A Beginner’s Guide to Sprouting
This week, I’m going to introduce you to two different-but-similar healthy ways to prepare and eat food.
I’m new to both of these, so I thought I’d share with you what I’ve been learning over the last couple of weeks.
The first is sprouting, and the second is fermenting.
I feel grateful that I don’t have (to my knowledge) any food intolerances. I can eat gluten, I can eat dairy (thank god, a life without cheese would be unbearable!). But you are certainly aware that these things exist out there, in what seems to be epidemic proportions. In my close circle of friends, I have several girlfriends who are allergic to gluten, dairy, corn, peanuts, and eggs. It makes cooking dinner for them extra fun–I love the challenge.
Now, things like gluten intolerance didn’t exist a hundred years ago. Certainly, there were celiacs back then, but there was no way of diagnosing an issue like that. So, some of what is happening in today’s world is education and knowledge, which is always a good thing. But food is also made differently today than it was 100 years ago.
Bread, way back then, was made in your home. You didn’t go to a grocery store or a bakery to buy it. Your mother would probably have a certain day of the week (or maybe a couple days of the week) that she would designate for making bread. Bread was made with a few simple ingredients: flour, yeast, water, eggs, salt. That was it. Today, we buy our bread in grocery stores or bakeries, and often the flour has been modified (white flour with all the fibre removed, for example), or preservatives have been added in to prolong shelf life.
All of these things, in addition to how wheat has been genetically modified over the last 100 years, have contributed to things like gluten intolerance–making wheat more difficult to digest for many, many people.
Food with high fibre content can also be a challenge for many of us to digest. Foods high in fibre (while they are good for us, because they provide a long-term energy burn instead of a short, quick one, followed by a crash), can also be difficult to digest. Remember “beans, beans, the musical fruit?” You can assist your body to break down these kinds of high-fibre foods by taking a digestive enzyme or, you can sprout them.
Sprouting foods like beans and seeds is a great boon for your digestive system. The enzymes that naturally occur in raw, sprouted foods are alive, and they naturally help your body to digest the food. Additionally, it’s thought that sprouted foods contain higher percentages of fibre, vitamins, and EFAs than their cooked or non-sprouted counterparts. Finally, sprouts tend to be very alkaline in nature, and a more alkaline body ph is better for you than an acidic body ph.
You can sprout pretty much any kind of seed or legume, and one of my favourite resources for seeds is Mumm’s. To be fair, though, you may not have to go any further than your grocery store: those dried packages of beans and lentils on the store shelf? You can sprout those.
You can grow sprouts easily and cheaply right on your kitchen counter. I’ve tried doing it in the past in a mason jar, but didn’t have a ton of luck: they turned out mouldy. I’m not sure what I did wrong.
A couple of weeks ago, bought one of these SproutGrower’s Domes. My first experiment in it was mung beans (mung beans, as it turns out, are a great starter sprout, as they are pretty hard to screw up, and they sprout quickly).
The process is pretty simple. You take a couple tablespoons of the seed or bean, and rinse them well under running water. Then put them on the sieve part of the dome. That sits on top of the base, which fill with water just up to the bottom of the sieve. Then you put the top on and basically let it do its thing. The beans are sprouted and ready to eat in about 24 to 36 hours.
After they are sprouted and ready for use, you can store them in the fridge until you are ready to eat them.
How do you use them?
- Sprinkle them on your salad
- Incorporate them into your stirfry
- Incorporate them into your soups
- Incorporate them into your breads
- Add them to your smoothies
I’m excited to try more sprouting, and more recipes. I would love to hear what your experience has been with sprouting, and what your favourite recipes are to incorporate the sprouts. Please let me know in the comments below!