If you’re looking for a super healthy, super easy food project, you may enjoy sprouting. You can sprouts beans, seeds, nuts and grains, and you can do it in your own kitchen. You might say sprouts are the ultimate “locally grown” food!
Begin with food quality, preferably organic beans, seeds, nuts or grains. You can find them at health food stores or online. Put them into a wide-mouth jar with some cool water; use a ratio of one part beans to three parts water. Cover the jar with cheesecloth and a rubber band, or a plastic mesh sprouting top.
After 8 to 12 ours, rinse the sprouts and refill the jar. Most sprouts take 3 to 8 days to germinate and grow. When the sprouts have reached the desired length, store them in the refrigerator in a perforated plastic bag.
Seeds have their highest nutritional value at the time they germinate. The seed becomes active and reaches up through the topsoil to reach the sun.
Sprouting activates the seed’s metabolic systems, converting its sugar content into vitamin C. It is then rich in antioxidants, and it synthesizes new enzymes that will facilitate oxygen metabolism. Sprouts are richer in vitamin C than older plants, because of the energy required during this period it their life cycle.
Mung bean sprouts and alfalfa sprouts are the kinds most frequently seen in the produce section of supermarkets. These can be easily sprouted at home, as can red clover, radish, lentil, adzuki, garbanzo, pumpkin and sunflower.
One fact to keep in mind is that alfalfa is high in an amino acid called canavanine. Canavanine has been associated with worsening of inflammatory conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupup erythematosus, and others. If you have an autoimmune disease, avoid alfalfa and enjoy other varieties of sprouts.
Fresh sprouts have a sweet, fresh taste. Use them raw in salads or sandwiches, or serve them cooked in soups, stir-fries and casseroles. The possible uses of sprouts are limited only by your culinary imagination!