One of the many things we love about summer is the abundant sunshine giving us that natural vitamin D and feel good vibes. So we thought what better way to enjoy the sunshine than to use it in a recipe this week - sound crazy? Though you can't actually consume sunshine (imagine!) you can use it for brewing tea without turning on your stove burners, a definite plus on a hot summer day. Sun tea is a simple and fun favorite of ours but we obviously had to give it a special twist in our recipe this week.
Fresh lemongrass from our garden added an extra pop of flavor and excitement to this simple recipe. The lemongrass plant turned out to be surprisingly hearty and grow well in our Chicago summer climate. From our abundant crop we used a few stalks in this sun tea with great results. Lemongrass, as the name suggests, has a lemon flavor though is slightly spicier than the lemon citrus fruit. Lemongrass is considered a tropical herb and used commonly in Asian cuisine. In addition to culinary uses, lemongrass leaves and oil are used medicinally for a variety of ailments including digestive issues, pain (headache, abdominal and muscle pain), and fever/colds. It is believed that lemongrass may prevent the growth of certain bacteria and yeast and contain substances that help to relieve pain contributing to its medicinal benefits. We most enjoy lemongrass as a unique citrus/spicy flavor option in recipes and for its decorative uses - both qualities highlighted by this recipe!
Minty Green and Lemongrass Sun Tea with Ginger
Prep Time: 3 minutes + 8-12 hours brewing time
Total Time: 8-12 hours
4 mint green tea bags or 4 Tbsp loose mint green tea
4 cups room temperature water
4 stalks fresh lemongrass (base of the stalks crushed)
4 ginger ice cubes or 4 oz fresh ginger juice (recipe here)
Juice of 1 large or 2 small lemons
In a large glass pitcher place tea bags, crushed lemongrass stalks, and cover with 4 cups room temperature water. Place a clean towel or cheese cloth over the top of the jar and allow the tea to steep in a sunny window for at least 8-12 hours. Remove the tea bags and lemongrass stalks from the jar after brewing. Pour tea over ice and add one ginger ice cube, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and a lemongrass stir stick!
That's it friends, super simple but so refreshing. And fun to imagine that you're actually bottling that gorgeous sunshine - hey we can dream right? Sun tea is easily adaptable to any tea and fresh ingredients you have on hand as long as you have a sunny spot for brewing! This batch tastes bright and slightly tart from the green tea and ginger which are balanced perfectly by the fresh and spicy lemongrass.
Jess and Cecelia
Hey there friends! You know we couldn't let a summer season pass us by without pulling out our spiralizer. The summer is the perfect time to experiment with alternate and lighter "noodle" options. We were inspired by broccoli this summer and the idea of using the entire plant - and boy we did! A little less common than the famous zucchini noodle (previous post here) though just as good. So get out your spiralizer that may or may not have been hiding away in your cupboard and join us!
For this recipe we used ALL of the fresh, organic broccoli that we purchased at our local farmers market. Even more of a plus if you are purchasing broccoli by the pound - you are paying for that stalk so use it! The stalks we spiralized into broccoli noodles (boodles?) with success, though it was slightly trickier than spiralizing zucchini. We looked for broccoli with large, wide stalks to maximize the boodle outcome. If you have a spiralizer with multiple settings, we found the boodles to be good at any thickness though we used the larger noddle setting. The boodles did tend to break into smaller pieces unlike zucchini noodles which can get very long without breaking. This was due to variations in shape of the broccoli stalk that is different than a zucchini. The broccoli florets we chopped and cooked as usual though we also used the small leaves that can be found nestled between the florets. The leaves are small and tender, cook down well, and taste very similar to dark leafy greens. So no need to create broccoli waste again! The whole plant can be eaten and enjoyed with this recipe.
Broccoli Florets, Leaves, and Noodles with Walnuts and Roasted Garlic
PREP TIME: 45 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 50 minutes
1 head garlic
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 stalks of broccoli with florets and leaves
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 head roasted garlic cloves
1 cup roasted walnut pieces
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4-1/2 cup water
1-2 oz Parmesan cheese, shaved (or other salty hard cheese)
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
To roast garlic, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice garlic in half and drizzle with 1-2 tsp olive oil then place in a garlic roaster (or loosely wrapped in tinfoil) and roast for 45 minutes.
Wash broccoli and cut florets and leaves from the stalks and set aside. Try to cut high on the stalk to preserve as much stalk as possible for spiralizing. Use a spiralizer with the medium noodle attachment to make broccoli "noodles" with the broccoli stalks then set aside. In a medium-large sauté pan add 2 Tbsp olive oil and diced onion and sauté for 20-25 minutes or until the onion is golden. Add broccoli florets, broccoli leaves, and peeled roasted garlic cloves to the pan along with 1/4 cup dry white wine and 1/4 cup water. Place a lid over the pan, reduced to a simmer, and cook for 5-7 minutes or until broccoli is tender. Remove from heat and add broccoli "noodles", roasted walnuts, shaved Parmesan cheese, and lemon juice and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine all flavors then serve immediately.
*This dish does change color as it sits (lemon juice reacting with chlorophyll in the broccoli - food science!), so for the best texture and presentation we recommend eating this noodle dish right away!
That's all there is to it. Grab a couple stalks of broccoli and a few simple ingredients and you have a whole dish! This recipe has a great mix of texture from the different forms of broccoli - crunchy boodles and softer florets - and a unique array of flavors from earthy broccoli leaves to sweet caramelized onions and roasted garlic. Your summer dinner solution is here.
Jess and Cecelia
Okay, okay, we know - bananas aren't technically a seasonal summer fruit - but we've just had such a craving lately! Maybe it's the warm breezes and lazy summer days reminding us of vacations to tropical places where bananas actually are seasonal. But either way, this recipe is amazing! We did some experimenting with a new cooking method and have some lessons learned to share. Because hey, not every experiment goes 100% accordingly to plan, are we right?
This week we attempted to flambe to create a version of bananas foster. Bananas foster is a dessert created in the mid 1900's in New Orleans containing caramelized banana in a sugary butter sauce and topped with vanilla ice cream. To develop flavor, and for some extra flair, the flambe technique is used. Flambe is French for "flaming" or "flamed" and is essentially the process of lighting alcohol on fire during the cooking process. This technique imparts the flavor of the liquor to the food and allows the alcohol to burn off quickly. And of course it looks super impressive. We unfortunately did not achieve a true flambe and got the alcohol to ignite only very briefly. The alcohol from the rum still simmered off after a few minutes and the bananas tasted great, though we just had to search ways to troubleshoot the flambe method for next time. Here's what we found:
-Use a hard alcohol higher than 80 proof (no beer, wine, etc.)
-Liquor should be warmed slowly but not boiling prior to adding to the pan to flambe
-Cooking pan and contents should be very hot
-Pour warmed liquor slowly into the hot pan and attempt to light immediately
-Attempt to light the fumes at the edge of the pan and not the liquid itself
-Use a long match or barbecue lighter and have a pan lid handy to extinguish the flame if needed
As we attempt again and learn more we will update these flambe tips and tricks but hopefully this is enough to get you started. Though flambe or not, this recipe still works - time to get to it!
Coconut Bananas Foster Coffee Popsicles
PREP TIME: 15 minutes + 4-6 hour chill time
TOTAL TIME: 15 minutes + 4-6 hours chill time
Servings: 6 popsicles
2 very ripe bananas
1 Tbsp salted butter
1 1/2 tsp pure maple syrup
Sprinkle of cinnamon
1/4 cup dark rum
1 1/4 cup canned full fat coconut milk
Coffee Simple Syrup
4 Tbsp strong brewed coffee
4 Tbsp cane sugar
In a medium sauté pan set to medium/low heat melt the butter then mix in the maple syrup and cinnamon and stir to combine. Peel and cut the bananas in half lengthwise and place flat side down in the pan with the melted butter mixture. Cook bananas for 2-3 minutes on each side then add the dark rum to the pan. Use a long match or lighter to carefully light the fumes of the alcohol at the edge of the pan, not the liquor itself, to flambe. Be prepared for a whoosh and a bright flame to appear in the pan. If you do not see a flame, this could be due to the food/pan not being hot enough but don't worry! Instead allow the mixture to simmer for 2-3 more minutes until the alcohol (and most of the liquid) evaporates off. Remove the pan from heat and allow bananas to cool slightly before adding to a blender. Pour any remaining liquid and scrape any caramelized pieces from the bottom of the pan into the blender. Add coconut milk and puree on high speed for 1-2 minutes.
To make the coffee simple syrup, add brewed coffee and cane sugar to a small sauce pan over medium heat. Stir continuously until the mixture is simmering and the sugar has dissolved. Continue stirring until the mixture thickens (about 2-3 minutes) and will stick to the back of a spoon. Remove pan from heat.
Next pour banana coconut puree into popsicle molds to halfway full. Spoon one teaspoon of coffee simple syrup into each popsicle mold and swirl with a long, thin utensil (we used a skewer) to incorporate the coffee simple syrup throughout the banana coconut puree. Fill popsicle molds the rest of the way with the banana coconut puree and again add one teaspoon of coffee simple syrup to each pop and swirl to combine.
Insert popsicle sticks and allow popsicles to freeze for at least 4-6 hours. Run popsicle molds under warm water for 30-60 seconds to remove popsicles from molds.
Every moment of preparation that goes into these pops is completely worth it. The taste of the final outcome is unexpected and yet completely familiar. A rich sweetness from the caramelized banana balanced by a creamy richness from the coconut milk and finished with a hint of coffee flavor. This might truly be the answer to our summertime "ice cream" cravings.
Jess and Cecelia
Friends! It's been a while since our last recipe and we hope you've been finding some delicious ways to enjoy the bounty of the season. If you've been growing or finding fresh carrots at your local farmers market this one's for you! We found a gorgeous bunch of rainbow carrots that made this salad even that much more special, though a single color palate would be beautiful too. This recipe includes quick pickled ginger (pictured below) to add some extra pizzaz and another unique preparation to your repertoire. Homemade pickles in 60 minutes - yes please! And not to overshadow the preparation of these carrots into ribbons which are interesting to look at and even better to eat. Forget about a boring vegetable platter or garden salad - this is the recipe for your next summer gathering to savor and impress. Let's get to it!
Rainbow Ribbon Carrot Salad
Prep Time: 15 minutes + 1 hour for pickling
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes (includes 1 hour of pickling time)
Servings: 4 side salads, 2 main salads
6 large carrots
2 Tbsp quick picked ginger, minced
1 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 Tbsp sesame seeds (preferably unbleached)
1 1/2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp tahini
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp water
½ tsp honey (we used clover honey)
¼ tsp sea salt
2-3 drops toasted sesame oil
Quick Pickled Ginger
1 three-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced thin
1 red radish, sliced thin
3 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp sea salt
To make the pickled ginger, add the vinegar, sugar, and salt to a glass jar and stir until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Add the sliced ginger and one radish (for color) to the jar with the liquid and allow mixture to sit covered for at least 1 hour. Pickled ginger can be kept in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 7 days.
To make the dressing, combine olive oil, tahini, lemon juice, water, honey, sea salt, and toasted sesame oil in a bowl and whisk until combined. Dressing will keep in the fridge in an air tight container for up to 7 days.
To make the salad, wash and peel the outer skin on the carrots. Next use a vegetable peeler to shave carrots into long thin strips*. Continue this process until all 6 carrots have been shaved. Using a sharp knife, slice radishes as thin as possible (this could also be done using a mandolin on the thinnest setting). Add chopped parsley, minced pickled ginger and sesame seeds to the carrots then toss with the tahini dressing and serve immediately. If you do not plan to serve the whole salad at once, keep the dressing on the side and add just prior to serving. Undressed salad will keep in the fridge in an air tight container for up to 3 days.
*This process is similar to peeling outer carrot skins. We recommend holding carrots firmly in a clean dish towel and rotating the carrots as you shave. Once you get to the tougher center of the carrots shaving will become more difficult. When this happens you can stop and discard part of the carrots or save to enjoy as traditional carrot sticks.
As we mentioned, the texture of these carrots really brings a uniqueness to this salad - reminiscent of pasta salad but light and fresh with a satisfying crunch. The radish rounds and quick pickled ginger provide a subtle spice and the creamy tahini dressing tops it all off, literally. We hope the fresh, local produce you're finding this summer is inspiring your own kitchen creations.
Jess and Cecelia
For you tea lovers out there, this post is for you. We've got a recipe to enjoy tea (green tea powder to be exact) in muffin form and with hot or iced tea on the side if you like! Though any tea can be adapted to culinary uses, one of our favorites to experiment with is matcha powder. The bright color and flavor profile are just so unique and fun - we hope you think so too once you learn more. Read on!
A few years ago (boy time flies!) we introduced matcha with this post. Take a look back for the fun facts we shared then. Now matcha is back but in a much different recipe. Though matcha is powdered green tea leaves and perfect for making tea beverages, it can also be incorporated into baked goods for an interesting twist! Some matcha powder is sweetened and can provide sweetness to your recipe and all is green and can bring an interesting pop of color if used in the right amounts. For the color to really show, enough matcha powder needs to be used and combined with other lighter colored ingredients so as not to overshine the light green matcha powder. Flavor wise, we think matcha has a fresh, bright, somewhat grassy taste (but in a really good way, promise!). If you are skeptical then you'll just have to try for yourself, matcha has been somewhat of a food craze lately and becoming more and more available in beverages and food products. And remember, when consuming matcha you are getting the benefits of green tea (think antioxidants) in a higher dose than traditional steeped tea because you are consuming the whole tea leaf. Finally, a note on caffeine content which is much less in matcha than coffee though matcha is considered a mild stimulant. Caffeine in the form of whole tea leaves is believed to metabolize slower and provide more sustained energy as compared to the typical jolt and crash some may experience with highly caffeinated coffee beverages. But today we are making matcha muffins and it's time to get to it!
Coconut Crumb Matcha Muffins
PREP TIME: 20 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 55-60 minutes
Servings: 6 large muffins
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup coconut sugar
3 Tbsp coconut butter, melted
1 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
3 Tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes
3 Tbsp hemp seeds
1/8 tsp sea salt
2-3 tsp matcha powder, sprinkled over the top of each muffin once cooled
2-3 tsp powdered sugar, sprinkled over the top of each muffin once cooled
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt + 3 Tbsp
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cane sugar
3 Tbsp unsweetened matcha powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 Tbsp coconut oil, softened
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large muffin pan with 6 large liners, or lightly oil with coconut oil to prevent muffins from sticking to the pan.
To make the crumb topping, melt coconut butter and coconut oil in a microwave safe bowl. Add flour, coconut sugar, coconut flakes, hemp seeds and sea salt to the melted butter and oil then stir to combine. Place mixture in the fridge to cool while you prepare the muffin batter.
To make the muffin batter add the yogurt, egg, egg yolk, and vanilla in a bowl and whisk to combine. Using a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, matcha powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add softened coconut oil and half of the yogurt to the standing mixer and mix on medium speed for about 20 seconds. Add the remaining yogurt and continue to mix for 10 seconds. Stop the mixer and scrap down the sides of the bowl then continue to mix for an additional 10 seconds to fully incorporate all ingredients.
Remove crumb topping from the fridge and use your hands to gently break mixture into big crumbs. Fill each muffin liner 2/3 full with batter then sprinkle crumb mixture over the top of each muffin. Continue this process until all 6 muffin liners have been filled. Place pan in a preheated oven and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow muffins to cool to room temperature then sprinkle with powdered sugar and additional matcha powder. These muffins are best served the same day, however will keep at room temperature for an additional day or two.
These muffins are picture perfect and taste even better than they look. They have the perfect cake-like texture with a light sweetness and gentle matcha flavor. The crumb topping adds some additional sweetness, a little salt, and hints of coconut. All together, a unique blend of colors and flavors to excite your eyes and palate. Remember, this recipe is for jumbo muffins that can easily be split and/or shared with friends and family. Now everyone can have their tea, and eat it too!
Jess and Cecelia
Hi friends! We've got a recipe for granola bars to clear out your pantry this week for some late Spring cleaning. These bars are packed full of SO much goodness and the ingredients are easily adaptable to what you have in your pantry. Of course we had to try one new food product - quinoa flakes - though this recipe will definitely work without it! We found quinoa flakes similar to instant oatmeal but with a mild quinoa flavor. They don't provide a different nutritional benefit from standard quinoa but rather, another interesting way to include this ancient grain in your diet. Ready?
Dark Chocolate Cherry Quinoa Granola Bars
PREP TIME: 25 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings: 9 large or 12 small granola bars
1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup quinoa flakes (instant unflavored oatmeal would also work)
1/2 cup raw walnuts, chopped (or raw chopped nut of your choice)
1/2 cup raw pepitas (raw sunflower seeds would also work)
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/4 cup oatmeal flour (wheat bran would also work)
1/8 cup hemp seeds + 1 Tbsp reserved for the top
2/3 cup pure maple syrup
3 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup dried cherries, chopped (or dried fruit of your choice)
6 oz dark chocolate, shaved + 2 tsp coconut oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x9" pan with parchment paper allowing two ends to overhang for easy removal. Mix together the oatmeal, quinoa, walnuts, pepitas, and coconut on a large sheet pan and bake in preheated oven for 6-8 minutes, stirring at least once for even toasting. Remove from the oven then add mix to a large bowl. Stir in the ground flax seeds, oatmeal flour, hemp seeds, sea salt and dried cherries.
In a separate bowl add maple syrup, vanilla extract, and melted coconut oil and stir to combine. Pour liquid ingredients over dry and stir until well coated. Add granola mixture to a parchment lined pan. Use your hands and a small piece of parchment paper to press mixture firmly into the pan to create compact bars. Sprinkle remaining 1 Tbsp hemp seeds on top and place in preheated oven to bake for 35 minutes or until golden. Allow to fully cool prior to cutting (about 30 minutes). If you cannot wait to dig in, and cut the bars too soon, you may end up with uneven shaped/more crumbly bars...they will still taste the same but may not be as uniform in size and shape!
Once fully cooled, cut into desired bar size (we used a 9"x9" pan which made 9 large bars).
In a microwave safe bowl combine the shaved chocolate with 2 tsp coconut oil and melt the mixture in the microwave in 10 second increments (making sure to stir between each 10 seconds to avoid burning the chocolate). Dip each bar into the chocolate half way then place on a wax paper lined baking sheet. Allow bars to cool in the fridge for 15 minutes. Store bars in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Well friends, that's it. By this point your pantry should be clean and your belly full of nutrient packed ingredients. Depending on what you choose to use the flavor can vary though our bars were a perfect mix of tart and sweet from the cherries and chocolate with an undertone of toastiness from the toasted grains, nuts/seeds, and coconut.
Enjoy the goodness,
Jess and Cecelia
As you guys know, here at TGBK we primarily focus on nutritious food recipes but love a good adult drink now and again. But we think that adult beverages can provide nutritional benefit too - believe it or not! This week we created a drink inspired by a Cosmopolitan (Sex and the City flashbacks anyone?) but with a very important ingredient swap. We switched out the traditional juice ingredient for a flavored kombucha. And if you remember from our previous kombucha post (here), kombucha is packed full of gut friendly probiotics to help support healthy digestion and immunity. So while enjoying your next hard drink, why not get your daily dose of probiotics while you're at it? This recipe can also be made as a "mocktail" without liquor so there are tons of ways to indulge! If this all sounds good to you, let's get to the recipes.
Kombucha Cocktail or Mocktail
PREP TIME: 5 minutes (+ 48 hours to ferment kombucha with juice)
TOTAL TIME: 5 minutes (+ 48 hours to ferment kombucha with juice)
4 oz cherry kombucha (homemade - instructions below or store bought)
2 oz vodka (for mocktail omit and add additional 2 oz cherry kombucha)
2 oz cherry juice
2 Tbsp simple syrup
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 thin lime slices for garnish
To make basic kombucha follow our directions here. Once basic kombucha is prepared, strain the kombucha from the SCOBY making sure to reserve at least 1/2 cup of basic kombucha liquid for your next batch. Fill a glass bottle/bottles 2/3 of the way full with basic kombucha and fill remaining 1/3 of the bottle/bottles with fruit juice of choice (we used tart cherry juice from Door County for this recipe) leaving 1-2 inches of space at the top of the jar. Place a tight fitting lid on each bottle and allow to sit out at room temperature to ferment for 48 hours. Keep in mind it is important to use a juice that contains sugar. Yeast in the kombucha will feed off of the sugar in the juice and continue to ferment the kombucha. The longer you let the kombucha ferment with the juice, the less sweet and the more acidic the final product will taste. This fermentation time may also create more carbonation in your final kombucha. A good rule of thumb is to taste the kombucha each day until it's to your liking then store in the fridge until ready to drink. If you do not have the time to make homemade kombucha but you would like to try out this recipe, store bought cherry, berry, or cranberry kombucha would also work well.
To make simple syrup combine equal parts sugar and water in a small sauce pan. Simmer mixture on low, stirring often until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has thicken up into a syrup like texture, ~3-5 minutes. Allow to cool then store in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Simple syrup can be stored in the fridge for up to 1 month.
Add kombucha, vodka (if using), cherry juice, simple syrup, lime juice, and ice to a cocktail shaker and shake mixture well. Strain cocktail into 2 martini glasses, add a lime slice to each glass for garnish and serve cold.
This cocktail/mocktail has a nice amount of tartness from the cherry juice and fermented kombucha and easily disguises that this drink may contain vodka - so be careful! We love the unique taste of this adult beverage and use for kombucha and hope you do too.
Jess and Cecelia
A holiday weekend is upon us friends and you know what that means - time to take a break and look back at some favorite recipes from last spring/summer. Please also spend some time remembering those who have bravely served our country. We hope your plans include relaxing, spending time with friends/family, and good food of course!
One of our favorite long weekend past-times is definitely sleeping well into the morning (or even afternoon!). Hey, we gotta catch-up on our sleep sometime! And after a restful sleep we are always ready for a hearty brunch. These buttermilk buckwheat pancakes with homemade apricot butter should definitely do the trick - get the recipe here.
We are hoping the weather cooperates with a picnic this weekend. If it does, this honeydew salsa with homemade lime pita chips is coming along in our picnic basket. Recipe is here and shouldn't be missed!
Every spring/summer holiday weekend should include a good pie, are we right? If you agree then making this cherry pie recipe - here - needs to be included in your plans. You won't be sorry!
Jess and Cecelia
Ever wondered what those "sprouts" that you are sometimes offered on sandwiches or salads really are and why they are so darn good? Well it you have, you're in the right place! This week is dedicated to all things sprouts including how to instructions and a spring inspired, sprout containing recipe. Believe it or not, sprouting at home is very, very simple and is a great use for dried beans, lentils, grains, nuts, and seeds. We find it much easier than cooking dried beans as sprouting achieves the same as cooking - it makes dried beans edible but in a much different way than the typical warm cooking method. The taste of sprouts is fresh and unique and the nutrient value is actually improved with sprouting versus standard cooking methods. Sounds too goo to be true doesn't it?
As mentioned, dried beans, grains, nuts and seeds can all be sprouted. Sprouting is essentially the process of initiating plant life but stopping at the sprout phase before a new plant is formed. This week we sprouted beans but the benefits and process discussed is applicable across different sprout varieties. Though beans are a great source of vegetarian protein they unfortunately get a bad reputation for being tough on digestion - especially for people who don't eat beans often. This is because beans contain carbohydrates, specifically oligosaccharides, that can cause increased intestinal gas in some people. Beans that have been sprouted are significantly lower in oligosaccharides which means less gas formation in the gut (yay!). Beans that have been sprouted are also easier for your body to digest due to the enzyme action that takes place during the sprouting process - starch is broken down into simple sugars, proteins are broken down into amino acids, and fats are broken down into fatty acids. Essentially, sprouting does the hard digestive work for you so your body can benefit from the nutrients without the extra work - sounds great right? Sprouting also makes more nutrients available to your body that wouldn't be if some of the bean fibers weren't pre-digested. So especially if you're eating beans as a large nutrient and protein source in the diet, sprouting is important to maximize their nutritional benefit and minimize your digestive effort! Just be sure to follow safe food handling practices and work with clean hands in a clean space as the sprouting process can harbor growth of bacteria if exposed. So are you ready to get sprouting?
PREP TIME: 2 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 2-3 days sprouting time
Servings: 1 cup sprouts
1/4 cup dried beans of choice (mung beans pictured above)
Large glass jar and bowl
Cheese cloth and rubber band
Start by soaking 1/4 cup mung beans with room temperature water in a glass jar with cheese cloth or a mesh topping for 10-12 hours. Keep in mind you want a jar that is large enough for your beans to expand and sprout. A good rule is that the jar should be large enough for the beans to expand 8 times their original size. Following the soak, drain the soaking water and rinse the beans well then return the beans to the jar and cover with cheese cloth or mesh topping to allow air to circulate. Keep the jar tilted upside down in a bowl in a spot where there will not be large temperature fluctuations (cold drafts or hot humid breezes). Rinse and drain beans in the jar 3 times per day (add cool water, swirl, and drain) and make sure to angle the jar on its side to allow excess water to drain off while the beans are working hard to become a sprout. If excess water sits in the jar while the beans are germinating this can lead to sour, spoiled sprouts. Repeat the rinsing and draining process for 2-3 days or until the beans have transformed into the sprout length of your liking. Sprouts can be eaten right away, or stored in the fridge in an air tight container for 5-7 days.
Super Green Sprouted Salad
PREP TIME: 10 minutes + 2 days to sprout mung beans
TOTAL TIME: 10 minutes + 2 days to sprout mung beans
Servings: 4 salads
2 heads romaine lettuce
4 baby zucchini, diced (1/2" by 1/2")
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced
1 cup sprouted beans (we used sprouted mung beans with recipe above though store bought would also work)
4 tsp hemp seeds
1 bunch cilantro, de-stemmed
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon, ~2 Tbsp
3 Tbsp walnuts
1 Tbsp hemp seeds
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp pepper
To make the pesto, combine the cilantro, olive oil, lemon juice, walnuts, hemp seeds, salt, and pepper in a food processor or blender and process on high until a smooth dressing is formed. Store in a glass jar fitted with a lid and place in the fridge. This dressing can be made a day in advance and kept in the fridge for later use.
To prepare the salad, chop, wash, and dry romaine lettuce then place in a large bowl. Add diced baby zucchini, diced avocado, sprouted mung beans, and hemp seeds to the bowl. Divide salad into 4 servings then add cilantro pesto dressing to the top of each salad. Serve and enjoy!
*Note, if you do not plan to serve all four salads at once keep salad ingredients in an air tight container in the fridge and wait to add dressing until just prior to serving. To keep the avocado from turning brown, toss in lemon juice prior to saving.
Weren't we right? Sprouting is so simple and such a fun use for the dried beans sitting in your pantry that you bought and then never cooked from scratch because, well, canned is just easier! We hope this post starts you on a lifelong sprouting journey that you, your gut, and your body will enjoy. Oh, and this salad - the perfect mix of the freshest green foods to awaken your Spring palate. Best enjoyed with a warm piece of crusty bread, or at least we think so.
Enjoy and have fun!
Jess and Cecelia
We've been SO busy and have packing on the brain as Cecelia is in the process of moving into her new home in Chicago. Besides the busyness, packing and moving require energy and strength (she's already starting to question the decision of a second floor walk up, ha!). But jokes and moving grumbles aside we decided to focus on protein this week and found a way to pack tons of protein into a beloved dessert - brownies! These bites are chocolatey and delicious and contain a good dose of protein from a variety of sources - one being hemp butter. Yes, hemp butter!
So now you're probably thinking "what is hemp butter and why have I never heard about it?" Well, hemp butter is just like any other nut/seed butters in that it is a blended version of hemp seeds. However, it is different than other nut/seed butters because the color, taste, and texture change significantly, in our opinion, once the hemp seeds are blended. As you can see from the picture above, hemp seed butter is a dull green which may not look all that appetizing. The hemp seed flavor is also enhanced in the butter which has a stronger flavor than the plain hemp seeds and the texture becomes quite thick. These changes may make hemp seed butter less appealing and underutilized in the kitchen - probably why you've never heard about it! We found that adding hemp butter to recipes for additional protein and nutrient value was a great use of this underused product. But if you find that you love hemp butter plain on toast - go for it!
Hemp Protein Brownie Bites
PREP TIME: 20 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 55 minutes
Servings: 26-30 bites
Each bite contains ~2.8 grams protein
3/4 cup + 1 Tbsp whole wheat flour
3/4 cup + 1 Tbsp coconut sugar
3 Tbsp hemp seed butter (make by blending hemp seeds in a high speed blender or purchase at your local specialty grocer, also available online, here)
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup cacao powder
6 oz coarsely chopped semisweet chocolate + 1/3 cup 60% cacao chocolate shavings
1/4 cup hemp seeds + 1 Tbsp reserved for top
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8"X 8" pan with parchment paper allowing 2 sides to hang over the edges for easy removal. Lightly butter the bottom and sides of the prepared pan with a dab of unsalted butter then set aside.
Place 3 Tbsp butter, 3 Tbsp hemp seed butter, 6 oz chopped chocolate, and 1/4 cup cacao powder in a double boiler or a heat proof bowl placed over a pan with an inch or two of simmering water. Allow the butters and chocolate to fully melt, stirring often then set aside to slightly cool.
Combine the flour, baking soda and sea salt in a separate bowl and whisk to combine.
Combine the coconut sugar, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and mix on medium until light in color, about 3-4 minutes. Add the cooled melted butter and chocolate mixture then continue to whisk. Add in the flour mixture and mix until fully incorporated, avoid over mixing the batter. Stir in 1/3 cup chocolate shavings and 1/4 cup hemp seeds into the batter.
Pour batter into the prepared pan, sprinkle 1 Tbsp hemp seeds over the top of the batter and place in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow brownies to cool for 15 minutes before cutting. Cut into 1" X 1" bites. Store leftover brownie bites in an air tight container at room temperature for 2 days or in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Thoughts? Is your mind blown that there is such a thing as hemp seed butter? Are you excited that you can now make "hemp brownies" that would be appropriate to eat at work (unlike another type of hemp brownie that may come to mind)? We are most excited that we can now ditch processed protein bars and make our own high protein goodies to keep us fueled during Cecelia's move and beyond.
Jess and Cecelia
Jess and Cecelia welcome you to our kitchen. We are fun-loving and passionate foodies working to make the world a healthier, happier place one plant based recipe at a time.