Homegrown sprouts are quick, easy, meat-free and a highly digestible protein source. Without touching the stove or getting dirty in the garden you can have freshly grown, high fibre sprouts grown on your kitchen bench within days.
Grains, seeds, legumes and beans all contain enzymes which lay dormant until they start to sprout. They all contain phytic acid (an organic acid bound to phosphorous) in their outer layer and a variety of naturally occurring toxins that protect them from being eaten by animals in nature. These enzyme inhibitors, phytic acid and other toxins make the dry grain, seed or legume very hard for the body to process and digest. Sprouting neutralizes the phytic acid and enzymes inhibitors allowing for overall better digestion and absorption of acid binding minerals including calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc.
When sprouting the grain, seed or legume:
- It becomes easily digestible
- The nutritional content of vitamins and minerals increases
- Vitamin A content usually doubles
- Vitamin B group vitamins will usually be 5-10 times more
- Vitamin C levels increase
- The nutrients are more bio-available (better absorbed by the body)
- The protein is easily digestible
- Reduces cooking time
- Converts gas causing complex carbohydrates into easier to digest sugars.
What can you sprout?
Most seeds and legumes sprout easily. Fresh seeds in good condition sprout the best, if the seed will not sprout it is an indication that it is ‘dead’ and the enzymes are damaged or have been destroyed. It may also indicate the seed has been irradiated, is old, rancid, cooked, sprayed or it is not the whole grain or seed. The easiest things I find to sprout are chickpeas and mung beans but you can sprout just about anything including buckwheat, alfalfa, fenugreek, millet, quinoa, nuts, beans such as kidney, navy, black, lima, adzuki, lentils and peas.
How to use sprouts
Fresh sprouts can be tossed in salads, used to make dips such as sprouted hommus, juiced or added to smoothies. They can also be used in cooking such as stir fry’s and soups and take less time to cook.
How to sprout?
All you need to grow your own sprouts is a clean regular or wide mouthed steralised jar and a mesh screen to cover the jar opening or you can use a sieve (anything that allows water to pass through). You can buy regular seeds, grains or legumes at most supermarkets or Heath food stores.
- Pick through and discard any broken, mouldy, discoloured or disfigured seeds as they main contain harmful toxins.
- Soak them. First rinse the seed. The in a bowl or jar cover with at least twice the amount of cool preferably sprig or filtered water. The time required for soaking varies between 4-12 hours depending on the size and hardness of grain, seed or legume (see chart below)
Strain them after the appropriate soak time and watch them grow.
- Keep them damp, I put them into a large sieve and rinse them under the tap once or twice a day. You can also put some gauze or mesh over the top of a jar. The seeds need to be kept damp and aired but not wet as they may become mouldy or spoil. Some seeds such as sunflowers begin to sprout in a few hours where others take a couple of days (see chart below)
- Harvest. Transfer dry sprouts to a cleaner or container and store in fridge for up to one week. If the sprouts aren’t completely dry they can become moldy, in which case they should be thrown out. If the seeds are damp when storing, set them on paper towel in a container. Remove paper next day.
So let’s get sprouting!!