Sprouts: Wildly Nutritious and Delicious
Why Sprout you ask?
Because it’s simple, inexpensive, delicious, nutritious and sprouts are packed with health benefits!
It’s not hard to understand why sprouts are so good for us when you think of it. It doesn’t matter what you are sprouting seeds, nuts, grains, legumes, really they are all the same thing…seeds.
Seeds that left outside in the right conditions would produce a whole plant. Think of all that potential!
All of these nutrients are trapped in this little package. This however, is just the beginning of the magic. There are a number of things that happen in the sprouting process that make sprouts even better for us.
So, what else does sprouting offer?
Most things you might want to sprout are high in phytic acid. In addition to causing tummy upset for most of us this sneaky chemical also binds up the minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron or zinc in foods. As a seed is sprouting much of the phytic acid is broken down making all of the nutrients more available. As you might imagine this improves digestibility as well.
This increase in digestibility is not just due to the decrease in phytic acid. Seeds also contain enzyme inhibitors; these inhibit the breakdown of the seed including their breakdown in our stomachs. These enzyme inhibitors are also neutralized in the sprouting process. This allows the naturally occurring enzymes in the seed to start to work and break down some of the more complex carbohydrates, fats and proteins within the seed; thereby further increasing digestibility.
Now, back to the part about nutrition;
Sprouts are packed with nutrients! Sprouts are high in vitamins, minerals, proteins, antioxidants and carbohydrates. All of this is responsible for their many health benefits. I have included some of the general health benefits just below and some more specific benefits in the “Quick Sprout Comparison” a little later.
High vitamin A content helps support healthy vision.
High fiber content helps regulate blood sugars and improves cholesterol levels.
Minerals like magnesium and potassium play a role in blood pressure management.
Many sprouts contain omega 3 fatty acids that help to increase HDL or “good cholesterol” adding to their cardiovascular benefits.
Immune health can be improved as many sprouts are high in vitamin C and A.
Sprouts have been shown to inhibit the release of ghrelin a hunger hormone, decreasing hunger signals.
Sprouts are also high in fiber, making you feel full long after eating them.
Sprouts are high in antioxidants, which can help prevent premature aging, as well as, benefit a number of different health conditions.
Beans and lentils in particular have been found to be protective against cancer. In fact a large nursing study done in the 90s found that eating beans or lentils 2 or more times per week is associated with a 24 percent reduced risk of breast cancer!
Sprouts also have 10-100 times the amount of a specific enzyme called glucoraphanin, compared to their non-sprouted counterparts. Glucoraphanin is also a cancer protective compound.
How Do I Do this? What do I need to Know?
Now we know why, next I’m sure you want to know how. Sprouting is so simple; it takes minimal time and effort to sprout these delicious and nutritious little morsels.
You are going to love this!
What you need:
1. A jar or bowl to keep the sprouts in
Your container should be leak proof and allow light to pass through.
Glass is a better choice than plastic.
Keep in mind that your sprouts with grow by 3-10 times in size when you sprout them, be sure to choose a large enough container.
TIP: I love using wide mouth mason jars for this, they are easy to find and cost effective compared to sprouting kits.
You will need a cover that will breathe for the top of your sprouting container.
My favorite option is cheese cloth. 1-2 layers works perfectly!
Muslin is another great option.
You can also find sprouting/drain lids if you prefer.
TIP: If you are using a mason jar, remove the snap lid. You can use the metal ring or an elastic band to hold the cheese cloth down.
Choose a sprout any sprout!
See the “Quick Sprout Comparison” table below to help you pick the sprout you think is best for you.
TIP: Start by sprouting just ¼ cup at a time. You will be amazed at how many sprouts this will make!
TIP: In the beginning do not mix your sprouts. Instead, sprout your legumes separately, and then mix them as you wish in your meals. Until you are familiar with the sprouting times sprouting legume mixes can be a bit tricky. I don’t recommend this as a general rule.
How To Sprout
Lay your sprouts out and comb through them to pick out any debris.
Rinse your sprouts several times in a colander.
Add your sprouts to your sprouting container and fill the container nearly to the top with water.
Allow your sprouts to soak overnight (6-10 hours) on your kitchen counter.
You want to avoid direct sunlight, but the sprouts do need some indirect light.
Room temperature is best… not to warm and not to cold.
In the morning drain the water and rinse your sprouts 2-3 times.
The best way to do this is to drain the water out through your jar cover, then add water back through the cover. Give the sprouts a shake to rinse them thoroughly and repeat. This way you don’t need to remove the lid.
Repeat! You will need to continue to rinse your sprouts 2-3 times twice per day until they are ready.
The general rule of thumb to know that your sprouts are ready is that the sprout is about 3 times the length of the seed.
Once your sprouts are ready, just pop them in the fridge to slow the growth of the sprout as well as any possible bacteria. You will need to continue to rinse them once per day. I like to keep them in the same container. Ensure that you allow them to have air, do not seal them up. Sprouts should keep in the fridge for about 1 week.
What do I do with the Hulls?
I say eat them! Some people take the time to rinse them away, but I don’t. It is up to you if you would like to do this. I find this too time consuming and I like the extra fiber.
I think the sprouts are moldy…
Are they actually moldy? Often you might think it is mold but really what you are seeing is the growth of very fine root hairs. The easiest way to tell if your crop has gone moldy is to smell them. If it smells like mold it is most likely mold.
I think my sprouts have gone bad…
Generally, if sprouts are stored properly they will last about 1 week in the fridge. Be sure that they are rinsed daily and are not sealed but have air. Often sprouts will start to “rust” just before they go; what I mean by this is they start to get a rusty red/ brown appearance. If you see this, you want to eat them up within the day. Again use your nose as your guide; if your sprouts smell funny DON’T EAT THEM.
My Sprouts are sprouting fruit flies!!
Fruit flies like the good stuff too! Unfortunately, this is what comes when working with natural foods. I have two suggestions:
Try putting a tighter weave cover over your sprouts (my favorite is 2 layers of cheese cloth).
Put fruit fly traps beside your sprouts. You can make a simple trap by pouring a small amount of apple cider vinegar in a small dish. This will attract your little friends and hopefully keep them out of your sprouts.
Quick Sprout Comparison
What Else can I sprout?
I focused on legumes here but there are so many options with sprouts. To keep this short and sweet see the list below:
There are a few cautions to be aware of with sprouts. In addition to the specific cautions I mentioned in the “Quick Sprout Comparison” table above, there are some general concerns that you should be aware of:
Bacteria can grow on your sprouts that can make you sick. This only makes sense because you are creating a warm moist environment with a food source. There are a couple of little rules that will help keep your sprouts healthy:
Always wash your hands before handling your sprouts.
Always smell your sprouts before you eat them.
If you are unsure DON’T EAT THEM.
Always rinse your sprouts before you eat them.
If you want to be extra cautious steam or cook your sprouts before you eat them.
** Health Canada recommends that pregnant women do not eat sprouts in case of accidental contamination.
As with most foods there is always the potential for an allergic reaction. If you have an allergy to a similar food, use caution or avoid.
How to Use Your Sprouts
There are countless ways to use your spouts! See below for a few recipes and ideas to get you started.
2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
3 Tbsp tamari
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
½ tsp maple syrup
Dash of cayenne pepper – or to taste
1 ½ cup Various sprouts
½ cup cherry tomatoes – cut in ½
½ cup cucumber chopped
¼ cup chopped parsley
In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, tamari, vinegar, maple syrup and cayenne. In another larger bowl toss together your sprouts, veggies and parsley. Pour your dressing over the veggie mix and stir. Garnish as you wish and serve.
2 cups spouted garbanzo beans
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 Tbsp tahini, or pumpkin seed butter
Juice of 1 fresh lemon
Black pepper to taste
Cumin to taste
1-3 cloves fresh peeled garlic
2 Tbsp hot peppers (fresh of pickled)
Handful chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
Add all ingredients together in a blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy on your favorite crackers, veggies or add it to your wrap for extra zip.
“Super” Avocado Toast
Toast – from your favorite sprouted bread
A batch of sprouted hummus (see above)
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Spread a layer of sprouted hummus over your toast. Arrange the sliced avocado on top. Cover in your favorite sprouts and top of your creation with a twist or two of fresh cracked pepper.
Pasta and Sprouts
2 cups cooked spiral pasta (or your favorite short cut pasta)
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
100g organic goat cheese
2 Tbsp fresh chopped oregano
Pepper to taste
Cook pasta to desired consistency. Toss with olive oil, oregano and pepper. Then add goat cheese in small pieces and stir gently. Serve and enjoy!
Add sprouts to your favorite salad.
Sprouts make a great addition in your wraps, sandwiches or your avocado toast (see recipe above).
Add spouts to your favorite curry recipe as a vegetarian protein source. Eat this over rice and you will have a complete protein!
Add your sprouts to your favorite soup or chili for added nutrition.
Sprouts make a great addition to your omelettes.
Try sprouts instead of meat in your tacos for a little vegetarian twist!