What’s a Sprout? A sprout is a little treasure chest of nutrition in your kitchen. Nuts, legumes and grains can all be soaked and sprouted to unlock a treasury of previously unavailable vital substances. In its dry seed form, this vital nutrition, vitamins, minerals, trace elements, enzymes, fatty acids, aromatic substances and fibre, is locked away by inhibitors, like phytic acid, which are designed to stop the seed germinating at the wrong time. This makes some of the vital substances unavailable to us because we can’t digest them in this form – ie. a dry grain or a nut or seed. These inhibitors can also cause digestive problems for some people (bloated stomach, etc).
Just a little aside for all you scientific brains out there: Phosphorus in the bran of whole grains is tied up in a substance called phytic acid. Phytic acid combines with iron, calcium, magnesium, copper and zinc in the intestinal tract, to make phytates, locking the absorption of these vital minerals. Whole grains also contain enzyme inhibitors that can interfere with digestion. Traditional societies usually soak or ferment their grains before eating them. These are processes that neutralize phytates and enzyme inhibitors and in effect, pre-digest grains so that all their nutrients are more available to us. Sprouting, overnight soaking, and old-fashioned sour leavening can accomplish this important pre-digestive process in our own kitchens. Many people who are allergic to grains will tolerate them well when they are prepared according to these procedures.1
The benefits of sprouting and soaking to aid digestibility:
- Sprouting helps break down complex sugars into a form that’s easier to digest. These complex sugars are responsible for the intestinal gas that’s often formed when we eat lentils or beans!
- Sprouting in-activates phytates making vital substances much more available to us
- Sprouting and soaking produces highly absorbable Vitamin C and increases the content of Vitamin B2 and B5 dramatically.
- Sprouted grains and legumes are alkalizing.
- Sprouts are high in fibre
- Being grown in your kitchen they’re also the freshest of the fresh – and fresh is best!
Wise Tip 2: Try soaking nuts overnight, almonds for example, before eating them on your breakfast, making almond milk or using them as a mid-afternoon snack.
How to Grow Your Own Sprouts for use in Salads or in Cooked Dishes
I don’t come across may people who sprout their own seeds or grow wheatgrass for the kitchen and I think it’s because they may assume it’s too hard or maybe they don’t know how to do it. I’ve been using sprouts for years and I’ve finally found an extremely easy way of sprouting and growing wheatgrass. We have a constant supply of sprouts in our kitchen now and it’s because Rodney found me the Auto Sprouter which is by far the easiest, quickest way of sprouting and soaking seeds that I’ve found. I always used to forget to rinse my sprouts and then end up wasting them because they’d get smelly (go off). I didn’t used to rinse them often enough during the day, but now with the Auto Sprouter our sprouts taste really fresh and “clean”. They’re noticeably better and its all become so easy.
The Simplest way to Sprout: All I do now is check and wash the seeds I’m going to sprout; place them in the Auto Sprouter and that’s it. This simple little machine automatically rinses them every hour for ten minutes (24 x 7). The seeds thrive with all the water and begin to sprout within 24 hours or less. I can used them just soaked or leave them in the Sprouter for a few days covered with the silver reflective cover that encourages germination (as seeds like to grow in the dark). I change the water in the Sprouter every evening and that’s all I have to do – except marvel at them growing every time I go into the kitchen. In this great little auto gizmo, thingy I can easily make enough sprouts for our family of 8, or as little as needed.
Other Ways of Sprouting: For ½ - 1 cup of dry seeds use one of those old, large-size preserving jars. Cut a piece of mesh to fit into the preserving lid ring of the jar or buy a purpose made lid for sprouting which has a mesh already in it.
Here’s how to sprout brown or green lentils:
- Check your lentils for stones or bits of earth.
- Rinse well several times and pour them into the jar.
- Fill the jar with plenty of water and leave the seeds in the jar with the mesh lid screwed on overnight, or for about 12 hours
- Rinse well and tip all the water out of the jar.
- Now leave the jar resting on its side..
- Every 3 hours or so give the lentils a good rinse with clean (filtered) water. Do this several times until the rinse water comes out clear.
- Turn the jar upside down to empty & drain before you put it on its side again.
- Keep going with this regular rinsing and draining until you see the seeds are sprouting. This takes about 24 – 30 hours
- When they’ve grown as big as you want give them a final rinse and tip them into a colander to drain and dry slightly.
- Then put them into a bowl, cover with plastic film and store in the fridge.
- If you make too many to use in salads then cook them in stir a fry or curry.
Wise Tip 3: If you soak and sprout your lentils and beans before you use them in a cooked dish, that calls for pulses or beans, you’ll reduce intestinal gas (aka flatulence), plus you’ll be making vital substances more available.
- Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions, New Trends Publishing, Washington DC, USA. Pg 25