Would you be able to eat a one meter square patch of one meter tall mature alfalfa? No, neither could I. But, could you eat a loose cup of alfalfa sprouts? No worries, and the good news is that this is essentially the same thing. In terms of nutrition and enzyme potential there is no difference, it is just consumed in a smarter way.
Sprouting is an excellent way to save time on your trip to boosting super nutrition. Sprouts contain all of the enzyme potential and nutrient content of a mature plant just without the fibre. This makes a more bang for your buck style salad. As they are so delicate and freshly activated, they are also generally well absorbed which means all the goodies go straight into your system.
There is a huge range of plants that can be sprouted and with varied success. Firstly let’s look at the most commonly sprouted plants. Sprouts like alfalfa and fenugreek start out as tiny little seeds. When you soak them overnight, drain them into a jar then rinse gently you will harvest a delicate little batch of sprouts within four days.
More sturdy sprouts like mung beans and lentils can unlock an excellent new way to harvest your protein from a very simple source. By sprouting legumes and grains you find that you may be able to consume less and they are very delicate on your stomach from this delivery. One random fact you will need to be aware of is not to sprout kidney beans or peanuts as they can become toxic. Every other grain or legume is good to go and has their own unique flavour and texture. They are sprouted in the same way as mentioned above, with a slight adjustment to rinse amounts and days to germinate.
You may have heard of the term ‘activated’ when it comes to nuts and seeds. This is the act of soaking a nut or seed overnight, then disposing of the soak water before consuming or dehydrating to store. This is done to allow simple digestion of the nut or seed and is technically a form of sprouting. Due to their nature you will not find a happy little sprout tail and you only ‘sprout’ them overnight (some seeds only a few hours) but this may be a fun habit to get into for extra protein and a happy tummy.
There are a few varieties which require a more hands on approach as they are actually sprouted in soil. Plants like sunflowers, grass and micro greens fall into this category. You will need to plant these in a shallow try of dirt. I recommend that you purchase organic dirt and be sure to check for a vegan variety. These little babies really add to the flavour of a dish and have their own spectrum of aromatic health properties. The grasses must be juiced to consume but will have you buzzing for hours after you get over the shock from the taste!
You can get really fancy with your sprouting or keep it simple with a jar and an old stocking. If you have had experience with sprouting, this may just be a gentle reminder to pull out the seeds and get to it. If you have never tried this before, get started with a simple and friendly alfalfa crop. Once you have a few batches under your belt, experiment with other flavours to keep it interesting and attain a wider variety of nutrients.
One final note on sprouting is that growing your own is a ridiculously cheap alternative to the store brought varieties. By harvesting them at home, you will also have the benefit of eating them while they are still growing which means they are healthier and taste amazing.
Holly George is a Bachelor qualified Naturopath in Brisbane, Australia. Specialising in Vegetarian, Vegan and Raw food diets, Holly draws upon 15 years personal experience in the field of natural therapies. Combining her extensive experience, passion for health and high level qualification, you are in good hands.
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