Some years ago I stumbled upon a superfood packed with nutritional power that is surprisingly cheap, as fresh as can be, and pretty delicious too. The best part is that I have figured out how to grow it with barely any work, time or mess. It doesn’t need sunlight and grows in a matter of days right on my kitchen counter. It adds a flavorful crunch to any salad, wrap, stir fry or sandwich. Sounds pretty miraculous, doesn’t it? Meet the homegrown sprout.
What are Sprouts? Sprouts are the small young plants grown when seeds, beans, nuts or grains are germinated.
One of the most incredible things about nature is how it can condense life down into the size of a single seed, and this seed can then grow into something as enormous as an oak tree. Every nut, seed, grain and bean is a minute storehouse containing all the nutrients necessary to grow a fully-developed plant. This is what makes them so nutritious, though the vitamins and minerals within are bound and only released when the seed is soaked and the new plant begins to grow. This germination process renders the nutrition in beans and seeds more available to the body and easier to digest. Therefore, to access the most nutrients possible from a seed, it needs to sprout, and the sprout should be eaten before it transforms into an established plant. Sprouts often contain at least a dozen times more nutrients than the seeds from whence they came.
Benefits of Eating Sprouts The benefits of eating sprouts are seemingly endless. Brace yourself for this mind-blowing list of reasons to grow and eat this astounding little superfood. Consuming sprouts speeds up metabolism, improves digestion, prevents anemia, aids in weight loss, lowers cholesterol, boosts circulation, builds the immune system, promotes vision, supports the cardiovascular system, enhances skin health, augments usable energy reserves, prevents neural tube defects in infants, regulates pH levels in the body, aids in healthy hair growth and may even prevent premature aging. Pretty incredible, right?
Sprouts pack such a nutritional punch because of their surprising lineup of constituents including protein, dietary fiber, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin A, riboflavin, iron, magnesium, zinc, vitamin K, folate, pantothenic acid, niacin, thiamin, and other vitamins, minerals, enzymes and organic compounds. Their nutritional and medicinal properties also develop over time and are generally at their peak a week after they begin sprouting. Cooking degrades much of these benefits, so for this reason and for maximum flavor, sprouts are generally eaten raw.
How to Grow Sprouts Simply at Home Most grains, seeds, beans and nuts can be sprouted easily at home with little effort and cost.
● A mason jar – wide mouth, quart or half-gallon size
● A Sprouting lid (inexpensive and available on Amazon) or a piece of cheesecloth and a rubber band
● A small book stand to help the jar stand upside-down at an angle (this is easy to improvise too – just prop up your jar on something)
● Organic Sprouting seeds (these are also inexpensive and available on Amazon)
● Ensure your materials are clean and sterile.
● Pour your seeds/grains/beans into the jar. For small seeds, use about 1 teaspoon. For larger beans and lentils, use about ¼ cup.
● Cover seeds with water and place lid or cheesecloth over the top of the jar.
● Soak the seeds for about 12 hours (I find it’s easiest to let them soak overnight).
● In the morning, strain off the water. A sprouting lid makes this simple – just upturn the jar with the lid still attached. If using cheesecloth, remove the cloth and strain seeds through a fine strainer.
● Rinse the seeds and drain again. When using a sprouting lid, simply pour water through the top without unscrewing it, swish it around in the seeds and upturn the jar again to pour out the water.
● Place jar upside-down at a slight angle so water can drain out and air can circulate.
● Rinse the sprouts twice daily, once in the morning and once at night until you’re ready to eat them. They will begin to sprout in 24 – 48 hours and will be ready to eat in 3 to 7 days, depending on the type of seed.
● Once the sprouts are the size you’d like (they can be eaten at any point), rinse in cool water and enjoy raw or cooked, then store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to one week.