Sprout Your Way to Better Health!

Written by Nüket
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What’s not to love about sprouts? Organic, eco-friendly, loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other goodies, sprouts are inexpensive, easy to grow and fun for the little ones. Add virtually no carbon footprint, no cooking, no cleaning or mess and you’ve got a winner! All you need are some glass jars, organic seeds and water and you are off to a healthy, indoor garden full of good stuff.

You may have heard of bean sprouts or alfalfa sprouts, and perhaps you’ve already seen them at your local stores. From organic shops to Delhaize – it seems sprouts are becoming more mainstream these days. In fact, sprouts have been around for thousands of years. As early as the 2nd century B.C., the Essenes consumed sprouts regularly in the form of bread made from dehydrated sprouted grains (you can try Essenien bread found in organic shops). Over 5,000 years ago, Traditional Chinese Medicine recognized and prescribed sprouts for curing many disorders. Sprouting seeds was a trend in the 1970s and it’s back again as people are looking at ways to eat organic and healthy foods.

Benefits of sprouts

Sprouts have many health benefits. They are living foods that are rich sources of vitamins, minerals, proteins, phytochemicals, antioxidants, nitrosamines, minerals, bioflavonoids and enzymes. Regular consumption can protect us against disease, provide anti-aging benefits, and even provide us with natural cancer-fighting compounds. For example, broccoli sprouts have high amounts of a natural cancer-fighting compound, while alfalfa sprouts are said to lower LDL cholesterol. Some interesting tidbits on sprouts:

  • Grows in any climate – any time of the year!
  • Grows without soil or sunshine 100% organic – no chemical sprays, fertilizers, etc.
  • Vitamins, minerals, and proteins increase up to 1200% with sprouting
  • Rivals meat in nutritional value
  • Grows indoors with minimum space requirement
  • Economical to prepare and consume
  • Multiplies and matures by 400% or more in a few days

When we cook food we lose nutrition and enzymes by up to 80%. Sprouting enables you to enjoy the beans or seeds in sprouted form without cooking. This leaves the nutrients intact and they are enhanced in the process!

  • Starch converts to simple sugars for rapid glucose metabolism
  • Proteins break down into easily assimilated amino acids
  • Fats break down into essential fatty acids
  • Minerals merge with protein to increase their absorption and function. 

How to Sprout

Growing your own food may be complicated – especially if you are living in the city with no garden, or only a small one which is just big enough for the lounge chair that comes out to catch the occasional ray of sunshine. Sprouting, however, is easy for everyone to do and sprouts grown at home are fresher and much less expensive than store bought ones.

Almost any kind of seed can be sprouted and eaten.* Some of the most common seeds to sprout are alfalfa, cabbage, mung beans, radish, broccoli, sunflower and lentil. Organic, non-genetically-modified seeds should be used.

Sprouting is simple. To start, you’ll need to first soak the seeds to activate the enzymes – the dormant state of the seeds is due to enzyme inhibitors which protect and preserve the seeds. Once you add water the life cycle begins! Soak the seeds in either glass jars or commercial seed sprouting containers and/or kits that you can purchase at organic stores. I’ve used glass jars from mayonnaise, sauces and soups. Simply add the seeds and water to the jar, cover with a metal screen or a piece of cheese cloth, and secure with a rubber band.

How long you soak the seeds depends on the type of bean or seed you want to sprout. Most seeds purchased at stores give soak times on the packaging – as a general rule, you can count on soaking the seeds overnight. Here are some examples of approximate soak times:

  • Alfalfa, Clover Sprouts: 4-6 hours
  • Cabbage, Kale and Mustard Sprouts: 6-14 hours
  • Fenugreek, Radish and Sunflower Sprouts: 8-14 hours
  • Lentils, brown/green: Soak 8-14 hours
  • Quinoa Sprouts: 2-4 hours

After soaking the seeds, rinse and drain them thoroughly. You’ll need to rinse them twice a day, morning and evening. It’s best to use filtered water as seeds don’t like chlorine. Keep them in a cool place with good air circulation and out of direct sunlight. Don’t, however, place them in a pantry as they can get moldy. In one to four days, depending on the variety, the sprouts are ready to harvest. Place them in a salad spinner to remove excess moisture, and store them in the refrigerator. Enjoy fresh sprouts within three days to get the best of their qualities.

Tasty Treats

Sprouts can be eaten plain as a salad or add them to your sandwiches, salads, soups, sauces, purees, mixed in baby food…basically anything you like. Just make sure that if you add them to something cooked, do so at the end so you don’t lose the benefits of the sprouts. Sprouts are incredibly easy to grow and so full of vitamins, minerals, and all around energy. Once you start, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it earlier!

Sunbeams is holding a free sprouting workshop on Wednesday February 9th 2011 from 9h15 – 10h30 at Savoorke, International Montessori School, Bergestraat 24, 3080 Tervuren. If you are interested in attending please register at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

References:

Nüket is a natural health coach with a background in naturopathy and a holistic approach to healthy living and disease prevention. She lives in Brussels and works with individuals and companies, supporting them in making positive changes to create lifestyles and environments that are more balanced and healthy. You can contact her by This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

This article was originally published in the February 2011 edition of the Sunbeams Newsletter.

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