Sprouting for Health
When almost any bean, grain or seed is soaked overnight and allowed to grow, sprouting of the new plant occurs, in a burst of vitality, releasing its stored nutrients. These tiny, new and easy-to-digest plants literally contain the best of what the plant has to offer, since they are at their nutritional peak. During the sprouting process, vitamin and enzyme content dramatically increase, while starch is converted into simple sugars, protein is turned into amino acids and peptides, and fat is converted to free fatty acids—in essence, the sprouting process predigests the nutrients, making them easier to assimilate and metabolize when we consume them.
The vital life energy (vis medicatrix naturae) and enzymes in sprouts stimulate the body’s inherent self-cleansing and healing abilities, and if no heavy cooked foods are concomitantly consumed, it speeds up our metabolism because it’s not slowed down by hard-to-digest food. Sprouts’ high water content is cleansing, they are rich in nitrilosides (substances that break down into chemicals called benzaldehydes that selectively destroy only cancer cells) and high quality Vitamin E, among many other vital nutrients.
Many beans, grains and seeds are available for sprouting such as: adzuki beans, alfalfa, barley, buckwheat, chickpea/garbanzo bean, clover, fenugreek, flax seed, lentil, mung bean, pumpkin, radish, sesame, soybean, sunflower seeds, and wheat to name a few.
Warning: Most sprouts can be eaten raw. An important exception is the sprouted soybean, which contains a toxin that is destroyed by cooking.
Contraindications: Individuals with Lupus (systemic or discoid) should avoid alfalfa sprouts, as alfalfa in any form can exacerbate or prompt a flare-up of symptoms. Individuals with food allergies, intolerances or sensitivities should avoid the sprouts of any problem bean, grain, nut or seed.
The crisp, crunchy texture of sprouts makes them a great addition to salads and sandwiches and you can use them raw (except soybean) or cooked in a great many dishes, adding them whole for just the last minute of cooking. Steaming is another popular cooking method, but don’t overcook! Alfalfa sprouts should only be eaten raw. Wheat sprouts are also best raw. Cook all large sprouts.
• To sauté sprouts, place a small amount of oil in a pan, add sprouts and a small amount of water or tamari sauce. Cover and cook 5-10 minutes, depending on your taste. Minced onion or mushrooms browned in the oil add flavor, as do shredded carrots, turnips and cabbage.
• Sprouted wheat berries may be ground and added to bread dough, where they assist in the rising process and add flavor. If adding a cup of sprouted wheat berries, subtract ½ cup of flour and ½ cup of water from the recipe.
Sprout and Bean Salad: Stir together 16 oz. cooked red kidney beans, 8 oz. raw chopped bean sprouts, 2 stalks chopped celery, ½ of a diced green bell pepper, ½ of a finely chopped onion. Make the dressing from 6 Tablespoons of olive or canola oil, a dash of barley malt sweetener, the juice of one lemon, and a dash of Spike seasoning. Season to taste. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss. Garnish with chopped cilantro.
How to Grow Your Own
- Use a quart or half-gallon jar for sprouting. If using the larger size, then double the amount of
- Be sure to buy high quality, organic seeds for sprouting.
- Rinse the seeds in lukewarm water.
- The time for soaking and sprouting varies with each seed and according to the environment.
- Place two tablespoons of seeds (1/2 cup legumes or grains) in the jar with three times as much water as seeds.
- Soak overnight.
- Many small seeds require four hours of soaking, while some require none. Seeds with very hard coats, like guar, require two days of soaking.
After soaking, drain the water from the jar.
- Rinse the seeds in fresh lukewarm water and drain again.
- Lay the jar at an angle of about 70 degrees in a warm (70-80 degrees), dark place so the
seeds can drain. (Cover with a dishcloth or similar cloth or put the jar in a dark place that gets
neither too hot nor too cold.)
- It is important to rinse and drain the seeds twice a day. If they dry out, the seeds are ruined. In hot, dry weather, the seeds may need to be rinsed more often.
- All sprouts do better wrapped or kept in the dark until ready to “green”.
- This rinsing and draining process continues for three days at least (or until sprouts are as long as desired). Then they are taken out from the dark place or from under the towel and allowed to “green” in a sunny window- still taking care to not let them dry out.
Life Sprouts, P.O. Box 150, Paradise, UT 84328 (1-800-241-1516)
1. Balch, Phyllis and James. Prescription for Cooking and Dietary Wellness, Revised. 1992. P.A.B. Publishing, Inc.
2. Morgan, Barbara (editor-in-chief). Foods That Harm, Foods That Heal: An A-Z Guide To Safe and Healthy Eating. 1997. The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc.
3. Onstad, Dianne. Whole Foods Companion. 1996. Chelsea Green Publishing.