Valerie O’Connor shows how to make quick and easy sprouted grains and legumes at home — powerhouses for health and vitality.
Many moons ago the world of health foods was obsessed with bean spouts, mainly alfalfa, the very ones, it seems, are not good for you.
Sprouting seeds, grains and legumes is easy and makes them not only more digestible, but also increases B vitamins and vitamin C, but an important source of protein.
Adding a few sprouts to salads, soups, stews or sandwiches is an easy way to load up on these nutrients.
I don’t have much space to grow my own food at home so sprouting is a great way to get heap and easy source of good food.
Eating mostly plants means we are literally ploughing through fields of greens and keeping up with our own needs for fresh stuff is like looking after two giant hamsters who like really good food.
I never paid as much attention to nutrients and vitamins when I was eating meat, nobody asks a meat eater if they have a balanced diet even if it’s all sausages and chips.
Happily, chips are vegetables so they are on the menu anyway. Also happily, I can get a dirty takeaway falafel wrap with sweet potato hips which is great.
As I don’t have room to grow trays of salads indoors, I’ve been sprouting lots of beans and seeds in jars and trays.
Sprouting things changes them from indigestible, into tasty little powerhouses of nutrition and requires little more than a few jars, some muslin and water.
Water from the tap, unless you have your own well, is chlorinated so use bottled spring water if you want the best results.
Different seeds and grains like buckwheat, kidney beans, chickpeas, mung beans, sunflower seeds take different times to germinate but the process couldn’t be easier. Get a jar with a lid and make a loose ‘cover’ with a piece of muslin and an elastic band.
Take a tablespoon of seeds or pulses and soak them overnight. Rinse them and drain away the water through the mesh ‘lid’. Leave the jar upside down on your draining board or on a wire rack that’s on top of a tea towel.
You can also buy special stacking sprouting kits of which save space in the kitchen, or bathroom or where ever you put your sprout farm.
The sprouts should be rinsed and drained twice a day until their sprout appears. Don’t be alarmed if a bloom appears overnight, this will rinse away.
Once the sprouts are ready, take them out of the jar and store them in the fridge for a few days as you use them. Repeat the process to ensure you always have a supply of these little superfoods.
Ann Wigmore, known as the godmother of wheatgrass was so taken with the power of sprouting and juicing that she opened institutions devoted to the therapeutic applications of eating these foods, based on what they can do for healing.
Old texts show that the Chinese were eating sprouts in 3000BC and they were used to prevent outbreaks of scurvy on board ships in the 18th century, reducing the levels of mortality of sailors on long journeys.
Scurvy is a disease caused by a shortage of vitamins and was fatal until its cause was discovered.
Soldiers who had it in the First World War were fed sprouts as a treatment and most bounced back from the disease.
Things you should know about sprouting legumes and grains:
Sprouting turns legumes and grains into living plants with more vitamins, such as Vitamin C, B and carotene.
It also helps the absorption of minerals. The sprouting process reduces the presence of ‘anti-nutrients’ such as phytates which cause problems with digestion.
It breaks down complex starches that can cause the ‘gas’ associated with beans and legumes.
Sprouting also produces enzymes which aid digestion. The soaking and sprouting softens grains and legumes so they cook in a fraction of the time of their dried counterparts.
They are great as part of a stirfry and can be added to salads in smaller quantities.
Sprouting encourages bacteria to grow so it’s best if sprouts are cooked to kill the bacteria. Secondly, raw sprouts contain irritating substances which are deactivated by cooking.
Step-by-step guide to sprouting at home
It may seem like a lot of work, but when you try it you’ll see it’s just one to two minutes of activity each day. And it’s so much fun seeing your little sprouts come to life.
Wash grains / legumes. Place in a jar or bowl and cover generously with cold water.
Drain the water. Place a piece of cloth over the neck of the jar and secure with a rubber band. Place jar in a bowl with the cloth covered side down so the excess water will drain out.
Or place your legumes / grains on a tea towel inside a strainer or colander, again so the excess water can drainaway. There are also sprouting kits that make it all neat and tidy
Rinse your legumes / drain well then return to their draining position.
Repeat the rinsing step from yesterday.
Continue to rinse and drain your legumes twice a day. The sprouts are ready when you can see little tails that are about the same length as the original grain / legume.
This is such an easy way to get into growing a little of your own food indoors at home, plus it’s fun and highly addictive too.
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