Monday, July 27, 2009

Meditation, Yoga, and A Germ You'll Love

When I was first born, in the very last year of the 1960s, both my parents were vegetarian. They practiced Transcendental Meditation (they even had their own secret mantras) on a daily basis, in the middle of the apartment. In my earliest memories, my mother is wearing an orange dress, sitting on the floor in the lotus position, her waist length hair draped around her like a shawl. I think my first word was "Ohm."

As I got older, they took me to an ashram in Connecticut where I met Swami Satchidananda, the founder of Intergral Yoga. He lifted me high into the sky, broke into a huge smile, and bestowed upon me the name Shakti Prema. Needless to say, I was born into a very crunchy family. They lived in a one-bedroom apartment in Rockville Centre, NY, and though money was tight, they shopped almost exclusively at our local health food store, Jandi's Nature Way

I remember going there weekly for groceries, and getting to sample whatever was out on the counter. Usually, it was natural peanut butter, which at the time was only available at health food stores. The peanut butter always separated from the oil, so I'd have to stir it before spreading it on a cracker. Heavenly.

Sometimes they'd have those sesame seed sticks out. You know, the ones that are held together with honey and wrapped like small candies in clear wrappers. Delicious. My mom would do the shopping, but she'd always let me pick out a snack for the road. Without fail, I'd choose a Tiger's Milk bar. Each time I'd get to choose between the original and peanut butter version. I loved the contrast between the outer carob coating and the salty yumminess inside the bar. This is well before people started eating bars as nutrition supplements. Tiger's Milk bars were pure fun. Mmmm... 

On the occasion that we'd have ice cream at home, it was always topped off with a heaping 1/4 cup of wheat germ, or so it seemed. The wheat germ covered the top of the ice cream, and then quickly wound it's way into every nook between the scoops. It was our version of sprinkles. To this day, if I ever have ice cream at home (a rarity), I top it with wheat germ. My son's been eating it, too. When we have yogurt, I always ask, "Wheat germ or no?" and most often his answer is "yes." It's not looked at as a way to make things healthier, but more of like a topping, like honeyed walnuts (which we have, too, but that's another story).

Are you a wheat germ aficionado like I am? If you haven't taken the opportunity to enjoy it yet, here's a couple of reasons why you should. Wheat germ is packed with over 23 nutrients, including potassium, iron, calcium, and vitamins A, B1, B3, and E. 

Oh, and it's is packed with protein. 

Wheat germ is not only available in health food stores, you can get it anywhere. My recommendation for wheat germ is Kretschmer Original (with the red label), not because it's better than any other, but because it's what I was raised on. I keep mine refrigerated so that it stays fresher longer, but it is shelf-stable.

Here's a great zucchini bread recipe, using (drum roll please!) wheat germ. I found it on, however, I made some modifications. You will need two greased and floured 5 x 9 inch loaf pans, but you can also make these into muffins, just watch them when you bake, and remove when an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Zucchini Bread
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 c organic canola oil
  • 1 c granulated sugar
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 3 T maple flavoring
  • 2 c shredded zucchini
  • 1/2 c wheat germ
  • 2 1/2 c flour
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t non-aluminum baking powder
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 c chopped walnuts
Beat the eggs. Add oil, sugars and maple flavoring. Beat until thick and foamy. Add zucchini and wheat germ. Stir in sifted dry ingredients and walnuts. Pour into two greased and floured 5 x 9 inch loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Cool in pans for 10 minutes before turning out on rack to cool completely.

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