In my post A Month Hiatus: Where in the RAW Has She Been, I shared that I would soon share all that I learned from my month of eating 100% raw food. I just needed a little time to digest it all. (Hee hee.)
Last week I shared my first ah-ha about eating raw foods. It was that pure whole foods are insanely delicious and good for you. I shared a smoothie made by pureeing the fruit of an entire cantaloupe and another smoothie made by pureeing a watermelon. Both utterly delicious and nutritious.
This week, I have two ah-has to share.
1. Sprouting is a fun way to eat your produce at the peak of its nutritional value.
2. Nutritional Yeast is a great alternative to cheese.
I’ve played with sprouting in the past. I bought this jar to start the sprouting fun last Spring.
I had fun sprouting sunflower seeds to put on salads, but that’s about as far as I got. This month I’ve been sprouting like an urban farmer…in various containers on my countertops…alfalfa, buckwheat, and chickpeas. At any given moment there’s somewhere between 2 and 4 soaking bowls or sprouting strainers in the Husband’s way on the counter.
Why am I sprouting? I’ve listened to the experts.
- When you eat sprouts, you are eating live food. Live food has more nutrients.
- Sprouts are an alkalizing, living food which continues to grow and gain vitamins after being harvested. (source)
- Sprouts have a regenerating effect on the human body because of their high concentration of RNA, DNA, protein, and essential nutrients which can be found only in living cells. (source)
- In the process of sprouting, the vitamins, minerals, and protein increase substantially with corresponding decrease in calories and carbohydrate content. (source)
- “The nutritious value of sprouts is remarkable with sprouts containing a greater concentration of vitamins, minerals, proteins, enzymes, phytochemicals, anti-oxidants, nitrosmines, trace minerals, bioflavinoids and chemo-protectants (such as sulphoraphane and isoflavone) which work against toxins, resist cell mutation and invigorate the body’s immune system than at any other point in the plant’s life – even when the plant is fully matured.” (source)
- Sprouts are cute.
- They taste great.
- I know they’re insanely good for me.
- They’re fun to grow.
- And did I mention that they’re really cute?
I discovered sprouting chickpeas when I stumbled upon this package from Love Raw Foods at Whole Foods. I had never considered sprouting beans before. But why not?
After soaking them overnight, I drained the water and soon saw these adorable little sprouts starting to emerge. It seemed that every time I walked past the kitchen the sprouts were longer. I felt like proud mama bean plant watching these babies grow for 2-3 days!
I’ve enjoyed nibbling these beans and tossing them in salads, but my favorite way to eat these sprouted chickpeas is in this Raw “Cheesy” Kale and Sprouted Chickpea Salad.
But before I share the recipe, let me share my second raw foods ah-ha with you. The worst thing about eating a vegan/raw foods diet is missing cheese. Oh, the cheese. When I tried to do a 21 day vegan diet in the past I quit after Day 9. Why? I missed cheese.
If I had only known about Nutritional Yeast.
The secret to my dairy-free Raw “Cheesy” Kale and Sprouted Chickpea Salad is the Nutritional Yeast Flakes. I’d always heard that vegans love nutritional yeast as a cheese alternative, and I’ve done my share of sprinkling it on salads, popcorn, and even this Spinach Artichoke Dip. But I’d never used it in high concentration until making this salad. And I LOVE this salad.
But this salad comes with a warning. (Yes, now you’re really averse to making it, I know…but stick with me!) After my second time making this salad (and letting little GFC Max lick the bowl), I suddenly felt flush and itchy ALL over. I don’t have skin issues. I’ve never had intense reactions to anything besides gluten, and I knew that this meal was 100% gluten free. So I began the brainstorming.
I remembered that I had just eaten a ton of yeast. (Max was fine, by the way. His only effect was a deep sleep in a sun spot on the living room floor.)
Back when I was diagnosed with gluten intolerance, I was also told that I couldn’t eat dairy, soy, or yeast. After healing from the years of gluten ingestion, I found that I could tolerate dairy, soy, and yeast in moderation. But was this severe reaction a reminder that yeast was still a no-no?
No, in fact, it was a niacin flush. Have you ever experienced a niacin flush? Vegans use Nutritional Yeast as a Vitamin B supplement. Vitamin B3 is also known as niacin. Niacin causes the capillaries to increase in size allowing more blood to reach the cells to release toxins. The body’s response to the toxins is to release histamines (which makes you itch like mad!) and signals water, blood, and nutrients to that area. So even though it’s a temporary uncomfortable feeling (lasting 15-30 minutes), it’s actually good for you. And if you continue using niacin, your body will adjust and the reactions will decrease. (See Marc Jennings’ article called “Niacin Flush — What is It?” for more information.) What a relief it was to learn that my body was naturally doing it’s thing.
That said, aren’t you excited to try this recipe? Ha! Every body is different. I would start with 1/4 c. of nutritional yeast to achieve that delicious cheesy flavor, and if you’re brave and ready for an intensely delicious cheesy flavor, and possibly a flush, go for the 1/2 cup!
Raw “Cheesy” Kale and Sprouted Chickpea Salad
- 1 large bunch of kale
- 1/4 c. Bragg’s Raw Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 T. olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 1/4-1/2 c. Nutritional Yeast Flakes
- 1/2 tsp. cumin
- 1/2 tsp. coriander
- 1 c. sprouted chickpeas
1. Remove the stems from the kale leaves. Roll the leaves and slice them into thin ribbons. Place kale in a large bowl.
2. Add apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and sea salt and toss.
3. Add sprouted chickpeas and sprinkle with cumin and coriander, and toss again.
4. Gradually sprinkle the salad with nutritional yeast flakes, stopping to toss 3-4 times until well combined.
Serves 2 as a meal or 4 as a side salad
You can absolutely substitute canned chickpeas in this recipe for the same delicious taste. But if you take the time to sprout your chickpeas, you’ll only go back to canned when you’re in a time crunch. Because sprouted just tastes earthier and richer, and you know that you’re giving your body the equivalent of a day at the spa.
- Are you a sprouter?
- What are your favorite seeds to sprout?
- Have you experienced the niacin flush?
- How do you use nutritional yeast?
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