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Sprouted beans, Healthy Nutritional Food

Don’t Doubt the Sprouts

Sprouted Foods – Are they actually healthier?

Have you started to notice sprouted foods in grocery stores? Sprouted trail mix, pasta, nuts, seeds, bread – they are popping up everywhere. Are they actually more nutritious than non-sprouted plant foods? We’ve done the digging to find out the basics.

What is Sprouted?

When you think of sprouts, alfalfa and bean sprouts may be the first that come to mind but these are just the tip of the iceberg. Every sprouted food is a type of seed. Picture sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and flax seeds – but that’s not all. Chickpeas, green peas and split peas are seeds as well. Some grains, including lentils, are known as a “pulse” which means they are harvested for their seeds. These can also be sprouted, as well as some legumes, quinoa, oats and nuts.

Sprouted Foods, Healthy Food, Nutritional Food

How Sprouting Works

Sprouting is the process of bringing a seed to life. You are most likely familiar with how seeds work. They consist of the raw materials that grow into a new plant when temperature and moisture conditions are ideal. Sprouted foods are essentially seeds that have begun to grow but aren’t baby plants yet. If a food is sprouted, it’s still very much living and growing.

Once a seed sprouts, the nutritious properties of the seed are released so the baby plant has more energy to grow. The theory behind eating sprouted foods is that those nutrients are more available to us as well, and they are easier to digest.

The sprouting process involves soaking the seeds, nuts or grains in water and rinsing them repeatedly until they begin to grow a tail-like feature. This mimics Mother Nature’s process of turning a seed into a plant. For most seeds, nuts, grains and legumes the sprouting method is more or less the same; it’s just the time that varies.

The Benefits

Enhanced nutritional value

The biggest benefit of sprouted foods is their enhanced nutritional value, as we mentioned above. Studies show sprouted cereal grains are higher in amino acids and B vitamins and contain less starch.

Improved digestion

Sprouted foods improve digestion. The raw materials in the food that become available when it’s sprouted come in enzyme form. Enzymes are crucial to digestion, as they are responsible for breaking down the food and increasing the absorption of nutrients. They would be a good choice for someone with a sensitive gut.

Enhanced natural flavours

Sprouting often enhances natural flavours without compromising nutritional value. We recommend Living Intentions for their sprouted seeds and trail mixes. Sky Island Organics offers a great selection of sprouted trail mixes and nuts, including walnuts, cashews, pecans, almonds, pistachios and brazil nuts. View their selection.

Scientific research

Promising scientific research exists about the benefits of sprouted foods. A study by the International Plant Grower’s Association outlines the benefits of eating sprouted foods and their anticancer properties. The Whole Grains Council lists additional benefits.

Sprouting at home

Sprouting is not difficult, but there is a risk of bacterial contaminiation. There are some great online resources for sprouting foods at home. Seeds should be purchased from a certified supplier and the seeds and container should be sterilized before sprouting.

Sprouted Organic Food | Zebra Organics

Interview with Joshua, Founder of Living Intentions

This week we spoke with Joshua McHugh, founder of Living Intentions, a raw food company based in California. We wanted to learn more and find out what they’re up to.

In case you aren’t familiar with them, Living Intentions were among the early pioneers of the modern sprouted food movement. Over a decade ago Joshua began offering sprouted, activated foods under his Living Intentions brand. He has stayed true to his name, in both his intent to offer clean, nutrient-rich, excellent tasting nuts and seeds and to assure his customers are getting living foods via their sprouting/activation techniques.

Living Intentions | Organic Food, California

What inspired you to start the company?

Many things! I really wanted to start a food company creating innovative snacks that were healthier than the alternative out there. This really kept me on the forefront of sourcing high-quality unique ingredients and herbal extracts from other functional foods.

What are the main benefits of a raw food diet? Would you encourage everyone to try it?

I would recommend anybody try it as part of a balanced lifestyle, I really preach the 80/20 rule: 80% raw, 20% cooked. It’s all about the enzymes. Enzymes create a pathway for the body to rejuvenate and heal.

What product can you not live without?

Two items, Sprouted Pumpkin Seeds and our new Superfood Popcorn.

Tell us how you do what you do in an environmentally friendly fashion.

Well first off, 99% of the ingredients we source are organic. We also source “transitional almonds”. “Transitional” is the process from conventional to organic and all farming is done in accordance to organic methods. We have helped a handful of farms move from a conventional crop to an organic crop over the last 15 years.

What’s been the biggest challenge you have faced since you launched the company? 

Business is a roller coaster, and things are coming at you from all angles. I’m not sure if there is one specific challenge, however, you just have to take it as it comes and work your way through the process of learning.

Who (or what) inspires you?

I am inspired by innovation. Whether it’s food music or anything else I feel like being at the forefront of any movement takes a lot of courage, strength and perseverance. That’s what inspires me.

What’s the best piece of advice you can give to someone that wants to make healthy food choices?

The best advice is actually really simple but under utilized in today’s crazy world. Feel your food! Feel what you’re putting in your body, as it knows what’s good for you and if you can learn to listen to it, you will be a super healthy person.

“We’ve been selling Living Intentions since Zebra Organics was founded in 2007. I first tried them an Erewhon Natural Foods in LA, when they first came out over 10 years ago, and fell in love with the flavors and quality” – Randy Olsen, founder of Zebra Organics.

“I admire that Joshua and his company always have, and continue to, strive to educate people on the value of sprouted / activated / raw / living foods and the nutrient / health value of such foods.”

View our favourite products by Living Intentions here.

Learn more about sprouted foods.

8 Sources of Plant-based Protein

Active athletes require a high calorie intake to fuel the intense days on the rock, on the trails and in the field. If you’re looking at staying strong and fit and improving lean muscle mass, here’s some insight on how you can do it with plant-based protein options.

We have grown up believing that protein helps muscle definition and calcium will strengthen bones and teeth, but we must remember that the primary reason why we eat food is to nourish our bodies with nutrients and fuel them with energy. We have become so obsessed with the nutrients in food that when we think of nutrition, we immediately associate a food with a vitamin. Eg. Calcium and milk, iron, protein and meat and vitamin A and carrots. What do we think of when plant-based foods come to mind?

As we mentioned in our post Benefits Of Eating Protein Rich Foods And Amino Acids, amino acids are the building blocks of life. Our eight essential amino acids don’t come from animals; they come from plants. Plant-based protein sources are the more favourable option if you consider both your health and the environment. The meat-based food system demands more energy, land, and water resources (read more here). Plant-based foods are nutritional and easier to digest than meat.

Did you know? Elephants and buffalo are among the strongest animals in the world, yet they only eat grass and fruit and are able to build and strengthen their muscles through a vegan diet.

Dr. Campbell, pHD says in his book Whole: Rethinking the science of

“The foods you consume can heal you faster and more profoundly than the most expensive prescription drugs, and more dramatically than the most extreme surgical interventions, with only positive side effects. [Your] food choices can prevent cancer, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, macular degeneration, migranes and arthritis – that’s the short list. A whole-foods,
plant-based diet can reverse those conditions.”


What plant-based foods should you eat that contain essential amino acids?

1) Hemp hearts – Hemp is a preferred source of protein over other seeds and nuts due to its perfect balance of Omega 6 and Omega 3 essential fatty acids. High in phytonutrients, hemp boosts immunity. Read more: Health Benefits of Hempseed

Hemp hearts are sweet, creamy, nutty and delicious and go well in smoothies, mixed into cereals or spreads, added to energy bars, breads, crumble topping or other baked goods, sprinkled on salads or can be eaten plain as a snack. Hemp seeds can be ground to make a tasty, nutty butter, or pressed to make delicious, green oil.

2) Pumpkin seeds – An excellent source of iron, protein and trace minerals. says that 138 grams of pumpkin seeds contain 34 grams of protein.

3) Spirulina and chlorella – Spirulina is 65% complete protein, making it the world’s highest known source. Spirulina is a water-grown, 100% vegetable plankton. Chlorella, a potent source of whole food nutrition, contains over 50% protein. You can find a combination of spirulina and chlorella on the market or spirulina tablets/powder. Paired together, spirulina and chlorella creates a unique synergy and a powerful addition to any diet.

4) Quinoa – A very high source of complete protein, quinoa contains anti-inflammatory fatty acids omega 3s. Bolivian red quinoa is gourmet quality and quick and easy to digest.

Read more: 3 Whole Grains to add to Your Diet

5) Chia seeds – Raw White Chia Seeds are perfect to sprinkle on salads, add to smoothies, or eat as a pudding by adding water.

Here’s a delicious salad recipe by Sky Island Organics that you can add chia seeds to: Arugula, Pear, Mulberry and Sprouted Native Pecan Salad.

6) Sprouts (lentils, broccoli, clover, mung beans, alfalfa) – Legumes and seeds add a variety of vitamins and minerals to your meal, in addition to protein. When dried seeds are sprouted they contain more of their nine amino acids than usual. Legumes and seeds can be added to salads, vegetables and a vast array of cooked dishes.

7) Golden Berries – Recognized for their high protein seeds, goldenberries are bursting with phosphorous, bioflavonoids, and are rich in Vitamin A. The Goldenberry is loaded with B vitamins that help in maintaining a healthy metabolism. Delicious right out of the bag, these powerful berries are also great in trail mixes, smoothies, and a wide variety of recipes. The Goldenberry is grown in Brazil and Ecuador and other South American countries.

8) Beans – Beans complement quinoa, salsa and guacamole and almost anything well.

A super plant-based specialty mix such as Hemp and Green cereal by Living Intentions is enhanced with hemp protein, spirulina, chlorella, alfalfa and dandelion greens. Jazz it up with a handful of sweet sultanas, Himalayan raisins, and a nutty crunch of white sesame seeds. A delicious and alkalizing start to your day, this breakfast mix is nut-free, gluten-free, vegan and raw.

Bodybuilder Joshua Knox at TEDxFremont went vegan for one week. One week turned into a 1.5 year lifestyle experiment with bodybuilding and diet.

“I had a major concern that I would waste away, that I would be skinny and sickly. After more than 2 and a half years of not only plant-based but mostly vegetarian – totally a non-issue. I actually found that not only was I able to keep increasing my strength and my performance, but I also saw massive gains in endurance as well.”

Choosing a healthy breakfast

The importance of a morning meal cannot go understated, it is vital to ensuring quality energy levels and health. The equation is simple when you skip the morning meal you miss out on the opportunity to set your day up properly. By this I mean, breakfast sets the tone of the day for your digestive system, blood sugar levels, apatite and many endocrine system functions. Setting your day off right helps you maintain the quality of  health that keeps you from situations like obesity and diabetes. And, this is all as simple as starting the day off with a quality meal.

What are some good breakfast options?

It is commonly agreed that foods low on the glycemic index scale are your best choices. My brother the chiropractor Dr. Robert D’Aquila and many other health professionals recommend a breakfast high in protein. His personal favorite is a raw egg shake made with coconut milk and a vitamin/mineral concentrated green powder. The whole raw egg thing is a bit much for me to stomach but he says the key here is ample nutrition and low sugar to start things off.

So what is the wisdom behind such an approach? Research is constantly uncovering the importance of blood sugar levels and its relation to overall health and with this research comes the fact that keeping your blood glucose levels from spiking throughout the day leads to greater overall health. In my earlier post on Agave, Stevia and the Glycemic Index I illustrated the blood sugar swings. I will now go over this again in relation to breakfast.

When you skip breakfast you set your system up for unregulated blood glucose swings and you also upset your apatite. When you eat low glycemic foods for breakfast you prevent your blood sugar levels from spiking. This keeps your blood glucose levels even throughout the day, so as the day goes on you experience less fatigue, tiredness and need for snacks. These shifts are more than they seem to be on the surface, whereas it just seem like you are hungry, there is a complex hormonal process happening. And, when this complex hormonal process is off balance from improper diet for an extended period of time you end up with health conditions that could be averted.

If you start your day off with a powerful blend of high quality protein such as that found in Quantum Whey by Premier Research Lab you will be giving yourself a very strong foundation for your day. This choice for vitality and sustained health that will take you through morning and into lunch. Research has found that those who skip breakfast often overcompensate during lunch by consuming far more calories than they really need. Which in essence is a recipe for obesity and diabetes and these same people are often hungry two hours after lunch even though they ate more calories than they needed . . . How incongruous?

I like to use breakfast as a time to start getting my vegetables as well. As we know eating ample quantities of fresh fruits and veggies is good for the body. But I often find most fruits to sweet for my morning taste, that is why I opt for low glycemic foods such as kale, broccoli, squash, brussel sprouts and spinach for breakfast, along with some over easy or soft boiled eggs. And, maybe some rice or miso soup as an addition.

Often when people skip breakfast it is because of time constraints and this is the same reason they reach for high glycemic breakfast bars, pastries or sugary cereals. If you really can’t do breakfast you are better off eating some nuts or an apple rather than skipping it or going for the high glycemic options prevalent today. But if you can give yourself 5 minutes you can whip up a quick protein shake and boost it with some green powder as well. In the scheme of things this is rocket fuel for health compared to the conventional options out there. Here is a simple recipe for you:

Healthy Breakfast Shake

1 1/2 cups of water
small handful of almonds
1 tablespoon of organic canned coconut milk
or 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. This is a simple formula that contains 3 main components besides water; they are Protein, Fat and Greens. These three components provide long term sustainability for blood sugar and apatite.


A Healthy 2012

Add More Greens to Your Diet

It is the new year a time when many people resolve to get healthy and make changes to their diet. We fully support the positive changes people wish to make; especially when it comes to cleaning up their diet and exercising more.  Because lets face it without these two factors supplements, pills and powders just aren’t going to give you the results you are looking for.  

Along with a healthy diet and exercise certain supplements and herbs can give you the extra nudge with achieving your health and fitness goals.  One really simple thing you can do that will make significant changes over the long term is to add more plants to your diet.  Specifically add more leafy green plants to your diet. Do this everyday for a year and you will see and feel the changes it makes in your life. Try spinach, kale, broccoli, brussle sprouts, collards, lettuce and fresh green herbs like parsley and cilantro. After doing this if you still want support go for it.  Below is a list of a few key supplements that will support your health and fitness goals.

Yerba Mate
This hardy South American wonder tea has been used for centuries to help control hunger and nourish the body.  On top of that it also boost metabolism helping the body to burn fat.  Yerba mate is a well known appetite suppressant and it is also loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
 Yerba mate has been used as a tea by natives of South America for centuries, where it is still widely consumed and sometimes referred to as a liquid vegetable.  So if you need an extra boost in the morning skip the coffee and go for Yerba Mate. It will not only give you the boost of coffee but the nutrition of vegetables.  It is available in loose for or in tea bags.

Vitamineral Green 
This powerhouse supplement contains more nutrient dense foods than you can shake a stick at.  Over the years green supplement powders have become popular because they are highly nutritious, low in   calories, regulate blood sugar and they are convenient and easy to use. Simply mix Vitamineral Green  into water or juice and you’ve transformed it into a wonder health drink. 


Salad Booster
Give a boost to your salads with Living Intentions “Salad Booster” a smart product containing a variety of raw and sprouted nuts, seeds and nutrient dense superfoods.  This product is a tasty way to increase nutrient intake with just a few shakes.  Salad booster is easy to use, portable and tastes good, besides the sprouted nuts and seeds it also contains spirulina and chlorella. 

Hemp Seeds

Nutty and delicious, Hemp seeds add protein, healthy fats and vitamin E to your diet, they are fun to eat and easy to incorporate. Simply sprinkle them onto salads, grain dishes or add to a smoothie.  Hemp Seeds are a good source of digestible protein. They are 33% protein by weight and contain all 8 essential amino acids.  They are also a great source of vegetable based omega 3 fatty acids.

Superfood Smoothie Mix
With eight potent, organic superfood ingredients, this is one of the most powerful sources of nutrition available! It’s incredibly rich in complete protein, cell-protecting antioxidants, heart-healthy omega 3s, cholesterol-balancing phytosterols, and an array of immunity-supporting bioflavonoids, minerals and natural vitamins.  Superfood Smoothie Mix contains hemp, maca, acai, mesquite, lucuma and goji berry extract.
Health is not a complicated formula, all it requires is some simple changes to diet, activity levels and managing stress in a balance way.  Add to this a few key supplements because they offer concentrated nutrition thus boosting vitamin, mineral and anti oxidant intake without much effort.  We are here to  support you by offering you a selection of hand picked top quality products and valuable information.
All the Best and Happy New Year to you and yours!
From the Zebra Organics team