It's official, we've gone mad for sprouting...
As people who eat a whole load of legumes/nuts/seeds on a daily basis, we were really intrigued by sprouting for quite a while and all the benefits they contain. After a few months experimenting and consuming a lot of different sprouts and microgreens along the way, we're completely hooked on this process and wanted to share the love with you all!
Unfortunately, it sometimes seems like being healthy is just another industry we're led into spending money on. Enticed by online hype and reviews, there is often this sense of pressure to buy the latest 'superfoods' that promise a new level of health. And while we use and love a few of these incredible natural foods/medicines, they always seem to come with a heavy price tag, leaving this stale impression that health is only attainable for those with money.
Sprouts break all the rules when it comes to this. This is an everyday superfood that is so easy, cheap and fun to make! Sprouting and growing microgreens are such accessible processes that will supercharge any legumes/nuts/seeds that you have in your cupboards and quite literally bring them to life with nutrients.
What is sprouting?
Sprouting is the process of soaking certain dried grains/legumes/nuts/seeds until they germinate. Depending on the sprout, they can then either be eaten raw or cooked. We love to use our to make hummus, sprouted bean burgers and to sprinkle on top of meals for an extra kick of nutrition.
What's the problem with dried legumes/grains/nuts?
To protect themselves from being eaten in nature, legumes, grains and seeds/nuts coat themselves in a layer of phytic acid. Beans are smarter than you thought, right?! They also contain enzyme inhibitors - this is what makes them dormant and long lasting, and is why we can't eat them before cooking.
The problem is that the phytic acid stops us from absorbing many essential minerals and vitamins in our stomachs. Find it hard to digest certain beans/chickpeas/lentils? This is why! The enzyme inhibitors give our body a hard time trying to digest this type of food … making us feel bloated, gassy and all the rest.
Why is sprouting good for us?
So by soaking and sprouting our legumes/grains, we turn them into living, nutrient rich plants once again! This process balances out the enzyme inhibitors and removes the physic acid, which makes the food a lot more digestible for our bodies and with a higher protein content.
More great news, throughout the sprouting process the legumes/beans literally come alive with nutrients - increasing the vitamin A, B, C by more than double, as well as creating phytochemicals , rich in calcium, iron and zinc!
Tips before you start sprouting:
*Some beans/grains/nuts will be easier to sprout than others. Some easy options to start with are brown/red lentils, mung beans & chickpeas.
*The sprouting time will completely depend on what beans/grains/nuts you are choose. Some will take 8 hours to sprout, whilst others can take a few days. It's easy to find all this information online.
*Certain nuts/beans cannot be sprouted (e.g. peanuts & kidney beans). Always check before you begin sprouting!
*If you're using really old beans/nuts, be warned that this may effect the likelihood of sprouting.
So now the fun part - how to make sprouts:
Sprouting in a jar
-The easiest thing for this is to buy a special sprouting jar (we bought ours on Amazon), but if not then an ordinary glass jar is fine! If opting for the latter, you will need to cover your jar top with a piece of fine cloth or muslin, securing with an elastic band.
1. Rinse your dried legumes/nuts/seeds in water. We usually sprout around 3-5 tablespoons at a time. Place in the jar, cover with water and leave to soak over night or for 12 hours (with the cloth covering the mouth of the jar).
2. After the soaking, drain the water from your jar (pouring the water through the cloth). Rinse the sprouts in water and drain again, leaving the cloth on throughout the process. Position the jar at an inverted angle so it can drain out any remaining water (we suggest using a dish rack). *Leave the jar out of direct sunlight*.
3. Repeat this rinse and drain process twice a day. After 1-3 days, you will will see little tails beginning to form on your sprouts!
4. Once your sprouts are ready, give them a final rinse and make sure all the water is fully drained off. They're now ready to eat, blend, cook and sprinkle on meals. Store them in the fridge in an airtight container - they will last around 4-5 days.
A word on Microgreens
Microgreens are similar to sprouts and equally as easy to make, however they are grown in soil and in an open air environment. They can be grown inside on a windowsill, or outside in your garden. Only the stems and leaves of the microgreens are eaten, and despite their small size they are extremely dense in nutrients & benefits!
*Some microgreens we've loved experimenting with have been mustard, chia, sunflower & watercress seeds.
How to grow Microgreens
You will need: a shallow tray/empty egg box OR patch of soil in your garden, seeds & some organic soil.
1. If growing inside, fill your tray with roughly 1 inch of soil, patting it out to make sure it's even.
2. Evenly scatter your seeds on the surface of the soil. It's best to be generous with the amount of seeds you use, as you will want to harvest a lot from each tray.
3. Spray the surface of the tray with water - the seeds need to be moist in order for them to germinate. *Leave in a sunny place - we put ours on a windowsill*
4. Continue to spray the seeds twice a day to ensure they stay moist. We normally water ours at breakfast & dinner time, just out of convenience. Depending on the seeds, the greens should be ready to harvest after 1-3 weeks.
5. Once grown to a couple of inches, trim the greens with scissors and rinse thoroughly. Your microgreens are now ready to use! We love to sprinkle ours on top of meals or mix into a salad for extra tastiness.
Have you ever tried sprouting or growing microgreens? We'd love to hear your experiences!