Sprouts: a few tips

Sprouts are a great way to add flavour and texture to salads, soups, sandwiches and snacks. They are also a great source of nutrients and vitamins, so why not grow them yourself? Well, before you start, there are a few things you need to consider. I hope these tips are useful, and inspire you to start your own sprouts!

IMG_2964.JPG

From left to right: radish, buckwheat, alfalfa.

  1. Do you need fancy equipment?
    • No! I use glass jars that I close with cheesecloth. I find that jars are easy to use, simple to store and also cheap. You can always buy fancy, specialized multi-level “sprouters”, but really, a jar is all you need to get started.
  2. Will it take time?
    • Sprouts need attention: you will need to wash them twice a day while they are sprouting to avoid parasites or molds, but also to supply the seeds with their required moisture. Also, the sprouting time will depend on the seeds you are using, but generally speaking, sprouts take about a week to be done.
  3. What seeds can I use?
    • There is a great variety of sprouting seeds available in health food stores and online. I buy mine in a bulk store. I usually go for unmixed bags, but you can try out already made mixes of seeds to get you started and to give you an idea of what seeds you like best. My favourites are alfalfa, daikon, radish, watercress, chickpeas, lentils and fennel.
  4. Are all seeds the same when it comes to sprouting?
    • No! Each seed is different. First, the bigger  the seed, the longer it will take it to start sprouting. Also, some seeds are mucilaginous (like watercress, chia seeds, and flax seeds), so you’ll have to take some precautions while sprouting them. Finally, all sprouts have a different flavour and texture, so it is super fun to experiment and explore cooking with these new ingredients.
  5. How do I sprout seeds?
    • For non-mucilaginous seeds like daikon, chickpeas, lentils and fennel, place two tablespoons of seeds in a jar and let soak in water overnight. Rinse, drain and place in the jar that you keep in a tilted position. I usually use my plate dryer rack to keep my jars stay at an angle. This will help give more seeds access to air and light. Close the jar using a few layers of cheesecloth: the idea is to make sure that air passes, but not insects. Rinse and drain delicately twice a day for a week, or until the sprout is out. You can eat the sprouts when they are just out, or wait for the first leaves (cotyledon) to come out. You can also place your seeds in the sun for the last few days, and they will develop a little green.
    • For mucilaginous seeds like radish and watercress, place one tablespoon of seeds and one tablespoon of alfalfa seeds in the jar. I like using alfalfa seeds because they have a very mild flavour that lets the other seed’s flavour shine. Their role in this sprouting is to absorb the water that constitute the mucilage which will help the seed start sprouting. The rest of the process is the same as mentioned above.
  6. How do I keep these once they are sprouted?
    • I usually keep mine in an airtight container in the fridge. They’ll keep for about a week.
  7. Where can I use them in recipes?
    • EVERYWHERE!

I hope these tips are helpful and will encourage you to grow your own sprouts. They make for a really fun kitchen project with kids, and also add some life to your cooking. Let me know if you try it out, or what your favourite seeds are!

Lazy Guacamole

Avocados. Nothing else needs to be said! This is how I prepare guacamole on nights when I cannot be bothered to take out my chopping board. Tasty, quick, done, move along!

IMG_2945

Here is what you need:

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • the juice of 1/2 citrus of your choice (I usually go for lemon or lime, but I only had blood orange on hand. It worked really well!)
  • 1 tsp pesto (I used my kale-parsley pesto. This stuff can really go in everything!)
  • sesame seeds
  • crushed nori flakes (I put a few nori sheets in my food processor and make a powder that I keep in my pantry, but you can also cut a nori sheet with scissors)
  • 1 cup of halved cherry tomatoes
  • pinch of hot pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste

Here is what you do:

  1. With a fork, mash the avocado flesh with the citrus juice, pesto, sesame seeds, nori flakes, hot pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
  2. Serve with the cherry tomatoes and some crackers. Here I used beetroot crackers.

IMG_2948

This takes seconds to prepare, while still being fresh and delicious. Look at all the colors and textures! Yum! It’s also fun to serve the cherry tomatoes on top because you can scoop some guacamole and a tomato for each bite. Let me know if you try it out!

 

Kale-Parsley Pesto

I love pesto. If I could, I would eat basil pesto every day: the flavour is so fresh! However, until summer gets here and we get to grow it, basil is too much for our budget (especially if had every day). So, I turn to the next best thing: parsley! This pesto is super green, very delicious, and adds a ton of fresh flavours to salads, soups, toasts and, of course, pasta. It’s also oil-free and a breeze to make!

IMG_2932

Here is what you need:

  • a bunch of flat-leaf parsley (about 2 cups)
  • 1 bunch of kale leaves, stems removed (about 4 cups)
  • 1 peeled orange
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • optional ingredients (pick a few!): 3 tbs pine nuts, 2 cloves of garlic, 3 tbs walnuts

Here is what you do:

  1. Mix everything up in your food processor or blender.
  2. Keep in an air-tight container in the fridge.

The orange balances out the bitterness kale can bring while also keeping the pesto green. It’s also is more subtle than lemon and really lets the parsley’s flavour come through. This recipe is also a great way to use up some left over kale. Perfect! Let me know if you try this out!

 

Maple Glazed Pecans

I don’t have any story to tell you about this recipe. I just love pecans and maple syrup together! These two ingredients are the perfect combination, and it’s even better when you add some ginger to the mix! This recipe takes 20 minutes to prepare, is delicious, and makes for a great ‘mason jar’ gift.

IMG_2921

Here is what you need:

  • 4 cups pecans
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 8 pieces of candied ginger, cut into small pieces

Here is what you do:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix all your ingredients and spread in a single layer on a lined cookie sheet.
  3. Place in your oven and mix every 5 minutes. The overall cooking time for these are 20 minutes. You know they are ready when all the maple syrup is really thick (almost caramel like), and your pecans are slightly brown.
  4. Place the pecans in your fridge for 30 minutes until they are completely cooled. Placing them in the fridge makes them crispier.
  5. Once cooled, keep the pecans in an air-tight container.

IMG_2922.JPG

This makes for a great snack or nice cream and salad topping. It is crispy, sweet, full of maple flavour and so easy to put together! The ginger pieces also add a little bit of heat and balance the maple nicely.

Let me know if you try this out!

 

Raw Vegan Chocolate Cake with Frosting

This is the dessert you need to try out if you are looking for the ultimate chocolate cake. It is full of flavour, rich and satisfying. It is also very quick and easy to make, so it would be a perfect last minute treat for busy days.

IMG_2904

Here is what you need for the cake:

  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 8 medjool dates
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Here is what you do for the cake:

  1. Add the nuts into your food processor or blender and mix until finely ground.
  2. Add the pitted dates, cocoa powder and vanilla extract. Process until evenly combined and sticky.
  3. Press a few tablespoon of the cake mixture in a small jar and pat down. Place in the fridge.

Here is what you need for the frosting:

  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • dash of salt

Mix all the ingredients until smooth. Spread on the cake and let sit in the fridge until the frosting thickens up.

IMG_2915

This is a really intense chocolate cake! The flavour is rich, and the texture is smooth and creamy. The frosting makes this extra special and adds some sweetness. I really like how easy this dessert is, while still being impressively delicious! Be prepared for a great chocolate overload! Let me know if you try this out!

 

Sweet Potato Nori Roll

I love purple sweet potatoes! I also really like nori sheets, so why not combine the two? Add a few little things, and BAM! You have a nice, filling, fresh, and colourful meal that you can customize to your liking (or to your fridge’s content)!

IMG_2899

Here is what you need for each roll:

  • 1 Nori sheet (I get my Nori sheets here because it is a lot less expensive than what I find locally)
  • 1/2 cup cooked mashed sweet potato (I used purple, but you can go with orange if you like)
  • 1/4 avocado in strips or mashed
  • 1/3 cup grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup alfalfa sprouts
  • 1/3 cup flat parsley leaves
  • 1 tbs toasted sesame seeds

Here is what you do:

  1. With your fingers or a wet spoon, spread the mashed potato on the nori sheet.
  2. Sprinkle with some sesame seeds
  3. Add the avocado, carrots, parsley and sprouts.
  4. Using your fingers, lift one side of the nori sheet while holding the fillings in and roll it up! You can use a little bit of water to glue the end of the paper. Press gently on the roll to help it stay in place (sushi roll style).
  5. Cut in half to serve.

IMG_2898.JPG

Since these rolls are pretty big and the mash I used was cold, I didn’t feel the need to use a rolling mat. The rolls were easy to make and so delicious! They are also very quick if you prepare the ingredients ahead of time. We ate this with some tamari sauce mixed with a little sriracha sauce, and it was amazingly good! I think tomato slices, cilantro, cucumber and kale could also make a great roll!

Let me know if you try it out and how you like it!

 

Save

Vegan Chocolate Tiramisu

I have to admit, I only had tiramisu once before going vegan. For some reason, however, I was craving the smooth layers of chocolate cake and cream. So I made some chocolate cake, thick vegan cream, a rum-chocolate dipping liquid, and here you go!

IMG_2891

Here is what you need for the cake:

  • 120g gluten free flour
  • 60g almond flour
  • 50g oil
  • 250g almond milk
  • 2 tbs cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Dash of vanilla extract

Here is what you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
  3. Add the oil, milk and vanilla extract, and mix until smooth.
  4. Use a lined cake mold, and bake the cake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick put in the center comes out clean.
  5. Set aside.

For the cream, I used my coconut cream recipe, but skipped the Chai spices.

IMG_2895.JPG

For the rum-chocolate syrup, mix 1/8 to 1/4 cup of rum with 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder, and 1 tsp of maple syrup. This is completely optional, but it adds a ton of flavour. You could also use a little bit of chocolate milk.

To assemble: 

  • Add one teaspoon of syrup at the bottom of your jar or container.
  • Place a layer of chocolate cake, add a little bit of syrup, and cover with some cream. Repeat until your container is full and finish with a layer of cream.
  • Sprinkle a little bit cocoa powder on top and serve!

This dessert is best eaten fresh because if you put it in the fridge overnight, it will be thicker and less creamy. Still, this is great! It is full of chocolate flavour!

Let me know what you think, and if you try it out!

 

Simple Curry (for busy nights)

This is the recipe I fall back on when I’m feeling like having some comfort food. It is very quick to make, looks impressive and is really delicious! It also makes for a great lunch!

IMG_2882

Here is what you need:

Part 1: The protein:

  • 1 cup TVP (texturized vegetable protein; I used big pieces. You can find this in Asian grocery stores or in health food stores.)
  • 1 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp miso

Part 2: The sauce:

  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 tbp corn starch
  • 2 tbs tamari or soy sauce

Part 3: The vegetables:

  • 1 tsp coconut oil (you can replace this with some water)
  • 1 minced onion
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 zucchini squashes
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbs garram massala

Here is what you do:

  1. Dilute the miso paste in the warm water and place the TVP in so that it can soak up all the water. Put aside.
  2. Mix all the sauce ingredients and put aside.
  3. In a large sauce pan, heat up the coconut oil, and stir the garlic and onion until golden and fragrant. Add the spices and give a good stir.
  4. Cut the zucchinis into bite-sized pieces and add to the pan. Mix well.
  5. Add the TVP and the remaining water and stir everything until well coated in spices.
  6. When everything is cooked and ready to serve, add the sauce ingredients and stir until the sauce becomes thick and glossy. Serve with warm rice or noodles.

IMG_2879

I really like this dish because I can pretty much make it with anything on hand: eggplant, chickpeas, mushrooms, tofu or even tempeh! It is also very easy to prepare and quite quick to make. It is supper flavourful and so comforting!

Let me know if you give it a try!

Chai Coconut Mascarpone Cups

This week-end I was craving desserts, in particular yogurt parfaits where you place fruit over yogurt and add nuts, granola or other toppings. I have been experimenting with vegan yogurt, but so far the results have not been to my liking. Yet, I yearned for this rich cream consistency. So, I gathered a few things that I thought would work out and created this!

IMG_0762

Amazingly smooth, rich and thick, this cream is reminiscent of a simple yogurt or mascarpone cheese. I had to add a little bit of excitement to it (even though I was so happy to have cream, I was pretty much already dancing in my kitchen), and so I decided to add some Chai spices: cinnamon, cardamon, black pepper and cloves. This really makes this cream unique and quite spectacular and it reminds me of mascarpone cheese.

Here is what you need for the cream:

  • 250mL of coconut milk
  • 4 tbs of almond powder
  • 4 tbs of coconut oil
  • 2 tbs maple syrup or honey
  • 5 cardamon pods
  • 1 cm piece of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp of black pepper corns
  • 4 cloves
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

Topping ideas: Fresh berries, coconut flakes, crushed almonds, shopped dates, chocolate chips, granola, grilled nuts: use your imagination!

Here is what you do for the cream:

  1. In a small sauce pan, heat the coconut milk, oil and sweetener on medium heat.
  2. Crush the cardamon pods in your mortar (or use the back of a spoon). Set aside.
  3. Add the almond powder in the pan and whisk until the mixture starts to thicken up (about 10 minutes).
  4. Add the spices and vanilla extract and let them infuse for 5 minutes or until the mixture is thick to your liking.
  5. Remove from the heat and strain to remove the spices.
  6. Let the cream set and firm up in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving with your favourite toppings.
IMG_0760

I used some fresh raspberries, coconut flakes and sweet samosas.

I used some of the fruit leather to make sweet samosas (how-to tomorrow). It’s fun and easy! And that cream! So much flavours and the consistency is just smooth and thick and wonderful. Of course, you could avoid using the spices for a mellower flavour. This is a great substitution for yogurt and makes for an easy dessert. Let me know if you try it out and if you like it!

IMG_0761

 

 

Simple Fruit Leather

I really hate to throw away food. When I see that the produce I bought is getting old and will go bad soon, I try to transform it to extend its life to avoid waste. I have to say, however, that meal planing reduces and often eliminates waste as you are only buying what you need. Still, sometimes, fruits or vegetables get forgotten in a corner. This is what happened to two wonderful prunes this week.

IMG_2876

I few hours later, my two wrinkled prunes were transformed into a magnificent fruit leather that is eaten and not wasted. Cheers to that!

Here is what you need:

  • 2 prunes (or any other fruit that is getting old or very ripe: pears, bananas, apples, oranges, etc..)
  • 2 tbs ground almonds (optional but makes it more filling; use one table spoon per cup of fruit)
  • 2 tbs lemon juice (optional but helps reduce browning)

Here is what you do:

  1. Peel and pit your fruit. This makes your fruit leather smoother.
  2. In a food processor or blender, puree your fruit and ground almonds until smooth. If you are using fruits that have the tendency to brown (bananas, apples, pears for example) you can add a few tablespoons of lemon juice.
  3. On a lined cookie sheet or on your dehydrator mat covered with silicone paper, spread the pureed fruit evenly. Tap a few times to remove bubbles.
  4. If you are using a dehydrator, set to 145F or 60C and let sit for 4 to 8 hours depending on the thickness. If you are using your regular oven, set on the lowest temperature and keep the oven door open for 4 to 6 hours, checking often to avoid burning.
  5. Once dried up, cut the leather into strips, roll and store in an air-tight container.

IMG_2878

This is really super simple and so delicious! It makes for a great healthy, sugar-free snack that can easily be taken with you anywhere. You can also make it your own by adding nuts or seeds to the mix, or by combining different fruits. the texture of this is similar to fruit roll-ups without being overly sweet or filled with artificial coloring. And really, the hardest part of this recipe is to wait for it to be ready!

Let me know what you favourite fruit is for this or what you do with your not-so-fresh-anymore produce to avoid waste. And if you are looking for a dehydrator, I bought an Excalibur a few years ago, and it’s perfect! If you are in Canada, you can check out Upaya Naturals: that’s where I got mine, and the shipping was super quick.

 

Save