas, adzuki, soy beans, lentils, quinoa, mung bean, radishes, barley, clover, wheatberries and many other seeds but sunflower, alfalfa and broccoli are probably the most common! The brand Sproutman has many varieties that are stocked on the shelves but some stores also sell locally produced ones as well.

My current favorite to buy at the store is a crunchy mixture of lentils, peas and adzuki that I add to my salads to provide a nut-like crunch and added nutrition. Today, I bought the pea and broccoli sprouts to add to salads and some for a wrap for lunch!

How do I use sprouts?
Sprouts can be used on salads, on sandwiches, in soups, in breads or even in juices! I put sprouts on all of my salads and sandwiches and always try to add them to my juices. It is also very easy to buy “sprouted grain” breads, tortillas and even pastas. When you see the label “sprouted grains” on the packaging, it literally means that those grains were soaked and then sprouted before being ground up to make the flour. Ezekiel is one of my favorite brands of breads, bagels, tortillas and pastas but there are many others!

Where do I buy sprouts?
Really anywhere! You can buy sprouts at your local health food store and probably the more common varieties at the regular grocery store. My favorite brand, aside from the ones directly from a local farmer, are from Sproutman. If you live in New York City, though, it is worth the trip down to the Union Square farmer’s market on a Wednesday or Saturday to buy them from Windfall Farms, who carries an incredible variety of sprouts and other specialty micro-greens used by some of the finest restaurants in the city! I have to admit that with all the variety and high-quality of sprouts at hand here in New York, that I buy mine but if you are inclined to grow them and have a green thumb, it is very easy to do!!!

How do I grow them?
I know you are probably saying, “really, who has the time,” but sprouts are easy to grow at home and kids love, love, love to watch these grow and it is like a big science project in your home. Also, growing sprouts requires very little “equipment!” All you need are some good-quality seeds (I recommend the Sproutman seeds) and a seed bag or even a colander and you are all set. If you are eating or juicing a lot of sprouts and need to make large quantities, there is an impressive sprouting machine by Tribest. My suggestion is that, if you are just starting out, that you go with the sprouting bags and seeds.

How do I get started?
Your first step would be to purchase some high-quality seeds and decide whether you are going to go the collander, sprout bag or sprouter route. Sproutman carries very high quality seeds but you can also easily find other brands. Then, soak 1 cup of seeds for 6-8 hours in pure water and, after you rinse them, either place them in the sprouting bag and hang the bag over a sink or bowl and let them drain or place them in a collander over a bowl. Rinse the seeds either in the bag or collander for at least 30 seconds twice a day. When they have sprouted, take them out and store them in a glass container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

When I travel on the airplane or even in the car, I always carry my sprouts with me to add to salads. Even a bland fast food salad can be made into a nutritious meal by sprinkling a few on top!

Click here for a list of farmer’s markets in the New York City area. Here is one of my favorite, easy recipes to make when my husband is working late or I want a portable lunch!

Avocado Nori Rolls
4 nori seaweed sheets
2 avocados
1 carrot (shaved)
Diced roma tomato
1/4 cucumber (thinly shaved)
Sunflower, broccoli, or alfalfa sprouts (or your other favorite sprouts!)
Nama Shoyu or Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids (for dipping)

Take a nori sheet and place sliced avocado down the middle. Place a few thin slices of cucumber, the shaved carrot, the diced tomato on top and then your favorite sprouts on top and roll up tightly. I always like to double up the nori sheets and use 2 for each roll for less breakage. Another nice hint is to let the sprout tops stick out the ends to make it a bit more artistic. You can either cut the nori into rolls or just eat it as a handroll!

Got Chocolate ‘Milk?’

Want to give the kids a healthy after-school snack that is delicious and high in protein yet don’t want to give them something laden with sugar and other preservatives?

Here is my favorite kid-tested, delicious recipe for chocolate milk that is sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free and nut-free. Trust me, my two woof it down!

In the winter or on a rainy day you can heat it up for an absolutely addicting hot chocolate! Either way, hot or cold- yum!

Chocolate ‘Milk’
2 cups vanilla almond milk
2 healthy squirts of Ah Alaska
Blend and that is it!