Food

Superfood Spotlight : Sprouting & Microgreens

It's official, we've gone mad for sprouting...
As people who eat a whole load of legumes/nuts/seeds on a daily basis, we were really intrigued by sprouting for quite a while and all the benefits they contain. After a few months experimenting and consuming a lot of different sprouts and microgreens along the way, we're completely hooked on this process and wanted to share the love with you all!

Unfortunately, it sometimes seems like being healthy is just another industry we're led into spending money on. Enticed by online hype and reviews, there is often this sense of pressure to buy the latest 'superfoods' that promise a new level of health. And while we use and love a few of these incredible natural foods/medicines, they always seem to come with a heavy price tag, leaving this stale impression that health is only attainable for those with money.

Sprouts break all the rules when it comes to this. This is an everyday superfood that is so easy, cheap and fun to make! Sprouting and growing microgreens are such accessible processes that will supercharge any legumes/nuts/seeds that you have in your cupboards and quite literally bring them to life with nutrients. 

Sprouting Chia seeds

What is sprouting?
Sprouting is the process of soaking certain dried grains/legumes/nuts/seeds until they germinate. Depending on the sprout, they can then either be eaten raw or cooked. We love to use our to make hummus, sprouted bean burgers and to sprinkle on top of meals for an extra kick of nutrition. 

What's the problem with dried legumes/grains/nuts?
To protect themselves from being eaten in nature, legumes, grains and seeds/nuts coat themselves in a layer of phytic acid. Beans are smarter than you thought, right?! They also contain enzyme inhibitors - this is what makes them dormant and long lasting, and is why we can't eat them before cooking. 

The problem is that the phytic acid stops us from absorbing many essential minerals and vitamins in our stomachs. Find it hard to digest certain beans/chickpeas/lentils? This is why!  The enzyme inhibitors give our body a hard time trying to digest this type of food … making us feel bloated, gassy and all the rest. 

Why is sprouting good for us?
So by soaking and sprouting our legumes/grains, we turn them into living, nutrient rich plants once again! This process balances out the enzyme inhibitors and removes the physic acid, which makes the food a lot more digestible for our bodies and with a higher protein content. 

More great news, throughout the sprouting process the legumes/beans literally come alive with nutrients - increasing the vitamin A, B, C by more than double, as well as creating phytochemicals , rich in calcium, iron and zinc

sprouted urid beans

Tips before you start sprouting:
*
Some beans/grains/nuts will be easier to sprout than others. Some easy options to start with are brown/red lentils, mung beans & chickpeas. 
*The sprouting time will completely depend on what beans/grains/nuts you are choose. Some will take 8 hours to sprout, whilst others can take a few days. It's easy to find all this information online. 
*Certain nuts/beans cannot be sprouted (e.g. peanuts & kidney beans). Always check before you begin sprouting!
*If you're using really old beans/nuts, be warned that this may effect the likelihood of sprouting. 

So now the fun part - how to make sprouts:

Sprouting in a jar
-The easiest thing for this is to buy a special sprouting jar (we bought ours on Amazon), but if not then an ordinary glass jar is fine! If opting for the latter, you will need to cover your jar top with a piece of fine cloth or muslin, securing with an elastic band.

1. Rinse your dried legumes/nuts/seeds in water. We usually sprout around 3-5 tablespoons at a time. Place in the jar, cover with water and leave to soak over night or for 12 hours (with the cloth covering the mouth of the jar). 
2. After the soaking, drain the water from your jar (pouring the water through the cloth). Rinse the sprouts in water and drain again, leaving the cloth on throughout the process. Position the jar at an inverted angle so it can drain out any remaining water (we suggest using a dish rack). *Leave the jar out of direct sunlight*.
3. Repeat this rinse and drain process twice a day. After 1-3 days, you will will see little tails beginning to form on your sprouts! 
4. Once your sprouts are ready, give them a final rinse and make sure all the water is fully drained off. They're now ready to eat, blend, cook and sprinkle on meals. Store them in the fridge in an airtight container - they will last around 4-5 days. 

Sprouts - Putumayo Kitchen

A word on Microgreens
Microgreens are similar to sprouts and equally as easy to make, however they are grown in soil and in an open air environment. They can be grown inside on a windowsill, or outside in your garden. Only the stems and leaves of the microgreens are eaten, and despite their small size they are extremely dense in nutrients & benefits! 
*Some microgreens we've loved experimenting with have been mustard, chia, sunflower & watercress seeds. 

How to grow Microgreens  
You will need: a shallow tray/empty egg box OR patch of soil in your garden, seeds & some organic soil. 
1. If growing inside, fill your tray with roughly 1 inch of soil, patting it out to make sure it's even. 
2. Evenly scatter your seeds on the surface of the soil. It's best to be generous with the amount of seeds you use, as you will want to harvest a lot from each tray. 
3. Spray the surface of the tray with water - the seeds need to be moist in order for them to germinate. *Leave in a sunny place - we put ours on a windowsill*
4. Continue to spray the seeds twice a day to ensure they stay moist. We normally water ours at breakfast & dinner time, just out of convenience. Depending on the seeds, the greens should be ready to harvest after 1-3 weeks. 
5. Once grown to a couple of inches, trim the greens with scissors and rinse thoroughly. Your microgreens are now ready to use! We love to sprinkle ours on top of meals or mix into a salad for extra tastiness. 

Chia microgreens

Have you ever tried sprouting or growing microgreens? We'd love to hear your experiences!

Life in Cali (March Update)

Here's a little peak into our world this month - the new, the old and the tasty..

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Cali

So we're pretty settled into life in Cali now. After so many months of dorm rooms and travel, our backpacks stuffed full like fat little pastries, we're actually pretty happy to unpack, slow down and have a 'normal person' routine going on for a while. 

Not that we're becoming too normal or applying for a mortgage anytime soon ...(sorry mum).

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But anyway, as far as big South American cities go, Cali is a really cool, energetic place to live. It isn't the prettiest place in Colombia, but there really is such a lively atmosphere here and such a noticeable rhythm of life amongst the peeople.  Caleños are generally very happy people -  the sun shines bright in Cali and they love to dance salsa, so that's probably why!

The central part of the city is loud, busy and unapolagetically chaotic. The hot streets are paved with vendors selling everything from guarapo (sugar cane juice) to tea towels to little pots of shredded mango.

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We're living in San Antonio, a pretty little barrio in the northern part of the city. This is where most of the hostels are, but it's also got good foodie spots (with tons of vegetarian restaurants), nice street art and independent little shops. There's even a beautiful spice shop (La Bascula) with every spice you can think of and different dhals to choose from.

You wouldn't believe how hard it is to find different spices in Colombia, so we were pretty happy cooks when we found ourselves here!

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 Fermenting

Now we've finally got our own place, we've been going a little crazy with fermenting things! This month we've been making fennel infused sauerkraut, pickled jalapenos, fermented carrots with mustard seeds, preserved limes and kombucha.
We plan on doing some recipes for a few of the above soon, but in the mean time here's our recipe for kombucha

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 Watching

One of the best films we've seen recently is 'El Abrazo de la Serpiente' (The Embrace of the Serpent)- A magical colombian film based around indigenous culture and the beautiful nature of the Amazon. Really reccomend this to anyone interested in traveling or different cultures!

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We also watched the documentary 'Cowspiracy' on Netflix recently... Completely mind blowing and a big eye opener to how the meat/dairy industry is effecting global warming right now. It's co produced by Leonardo Dicaprio and is on Netflix if that's a big enough seal of approval! 

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Writing 

30 days of Journalling via The Messy Heads 

I (Gabby) love the messy Heads blog, a really cool online space for creative, messy, cool women! If you like writing or doing a daily journal, this list of prompts is a really self reflective/fun way to change up your writing for a month! 

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Happy Easter everyone! X

Varanasi – Life, death and the world’s best Lassi

I’d never really faced death so closely until we arrived in Varanasi. This enchanting, unforgetble place is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. Built along the holy river Ganges, it's here that the beginnings and endings of life are woven together to create something truly extraordinary.

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Many Hindus believe that dying in Varanasi offers Moshka – freedom from the cycle of birth and death in order to reach nirvana. Thousands of pilgrims travel here every day to prepare themselves for death. People bathe in the Ganges, drink from it to cleanse their sins and offer their cremated loved ones to the holy water. It's no doubt that this can be an overwhelming place - the demanding heat, burning corpses and endless hassle can leave you feeling both physically/emotionally tired. But we promise It's more than worth it to persevere! 

Strolling along the Ghats is a fascinating, almost twisted-dream for anyone who loves to people watch. From children’s swimming lessons in the river to groups of mourning families and wandering sadhus –it’s incredible to witness a place bursting with so much life and death in one single moment. 

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And so, Varanasi instills such an indescribable feeling in so many of its visitors. To see these intimate acts of religion displayed so publically is so contrasting to our own private culture. But intensity aside, it’s hard not to be astounded by this crazy, magical city that celebrates both life and death in such a unique way. 

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Although strolling along the Ghats and through the ever-winding alleys is a great way to see the city, a sunrise/sunset boat ride is the most popular way to see the streams of life that run through the Ganges. We joined a sunset boat ride which slowly rode us along the Ghats, ending with a perfect view of the famous evening ceremony.

As hundreds of people sung from the Ghats, the golden fires reflecting upon the water and clouds of smoke filling the air, this definitely felt like one of the most surreal experiences of our lives so far. We didn't even take any photos as we were so consumed by the whole moment – either way I’m not sure they could do it justice!

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Sleepy dogs in hidden corners  

Sleepy dogs in hidden corners  

No surprises - we also found some delicious food in Varanasi, including (probably) the best Lassis in the world from ‘Blue Lassi Shop’. For those new to Lassi, this is a tasty Indian drink made with fresh yoghurt, water and often fruits and spices.

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Blue Lassi Shop is no secret to Varanasi, in fact it’s got a pretty legendary reputation as being one of the oldest joints in the city to churn out incredible Lassis. Served in rustic clay pots with mounds of delicate toppings and a spoon – each Lassi is incredibly thick, creamy and so tasty. Definitely the best Lassi we had in the whole of India. There’s a huge amount of flavour options – we tried quite a few, but our favourite was this perfect mango and coconut one.

Blue Lassi is also famous amongst travellers for its strong Bhang Lassis. Drink one of these before a river boatride, and you're guaranteed to have a crazy, dazzling trip of a lifetime.

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We also found some delicious dosas hidden away amongst the faded alleyways. Dosa is a thin, crispy pancake made from fermented rice. This one was stuffed with cashews and vegetables, served up with spicy samba and dreamy coconut chutney! 

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So happily tired and with our bellies satisfied, we left the wonder of Varanasi to head onwards to Agra. So for anyone planning a trip to India, make sure this city is on your list. This true experience of the senses is something you won’t forget for a very long time….

Roasted Tomato Salsa

After a couple of blissful months travelling, February finally brought us our fair share of generic life problems and 5.30am wake ups. But amongst all the chaos we finally have our own place to call home in Cali, Colombia! Including our own little kitchen for creating recipes (...and for dancing around in our underwear, obviously)

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This tomato salsa is the perfect addition to any Mexican-style meal and always makes an appearance at our table! It's the perfect balance of tangy and sweet, while the charred ingredients give it a delicious, smokey flavour. It's also ridiculously easy to make and has no artificial ingredients (like so many store bought condiments).

We love ours with home-made refried beans and tacos. But it's also a great as a leftover...we stir it into soups, serve it with crispy fishcakes or mix it into a salad for instant freshness.

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Ingredients (Makes 1 small jar- enough for 4 people)

2 large, ripe tomatoes
1 Jalapeño 
2 cloves of garlic (keep the skins on for roasting!)
1/2 Lime
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (optional)
1 teaspoon of panela (or honey/coconut sugar)
1 tbsp water

1. In a heavy-bottom frying pan, dry roast the tomatoes, garlic and jalapeño until charred. (See the first photo for an idea of how they should look!). Keep turning the tomatoes to get them charred on all sides.

It's likely the garlic/jalapeño will be charred before the tomatoes, so just remove them from the pan and put to one side when ready.

2. Place the tomatoes, garlic and jalapeño in a blender or food processor. Add the juice of half a lime, a teaspoon of panela, a tablespoon of olive oil, a tablespoon of water and a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar.

3. Blend until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

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