The Happy Starfish

Living Mindfully & Celebrating Health, Happiness & Peaceful Living


Super sprouting

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“If you don’t look after your body; where are you going to live?”

I often talk to people who really want to improve their diet and overall health but genuinely can’t afford to spend more than they already are on their weekly grocery bill, which sometimes in this economic climate, is next to nothing.

Sprouting is something I often recommend. A sprout is the transitional stage between seed and plant. For very little expenditure and effort sprouted pluses, nuts and grains are nutritious, fresh, tasty and, I believe, one of the most underestimated foods available to us today.

With virtually zero effort, no preparation or cooking they are the ideal food for a busy lifestyle. Grown in your own home they are a clean safe food eaten raw, ensuring nothing is destroyed or altered in the cooking process.

Grains are the staple diet of much of the world’s population, generally ground, baked or boiled making it difficult to extract the nutrients as these processes damage the food.

Our digestive systems are not equipped to digest raw grains and pulses, of which many contain enzyme inhibitors that interfere with our digestion. Enzyme inhibitors are there to prevent seeds sprouting prematurely and can cause us headaches, stomach pains and gas, but are destroyed during the cooking process.

To sprout a seed and then consume it is a totally natural form of eating, great for your overall health. Try it and watch your energy levels shoot up and your hair, skin and nails improve.

What to sprout – There are so many to choose from! My personal favourites are; Alfalfa (contains alkaline protein, vitamins B & E, unsaturated fatty acids and calcium). Mung (amino acids, iron, potassium and vitamin C). Aduki (Vitamin C, iron and amino acids). Sunflower (vitamin B, E, amino acids, calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium and potassium). Have a look around your local health food store – there are plenty on offer.

Equipment – You can buy sprouting jars, alternatively any large glass jars with a neck large enough to fit your hand inside is sufficient if you cover the top with muslin or nylon mesh and secure with a rubber band or string. Sprouting jars will come with a stand which allows them to drain at 45O, if you using a regular jar be sure to have some place to prop them against.

Method – Place the required amount of seed in the jar and half fill with water. Cover the jar with cloth or screw on lid if using a sprouting jar. Leave to soak for the required length of time (each seed is different and instructions should be on bag). Drain the water off and wash thoroughly. Drain at a 45 degree angle for 2 minutes.

Place the somewhere not too warm or bright (they will dry out too much) to grow. Sprouts do well in the temperature and humidity which suits us best.

Rinse and drain sprouts once a day for the next two to five days until they are sprouting and ready to eat.

How to eat – Can be added to salads, as a garnish, sandwiches, finger snacks, soups, casseroles, on crackers, stir fry, juices.

Experiment and have some fun with it. Happy sprouting.

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Chia seed puddings

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Chia seeds are insanely good for you. They come from the desert plant Salvia hispanics and are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, protein and minerals. Recent research suggest that regular consumption of chia may low cholesterol and blood pressure.

I sprinkle chia over my breakfast every day.

This chocolate chia dessert feels really indulgent and is really easy to make. Chia is very filling so I get 4 desserts out of this recipe.

To make a traditional chocolate chia pudding mix 1 1/4 cups of the milk of your choice (I use my homemade almond milk) with 1/4 cup chia seeds and 2 tablespoons cacao powder and 1 tablespoon of sweetener (I use agave nectar). Give it a good mix and place in the fridge for a minimum of an hour to set (extra yummy if you leave overnight). That will give you a dessert that looks like this: –

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However, some people do liken the texture to eating tadpoles! I like my dessert a little smoother and thicker so before eating I blend with a banana which will give you something that looks like this.

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I top mine with grated homemade chocolate.

If you wish you can omit the chocolate and add some vanilla bean paste. I love this version with chopped up fruit.

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Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Quinoa, tomato and ginger soup

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Quinoa is said to be the only plant food that contains all 9 essential amino acids, putting it on a par with animal proteins. It is completely gluten free and really easy to cook. I do find it a little bland plain so am always looking for easy to pep it up like in this gorgeous (and healthy) soup. I usually double the quantities as I freeze a batch.

 

Small onion

2 cm fresh root ginger

1 tsp ground turmeric

2 tsp cumin seeds

400g canned tomatoes (can use fresh if prefer)

2 tsp tamarind paste

70g red quinoa, rinsed

225 ml vegetable stock

4 tbs fresh coriander

 

Heat choice of butter or oil (I use coconut oil) in a pan and fry the onion until translucent.

Add ginger, turmeric, 1/4 teaspoon of cumin seeds*, season if you wish and cook for 1 minute.

Sir in tomatoes, tamarind paste, quinoa and stock. Bring to boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 25 minutes stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat, stir in the coriander** and leave to stand, covered, for 10 minutes.

Fry remaining cumin seeds for a few seconds, swirl into soup and serve.

 

(*I have, in the past, used powered cumin instead and added at step 2 and then omitted final step. **You could also add powered coriander at step 3 if you don’t have fresh).

 


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Crunchy Sweet Potato Strips

With a 7oz serving of sweet potatoes containing 65% of the daily recommended vitamin c as well as being rich in calcium, folate, potassium and beta carotene they are the most nutritionally rich vegetables around.

For a quick and simple snack I peel strips with a potato peeler, lightly spray with oil (I prefer coconut) and sprinkle with sea salt. I bake in a medium oven for approximately 8-10 minutes, turning once.

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Crunchy and delicious – the kids love them too.

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The sad loss of Polly Noble

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I was really sad today to learn of the death of Polly Noble, a true kick-ass lady.

Polly has bravely fought her battle with cancer publicly inspiring thousands through her book, website and appearances.

A true advocate for living healthily, fearlessly and appreciating each and every day Polly will be truly missed.

I was privileged to get to interview Polly and admired the way she used nutrition and meditation to face her illness head on.

While I can make no sense of the loss of such a young woman I trust she is at peace now.


Cashew nut cheese with fresh salsa

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My husband and I love to sit down with a snack once the kids are in bed and this is one of our favourites. Packed full of vitamins, minerals and protein, the tangy salsa accompanies the creamy cheese perfectly.

For the cashew cheese blend the ingredients for about 5 minutes until smooth and creamy (yes it’s that simple). (Store any leftovers in the fridge).

6 oz cashew nuts

75 ml olive oil

75 ml water

1 tablespoon tahini

1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

Juice of 1 lime

For the salsa place one, deseeded red pepper in blender and lightly pulse (or finely chop). Pour into a bowl. Lightly blend a handful of cherry tomatoes. Add to peppers and add 2 tablespoons of corn, a sprinkle of chilli flakes and 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar. Season to taste and give a good mix.


Oh Spirulina, you smell so bad (and taste even worse)

Spirulina, a highly nutritious micro salt plant, is ridiculously good for you. A complete protein containing all the essential amino acids, it also contains a range of vitamins and minerals. This super food has many potential health benefits including boosting the immune system and energy levels, improving digestion, controlling appetite, it supports the vital organs and, due to the chlorophyll, it is a great all round detoxer.

To aid my health condition I have taken spirulina supplements regularly due to the high levels of the essential fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA) which is proven to reduce inflammation and the iron and B vitamins help combat my fatigue.

Last time I decided to have a change from capsules and bought some powder to add to my raw juice each day. I was chatting to my son as I opened the packet and he visibly recoiled as the smell came wafting out. “Mum, you’ve taken health too far” he said as he slowly backed away. Sniffing the contents I had to agree he had a point.

The first time I added it to my juice didn’t go well. It wasn’t entirely the taste (although that was bad enough) but the stench turned my stomach every time I took a sip.

Now braver people than I may be able to add this to water and knock it back but not me so I set off on a quest to make it more palatable.

There are a myriad of recipes online all claiming to make spirulina more palatable and I have tried many. I couldn’t find one which masked the smell and I found them hard to tolerate. When it came to juices the only way I found to tone down the taste was to add 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar.

Next I decided to add to food. I tried David Wolfe’s spirulina and chocolate ball recipe.

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¼ cup hempseed
½ cup raw cacao powder
1-2 tbsp spirulina
3 tbsp virgin coconut oil
2 tbsp raw honey
1 pinch sea salt

You mix all ingredients together, roll into balls and freeze for 15 minutes. You can eat straight from the freezer.

My husband liked these but I could still taste the spirulina, although I couldn’t smell it anymore. (it is worth noting that different brands have slightly different taste and smells so it is worth shopping around to find a brand that suits you).

As a last ditch attempt before I added the powered to empty vegetarian capsules I thought I would try a smoothie. I blended almond milk with a handful of frozen berries, 2 tsp spirulina, 2 tsp cacao powder, 2 tsp flax seeds and 1 tsp agave nectar. Success – it tastes (and smells) fantastic.

I would love to know of your spirulina experiences.

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