Sprouts. What mental picture do you see? If it's the plastic box of (often sorry-soggy-looking) alfalfa sprouts sitting in the produce department of your local supermarket, I encourage you to explore the big "live food" world of sprouts.
Sprouted Seed FAQS
- what makes them "live" is that their enzyme content is greater than in their original state
- the sprouting process helps to predigest the seeds' nutrients. How? Starch is converted to simple sugars, protein is turned into amino acids and peptones, and crude fat is broken down into free fatty acids. Which means? Nutrients are more easily available and accessible for the body to use.
- germination (sprouting) increases: the B vitamins, vitamin E, vitamin K (triples!) and carotene
- sprouts are high in chlorophyll, boosting the body with oxygen and increased blood flow
Sprouting seeds yourself is definitely cheaper than purchasing them but I can't resist buying most of mine from Cindy
, a farmer's market
vendor who is as wonderfully organic as all her fine produce. I'm lucky if there's any of these pea shoots left in the bag by the time I get home.
I use a simple method of sprouting for my infrequent spurts of sprouting: using a quart jar that came with three plastic lids with different hole sizes.
- use a large, very clean mason jar and place about 1 Tbsp. seeds in it. Then place over the top of the jar some clean netting (e.g. cheese cloth) and secure with an elastic band (or use lids with small holes if you can find them).
- add water, rinse and drain
- add 1 cup cool water and soak for 2-6 hours
- drain, refill jar with cool water and drain again.
- invert jar and prop at an angle in a bowl or dish
(here's two jars at different stages)
- make sure you rinse them every morning and evening and prop jar back in bowl
- enjoy in 3-6 days, store in refrigerator
- if possible use organic sprouting seeds: instructions should be on the package - follow carefully as they may vary for different seeds
I found a recipe sprout salad recipe that called for mung bean sprouts, which, alas, were all gone by the time I got to the market! However, Cindy suggested I do my own sprouts using lentils, which are easier to sprout than mung beans.
She was so right - and I loved the taste of them.
Lentils are significantly bigger seeds than many other sprouting seeds, so I've included instructions. Allow about 72 hours from start to finish: they can become bitter if they're left to sprout too long.
- sort, wash and rinse 4 Tbsp. lentils, which will produce about 1 1/2 cups
- put lentils in a 1-quart size jar with sprout-strainer lid
- cover with 3-4 inches water and let soak overnight or 8-12 hours.
- drain, rinse and drain again - divide lentils into two jars to allow them space to sprout without being too close together
- every morning and evening rinse and drain lentils and set the jars on an angle - after about 72 hours they will be soft and have little white tails!
Lentil Sprout and Almond Salad
3/4 cup plain yogurt (thick well-drained yogurt is best, e.g. Greek-style)
1/4 tsp. sea salt, plus more to taste
1 handful arugula, chopped
1/2 - 3/4 cup chives, minced
1 1/2 cups lentil sprouts
2/3 cup well-toasted, sliced almonds
1 ripe avocado, chopped
good extra virgin olive oil
In a small bowl combine the yogurt, salt, arugula, and chives.
In a larger bowl toss the lentil sprouts and almonds with a splash of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Add the avocado, and gently toss once or twice more.
Serve the spouts and almonds next to the yogurt mixture and drizzle with a bit more olive oil. If you had a few chive flowers in your bunch, sprinkle them across the top.
Serves 2-4 as a very pretty, nutrient-dense side dish.