Monday, September 30, 2013

Growing Microgreens and Wheatgrass

     Microgreens are very easy to grow indoors. I have some shelves on a wall that I place mine on. Usually within a week they are ready to eat. Some take a bit longer than others but generally they grow quickly and need minimal light. Wheatgrass is the same way. It doesn't need to be near a window and grows very quickly.

     Here is the process: First you soak the larger seeds. I soak my buckwheat, sunflower, wheatgrass, and barley grass seeds. This softens the hull of the seed so it can sprout easier once on the soil. You don't have to do this but I have found that it takes longer to grow if you don't. For the smaller seeds such as Pak Choi, Radish, Arugula, and Mustard I don't bother soaking. The seeds are small and are sprouted within a day. Additionally, making the smaller seeds wet would also make it much for difficult to spread them evenly on the tray.

The seeds closest to the front are the buckwheat seeds. Some of them float and some of them sink. This doesn't matter. They are all okay to use in the trays.

These are the sunflower seeds up close as they soak.

These are the wheatgrass seeds as they soak.

After they have soaked for a day I go ahead and plant them. The directions I got when I first ordered the kit said to soak for 8-12 hours. Then it said to drain the water and let them sit for another 8-12 hours with a wet paper towel over them. Finally, it instructed you to plant them.

I have started letting them soak for 12-24 hours and then planting them. This has worked out fine for me so far.

I take a tray and add about 5 cups of dirt and spread it evenly throughout the tray. I have started getting the trays with and without drainage holes. I put the dirt in the one with the drainage holes and then place that one into the tray without holes. This enables me to catch the water and keeps the water from sitting in the tray too long and becoming moldy which can happen if you plant them in the tray without any holes.

I get my trays from the local Brew & Grow store and sometimes from local home improvement and garden shops.

Above you can see the dirt spread in the tray. In this particular tray I partitioned off several sections because I want to grow several kinds of greens in the same tray. In this particular one I did Pak Choi, Arugula, Mustard, and Radish. With the smaller seeds I sow about two teaspoons of seeds for a WHOLE TRAY so for the partial tray I used about half a teaspoon of seeds since these seeds are so much smaller. When I use the larger seeds such as Wheatgrass, Buckwheat, Sunflower, or Barley Grass I use almost a whole cup of seeds in a tray.

Once the seeds are placed in the dirt I water it very well to get everything nice and moist since this is what helps the seeds sprout. This is important with all of your trays but especially the ones with the smaller seeds that you did not soak. It is the adding of the moisture that helps them break through their hulls and grow. If you don't keep them moist the growth process will be stopped or at the very least delayed.

After two days this is what the Wheatgrass looks like (above) and the Sunflower greens (below)
Two days later (four days in the tray) here is what the Wheatgrass and Sunflower greens look like, respectively:
After six days the Wheatgrass can start to be cut and used (7 days total if you include the day to soak it)
Below you can see the Sunflower greens after 6 days. The hulls remain atop the greens so you pick them off when you use them. It doesn't hurt if you eat a couple. These could start to be cultivated and eaten. I will probably wait another day.
The microgreens have traditionally been used as garnishes in restaurants but are finally being recognized for the amazing nutritional value. I put them in my salads. I have used all microgreens to make my salads. They pack an amazing nutritional punch, are beautiful to grow, and taste amazing, not to mention they grow very quickly.

So now that you know how to grow them. Let's talk more about why you should grow them.

Microgreens pack more nutrients than mature leaves from the same plant. They usually have 4-6 times more nutrients but exact numbers vary due to where it is grown, when it is harvested, and the soil medium used. It usually takes 7 days of sunlight and soil before they are ready to be harvest but again this varies depending on the seed type, where it is grown, when it is harvest and the soil medium used.
In addition to the ones I mentioned growing above, such as Pak Choi, Arugula, Mustard, Radish, Sunflower, and Buckwheat some other common ones are Daikon Radish, Cilantro, and Basil. There are many additional kinds as well.
Microgreens are harvested during the cotyledon stage of development. This is when the first true leaves sprout. It is after the germination and sprouting stage but before the plant fully develops its root and leaf structures.
What is the difference between a sprout and a microgreen? When you consume sprouts you are consuming the root in addition to the little plant that is starting to grow. With microgreens you are not eating the root, you are only eating the stem and leaves.

Wheatgrass increases your red blood cell count. It lowers blood pressure. It cleanses blood, organs, and the gastrointestinal tract of debris. It stimulates our metabolism and our body's enzyme systems by enriching our blood. It aids in reducing blood pressure by dilating blood pathways throughout the body. Wheatgrass stimulates the thyroid gland, corrects obesity, indigestion, and a host of other complaints. It alkalizes the body which helps in treating a host of gastrointestinal issues. It is a powerful detoxifier and liver and blood protector. Enzymes and amino acids found in wheatgrass protect us from carcinogens like no other food or medicine. It strengthens our cells, detoxifes the liver, and bloodstream, and chemically neutralizes environmental pollutants. Wheatgrass fights tumors and neutralizes toxins. It generally cleanses the blood and neutralizes and digests toxins in our cells. It contains beneficial enzymes that help your body work - whether it is healing a cut or losing weight. Last but not least, it is remarkably similar to our blood. It slows aging, heals our skin, provides oral care, restores fertility, and promotes youthfulness.

Above is a picture of the composition of chlorophyll and our blood. The similarity in structure between the two is what has earned wheatgrass the name of "Green Blood". Additionally, our bodies thrive in an alkaline state. The hydrogen content is what determines alkalinity and its content in our blood is 7.4. Wheatgrass has the same hydrogen content/alkalinity of 7.4
I can't say enough about this amazing food. I can however encourage you to start out by drinking one ounce and then increasing weekly from there. You should start out small because it's such a powerful detoxifier that it can give you an upset stomach if you are not careful. I also encourage you to wait two hours after eating before you drink it. I also encourage you to wait to eat for at least thirty minutes once you drink it.

Recommendations for choosing seeds and soil:

Make sure your seeds are organic, have a high germination rate, and are microbially tested.

If you want suggestions of brands or companies to use you can email me. I don't want anyone to think I am being paid to advertise a certain brand. I write my blogs because I love natural health and nutrition. I also love showing others how to do these things for themselves and enjoy seeing people thrive and live to their highest potential.

For the soil, I use mushroom compost which is very cheap, doesn't have chemicals, and can be purchased from your local hardware and/or home improvement store. Be careful to not buy your run of the mill potting soil especially if it has fertilizers and stuff in there otherwise you will be ingesting those chemicals.

Please feel free to email me with any questions or to book a workshop where I can demonstrate and show you in person how to grow these amazing living foods.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Popular Essential Oil Blends

Here are some essential oil blends that many people enjoy:

Calming: 10 drops of Lavender, 3 drops of Chamomile, 3 drops of  Sandalwood, and 8 ounces of carrier oil. I make my oil blends stronger and would tend to use less carrier oil than this personally. I suggest starting out by adding an ounce of carrier oil and testing your skin to see if you have a reaction. If you like the intensity and it does not aggravate your skin then make the strength to your liking. This applies for the rest of the recipes as well.

Energizing: 8 drops of Peppermint, 4 drops of Lemon or Orange, and your carrier oil to preference.

Anti-bacterial and anti-viral blend: 5 drops of Tea Tree Oil, 5 drops of Oregano, and 5 drops of Peppermint or Rosemary and carrier oil to preference.

For children under 12 years old and infants only use one oil at a time. Don't blend essential oils. Also, you use a far less quantity of essential oil. For example, for a fever you would only put 1-2 drops of Lavender oil in 32 ounces of water and make a compress for the forehead. If a child or infant is irritable due to fatigue put 1 drop of Lavender in 1 Tbsp. of oil and massage into back and neck.

Bug repellant: Lemon and Eucalyptus repel mosquitoes and ticks. It lasts for 4-5 hours. It is an excellent alternative to DEET since DEET has neurological side effects.

These are just a few recipes for now. More to come in the future! Happy oil blending, healing, and health.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Tea Tree Oil - Essential Oils

Tea Tree Oil, also called Melaleuca, helps to treat skin conditions. It is also one of the best anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-parasitic, and anti-inflammatory aids around. It is an astringent. Tea Tree Oil also helps to open our chest cavities and helps to awaken and enliven us. People have used it to treat acne (5% solution), athlete's foot (10%), and even toenail fungus (up to 100%). Internal consumption is not advised as it is toxic.
I have heard of people putting this in the shower or steam room to open up the sinuses and "clean the air" so to speak. It is also great to add to some Greek yogurt for a face mask. I like blending it with some Lavender Oil as well. I don't do a 50/50 split as the Tea Tree Oil can overpower the Lavender but I will do about a 65/35 blend. I have seen it in some all natural shampoo blends as well. I think I have seen it in some blends that treat dandruff but don't quote me on that. What do you use it for?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Some of the awesome dishes Aunt D and I made

To the left is a trellis with lights around it. Brian, my husband, and I were married under this last summer in my aunt's backyard. She mad made good use of it in her garden and it looks beautiful with vines around it and these lights. This particular garden of hers looked like a fairy garden at night with the lights and other garden decorations.

Aunt D and I tried some new and delicious recipes while I was there canning. The meals we prepared were more than enough to entice me to come back and work with my aunt ANY time! (Not to mention the awesome company). The foodie in me could not help but take a picture of some of the dishes we made.

The first one is a picture of some basic mushrooms we sauteed for some steaks one night. I thought they were pretty so I took a picture.

The next picture is of a salad that we made with corn and black beans. 

The basil and tomato were great additions. I am personally not a big fan of raw tomatoes but I picked those out and enjoyed the corn, beans, and basil. We did not put dressing or anything on this. The flavors really complimented one another.

The next dish we made was a bruschetta dish. We chopped up tomato and garlic and baked it for a while on 350 degrees. Then we tossed in the basil after it was done cooking. We served it with soft goat cheese and toasted bread slices. You spread some cheese on the toast and then put the bruschetta on top of that. It was AMAZING!!

One of the last dishes we made that was incredible was breaded and baked eggplant with smoked Gouda cheese on top. Normally we would use a sharp Asiago cheese but since we could not get that we tried the smoked Gouda and it wad equally amazing.

We had amazing dinners every night that I was there. On the last night, Saturday night, we sat by one of her flower gardens, made a bonfire, and roasted marshmellows. A great time was had by all. Thank you Aunt D and Uncle John for your amazing cooking, beautiful gardens, and most importantly the awesome company you provide. I am blessed to have such great family with which I can break bread.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Day Two - Canning with Aunt D

     On the second day of canning with Aunt D we worked on more apples. I don't know exactly how many apples we peeled but by the time we finished I was proud of our work, loved the way they smelled as they were processing, and did NOT want to see apples again for a VERY long time. We added sugar and cinnamon to the apples and processed them for pie filling. They smelled like apple pie as they processed in the canner.

 We all had smiles once the apples were finished.

 Above is my Aunt Carolyn and below is my Aunt D. They are the two best aunts anyone could ask for.
After we finished the apples we worked on cleaning and processing cucumbers and beans. Actually I think we did the beans on the first day as well but since I forgot to mention them I am including them here.

The cucumbers were used to make pickles and relish.
First we sliced the pickles and put them in a salt brine and let them sit for quite some time.
One of the many things we did while they were brining was to clean some peppers and garlic to eventually boil with some pickling spices that we would use to pack the jars and give the pickles their flavor. We also prepared some of these same items for the pickle relish we were making.

Above are the spices that we boiled to pack the pickles and relish. We added some vegetables to the spices as you can see on the right. We boiled this down and then packed our jars.

The above left picture is before we put the pickling spices and liquid into the jar and the picture on the right shows the jar once it is filled. 

One of the last things we made was salsa. This involved prepping some vegetables. 

Once the salsa was finished we were basically done canning. It was two full days of hard but satisfying work. The picture I took of all the jars lined up does not do justice to how pretty it was to look at in person.