February 24, 2017

Experimenting with Wheat Grass and Amaranth Sprouts

Amaranth and Wheat Grass
I've posted about growing sprouts in my little seed sprouter before but this time I tried something new and wanted to talk about my success!

We have been trying to eat organic and healthy for a while now. I read that Wheatgrass sprouts are a natural source of nutrients including vitamins A, C and E, amino acids, calcium and magnesium and touted as a "super food". Lots of people juice the sprouted seeds but I'm not big on juicing and honestly, I didn't want to have to grow that many. I also figure that if the juice is good for you, the whole sprout would be even better.

BEWARE: If you have a wheat or gluten allergy, I would NOT eat any source of wheat - Period!  

I found these benefits of Wheatgrass from a simple Google search:


Many alternative health practitioners believe in wheatgrass as being highly beneficial. The Hippocrates Health Institute,2 for example, has a long list of purported benefits of wheatgrass, including the following (for the full list, please see the HHI web site):
  • Increases red blood-cell count; cleanses the blood, organs and gastrointestinal tract; simulates metabolism
  • Stimulates your thyroid gland
  • Reduces over-acidity in your blood and relieve peptic ulcers, ulcerative colitis, constipation, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal complaints
  • Detoxifies your liver and blood and chemically neutralizes environmental pollutants
  • Its high chlorophyll content may help oxygenate your blood. Keeping a tray of live wheatgrass near your bed may also enhance the oxygen in the air and generate healthful negative ions to help improve your sleep
  • May help reduce damaging effects of radiation, courtesy of the enzyme SOD—an anti-inflammatory compound

Amaranth  is another super food I wanted to try.  I also wanted to try growing two different sprouts together in one tray. Here is what my Google search turned up about Amaranth:
1.Gluten Free – Amaranth isn’t really a grain and it does not have the sometimes troublesome proteins you find in wheat, rye, and barley. Amaranth flour can be used to thicken soups, sauces, and more. It can also be used with other gluten free flours and gums in baking.
2. Cholesterol – The oils and phytosterols in amaranth help lower cholesterol levels, including LDL and triglycerides.
3. Inflammation – The anti-inflammatory properties of peptides and oils in amaranth can ease pain and reduce inflammation. This is especially important for chronic conditions where inflammation erodes your health, such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
4. Cancer – The same peptides in amaranth that protect against inflammation may also help prevent cancer. The antioxidants in this grain may even help protect cells from other damage that can lead to cancer.
5. Blood Pressure – The fiber and phytonutrients in amaranth lower blood pressure according to some recent studies. This seed tackles cholesterol, inflammation, and blood pressure, making it an all-around good food for heart health.
6. Protein – Amaranth is a very rich source of protein and this protein is also highly bioavailable. The protein in amaranth is more digestible than other seeds and grains and has been compared to the digestibility of milk protein.
7. Lysine – Vegetables and grains are often lacking in this essential amino acid. Amaranth has a good amount of lysine which helps the body absorb calcium, build muscle, and produce energy.
8. Fiber – Amaranth is a high fiber food. This makes it filling and means it aids digestive health, cholesterol, blood pressure, and slows the absorption of sugars to let the body keep up with energy production.


Day 4
The picture at the beginning of this post is of the tiny Amaranth seeds (I was surprised at how truly tiny these seeds are) and my wheat seeds together in my tray on day one. I knew the Amaranth grain sprouts were purple but it still took my by surprise on day 2 when they started sprouting deep purple leaves. The pictures here are  day 4. Wheat is ready to eat. It will be too tough to eat in another day or two. Amaranth could go another day - maybe two - before putting in refrigerator to stop the growth. I tasted both. The wheat is sweet and spicy - I liked it. I thought it would be good on a sandwich or in a salad but by the next day it was too tough to eat and it was not tasty at all. So now I know why folks juice it! Amaranth had almost no taste at all. It will add color to a salad and be nutritional value to whatever else I decide to put it in. Of course, Amaranth can be used without sprouting in soup or cooked as cereal or added to any other cooked grain dish which is probably what I will do in the future. 
view of roots day 4





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Amaranth is considered a weed by much of the world, but it has been grown as a grain-like seed and a vegetable for thousands of years. The Aztecs used it as a staple and even included it in their religious rituals. It has about the same yield as many other commonly used grains like rice and a similar nutritional value to quinoa, which makes it well worth looking into.
amaranth_the_miracle_grain_image
1.Gluten Free – Amaranth isn’t really a grain and it does not have the sometimes troublesome proteins you find in wheat, rye, and barley. Amaranth flour can be used to thicken soups, sauces, and more. It can also be used with other gluten free flours and gums in baking.
2. Cholesterol – The oils and phytosterols in amaranth help lower cholesterol levels, including LDL and triglycerides.
3. Inflammation – The anti-inflammatory properties of peptides and oils in amaranth can ease pain and reduce inflammation. This is especially important for chronic conditions where inflammation erodes your health, such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
4. Cancer – The same peptides in amaranth that protect against inflammation may also help prevent cancer. The antioxidants in this grain may even help protect cells from other damage that can lead to cancer.
5. Blood Pressure – The fiber and phytonutrients in amaranth lower blood pressure according to some recent studies. This seed tackles cholesterol, inflammation, and blood pressure, making it an all-around good food for heart health.
6. Protein – Amaranth is a very rich source of protein and this protein is also highly bioavailable. The protein in amaranth is more digestible than other seeds and grains and has been compared to the digestibility of milk protein.
7. Lysine – Vegetables and grains are often lacking in this essential amino acid. Amaranth has a good amount of lysine which helps the body absorb calcium, build muscle, and produce energy.
8. Fiber – Amaranth is a high fiber food. This makes it filling and means it aids digestive health, cholesterol, blood pressure, and slows the absorption of sugars to let the body keep up with energy production.

February 17, 2017

Flowers Outside in Winter


Although it has been unseasonably warm this year, I still didn't expect to find as many blooms in the shade garden as I actually saw. My Hellebores are always the first to bloom and usually in February. I can't see the flowers from the house so I decided to take a garden path walk the other day. I was so pleasantly surprised to find all three colors of Hellebore blooming as well as big fat buds on all my Camellias. Usually one or two of my Camellias refuse to bloom but this year I have buds on all of them. I'll post pictures of the blooms when they open in a few weeks. I tried an idea I saw somewhere about how to propagate Camellias by sticking a cutting right in the ground under the "mother" shrub. I did that last spring and so far it seems like 2 of the 4 cuttings I poked into the ground have survived! I'm leaving them there to get bigger before I dig and pot them. I'll for sure do more of them this year. The weird bloom at the bottom is a prickly shrub (Mahonia or Berberis) that I grew from a cutting. Our neighbor at a previous home had one and even though it is thorny, I love the early bloom and the purple berries that follow. The birds love those too.

Of course, the buttercups are beginning to poke up from their winter blanket of leaves and will be showing a little color soon.
Deep Pink Hellebore
White Hellebore






Mahonia or Berberis

Buttercup buds

February 3, 2017

How to Make Yogurt by the Quart in Your Yogurt Maker



I love my yogurt maker. (See this post about it .) I make yogurt every week in it. Bill and I both eat yogurt and granola for breakfast. Mine makes 7 little 8 oz jars of yogurt that take up a lot of space in my refrigerator. A while back, I decided to see if I could make my yogurt in pint jars instead. 4 of them fit into the yogurt maker. That worked and I was able to make 4 pints of yogurt at a time. Wide mouth jars make the yogurt easier to get out with a spoon.

Today I wondered if quart jars would work too. Sure enough, 3 quart jars fit my maker. I had to use a larger pot for the extra milk and I increased the time I leave the jars in the machine by about an hour. Now I have 3 quarts (I increased the amount of milk in my recipe to 3 quarts) of yummy yogurt taking up less space in fridge than the smaller jars and I don't have to make yogurt quite so often. I still use the clear cover that comes with the machine but I cover all of it with tea towels (see picture below). I think it keeps more heat in - it may not be necessary. I actually used the same amount of my heirloom yogurt as a starter in both pints and quarts as I did with the smaller batches. here's a link to a heirloom culture that makes your own yogurt the culture - lasts forever! Heirloom Yogurt Culture

Below are quart jars, the amount of culture I used and the covered yogurt maker.


January 27, 2017

Herb of the Month: Basil


When I did a survey of my Mimi's Greenhouse customers asking what herb they would not want to be without, Basil was the number one choice.

It is useful fresh and is easy to dry and save for later. Who doesn't love fresh pesto! Basil is an annual but it will reseed freely if you let it go to seed in the fall. To keep it producing all those tasty leaves, keep the flowers deadheaded until the end of August and then let it go to seed.

There are several varieties of Basil: Large leaf (my favorite) Lemon Basil, Cinnamon Basil, Purple Basil, Spicy Globe Basil, just to name a few.

Search my blog (link on the side bar) to find more posts about growing and using Basil