Monthly Archives: March 2011

Growing sprouts for good nutrition

I have been growing my own sprouts for many years.  I use fresh sprouts basically as a substitute for lettuce in salads because I have trouble swallowing, especially lettuce, due to my throat surgery. Sprouts provide tastier, more flavorful variations on traditional fare and absolutely outshine lettuce nutritionally.  Sprouts are up to 600 times more vitamin and mineral packed than even the mature vegetables they represent.  Talk about all the vitamins one needs in a luncheon, or snack!

Sprouts are easy to grow and they are a fun conversation starter when company stops by. I grow mine in mason jars which I keep in a wine rack in the dining room. When asked about the mason jars in the “wine rack” I say it’s my indoor garden.  I’ll often have as many as six different varieties growing, in various stages, at the same time. Sprouting an indoor garden is easy to do. The kids can do it. (A healthful idea for a child’s science fair project could be a wine rack full of delicious sprouts and a nutritional comparison chart).

A bunch of tiny seeds take little storage space in a cabinet or drawer. I buy my seeds from different outlets, Spices Etc.com, Herbalcom.com, even the local grocery store sells lentils, peas and beans. They are all sproutable.  However, I do suggest you try to buy organic seeds for purity and quality.  It seems also that organic seeds have a higher germination rate. When sprouting organically, you will notice less empty hulls in the jar when rinsing.

Once my seeds arrive, I transfer the seeds to glass jars with sealable lids. They store nicely in my herbal cabinet, I have quick access and I am reminded daily to keep some sprouting seeds ongoing for continued use. The seeds will keep for years stored this way.

Sprouts provide perfectly healthy, inexpensive nutrition, especially when times are tough. They are perfect as a ‘survival’ food as they take up little space when growing and take little time to grow, (as little as 48 – 72 hours for most). Beans and larger seeds such as Lima and Fava take a bit longer.

Steps to Creating Sprouts in Your Own Kitchen

If you would like to try sprouting, assuming you have some sprouting seeds, such as a bag of lentils or whole peas in your kitchen, start by taking a clean jar, wide mouth mason jars work best because of the ring and lid, although any large mayonnaise type jar will work. You will not need the mason jar lid part, just the ring.

Several Jars ready for sprouting

Next, cut a 5 inch square of cheese cloth or other “gauzy” material to fit over the opening of the jar. Even a 4 inch surgical gauze pad works nicely.

Jar ready with black eyed peas and cheese cloth covering

 

Then add approximately 1 TBSP of the selected seeds in the bottom of the jar. (Yes, you can even make up blends of varieties of seeds in one jar).

Next step is to cover the seeds with enough water for a good soaking.

Cover the jar opening with the cheese cloth and place the ring from the mason jar over the opening to attach the cheese cloth as a screen covering over the opening of the jar.

Now don’t be impatient, let the seeds soak for 8 hours in an upright position, (overnight is best).

 

 

After a good soaking, don’t open the jar,  just empty the water by straining the seeds through the attached cloth.  Try to rotate the jar as you pour the water out as to leave the wet seeds clinging to the sides of the jar. This gives them room to “grow”.

Radish seeds clinging to the jar

Lastly, let the jar rest in a horizontal position on its side to let the seeds absorb the residual moisture in the jar. This maximizes the growing space inside the jar. (This is where the wine rack comes in handy).  The cheese cloth allows the living seeds to breathe.

The seeds have to be watered at least once a day. Water them by filling the jar through the cheese cloth and swirling the jar gently to ensure a good soaking. Then strain the water off again, leaving the seeds coating the sides of the jar as in the above picture. (I also like to use the rinse water to water any other house plants you have nearby).  Place the jar again on its side or back in the wine rack.

Seed radicle

By the second day you will notice the sprout developing as the ‘radicle’ starts to split the seed and protrude. This is where all the concentrated nutrition lies.  The radicle is the first part of a seedling (a growing plant embryo) to emerge from the seed during the process of germination.

Continue this procedure daily until the desired length of the sprout is presenting itself. (Yes, you may reach inside the jar and remove a pinch to taste as the seeds are developing into sprouts).

 

My favorite seeds to sprout are Lentils, for their flavor and vitamin quality, thick fleshy almost meaty consistency. I like Radishes for their hot spicy flavor and Cabbage seeds for their mild flavor and great nutrition.

Get creative in using sprouts. I use them in omelets, stir fry’s, and on sandwiches, (my favorite is a tomato/ lentil and radish sprouts and cucumber sandwich). Just enjoy the results. Happy sprouting!

The TinMan

**   A really great article on sprouting by Sherry Ackerman in Natural News

*** For a good source of sprout seeds and additional info on alternative methods of sprouting and sprouting paraphernalia, go to www.sproutpeople.org

 

 

Advertisements

10 Comments

Filed under Health & Wellbeing

Black Cohosh and the latest “Study”

There have been increasing attacks on herbal and natural therapies from various “Studies”, Non-Governmental Organizations, Government agencies, Private Foundations, etc.  I always look to see where the study came from, who sponsored it and mostly who paid for it. Even university studies have been known to be biased because the study research is paid for by an outside group with an agenda.

Usually the study claims made are based on how dangerous natural/ herbal remedies are, citing usually one reported possible side effect, but never citing how dangerous and reckless big Pharma is in their drug therapies. You never hear how many people were killed, poisoned or physically damaged from  bad or deadly side effects of “legal” drugs, especially in combinations. And you never hear that an herb has been used successfully to treat a malady since biblical times

I also have found the “Claims” against the use of herbal and natural remedies are mostly unfounded and lean toward scare tactics. The attack on the herbal supplement “Black Cohosh” is now the latest scare mongering from big Pharma.

I have used Black Cohosh for many years in my “Menopause Symptom Relief” formula and have had only positive results. I still highly recommend Black Cohosh to alleviate the symptoms of menopause and pre-menopausal symptoms.

black snakeroot

Black Cohosh

Black Cohosh, historically, has been used successfully for the treatment of asthma, cough, all respiratory ailments, including hiccups.  Because of its anti-muscle spasm qualities, Black Cohosh has been used extensively to relieve muscle cramps, spasms, myalgic pain due rheumatism and painful and irregular menses. Black Cohosh can be used to treat “Post partum soreness and used to alleviate Braxton-Hicks” premature labor contractions. Lab tests have shown

definite estrogenic activity but not enough human studies have been done.  We do know that daily use of tea or tincture raises serum Calcium levels in a natural way to combat osteoporosis. That is important to understand too, especially during pregnancy and menopausal changes.

My formula, which I make into a tincture/ Fluid Extract in an alcohol base,  also includes:

1 part Black Cohosh
1 part Licorice Root
1 part Red Raspberry leaf
1 part Dong Quai, (Angelica Sinensis)
1 part Red Clover (Flowers and leaf herb)

Dosage to be determined by the extent of symptoms present. (Usually 1 TBSP at bedtime and 1 – 2 TBS of tincture daily when symptoms present themselves

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.
Thanks, TinMan

For additional info on the latest study:
Please see the article from Jonathan Benson of Natural News debunking the latest attack on Black Cohosh.

1 Comment

Filed under Health & Wellbeing, Herbal Wisdom, Herbs in the News

Sassafras

Eat the weeds

Green Dean from Eat the Weeds has some you tube video’s on wildcrafting edible wild food.

This one is on Sassafras.

Sassafras is very prevalent in New England and grows well in the deciduous forests there. (Be aware that sassafras is now banned by the FDA and also by the DEA) It is a natural, low glycemic sweetener, perfect for diabetics.  It is much better than aspartame and as good as Stevia.  Last fall I, and a good friend of mine, harvested quite a bit of sassafras bark in one short afternoon, enough for a whole year. Harvesting in the fall as the leaves are just starting to turn, we harvest the twig ends with no buds as this will not harm or damage the tree in anyway. Some use only the root bark but the twig ends also contain the same nutrients.

I use the sassafras tea as a sweetener and as a flavoring when cooking.  I make the tea by boiling the twigs for 20 minutes in 32 oz. distilled water. I then strain off the liquid, return the tea to the heat and reduce the volume by half. I keep sassafras tea for storage by adding 2 TBS honey and 1 oz. of brandy, this will allow me to keep it quite nicely for up to a year without refrigeration.  My friend Lorraine is diabetic and can’t use honey or substitute Molasses so once she makes her tea, she then proceeds to “Can” the tea in Mason jars in a hot water bath for long term storage or for use later in recipes.

Sassafras is used medicinally, usually blended with other herbs and also just as a beverage. For example, take equal parts Sassafras and Burdock root, make into a tea and use as an agent to soothe the endocrine system. This blend is very soothing to balance the Pineal, Pituitary and adrenal glands.

Sassafras is very pleasant to drink.  It was used historically to produce the flavoring in Root Beer.  For centuries, Sassafras has been used in French cooking.
I have used Sassafras mostly as a tea/ decoction. But I also have tried the National Drink from the Azores Islands as an after dinner cordial.  The Sassafras is fermented with Molasses, making it very sweet and very strong (about 100 proof).

Another interesting fun fact about Sassafras is it seems that some biting insects do NOT like the smell of Sassafras (including Mosquitoes, Lice and even Bed Bugs).  It is made into an effective mosquito repellant by bruising a sassafras leaf, rolling it tightly in your hands then leaving it rolled up and tucked behind both ears. Mosquitoes will buzz around but not light on you. Good thing to know if you’re out and about in Mosquito country. It also helps to rub the bruised leaf on all exposed skin and clothing to spread the oil from the leaves onto yourself for further protection.

For more info on Sassafras and recipe’s visit this website:  SouthernAngel

The TinMan



4 Comments

Filed under Herbal Wisdom, Wildcrafting