GF Recipes, Healthy Living, Raw Foods

Raw “Cheesy” Kale and Sprouted Chickpea Salad

18 Comments 16 April 2012

Raw “Cheesy” Kale and Sprouted Chickpea Salad

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)
And from me:
  • 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

by Heather



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.

Readers, dish!

  • 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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Your Comments

18 Comments so far

  1. Betsy says:

    Yum!!!! I have never sprouted anything, but I have been very interested in trying it. I eat lots of nutritional yeast, but have never had the niacin flush or if I did, I just did not notice. Can’t wait to try this recipe!!!

  2. Amber says:

    This look so super yummy! And I actually have heard of a niacin flush, although I’ve never experienced one myself. Good information though! A reminder how important it is to be mindful of what we eat, and more importantly, how our bodies respond to food. Great post!

    Be Well,

  3. Megan says:

    I love kale. I love nutritional yeast. I love chickpeas. I must make this. I have contemplated sprouting things after it being recommended to me from my Naturopath. I’ve got to give it a try now!

    Thanks for the great recipe – and info about the niacin flush as that was something new I’d never heard of before.

  4. Maggie says:

    Yummy! I’m going to try this, hopefully my nutritional yeast tolerance is high enough! We love it on our popcorn :) There’s a woman at our Farmer’s Market who sells sprouts so I let her do that for me! I would love to do chick peas though. Thanks Heather!

    • Heather says:

      Maggie, I missed you at Nourished!!! Hope you like this recipe. I just made this salad again tonight for tomorrow’s lunch. :) Hope I don’t have a flush while teaching math! 😉

  5. Amber says:

    Hi There Heather,

    I was thinking about your recipe, and it would be a great post for our blog hop: Allergy Free Wednesdays. If you’re interested, I’ve attached a link to last week’s hop. We launch on Tuesday nights (around 7:00 California time). :-)


  6. Melanie says:

    Heather, I still can’t believe we missed each other at Nourished! I’m so glad you were there though :)

    Your sprouted chic peas are adorable! Those little tails get me everytime! We’re having sprouted quinoa for breakfast with apricots and walnuts, yum-o!

    Looking forward to trying your kale and sprouted chick pea salad, I love the flavor of nutritional yeast!

    • Heather says:

      I know! I’d been away from my on-line community for a while and didn’t know who was coming. Wish we had a list ahead of time so we could make sure to find all of our new friends!

      Glad there’s another sprout geek out there! Your breakfast sounds yummy!! (How long did you sprout your quinoa? I wait too long each time.)

  7. Melanie says:

    I soak my quinoa for 6 hours and then I sprout for 2-3 days. I live in Florida where its warm so I usually only sprout for 2 days. I have purchased Tru Roots sprouted beans, brown rice, and quinoa before as well. Which are sprouted and then dehydrated.

  8. Thanks so much for sharing on Allergy-Free Wednesday. Hope you’ll join us again this week with another great recipe!


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A Curious Girl in the Gluten-Free World

I'm a curious girl, wife, teacher, fitness fanatic, gluten-free foodie, high-raw vegan, and Mama Cat living in NYC. I've made the transition from baking and cooking gluten-free to creating raw vegan recipes that are naturally gluten free. My gluten intolerance opened up my diet to a whole new world of nutritious plant-based foods. While I'm not 100% vegan, it's my favorite way to eat, and making and sharing raw foods makes me giddy. Living in the City has its joys and challenges, and I enjoy sharing my experiences with you.

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