Why We Eat Spaceships with Tails - sprouting legumes and grains is worth it!

There is only so much time in a day, why on earth is sprouting legumes, grains or seeds a good idea?

Let me make myself perfectly clear. Sprouting takes less than 4 minutes of your time from start to finish. That 4 minutes will pay you back exponentially.

Exponential improvement in the health of you and your tribe allowing you to live and be your best!  A promise about soaking stuff in water first?  Yes indeed!

Sprouting is something I started doing to help our 15 year old daughter as she battles c diff colitis Remember the Big MAC diet post?

Microbiota Accessible Carbohydrates….these are the Big MAC’s we LOVE at our house. I add sprouted legumes to EVERYTHING and in so doing help our daughters gut heal while improving our own health.

They aren't just good for her, they are good for all of us! Our uber picky 8 year old almost died and refused to eat the "tail" the first time he saw sprouted lentils added to a burrito.  I laughed and told him, "dude, you need to eat the whole spaceship with the tail." Sold.

  • Legumes are packed with the fiber the critters in our intestines (gut microbiome) LOVE to eat. The equation is simple. High fiber foods = food for intestinal bacteria = stronger microbiome.
  • Fiber is what the critters in your gut eat. Well-fed gut critters = happy, healthy gut critters. Check.
  • Fiber keeps you full longer. Check.
  • Fiber saves you time sitting on the porcelain throne. Check.
  • Sprouting legumes prior to eating helps make them easier to digest (shhh this means less gas). Check.
  • Cheap plant based protein - 1/2 cup cooked lentils have 8 grams of protein. Double Check.
  • Dry legumes are super cheap. Less than $1 a pound at any grocery store. Last time I was at Costco, organic chicken was about $6 a pound. You have math skills too. Check.

Plenty of reasons to want to add legumes, grains and seeds to your diet but sprouting them first? Yes!!!

Sprouting – DISCLAIMER… if they smell weird, are slimy or moldy….DO NOT EAT THEM!!!!

If you have a mason jar you can do this. Nothing technical, nothing wacky.

Benefits of Sprouting

Complex carbohydrates are broken down into easier to digest carbohydrates = less gas.

Sprouting also allows for our body to absorb more nutrients = more vitamins and minerals to help the cells in our body fight and be its strongest.

If you are sprouting legumes or grains, they will cook faster. Check

Ever head of alkaline (plant based foods) vs acidic (sugar and heavily processed foods) foods? The more alkaline the better. Guess what, sprouting makes legumes, grains and seeds more alkaline which is SUPER AMAZING for our body!!!

If you are still reading, there is a chance you might try sprouting. Seriously it takes nothing fancy.

Here are the steps to sprout your own goodness:

  • Rinse 1 cup of lentils (legumes, grains or seeds)
  • Place rinsed lentils in a 1 qt mason jar
  • Fill jar to the shoulder with water and let it sit overnight or for about 12 hours
  • Use your fingers and hand as a colander (or cheese cloth secured with a ring) and drain water.
  • Prop jar on a towel at an angle to allow for drainage and air flow.
  • Rinse 2-3 times a day by filling the jar with fresh water and pouring it out again using your fingers and hand or cheesecloth  as a strainer. Continue to prop jar on a towel at an angle. Your sprouts are ready when they have ¼ inch “tails.” (After the overnight soak, it takes until about the end of the second day to get them to sprout.)
  • Place sprouted lentils in a medium saucepan and add water to cover plus an inch or so. Bring to a boil then cover with a lid and simmer for 15-20 min or until tender. Each legume or grain will have a different cooking time BUT it will be faster than a non-sprouted legume or grain.  Freeze extra in zip lock baggies, all ready portioned.

WHERE TO USE SPROUTED grains or legumes –

SALADS, SOUP, CASSEROLES, SCRAMBLED EGGS and add to meat dishes like tacos, shredded bbq. You name it and I will have been accused of adding lentils to it.

They are amazing in everything and with everything!!! There is also a really good chance you can get away with them added to brownies and cookies too. Shhhh!

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Whole Grain Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

October first and officially all things pumpkin spice have bombarded our lives.

Including this blog post.

This recipe is one we have used for a few years and it’s very fitting to share it during pumpkin spice season.

Hard to imagine but these pancakes are NOT dense bricks of gut wrenching pain. They are puffy yet filling and undeniably spectacular.

Pumpkin (code for squash/veggie) is chock full of antioxidants, phytochemicals and fiber to help you from the inside out.

Squashing (hahaha) free radicals and keeping your cells stronger and healthier to help you attack each day the way you see fit.  It doesn’t hurt that they have a decent amount of fiber to help keep things moving along the way mother nature intended.

Even in the midst of anti-wheat rhetoric we still eat wheat.

Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?

  1. we don’t have celiac or wheat intolerance/allergies
  2. wheat based foods are less expensive than their gluten free cousins
  3. wheat is a terrible horrible no good very bad thing when it’s heavily processed white flour  because it’s usually combined with high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors and no redeeming health benefits – think Fruit Loops.
  4. WHOLE grains are amazing as they contain naturally occurring phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals, fiber and healthy fats.
  5. repeated studies show consumption of whole grains will REDUCE your risk of STROKE, HEART DISEASE and make it easier to MAINTAIN YOUR WEIGHT

Whole Grain Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour (white whole wheat works great too)

  • ¼ cup sugar (you could probably eliminate it all due to syrup being poured on top)

  • ½ tsp salt

  • 2 tsp baking powder

  • 2 tsp baking soda

  • 1 tsp cinnamon

  • 3 eggs, beaten

  • 1 cup plain yogurt (Greek or regular)

  • ¾ c milk + some to thin the batter

  • 1 ½ cups pumpkin puree

Allow for at least an hour for the whole grain to absorb liquid before cooking the pancakes. I have made the batter the night before and the before work in the morning for dinner pancakes and they turn out beautifully.

Combine dry ingredients and mix well. Combine all wet ingredients in a separate bowl and blend. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until everything is evenly incorporated.

Let batter rest in the refrigerator to allow the whole grain to absorb. The top of the batter will oxidize a bit (turns brown) just mix it in, it’s no big deal.

Thin absorbed batter with additional milk to the consistency you like for pancake batter.

Heat your griddle to 300-325 or medium. These babies need to cook low and slow because they are so moist. Cook 3-5 minutes per side. The center will bounce back (like when testing a muffin for doneness) when they are cooked through.

If desired, add chocolate chips and pecans or walnuts as they are cooking. Top with butter and real maple syrup.

Makes about 24 four inch pancakes per batch.

You might wonder how these beauties fare on the picky scale. They are 4 out of 5 at our house, the oldest picky kiddo thought she had been poisoned when presented dinner last night. She had to forage for dinner on her own out of the fridge.

Enjoy Pumpkin Spice Season!


Back to School Boogers?

Man oh man do I feel defeated. The back to school germs hit us with a vengeance and honestly, I am a bit irritated.

After posting the back to school fruit and veggie smoothie with immunity booster, blabbing on about vitamin D and omega 3 fatty acids its still wasn’t enough to keep those germs away.

Three weeks into a new school year and my 3 kiddos have collectively missed 5 days of school.  Painful strep, thick goopy pink eye, bulging ear infections and dense boogery colds kept them home.

Three weeks into the new school year 2 of my kiddos on antibiotics. Ahhhhhhh!

We are also ever appreciative of the rebound cold picked up as soon as the course of antibiotics was over.

In reality, they are kids. They get sick, it’s how they build immunity.

According to the CDC, elementary kids get 8-12 colds or cases of flu every year.  Older kids get about ½ that.  Washing hands frequently, plenty of sleep, exercise and eating healthy are the best ways to combat these numbers.

Super -  but that isn’t good enough.  Back to school boogers have driven me to start something new. The last several weeks I have been working on my own homebrew to improve our chances staying in school.

No, this isn’t something fruity, mixed with yeast brewing in a dark corner.

It’s kefir. I’m making my own and it goes into our smoothies each night.


Cultures have been fermenting  food for eons as a method of preservation. Milk kefir hails from the Black Sea region and was fermented traditionally in a repurposed animal stomach. Nifty!

I bought my grains on amazon.com and I also ordered a fine mesh nylon sieve so I could strain my brew each day.

Kefir grains (symbiotic yeast and bacteria) eat the lactose in the milk and the end product is a slightly sour, full of excellent bacteria beverage.

What is it?

Fermented milk, with a buttermilk consistency. It’s packed with literally gazillions of beneficial bacteria that actually colonize in your gut competing with the bad bacteria. When good bacteria outnumber bad bacteria your chances of getting sick go waaaaay down.


Worth the bother?

Kefir grains (they have nothing to do with grain though) + a nylon fine mesh sieve = $6. One bottle kefir at the grocery store = $3.50. I have math skills, smoothie skills and now kefir skills.

I make my own kefir with kefir grains that will last indefinitely and we can have kefir every day for a fraction of the cost. And when the grains grow too big for my needs, I can share them!

Each night we add 1 cup of kefir to our smoothies. Purchasing kefir at the store, would run me about $7 a week for just that one ingredient. Ummm, no thanks. That is why WE work OUR cans off freezing hundreds of pounds of produce each year.

How does it taste?

Plain – it’s sour milk and one would have to be quite bold just to chug it straight. Mixed in a smoothie it’s totally delicious.

Our fruit and veggie smoothies actually taste better with kefir - the kids will even admit it. For lack of a better way to describe it, it “softens” the flavor.

Case in point. My son has a super picky friend who was over just as our dinner smoothie was blended and I had extra. I asked him if he wanted some and he looked at me with leary eyes and slowly said, “shhuuuure.” It helped that another neighbor buddy was also in the room and he cheered at the offer of a smoothie.

Picky neighbor, slammed the first glass and started LICKING it out. I refilled his cup and he gulped it down again and licked it out AGAIN. AWESOME! His mom called it a miracle, especially when she learned what was actually in it that day (kefir, blackberries, peach, carrots, kale, tomato, zucchini and a few apricots).

How do you do it?

Watch a few youtube’s to get the feel for it then just jump in. My teaspoon of grains that I received in a tiny packet is the perfect amount to ferment 1 cup of milk. It takes some trial and error but I know a few things now.

If your kefir looks like this:


It will taste the way toddler milk throw-up smells. Ewwww!

You CAN drink it but it WILL make you gurgle and perhaps splat which can be dangerous in certain social situations, especially work. Really though, DON’T DRINK IT. But do run it though you sieve to save the grains to start a new batch.

It should look like this:


A little bubbly, thick like buttermilk. But NOT separated into curds and whey.

After chucking several batches I finally figured it out:

  • one cup of milk and 1 tsp of kefir grains will ferment in about 12 hours when our house it kept at 72-76 degrees
  • strain it directly into the blender for your fruit and veggie smoothie at night
  • start a fresh batch (add 1 cup of milk to the strained grains) and leave on the counter until bedtime
  • put the kefir in the fridge when you go to bed
  • In the morning, take it out of the fridge, cover it with a towel and by 5 pm-ish  it will be ready to add to your smoothie
  • If I know we won’t be having a smoothie a particular night I simply get it to the kefir thickness I want then put it in the fridge. It will slow down and hold for a few days just fine.

Brewing your own makes adding a super powerful probiotic to your daily routine affordable. It improves the taste of your smoothies and will hopefully help your kids recover faster from the back to school goop and keep them in school for more days this year! I know my fingers are crossed!!!

Happy Brewing!


Pumpkin Muffin Cooler Than Lunch Recess

It’s that time of year again. Besides being fall in just a few weeks, it’s when lunches we pack our kids COMPETE with recess. Only the easiest and most delicious things get eaten first while the rest is trashed or left to decompose in the lunch box.

Unless your school is smart enough to have recess first. Ours has lunch first - sigh. And I have a first grader and his first shot at all day school and lunch away from my visual supervision.

Time to pull out the big guns and compete in his lunchbox = awesome momma nutrition vs. the playground.

It is a slow process to ease things that are better for him into his lunch when his buddies have chips, fruit snacks, sugary pouch drinks and such.

Balance and patience is what it will take to get them to eat foods better for them when they are surrounded by lunch boxes filled with junk.

Let me be perfectly open about one thing. 2 of my kids get chocolate milk every day in their lunch boxes.

Gasp….shhh,  I don’t think chocolate milk is evil. This is why it goes in their lunch boxes:

  1. I know they will drink it
  2. calories – they needs them to be able to focus when it’s learning time. Hungry kids don’t learn well.
  3. decent amount of protein, vitamins and mineral – not straight juice with no protein to slow the insulin response
  4. I am not anti-dairy
  5. It’s delicious and convenient.  The end.

Chocolate milk confession aside, I’ve pulled out the big guns and am going muffin mode. They are the same shape as a cupcake so it has a coolness factor at the lunch table that makes it more desirable.

Muffins are a super amazing tricky way to sneak goodness and coolness into lunch without the kiddos realizing it.

The recipe today is for a whole grain pumpkin muffin. It’s sneaky awesome for a few reasons:

  1. It’s whole grain = AWESOME!

  2. It’s made with a veggie (shhh, kids don’t consider pumpkin a veggie)

  3. cupcake shape gives it a very high cool status rating

  4. moist and yet fluffy = easy to eat thereby improving chances that it will get eaten before the playground calls

  5. Pumpkin’s deep orange color means it’s loaded with carotenoids - phytochemicals that prevent free radicals from damaging cells. Who doesn’t need that when they are surrounded by 30 of their closest friends covered in contagious germs 6 hours a day, 5 days a week?

  6. Freeze well= super easy to pull out and add to lunches!


Whole Grain Pumpkin Muffin

  • 1 ½ cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (nutmeg and cloves to your liking too
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • ½ cup chocolate chips (optional)

Blend dry ingredients. Put wet ingredients in a separate bowl and blend until smooth. Add wet ingredients to the dry and mix until just combined. Add chocolate chips and stir to combine. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Makes 12 muffins. Recipe doubles easily.

If you were wondering, this recipe is also very forgiving. I just made a batch and left out the oil and the milk and they are still fantastic.

Happy Baking!