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Wheatgrass

wheatgrass

Green Cuisine grows their wheatgrass indoors.

Green Cuisine has wheatgrass juices on their menu. In fact, they grow their wheatgrass behind the counter. Have you ever wondered why wheatgrass is so popular, and what exactly makes wheatgrass so healthy?

Wheatgrass, the Little Grass that Could

When you consume wheatgrass, you are consuming the cotyledons of the common wheat plant, triticum aestivum. Although it is derived from the wheat plant, wheatgrass is gluten-free because only the wheatgrass sprouts are collected and the wheat seeds have not had a chance to form.

The story of wheatgrass begins in ancient Egypt, 5000 years ago. Ancient Egyptians discovered the health benefits of wheatgrass, and considered wheatgrass to be sacred.

Fast forward to 1931, when the American agricultural chemist, Charles Schnabel, found wheatgrass to have significant nutritional value. He was studying the health effects of adding cereal grasses in the diet. He fed some wheatgrass to chickens and saw that these chickens subsequently increased their egg production. Through his animal studies he extrapolated that humans can also improve their health by having wheatgrass in their diet.

As a result of Charles Schnabel’s promotion of wheatgrass as a healthy food, cans of powdered wheatgrass were sold in drugstores across Canada and the United States in the 1940’s.

Check Out The Nutrients in Wheatgrass

Wheatgrass is a source of potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E (alpha tocopherol), vitamin K, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, iron, copper, zinc, manganese, selenium, beta-carotene, phosphorus, and chlorophyll, the green stuff that helps plants photosynthesize. Other dark, leafy greens have similar nutritional content, and wheatgrass’ nutritional profile is comparable to those of spinach and broccoli, two very wholesome vegetables. Wheatgrass does have a slightly higher protein content than spinach and broccoli, with about one gram of protein per 28 grams of wheatgrass. This protein does not contain all 9 of the essential amino acids, so it would have to be complemented with other foods. You can get wheatgrass in powdered form, but having wheatgrass that is fresh is better.

Don’t expect wheatgrass to cure cancer, as there is no scientific evidence to support any cancer-curing claims. In a recent review on the medical uses of wheatgrass, it was found that while some medical benefits were shown to be promising in some studies, the studies were all small trials. The review stated that more studies need to be done with larger trials in order for wheatgrass to be proven effective for medical therapies.

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Wheatgrass juice is good for you.

Wheatgrass is, nonetheless, very nutritional, and downing a wheatgrass juice or smoothie will load you up on lots of vitamins and minerals, which isn’t a bad thing at all.

If you love wheatgrass, you can easily grow it yourself. Here is a list of directions, with pictures, to show how you can grow wheatgrass at home.

Green Juices at Green Cuisine

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Fresh juices, green juices, and smoothies. Yay!

You can, of course, get wheatgrass at Green Cuisine. On the wall, there is a list of green juices that you can choose from, to concoct a delectable, healthful drink containing fresh wheatgrass. The “Zeus” is a good one. It has peach, apple, pear, ginger, lemon, and wheatgrass.

 

Sauerkraut

sauerkrautSauerkraut is a shredded cabbage side dish, where the cabbage has been left to ferment naturally by lactic acid bacteria. Many cultures have their traditional way of fermenting vegetables (think kimchi in Korea), and sauerkraut (which means “sour cabbage” in German) is the way the Germans and Eastern Europeans like their fermented cabbage. It is salted and fermented in its own juice.  There are many regional variations of sauerkraut, each with their own distinctive twist in flavour. Due to the fermentation process as well as the presence of salt, all sauerkraut possess an inherent sourness and saltiness. Because of its nutritional value, the explorer James Cook would take sauerkraut with him during long journeys at sea in order to prevent the occurrence of scurvy. Historically, fermented vegetables were always popular in many cultures because fermented products stored easily and provided nutritious food on hand when refrigeration wasn’t available.

Why is Sauerkraut Good For You?

Well, it is a good source of vitamin C, which is why it can prevent scurvy. It also has vitamin B6 and vitamin K. It is high in magnesium and calcium, and a good source of vitamin B9 (folate), manganese, iron, copper, as well as dietary fibre. Because it has already been somewhat digested by lactic acid bacteria, the sauerkraut is more digestible than regular cabbage. Unpasteurized sauerkraut contains live lactobacilli and other beneficial probiotics which can aid in a healthy digestive tract. Antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin present in sauerkraut can support eye health.

How is Sauerkraut Made?

Briefly, first, you shred a lot of cabbage. Find a large container. You mix the salt with the cabbage. There will be brine, and the brine should cover the cabbage. You check on the cabbage every day to release gases and clean off any white scum that may form at the top of the container. The temperature has to be not too warm, or mould and yeast will develop, but not too cold either, or fermentation will take longer. The sauerkraut formation should be complete after 2 weeks. The longer you wait, the more sour it will be. Here are more detailed directions on how to make sauerkraut.

Try Green Cuisine’s Sauerkraut

Green Cuisine’s sauerkraut is unpasteurized, so it is live and raw, full of probiotics for a healthy gut. The cabbage is organic and locally grown, and the salt is organic celtic sea salt. The exciting flavours come in regular, beet, kelp, kimchi, and chilli garlic.

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Organic, raw, live sauerkraut. Check out all the different sauerkraut flavours!

What to Do with Sauerkraut

In addition to eating sauerkraut as a side dish with meals, you can try sauerkraut in your sandwich, or mix it in with your salads. When you eat wraps or tacos, why not throw in some sauerkraut to add an interesting twist? You can put some in your favourite soup, or use it as a topping for your pizza!

Kombucha

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A jar of multiple SCOBY. One SCOBY can ferment a batch of sweetened tea. Each time a new batch of kombucha is made, a new SCOBY is formed over top of it.

Kombucha comes from China, where its use has been documented since 220 BCE. There it was known as the “tea of immortality”. It emerged later in 400 CE in Japan, where it derived its present name when a Korean physician named Kombu treated the Japanese Emperor Inyko with the fermented tea. “Cha” is the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean word for “tea”. Kombucha became known in Russia in the 1900’s, where it was called “chaynyy grib”, and its use then spread to other parts of Europe. It was first documented in Germany in 1913. It was not until the mid 1990’s when it became popular in the United States.

Kombucha is a fizzy, fermented drink which has some sweetness to it. It utilizes a SCOBY, or Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast to ferment a mix of tea and sugar, usually black or green tea. One SCOBY can last you for years if you keep using the same culture over and over again. The yeast component commonly contains Saccharomyces, and the bacteria component frequently has Gluconacetobacter xylinus to oxidize the alcohol produced by yeast into acetic acid and other acids. There may be other microbes in the SCOBY as well. The SCOBY converts the sugar (sucrose) in the tea to fructose and glucose. Also produced are gluconic acid, glucuronic acid, acetic acid, butryic acid, malic acid, usnic acid, and lactic acid. B vitamins and vitamin C can be found in kombucha, as well as amino acids, enzymes, and about 1%  alcohol.

Although many anecdotal health claims have been made about kombucha, there isn’t much scientific evidence to validate those claims.

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Green Cuisine makes kombucha in natural, root beer, and ginger flavours.

If You Haven’t Already, Try it. 

I drink kombucha because it tastes good, is pleasantly fizzy, and it isn’t a sugary drink. For some people trying kombucha for the first time, they may not like the taste right away. I liked the taste from the beginning, especially the subtle sweetness.

If you want to learn how to make your own kombucha, go here.

Green Cuisine Now Makes Kombucha

The flavours available are natural, root beer, and ginger, and they have been becoming quite popular since hitting the shelves.

Fun fact

Did you know that the kombucha SCOBY can be used to make clothing? When the culture is dried, the microbial cellulose becomes like leather, and can be dyed with natural dyes to produce a sustainable, biodegradable textile. For instance, check this out!

Mochi

mochi

This is known as kagami mochi.

Rice cake, anyone?

What is Mochi? 

Mochi is a Japanese rice cake made from short-grain glutinous rice. It’s origins, however, may have derived from China, and the Chinese have a multitude of different kinds of rice cakes, in either sweet or savoury flavours. In both Japan and China, sweet rice cakes are ubiquitous in New Year’s celebrations, as they are seen as tokens of fortune.

Historically, Japanese mochi was produced with red rice and was restricted to be eaten only by the Japanese Emperor and nobles. Later on, mochi was used in religious offerings to Shinto Gods by nobles. Commoners were eventually able to partake in mochi consumption during New Year’s festivities. Unmilled (brown) short-grain glutinous rice became the starting material for mochi.

The Japanese mochi was traditionally made in a labour-intensive process that started with soaking the brown glutinous rice overnight, and then steaming the rice, followed by crushing and pounding the rice with wooden mallets in a traditional mortar. Two people usually worked together- one who would rotate and hydrate the rice, and the other who would pound the rice. The sticky mass is then kneaded by hand, and the resulting mochi may then be shaped into a ball or a cube. Samurai warriors would carry mochi with them to tie them over long journeys, and farmers who worked long hours outside would eat mochi for the concentrated amount of energy the food provides.

Rice Flour is Used to Make Modern Mochi

The rice-pounding days have understandably went out of style due to the labour involved. Nowadays, mochi is usually made with the refined flour of sweet rice, called mochiko, unless traditional ceremony calls for the no short-cut version. This white sweet rice flour is mixed with water, cooked and stirred on the stovetop until it forms a slightly transparent cake.

In Japan, mochi is popular not only during the New Year’s celebrations, but also on Children’s Day, Girl’s Day, and during the Spring season, when a special kind of mochi, the sakura-mochi, is made to slightly resemble a cherry blossom (the Japanese symbol).

For some interesting things to do with mochiko, go here. To make your own mochi with mochiko, try this.

Green Cuisine Makes Mochi from Scratch-Not From Rice Flour IMG_20160426_1300438

Another interesting product on their shelves is mochi, made from organic sticky brown rice which is steamed, pounded with a special machine, and kneaded into a dough. This mochi preserves some of the original goodness of traditional mochi, such as higher nutrition due to quality ingredients, and greater ease of digestion. Once the dough is cooled, it is packaged into blocks for sale. Three flavours of mochi are available: brown rice mochi, sesame mochi, and raison-cinnamon mochi.

If you are an endurance athlete, or work on a farm, you can eat mochi often for your complex carbs. Expectant mothers can benefit from this nutritious food.

The Taste Test

I took on the task of trying the Green Cuisine cinnamon-raison mochi, since I love how cinnamon and raison tastes together. I followed the instructions on the package and cut the solid slab into pieces. Maybe I had a dull knife, but I had to really press into the cake to cut it. I heated the oven, put the mochi pieces onto a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, and then stuck the mochi into the oven. I wasn’t expecting much. When I checked on the mochi I saw that they had puffed up. How cool!  I decided they were ready and took them out of the oven for a taste test. They were hot, so I waited for a few minutes. When I took a bite of mochi, I was pleasantly surprised. It was warm, soft and chewy, with just a hint of sweetness. I don’t think it would have tasted the same if the mochi was made with processed rice flour.

 

Introducing Green Cuisine’s Blogger, Sierra

P1040701Hi, I’m Sierra. I’m into delicious, wholesome food, good music, fitness, and the outdoors. I am excited to be working with Andy and the Green Cuisine team, spreading the word about the tasty new dishes they are whipping up in the kitchen. Feel free to offer suggestions and requests for seasonal fare you would like to see at Green Cuisine, as we love to hear from you!

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Me hanging out at Green Cuisine

As the autumn weather settles in, one of the best things on a cold, damp night in Victoria is to have Green Cuisine soup. Personally, I find it difficult to just stop at the soup as there are always so many tantalizing menu items in the buffet.

Ok, so after my meal, I have my soup (there are usually two to choose from each day), and it is so comforting and delicious. Even though it is cold and dark outside, I feel warm and taken care of inside of me.

Taking care of myself is important all year round, but during cold season, having excellent nutrition along with limiting stress levels will keep the immune system going strong to help ward off the cold and flu viruses that are making their rounds.

 

A Tasty Buffet of Nutritious Options

There is plenty of selection of vitamin and mineral laden vegetables, both fresh and cooked, available at the Green Cuisine buffet. Wonderful protein-rich items may include a recipe with tempeh, seitan, or tofu. A delicious bean or lentil dish, for instance, combined with rice or buckwheat noodles, will also fill out the amino acid profile for protein. You can choose your carbohydrates, which may include brown rice, scalloped potatoes, a lasagna recipe. With menu items like chipotle lime tempeh and cashew cream of tomato soup, I know my tastebuds are always in for a treat when I come in. Even more interesting is that the menu changes every day. I always enjoy the surprise. For those who want to know what the staff picks of the day are, check the daily updates online at our website.

Vegan Gelato is Now Available, Made Here at Green Cuisine

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Vegan gelatos

Speaking of treating tastebuds, recently, Green Cuisine has started making their own vegan gelato. Isn’t that great?! Gelato without any dairy. People who are intolerant to dairy, and those who are vegan, can now enjoy gelato made locally here in Victoria. These artisanal gelatos are made with almond and cashew milk and sweetened with organic agave syrup. They are creamy, yet light. Flavours include vanilla, chocolate, almond caramel, coconut, mint chocolate chip, chai, strawbana sorbet, and mango. There are six flavours to choose from on a given day. This is in addition to the many vegan desserts already available such as brownies, cakes, and cookies. It looks like dessert at Green Cuisine just got even more intriguing.

Stay tuned!

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Vegan Praline Brownies