Sprouts

Sprouts are activated and alive. As Paul Pitchford notes in Healing with Whole Foods, ‘sprouts represent the point of greatest vitality in the life cycle of a plant. One clearly experiences this vitality when eating sprouts consistently.’ The sprouting process ‘predigests the nutrients . . . making [them] easier to assimilate and metabolize’. In a nutshell: they’re easier to digest than their pre-sprouted counterparts and, depending on how long you let them sprout for, are also a great way to get some extra greens in your diet during the winter months.

Sprouts became one of my staples when I was on the Hypoallergenic Diet. I popped them on top of hummus-smeared rice crackers and mixed them into salads. My favourites are alfalfa, chickpeas (which I then often turn into sprouted hummus; recipe to follow soon) and lentils. Mung beans are also great in Asian dishes.

Although he raves about the many benefits of sprouts, Pitchford also warns that the process ‘increases the cooling attributes . . . which can weaken digestion in those with low “digestive fire”. If someone tends toward loose stools, he says, sprouts must be eaten sparingly, or cooked before consuming.

This recipe is based on the one in Healing with Whole Foods. All measurements given produce four cups of ready-to-eat sprouts. I often make smaller amounts to make sure I can eat them all before they go bad, which is usually after a week or so if kept in a plastic bag or covered glass jar.

Sprouts

Soak time 6 hours Days to sprout 5-6 days
  • 2 TBSP x alfalfa or red clover, or 1/4 cup radish or mustard
Soak time 8 hours Days to sprout 3 days
  • 1/2 cup x lentils or fenugreek
Soak time 8 hours Days to sprout 3-5 days
  • 1/2 cup x mung beans
Soak time 12 hours Days to sprout 3 days
  • 1 cup x wheat or rye
Soak time 12 hours Days to sprout 3-5 days
  • 1 cup x aduki, chickpeas, soy, or other legumes or grains
Soak time 12 hours Days to sprout 2 days
  • 2 cups x sunflower seeds

Instructions

Use one part seed/grain/legume to at least three parts water. Soak in a wide-mouth jar.

Cover the mouth of the jar with a cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band. After soaking your choice of sproutable, drain well and keep in a warm (at least 18°C) dark place at an angle for drainage. Some people use a dish drainer. I don't have one, so I sit it at an angle in a small bowl instead. The jar can be covered with a cloth or bag for darkness.

Rinse twice daily, ideally morning and night (the exception is soy, which must be rinsed four times daily to avoid rotting). I leave the cloth on the jar and fill with water, then strain with the cloth still on.

After three days, place alfalfa, red clover, radish and mustard sprouts in a cool place with indirect sunlight to induce chlorophyll. Keep rinsing and draining twice daily until you see sprout tails.

If using alfalfa or radish seeds, remove any hulls that slide off during the sprouting process as they're prone to moulding. To do so, place the sprouts in a large bowl of water and give them a shake. Gently reach under the sprouts and lift them out of the water carefully without disturbing the sunken hulls, which can then be discarded.

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