Some of us have big (or small) beautiful vegetable gardens. But did you know that you can grow green, crunchy food year round in your home? A few cups of sprouts can be produced with minimal effort in just a few days at a cost of a few pennies!
Major organizations including the National Institutes of Health, American Cancer Society and Johns Hopkins University have reinforced the benefits of sprouts in prevention and treatment of life-threatening diseases. They are conducting ongoing studies that explore various sprout varieties for their nutritional properties and to validate health claims. These tiny foods pack high levels of powerful phytochemicals that help to restore optimal health-and they’re so simple to grow!
All it involves is:
A 500 mL jar
sprouting seeds, beans or grains!
Seeds have historically been sprouted for several reasons. It improves digestibility, releases nutrients and removes anti-nutrients to enhance bioavailability of certain minerals like zinc, iron and calcium. By soaking seeds in warm water, they are tricked into thinking that conditions are right for germination and they will start to grow. Sprouting neutralizes enzyme inhibitors and the sugars responsible for fermentation and intestinal gas production. So people who complain of GI distress after eating cooked grains/legumes may tolerate the sprouted varieties. Those seeds contain all of the vital fats, vitamins and minerals necessary to grow a plant to maturity, all packed into one delicious little package. Plus, once the cotyledons of the seeds turn green, you have the added antioxidant benefit of chlorophyll in every bite!
The basic process is this:
Soak seeds overnight (about 8 hours) in water. Place cheesecloth over the opening and secure with an elastic band.
Rinse seeds 2 times daily (morning and night while you’re at your kitchen sink), and allow them to drain via sprouting jar or in tilted bowl. You want the inverted jar to be tilted at least 60 degrees (nearly completely upright) to ensure no water sits in the jar.
Sprouts will be ready in 2 to 4 days, when sprout is ¼ inch and green leaves form.
Dry completely, and store in fridge for about 3 days.
Now this is important- seeds need to be rinsed and well aerated. If you neglect your sprouts for a couple days and they start to turn pink don’t eat them. This indicates that bad bacteria have started to take over your sprouts, and consuming them will do you harm. Also, raw kidney beans are never to be consumed. Ever. It can be deadly!
I make up a ‘garden mix’ that contains alfalfa, china rose (radish), broccoli, clover and mung beans (2 Tbsp seeds to a jar) and use these sprouts to enhance my salads, sandwiches and smoothies. Bean sprouts (1/2 cup per jar) can also be grown on their own to use in stirfrys. Buckwheat (2/3 cup per jar) can be sprouted easily and is great in recipes where you’d use oatmeal.
Sprouting seeds and beans should be bought local and organic whenever possible to ensure best quality. Speerville makes a seed mix that can be purchased on their website and at some stores. Georgia Barnwell of Cuisine for Life also sells sprouting seeds and other bulk offerings (including many of my fav superfoods!) If this is something you’d like to try but want to learn more first, please don’t hesitate to contact me with questions. I also have a great sprouting chart with the amounts, yields and time to harvest of a variety of sproutables that I’d love to share with you!
In health, Ariel Richards, R.H.N.