Health benefits, growing instructions and recipe ideas for Sprouts.
My herbalist highly recommends that I eat sprouts. I wanted to understand why he stressed them so much because as far as I was concerned, they taste good but I hadn't realized the part they played in regard to nutrition and so hadn't put them high on my list of "health beneficial foods".
So I started looking into the subject.
Sprouts are the tender edible shoots of germinated beans, nuts, grains or seeds. As sprouts become more common, they are more accessible at local grocery stores. But we can sprout at home. Here are some "home-sprouted" ideas for you.
Sprouts, whether they be from beans, seeds, nuts, or grains, are rich in digestible energy, bioavailable vitamins, minerals, amino acids, proteins, beneficial enzymes and phytochemicals, as these are necessary for a germinating plant to grow.
According to the naturopath and herbalist Isabell Shipard (Shipard, 2005) -
“Sprouts are a tremendous source of (plant) digestive enzymes. Enzymes act as biological catalysts needed for the complete digestion of protein, carbohydrates & fats. The physiology of vitamins, minerals and trace elements is also dependent on enzyme activity.”
So, sprouts have Increases in Plant Enzyme content, Increases in Protein Quality, Increases in Crude Fibre content, Increases in Essential Fatty Acids & Increases in Vitamin content
Sprouts have even been acclaimed as the “most enzyme-rich food on the planet".
Sprouts are an excellent source of protein.
And they are practically calorie-free!
So we have determined that sprouts are good for us. But my problem was that I'd buy a package of sprouts at the market and use them in a meal but inevitably end up throwing 3/4 of the package away because the sprouts would rot before I got to using them all.
There are sites on the web that explain in great detail how to home-sprout. I like www.herbsarespecial.com.au. But I'll just explain how I do it at home very simply and low-tech-y. And of course, there are kits to be bought that can make sprouting very easy.
So, what do you need?
3. Warmth - sprouts need to be kept warm to germinate and grow.
4. Space - give your sprouts some room. Some sprouts can increase up to 30 times their size.
Jars are an easy and cheap way to sprout. You can use canning jars or reuse any glass jar.
Here's what you need and how to do it:
clean your jar well.
prepare a screened lid for your jar. If you are using a canning jar, prepare a cut-out of screening to fit under the screw-on lid. If you are using a re-used glass jar (like from pasta sauce for example), cut a big hole in the center of the lid and fit in a piece of screening. Or punch a whole bunch of holes (a lot) and fit the piece of screen in.
soak the seeds overnight (at least 8 hrs.) in lots of water.
Place the seeds in a colander and rinse very well. Let drain. This is a critical stage.
Place the seeds in the bottom of the jar barely covering the jar's bottom.
Rinse the seeds (at minimum) twice a day and drain by pouring the water out trough the mesh screening. Moisture should be allowed to leave the jar and fresh air to circulate, therefore the screen must be kept unblocked and drainage ensured. Fill the jar with water 2/3 full, swish and drain well.
Wait. You should start seeing sprouts within 3-5 days. Some seeds take longer. Two tiny leaves will appear for each of the sprouting types, at which point they should be ready.
Keep sprouts refrigerated once they are ready. Sprouts should be transferred to a non-airtight but moisture-conserving container and you should use them within 2-3 days.
It's a really cool idea to bring your sprouting jar to the table and allow your family and friends to snip their own greens right into their plate.
Experiment with rinsing schedules, sprouting conditions, and new seeds/beans. You will most likely experience failures at first (mold, lack of sprouting) – that's part of the process! Just start a new batch in a thoroughly clean / steamed jar and try something slightly different. It will work, I promise!
So what seeds are good to sprout?
the classic mung seed – easy to sprout and readily available anywhere
wheat berries – yummy - slightly sweet sprouts
Flaxseeds (golden or brown) - can be sprouted in spite of their waxy appearance. Beneficial fats, protein, and delicious.
Sunflower seeds – deliciously fresh, slightly sweet. Great in salads.
Broccoli seeds - difficult to find and reputedly harder to sprout, but they are delicious !
Alfalfa seeds - mellow fresh green taste that might be described as slightly sweet, slightly bitter.
Lentils of all sorts – really easy to spout.
Any health food store or organic market will carry a variety of seeds and beans that can be sprouted.
So, now that you've got sprouts – what can you do with them?
-Well, you can toss them into salads.
-Blend them into fruit or vegetable juices .
-Add to wraps and roll-ups (alfalfa, sunflower, radish)
-Add to any classic Asian stir-fry recipes with other vegetables (alfalfa, mung bean, lentil)
-Mix with soft cheeses for a dip
-Stir into soups or stews when serving
-Eat them fresh and uncooked – I like to eat a bowl full of sprouts instead of popcorn when watching a movie
-Use in sandwiches instead of lettuce
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