I recently had a conversation with one of my neighbors about sprouting and I couldn’t help but walk away feeling as if I had to write a blog about this topic because I get the feeling not enough people know about this amazing practice. I will first disclose that I am far from an expert however I have been the beneficial recipient of sprouting for many years.
What is Sprouting?
Sprouting initiates the growth process of a seed, grain or seed-grain. When a grain is sprouted, sojme of its complex carbohyrates are broken down into simple sugars which our body has an easier time digesting. Some of the grain’s protein is also broken down into amino acids, which spares our bodies the work of breaking it down later. Most significantly perhaps, sprouting wicks away a grain, nut, or seed’s enzyme inhibitors and naturally occurring tannins which are the compounds that reside in the skin of the nuts, seeds, and grains and are extremely slow to digest. The goal of soaking and sprouting is to de-activate them, so that our bodies face no impediments when they digest and attempt to make use the food.
Sprouting, soaking, and germination aren’t the same things. Soaking and sprouting are means of optimizing absorption, but choosing not to soak or sprout won’t negate the value of your grains When you soak nuts, seeds, and grains, you break down their enzyme inhibitors. You also reduce phytic acid, a compound that binds with minerals in the grain–such as calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, and zinc–and makes it difficult for our bodies to absorb them. Soaking neutralizes the phytic acid, and “releases” those minerals for our bodies’ use. Soaking initiates germination, and if you then rinse grains and leave them in a warm, damp place, they’ll begin to sprout.
Which grains can be sprouted?
The simplest grains to sprout are wheat, kamut, spelt, barley, and rye. The most sproutable “pseudograins” — or “seed-grains,” as some people call them–are millet, amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, and wild rice. I’ve experimented with sprouting all of these grains at home, and my favorites are quinoa, millet, and wheatberries.
Place one full cup of seed-grains in a large mason jar
Fill it with 2 1/2 cups filtered water.
Let it sit, open, at room temperature for one full day (24 hours)
Drain the wheatberries and rinse them well.
Return the soaked grains to your mason jar.
Secure a paper towel or cheesecloth over the mouth of the jar with a rubber band.
Turn the jar on its side, and leave it be in a room temperature nook of your kitchen.
Let the jar sit for 12-24 hours — I almost always give it a full day. At the end of this time period, you can remove the paper towel or cloth, and you’ll see that the grains have sprouted little “tails,” like so! They are ready for consumption! You should have about 2 cups of sprouted grains ready.
Note that different grains take different amounts of time to sprout (Wheatberries take a long time compared to grains like quinoa which sprout superquick!). You will become familiar with the amount of times that different grains demand as you sprout.
How to Use Sprouted Grains
There are unlimited uses for sprouts! I’m a huge fan of spruts and often include them in my sandwiches, salads and even my shakes. I love mixing sprouted grains with fruits or veggies and almond or coconut milk for breakfast. I have even come across recipes where some grind sprouted grains and put them in cracker or bread dough.To acquaint sprouting newbies with the many amazing uses for sprouts, I provide one of my favorite recipes, courtesy of Choosing Raw.
Sprouted Wheatberry Salad (Makes 4 Servings)
2 cups sprouted wheatberries
1/2 cup dried apples, chopped into small pieces
2 cups shredded dino or curly kale
1 cup chopped or grated carrots
1-2 tsp agave nectar or maple syrup
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp flax oil
Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.
Top with avocado:
Health Benefits of Sprouts
Research has demonstrated that sprouts likely improve cardiovascular health, prevent heart disease and stroke, improve bone mineral density, protect DNA against free radicals (Germination increases the antioxidant contents of grain thus potentially preventing cancerà 100 grams a day of sprouts may prevent cancer – See research from the University of Ulster) and potentially help to treat siabetes as well as Parkinsons disease, and arthrits.
According to one study from the International Journal of Applied Science, sprouts have the highest concentration of phytonutrients per calorie of any food. Phytonutrients play an active role in the amelioration of disease.