It seems, one of the main topics of conversation these days is the price of fresh fruit and vegetables. And with good reason. Sometimes we need to think outside the square and look for other options, which is why this week I’m writing about sprouting our own seeds to include in our salads. Yes, replace the expensive salad vegetables with some fresh sprouts which are extremely affordable.
Sprouted seeds, grains and legumes are also extremely nutritious and healthy for several reasons. Legumes, grains and some seeds contain phytic acid. Unfortunately, phytic acid inhibits our digestive enzymes which means we find it harder to digest and absorb certain nutrients from these foods, particularly minerals. This then explains why after a meal containing these foods we might suffer from lots of gas and sometimes indigestion. It’s been found when we sprout these legumes, grains and seeds it enables better digestion and increases the nutrient content of the foods. It is also believed to boost the concentration of minerals and vitamins in these foods.
Because sprouts possess quite a high amount of living enzymes it means eating sprouts may also assist our gut to break down food more effectively which means we can better absorb the nutrients from our food. They are also obviously also quite high in dietary fibre which is helpful for our digestive system.
When it comes to sprouting, most seeds, legumes and grains can be sprouted however some are easier than others. I’m sure we’ve all eaten alfalfa sprouts at some time, and they are one of the more easily sprouted seeds. Mung beans are another well-known sprouted legume. I also love sprouted brown lentils and chickpeas. Fenugreek and red radish sprouts are also popular and something a little different. Broccoli sprouts have become very popular over the past few years because they contain the same nutrients as other cruciferous vegetables such as kale, broccoli, Brussel sprouts etc. Apart from being packed with vitamins and minerals they also contain the cancer fighting nutrient known as sulforaphane.
What I love about sprouting is it’s easy. There are several basics to sprouting. Make sure your sprouting container is clean. Wash it thoroughly before undertaking sprouting. Also ensure you rinse your seeds thoroughly in a strainer before placing in your sprouting container. Once you have done this simply place your seeds in your container and soak for 12 hours. Make sure the water is double the amount of seeds in the container. After soaking, drain, rinse the seeds thoroughly then drain again. Sit your container on a countertop (out of the sun) at room temperature and rinse and drain twice a day until seeds are sprouted and ready to eat.
We carry several different sprouting containers in store. If you want to keep it simple, our glass sprouting jar with the sieve lid is all you need. Sometimes it’s good to germinate several different seeds at once or maybe sow our sprouts at staggered intervals so we always have fresh sprouts to eat. This is where it’s good to have a 3-tier sprouter so ensure we can grow different sprouts in different trays. It’s also simple in that we can just water from the top tray a couple of times a day and the water drains through all the trays via a specially designed plug which uses a capillary action to ensure all the layers remain moist, feeding the seeds and sprouts.
Once our ‘crop’ of sprouts is ready to eat, place them in an airtight container in our fridge. It is preferable to eat the sprouts within a few days. Sprouts can be eaten raw in salads, on sandwiches or wraps or you can add them to any cooked dishes. Below is one of my favourite sprout salads.
Ingredients: ½ cup mung bean sprouts; ½ cup brown lentil sprouts; 1 cup grated carrots; ½ cup diced cucumbers; 1 cup chopped lettuce; ½ cup Australian pumpkin seeds; ½ cup sunflower kernels; ½ cup dried cranberries; ½ cup chopped basil leaves; ½ cup chopped coriander leaves. Dressing – combine 3 tbsp olive oil; 1 tbsp sesame oil; ¼ cup apple cider vinegar; 3 tbsp maple syrup; 1 tbsp grated ginger; 1clove garlic finely chopped.
Method: Combine all salad ingredients then add dressing.
One interesting way of using our grain sprouts is to make sprouted bread known as Essene bread. The recipe for Essene bread is believed to have originated back in biblical days. We sell Essene break in store; however, it may be fun to make your own with your own home-grown grain sprouts. Below is a recipe for Essene bread.
Ingredients: 2 cups Organic Wheat, Spelt OR Rye Grain; 1 tsp sea salt; ¼ cup Australian pumpkin seeds; ¼ cup sunflower kernels (for a fruit bread also add ½ cup sultanas; ½ tsp cinnamon)
Method: Sprout grain as per instructions above. Once the sprouts are the same length as the grain, begin making your bread by combining the ingredients in a food processor. Process mixture until it is a course dough. Grease your hands to stop dough sticking to your hands, then mould the dough into the shape of a loaf. Sprinkle with pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Make sure loaf is only about 4cm high – any higher it may not dry well. Bake at 120C/250F for 3 hours. Once cooled, store in fridge. Note this is not like ‘normal’ bread. It will not rise; it is very dense and quite moist inside. However, it is very tasty and very filling!