Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Holy Sprouts!

Today I'm going sprout crazy on the blog! I'm here to tell you all about sprouts and why they're good for you. See, I just taught a class on all things sprouts and I'm dying to share my knowledge of these funny little creatures with you all! And if you stick with me all the way until the end (or even if you don't), I have a pretty kick-ass recipe using some of these sprouts that I just know you'll love. Plus I have a list of resources for you at the bottom of the post if you want to learn how easy it is to sprout at home.
Simply put, sprouting is the beginning stage of the germination period of a growing seed when it is exposed to water and sunlight. You can sprout things like seeds, beans, nuts, and grains. So you may ask, "why should I eat sprouts and why are they good for me?" Well, you see, seeds (including nuts, legumes, and grains) have lots of nutritional benefits to you, but many of those benefits are locked inside the seed by anti-nutrients and enzyme inhibitors. These anti-nutrients and enzyme inhibitors are natural protective mechanisms in the seed that keeps it from sprouting in unwanted places (like in your pantry or in your stomach). To unlock all of the nutrients in seeds, you need to start the germination (or sprouting) process. Once you do, the dormant seed becomes a live plant. Anti-nutrients are cast away and you are able to digest and absorb all of the nutrients that the seed has to offer. You're actually eating a live little plant!

A little word about phytic acid. Phytic acid is in all seeds, nuts, and grains. It binds with calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, and zinc in the body, making it hard to impossible for you to absorb those nutrients. Bummer, right?  It’s also irritating to your digestive system and can cause gas and bloating (if you've ever eaten too many beans and got lots of gas, then you'll understand). By soaking and sprouting your grains, legumes or seeds, you are neutralizing phytic acid very effectively. You will also be neutralizing enzyme inhibitors, which unfortunately not only inhibit enzymes in the actual seed, but can also inhibit your own valuable enzymes once they have been eaten. Your seed/grain/legume will be much easier to digest now that you have sprouted it, and you will also be able to assimilate more nutrients. Yay!
As you can see here, I've sprouted lentils, chickpeas, mung beans, broccoli seeds, and farro (a whole grain similar to whole wheat). It's ok if you don't have time to let your seeds sprout all the way every time you want to eat them, but I recommend at least soaking them overnight or for 8-12 hours before you do. I do this for all of my beans, grains, and nuts to ensure that I'm absorbing all of their nutrients. Yes, it takes a little planning ahead, but for me, it's worth it.
 This recipe can be made with any type of sprouts you like. I chose mung bean sprouts in this Asian salad because mung beans have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat a variety of conditions.
Asian Style Mung Bean Sprout and Vegetable Salad

2 cups sprouted mung beans
3 scallions, thinly sliced
one half of a red bell pepper, thinly sliced
½  cup of shredded purple cabbage
½ cup julienned carrot
1 cup of chopped cucumber
1 cup of thinly sliced kale
Radish or broccoli sprouts for garnish
2 tablspoons dulse flakes
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds

6 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
3 tablespoons raw honey, maple syrup, or agave
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp toasted sesame oil

1. Combine all of the vegetable ingredients from the first list (minus the radish sprouts) into a large bowl.  
2. Add the dressing ingredients to the bowl. Toss well and taste for seasoning.
3. Garnish with radish sprouts and more sesame seeds before serving.

Sprouting Resources
This site provides everything you could ever need for sprouting from sprouting supplies to sprouting seeds.

The Sprouting Book by Ann Wigmore:

Sprouts: The Miracle Food by Steve Meyerowitz:

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  1. I sprouted decades ago in college and rediscovered in recent years. I like the ease, having fresh sprouts when I want them and no matter how busy life is so easy to make this real healthy fresh food.

    1. Love that! It's so great having sprouts ready to go in the kitchen :)

  2. This is my favorite dish since I started following my diet plan. Hope to see more Diet food recipes and tips from you Renee.