Last time we talked about different vegetables that were starting to show up in the stores and how they can benefit our health. Now let’s talk about some ways to increase the veggies in your diet, but first why do we want to increase veggie intake? This time of year, it is especially important to help our body’s digestive system. Not only does increasing vegetables help our digestive track, but it also plays a role in unlocking nutrients and detoxifying our systems. You can tell that Spring is on the way when you see those initial signs coming on. This includes signs such as things starting to pop up out of the ground and flowers beginning to bloom. This is usually a sign to start to do a spring cleaning in all areas of our life and a great time to unlock the nutrients hiding in our food.
Some of the best ways to get more nutrients out of our food this time of year is to increase the nutrient availability through soaking or sprouting them. This can be done with certain seeds, nuts, beans, or any combination of the three! Soaking or sprouting also helps with decreasing the anti-nutrient qualities of these foods. What are anti-nutrients you ask? Anti-nutrients are the main culprits that cause maldigestion for some people. Another benefit from soaking or sprouting these foods is thought to help unlock and increase the various vitamins within!
Now let’s talk about the process of soaking and sprouting your food to get more nutrients out of them! You’re going to want to soak any bean, seed, or nut for 8 to 12 hours. The general rule is to have about three cups of water to a quarter cup of seeds. With bigger beans, you may need to increase the water ratio a little bit. Keep in mind that this is just a place to start. Another thing to keep in mind when starting this process is shelf life. It’s important to note that once you begin to either soak or sprout your foods, the shelf life does decrease. Once the beans, seeds, or nuts have been soaked/sprouted, you should try to eat them within a week. That said, try to incorporate them into several recipes or meals once you’ve begun. I find it best to begin the process in the evenings and let things sit overnight. When you wake up in the morning, they are usually ready to go!
Soaking and sprouting seeds is also a fantastic way of enhancing the flavor. You can take beans one step further and cook them after soaking. You also have an opportunity to sprout your seeds after soaking them. One method is using either a jar or strainer which takes about four to six hours more. With the jar method, you can use all kinds of sizes, but a quart jar tends to work best. Simply use a piece of cheesecloth or something breathable on top and secure it over the top of the jar with a rubber band. Once the soaking process is complete, just turn the jar upside down and let it drain out. If you want to begin the sprouting process, leave the jar upside-down for the previously mentioned 4 to 6 hours more. It is not necessary to let the sprouts get too big. Once the sprouts are about half an inch, or so, they should be good to go.
The strainer method is something that I got from this book, which has been an inspiration for this topic today. It is an Ayurvedic cooking book by Diva Alter. She talks about using the strainer method and explaining easy ways of doing sprouting. To explain, if you have some sort of a mesh strainer that fits into a colander, you can put your beans, nuts, or seeds into the colander and leave them on the counter. Then put a light towel over the top, and sprinkle water on them throughout the day. A lot of people think they need to put their sprouts near light, and this makes sense because they think that they would need light to grow. However, we want to keep sprouts in a darker corner of the kitchen.
Additionally, if you struggle with eating nuts, beans, or seeds I would recommend soaking and sprouting them as this way has shown to be easier on the digestive system. Like I said before, it is a great way to increase the nutrient content, vitamins, and flavors! This is also a great way to always have something quick and easy on hand to throw into a salad or recipe to add more variety and diversity to it.
Next, lets dive into the liver and detoxification for this time of year. The liver is an important part of filtration and circulation. It filters our blood so anything that we’re doing to enhance circulation is also affecting the liver. That’s why movement and exercise are one of the most important things for liver health. Also, think of foods that enhance circulation and get our blood moving, thinking about the wintertime, or thinking about the cold stagnation. How do we get the blood moving? How do we get the circulation going? Think about foods like basil, black pepper, and cayenne. These foods that have that spiciness to them are really good for increasing circulation. Another good one for circulation is chickweed. It’s literally like a weed that may be in your garden right now that you can use it for increasing circulation. Spices such as cinnamon, cloves, cumin, are great herbs to cook with this time of year as well. These types of spices are great for getting the blood moving. Using cinnamon and cloves, like in teas, is a great idea as well to help get the blood moving. Furthermore, cooking with cumin can be useful as it has powerful healing benefits. Overall, these spices have good amounts of phytonutrients in them and are high in antioxidants. Garlic and ginger are other spices that have a high amount of antioxidant properties and fight inflammation. They are some of my favorites to use in recipes, as well as onions as they are good at increasing circulation and all the other health benefits mentioned earlier. Then there is thyme and turmeric. Turmeric is probably the one that gets the most credit for circulation and anti-inflammatory properties, but it’s often difficult to absorb through our vitamins. However, one way to get more absorption out of it is through cooking. By combining movement, getting blood flowing, and using food as medicine in these ways are great to help pull ourselves out of the winter months and into the spring.
One recipe that will really help move your body into spring is a Khichari Recipe by Diva Alter. https://www.trueayurveda.com/divya-alters-simple-khichari-recipe/. This simple Khivhari has medicinal qualities and is a great detoxifier. This tasty recipe can really support and enhance the digestive system. Additionally, the benefits of cleaning out the digestive tract can really help to stimulate the liver and get things such as toxins moving out of the body. This khichuri is a classic Ayurvedic dish that I highly recommend trying. I love this recipe specifically by Diva Alter as it is simple, easy, and accessible. It’s one of those things that you can make in a really large batch and freeze it for meal prepping. You can choose to eat it two days of the week and have it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It can be used as a little mini cleanse. The first time I heard of it was about 10 years ago when I was living with a housemaid at the time who would make it constantly in the spring. She would let me try some and I found it satisfying and very nourishing. Some of the ingredients include fat, fiber, and protein such as lentils and mung bean. It really is a great vegetarian option and a cleansing tool for those that want to use it in that way. This recipe does include rice, but if you want to keep the carbohydrate load down you can just use Kima or choose to not add it.
Next, let’s talk about sauces. Most weeks I’m trying to create some sort of sauce that I can use throughout the week in different ways as it is a great way to add in nutrient dense foods, as well as flavor. Cilantro is one of the best for sauces as It is good at pulling heavy metals out of the body. Additionally, it’s great at facilitating detoxification when we eat it in high doses. There are many ways you can eat cilantro, either through sauces such as a chimichurri, dressings, sprinkling it on your meals or on your proteins. It is very versatile and another way to add flavor! Lastly, this is another way to make vegetables more exciting is by pairing them with homemade sauces. Sauces not only can give you many great nutrients, but they truly bring life to a lot of dishes.
I hope you find the idea of soaking and sprouting as exciting as I do. It really is a great way to add variety to a meal, or increase the nutrients that is being taken in. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Radiate Wellness. We want to make sure your questions are answered. And if you would like to book a Strategy Session one of our team members would be more than happy to help you get your body moving and help you explore more food options as we progress further into spring.