Contrary to what many non-vegans might think, being a vegan has actually expanded my culinary repertoire. Discovering so many different ways to eat healthfully is one of the great joys of a plant-based diet, and my latest obsession is eating raw, sprouted nuts and legumes. When a seed (such as any grain, nut, legume, or vegetable seed) germinates, it breaks down the reserve supply of nutrients into simpler compounds that can be used effectively by the plant–and by people who eat them. These nutrients include vitamins, amino acids, protein, and phytochemicals that you can’t get elsewhere. There are many studies that show sprouts have increased protein, essential amino acids, and B-complex vitamins, and less starch and anti-nutrients (compounds that inhibit the absorption of nutrients).
My favorite way to incorporate more sprouted foods is to “cook” with raw sprouted nut butters. Recently, Blue Mountain Organics* sent me a trio of their Better Than Roasted line of raw sprouted butters (cashew, almond, walnut). I initially expected more or less the same taste and texture of your garden variety natural nut butters, but just one taste changed my mind immediately. Unlike other organic nut butters, which are oily at top and chalk-dry at the bottom, BTR butters have a smooth, appealing creaminess. But what I really love is the distinct flavor that can only be described as umami-sweetness, which comes from both freshness and the sprouting process. The cashew butter is especially perfect when it’s whipped into a nut “cheese” and topped over savory raw vegan pizza. This is the dish that will win over anyone–even my red-blooded, manly-man boyfriend was floored after taking just one bite. “This is raw?!” said he, incredulous. “What the heck? This is amazing!!” When I launched into the list of all the good-for-you ingredients, he got carried away praising me as “a raw vegan chef” and “domestic goddess” and whatnot. (Proof that veganism can, for once, help a gal in the love department, instead of the other way around). Make twice as many as you think you need to. Trust me.
- *Want to try Blue Mountain Organics products? An independent sustainability-minded company run by a lovely couple named Peter and Patricia Houchin, Blue Mountain Organics makes all their products in a small community in the heart of Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. They make all sorts of goodies, all organic, raw, and vegan, which are available at their online store or at many Whole Foods locations and local natural stores. Online, enter code DUMPING and get 15% off!
Raw Vegan Pizza with Sprouted Nut Cheese
1 pizza (serves one as an entree, two as appetizer)
4 tbsp raw sprouted cashew butter
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 small garlic cloves, minced
1 raw wrap (I used Raw Bakery brand Tomato wrap)
1 tomato, chopped fine
7-8 olives, sliced
1/2 cup thinly sliced yellow and red bell peppers
Sprouted peas/lentils/chickpeas/mung beans
½ tsp coriander
¼ tsp cumin
½ tsp dried oregano
Coarse salt (I used pink Himalayan)
Ground black pepper
About 5 basil leaves, slivered
1. In a small bowl, whisk together the cashew butter, water, and nutritional yeast until the texture is creamy, like melted cheese. Add about one minced garlic clove (about 1/2 teaspoon), and salt and pepper generously. Set aside.
2. In another bowl, mix the chopped tomato, dried oregano, and the rest of the minced garlic. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3. In another bowl, toss the sprouted peas/lentils/chickpeas etc with coriander, cumin, salt and pepper.
4. To assemble: lay the wrap on a large plate and add the toppings in order–tomatoes, bell pepper slices, nut cheese, olives, sprouts, and basil. Enjoy!
Photo: Peaceful Dumpling