Decades ago, nutrition-conscious hippies first schooled me on the virtues of eating germinated seeds and showed me how to set up a sprout farm using a wide variety of preferred techniques.
Despite the New Age mystique surrounding sprouts, people have been soaking seeds and nurturing them under the right conditions until the outer pods swell and burst with new life. Wow, man.
Mother Nature can be a you-know-what but She can also be quite generous with Her gifts. Plants are a great example of this: from seed to stem to leaf to flower to seed all animals, great and small, gain the benefits from healthy bio-energy.
Check out the health benefits of sprouts:
- Improved digestion
- Boosts the metabolism
- Raises enzymatic activity throughout the body
- Prevents anemia
- Helps weight loss
- Lowers cholesterol
- Reduces blood pressure
- Prevents neural tube defects in infants
- Boosts skin health
- Improves vision
- Supports the immune system
- Increases usable energy reserves
Can you dig it?
The cool thing about sprouts is that you can start with all kinds of seeds – even wheat. But most people stick to ones they use for cooking: alfalfa, soy, and bean sprouts (mung beans are popular).
Sprouts are a superior and groovy food source because they contain concentrations of vitamins and nutrients not found in the un-sprouted form. Nutritional concentration and bioavailability peak about one week after germination so devotees rotate their stocks to ensure a fresh supply.
Heating sprouts reduces their nutritive value which is why they are a salad favorite. They also make a great garnish or incorporate them into a finished dish that doesn’t need further cooking.
Sprouts are packed with protein, dietary fiber, vitamin K, folate, pantothenic acid, niacin, thiamin, vitamin C, vitamin A, and riboflavin, zinc, magnesium, iron, and calcium. Try saying that three times fast!
Are you ready to get down and funky and grow your own, sisters and brothers? Here’s how:
- WASH SEEDS THOROUGHLY both before and after sprouting to prevent food-borne illness.
- Pour a small amount (about 1/2 cup) of seeds into a larger, wide-mouthed, clear glass mason jar after removing the sealable lid and outer ring. The seeds should cover no more than about the bottom quarter of the container – to give them oxygen and room to grow.
You can find mason jars at many groceries and online retailers. You might be able to score a great deal on craigslist, man (and woman).
- Pour in enough water to cover the seeds.
- Cover the open top of the jar with clean cheesecloth, available at most grocery stores or online.
- Screw the ring onto the mason jar. Store the lid because you won’t need it to make awesome sprouts.
- Use scissors to trim away excess cheesecloth from below the glass jar’s metal sealing ring.
- Repeat this procedure for any other types of seeds you want to germinate. It’s a good idea to LABEL THE JARS. Just sayin’.
- Soak the seeds for 12 hours.
- Turn the cheesecloth-covered seed-filled mason jar upside down over a sink or outside onto some earth to drain off the water.
- Shake the jar a bit to loosen the seeds and let in some air between them.
- Set the jar, still with its breathable cheesecloth cover, in a warm, light spot – but away from direct sunlight.
- Rinse the sprouts twice a day by adding water through the mesh top, shaking vigorously, and draining off the water.
- Within a day or two, you should see sprouts! Remember, nutritive potency peaks at about Day 7.
- Refrigerate sprouts to preserve them. They may only last 2-3 days so keep soaking more seeds before you want them.
Be sure to SANITIZE your sprouting jars and rings before each use. Run everything through the dishwasher, boil or bleach lightly. You don’t even want to get food poisoning from tainted seedlings. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) categorizes sprouts as a potentially-hazardous food because they can harbor disease-causing food germs.
Having taken all the proper recommended food safety precautions, just look at some of the trippy things you can sprout:
- Black beans
- Brown rice
- Mung beans
- Mustard seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Radish seeds
- Sesame seeds
Best of all: you can grow sprouts indoors with ease year-round.
Not only am I sold on sprouts – I’m hungry!