Written by Chelsea Debret / One Green Planet
If you’re following recent health trends, then it’s probable that you’ve come across the idea of sprouted foods. While some health trends should be taken with a grain of salt, others have a bit more backbone to them. Sprouted foods happen to be one trend to take note of!
A sprouted food product simply means that the original seed for that food — whether its a nut, legume, grain, or actual seed — has been allowed to begin the germination process. Along with extending the shelf life of foods, sprouting imbues the end product with a wealth of health benefits that you would otherwise not receive. With that said, sprouted food products take more care and time to grow and harvest, therefore these products are generally more expensive.
How do you go about getting your daily dose of super-healthy sprouted foods?
Turns out, you can actually create your own mini sprouting garden at home! In fact, this trend is gaining such popularity that “kitchen counter” sprouting kits are taking Amazon by storm. Not only can you find one that is elegant by design, but also fits on a small counter space anywhere in the house with the appropriate sprouting environment.
If this is something that excites you, then read on to learn how to sprout your own food at home!
What Does Sprouted Mean?
As stated, sprouted refers to the process of germination before harvesting.
Generally, seeds, nuts, legumes, and grains are all harvested before they have begun the germination process. Germination involves three distinct steps of imbibition, interim or lag phase, and radicle and root emergence. A sprouted food is harvested after a few of these steps have already taken place. Some sprouted foods — those that already have that mini “tail” — are harvested during radicle and root emergence. The important step is to harvest after the natural growth inhibitors — “regulating substances which retard such processes as root and stem elongation, seed germination, and bud opening” — have been deactivated, which allows for nutrients to be released and more easily absorbed by the human digestive system.
Health Benefits of Sprouted Foods
When a seed is allowed to germinate and those natural growth inhibitors are deactivated a whole host of health benefits are imbued into the end product.
Sprouted foods are lower on the glycemic index, — have a lower sugar content — they are more nutrient-dense, and they are easier to digest. Seeds use their glucose (sugar) content as an energy source in order to sprout, while also release nutrients locked within their shells. Speaking of shells, the sprouting process hucks that tough outer shell that is oftentimes difficult for our digestive systems to process, making the end product easier to breakdown.
All of these factors play into an overall healthier product that will satiate you longer, and help manage a healthy weight which plays into a reduced risk of certain conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity.
What Can You Sprout?
Now we get to the good part! You’re armed with the knowledge of what “sprouted” means, how “sprouted” foods are made commercially, and the wonderful health benefits that you can inherit from sprouted foods.
Now, it’s time to get to sprouting your own!
Below, I’ve outlined the types of sprouted foods you can make at home, how to go about sprouting them, and some resources to not only successfully sprout, but also cook with your sprouted end product.
Choosing Your Sprouting Facilitator
Depending on the type of food you choose to sprout, there are specific techniques for making sure they sprout accordingly. With that said, the basics are the same for all sprouted foods. The first step is choosing what type of container you prefer to sprout your seeds in.
While jars may seem easier and more aesthetically appealing, you can increase the quantity and variety of sprouts with the sack or sprouting tray method. It’s recommended for beginners to start with a jar and move up from there, yet if your willing and ready with a whole crop to sprout, go with the sack or tray!
How to Sprout Any Seed
While every type of sprouted food has its particular time table for sprouting, the basics regarding sprouting grains, legumes, seeds, and nuts are all generally the same.
Choose your seeds very carefully! Because you’ll be using raw seeds, they are more susceptible to harmful bacteria. When at the store look for seeds that are labeled certified pathogen-free and nuts that have not been pasteurized or irradiated. Make sure to rinse your seeds very well — especially removing any floating debris — and sanitize your sprouting containers before beginning the sprouting process
First, soak your seeds in lukewarm water. If you’re using a mason jar, go ahead and pour in the rinsed grains and cover with 2 to 3 inches of water. Next, you’ll want to cover your mason jar with an appropriate sprouting cover such as a “cheesecloth bound with a rubber band,” or a sprouting lid.
The next phase takes patience. Simply allow the grains to “soak for 24 hours in a dark spot (a cupboard or closet works perfectly).”
You’ve made it this far! Now it’s time to rinse and cleanse to avoid bad bacteria and mold to form. Drain the grains, rinse thoroughly and place them back into the mason jar. This time, instead of submerging, make “sure the grains are moist but not drenched” in water. Cover yet again with your choice of sprouting lid, tip it on its side and leave in a dark area.
You’re almost done! Just a bit more patience and you’ll have sprouted food.
For the next few days, you’ll want to rinse the seeds twice daily. Remember to put the jar on its side and always leave in a dark area. In about 2 to 3 days, you’ll see “vibrant tails poking out of the grains.”
Your living food is ready to use!
When it comes to grains, sprouted is better! Not only do you retrieve the aforementioned health benefits — higher nutrient profile, antinutrients neutralized, and they are easier to digest — but you also reduce the carbohydrate content. For those of us with sensitive tummies (like myself!) sprouted grains may be the key to reducing digestive discomfort.
What type of grain can you sprout?
Pick your poison because you can pretty much sprout all of them! Make sure you are using “rawgrains-meaning grains that have not been processed, heat-treated, or roasted.” Once you’ve found your source of raw grains go ahead and try out sprouting “spelt, rye, buckwheat, barley, oats, einkorn, rice,” to name just a few.
How do you use your sprouted grains?
Sprout some farro to make this super nutrient-dense Mushroom and Kale Farro Salad. Sprout wheat berries to create this tasty, low-carb, and versatile Raw Sprouted Wheat Berry Pastry Dough. Even sprout some oats to make energizing, fiber-filled oatmeal, such as this Turmeric Ginger Oatmeal.
Legumes include a broad spectrum of “plants that produce a pod with seeds inside” and those seeds are what we consume such as beans, “lentils, peas, chickpeas, beans, soybeans, and peanuts.” These seeds are oftentimes filled with protein and fiber, plus they even the un-sprouted version are nutrient-dense offering a wonderful nutrient to calorie balance. When you take these already nutritious legumes and sprout them, you’re unleashing even more nutrients including protein and fiber.
On top of that, just like grains, you can sprout any type of legume you want as long as it’s raw!
Try sprouting some mung beans to make this Sprouted Mung Salad. Craving a juicy vegan burger? Sprout some chickpeas and up the anty of nutrition for this Sprouted Chickpea Falafel Burger. Sprout your favorite beans — navy, white, or even kidney — and make a savory sprouted chili such as this Sprouted Kidney Bean Chili.
Sprouted Nuts and Seeds
If you practice a plant-based diet, then you already know how important nuts and seeds are. Pulverize them into creamy delicious butter. Roast them with spices for a tasty topping. Eat them raw for a quick and nutritious snack.
Yet, did you know that you can sprout these delightful foods?
Seeds are obvious. My favorite are pumpkin seeds! They are filled with healthy fats and vitamin and minerals. With that said, you can also sprout pseudocereals such as quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat. On top of that, give your nuts a boost of nutrition and a downgrade in antinutrients by sprouting those as well.
Try making your favorite nut butter with sprouted nuts such as this Coconut Almond Butter or this Macadamia Cashew Butter. Sprinkle sprouted seeds on your next salad such as this Spinach and Fig Salad.
We also highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 15,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to new recipes every day. Check it out!
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