Sprouted Beans and More from AZVFF

I’ve recently been reading at length about raw vegan diets. As you know, I aim to consume 60-70% raw plant foods daily, but I recently upped that amount to 90% in my one-week raw food challenge. I generally feel better than I ever did when eating a traditional American omnivorous diet, but during the challenge, I felt even more energized and satisfied with my appearance.

As a result of my piqued interest in raw eating, I went to this year’s Arizona Vegetarian Food Festival looking to learn more about the lifestyle. While I don’t believe I have the willpower—or interest, for that matter—to go completely raw, I’d like to try and consume even more raw plant foods. Uncooked food is easier on the body; there’s no disputing science.

Again, not looking to go 100%…just interested in living better, which I believe all of us can do, no matter what our lifestyle or food preferences. While at the AZVFF, I made a beeline straight for a booth advertising raw, sprouted hummus. I love beans, but they are inedible raw (or so I thought), so I had to see this for myself.

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When I think of “sprouts,” I imagine tiny green sprigs with delicate little leaves, grown from whole grains or seeds. Sprouts are delicious and make for an aesthetically pleasing addition to salads and raw veggie wraps. Sprouted beans? I couldn’t wrap my head around it…

Turns out, in the raw vegan world, “sprouted” can also refer to a plant food that has ballooned in size as a result of extensive soaking in water. This allows an item like a dried bean to take on a cooked consistency, while still being technically raw. The soaked bean is never boiled, sautéed, roasted, or otherwise nuked with heat and is palatable enough to make into a salad sandwich or blend into a creamy hummus. The nutrition nerd that I am, my mind was blown. 🙂 Why didn’t I think of this before?! I’ve always soaked dried beans and then boiled them, or purchased them already cooked in a can.

This learning led me to look into sprouting other seemingly inedible raw foods to avoid the cooking process. A vegan writer that I love operates a blog called Oh She Glows. She soaks rolled oats overnight—recipe is aptly titled “Vegan Overnight Oats”—and they are ready to consume for breakfast the next morning with no cooking required.

I am now working on revising some of my formulas to incorporate sprouted beans, lentils, or grains where I think they would work just as well as cooked – stay tuned!

Below, enjoy other sights from the 2016 AZVFF. 🙂

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Baby Oliver’s first time at the fest (with Daddy).

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My sister, Petra (in town from Tokyo), with Nolan. A gloomy day, but a pretty park.

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Last year’s vegan pretzel truck made a return!

Tried some vegan eats from a new place – delicious!

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Plant-Based Entertaining for Everyone

I have many times had friends or family over for dinner and prepared an entirely vegan meal with great success. This was only my second time, however, throwing a large party with an extensive plant-based menu that needed to please guests all of all ages and diets. In attendance, I had several vegetarians, one gluten-free eater, and a whole bunch of standard omnivores.

I tried first, to think of foods that it seems everyone likes to eat: fruit, chips, and sweets. Then I thought about how I could make all of those items vegan (and some gluten-free, too), but tasty enough that my guests would never know it…or at least never miss the animal product varieties.

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Here’s what I served:

Chocolate peanut butter truffles: A play on my power ball formula, I used extra cocoa powder and rolled them in unsweetened shredded coconut. Guests said that they were delicious and rich: exactly what I was going for with a truffle!

Mini-fruit kabobs with cinnamon coconut whipped cream: As you know, I’ve been recently delighted to make and try coconut whipped cream in conjunction with my nice cream formula. I added ground cinnamon to this batch – yum!

Mini-chocolate chip cookies: A variation of my chip cookie formula, these were tasty, but a bit crumbly. I was surprised since I’ve made them many times before. Maybe my preggo brain forgot an ingredient?! Very possible. 🙂

Tahini dip: My creamy dressing formula kept extra thick for dipping. It was a crowd favorite.

Roasted fennel hummus: My hummus formula with fennel as the star vegetable was a gamble…and I won (or, I should say, my guests won)!

Lemon raspberry cashew mousse: Remember that failed attempt at vegan cheesecake turned mousse? I served these delightful little cups at my party and several people asked me for the recipe. I’d say they worked out ok after all.

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In addition to fresh fruit, I also served raw veggies, organic blue corn tortilla chips, and two different types of pretzels for dipping. I adorned the tables with small bowls of trail mix for extra munching and had beer and white sangria flowing. Guests seemed happy and full.

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As I mentioned when I threw Nolan’s second birthday party, I’m done serving food that I no longer regularly eat. I hate the idea of potential meat and dairy-based leftovers that threaten to throw me off the wagon (I don’t waste food, ya’ll). Stick to your guns in designing the menu for a party. Remember, guests don’t have to eat your food, but they would definitely be missing out if they didn’t!

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In case you were wondering, the party was a diaper party for Baby #2. Since it isn’t customary to throw a second shower, I wanted to have a more laidback celebration for our family’s final installment. Offering food, booze, and a good time in exchange for diapers was a win-win for all involved…and baby is stocked up for the first year or more of his/her life. Just an idea if you’re looking for a fun and easy way to celebrate a second baby or beyond. 🙂

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Last-Minute Hummus, Two Ways

In small quantities, I’m all about raw onions – which promote skin elasticity, among other things. There’s something amazing, however, that happens to onions when they are sautéed or roasted that makes them just absolutely sweet and delicious. Today, I’m caramelizing them to puree in a fresh hummus.

A couple of days ago, I made some semi-last-minute plans to first, have a girlfriend over for some standard catching up and gossiping, and later, to take Nolan to a friend’s house for dinner. Always one to provide or contribute nosh and drinks, I had to think fast. What was in the pantry? The fridge?

With Travis out of town this past weekend, we forewent our typical weekly Bountiful Basket run on Saturday morning (I’m too preggo to lift all that produce at this point!), so I was surprisingly low in plant stock. I do, though, always have beans, onions, and garlic on hand, so I knew that I could throw together a quick appetizer for both of my events. Having bought tortilla chips for an upcoming party we are hosting (blog post to follow), I was ready to make hummus. I can always buy more chips before the weekend. 🙂

Another win found itself in the green onions that I noticed had blossomed to great heights on my windowsill. Remember when I shared my lettuce wrap formula with you? I encouraged you to save your green onion roots in a cup of water and watch them grow back. A month and half later, check out the jungle I have in my kitchen! I instantly thought of using these to garnish my hummus.

DSC_2330There’s nothing new or incredibly exciting to report in today’s post other than that I created two amazing hummus dishes with the sweetness of caramelized onions in less than 20 minutes with ingredients I already had on hand. Check out what you have, get creative, and a scrumptious result just may surprise you. Enjoy!

FORMULA BASE: HUMMUS

  • 2 cups cooked beans or lentils –>  I’m making two mini-batches of hummus, so I’m using a heaping cup of black beans for one and kidney beans for the other.
  • 2 cups cooked vegetables and/or raw herbs (or more beans and lentils, if you want to keep it simple) –>  I’m using ¾ cup coarsely chopped onions and ¼ cup frozen corn in both batches.
  • Approximately 1 tbsp oil, if including roasted/sautéed vegetables –>  I’m using coconut.
  • 2-4 cloves raw or roasted garlic –>  I’m using 2 cloves in each batch.
  • ¼-½ cup citrus juice –>  I’m using the juice of 2 limes in each batch.
  • 1 tbsp tahini (optional) –>  I’m not using it for this particular recipe.
  • Spices, salt, and pepper to taste –>  I’m using 1 tbsp dried cilantro, 1 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp paprika, ½ tsp cumin, and a pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt in each batch.
  • Liquid (water, oil, vegetable stock, vinegar, or more citrus juice) as needed until desired consistency is achieved –>  I’m not using any.
  • SPECIAL ADDITION:  thinly-sliced green onions

If using, peel if necessary and coarsely chop your vegetables. Decide on a cooking method that works best for the particular vegetable(s) you’re using and have at it. Today, I’m sautéing my onions and garlic.

DSC_2332When the veggies are finished, put all ingredients (except the corn and green onions, in today’s rendition) in a food processor and puree until smooth.  Today, I had to repeat this process for the second batch.

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Stir in the corn and garnish with green onions. Chill for an hour and serve as a dip or use as a spread (just like my pesto or creamy dressing formulas).

Store in the fridge for 3-4 days. Hummus has a tendency to dry out and/or thicken the longer it sits. Enjoy!

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New Formula: Hummus

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I love to browse social media for pictures of what my friends are cookin’ up in the kitchen. While all of my formulas and recipes are originals, I often get inspiration from the culinary creations of others. When it came time to develop a hummus formula, I had one particular image in mind.

A friend of mine from high school posted a picture of a scrumptious vegetarian spread on Facebook a couple of weeks ago. Every dish was mouth-watering, but what really stood out to me was a big bowl of pink hummus, which I read contained beets. This got me thinking about how many different ways hummus can be made unique and delicious.

Hummus is a chickpea-based dip and spread popular in Greek and Middle Eastern cuisines. It is often served as a dip with pita bread, chips, or raw vegetables, or spread in wraps or sandwiches. Hummus is typically made by pureeing cooked chickpeas, lemon juice, and tahini (sesame seed butter). It is an easy dish to make, eat, and bring with if you need quick appetizer for a party or family dinner.

The formula (under Snacks) I’ve developed works with any cooked beans or lentils. You can keep it traditional and simple, or add extras like fresh herbs or vegetables, as was the case with my friend’s beet hummus. I’ve found that a bean/lentil base is what gives hummus its creamy, dip-able texture; any other ingredients you select will blend right in.

As noted in my post about what I consume in a typical day, I try to eat most of my vegetables raw, but I really believe that hummus made with their addition calls for the cooked variety. They puree more smoothly and have a richer flavor, which is essential for competing with beans/lentils, which can be pretty blandly overpowering. Consider some of these alternatives to traditional hummus:

  • Lentil hummus with curry
  • Black bean hummus with lime and cilantro
  • Pinto bean hummus with roasted red peppers
  • Edamame hummus with miso
  • Chickpea hummus with roasted tomatoes

The list goes on…

Today, I’m taking a stab at the beet hummus that caught my eye a few weeks back. As if simplicity and yumminess were not enough, consider the protein power of beans. A question that I am often asked as an almost-vegan is “Where do you get your protein?” These answer is simple: from beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and of course, fruits and vegetables.

Beans in particular:

  • Are high in soluble protein, which can lower cholesterol (high cholesterol is why I adopted plant-based living to start with…see my bio).
  • Contain no cholesterol – woo!
  • Are packed with protein, approximately 7 grams per ½ cup.
  • Can prevent constipation.
  • Are gluten-free diet friendly.
  • Are a source of complex carbohydrates that keep you fuller longer.
  • Are inexpensive, especially compared with other protein sources.
  • Are a powerhouse of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
  • Are super versatile (see my bean salad, chili, and curry formulas to glean ideas).

So, get dippin’…for your health! 🙂

FORMULA BASE: HUMMUS

  • 2 cups cooked beans or lentils –>  I’m using chickpeas.
  • 2 cups cooked vegetables and/or raw herbs (or more beans and lentils, if you want to keep it simple) –>  I’m using 1 ½ cups steamed beets and ½ cup fresh parsley.
  • Approximately 1 tbsp oil, if including roasted vegetables –>  I’m steaming, so I don’t need oil in this case.
  • 2-4 cloves raw or roasted garlic –>  I’m using two raw cloves.
  • ¼-½ cup citrus juice –>  I’m using the juice of one large lemon.
  • 1 tbsp tahini (optional) –>  I’m not using it for this particular recipe.
  • Spices, salt, and pepper to taste –>  I’m using ¾ tsp onion powder, ½ tsp pink Himalayan sea salt, and two turns of fresh cracked black pepper.
  • Liquid (water, oil, vegetable stock, vinegar, or more citrus juice) as needed until desired consistency is achieved –>  I’m using about ¼ cup homemade vegetable stock.

If using, peel if necessary and coarsely chop your vegetables. Decide on a cooking method that works best for the particular vegetable(s) you’re using and have at it. (Steaming will maintain the most nutrients of any cooking method.) I’m steaming my beets in the Baby Bullet steamer that I purchased when Nolan was first born. I knew it would come in handy for more than just baby food! 🙂

DSC_1828When the veggies are finished, put all ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth. Chill for an hour and serve as a dip or use as a spread (just like my pesto formula).

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Here, I have mine accompanied by some of my favorite bean-based chips (which I can’t wait to try making myself someday).

DSC_1834 Store in the fridge for 3-4 days. Hummus has a tendency to dry out and/or thicken the longer it sits. Enjoy!