Friday, February 1, 2013

☆ Sprouts and Sprouting! ☆


Sprouts, sprouts, wonderful sprouts. Those lovely little green scraggly things so packed full of nutrition and perfect over salads, sandwiches, stir frys, burgers, and even blended into a smoothie. Yes, today I am talking about Sprouts! They deserve an honourable mention, after all, especially seeing as I eat them every single day and they are oh so good for you. I mean, if there is a real and true superfood, Sprouts are it.

But, let's start with the basics… What are Sprouts? 
Sprouting, itself, is the practice of germinating seeds to be eaten raw or cooked. Eating them raw means all the nutrients are preserved and amplified. Sprouts are also an awesome way to get fresh greens throughout the winter when the growing season is too cold. Mmm healthy fresh greens all year round! You can also sprout sooo many different things, including beans, nuts, seeds, and legumes! 

Health Benefits: 
Sprouts are said to be life-generating Bio-genic foods which offer the strongest support for cell regeneration. 
They are high in essential nutrients, such as Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin K. They are also rich in minerals such as Iron, Phosphorous, Magnesium, Potassium, Manganese, and Calcium. Even more awesome? Sprouts have a ton of dietary fiber, Folate, and Omega-3 fatty acids (the ones most people's diets are lacking). Sprouting seeds, grains and legumes are also found to have higher content of these nutrients. For instance, most beans increase in Vitamin A by eight times after being sprouted, while other sprouts can increase in Vitamin C and B complexes by 200-1000%!
Another amazing benefit of sprouts is the increase in enzymes--something most of us are lacking due to highly processed and mostly cooked foods. Enzyme-rich foods keep our bodies healthy and fit and allow us to properly, and more easily, utilize the nutrients in foods. The process of sprouting modifies the array of minerals in sprouts so that they are more easily assimilated and digested by the body--meaning your body can use more of the nutrients as opposed to cooked foods.
And how about that protein?! When people think of greens and sprouts they don't often think of protein, but the truth is that sprouts are rich in the stuff, being up to 35 percent protein! Hurrah! 
Also, when sprouts are grown to the chlorophyll rich two leaf stage, it has been shown they have been effective in overcoming protein-deficiency anaemia.
The daily consumption of these superfoods has also given many women relief from hot flashes and supported hormonal function. Sprouts are also essential in keeping free radicals at bay and are fantastic to prevent and fight disease and cancer. 
It's also been said that broccoli sprouts are the Perfect food--you could actually survive on them because they contain Everything our bodies need. Not to mention broccoli sprouts are the super cure of fighting disease and cancer. Neat huh?

Sprouting
Alrighty, so sprouts are obviously awesome. Now I'm going to tell you that Anyone can sprout, right from home and have yummy sprouts all the time for Cheap--instead of buying them from grocery stores where they can be quite pricey. 
I must be honest, part of me was a little reserved about writing this post, only because… my husband is the sprouter in the house. He really took it upon himself to explore it, checking out a multitude of ways to sprout and what to sprout and the best ways to sprout what. I'm super happy, obviously, I mean, I get fresh sprouts every day thanks to him. But sprouting is indeed something anyone and everyone can do no matter where you are, no matter what your climate, and no matter what your budget. 
It can be a bit tricky while you're first starting out, but as with anything, practice makes perfect. Below I am going to share the basics of sprouting, and I will see if I can get my husband to help me out with writing up another more thorough post on all the ropes with all the details another time as he's become quite the expert. ;) I am also going to share our favourite sprouting jars because, trust me, it makes a World of difference in your success and ease to sprout. 
So, let's get to it! 

Basic Sprouting directions:

- Buy your organic sprouting seeds (organic).
- Find or purchase an awesome sprouting jar (I will share my suggestion below). You can use a one quart glass jar (like a mason jar) with a large mouth.
- For the mesh top, there are a few options: buy some cheesecloth and a few thick, strong rubber bands; buy a plastic or metal grid designed for the top of the mason jar (you can find these online or in health food stores); or (my favourite option) use the "Easy Sprout" sprouter I'm going to share below. 
- Place around three tablespoons of sprouting seeds with at least three times the amount of purified water into the jar.
- Gently shake the jar with lid until all the seeds are soaked.
- Take off the lid and place the cheesecloth (or other mesh) over the mouth, securing with a rubber band.
- Allow the seeds to soak for six to twelve hours, then drain them thoroughly and rinse.
- Leave the jar on its side and away from direct sunlight. Repeat this process three times or until the sprouts manifest fully. This usually takes a couple days, depending on what you are sprouting (the seed packages will let you know the times). 
Refrigerate what isn't eaten, will keep for about a week. 

Again, these are just some basic directions to give you an idea of the process. You'll want to experiment and explore it more for yourself though. The only thing to watch for is mold. So make sure you are rinsing them thoroughly and not neglecting your poor sprouts. Using the glass jars and mesh screens also tend to make keeping the mold away more difficult. We've tried a few different sprouting jars and products and Nothing compares to the product I'm about to share with you:

Awesome Sprouters!
First, allow me to introduce to you the Easy Sprout "the easiest sprouter ever!" 
My husband bought these after much fuss with glass jars and they are amazing! So awesome that we got one each for my siblings for christmas… and two more for us… with plans to get another one. 
This Sprouter has everything you need, with a two part container and a good lid and strainer. It's design also means less rinsing and, unless you seriously neglect your sprouts, no molding!  I can't really describe how amazing these are, but after trying with glass jars and other sprouters and then trying this one, you'll understand why. Best of all, these are only about $15.00. Absolutely worth the price! We have all of our jars always on the go, rotating, with new sprouts so that we have a continuous supply. It's simply amazing!  

The only time we use a glass jar method now is with some larger sprouts, such as chickpeas. 

If you want to get really fancy then you can also get an automatic sprouter (like we do, because, you know, we're crazy ;)). We bought this amazing "Fresh Life" automatic sprouter, which is, obviously, amazing. We use it mostly for sunflower sprouts while we use the "Easy Sprout" jars for kale and salad mix sprouts. But the nice thing about this one is the automatic rinsing and that it has four different "compartments" so that you can have four different types of sprouts all going at once. 


Sprouting Resources:
"Fresh Life" automatic sprouter: http://www.freshlifesprouter.com/main.asp
Sprout seeds: Mumm's Sprouting Seeds: http://sprouting.com/

My favourite Sprouts! 
I figure, why not end this with my favourite sprouts. ;)
Kale sprouts are heavenly! We always have a large jar going so that we can add a handful (I mean, literally, a handful, no exaggeration) of these sprouts to our morning smoothies. You can't even taste them and they blend up great. They are a great way to get your greens in the morning, and especially so if you are trying to get more greens in picky kids (I promise they won't have a Clue that there are any in there!). 
Second to kale sprouts, we usually have sunflower sprouts on the go. They are also great in smoothies (again can't taste them) and are also delicious on top of salads and stir frys. We have a great salad mix as well and so many more greens. 
We are also in the new habit of sprouting chickpeas. We got a huge bag of organic chickpeas during a bulk sale at our local coop so now we have a constant supply of chickpeas. I used to always buy the canned stuff because I didn't want to have to soak them and then cook them for hours. But now we just have jars of sprouted chickpeas on the go, which completely minimizes the energy to cook and prepare. They are great raw in salads, in raw hummus (I'll be sharing a recipe soon), or lightly cooked in stir frys or any other dish that calls upon the use of regular chickpeas, with the maximized benefits of being sprouted! I won't lie, I'm not a big fan of the raw taste of them alone, but once you add them to things they taste great and are nice and softly crunchy. :) 
There are always new things to sprout! We've sprouted quinoa and lentils before too and plan on getting back into that now that we have this sprouting thing figured out. 
Peace out for now! Hope you too will begin your sprouting journey!  

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1 comment:

  1. I do love me some sprouts! I only recently discovered them, as they're not so popular around here. But hopefully that'll change! ^_^

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