Monday, October 22, 2012

I Love Sprouts!

Yes, I do love sprouts - not brussels sprouts particularly (or at all in my case) but the kind of sprouts that you can grow yourself and at this time of year add buckets of nourishment to your meals, when locally grown fresh green veggies may be a little hard to get.

I brought a little bag of seeds for sprouting with me all the way from Ireland (mad I know) and last week decided it was time to get sprouting.  We won't have any more farmers' markets on Drottningtorget, so no more local organic veggies, SOB!  I figured I had better get cracking on my own supply...

In the bag is a mix of organic radish, broccoli, alfalfa & quinoa seeds.  This is a particularly tasty mix; the resulting sprouts are quite delicate and work really well in salads or added last minute to a stir fry.  That particular mix is also incredibly rich in nutrients, some of which have growing evidence to support a theory that they can fight or protect against cancer, support immune health are antibacterial and can help the liver to detoxify.  They're also good sources of protein, so are quite filling.  Impressive!

There is another advantage to sprouted seeds, beans and even nuts.  Naturally, all of these things contain enzyme inhibitors, which Mother Nature devised as a way to protect the bean, seed or nut from sprouting in the wrong place or at the wrong time and keeps them fresher for longer.  Enzyme inhibitors also make them hard to digest, but by sprouting them the enzyme inhibitors are deactivated, so you can unlock all the goodness and digest them easily.  Even more impressive is that sprouts increase in protein and decrease in carbohydrate as the seed uses the carbohydrate energy stored inside to grow. 

I have a personal preference for mung beans and lentils, as they're bigger and crunchier and are almost a meal in themselves.  They make great snacks if you're pushed for time and want some real 'fast food'. You can sprout almost anything, apart from kidney beans, which can be toxic when sprouted.  Once it's organic you can assume it hasn't been heat treated and should sprout for you.  You don't have to buy special bags of seeds or beans for sprouting, a bag from the supermarket or health shop will do.

Here's what you do:
Find a jar and a piece of muslin that will cover the top, plus an elastic band
Buy a sprouter - either the jam jar kind or the variety with different levels for more sprouts!  A. Vogel do a lovely range of different styles and sizes.  I have their glass germinator and it has a handy stand on the lid to make draining much easier

  • Put a few dessert spoons of the seeds/beans into the jar and soak overnight.
  • Drain off the water the next day and cover the jar with muslin, or a lid & leave on the windowsill all day.
  • When you get home from work, sometime before you go to bed, rinse the seeds/beans - so fill the jar with water or just run the tap over the trays you have bought and then drain off. 
  • Rinse your seeds/beans twice a day, morning and evening, until they start to sprout.  Rinsing is important as it prevents the sprouts from getting musty and mouldy.
  • Once they've sprouted, they're ready to eat.  You can give them a day or two to grow a bit more, whatever your preference is.
  • Keep them in the fridge for a few days, but the sooner you eat them the more nutritious they will be.
Yesterday I made a rather delicious sourdough ham, cheese, chilli and mustard toastie.  To balance out the nutrition and make it a bit healthier, I added a salad of rocket, sprouts, chopped fennel bulb and sliced carrot.  Fantastic for digestive function and took about a minute to make.  Sprouting seeds and beans might sound like a lot of work and only for die-hard hippie types, but this is the easiest thing to do and notches up your nutrient intake like nothing else. 

If you'd like to give this a go and have any questions, just post a comment below and I'll do my best to answer.  Happy Sprouting!

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