Pedaling for Peace

On April 15, 2012 I started riding my bicycle cross-country from Jacksonville, Florida in voluntary support of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (NAPF) and the work of author and Peace Leadership Director for the NAPF, Paul K. Chappell. By July 4th, I had covered over 1300 miles to just west of Luling, Texas where a major mechanical failure brought this first stage of my cross-country journey to an end. After storing my bicycle and trailer with my aunt and uncle in Weatherford, Texas, I flew from Dallas to Santa Barbara, California to attend the NAPF First Annual Peace Leadership Summer Workshop. I then lived and worked in Santa Barbara for several more months before I returned to Jacksonville and sold off the rest of my possessions that I could to help fund a continuation of my journey. Starting June 8, 2013 and ending August 9, 2013, I rode from Weatherford, through 400 miles of the central Texas hill country, including Austin, Texas, back to Luling. It was at this point that a friend of mine invited me to work for a brief period in Pennsylvania before flying me back to Santa Barbara where I continued volunteering for the NAPF as well as for the Santa Barbara Bike Coalition. As of August 9th, 2014 I began"Stage III" of my cross-country adventure, this time heading south from Santa Barbara to San Diego and then east to El Paso, TX. It was there that illness, winter weather, and diminishing resources brought that leg of my journey to an end. After staying with another friend in Columbus, GA for several months, I moved "back home" to Kentucky to stay with my dad for a while and build a better "resource base" for future endeavors including review and further tracking and primitive survival skills training at Tom Brown, Jr's Tracker School , and a possible longer tour of the east coast, northern tier, and north west coast back down to Santa Barbara, CA.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Food Basics Part IV - Sprouting Beans and Seeds

This blog is Part IV in a series. If you are new to this blog and have not had a chance to read the previous related blogs here are the links:

Food Basics Part I, Food Basics Part II, and Food Basics Part III.

So, after Green Smoothies and Finger Salads what's the "main course" that goes into my lunch bag?

It's is a combination of several things including:

1. Carrots
2. Peas
3. Eggs or tofu
4. Mung Bean Sprouts
5. Lentil Sprouts
6. Soaked (i.e. semi sprouted) sunflower seeds
7. Soaked pumpkin seeds
8. A combination of brown Basmati or long grain rice and wild rice
9. Dulse (added when eating).

Of this list of ingredients, I am first going to describe my basic method for sprouting Mung Beans and Lentils. Since the Lentils usually take a little longer to sprout, I start them first.

For a single person like myself, I have found that small pint jars (specifically Green Mountain Salsa jars, with ring and seal lids), work best.

Start by adding approximately 3 oz of beans. Notice how the beans come up to roughly the "1/4" mark on the jar.

The next step is to close the jar with a ring and plastic mesh cut to fit. I have used both standard needlepoint canvas and small circles of canvas that had to be cut down slightly for this purpose.

Once the jar is closed, I rinse with water two or three times. If I see any obvious "floaters", i.e. discolored or deformed beans that float to the top, then I will remove those.

After rinsing, I fill the jar with filtered or purified water to about twice the volume of the lentils.

In order to sprout properly, most beans and seeds need a little warmth and darkness. I have found two places that work well for this purpose: on top of the water heater or inside the dishwasher.

Granted, you do not want to run the dishwasher while you have beans soaking in there, but since I prefer to wash my dishes by hand and use the dishwasher racks for air-drying only, then this works well for me. In either case, hot water heaters usually end up in dark closets, and once the door is closed, the inside of the dishwasher is dark as well. The hot water heater has the added benefit of usually being a little warm on top, but not too warm. I have found this to be an optimum circumstance for encouraging germination of beans or seeds.

(Note: The seeds really do need a little warmth to germinate properly. If your hot water heater is not convenient, and/or if your ambient room temp is low [60's?] you can heat up the filtered water to hot but not boiling, and pour that into the jar so all of the seeds will soak and warm up at the same time. The temperature does not have to Stay Warm the whole time, but it has to be warm enough at some point, to cause the seeds to germinate.)

Here is what the lentils look like after soaking overnight.

Keep in mind, I'm starting my lentils 12-24 hours before the mung beans. If I soak the lentils overnight, then I will rinse them in the morning and prepare the mung beans to soak at the same time. The process for starting the mung beans is the same.

Rinse the beans several times and fill the jar with approximately twice as much water as beans. Store the beans in your preferred dark and/or warm and dark place.

As you can see in this image, the mung beans have started sprouting at the top of the heap of soaked beans, while at the same time, we are seeing more significant growth in the lentil jar as well. Ideally, you want the beans to soak up all of the original soak water, because, as they soak, some of the nutrients leach into the water. If all of the water gets soaked up, then the nutrients go back into the beans rather than down your drain. Otherwise, at this stage, you simply continue to rinse and drain the beans in both jars once or twice a day, for the next day or so. I usually store my sprouts when they are between 1/4" and 1/2" long..

I always put the metal lids on Only After the sprouts have had 8-12 hours to dry out (i.e. I do not rinse them one last time before putting the lids on). Too much moisture in this final stage can actually encourage mold growth, especially with the lentils. The mung beans tend to be a little more resistant.

Here's a note on lid storage: I often leave the plastic mesh lids on the jars when I store them in the refrigerator. That way, I don't lose track of them, and they will get washed along with the jar and the metal lid and ring after I empty the jars. Otherwise, if I have multiple lids, mesh covers, and rings going, I like to hang them in a plastic mesh bag so they always dry out completely.

You are still going to get some rusting, but at least this will keep any mold or bacteria from accumulating on the lid seals, or on the plastic mesh (although, as you can see, they do tend to get discolored over time).

Finally, on the last day that the beans are sprouting, I will start my sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds soaking.

It is basically the same idea as with mung beans and lentils, I just put them in a smaller plastic container, and I soak the seeds together. Also, I only soak them overnight, and then rinse and store them in the refrigerator the next morning. Since these hulled seeds have had more exposure to the air, etc. they will start to oxidize much more rapidly once they have been soaked. So that is why I wait to soak them last, and then use them up within two or three days if possible.

To sum up: These soaked/sprouted beans and seeds have been a staple in my diet for many years. Although I am now in the routine of cooking them (slightly) with my "Special Egg-Fried Rice" recipe (which I will elaborate on more fully in my next blog in this series), I have been adding the raw versions into pretty much every other "main course" meal I would make: lasagna, chicken pot pies, soups, other stir fries, etc. In effect, I see these sprouted, nutrient and enzyme dense foods as the Most Important part of the meal while my more conventional entrees are just "flavoring"! : )

Furthermore, what I have outlined here is roughly a three day process, especially if the temps are right for rapid germination of the beans. So, it really is not that difficult and these quantities, for me anyway, will last about a week, if I am using them regularly. I may have to make a fresh batch of sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds, but otherwise, I have no trouble keeping the lentils and mung beans that long. When I'm down to what I recognize as about three days worth, all I do is start the whole process all over again.

(As I have said in my previous blogs, I will bring all of this together with respect to the specific Nutritional Value of these foods at the end of this series.)

Please feel free to comment or ask questions about anything I have shared here thus far.

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