Category: Spring

It’s Alive! Sprouted Chickpea Hummus

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The first job I landed after moving to Copenhagen, was working as a chef in a little cafe. After a few weeks of consistently not burning lasagna and under seasoning everything, I was asked if I was interested in cooking on a few episodes on a local, public TV station. The producers suggested I choose a few dishes that I love, and filmed me in a friend’s kitchen, since mine was too small. My husband gently warned me beforehand that Danes don’t respond well to overly-enthusiastic, hyperbolic Americans, so I faked it and was awkwardly not myself as I spoke lukewarmly about whole grains and beans, fermented things and dark leafy greens. The first recipe I made on the show was sprouted hummus, and although the recipe turned out well, I felt like a fraud. Because above all things, sprouts were, and still are, my true love.

The show was on at 2 or 3 in the morning, and because I didn’t have a television, I never actually saw it on air. Instead, I watched it on my computer on a borrowed CD, long after it had been on TV. Much to my dismay, the producers titled the show “Cooking with Sareh”, which still baffles me considering the fact that my name is spelled the exact same way in Danish. The program was poorly edited, badly lit, awkward in every sense, and in my attempts to come off as cool and nonchalant, I seemed utterly bored as I fondled chickpea sprouts – something that otherwise would get me pretty riled up. On the whole, this experience was totally mortifying, except for one small, redeeming factor. I was suddenly being recognized at work in the café, and on the bike paths of Christiania: “hey sprout girl!” they’d call at me. “It’s you! I didn’t make your hummus, but your show is great, sprout girl”, they’d say. If there was any consolation, this was it. I was Sprout Girl.

So in case you missed my break out performance on Cooking with Sareh, and my reined-in, lackluster pitch about sprouts, here it is again. Because I am Sprout Girl forever and always.

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Sprouting is like any other kitchen endeavour: it seems pretty daunting until you actually do it, then you’re left wondering what took you so long to try – a real facepalm moment. With simple equipment that you most likely have in your cupboard, and seeds that you already have in your pantry, it’s a fun and empowering practice that brings you one step closer to your food.

Sprouts are so nutritious because they are life potential, ignited. When we soak a seed, we end its dormancy, and awaken the nutrition inside it needed to grow a plant which will in turn make more seeds and more plants. When we eat a sprout, we eat this potential! Pound for pound, sprouts have the largest amount of nutrients of any food. Did you get that? This is a big deal! And it’s all because sprouting increases vitamin content significantly, especially vitamin A, B’s, C and E, along with boosting calcium, iron, selenium, and zinc. The quality of protein and carbohydrates improves, as the sprouting process begins to break down the complex proteins and starches into amino acids, peptides, and simple carbohydrates needed by the seed to grow. At the same time, anti-nutrients such as phytic acid, protease and amylase inhibitors are neutralized. This makes a sprout very easy to digest with highly absorbable nutrients.

Who is responsible for this influx of awesomeness? It’s enzymes! Enzymes are compounds found in raw plants that are needed for nearly every biochemical process that takes place in our body, and something many of our modern diets are lacking. Sprouts are virtually loaded with them. There are up to 100 times more enzymes in sprouts than uncooked fruits and veggies! Enzymes are also what sets living food apart from raw food. Yes, raw foods still offer us enzymes, but eating a food that is alive guantees more enzymes, and in fact more nutrients altogether. As soon as a food is picked, it begins losing its nutrients. Imagine how much vitamin C is left in that orange, which has traveled hundreds, if not thousands of kilometers to get to your plate, and spent weeks, if not months in a storage facility before being dropped off at your local grocer. Sprouts are the remedy to this, pulsating with life and life-giving nutrients, and pretty much the freshest food you can eat outside of a garden.

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Sprouts are also incredibly low in calories, yet deliciously filling due to their high fiber and water content. A fantastic food to binge on, especially if you’re trying to elbow out some of the other stuff from your diet. I love the versatility of sprouts, not only are there so many varieties, but they can be used in so many ways. Like this hummus for example! You can also go classic and top your sandwiches with sprouts, or fold them into grain salads, puree them into soups and even smoothies. I also love freshening up cooked dishes, like stir-fries, curries and pizzas with sprouts. Their crunch and earthy brightness are a welcoming balance to heavier, richer meals.

If you’re on a budget, sprouts are a sweet deal. Because the amount of food you sprout triples or quadruples in size, you’ll end up with way more to eat than you started with for the same price. It’s kind of magical. What’s more, is that properly stored sprouts can last over a month, and some varieties up to 70 days. If you’re prone to tossing away spoiled produce, sprouts will save you money, big time.

Sprouting can take place anywhere you have access to fresh, clean water twice a day. I’ve sprouted on road trips, beach holidays, visiting the in-laws…all over the place! And the groovy thing about taking your show on the road is that you can convince other people to get sprouting too.

And sprouts are not just great for our health, but also the planet. Consider the fact that you’re growing a garden right in your kitchen, using your own energy to make the magic happen. It’s hyper-local food at its best! No chemicals or pesticides during the growing process, or fossil fuels for transportation. Could sprouts be the perfect food?! The answer is yes. But I may be a little biased. I am the Sprout Girl, after all.

If you are concerned about mold or bacteria contamination, please understand that commercially-grown sprouts are propagated in an ideal environment for pathogens to proliferate. Just one more reason to grow your own sprouts at home where you can be sure of proper hygiene and care. Make sure that your jar or sprouting container is thoroughly clean, that you’re rinsing your sprouts with cool water twice daily, and that your sprouts have plenty of airflow. After I drain my sprouts, I make sure that the seeds / sprouts aren’t blocking the entire opening of the jar (see photo). If you follow these tips, you shouldn’t have any problems.

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Scoring Seeds
You can sprout just about anything, but the cheapest and easiest things are found in the bulk bin of your health food store! Lentils, beans, chickpeas, rice, buckwheat, wheat are all widely available and inexpensive. It’s imperative that you choose organically-grown ingredients, as conventionally grown seeds are often irradiated, making them difficult, or even impossible to germinate. You can also purchase seeds online, especially the more specialty ones, like alfalfa, radish, onion, broccoli etc.

Finding Equipment
There are plenty of sprouting apparatuses that you can buy, but if you’re just starting out, use a jar! I bet you already have one.

– 1 sterilized, large-mouth, quart-sized glass jar with an airtight lid
– small piece of cheesecloth
– rubber band
– a bowl or dish rack

How to Sprout
There are countless resources on this topic online, and even whole books written about sprouting, so I am presenting you with a very simple, yet rather foolproof technique. If you want to learn more (which I encourage you to do!) here’s a great place to learn about different methods, applications, as well as help and advice: Sprout People


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I hope that this process seems simple enough for you to try. I promise that once you start sprouting, you won’t be able to stop! It’s so easy, fun, and connecting – not to mention delicious. Good luck and happy sprouting, dear friends!

xo, Sarah B

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Hey Copenhagen! I am thrilled to announce my first two cookbook events in CPH this Spring. The first will be an intimate talk and demonstration at SLOW Copenhagen, and the second will be a magical, celebratory dinner in collaboration with the local, organic grocer and kitchen, Kost. Click on the images for more info and tickets! Can’t wait to see you there. 

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Sanity-Saving One Pot Pasta

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Life is beautifully full these days. Between caring for an energetic toddler and running my own business while attempting to carve out some time to cook, have a social life, exercise, pursue creative things and do laundry? It’s full-on. And wonderful. And then there are days when I feel that I may just lose it.

We were sitting down to dinner the other night, to a very simple meal that I had thrown together in a mad dash. My husband took a few bites, looked up and said: “This is really, really good.”
“Really?” I asked in disbelief. “I actually cooked the whole thing in 10 minutes and in the same pot” (a triumph for me – I’m a bit of a tornado in the kitchen).
“This is the kind of thing you should blog, Sarah. People like simple things.”

Not that I had forgotten this fact, but I also feel the need to like, blow your minds most of the time. Or at least attempt to, ya know? This was not a blow-your-mind kind of dinner. It was made on a busy weeknight from stuff we had in the fridge and pantry, while a hangry 2-year-old clung to my bare legs since he had already pulled my pants off. If this situation sounds familiar, this dinner will be your new go-to. It’s simple, fast, easy, and most importantly, very delicious. Just because you’re going insane doesn’t mean that you’ve lost all sense of taste. In fact, saving one’s sanity often hinges on proximity to good food, as evidenced by post break-up ice cream binges, and bad-day-at-work pizza parties. I get it.

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Legume-based pastas have been popping up in regular grocery stores all over Copenhagen lately, and I am loving them! They are made from just legumes (red lentils, green peas, adzuki beans etc.), they cook in about 6 minutes and contain unbelievably high amounts of protein and fiber, thanks to the only ingredient being, well, legumes. Although I have some “rules” in my diet which exclude most things that I couldn’t recreate in my own kitchen, these pastas are a serious life-saver when I don’t have a ton of time to make dinner, and a seriously great alternative to wheat pasta. I will compromise a little when my sanity is on the line, won’t you?

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The brilliance of this dish, besides the fact that it is so fast to make, is that it’s cooked in just one pot! Although it differs from the one-pot pastas I’ve seen online where everything is cooked together from the beginning, my version requires a little bit of timing on your part, adding the asparagus and peas about three minutes before the pasta is cooked. Theoretically, you could toss everything together in the same pot from the get-go, but this produces overcooked veggies, and no one really digs that.

You can use any legume-based pasta you like this, in any shape that appeals to you. And, you can really pick any seasonal veggies that cook in the same amount of time or slightly less than the pasta. It’s great with broccoli, sweet potato, green beans, zucchini or snap peas. I even enjoy this dish cold – so it’s the perfect make-and-take meal for a picnic dinner.

If you are not vegan, this is delicious with some grated Pecorino Romano grated in, or crumbled feta.

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Show me your pasta on Instagram: #MNRsanitypasta

Inspirational Sunflower Seed Risotto

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Inspiration is a perplexing creature. As someone who relies on a constant stream of ideas to do what I do, having an endless supply is rather essential.

Of all the questions I am asked, the most common of them all is where my inspiration comes from.

The funny thing about this is, I can’t really give a straight answer because I get ideas from everywhere. Literally. Yes of course there are the obvious places like cookbooks, the farmer’s market, my vegetable garden, but I’ve had ideas strike me like lightening while listening to music, smelling a certain scent wafting on the breeze, the colours in a particular vintage dress. My main motivation for writing a cookbook actually came from a postcard I found randomly, which pictured a faceless girl picking wildflowers. Nothing to do with food. At this point I’ve learned that the most important thing for me is to put myself in the way of beauty as often as possible, keep an open mind, and not do discount any sources or ideas as weird, because the best things most often come out of the seemingly strange.

I will say that one thing that consistently brings me a lot of inspiration, is just talking to other people who really love food. Sometimes getting out of my head and into someone else’s, or at least hearing about their experience with a particular dish or special ingredient can help jumpstart a flood of ideas. For instance, the last time I was in Amsterdam teaching cooking classes, one of the attendees came up to me at the end of the day and told me about a very exciting meal she had eaten in Copenhagen, of all places. It was a risotto made out of sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds! At first this sounded totally bizarre, but then again, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this seriously inspiring idea ever since. I knew that sunflower seeds were about the same size and shape as grains of rice. They were nearly the same colour. But how would they taste? How would they become creamy? What is it like to boil them?

When I googled it, all the recipes called for a pressure cooker, which makes sense for those that aren’t familiar with the awesome power and health benefits of soaking. I knew that that spending the day in a warm bath would make the sunflower seeds totally relaxed and willing to tenderize in a sultry spa of caramelized alliums for dinner that evening. Also, I don’t own a pressure cooker.

So setting out to make this, I anticipated a week’s worth of trial-and-errors, a pile of dirty dishes and a lot of semi-edible sunflower seeds. But I treated the seeds very much like I would treat rice in a risotto and after one (one!) attempt, it was pretty darn near perfect. And pretty darn inspiring.

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To say that this recipe is totally surprising is an understatement. The sunflower seeds are tender and chewy, with just the slightest bit of tooth still left – not unlike the real deal. It’s remarkably simple to make with just a few common ingredients, truly delicious and deeply satisfying. You can make it suit any season as the seeds create a foundation to build upon no matter what time of year you’re enjoying. Since we are finally getting some lovely fresh spring produce here in Denmark, I chose to go that route. I found some beautiful young rainbow carrots, peas in their pods, white and green asparagus and some super fresh watercress. This would be equally lovely with sautéed mushrooms, roasted root vegetables, pumpkin or squash.

I am sure you’re wondering how the seeds get creamy from cooking, and the truth is they don’t – you’ll need to help them out a little. When cooking a rice-based risotto, starch emerges from the grains as they cook, and magically melds with the broth to create a velvety texture. To mimic this I simply blended some of the soaked seeds with equal parts water and added it back into the mix at the end of cooking, the results astounding. This makes the risotto rich and creamy without any starches or carbohydrates.

But what shocks me most of all is how darn flavourful the dish is with such minimal ingredients. The caramelized onions and garlic are really all you need (in this dish, as well as life, I wager) although herbs would be a welcome addition; dried ones during cooking or fresh ones stirred in at the end. My version uses watercress as a finishing touch and is totally lovely with its peppery bite, but I will leave the brilliant blank canvas for you project your own inspiration on to.

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Everyone Loves the Sunflowers
Easy-to-find, inexpensive, and nutrient-rich, sunflower seeds are one of my favourite additions to a number of dishes that I make, from breakfast to dinner and snacks in between. They are delicious toasted or soaked, blended up into seed butter or even milk!

Sunflower seeds are one of nature’s highest sources of vitamin E, the body’s primary fat-soluble antioxidant. Vitamin E is important for overall health, as it functions as a free-radical neutralizer and prevents damage to fat-containing structures and molecules, such as brain cells, cholesterol, and cell membranes. When the fats in cell membranes become damaged, the function of the cell itself can be compromised. This is why researchers have studied whether diets low in Vitamin E are associated with many diseases associated with aging.

Sunflower seeds are so high in vitamin E, that just one serving of this risotto contains over 100% of your daily recommended intake!

Because sunflower seeds have such a high (and healthy!) fat content, it is best to store them in a tightly sealed glass container in the refrigerator. Keeping them cool will help preserve their delicate, nourishing oils, which can then in turn nourish you! They will also last much longer stored this way. If you purchase shelled sunflower seeds in bulk make sure to sniff the bin first: it should smell fresh and nutty, without any traces of sourness, which can indicate that the fats have become rancid. And always have a good look at the seeds to ensure that they are not discoloured or damaged.

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Where do you get your inspiration from? How does it come to you? What have you been inspired by lately? Tell me! Especially if it’s about food…

Wishing you an inspired day! Love always,
Sarah B