Sprouting is the process whereby seeds are germinated and eaten either raw or cooked. Seeds of many kinds, including grasses, grains and beans, are used for sprouting.
Sprouts are superstars of the vegetable world, and have numerous health and nutritional benefits. Some of these health benefits include high levels of dietary fiber, vitamin C, carotenoids, B complex vitamins and protein. Sprouts also contain digestive enzymes and some of the highest known levels of certain antioxidants. Harmful compounds, such as tannins, that are present in seeds are eliminated during the soaking step, which occurs prior to sprouting.
Sprouting whole grains reduces the amount of starch they contain and boosts their nutritional value. An advantage to sprouted wheat, rye and barley is that they contain less of the protein gluten, which is difficult for some people to digest. Higher levels of the enzyme amylase make sprouted grains helpful for digesting carbohydrates into sugars.
While eating raw sprouts is the preferred way to absorb the nutritional benefits you can cook sprouts to eliminate any potential toxins, however you will lose some of the nutrient value. Preparing sprouts with known antimicrobial foods such as vinegar, garlic and onions can also help kill any lurking pathogens. When growing sprouts at home, look for organic seeds that have been specially prepared for sprouting. They will be clearly labeled for this purpose and can be found in many health food stores. These have been cleaned and are less likely to contain pathogenic bacteria. Avoid seeds that are packaged for growing into mature plants. Such seed packets will likely include planting, growing and harvesting instructions and have not been cleaned for the purpose of being consumed as sprouts.
Organic Mung bean sprouts provide 32 calories and 0.84 grams of fiber per cup and 21 to 28 percent protein by weight. One cup of sprouts provides 119% of your daily allotment of vitamin C.
- Soak 1/2 cup or 4 oz of mung beans in 1.5 cups or 12 oz of filtered water and stir in a 1 qt. ventilated mason jar. Soak upright for 8 hrs in a cool dark but ventilated room (65°-70°)
- Drain water, stir, let soak again for 1 min and Rinse 2-3 x a day upside down at a 45° angle in a bowl with a strainer cap on mason jar for (3 days).
- Continue to rinse for up to 3 days 2-3 x a day. Once sprouts are 1-3″ long it is time to expose to light for 3-5 hours on day 3-4.
- Sprouts are ready to eat after you remove any hulls. Store in refrigerator for up to 5 days in an air tight container.
- If a 2nd shoot with leaf begins to emerge you have sprouted too long.
Alfalfa, Broccoli, Radish
Some of the most popular nutritious and delicious of all sprouting seeds. High in protein, essential amino acids, digestive enzymes, and when exposed to light: chlorophyll. Alfalfa sprouts are tasty with a nut like flavor. They are a great addition to salads, sandwiches, soups and smoothies.
- Soak 2-3 Tablespoons of organic sprouts in 12 Tablespoons of filtered water (1 part seed to 4 parts water) for 6 hours in an upright 1 qt. ventilated mason jar. Store in a cool dark but ventilated room (65°-80°).
- Drain water, let soak again for 1 min., stir and Rinse 2-3 x a day upside down at a 45° angle with a strainer cap on in a bowl for (4-6 days). When sprouts reach leaf stage remove shredded bulbs.
- Expose to light for 3-5 hours on 4th to 6th day. Let hulls float to surface and skim off to prevent fermentation.
- Watch for sprouts to reach 1.5″ to 2″ in length as it is time to harvest. If small green leaves develop sprouts will get bitter. At this time it is time to refrigerate in an air tight mason jar, and rinse 2 x a day to maintain freshness.
Organic wheatgrass seeds are recommended for sprouting to ensure the sweetness of your wheatgrass juice, and so it contains the optimum vitamins and minerals that will boost your health. Wheat grass, sunflower , pea shoots and whole buckwheat can be sprouted and grown with these instructions. Items needed:
- Glass or non plastic soaking pitcher or bowl
- Potting Mix
- Filtered water
- 2 Wheat grass trays (8 oz wheat grass seeds for 10″ x 10″ tray) (16 oz. for 10-20″ tray and 16.4 oz for 17″ x 17″ tray)
- Plastic tray to catch runoff water beneath grass trays
- Azomite (trace mineral fertilizer)
- Unbleached paper towels
- Clean spray bottle
- Rinse one seed package or 16 oz. of wheat grass over a bowl and fill the bowl with up to 48 oz of filtered water (or 1/3 seed/water) as to completely immerse the seeds. Soak the seeds overnight for (8-12 hours in winter) or (6-8 hrs. in summer) Soak in the refrigerator during hot temperatures.
- Drain water and rinse seeds well. Place seeds back into bowl without water and cover with a wet paper towel. Let sprout for 24 hrs.
- Fill a tray with about 1″ of organic potting soil and sprinkle about a handful of Azomite over the soil evenly. Use a drain pan (storage container lids work well) to catch water beneath your wheat grass trays.
- Plant seeds in potting soil after 24 hr. soaking period, by gently spreading the seeds evenly over the top of the soil and applying light pressure, but not burying in the soil. Put 4 layers of wet paper towels over the top of the seeds to maintain moisture. Spray the tray over the paper towels with spray bottle until water drips from bottom of the tray.
- Place an empty tray on top of the seeds over moist paper towel covered tray. Spray tray several times a day.
- For the next three days keep paper towels wet with spray bottle, but do not over soak. On the third day remove the paper towels, water the grass and place moist paper towels over tray for one more day.
- When the grass it 1-2″ tall, remove paper towels and expose to indirect A cool place near a window is ideal.
- Water your wheatgrass, barley, or sunflower once per day until it lightly drips from the bottom; but is not muddy.
- Keep wheatgrass in a cool place with indirect sunlight, if your grass shows any signs of mold, rinse and cut off with scissors before juicing. You can spray the roots with some 3% hydrogen peroxide and using a low speed circulating fan to help with air circulation.
- Harvest grass when it is 6- 7″ tall, and only harvest what you are going to juice. You can always harvest the whole tray as well cutting 5″ off a 7″ tall section. You may get two to three full harvests from each planting. (Green time may be 7-10 days)
- You will get optimal nutritional benefits from wheatgrass if it is juiced and consumed immediately, but it can be stored in a refrigerator for up to one week.
- Juice wheatgrass in a cold press juicer or manual wheatgrass juicer. 1 tray of 7″ tall wheat grass should give approx. 12 oz of juice. It is best to start with only 1 oz. of juiced wheat grass daily and increase 1 oz a week with a max of 4 oz. a day.
- Thoroughly clean and reuse trays and use leftover soil as garden compost.
Wheat grass is one of the ultimate detoxifiers of the body, however as this process occurs you may experience some reactions for 1-3 days such as headaches or fatigue as bodily toxins are eliminated. Increasing water intake will help minimize effects. Wheat grass is high in vitamin K, therefore those on blood thinners should consult their physician prior to use.
Note: The above mentioned guidelines are meant as a source of information only. If you are suffering from health problems please consult your physician before beginning medication, or initiating an exercise or nutrition program.