Sprouts: Super Easy and Super Delicious
Written by: Joanne Beccarelli
A plant “sprouts” when its seed starts to grow. It is the point of germination when a seed comes to life and becomes a plant.
When talking about sprouts as food, we are referring to the beginning stages of growth from the seeds of vegetables, grains, beans or grasses.
“At this stage of growth, they have a greater concentration of proteins, vitamins and minerals, enzymes, RNA, DNA, bio-flavonoids and T-cells than at any other point in the plant’s life,” says Steve Meyerowitz, the Sproutman®. This is why sprouts are considered a superfood – they have heightened levels of nutrition, are capable of healing the body and they are easily digestible.
Sprouts come from a variety of seeds and vary in taste and texture. They can be hardy or delicate, spicy or mild. Plus, they are very easy and economical to grow indoors without a lot of special equipment or gardening knowledge. They don’t even require dirt!
When you don’t have time or desire to grow your own, sprouts are also available at health food stores and even supermarkets, but these carry huge mark-ups compared to growing your own.
Sprouts can be used in a variety of ways. They are most often used like other greens as part of a salad or the base of a salad for the more sturdy sprouts. They are also frequently used on sandwiches.
But sprouts can also be used in cooking and as a key ingredient in many chinese, thai and asian stir-fry’s and sautees. I also use sprouts in raw summer rolls using rice paper or quick sushi-style wraps using Japanese nori.
A few of the more common types of sprouts are:
Alfalfa – Mild flavor, mild crunch, high in nutrition, easy to grow and thought to have cholesterol lowering abilities.
Broccoli – Mild and crunchy – they taste a little like radishes. The subject of many research studies for its anti-tumor properties with a wide range of cancers.
Red Clover – A cousin of alfalfa but with a more pronounced taste.
Lentil – High in protein and easy to digest.
Mung Beans – Juicy, crispy and slightly sweet. Often used in Asian cooking.
Radish – Not too spicy, but a powerful taste to go along with its powerful healing properties.
Sunflower – A nutty flavor, semi crunchy and a tall sprout. Can be grown as a sprout or a green.
If you are interested in growing your own sprouts, you need a few simple items:
- Seeds – You can usually get blends and some single seed types in a health food store or from SproutPeople or Sproutman®. Although growing blends gives instant variety, single seed sprouting makes the growing process a little easier and gives you control over flavors and textures you will have on hand.
- A Sprouting Container – Large glass jars (1-2 Qt. size) equipped with a wire mesh cap or simply covered with a breathable cheesecloth top are common tools, but a variety of sprouting containers and trays can also be found depending on your needs.
- A place in your home with moderate temperature and daylight – like the kitchen counter.
Growing sprouts is easy. Here’s how to do it:
1. Measure 4-5 Tbsp of small seeds or grains, or ½ cup of beans that you want to sprout.
2. Rinse and place them in a glass jar or in a bowl. It is best to not mix types since they all sprout at different rates.
3. Soak them in 2 times as much water as seed at room temperature for 4-6 hours (for seeds) and overnight (for beans).
4. Drain out water and rinse gently.
5. Place the soaked, rinsed seeds, grains or beans in your sprouting container, such as a 1 or 2 Qt mason jar.
6. Invert upside down over a rack to allow drainage.
7. Set aside the glass jar or colander at room temperature. Choose a spot with minimum or no direct sunlight. ‘Greening’ is done only at the end of the growing process.
8. Rinse and drain the seeds each day.
9. Repeat the rinsing and above step for 3 to 4 days for the smaller seeds and grains to complete sprouting. Larger beans will require about 6 days to sprout fully.
10. ‘Green’ the sprouts in sunlight for a few hours when they look grown.
11. Store your sprouts in glass jars or plastic containers in the refrigerator, allowing some air circulation.
12. Use the refrigerated sprouts within one week.
Joanne Beccarelli is a holistic health coach, juicing junkie, writer, soon to be cookbook author and recovered emotional eater. Inspired by many great voices in the health-thru-food revolution, Joanne found her way out of hiding in shame (losing almost 100 lbs in the process) and stepped away from the corporate world. She now dedicates every day to helping others who are overwhelmed, overworked, and overstressed, find awareness, fulfilment and better health.
Joanne has a Certificate in Plant Based Nutrition from eCornell/T. Colin Campbell Foundation, and became a Certified Health Coach through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. She is also a member of American Association of Drugless Practitioners (AADP), and the International Association of Health Coaches (IAHC).
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