Sprouts

There are few foods that live up to the claim that they are inexpensive, require little time and energy, and yield nutritional variety, but that is exactly what sprouts are.

Today you can find sprouts in the supermarket, but they start to wilt or degrade before you have a chance to eat them and there is not a wide variety available to choose from. Fresh sprouts grown at home are great because they are fresh, crisp, free of additives, cheap and they are alive. They are rich in proteins and vitamins and contain no saturated fats or cholesterol.

One of the reasons some non-vegans give for not switching to a vegetarian diet is that they are concerned that they won't get enough protein in their diet. Sprouted seeds, beans, grains and nuts actually contain all 8 essential amino acids and therefore provide complete proteins. Also, by sprouting your grains, enzyme inhibitors are neutralized and it makes them easier to digest and absorb their nutrients.

Fruits and vegetables that arrive at the grocery store have already begun ripening, and the nutritional quality has declined before you take your first bite. But when you are growing sprouts at home, they are increasing in nutritional value every day until you harvest them. For example, dry green lentils are low in vitamin C, but sprouting lentils increases their bioavailability, producing vitamin C. One also cannot compare the taste of sprouted green lentils to cooked lentils. They are crunchy, filling and tasty. Once you've opened yourself up to sprouting, you'll see that the variety of food you've made available to your diet will have vastly increased.

One can sprout peas such as green or yellow peas, beans such as adzuki and pinto beans, lentils such as green lentils, rice such as brown rice, grains such as rye and seeds such as broccoli and radish. The list is enormous.

Once you've gotten the hang of sprouting, and start to get a taste for them, you will get to know how many days each sprout needs to grow for them to taste their best. Preparation of sprouts can be as a salad, in a sandwich, ground and mixed with oils to make dressings, added as a topping to pizza, dried into a spice, made into non-dairy yogurt, made into vegetarian cheese, blended into drinks, made into sprout bread and more.

There are many books published on sprouting, and one of my favourites is "The Complete Sprouting Book" by Per and Gita Sellmann. There are also sprout recipe books like "The Sproutman's Kitchen Garden Cookbook" by Steve Meyerowitz. A more recent book published in 2020 and entitled "The Sprout Book: Tap into the Power of the Planet's Most Nutritious Food" by Doug Evans, includes recipes, interviews with health experts and details on how to get started on your sprouting journey.

You don't need much to get started sprouting today; all you need is a clean and empty jar, some cheesecloth, a rubber band and of course about a tablespoon of your seeds or grains.

Once you have the materials, follow these 5 easy steps to grow your sprouts:

  1. Soak your seeds overnight in a jar filled with pure water.

  2. The next day, secure a piece of cheesecloth over the mouth of the jar with a tight rubber band and empty the water into the sink, holding back the now activated seeds.

  3. Rinse the seeds with water again, and drain the water.

  4. Leave the jar with the seeds, in a dark cupboard, upside down and on an angle to allow excess water to drain out into a tray. The rack in the dishwasher also works.

  5. Repeat the rinsing and draining steps twice a day for about 2-3 days and you should have sprouts that are ready to eat.

To stop the sprouting process, once they are ready, rinse them, pat them dry with a towel, and put them in a Ziploc bag in the fridge and they should be good for 1 to 2 weeks.

The advantages to sprouting via the jar method are that you don't need soil, clean-up is easy, your sprouts last longer, they don't have any chemicals added, yields are high and you don't have to wait long to get your nutritious food.