Sprouting For Health

If someone told you that you could produce a food that required no soil or sunshine, can be grown all year round, takes just three or four days to grow, and pound for pound, is one of the most nutritious foods available, would you believe them? On the face of it a reasonable answer would be “no”. But there does exist such a food, and it is on the shelf of most supermarkets and you can grow it yourself with little trouble. Of course, I am referring to sprouts growing sprouts in a jar.

Seeds from which sprouts grow are potential plants just waiting for the right circumstances in which they can burst forth and realise that potential. When the seed begins to sprout, there is a veritable explosion of nutrients inside the seed. Sprouting of seeds causes a dramatic increase in the amount of vitamins, minerals and protein available, and this increase corresponds to a decrease in the level of carbohydrates and calories. For example, just half a cup of most sprouts will provide as much vitamin C as six glasses of orange juice. Apart from being extremely nutritious, sprouts are very easy to digest because of the fact that the sprouting process converts the starches to simple sugars.

There are significant advantages to sprouts apart from the nutritional ones. They are so easy to grow in a very small space that anyone can do it in the most restricted of areas. They are cheap to grow and provide a harvest within three or four days, so you can have a continual supply on the go all year round. You can supply yourself with wonderful nutrition without the demands of a vegetable or fruit garden. There is no soil to tend, no compost to make and no bugs to repel.

Seeds from most common vegetables can be sprouted and will provide a nutritional bonanza, but tomato and potato seeds are poisonous and should never be eaten. Be very careful though, to only sprout seeds that are packaged for the purpose of consumption, as opposed to planting, because seeds for planting are often treated with toxic chemicals.

Sprouts vary in flavour and a mixture of sprouts can create delicious combinations. The more peppery flavours of mustard and radish sprouts combine well with the more subdued flavours of alfalfa, clover and rye. Lentils, peas and beans are ideal for sprouting, and provide their own distinctive tastes with their nutritional advantages. Seeds from the cabbage family, such as cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and broccoli are great to sprout, and in fact one ounce of broccoli sprouts will supply as much anti-oxidant as three pounds of the fully grown vegetable.

To grow sprouts, take a quarter of a cupful of seeds and rinse them thoroughly, drain well, and then place them in a bowl and cover with water and leave overnight to soak. In the morning drain the water and place the seeds in a mesh-covered jar which needs to be placed at an angle to allow for drainage. Rinse the seeds morning and night in clear water, drain and put back into the jar. Exceptions to this rule are soybeans and chickpeas, which need to be rinsed between four and six times per day. Sprouting generally is better in a relatively dark space, but the cereal and grain seeds could do with a few hours of light after initially sprouting to allow for the production of chlorophyll.

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