This past weekend, a group of us gathered on a patio in the sun and listened to Sarah, Summer and Rhae teach us simple tricks to make our meals more nutritious and delicious. They hosted a wonderful cooking class at their house, and we got to see and sample a variety of foods. One topic that they covered was sprouting.
Grains, legumes, nuts and seeds all contain phytic acid, which acts as a “natural pesticide” for the plant. When ingested, phytic acid prevents our enzymes from digesting the food properly, preventing us from fully absorbing the nutrients available in these wonderful foods.
In nature, these nuts, seeds, beans and grains do not want to breakdown until they are in a fit environment to grow. Unfortunately, our bellies are not a “happy” place for them, and they are able to stay intact and protected because of the phytic acid. When placed in a moist environment (one that would be ideal for the plant to grow in), the phytic acid breaks down, which allows the growing process to begin.
Soaking is the first step in sprouting, and is also the best way to remove the phytic acid. In order to ensure proper digestion and absorption, it is suggested that all grains, beans, nuts and seeds be soaked before being consumed. This soaking process is pretty simple: you put your items in a container, cover it with water by about 1 inch, and leave it overnight (around 7 hours is recommended). Then, they are ready to cook/sprout/eat. Grains should be soaked with water along with an acidic substance, such as lemon juice or vinegar (about 1 tablespoon). The cooking process remains the same, although a little less water may be needed for grains due to the water they absorbed in the soaking process.
If you decide to try sprouting, all you need is a mason jar, and a thin dishtowel or piece of cheesecloth. You can also purchase a sprouting bag for pretty cheap if you decide that sprouting is something that you wish to incorporate into your life.
Pictured here are some lentils that I sprouted. After soaking the lentils for 7+ hours, I placed them in a jar, and secured a dishtowel over the mouth of the jar with a rubber band. It is suggested to keep the jar in a dark, cool place (like a cabinet) and rinse 2-3 times per day. To rinse, simply remove the cloth, fill the jar with water, and drain it about 2 or 3 times. Then put the cloth back in place and return the jar to the cabinet. Lentils have a short sprouting time, and usually show tails between 1-3 days. Depending on the temperature in your house and what you are choosing to sprout, times will vary. There are plenty of resources available online to help guide and determine this.
Once you see tails, they are ready to eat!
Sprouts contain all of the energy, nutrients, enzymes and vitamins that they naturally contain if grown outdoors, making them a super nutritious food. They are great to throw into salads, mix into pasta dishes, or simply snack on. You can purchase sprouts in your local health food store, but isn’t it fun to grow your own food AND save money??
If you don’t have time to soak or sprout all of these foods, don’t worry, and enjoy them anyway. Eating quinoa that has not been soaked is still a healthier choice then eating a more processed meal. BUT… If you get a chance to try soaking/sprouting, pay attention to how you feel afterwards. Is your digestion better? Don’t have that bloating feeling? Less gas? Filled with energy? Do you enjoy the food more after growing it yourself?
SproutPeople.org is a wonderful resource for sprouting, so check it out if this is something you wish to incorporate on a regular basis.
with love and sprouting,