Today I’m talking sprouts. In my last post about 5 Foods to Beat The Winter Blues I listed sprouts as one of those foods. I would like to expand more on sprouts and all of the benefits that they contain. As well as how to grow your own.
Any ‘seed’ that has the potential to grow into a plant, is sproutable. There are so many possibilities: adzuki, alfalfa, buckwheat, clover, fenugreek, garbanzo, lentil, mung, radish, soybean, sunflower, wheat, barley, corn, oats, green peas, and lima beans. When a seed sprouts into a new plant, a lot of the stored nutrients burst out of the seed, into the seedling, and these little sprouts, including the seed, grain, or bean with its shoot and greenery become full of nutrients! During this time the protein content in the sprouts increases between 15% to 30%, depending on the plant. Also the chlorophyll and fiber content increases. Chlorophyll itself is rich in nutrients and has many health giving properties, including inhibiting yeast in the intestinal tract and is soothing to the intestinal membrane.
Sprouts are raw, living foods that contain active enzymes that help digestion and assimilation. They have the ability to detoxify the body, especially the liver. They support the kidneys, spleen, and stomach and are known for toning for the blood. It is much easier to digest sprouts, than the seed or bean itself. With sprouting, most of the B vitamins, niacin, riboflavin and vitamin C are increased immensely.
You can find many different kinds of sprouts in the grocery store these days, or your local health food store. Alfalfa sprouts are definitely the most common, and are often used in salads or sandwiches. Bean sprouts are the also common in the grocery store, which are mung bean sprouts, and often used in stirfys or Asian cooking. When purchasing sprouts in a store, it is important to choose fresh and vibrant-looking sprouts that have no signs of brown discolouration, a slimy texture, or a musty aroma. Looking for organic and locally sourced sprouts are essential.
Growing your own sprouts can be very easy, and even more beneficial, because you know how and where they were grown. A couple of ways to grow sprouts is to plant the seeds or beans the same as you would if you were starting a garden, with dirt. Plant the seeds as directed on the package or if you are using beans or seeds you have purchased for other uses you would need to put a few seeds in each hole that you have dug in the dirt, about one inch into the soil, add water, and cover back over with soil. When the sprouts have grown, about one to two inches tall, you can cut the sprouts off at the level of the dirt or pull them out. Wash them well, and enjoy!
If dirt isn’t your jam (it’s not for everyone), that’s ok too! I use this UFO looking sprout grower that I bought from a booth at a homesteading show last year, and if you can find one I highly recommend it! It’s so easy to use and clean.
I usually just sprout mung beans, but I have done split peas and garbanzo beans. Take 2 tablespoons of mung beans, spread them out on the wire rack, rinse them with filtered water, and fill the bottom of the sprouter with filtered water until it just touches the bottom of the beans. Put the lid on and let them sit and grow. Every 12 hours you have to dump the water out and rinse the beans until they are sprouted and ready to eat. I find with mung beans it only takes 24 hours for them to be ready to eat. The split peas and the garbanzo beans took closer to 72 hours. You can also use the same process in a jar. Just repeat the process, but covering the seeds or beans with water and cover the jar with a paper towel and elastic band. I’m trying sesame seeds and flax seeds right now in a jar, because the seeds are too small and will fall through the wires. I’ve never done seeds before, so we will see how it goes.
It is thought that sprouts are likely the most vitally alive and nourishing foods we can eat. We can sprout seeds, beans, and grains all year round. They are a good source of nutrients in the wintertime, when there are less leafy greens and other vegetables available. Eating high amounts of sprouted foods, along with other vegetables and fruits, promotes optimum health. Add sprouts to your sandwiches, salads, stir fry, smoothies, or just on their own. So please add sprouts to your diet ASAP! You won’t regret it.