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A Brief Overview on How to Sprout

Sprouting: A Brief
Overview on How to Sprout

Basics of Sprouting

  1. Obtain seed for sprouting. Store in bug-proof containers, away from extreme heat/cold. Seed should be viable, and, to extent possible, free of chemicals.
  2. Basic steps in sprouting are:
    • measure out appropriate amount of seed, visually inspect and remove stones, sticks, weed seed, broken seeds, etc.
    • rinse seed (if seed is small and clean, can usually skip this rinse)
    • soak seed in water for appropriate time
    • rinse soaked seed, put in sprouting environment for appropriate time
    • service seeds (rinse) in sprouting environment as needed
    • when ready, rinse seeds. Store in refrigerator, in sprouting environment or in other suitable container until ready to use. If not used within 12 hours, seeds should be serviced (rinsed) every 24 hours in refrigerator. Best to eat as soon as possible, as freshness is what makes sprouts special!

Jars and Cloth: Two Suggested Sprouting Methods
Jars: use wide-mouth, glass canning jars, available at many hardware stores. You will need screen lids – cut pieces of different (plastic) mesh screens, or buy some of the special plastic screen lids designed for sprouting. Sprouting in jars is quite easy: simply put seed in jar, add soak water, put lid on. When soak is over, invert jar and drain water, then rinse again. Then prop jar up at 45 degree angle for water to drain. Keep out of direct sunlight. Rinse seed in jar 2-3 times per day until ready, always keeping it angled for drainage.

Cloth: soak seed in flat-bottom containers, in shallow water. When soak done, empty seed into strainer and rinse. Then take flat-bottom bowl or saucer, line bottom with wet 100% cotton washcloth, spread seed on wet cloth. Then take 2nd wet cloth and put on top of seed, or, if bottom washcloth is big enough, fold over wet seeds. Can add additional water to washcloths 12 hours later by a) sprinkling on top, or b) if very dry, remove seed from cloth, rinse, re-wet cloth, put seed back between wet cloths. Cloths used should be 100% cotton (terrycloth) or linen, used exclusively for sprouting, and of light colors. Cheap cotton washcloths (and cheap plastic bowls) work well and will last a long time.

Comparison: Jar vs. Cloth Methods
Jar method is more versatile; can grow greens in the jar (e.g., 6-8 day old alfalfa greens), and the jar is less likely to mold than cloth for sprouts that require more than 2 days. However, the jar method needs a convenient drainage system (otherwise mold can develop). The cloth method can withstand some direct sunlight (direct sunlight in early stages of sprouting can cook the seed in jars), and needs no drainage system. The methods require roughly the same time, though 2nd service of cloth is very fast. Almonds, buckwheat give better results in cloth.

Other Methods of Sprouting:

  • Plastic tube – variation on jar method; opens at both ends – easier to remove long sprouts like greens from tube than from jar.
  • Sprouting bags – cotton or linen; also plastic mesh. Soak seed in bag in water, then hang up inside plastic bag (forms a little greenhouse).
  • Trays: very good for growing greens. Might need drainage system.
  • Clay saucer: used for mucilaginous seeds like flax, psyllium, etc.
  • Commercial sprouters: wide variety available. Often fairly expensive; most don’t work as well as cloth/jar methods!

What is the best time/length to eat sprouts?
Ultimately you will answer this question by experimenting – growing sprouts and eating them at different ages/lengths. My preference is to eat sprouts (except almonds, pumpkin seeds) when the growing root is, on average, the length of the soaked seed. Almonds and pumpkin seeds are discussed below.

A note on times: the sprouting times given below are based on cloth and/or jar method, and reflect an average time. The soaking times can be increased or decreased somewhat (except for buckwheat), with little or limited impact on the results. If you are using a different method, especially one of the commercial sprouting units, the times here will not apply and you will have to monitor your sprouts to decide when they are ready.

Grains and Similar Seeds

  • Amaranth: Soak 2-4 hours, sprout 1-1.5 days. Method: cloth. Very tiny seeds, likely to flow through screen in jar method; line strainer with sprouting cloth to retain seeds. Sprout can be very bitter. Might be able to grow as greens, if you can get appropriate variety of amaranth.
  • Barley: Soak 8-14 hours, sprout 1.25-1.5 days. Method: cloth or jar. Use only unhulled barley; “whole” hulled barley and pearled barley won’t sprout. Chewy, somewhat bland sprout. Hulls are tough; people with stomach or intestinal ulcers might find hulls irritating. Can be used for grass also.
  • Buckwheat: Soak 15-20 minutes only; sprout 1-1.5 days. Method: cloth. Use hulled, *raw* buckwheat groats. Kasha is usually toasted, won’t sprout. Raw buckwheat is white/green to light brown; toasted buckwheat is medium brown. Unhulled buckwheat (black hulls) are for greens, not general sprouting. Don’t soak longer than 20 minutes as it spoils readily. Monitor moistness, rinse or change cloths every 12 hours to avoid spoilage. Good sprout, mild flavor. Sprouts much faster in warm/hot weather.
  • Corn group:
    • Field corn: Soak 8-14 hours, sprout 2.0+ days. Method: jar or cloth.
    • Popcorn: Soak 8-14 hours, sprout 1.5+ days. Method: jar or cloth. Blue mold can be a problem, esp. with field corn. Sweet corn seeds (if you can find them) will sprout also. Field corn sprouts, if long enough, are tender but bland/starchy tasting. Popcorn sprouts are very sweet, but the hull doesn’t soften much in sprouting – very hard to eat. Not worth the trouble; suggest eating raw sweet corn (including raw corn silk, which is delicious) instead.
  • Millet: Soak 8-14 hours, sprout 1-1.5 days. Method: cloth or jar. Hulled millet – most seeds will sprout, but some ferment, producing very sharp taste. Unhulled millet best sprouter, but hull is very crunchy and sprout is rather bland. Best used in recipes.
  • Oats: Soak 8-14 hours, sprout 1.25-1.5 days. Method: cloth or jar. Must use unhulled oats; so-called “whole oats” or oat groats won’t sprout. Good sprout, mild flavor similar to milk. Thick hull makes it difficult to eat; best used in recipes (see sprout milk recipe). Can grow as grass also.
  • Quinoa: Soak 2-4 hours, sprout 12 hours. Method: cloth or jar. Very fast sprouter. Must rinse seeds multiple times to get off soapy tasting saponin in seed coat. Very fast sprouter; can grow as greens. Strong flavor that many find unpleasant. Small seed, line strainer with cloth. White and black quinoa are available.
  • Rice: Soak 12-18 hours, sprout 1.0+ days. Method: cloth or jar. Only brown, unprocessed rice will sprout. White rice, wild rice are dead and won’t sprout. Standard long grain rice doesn’t sprout. Short, medium grain brown rice, also brown basmati (but not Texmati) rice will sprout. Before root appears, rice can be eaten but difficult: bland, chewy, *very* filling. Once root appears, rice sprout is very bitter. The only rice I suggest sprouting is: Lundberg Farms “Wehani” rice, a specialty rice (sprout 1.5 days). It is least bitter – less bitter than fenugreek – of possible use in recipes.
  • Wheat/rye group:
    • Rye: Soak 8-14 hours, sprout 1-1.5 days. Method: cloth or jar. Nice sprout – good flavor. Rye harvested immature or handled improperly can have strong, unpleasant flavored. If it molds, discard (ergot mold possible).
    • Triticale is a cross between rye and wheat; used to be available from Arrowhead Mills, but haven’t seen it in market for some years.
    • Wheat, including Kamut and Spelt: Soak 8-14 hours, sprout 1-1.5 days. Method: cloth or jar. Hard Winter wheat better than soft Spring wheat. Wheat can get excessively sweet at 2+ days of sprouting. Spelt has nice texture, but spelt and kamut are more expensive than ordinary wheat. Wheat, rye, kamut, spelt, triticale can be used for grass also.

Other Seeds

  • Almonds: Soak 10-14 hours, sprout 1.0 day. Method: cloth Use only unblanched almonds. Sprout+storage time should not exceed 2 days or sprouts may turn rancid. Best to peel sprouts before eating (peeled have incredible flavor). Peeling is tedious, reduced by blanching in warm water (15-30 seconds in hot water from faucet). One of the very best sprouts!
  • Cabbage, Kale: Soak 6-14 hours, sprout 1+ days. Method: cloth or jar. Very strong flavor, best used as flavoring in mixtures. Can also be grown into greens. Seeds relatively expensive.
  • Fenugreek: Soak 8-14 hours, sprout 18 hrs or more. Method: cloth or jar. Slightly bitter, best used as flavoring additive in mixtures. Hindi name: methi. According to “The Yoga of Herbs” by Lad/Frawley, fenugreek sprouts are good digestive aid and good for the liver. Hard seeds are common in fenugreek.
  • Mucilaginous seeds: flax, psyllium, chia These can be sprouted as flavoring additive in mixtures (alfalfa, clover, or mustard); to sprout alone requires special clay saucer method. Sprouts are not so good tasting, not worth the trouble for most people.
  • Mustard: Soak 6-14 hours, sprout 1.0+ days. Method: cloth, jar, or tray. Good flavoring additive for other sprouts. Available in 3 forms: black, brown, yellow. Brown seeds are smaller and harder to handle in mixtures; yellow or black recommended for mixtures. Can grow as greens also.
  • Pumpkin: Soak 8-14 hours; sprout (if you must) 1.0 day. True sprouting by pumpkin seeds (developing root) is quite rare. Bacterial spoilage and rancidity are problems when you try to sprout them. Best to simply soak them, then eat. Pumpkin seeds as sold in the market are not hulled – the variety grown has no hulls on its seeds.
  • Radish: Soak 8-14 hours, sprout 1.0+ days. Method: cloth, jar or tray. Very hot flavor! Use sparingly in mixtures as flavoring agent. Can be used for (hot!) greens also.
  • Sesame: Soak 8-14 hours, sprout 1-1.5 days. Method: cloth or jar. Must use unhulled sesame seeds for sprouting; hulled seeds can be soaked to improve flavor and digestibility. A black sesame seed (considered superior to white seed in Ayurveda) is available; haven’t found it in unhulled form. Sprout+storage time should not exceed 1.5 days; sprouts continue to grow in refrigerator and start to get bitter at 2.0 day mark, and can be very bitter by 2.5 days. A small bowl of sesame sprouts, with a bit of raw honey on them, is very nice.
  • Sunflower: Soak 8-14 hours, sprout 18 hours. Method: cloth or jar. Use hulled sunflower; unhulled are for sunflower greens only. Need to skim off seed skins at end of soak period, when rinsing. If you leave them in, they will spoil and your sprouts will spoil quickly. Has a nice, earthy flavor; very popular.

Legumes

  • Alfalfa, Clover:
    For greens: soak 4-6 hours, sprout 6-8 days. Method: tray or jar.
    For use when short: soak 4-14 hours, sprout 1-1.5 days. Method: jar or cloth.
    Alfalfa and clover are most commonly grown as greens. A good non-traditional use for them is as flavoring additive in mixtures, for ex: lentil, alfalfa, radish is nice (alfalfa counteracts “heat” of radish). Alkaloid levels can be very high in alfalfa. Need alfalfa seed with very high germination rate (over 90%) to successfully grow greens in jar – else unsprouted seeds will decay and spoil greens.
  • Garbanzo group:
    • Garbanzos, standard: Soak 12-18 hours, sprout 1.5+ days. Method: cloth or jar.
    • Kala channa: Soak 8-14 hours, sprout 1.5 days. Method: cloth or jar.
    • Green channa: Soak 8-14 hours, sprout 1.0 day. Method: cloth or jar. Garbanzos, also know as chick peas or ceci, are common in commercial mixtures. They sprout easily but they also spoil easily (bacteria or mold). Kala channa is a miniature garbanzo, sold in (East) Indian food stores, that sprouts reliably – try sprouting it instead of standard garbanzos. Green channa is similar, naturally green, and sprouts very quickly. Green channa has stronger flavor; best to eat with turmeric or ginger.
  • Large beans: Anasazi, Black, Fava, Kidney, Lima, Navy, Pinto, Soy, etc. Except for soy, these are irrelevant to the sprouter – raw flavor is truly horrible. Also, serious toxicity/allergy/digestibility issues with these raw beans. Except for soy (edible raw if grown long enough), these beans must be cooked to be digestible, hence are not of interest to the raw-fooder.
  • Lentils, brown/green and red. Soak 8-14 hours, sprout 1.0 day. Method: cloth or jar. The brown/green lentils come in a variety of sizes; the smallest sizes generally sprout faster than the larger. Red lentils are usually sold in split “dahl” form; for sprouting you must buy whole red lentils. Red lentils are red inside and brown outside; their Hindi name is masoor (brown masoor). Lentil sprouts have a spicy flavor and are very popular. Might find hard seeds in lentils from India.
  • Mung bean group:
    • Mung beans: Soak 8-14 hours, sprout 18 hrs – 1 day. Method: cloth or jar.
    • Urid/urad: Soak 8-14 hours, sprout 18 hrs – 1 day. Method: cloth or jar.
    • Adzuki beans: Soak 8-14 hours, sprout 1.0 day. Method: cloth or jar.
    • Moth beans: Soak 8-14 hours, sprout 12 -18 hrs. Method: cloth or jar. Urid (also spelled urad) is a black shelled mung bean, available in Indian stores. Stronger flavor than regular mung. Hard seeds common in mung and urid. Moth is a brownish bean, similar to mung, available in Indian stores. Very fast, reliable sprouter, with mild flavor – similar to mung. Discard “floaters” when sprouting moth. P.S. there is a mung bean that is yellow inside, in Indian stores, but so far have only found split (dahl) form.
  • Peanuts: Soak 12-14 hours, sprout 1.5 days. Method: cloth or jar. Must use unblanched peanuts; recommend removing skins to improve digestibility. Spanish variety peanuts have loose skin, can remove most before soaking. Other peanuts – soak 1-2 hours then peel off skins, return to soaking in new, clean water. With peanut peeled you will probably observe high incidence of (bright) yellow mold – possible aflatoxin.
  • Peas, Blackeye: Soak 12-14 hours, sprout 1 day. Method: cloth or jar. Flavor is too strong to be eaten alone. Makes good flavoring additive for mixtures, if used sparingly.
  • Peas, (Field): Soak 12-14 hours, sprout 1.5 days. Method: cloth or jar. Be sure to buy whole peas, not split peas (split won’t sprout). Yellow peas are slower to sprout, and have stronger flavor than green peas. Flavor too strong when raw for many people. Insect problems common with peas in storage (beetle infestation); store in bug-proof containers. Can be grown as greens also.
  • Note: if purchasing kala channa, green channa, urid/urad, red lentils, etc. from Indian store, be sure to obtain the whole seeds, and not the split (dahl) or oiled form of the seeds.

Some Sprouting Seed Mixtures of Interest:

  1. mung/adzuki, fenugreek
  2. mung/adzuki, urid, dill seed
  3. lentils, blackeye peas, alfalfa, radish
  4. sunflower seed, moth, fenugreek
  5. alfalfa/clover, radish/mustard (for greens)

Experiment and develop your own favorite mixtures!

Soak Instead of Sprouting:

  • Herb seeds: fennel, celery, caraway, cardamom, poppy, etc.
  • Filberts: soak 12 hours; makes crisper, improves flavor.
  • Pecans: soak 8 hours; long soaks can make mushy.
  • Walnuts: soak 12 hours; flavor changes – you might like or dislike.
  • High fat nuts (brazil nuts, macadamias) may benefit some from soaking, but difference (soaked vs. unsoaked) is small.

Staple Foods for Sprouting:

  1. (first tier) wheat, almonds, sunflower, sesame, mung/adzuki, rye
  2. (2nd tier, obstacles) oats, barley, buckwheat, rice, lentils*, other legumes*
  3. (flavoring) fenugreek, mustard, radish, kale, cabbage * see question on legumes below

Easy for Beginners:

wheat, sunflower, almonds, lentil, mung

Indoor Gardening (grown indoors, in soil):

  • Grasses: wheat, barley, oats, rye, kamut, spelt, triticale, and others.
  • Vegetables: amaranth, mustard/mizuna, fennel, kale, cabbage, etc.
  • Legumes: peas, snow peas
  • Other greens: buckwheat, sunflowerWhat are hard seeds?
    Seeds that are hard, like rocks, and they stay that way during soaking and sprouting. Hard seeds are a sort of natural insurance in the sense that if planted in soil they will eventually sprout – late in the season or next season. Hard seeds may be a threat to certain types of dental work, esp. porcelain crowns (porcelain on gold crowns are stronger and hard seeds are less risk; metal crowns are stronger than natural enamel). To minimize hard seeds, suggest you soak seeds as in the cloth method: in shallow water, in a large container with a flat bottom. Then at the end of the soak stage, you can visually inspect the soaked seeds and remove those that are still hard. This technique is not 100% foolproof, but if done carefully, will substantially reduce the number of hard seeds. The method will work with any seed, but fenugreek seeds are so small that picking out the hard ones is quite difficult.

    • Livingston et al. (Nutritional and Toxicological Aspects of Food Safety, pgs. 253-268), citing research by Malinow, report negative health effects in animals and humans from consumption of alfalfa sprouts. They believe that consuming large amounts of alfalfa sprouts is risky.
    • Cousens (Conscious Eating, pg. 372) , citing relevant client cases, reports no harmful effects from consumption of moderate amounts of raw alfalfa sprouts.
    • Readers are encouraged to check the above references and decide for themselves on this issue. An alternate, experimental approach is to hold your diet constant for a few days, then add alfalfa sprouts to your diet, and observe the effects (if any) of the alfalfa – that is, listen to your body.

  • Anything wrong with sprouted legumes?
    If you can digest them without the production of a lot of gas (flatulence), there’s nothing wrong with them. Legumes are very high in protein, hard to digest, and cause gas for many people. Gabriel Cousens (Conscious Eating, pgs. 70, 372, 490) recommends that consumption of sprouted legumes (except alfalfa, next question) be minimized. Ann Wigmore (Rebuild Your Health, pg. 73) tells us that flatulence gas is toxic and harms your entire system. From an Ayurvedic viewpoint, legumes aggravate the vata dosha; individuals with vata body type or a vata disorder should minimize legumes. Ayurveda suggests eating turmeric or ginger with proteins (legume sprouts) as a digestive aid. A number of other herbs/spices can serve as digestive aids and/or counteract the vata effect of legumes. Among legumes, mung and adzuki beans are considered easiest to digest.

    What about toxins in alfalfa sprouts?
    Alfalfa sprouts contain saponins, a class of alkaloids (7.93% on dry weight basis, sprouts from commercial sources) and L-canavanine sulfate, an amino acid analog. Saponin levels are at their maximum when sprouts are 6-8 days old (most common time for eating); L-canavanine sulfate is present in the seed and decreases as the sprout grows. The issue of whether these factors are significant is subject to debate.

    Don’t Sprout: Sorghum (potentially toxic levels of cyanide in seed coat)

    Oat Sprout Milk – Special Version
    The following makes around 3 cups of delicious oat/almond milk.

    Start with: a little more than 1/4 cup dry sprouting oats, and, optionally, 1/8 cup Lundberg Farms Wehani rice. Soak 12 hours, then sprout for 1.5 days. Separately, soak 15-20 almonds for 12 hours, then sprout for 1.0 days (should be ready about same time as oat sprouts).

    Rinse oat(/rice) sprouts, put in blender with 2 cups good quality water, blend. Best to add 1 cup water, blend on medium for 30 seconds or so, then add second cup of water and blend on high for another 30-45 seconds. Now strain the blended liquid through a steel mesh strainer and/or cheesecloth (or similar).Discard hull pulp, rinse blender clean, put base milk back in blender. **

    Peel the sprouted almonds (might blanch first with warm water), rinse, put almonds in blender. Add 1 tablespoon of raw honey (or other sweetener, optional) to blender. Now add flavoring, one of: vanilla bean (about 1/2 inch or so), cardamom seed (decorticated or powder, 1/4 tsp), or cinnamon (1 rounded tsp). Run blender on medium speed for a few seconds to mix/grind, then turn down to low speed and let blender run for 5+ minutes to homogenize. (The almonds are not strained out but retained in the milk for full flavor and nutrition.)

    Note that the recipe up to ** is the basic milk recipe; can use recipe, substituting other types of grains, seeds, or nuts for the rice, to yield other types of oat sprout milk. Sprouting/soaking details will vary with grain, seed, or nut used in place of the rice.

Author Contact:
Thomas E. Billings

http://chetday.com/sprouts.html

Guide to Eating and Buying Organic Foods

Not all of us can or want to afford to go 100% organic every time we shop. The best solution is to focus on those foods that come with the heaviest burden of pesticides, additives and hormones. According to the Environmental Working Group, consumers can reduce their pesticide exposure by 80% by avoiding the most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating only the cleanest.

If consumers get their recommended 5 daily servings of fruits and veggies from the 15 most contaminated, they could consume an average of 10 pesticides a day. Those who eat the 15 least contaminated conventionally grown produce ingest less than 2 pesticides daily.

EWG has been publishing guides to the “dirty dozen” of most pesticide contaminated foods since 1995, based on statistical analysis of testing conducted by the USDA and the FDA. The latest guide is now available. The “dirty dozen” list only reflects measurable pesticide residues on the parts of the foods normally consumed (i.e. after being washed and peeled). Below you will find the listed 12 along with a few more recommendations for foods other than fruits and vegetables that are best bought organic. Also included are safer alternatives to those foods that contain similar valuable vitamins and minerals.

It’s important to remember that the dirty dozen list provides no information about antibiotics or hormones, or about the impact of producing food on the surrounding environment.  This list of foods is purely some of the most important foods to buy organic, when taking a more holistic approach.

The Dirty List
Meat, Milk, Coffee, Celery, Peaches, Strawberries, Apples, Blueberries, Nectarines, Bell Peppers, Spinach, Kale, Cherries, Potato, Grapes, Lettuce/Leafy Greens, Carrots, Pears and Tomatoes

Meat: For overall environmental impact, meat is the king of foods, even if it’s not likely to be laced with pesticide residue, though a recent USDA Inspector General report found that the government is failing to even test meat for the harmful chemicals the law requires. While beef muscle is typically clean, beef fat is a different story altogether, with 10 different pesticides having been identified. Pork meat can be contaminated, but pork fat is more contaminated, with as many as 8 pesticides. For chicken, the thigh is most contaminated.

Raising animals with conventional modern methods often means using hormones to speed up growth, antibiotics to resist disease on crowded feed lots, and both pesticides and chemical fertilizers to grow the grain fed to the animals. Additionally, it takes many times the water and energy to raise one meal’s worth of meat than it does one meal’s worth of grain.

Consumers looking to avoid meats raised with these substances can seek out certified organic meat. To meet standards, this meat can come only from animals fed organic feed and given no hormones or antibiotics. Searching out cuts from grass-fed animals ensures that you’re eating meat from an animal that was fed a more natural diet, and looking for a local source of meats lets you question the farmer directly about the animal’s diet and the farmer’s method of raising it. It cuts down on the environmental cost of transportation, too.

Milk: Pesticides and other man-made chemicals have been found in human breast milk, so it should come as no surprise that they have been found in dairy products, too. Twelve different pesticides have been identified in milk, and milk is of special concern because it is a staple of a child’s diets.

Organic dairies cannot feed their cows with grains grown with pesticides, nor can they use antibiotics or growth hormones like rGBH or rbST. The overall impact of the herd is lessened when you choose organic milk.

Coffee: Many of the beans you buy are grown in countries that don’t regulate use of chemicals and pesticides. Look for the USDA Organic label to ensure you’re not buying beans that have been grown or processed with the use of potentially harmful chemicals.

Go a step or two further, and look for the Fair Trade Certified and Rainforest Alliance (or Bird Friendly) labels to ensure that your purchase supports farmers who are paid fairly and treated well. And look for shade-grown (Rainforest Alliance- or Bird Friendly-Certified) varieties for the trifecta; that way you know the coffee is being grown under the canopy of the rainforest, leaving those ancient trees intact, along with the wildlife – particularly songbirds – that call them home.

Celery: Celery has no protective skin, which makes it almost impossible to wash off the chemicals that are used on conventional crops.

Can’t find organic? Safer alternatives include broccoli, radishes and onions.

A perennial entrant on the Dirty Dozen list, 64 pesticides detected in residue on this veggie make celery rank No. 1 in the 2010 analysis, up from No. 4 in 2009.

Peaches: Multiple pesticides are regularly applied to these delicately skinned fruits in conventional orchards.

Alternatives include watermelon, tangerines, oranges and grapefruit.

Peaches, No. 1 on the Dirty Dozen list in 2009, rank No. 2 in 2010; 62 pesticides have been detected in residue on peaches.

Strawberries: If you buy strawberries out of season, they’re most likely imported from countries that use less-stringent regulations for pesticide use.

Alternatives include kiwi and pineapples.

Up from No. 6 in 2009, strawberries rank No. 3 on the 2010 Dirty Dozen list. Why? 59 pesticides have been detected in residue on strawberries.

Apples: Like peaches, apples are typically grown with the use of poisons to kill a variety of pests, from fungi to insects. Scrubbing and peeling doesn’t eliminate chemical residue completely, so it’s best to buy organic when it comes to apples. Peeling a fruit or vegetable also strips away many of their beneficial nutrients.

Alternatives include watermelon, bananas and tangerines.

Down from No. 2 in 2009, apples still rank among the dirtiest fruits and vegetables, with 42 different pesticides having been detected as residue.

Blueberries: New on the Dirty Dozen list in 2010, blueberries are treated with as many as 52 pesticides, making them one of the dirtiest berries on the market.

Nectarines: With 33 different types of pesticides found on nectarines, they rank up there with apples and peaches among the dirtiest tree fruit.

Alternatives include, watermelon, papaya and mango.

Bell Peppers: Peppers have thin skins that don’t offer much of a barrier to pesticides. They’re often heavily sprayed with insecticides.

Tests have found 49 different pesticides on sweet bell peppers.

Alternatives include green peas, broccoli and cabbage.

Spinach: New on the list for 2010, spinach can be laced with as many as 48 different pesticides, making it one of the most contaminated green leafy vegetable.

Kale: Traditionally kale is known as a hardier vegetable that rarely suffers from pests and disease, but it was found to have high amounts of pesticide residue when tested this year.

Alternatives include cabbage, asparagus and broccoli.

Cherries: Even locally grown cherries are not necessarily safe. In fact, in one survey in recent years, cherries grown in the U.S. were found to have three times more pesticide residue then imported cherries. Government testing has found 42 different pesticides.

Alternatives include raspberries and cranberries.

Potatoes: North America’s popular spud re-appears on the 2010 dirty dozen list, after a year hiatus. North America’s favorite vegetable can be laced with as many as 37 different pesticides.

Alternatives include eggplant, cabbage and earthy mushrooms.

Grapes: Imported grapes run a much greater risk of contamination than those grown domestically only imported grapes make the 2010 Dirty Dozen list). Vineyards can be sprayed with different pesticides during different growth periods of the grape, and no amount of washing or peeling will eliminate contamination because of the grape’s thin skin. Remember, wine is made from grapes, which testing shows can harbor as many as 34 different pesticides.

Alternatives include kiwi and raspberries.

Lettuce and Leafy Greens: Leafy greens are frequently contaminated with what are considered the most potent pesticides used on food (51 of them), though they dropped off the 2010 list.

Alternatives include cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.

Carrots: Off the list in 2010, carrots have made the Dirty Dozen list in previous years because of the 26 different pesticides that have been detected in food residue.

Can’t find organic? At least be sure to scrub and peel them.

Pears: As insects become more resilient to the pesticides used on pears, more and more chemicals are used (28 of them), though pears have dropped off the 2010 Dirty Dozen list. The safest bet is to go organic.

Alternatives include grapefruit, honeydew melon and mangos.

Tomatoes: Tomatoes, on the Dirty Dozen list in 2008, and the Clean 15 list in 2009, rank neither among the dirtiest nor the cleanest in 2010.

It’s still true that the thin skin of tomatoes can allow pesticides to enter the fruit, so it’s always a good idea to buy organic when possible, even if the popular food is no longer among the worst actors.

What if Buying Organics Just Isn’t In Your Budget?

Here is a list of fruit and vegetables so clean of pesticides you don’t have to buy organic. (Of course, buying local and organic is always a good choice for the health of farms and farm workers, regardless of the residue left on the end product.)

Pesticides Free Foods
Onions, Avocado, Sweet Corn, Pineapple, Mango,  Asparagus, Sweet Peas,  Kiwi, Cabbage, Eggplant, Papaya, Watermelon, Broccoli, Tomatoes and Sweet Potatoes.

Onions: Onions don’t see as many pest threats, which means less pesticide spraying.

Choose: Look for onions that are firm, have a distinctive “oniony” smell that’s not overpowering, and show no visible signs of damage or soft spots. Store in a cool, dry place or in the refrigerator.

Avocado: Avocados have thick skins that protect the fruit from pesticide build-up.

Choose: Look for avocados that are still somewhat unripe and firm to the squeeze; they’ll ripen nicely on your kitchen counter in a couple of days. Store at room temperature. Although you’ll be using only the meat of the avocado, it’s always a good idea to rinse them before you slice them open.

Corn: Corn may take a lot of fertilizer to grow, but you’re unlikely to end up with any pesticides on the kernels.

Choose: There is nothing — we mean nothing like fresh corn on the cob from a local farm stand in late summer. Buy it fresh and local, and boil it that day for the best results.

Pineapple: You won’t be eating the tough pineapple skin, which protects the fruit from pesticide residue. As with all your produce, you should rinse the pineapple before cutting.

Choose: Although tempting, this is one fruit that you won’t want to choose if it has a strong, sweet smell. This usually means that the pineapple is overripe and has even begun to ferment. Like all other fruits, avoid any that have soft spots, and in the case of pineapples, damage to the rind. Store in the refrigerator crisper.

Mango: Sweet mango flesh is protected by its thick skin from pesticides. Still, you’ll want to rinse under water before cutting open.

Choose: Depending on the variety of mango, look for those that are bright in color such as red, yellow, or orange. It should have a distinctive “fruity” smell. If there’s no ripe-fruit aroma, steer clear. Mangoes should be slightly firm but yield to your touch somewhat — the softer the mango, usually the sweeter it is. If the mango is too soft, there’s a good chance that it will be rotten inside. Store in the refrigerator crisper.

Asparagus: Asparagus face fewer threats from pests such as insects or disease, so fewer pesticides need to be used.

Choose: Look for firm spears with bright green or purplish compact tips. Plan on a 1/2 pound per person, and for more uniform cooking, select spears of a similar thickness. Store in the refrigerator vegetable crisper and give them a good rinse before using (even if you’re going to boil them).

Peas: Sweet peas are among the least likely vegetables to have pesticide residue, according to the Environmental Working Group’s latest survey of government data.

Choose: If you’re not growing sweet peas un your garden, then look for full, green pea pods at your local farmers market, farm stand or grocery store.

Kiwi: Kiwi peel provides a barrier from pesticides. Give them a rinse before cutting.

Choose: Here’s where your nose plays an important part when choosing fresh fruit. Sniff out kiwis that smell good. They should be plump and yield to a squeeze like that of a ripe pear. Steer clear from those with moist areas on their surface or any skin bruising. If unripe kiwi are all that are available, simply take them home and place them in a paper bag at room temperature with other fruits that need more time, such as bananas or pears. Store in the refrigerator crisper.

Cabbage: Cabbage doesn’t hold on to so many pesticides because a ton of spraying isn’t required to grow it. What it does hold onto is beta carotene: It’s a superfood!

Choose: Look for cabbage heads whose leaves are tight and be sure the head is heavy for its type, and firm. For most cabbage varieties, you’ll want to make sure the outer leaves are shiny and crisp. Savoy is the exception to this rule, as it forms a looser head and the leaves grow crinkly naturally. You’ll want to avoid any with leaves that show signs of yellowing. Bok choy should have deep green leaves with their stems a crisp-looking white. Discard the outer leaves of a cabbage before using. You can wash and spin most cabbage leaves just like you do salad greens. Store in the refrigerator crisper.

Eggplant: Maybe it’s the thick skin, but eggplants are among the least likely to be contaminated by pesticides, according to the Environmental Working Group.

Choose: Look for firm and glossy eggplants to know they’re ripe and undamaged. Because they grow to various sizes, choose one proportionate to the dish you’re preparing.

Papaya: Pesticide residue stays on papaya skin, but be sure to give them a wash before slicing open.

Choose: Papaya colors usually range between yellow and green. Look for those that are slightly soft and show no signs of bruising or appear shriveled. If they’re not fully ripened, you can toss them in the brown bag along with your unripened kiwi fruit, peaches, and pears. Once they’re ripened, store in the refrigerator crisper.

Watermelon: With that rind, watermelon has a natural defense against the onslaught of any chemical.

Choose: Look for a firm whole melon without any soft spots.

Broccoli: Conventional broccoli doesn’t retain so many pesticides because the crop faces fewer pest threats, which means less spraying.

Choose: Look for tightly bunched flower buds on the broccoli stalks that are immature. In other words, try not to buy them if their little yellow flowers have opened. Color-wise, the broccoli should be deep green and the stalks should be firm and not rubbery. Before use, wash in a cool water bath and change the water a couple of times in the process. Store in the refrigerator crisper.

Look for broccoli at fall farmers’ markets, and if you’re pinched for cash, don’t fret about choosing a non-organic variety; broccoli generally doesn’t end up with pesticide residue.

Tomatoes: Tomatoes were on the 2008 Dirty Dozen list of foods with the most pesticide residue, but the latest update finds them cleaner than most. Why? The Environmental Working Group isn’t sure.

Choose: If you aren’t growing your own, look for fresh in-season tomatoes at local farmers markets and farm stands. Look for glossy, firm skin — and don’t hesitate to try a delicious heirloom variety that might not look like a typical tomato!

Sweet Potatoes: Not only are sweet potatoes unlikely to be contaminated with pesticides, they’re also a superfood, packed with Vitamin A and Beta Carotene.

Choose:It’s hard to go wrong choosing a hardy sweet potato. Just make sure it isn’t beaten up or rotting, and choose a size that matches the meal you’re preparing.

Sources:
http://www.thedailygreen.com/
http://www.whatsonmyfood.org/
http://www.grist.org/article/2010-04-15-usda-inspector-meat-supply-routinely-tainted-with-harmful-residu

Quinoa

Quinoa pronounced ‘keen wah’ is a frequently neglected and relatively unknown superfood. It is high in protein, calcium and iron, a relatively good source of vitamin E and several of the B vitamins.  Although not a common item in most kitchens today, quinoa is an amino acid-rich (protein) seed that has a fluffy, creamy, slightly crunchy texture and a somewhat nutty flavor when cooked.

Most commonly considered a grain, quinoa is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard. It is a recently rediscovered ancient “grain” once considered “the gold of the Incas.”

Not only is quinoa high in protein, but the protein it supplies is complete protein, meaning that it includes all nine essential amino acids. Not only is quinoa’s amino acid profile well balanced, making it a good choice for vegans concerned about adequate protein intake, but quinoa is especially well-endowed with the amino acid lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair. In addition to protein, quinoa features a host of other health-building nutrients. Because quinoa is a very good source of manganese as well as a good source of magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorus, this “grain” may be especially valuable for persons with migraine headaches, diabetes and atherosclerosis.

Cooking

A common cooking method is to treat quinoa much like rice, bringing two cups of water to a boil with one cup of grain, covering at a low simmer and cooking for 14–18 minutes or until the germ separates from the seed. The cooked germ looks like a tiny curl and should have a slight bite to it (like al dente pasta). As an alternative, one can use a rice cooker to prepare quinoa, treating it just like white rice (for both cooking cycle and water amounts).

Vegetables and seasonings can also be added to make a wide range of dishes. Chicken or vegetable stock can be substituted for water during cooking, adding flavor. It is also suited to vegetable pilafs, complementing bitter greens like kale.

Quinoa can serve as a high-protein breakfast food mixed with honey, almonds, or berries; it is also sold as a dry product, much like corn flakes. Quinoa flour can be used in wheat-based and gluten-free baking.

Quinoa may be germinated in its raw form to boost its nutritional value. Germination activates its natural enzymes and multiplies its vitamin content. In fact, quinoa has a notably short germination period: Only 2–4 hours resting in a glass of clean water is enough to make it sprout and release gases, as opposed to, 12 hours overnight with wheat. This process, besides its nutritional enhancements, softens the grains, making them suitable to be added to salads and other cold foods.

Sources:

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?dbid=142&tname=foodspice
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quinoa

Why No Cow Dairy

Of all the primary food allergies, cow dairy in the one that probably affects the largest number of people most acutely. That’s because for a generation or two, especially in the United States and Canada, the vast majority of babies never saw their mother’s breast. The baby boomer generation-that is, people born between 1946 and 1964- entered a brave new work of modern conveniences, including the baby bottle and artificial formula blended with cows milk. These “advancements” are believed by some to be a large part responsible for so many colicky babies and generation beset with ear infections and tonsillitis. Sensitivity to milk products may also be related to asthma, congestion, inflammation, degenerative illnesses and acidity. Milk products are also thought to support harmful bacteria in the body, such as candida. Those with a cold, sore throat or skin breakouts may find an improvement in their health by avoiding milk and milk products, and asthmatics, in particular, can benefit from avoiding milk products entirely. Not to mention most cows’ milk products are loaded with synthetic hormones and other additives that cause these allergic and toxicity reactions. Ewww.

“…But Cows milk is loaded with protein and calcium….” Actually cows milk is made up of a large amount of the wrong kind of protein, it also has way too much phosphorous, which binds with the calcium, making it impossible to utilize the calcium properly. And we know that phosphorous in this excessive amounts is irritating to the brain and nervous system. Thats why babies given cow’s milk often cry long after feeding.

So why is Goat or Sheep dairy different:

There are two main advantages to going less mainstream and avoiding cows’ milk in favour of goats’ milk or sheep’s milk products.

1. Goat and sheep’s milk are less likely to contain hormones and additives.

2. Goat/ sheep milk is more easily digested.

On a basic level, humans were never “designed” to digest cows’ milk, goats’ or sheep’s milk. Our bodies are meant to consume (human) mother’s milk for the first several months or years, and then move on to other foods. Many people only become lactose-intolerant as teens or adults, when the enzymes to digest any kind of milk stop being produced by the human digestive system.

Goats’ milk is the easiest for humans to digest, because goat milk proteins are most similar to the protein found in human milk.

In areas where cows’ or goats’ milk has traditionally been a staple, people have for the most part evolved the ability to continue digesting milk into adulthood. Yet in those whose ancestors did not consume milk – such as people of Chinese or Japanese descent – lactose intolerance is especially common.

Other reasons: In general, dairy goat farms are smaller, goats are allowed more free range, antibiotic use is kept to a bare minimum, and hormones, such as the highly controversial bovine growth hormone (rBGH), are not used.

Goats are also a better environmentally-friendly milk producer. Goats can survive and thrive on less pasture, and with much lower quality of natural forage than cows. Goats are also suitable for hilly, rocky areas in which cows could not be kept.

Daiya Vegan Cheese

I am really excited about this product (Vancourerite Inventors too)!  I first read about it in Maclean’s and waited patiently for it to arrive in Canada, and, well its here!  By here I mean in Whole Foods, Choices, Famous Foods, Super Value….  So far I have made nachos and a vegetarian lasagne with this non-dairy, cheese like stuff and both turned out AWESOME!  It truly does stretch, melt, bake and taste like cheese!

Why is it so awesome:

  • Free of many common allergens including; dairy (casein and lactose), gluten, egg, peanuts and tree nuts;
  • Same refrigerated shelf life as dairy cheese. Once the package is opened it is good for 7 – 10 days in the fridge;
  • Can be frozen and reheated. (It will retain its melting, stretching and flavour properties); and
  • Healthy ingredients, GMO free, and almost all organic!

http://www.daiyafoods.com/

http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/05/25/for-these-vegans-its-the-holy-grail/

Bison, a Healthy Alternative to Beef

Bison is a highly nutrient dense food because of the proportion of protein, fat, mineral, and fatty acids to its caloric value. When compared to other meat sources, beef, pork, chicken and even salmon, Bison has a greater concentration of iron, much lower in fat and cholesterol, and has a pretty impressive B12 level.  In fact Bison is higher in many nutrients as well as some of the essential fatty acids necessary for human well-being.  It is an excellent choice for those with heart problems and diabetes and many people who can’t tolerate beef (myself included) do well with Bison because it is much easier to digest.

Comparison Fat
(grams)
Calories
(kcal)
Cholesterol
(mg)
Iron
(mg)
Vitamin B12
(mcg)
Bison 2.42 143 82 3.42 2.86
Beef (choice) 10.15 219 86 2.99 2.65
Beef (select) 8.09 201 86 2.99 2.64
Pork 9.66 212 86 1.1 0.75
Chicken
(skinless)
7.41 190 89 1.21 0.33
Sockeye Salmon 10.97 216 87 0.55 5.80

Bison meat is also high in:

B6 – helps with heart disease, depression, and kidney stones.
Selenium – this mineral protects the body from the effects of heavy metals.
Vitamin E – protects against heart disease, cancer, and strokes.
Phosphorus – for muscle function, kidneys, regular heart beat and nerves.
Zinc – boosts the immune system.
Copper – supports the blood vessels, nerves, bones and the immune system.
Potassium – great for metabolism and builds muscle.
Riboflavin (B2) – for production of red blood cells.
Niacin (B3) – for digestive system, skin and nerves.
Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids – lowers blood pressure and helps heart conditions.
Beta-Carotene – reduces risk of cancer, helps eyes, skin and immune system.
Highest level of CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) – reduces cancer, immune disorders, diabetes and obesity.

Aside from Bison’s remarkable nutritional value, of equal importance is how they are fed and raised.  Most bison are grass-fed (look for this when purchasing), are handled as little as possible, and live without drugs, chemicals or hormones.

When buying bison meat, don’t be misled by advertising for buffalo, bison is often mistakenly called buffalo but her in North America the species we have is actually bison, buffalo are from Asia and Africa.

Cooking Tips for Bison Steaks

Similar to beef yet bison needs to be cooked differently. Because of the lack of marbling (white streaks of fat), bison should be cooked at a lower temperature than normally used for beef. Fat acts as an insulator causing most meats to take longer to cook. This lack of fat also accounts for the deep red color of the meat.  I recommended the rib eye cut of bison for BBQ grilling, this is a fattier cut(while still very low)  and makes a great steak!

Cook bison rare to medium for best flavor. If you over cook it, you will experience a loss of juiciness and tenderness, similar to over cooked beef.

 

Kombu

Kombu seaweed is an important part of Japanese cuisine. Kombu is also eaten in other parts of Asia as well; it can be found fresh, dried, pickled, and frozen in many Asian markets. There are a wide range of uses;kombu, and it is one of the more popular foods in Japan since it is so versatile and affordable, thanks to seaweed farming which makes it easy to cultivate and harvest. It grows naturally in the deep waters of the ocean and is a variety of very thick, wide and dark green kelp. While it is commonly used in cooking, specifically to make soup stocks, candy and condiments, Kombu is also useful in natural cures and home remedies.

Because Kombu, like all other seaweed, is harvested from the ocean, it is extraordinarily rich in mineral elements that provide immense nutritional benefits. Believed to be beneficial to beauty and diet, Kombu is also very low in calories.

Known to reduce rates of breast cancer in women, the Lignans in Kombu are specifically believed to be responsible for the lower incidence of the disease in Japanese women who consume diets rich in sea vegetables, including Kombu.

In people with under-active thyroids or who are deficient in proper levels of iodine, Kombu is also known to help increase physical energy. In fact, it is widely used in natural cures and home remedies to treat both of these disorders.

As a naturally rich source of dietary fiber, Kombu is also commonly used to treat bowel issues, including constipation, and other digestive ailments.

Kombu also helps to soften beans and legumes, making them easier to digest and will help to prevent gas too.