Rootstohealth's Blog

Sprouts reborn
January 24, 2010, 4:36 pm
Filed under: Doing Well at Home, Sprouted Grains/Seeds, Sprouts

I promise, the last post about sprouts in a while. Wheat sprouts were successful!! And so delicious!! Once again, a light saute and some salt make a delicious accompaniment for any meal!

Lastly, I leave you with a good link to a last weekend’s Living on Earth. It featured Will Allen, who founded Growing Power, an urban farm and education center in Milwaukee. He’s a pretty cool dude, and so is this program, which dealt with our food system past, present and future.


Sprouting Fun!
January 15, 2010, 10:35 am
Filed under: Doing Well at Home, Sprouted Grains/Seeds

In the midst of finals last semester, I discovered Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Bread. Excellent as toast with a little salt, butter, or peanut butter, it made an excellent study snack. But it also added another reliance on the grocery store…so as I rested over Christmas break, I realized the recreating this sprouted grain bread would be the perfect food project for the semester! I have to bake bread, but, more importantly, first I have to learn how to sprout beans, grains, and nuts.

First: the health facts. Why is sprouted bread the new health craze? Sprouting is essentially taking any nut/seed/grain, soaking it in water, and allowing the seed to germinate – to start growing. By doing so, you awaken the plant from it’s dormant state, and instead of a dried bean or grain, you have an alive little plant. It also changes the chemical makeup inside of the bean, and greatly increases nutrient content. This radio script from Farm International has a nice explanation as well as instructions on how to sprout grains.

I’ve known that sprouts are good for you for a while, but I had two main concerns:
1. I had no idea how to sprout grains.
2. I didn’t really know if I’d like how they tasted.

In tackling number 1, I looked at many website instructions, my mother’s Rodale’s cookbook, and, still confused, settled for this video. Starting about 4 minutes in, he has instructions for sprouting grains in a ball jar. Instead of the mesh he uses to cover the jar, I am using cheesecloth and a rubber band.

As for number 2….have to try it before I know!

I started with Mung beans – it’s touted as one of the easier beans to sprout. It it has been! Kind of fun to see your own little plants growing! And, even better… they taste kind of nice! It’s nice to have something so fresh tasting in the middle of winter! Though, thus far I’ve liked them better when I put them on a little frying pan for a minute and salted them a little….the light cooking makes them a little softer and richer in flavor.

Next up will be soy beans and wheat kernels. I’m really excited for the wheat because the sprouts are supposed to be very sweet – you can grind them up and use them to sweeten bread or other items.

Good luck! If I could figure it out, I’m sure you can too. Let me know if you try it out!

Check your Sigg
January 13, 2010, 8:46 am
Filed under: BPA, Doing Well at Home, Water

I originally bought a stainless-steel, Sigg water bottle 2 years ago because reports were coming out how Nalgene plastic water bottles were made with bisphenol-A (BPA), an organic compound used in many plastic products – including shatterproof plastic. Studies began to show that BPA can be harmful as it leaches from the container to the food or water inside, and then accumulates in your body tissues (which is likely to happen especially if your water bottle or other BPA-lined product it heated), and many people switched to Sigg water bottles, assuming that the stainless steel containers were BPA free.

Perhaps it was presumptive to think so, but it turns out that Sigg water bottles used to be lined with BPA, making them just about as harmful as the Nalgene bottles. They did stop making the BPA lined bottles in August 2008, and if you recently bought a Sigg, you should be fine. You can tell which type of Sigg you have by looking at the color of the rim. If it is a light yellow, you have the BPA free bottle; if it’s a more copper/gold color, it is lined with BPA. Check it out, since yet another study has come out stating that, unlike what many people are telling us, BPA can reach harmful levels in adults, not just children.

Most of the other stainless steel water bottle containers, including those from Klean Kanteen and Earthlust, are BPA free, and Nalgene now makes BPA-free plastic water bottles as well.

This may sound like too much complication for a thing as trivial as water bottles, but having a reusable water bottle like a Sigg or Nalgene is actually good for you in many ways:
1. Saves you money. These water bottles usually cost around $20. With the cost of bottled water these days – it pays for itself in 10-20 uses. Easily less than a month’s worth of water. And if you don’t lose your water bottle, they easily last over a year.
2. Good for the environment. With all we just learned about plastic, do you really want to throw one water bottle a day into a landfill? And, most bottled water is just filtered tap water anyway. For many people in the US, it is not a major improvement over water they can get out of the tap or a Britta filter.
3. Good for you! The most popular weight loss tip today is “drink more water!” If you always have a water bottle on hand, you’re more likely to actually drink something when you’re thirsty, and there’s less temptation to buy soda or juice, since you have free water right in front of you!

I hope now you’re ready to make the commitment to buy a reusable water bottle!!

The Strength of Our Bodies
January 6, 2010, 12:38 pm
Filed under: Cancer, Doing Well at Home

Today’s post is not so much about a physical change as a mental change in my quest for health. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from all of my biology and neuroscience classes and other reading I have done, it is the strength and wonder of our own bodies. We are just beginning to comprehend the number of metabolic processes that are occurring every second to keep us alive, and we have yet to find a computer that has the power of the human brain. Yet we all look to external sources to find our health and strength. Yes, blueberries are filled with antioxidants, and exercise can tone our muscles, but this is worthless (to a certain extent) if we don’t believe in our own power.

In Anti-Cancer by Dr. David Servan-Schreiber (a great book, by the way), he talks about the “Type C” personality, those that accept the lot that is handed to them and don’t believe that they have any control over their bodies and their future. It plays into our Western view of medicine — that each of us is on a dangerous precipice, and any sway of wind will throw us down the mountain. In the Ayurvedic system, it’s a little more like being in the valley – that our bodies want to stay grounded and in balance..but if our lifestyle and choices keep bringing us further and further from that balance (up the hill, if you will), we will eventually reach that precipice.

I’m not prescribing any diet plan or spiritual awakening or anything; I just wanted to say take the time today to appreciate and acknowledge the raw strength and power of your own body and its ability to heal itself. It’s pretty amazing, and it may have quite an affect on you and the way you view your health.

The Whole Chicken.
September 2, 2009, 8:02 am
Filed under: Doing Well at Home, Recipes

That’s right. I cooked a chicken. The whole bird. I’ve always been scared of roasting a chicken, bones and all…but it’s actually easier than cooking it on stovetop! Season it up, rub a little butter/olive oil, cut up some onion, and throw it in the oven for an hour or so for a 4 lb bird. The hardest part is cutting it up, and even that I think will get easier as I get more practice. I realized that it seems so scary because you don’t have to do anything. You begin with this raw gross thing and voila! suddenly a beautifully cooked, golden brown bird. Amazing!

And delicious. SO delicious. No worries about drying out or burning, it’s food that cooks itself.

Perk number two: the next day you can make great chicken stock! Also one of those recipes that seem scary (you are playing with chicken bones)..but actually involves about 6 minutes of prep work and 3 hours on the stove. And in the end – enough chicken stock to make quite a few soups and make my winter-time rice and quinoa MUCH more flavorful. Plus, chicken stock made from real, nice chicken bones is good for you! Something about the marrow is supposed to impart some health-promoting qualities.

I got both recipes from the Weston A Price foundation website. There are some more recipes on there of things you can do with your whole bird!

So don’t be scared! It’s fun, easy, and delicious! And super good for you too! Now if only I could figure out how to roast a whole pig in my oven….

Food Canning!!
August 25, 2009, 10:03 pm
Filed under: Canning, Doing Well at Home, Recipes

Inspired by my mother, summer’s bounty of fruits and vegetables, and Canning Across America, a blog devoted to canning, I decided that it was time for me to flex my preserving muscle!

It’s not so much the cooking that scared me as much as all of the canning supplies and details: fresh mason jars and lids, boiling water for enough time, cooking and stirring, canning, cleaning….I was a little nervous. However, having acquired the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving and reading every inch of the darn thing, I decided that it was time to jump in and do it. I decided to go for a small batch of apricot preserves. Something both sugary and acidic so I don’t have to worry about botulism or pressure cooking.

The recipe was fairly simple:

Combine 2 lbs of peeled, halved and pitted apricots with 4 cups of sugar and 1/2 cup lemon juice in a sauce pan and refrigerate for 4-5 hours. (I admit..I already cheated at this part….I had much less sugar in my house than anticipated…so I used all that I had and a bunch of honey. Who knows if it was anywhere near 4 cups…..)

When you’re all ready to cook and can, heat up your mason jars in a pot of water (a deep saucepan is a good thing to have here) until just simmering. Do the same in a small saucepan for the lids. The Blue Book makes a point here of not boiling the lids. Once they’re at simmering temperature (about 180 F), turn off the heat and keep the jars in there until you’re ready to can.

Meanwhile, bring the apricot mixture up to a boil, and then boil rapidly, stirring frequently so that the sugars don’t stick or burn. The mixture is ready when the preserves are almost at the gelling point — i.e., when you dip the spoon into the mixture, the juice drips off slowly, more in a sheet than as single drops.

Then, take your jars out one at a time, and fill them with jam, leaving 1/4 inch of space at the top. Wipe of the rim of the jar with a clean, damp cloth, get a lid out of its hot water bath, and place it on there, screwing the top so that it’s just finger tight. Then put the jar back in your deep saucepan. Once all the jam jars are ready, heat up your water again so that it’s at a steady boil. Once it’s at a boil, set a timer for 15 minutes and keep that water boiling. Once 15 min are up, turn off the heat, let it sit in the water and cool down for about 5 minutes, then take your cans out and set them out on the counter. You know they’re all good and preserved when the lids make a nice little pop!

Let me tell you, hearing the popping was one of the proudest moments of my life….I’m so excited to try out some other veggies that will make this winter ever so much tastier.

And so to make a long story very short: Canning sounds scary…but it’s actually kind of satisfying! And not as hard as it sounds! You’ll be glad you tried it. I promise.

Good luck!

Beginning of Many Updates
August 23, 2009, 5:11 pm
Filed under: Dairy, Doing Well at Home

After a long hiatus, there is so much to say!

Update number 1: Yogurt Making.

Not as easy as I made it out to be. Attempts 1 and 2, one of which was regular, whole milk, the other from Milk Thistle Farms, both made with Stonyfield starters, were delicious, creamy, and WORKED!

Then comes attempts 3 and 4. Utter failures. I tried two different milks, but used my homemade yogurt as starters. Both never really gelled into the yogurt consistancy. So, attempt number 5. Realizing that the problem was probably with my starter, I switched back to Stonyfield yogurt. I used organic milk, regular pasteurization. I ended up with a thick tacky mess that looked more like glue than yogurt. This I attribute to leaving the yogurt out too long before refrigerating. It’s my only guess as to why it was such a gross disaster. For my next attempt: fresh starter, and a strict time limit on how long I keep the yogurt in the oven. I hope it works.