Eating sprouts is said to date back over 5,000 years. Chinese physicians prescribed them for healing many ailments and disorders. Even in the bible, sprouts are written about in the Book of Daniel.
A sprout is basically a plant that is right in the process of germinating. Nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes have many locked up nutritional advantages that can be released by sprouting. Once the germination process begins via sprouting, any anti-nutrients like phytic acid are cast aside and you are able to absorb the vital vitamins and minerals.
Besides neutralizing various inhibitors, sprouting also increases the digestibility of nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes because soaking helps convert vegetable protein into simple amino acids. Complex carbohydrates will also break down into simpler glucose molecules. This is why you always want to soak your beans!
One of the best reasons to sprout seeds is for the Nutrition. Seeds are loaded with nutrients and sprouted seeds are even better, up to 50 times better. As the sprouts grow, proteins, enzymes, vitamins and other nutrients increase while becoming more easily available for absorption in the body. At the same time toxins and enzyme inhibitors are reduced, increasing digestibility. This would be a particular advantage in the case of unavailability of fresh grown produce or vegetables.
Another big advantage is the freshness of the sprouts you grow at home. Sprouts grown at home and harvested at the dinner table are the freshest food you’ll ever eat. They won’t have lost vitamins like store bought vegetables or have traveled round the world. They will be organically grown, full of life and energy.
Sprouted seeds, grains and beans is a healthy and fun way to bring fresh vegetables into your diet in the winter. Even if you don’t have the space for a garden, there is surely room for a few canning jars on your counter top.
One of the Healthiest Foods You Can Eat
Edible sprouts are nuggets of nutrient gold! These guys come packed with proteins, digestible energy, amino acids, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. In short, they are one of the healthiest foods you can eat.
When a bean, grain or seed begins to grow, several complex processes occur inside of it transforming its nutritional qualities. That is catapulting these qualities to a whole new level.
Several studies have found that when seeds are sprouted their fiber content increases and becomes more available. Reports show that sprouting increases concentrations of crude fiber, which is the fiber that makes up the cell walls of plants. When we consume plant’s crude fiber, the fiber cannot actually be absorbed within our digestive tract and therefore it helps to push waste and toxins out of the gut and to regulate bowel movements.
Sprouts help reduce the acidity levels in your body. Too much acidity can be detrimental to your health and in some cases, even increase your risk of cancer. Sprouts help alkalize your body to prevent this.
Sprouting is a quick way to get greens into your diet. You can eat the seeds any time after they begin to germinate (as soon as they get those little tails) so that could be as soon as 3 days. It just depends on how you want to eat them.
For a varied diet, you can grow many more young plants than you would find in a store or grow in your garden; your salads and recipes will always have something new and flavorful!
Grow your own sprouts for sandwiches. The possibilities are endless: alfalfa, fenugreek, radish, broccoli, mung beans, onion, cabbage, mustard seeds, chickpeas, quinoa, lentils, pea sprouts, and wheat seeds (just to name a few!).
You can add your sprouts to salads, sandwiches, spreads, pizza, stir fries, soups, stews, green smoothies, and juices. Sprouted foods are a prominent ingredient in many raw food diets, but they have plenty of benefits for people following any type of diet. You can add them into pretty much anything or even snack on them the way they are.
You can eat the seeds any time after they begin to sprout (as soon as they get those little tails) so that could be as soon as 3 days. It just depends on how you want to eat them. The sprouts large enough to have leaves go well in salads and on sandwiches. The 3 day old sprouts can go into soups or stews. You can throw the longer sprouted seeds into soups and stews as well; wait until just before serving, because the sprouts will retain their crunch in the hot dish.
You can also dry them in the dehydrator (low setting) and then grind them. Store the powder in a cool/dark place and add them when you’re baking or to beverages, desserts, and spreads. Use these dried sprouts anywhere you want an extra nutritional boost.
Sprouting grains, nuts, beans and seeds has been a common practice in places like Eastern Asian and Europe for literally thousands of years. In fact, different forms of soaking, sprouting and fermenting seeds have been a part of almost every culture in one way or another because our ancestors understood the many advantages and health benefits that came along with sprouting foods.
Listed are some of the common seeds that are sprouted and nutrition benefits of each. There are other varieties that are also flavorful and delicious; these are some of the most commonly sprouted.
Alfalfa Sprouts – Antioxidant, helpful in prevention of menopausal symptoms, prostate and other cancer and heart disease. Use in sandwiches, salads and omelets. Broccoli sprouts have up to 50 times the nutritional compounds found in raw broccoli heads.
Broccoli Sprouts – Mild peppery flavor. Broccoli sprouts are one of the most nutritious sprouts you can grow. These sprouts may reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, add valuable nutrition and are a known healer. The sprouts themselves are up to 50 times more nutritious than the fresh broccoli heads themselves. Broccoli sprouts are great for use in salads or juice the sprouts and drink the juice.
Red Clover Sprouts – Considered to be a natural cancer fighter and helpful in menopause symptoms. Use on sandwiches or in salads.
Lentil Sprouts – are 26% protein. They can be cooked or eaten raw and are a nutritious addition to steamed veggies or soups. Lentils help cleanse and stimulate the kidneys and adrenal system, strengthen the heart and circulation and boost energy and vitality. When lentils are germinated, their nourishment become more easily digestible, and after just 3-4 days of sprouting, their soluble fiber, which helps lower LDL cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar and regulate insulin levels, increases 300 percent!
Radish Sprouts – 29 times more vitamin c than milk and 4 times the vitamin A. These sprouts are spicy and have 10 more times calcium than a potato. These sprouts are generally used to spice up salads or sandwiches.
Sunflower Seed Sprouts – rich in lecithin and vitamin D. These are known for their crispness and nutty flavor. They break down fatty acids into an easily digestible, water soluble form. Use as a great addition to salads or juice them for a great addition to green drinks.
Mustard seed sprouts – very tiny and very spicy. They can be used in everything from eggs to sandwiches and salads.
Onion seed sprouts – These have a distinct onion flavor and are 20% protein and a good source of Vitamins A, C and D. They are great in a salad or on a sandwich.
Mung Bean Sprouts – These are a good source of protein, fiber and Vitamin C. They are great lightly cooked and used in Asian dishes or mixed with other vegetables for added fiber without the added calories.
Soy Bean Sprouts – High in protein and in Vitamin C, foliate and fiber. They are great used in casseroles or stews.
Wheat Sprouts – a very nutritious and digestible way to use wheat. Sprouted wheat contains four times the amount of niacin and nearly twice the amount of vitamin B6 and foliate as non-sprouted wheat; moreover, it contains more protein and fewer starches than non-sprouted grain and as a further boon, it is lower on the glycemic index making it more suitable for those suffering from blood sugar issues. It is great used to make sprouted wheat bread, mixing the sprouts into the dough or the sprouts can be dried (use a dehydrator or spread on a baking sheet in your oven) and dry until no moisture remains. Grind and use the flour to make bread.
THE SOAK & SPROUT GUIDE
Always choose fresh and whenever possible, organic seeds, nuts, grains or legumes to sprout. Soaking time should be between four to twelve hours depending on the size and hardness of the seed. Large beans need 12 hours while small grains like quinoa need four hours.
Just about any dry seed will sprout. Dry seeds are not dead, they are simply dormant. Soaking your seed will bring it to life and offer you some very healthy and delicious food in just 3-5 days.
- Almonds: needs 2-12 hours for soaking. Sprout for 2-3 days if truly raw. The length you choose depends on what you want to use them for; for example, 48 hours of soaking will allow the skins to fall off.
- Walnuts: 4 hours soaking, do not sprout
- Brazil Nuts: 3 hours soaking, do not sprout
- Cashews: 2- 3 hours soaking, do not sprout
- Hazelnuts: 8 hours soaking, do not sprout
- Macadamias: 2 hours soaking, do not sprout
- Pecans: 6 hours soaking, do not sprout
- Pistachios: 8 hours soaking, do not sprout
BEANS & LEGUMES
- Chickpeas: 8-12 hours soaking, 2-3 days for sprouting
- Lentils: 8 hours soaking, 2-3 days for sprouting
- Adzuki Beans: 8 hours soaking, 2-3 days for sprouting
- Black Beans: 8-12 hours soaking, 3 days for sprouting
- White beans: 8 hours soaking, 2-3 days for sprouting
- Mung Beans: 24 hours soaking, 2-5 days for sprouting
- Kidney Beans: 8-12 hours soaking, 5-7 days for sprouting
- Navy Beans: 9-12 hours soaking, 2-3 days for sprouting
- Peas: 9-12 hours soaking, 2-3 days for sprouting
- Buckwheat Grains: 30 minutes-6 hours soaking (time varies), 2-3 days for sprouting
- Amaranth Grains: 8 hours soaking, 1-3 days for sprouting
- Kamut: 7 hours soaking, 2-3 days for sprouting
- Millet: 8 hours soaking, 2-3 days for sprouting
- Oat Groats: 6 hours soaking, 2-3 days for sprouting
- Quinoa: 4 hours soaking, 1-3 days for sprouting
- Wheat Berries: 7 hours soaking, 3-4 days for sprouting
- Wild Rice: 9 hours soaking, 3-5 days for sprouting
- Black Rice: 9 hours soaking, 3-5 days for sprouting
- Radish Seeds: 8-12 hours soaking, 3-4 days for sprouting
- Alfalfa Seeds: 12 hours soaking, 3-5 days for sprouting
- Pumpkin Seeds: 8 hours soaking, 1-2 days for sprouting
- Sesame Seeds: 8 hours soaking, 1-2 days for sprouting
- Sunflower Seeds: 8 hours soaking, 2-3 days for sprouting
Chia, Hemp and Flaxseeds:
Sprouting small seeds, sometimes called “mucilaginous seeds”, is a bit of a different process than most larger seeds from nuts, grains, beans, and legumes. Smaller seeds form a mucilaginous coat which gives them a gel-like consistency when soaked in water. They can’t be sprouted using the usual method and do better when sprouted in a shallow dish, such as on terracotta, clay or ceramic dishes or trays.
To sprout these seeds:
1. Fill a shallow dish with a slight amount of water. Add about a teaspoon or so of seeds. Let the seeds soak for several minutes then drain them.
2. Sprinkle your seeds back onto the dish, they should be evenly spread and only a single layer. There should be space between seeds to allow them to spread while growing. Cover with clear glass or plastic bowl and place in a sunny spot.
3. Spray the dish twice a day with a small amount of water, trying to keep the surface of the dish wet at all times if possible. The seeds will absorb water and plump up, so keep them moist. The sprouts should take about 3-7 days to appear and will be about 1/2 -3/4 inch high when they’re ready.
Common Sprouting Concerns
One potential downside to consuming raw sprouts is that the process of germinating seeds can make them susceptible to harmful bacterial growth. That’s why it’s important to be careful about how you prepare and store sprouted foods, and to use them relatively quickly if possible.
Some of the most common reasons you may run into trouble when sprouting seeds are:
- The seeds weren’t rinsed well enough before soaking, which led to bacteria being present on the hulls/shells.
- The water was not changed during the process soon enough or often enough, so seeds were left soaking in contaminated water.
- The seeds were not left out in open air and developed mold.
- The temperature in the room where you left the seeds was either too high or too low.
- The container you used was not sterile and had bacteria of some kind on it.
- Be sure to refrigerate your sprouts after they have reached the desired growth. Always rinse sprouts before you eat them – I use a vinegar rinse on mine. They will store in the refrigerator for about a week. You can continue to rinse them even after you’ve placed them in the refrigerator, however, let them drain thoroughly before placing them back into the fridge. If they have become slimy in the refrigerator discard them.
Most large producers of sprouted foods test the products to make sure they are not contaminated with harmful bacteria. So, if you choose to sprout your own foods, always take extra care to follow these guidelines when eating raw sprouts to make sure that you get to enjoy all the benefits of sprouted foods.
Sprouting Seeds in Your Food Storage
From a preparedness standpoint sprouting seeds are a perfect prep: they are compact, they are fast growing, they can easily be germinated indoors or on the go, and all you need to activate germination is water. They are also less of a security risk than other food preps, because let’s face it, most thieves that would run across seeds wouldn’t know what to do with them. Make sure to keep some in your bug-out bag.
Like everything in food storage, store what you eat and eat what you store. This is a super easy skill to learn and get into the habit of doing, even if your food storage only consists of sprouting seeds and a few containers of grains. As long as you sprout your seeds you will be able to retain a fairly healthy diet no matter what the circumstances.
Sprouting seeds is one of the easiest and best things you can do for your health. Seeds that sprout are also some of the best food items to store for preparedness.