Over the years there has been no shortage of comments, questions, curiosities, and sometimes downright ridiculous sarcasm and jokes about my husband and my self’s vegan lifestyles that we have grown accustom to it. We have heard comments including these… but, what do you eat if you don’t eat animals products, I like eating food that tastes good, But don’t you get hungry, where do you get your calcium, B12, Omega’s, is fish and eggs vegan, I could never give up bacon!, Oh just have a burger it won’t kill you, but plants are living things to and feel pain, I am going to enjoy what I eat, don’t you think that you are to extreme, I could never do that, I don’t have time, you must eat rabbit food, Do you want one, oh I forgot you “can’t” eat that (with a giggle), vegan are weak and they fart more (sometimes that is true), and the famous, where do you get your protein from?, the list goes on and on and I think I have heard it all. One that I hear more often and is right up there with the “P” question is , what do you eat, grass? Well as a matter of fact…….
Aside of all the delicious endless fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and grains recipes that we eat, the concoctions of smoothies that we make, juices that we juice, and dehydrated snacks, wheat grass is one little powerhouse shot of nutrients that we now include in our diet daily. After I bought my Omega Juicer which can also juice wheatgrass and other greens, I decided to do a little research and learn how to grow and juice my own. I have had it before in juice bars, restaurants and even bought it frozen at Whole Foods. I always knew that it is very healthy but unaware of how healthy or why. I bought a couple of books, read articles on line and purchased a starter wheat grass kit and this is what I learned.
Wheat grass has been around long before the hippy era as so many associate it with. It was first discovered back in the 1930’s by a man named Charles F. Schnabel from Midland Kansas. He was looking to increase production and health in his chickens during the winter months so he built a laboratory and dehydrator then began experimenting with wheatgrass by dehydrating it and putting it in the chicken feed. He began to notice remarkable results from the chickens. Their health dramatically improved and their egg production increased by 150% for each hen. He was so fascinated with his discovery that be then gave this dehydrated grass to his children and after 11 years, they all were very healthy with no illnesses or tooth decay. He coined the statement, “15 lbs. of wheatgrass is equal in overall nutrition value to 350lbs of ordinary vegetables” (wheatgrasscan.com). He promoted his discovery to feed mills, chemists and the food industry. Quaker Oats and American dairy invested millions of dollars in it for animals and humans to consume. Soon after that you could buy canned powdered wheatgrass all across the US and Canada. It was the bestselling supplement in the nation. Today a company called Pine Wheat Grass owns the factory that Schnabel once owned.
In the 1940’s Ann Wigmore continued to promote the amazing health benefits of wheat grass. She wrote the famous book, “The Wheatgrass Book” in 1984. She was able to cure her own “incurable” colitis illness by consuming wheatgrass juices along with other greens, herbs, and grains and a year later she was disease free. She then focused on the healing properties wheatgrass has and offered it to friends who were ill and they recovered. She co-founded the “Hippocrates Health Institute” where the “let food be your medicine” was practiced and helped countless people heal from all kinds of sicknesses. She passed away in 1993 but, the institute is still active.
Ok so where do I begin with amazing powerful plant. There are so many health benefits in these beautiful green blades of grass including fighting off chronic disease and sickness, helps to keep weight down, provides energy, keeps hair, nails and skin healthy, and keeps the body strong. There are some amazing stories of people who have turned illnesses around with this amazing food. Wheatgrass has:
1. Highest levels of Chlorophyll at 70%, the life and blood of the plant.
2. It is the first product of light therefore it has more healing properties than any other element.
3. The sun’s energy is transformed into chlorophyll which carries high levels of oxygen. It’s known for cleaning abnormalities eliminating toxins in the body improves blood sugar and purifies the body removing heavy metals, and delivering oxygen to the blood, increases function of the heart, vascular system, intestines and digestion.
4. Fights cancer, it is anti-inflammatory, relieves athletes foot, diabetes, high blood pressure, builds immune system, and tooth decay.
5. It has shownto slow down the aging process and I have read that it has actually turned grey hair normal again. It helps relieve colds, eczema, and psoriasis.
6. It is also an effective healer due to all the minerals known to man including 13 essential ones, vitamins A, B-complex, C,E,1 K, trace elements and enzymes.
7. It is also extremely high in protein containing 17 amino acids and is high in magnesium and iron. It is a quick energy source as it takes very little of the body’s energy to absorb its nutrients.
8. Body builders and athletes are known to consume wheatgrass shots for these extraordinary benefits of having more strength, endurance and overall wellbeing.
Want to experience all of these health benefits? How do you grow your own? Well I am glad you asked that! I will show you some basic steps on how to grow your own “liquid sunshine” that I have learned. It is very simple to grow needing only a few things and it is almost maintenance free. There kits, seeds, books and more available at Whole Foods, the “sprout people.com, or wheatgrass.com, amazon and other sights for reasonable prices. It can be grown outside or indoors during the colder months.
Your grass can either grow it in organic soil (I buy Black Gold all organic potting soil through Amazon), organic compost or you can use a “baby blanket” or Tencel pads, they are made from organic plant material and hold water well. I have tried using both soil and the blanket and I personally like the soil the best. My first batch I used the blanket that came with the kit but, it grew some mold and my grass was not as vibrant. We will get into the mold in a bit. It takes about 10 days to grow right from soaking the seeds. I found that starting another batch when the first one is almost ready to harvest will give you constant grass.
Here are some basic steps that have worked for me. If you want more info the above websites are great resources:
Take about 1lb of wheat berry seeds and soak them for 8-12 hours. I separated them in two mason jars and filled them so the water is above the seeds. Cover the jars with a piece of cheese cloth or breathable material and wrap an elastic around the top. After the 12 hours drain the water by tipping the jar over then, rinse the seeds off good with fresh water and drain again. Repeat this process every 5 or 6 hours. Very important to keep the seeds moist so they begin to sprout.
By the second day the seeds should start to have small sprouts starting to grow. Continue to rinse the seeds to keep them moist.
By this time there should be sprouts a bit longer than the seeds that have grown. They are now ready to be planted. You will need two trays one for each jar. Take one tray and make sure there are holes on the bottom for water drainage. Take another tray without holes and put it underneath to keep water in, do this for both. Lay out your soil or other medium about 2 inches thick and make sure it is good and wet. Give the sprouts one last rinse, be gentle with them, they are delicate. Spread out the seeds evenly across the tray, it is ok if they overlap a bit. Then sprinkle some azomite over the top. This is an organic fertilizer that is highly mineralized from ancient volcanic ash. It comes with the kit or you can buy it on line.
Once this is done place either damp paper towels (some websites say to use newspaper but, don’t do this because the ink on the paper will absorb in the plants) or another tray turned upside down on top of the seeds. They have to be keep in the dark and in room temperature for at least 4 to 5 days while they plant their roots and begin to grow.
Each day make sure that the paper towels are damp and spray seeds with a water bottle. I found the best way to water them is to put water in the tray beneath, the roots will take the water and the soil stays moist. Mold can be common and it is harmless to humans, it just does not look very pretty. Watering the seeds this way does eliminate most of it however, try not to over water them.
Day 4 or 5:
The grass should now be about 3 inches high and pushing the top tray up (yes it is strong enough to do this, it is quite remarkable) and it is yellow in color because it has not been exposed to the sun yet to start photosynthesis. Take the tops or paper towels off and move them to an area where they will get direct sunlight, in front of a window works. Make sure there is water in the bottom tray and I always give them a quick spritz with the water bottle. And do this daily if needed.
Day 6 and 7:
By now your grass should be growing taller and starting to turn green. Remember to check the water in the bottom tray each day and spritz the grass with a water bottle.
Final days, 9 and 10
Your grass should be full and a beautiful vibrant green. I like to take my hands and run them across the top of the blades they are very soft. At this point your grass should be ready to harvest. Usually when it starts to split into 2 blades you can cut it. It is amazing how fast it grows each day, this is life at work! Now it is ready to be cut and juiced.
Also Now that you are ready to juice here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Cut your grass just about soil as it starts to turn green.
2. Never eat the grass itself or use the pulp for anything. The body cannot digest it.
3. Juice about 1-2 oz, that is all you need and only once a day (this is equal to about 2 lbs. of veggies).
4. It is best to drink it on an empty stomach and not with food, other juices or in a smoothie. The body will absorb all the nutrients more efficiently and quickly and try not to eat anything for at least a half hour to an hour afterwards.
5. Cut grass can be stored in an air tight container in the frig for about 5 days.
6. Once juiced is best consumed right away but can be stored in the frig for about a day. I put it in those little condiment containers (BPA free).
7. As far as the taste, well it has a bit of sweetness to it but, it does taste green. Some people love it so it depends on your own taste. Some juice bars will offer you a chaser such as a piece of apple or cucumber. I simply suck it down quickly.
8. Oh and lastly keep it away from your pets, they love to eat it! I am always chasing our dogs away from it.
Also be sure to check out this other great article from Jenny Traverns on wheat grass. http://www.superfoodliving.com/growing-wheatgrass-its-benefits-with-juice-recipe