My new Excalibur 9-tray dehydrator!!

Just getting started with it… making red kale crisps and banana chips. Read about it on my other blog, I Used to be Fat(ter).

Today I also started soaking more wheat berries and garbanzo beans for sprouts. This weekend will be filled with new recipes!

Now to figure out what’s for dinner tonight…

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Oven baked manna bread

After my first baking attempt with sprouted grains (in the crock pot), I realized this wasn’t very practical, since you can only cook one small dinner sized roll at a time. I did a little more research and looked for some guidance as to how to bake sprouted grain bread in the oven. I realized that the type of bread this would be is called “Essene” or “manna” bread.

According to mannabread.com

“Manna bread, an unleavened “Essene bread” made from sprouted grains, contains no salt, added fat, or sweeteners. Traditionally, the Hebrew tribes in ancient Egypt made this Essene or ’sprouted bread’ by grinding berry roots between rocks or millstones.  The bread was then laid to bake on stones heated by fire or the scorching sun. The sprouted grains are simply crushed, formed into loaves, and baked at a low temperature, resulting in a soft, subtly sweet, moist, dense, and coarsly textured “bread”.”

The recipes I found called for 3 cups wheat berry sprouts, ground and pressed into a loaf pan, or alternately, a cookie sheet (either must be lined with parchment for release.) The temperatures ranged from 200-250 degrees F and the times from two and a half to up to five hours. So I cooked mine in the middle, at 225 degrees for about 3 and a half, maybe closer to 4 hours.

I only had 2 cups of wheat berry sprouts left, so I ground those up. After attempting to shape in some kind of loaf, I figured I’d just go with like a mini flatbread or “crisp” set up. My thoughts were for little open faced sandwiches perhaps?

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It wasn’t until AFTER I took them out of the oven that the light bulb went off – COOKIES! This is totally the base for a delicious sprouted grain cookie! Mind blown. Anyway…

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The taste was exactly the same as the one made in the crock pot, only I did like the thinner aspect of this set up rather than the dinner roll style bread that was cooked in the crock pot. I ate one piece of this flatbread style manna bread with a little bit of Earth Balance (cheat – but it was soo good.)

So hmm… cookies? Crisps? I really want my dehydrator to come so I can start experimenting with these ideas, but keeping the food under a certain temperature to preserve all the nutrients instead of heating it above and ruining the integrity of the nutrients. I really think that’s the direction I’m headed! Eeeeee!

 

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First attempt: crock pot sprouted grain bread (Updated)

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My first sprouts are ready to go! These are hard red winter wheat berry sprouts. They sprouted for 3 days. I rinsed them 3-4 times a day throughout the process, using luke warm water. I read that hot water can kill sprouts and cold water can shock them also.

I had filled three different mason jars with three different levels of sprouts (see my post on The Sprouting Process) just because I was curious as to how many could actually fill a jar to capacity. The jar that started out about 1/3 full was nearly filled up at the end. The sprouts smelled pleasantly sweet and grassy or earth. The other 2 jars, filled about 1/2 and 2/3 full, must not have gotten good enough air circulation because they were producing a sweet sweet smell that was almost sour, definitely a type of fermenting smell. I decided to get rid of those 2 jars just to play it food safe.

So just to begin understanding a little bit more about the wheat and how it works, I decided to try a very simple basic sprouted grain recipe. I found this recipe on ezHealthyDiet.com for making bread using nothing but the sprouted wheat and a crock pot.

All you do is puree 1 cup of sprouted wheat in a food processor until it can be shaped into dough, then place in a crock pot and cook at low for 8 hours.

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This is the “dough ball” after cooking for 4 hours. Halfway done! It smells good and wholesome.I can’t wait to try this later.

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Update: FINISHED crock pot sprouted grain bread!

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Wow, wow, wooweewoow! Haha, pardon the excitement, but I was absolutely floored at how delicious this bread came out. I chowed down on it with my friend before remembering to take a photo and here’s what was left. It was crusty on the outside, dense but not dry on the inside, and sweet like brown sugar. Seriously?! For just one ingredient, this was crazy impressive. It made a bread roll about the size of a dinner roll, which would easily serve 2 due to its denseness (the original website I found the recipe on said it served 4, but I’m not sure…) The time involved to make the bread in this method was not necessarily worth it, however, I need to investigate if you can make a bigger quantity. For one piece about a dinner roll size, it took 8 hours to cook in the crock pot. If I were to use 2 cups of pureed wheat instead of one, would it still cook through? How much longer would it take? Can I do this same kind of bread in the oven? What are the benefits of cooking at the crock pot speed for so long? These are all questions I will research and test this week. This was a perfect introduction to the cooking with sprouted grains though, as I really got to see how one single ingredient can take shape into something so nourishing and delicious. My final recipes will contain as few ingredients as necessary to preserve the flavor and integrity of each whole food that I use.

This has also really inspired me to go the way of dehydrating bread crisps or something along that line, where’s my Excalibur??? Will Sprout Out Loud Foods end up being a sprouted grain baked goods company or a sprouted grain raw foods company??? Only time will tell…

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Vegan peanut butter chocolate cake

Yesterday, I baked a cake for my brother’s 27th birthday.

Sure, it looks a little silly, but it tasted sooo delicious. The silliness came in my attempt to write “Happy Birthday.” Usually, if you combine confectioner’s sugar with margerine and coloring (in this case beet juice), you get a great frosting. You can play with the texture by adding more or less of ingredients to get piping frosting. Then, you can use the corner of a plastic sandwich bag with a very small hole in it to write on cakes or other pastries. However, the bags I had on hand had these weird inverted corners and the whole process ended up being messy. I just decided to go with it. Looks like a cake from a Gak factory, tastes like a cake from a fancy vegan bakery.

I found the recipe on a blog called The Baking Bird. It looks absolutely divine as is, but I decided to make a few substitutions to increase nutrition and decrease refined oils (my 2 goals in life, ha.) The peanut butter frosting, especially, is how she describes it – PERFECT.

I didn’t take photos along the way like I intended, I was in a bit of a rush, but I’ll share the recipe anyway. (** denote the only 2 ingredients changed)

Cake:
  • 2 cups soy milk
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup canned pumpkin**
  • 2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sprouted whole wheat flour**
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  •  1/2 tsp salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly spray two 9″ round cake pans.
  2. Whisk together the soy milk and vinegar. Add the sugar, pumpkin, and vanilla extract, beat until foamy.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add to wet ingredients and beat until large lumps disperse.
  4. Pour evenly into 2 cake pans. Bake 26-28 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Allow 10-15 minutes before removing from pan, then allow to finish cooling thoroughly before frosting.
Peanut butter frosting:
*This will make JUST enough for a thin layer of frosting, all you need for this cake since it is so rich. But if you get greedy and start tasting the frosting, you may need to make another batch or 1/2 batch.* 😀
  • 1/4 cup Earth Balance margerine, softened
  • 2 TBSP Earth Balance shortening, softened
  • 1/3 cup organic peanut butter (crunchy or creamy)
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 to 2 TBSP soy milk
  1. Cream together Earth Balance and shortening until very smooth.
  2. Add peanut butter and vanilla. Cream together until very smooth. (Side note on peanut butter: Quality matters! Choose organic if possible for a fuller, more peanuty flavor. Preferably with no oil, sugar, or salt added. Peanuts are all you need. I used Whole Food’s 365 Organic Peanut Butter with wonderful result.)
  3. Add sugar. Mixture will be very stiff, make sure to add well until frosting is no longer crumbly.
  4. Add soy milk slowly, a little at a time, beating continuously until frosting is fluffy.
  5. Frost cake once completely cooled. Enjoy!

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The sprouting process (UPDATED)

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Today marks the beginning of my fun with sprouting grains at home! (Grains began soaking at 12:00 PM)

I’ve got 3 jars of hard red winter wheat berries currently soaking (step 1, see below) with different levels of grains just for fun and experimenting.

Hard red winter wheat berries are the most commonly used for baking, and in all-purpose flour. They aren’t always sprouted first. They are high protein, and sprouting will increase the quantity and quality of the protein content. Hurrah!

Sprouting at home in mason jars

What you will need:

  • Mason jar
  • Grain of your choice
  • Your choice of covering (cheese cloth or mesh screen with mason jar lid ring -OR- plastic sprouting lids with mesh screen.)

The process:

  • Always start with clean, organic, untreated grains!!! Don’t ruin the connection to your food and your health by soaking up pesticides.
  • Sort through grains for dirt/debris. Rinse thoroughly.
  • Soak grains, completely immersed, in filtered water for 8-12 hours to activate the sprouting process.
  • If using cheesecloth or mesh screen: Cut covering to fit mason jar mouth with at least 1″ overhang around all edges to prevent covering from slipping during draining process. Most sites recommended 2-3 layers of cheesecloth, which is what I’ll be using this time around. Secure with thick rubber band (like those found on certain produce) or mason jar lid ring.

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Our cat Jack decided to try to help me cut the cheesecloth. He’s not allowed on the counter though, so I booted him. I left the cheesecloth folded as seen and cut just around the mason jar lid. Squares work well too and save much time cutting.

  • If using plastic sprouting lids: Screw on! So easy. Jar lids come in different sizes for different grains. Plastic lids are said to be better so rust doesn’t form on the lid ring from constant exposure to water. The mesh screen used in these is also the best size for air circulation. I purchased these ones today:

  • Rinse and drain grains. Make sure that all grains are able to move around and all surfaces of grain are exposed to water. Allow the water to run through all the grains for complete rinsing. Once the jar is full, shake the water around and swish it in between the grains as you are pouring it out.

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Rinsed grains at 11:00 PM, after soaking for 11 hours.

  • ***IMPORTANT FOR FOOD SAFETY*** Many resources address the contamination issues that are possible when sprouting in mason jars, due to lack of circulation or the possibility of extra moisture remaining in the jar. Make sure to follow every step exact to get the best quality and safe sprouts to use!
  • Rinse, rinse, rinse your sprouts! Rinse 3-4 times daily and make sure to “swish” sprouts around so water gets in between all sprouts and moves them around to circulate. Take care when rinsing to not damage delicate sprouts. Damaged sprouts may also lead to contamination.
  • Drain, drain, drain your sprouts! After rinsing, make sure to thoroughly drain. I am planning on allowing the jar to sit on an upside down angle in dish strainer to allow more air circulation and encourage all water to continue draining out.

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These are not laying horizontally, but are tipped slightly downward to allow continue drainage and air flow. (Draining grains at 11:00 PM after 11 hours soaking.)

  • After 2-3 days, when sprouts reach your liking, rinse and drain one final time. (Note: the general consensus is that the sprout should end up being approximately the same size as the grain. However, shorter or longer sprouts can result in a different flavor so I will be doing some experimenting with this.)
  • Refrigerate sprouts for whole use in cooking, baking, or raw in salads, or dehydrate sprouts into flour. I plan on formulating different recipes for bread using either whole wheat berries or sprouted grain flour, to experiment with the difference in flavor, texture, etc.

I also purchased an Excalibur 9 Tray Food Dehydrator today, something I’ve wanted for over a year now. I finally took the plunge! I think it’s going to be a good investment. Sprouted grain flours, dried fruit, kale chips! Even raw flatbreads. Hmm.. the wheels are turning.. Anyway, once the grains are sufficiently sprouted, I’ll move forward with either cooking with them whole or dehydrating them for flour, depending on when this bad boy gets delivered.

Before sprouting at home, consider doing some thorough reading on the sites I’ve pulled my information from. These sites all contain beautiful photos and a great voice of the process. I find, personally, before starting anything new its best to hear many different perspectives on it. Gets you the big picture and a broader understanding.

The Nourishing Gourmet

Nourished Kitchen

Kitchen Stewardship

Sprout People

Sprouted grains: they’re aaallliiiivvveeee.

English: Growing sprouts using a wide mouth ma...First step in getting ready to develop my first recipe is going to be learning as much as I can about the benefits, process, and hazards, and then other recipes as guidelines and inspiration.

I have a pretty strong knowledge in the health benefits of sprouted grain through random research at my job (and for personal gain of knowledge.) The sprouting process allows enzymes to become active, the grain is now alive. What does it mean that the food is alive?

Well, when a fruit is picked, it still continues to ripen. Even though it has lost its external source of energy, it will continue the same processes until its own energy is used up, and the processes are unable to be completed, resulting in the fruit going bad. So in the meantime, the fruit is still alive and full of nutrients to pass on to whomever is lucky enough to consume it.

(Just a note to connect nutrition to local produce… I’m not sure anyone has done the research to prove that food miles decrease nutritional value. Its not my main point here so I’m not going to pursue it just now BUT it seems logical. When the fruit is first picked from the tree, it is at its peak nutrition. There’s nothing that can be done naturally to add more nutrition to that piece of fruit. We can’t reattach it to the tree and allow it to continue to grow. And since it has no more plant to feed off of, it will start to use up its own vitamins and minerals to ripen and mature. Hence, the levels of nutrition would decrease. It’s just a theory, but uhh.. it seems pretty obvious.)

Now, it would be easy to think that the process of a fruit maturing or ripening once picked is similar to the process of a person’s body decomposing after its life source is cut off. Let me highlight the difference. Even if an apple is picked from the tree, its seed can be replanted, and can grow into a new plant. There must be something living there, although almost “dormant” you could say. Think about root vegetables. Even once they are dug up and cut from its life source, you can replant it into the soil and grow more! Amazing!

And that brings us full circle around to sprouted grains. Taking a grain and hydrating it almost “tricks” the grain into thinking its going to grow into a plant. Chemical changes start taking place. Enzymes are activated, and the compounds inside the grain begin to break down from compound to simple. The grain is “getting ready” to receive nutrition from soil and metabolize the vitamins and minerals into making more larger compounds to grow the plant. However, when sprouting, the plant never receives soil. So these compounds stay broken into their simple elements, making it that much easier for our bodies to take them in to form our own essential larger compounds (fats, proteins, etc). The enzymes that the sprout now contains are also important for us to consume. The human body contains two types of enzymes: metabolic and digestive. When consuming a raw or living food, we do not need to activate or use up our own digestive enzymes because those enzymes are still intact in the food.

Sprouting also reduces phytic acid, which is a substance that binds throughout  food to many vitamins and minerals and blocks our absorption of it. Since sprouting helps reduce phytic acid, more nutrients are readily available for us to take in.

So, I’m going to work to develop whole wheat baked goods that also contain sprouted grains. First test will be a banana bread. Now, let me just note that cooking sprouted grains does end up killing the live enzymes that were activated in the sprouting process. It’s inevitable, especially since they’re fragile and susceptible to heat. However, a sprouted grain will still be more nutrient-dense than a grain that is not sprouted. The protein and fiber content increases and is more easily digested, and the inhibitors like phytic acid will still be reduced. Overall, it will still be a more nutritious food item. Yum!

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What’s the plan, Stan?

Today marks the beginning of my path to launching a small sprouted grain baking operation (sounds like a big word, trust me – it’s going to be very small). The catch is that right now I don’t know much about running a business, I don’t know much about making sprouted grain baked goods from scratch, and I really don’t know all that much about blogging. So as time goes on, and I move towards my goal, I’ll be sharing the learning experience, both progress and setbacks. I’ll be keeping a blog to detail what I learn and how my recipes develop and change to result in a wholesome, healthy sprouted grain food (starting first with loaves – banana bread, anyone?), hopefully to be ready to sell by Spring/Summer 2012.

I suppose I would like to start considering myself a “lifestyle entrepreneur” – from Wikipedia: “A lifestyle entrepreneur places passion before profit when launching a business in order to combine personal interests and talent with the ability to earn a living.”  Then there is the “social” entrepreneur being someone who is interested in increasing social value by improving goods/services to their community. It mentions that a lot of social entrepreneurs are a non-profit set up. My operation will obviously not be non-profit at this time, as I’m going to be doing this to make a living, but I do have social improvement in mind. I hope to not only offer delicious, healthy food options to those “in-the-know” of sprouted grains, but hopefully create interest in living foods by teaching people the benefits and showing how freakin’ good they can taste. Along the way, I plan on incorporating a little bit of my own story of health and well-being. (Check out my other blog: I Used to be Fatter.) I hope that my food and my story together can at least inspire or interest a few others…

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