Sprouts

Why sprouts?
Sprouts are immunity boosting foods. A fighting fit immune system is vital to good health. It is a proven fact that nutrients present in foods that we eat can really help strengthen our body’s natural defenses giving us unbeatable protection against infection, disease and allergy. Eating sprouts is a good way to supplement the diet with food enzymes that are critical for literally every biochemical reaction that takes place in the body.

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Sprouts can be called super foods, as they enhance health, energy and longetivity since they have the greatest nutrient content of all raw foods.

What are sprouts?
Sprouts are edible seeds that have just germinated. When you sprout a seed, enzymes are activated and the starches are converted to simple sugars.

What sprouting does?
All sprouts contain enzyme inhibitors that allow them to remain dormant and be stored for years. Once exposed to moisture and temperature, the enzyme inhibitors are neutralized and the seeds come to life. In this embryonic stage, sprouts are bursting with nutrients. They are essentially a predigested food.

Benefits of sprouting
• They are an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamin A, B, C, E, calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, selenium and zinc.
• Sprouts are filling and low in calories, light and easy to digest.
• Sprouting increases valuable amino acid (protein) content. The sprouted seeds of legumes, such as lentils, peanuts and soya beans contain complete protein.

Interesting facts
• Scientific studies show that the nutrient content in sprouted foods can increase from 50 to 2000 percent. For example, a study conducted at Yale University revealed that B vitamins increase by 2000 percent in sprouts.
• The vitamin C content of wheat grass is 600 percent in the early sprouting phase and all sprouts contain more vitamin C than oranges if they are compared by weight.

What to sprout
Most seeds, grains, pulses, legumes and nuts can be sprouted. Popular sprouts are mung, alfalfa, kidney beans, chickpeas and fenugreek seeds. Grains can be consumed as you would a ‘vegetable’ when you sprout them; examples are wheat, barley and rye grains.

Allergies and sprouted foods
Sprouted foods rarely cause an allergic reaction. For allergies to wheat and similar grains you can try sprouting to make breads or a cereal.

Types of sprouts
Sprouts fall into two categories: those made from seeds that produce chlorophyll and develop a green leaf, and those that do not. Chlorophyll producing sprouts include radish, cabbage, fenugreek, mustard and broccoli; those that do not are legume and grain seeds.

Using sprouts
Raw sprouts taste crisp, slightly sweet and crunchy and are not only a wonderful addition to salads but can also be added to sandwiches, soups, vegetables, stews and other dishes. Experiment with sprouts - you can lightly steam, stir-fry or cook them or use them as garnishes or condiments.

Fresh is best
Fresh sprouts have a wonderful, clean aroma – they should be crisp and tender. When purchasing sprouts, look for firm stalks with green leaves. As sprouts age, they discolour. Examine the roots and leaves, if they are brown or dry discard them.

Growing your own sprouts
1. Soak seeds for approximately 8 hours in water. Use containers such as jars, trays, sprouting bags.
2. Rinse sprouts well, at least every 12 hours.
3. Drain well, standing water can cause sprouts to rot.
4. Harvest sprouts carefully by gently removing the ripe ones out from the rest. This allows the less developed sprouts to continue growing.
5. Store in a cool place.

Conditions for growth
Air: As any small plant sprouts need air to breathe.
Water: You need to rinse seeds with fresh water, at least twice a day.
Warmth:
Sprouts need to be kept warm to germinate and grow.
Space: Sprouts increase in size, so give them enough space to grow.

Sprouting times
Most seeds are ready within 24hours. Others can take up to 5 days. When they are ready, eat within 4 days to receive the maximum vitality and life force.

Some commonly used seeds and their sprouting times:

SEED SOAKING TIME (hours) SPROUTING TIME (days) QUANTITY YIELD
Alfalfa 4-5 3-5 1 cup 2-3 cups
Chickpeas 10-12 3 1 cup 3 cups
Lentils 6-8 3 1 cup 3-4 cups
Moong Beans 8-10 3-5 1 cup 3-4 cups
Most Nuts 8-12 3-5 1 cup 2-3 cups
Fenugreek 8-10 5 ¼ cup 3-4 cups
Wheat 12 4 1 cup 4 cups

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