Sprout for Your Health
Canadians are increasingly interested in three key eating habits: local food, healthy food and DIY food!
A Sprout for All Seasons
Sprouting ticks all of these boxes, not to mention it’s easy and affordable. Plus, it’s easy to sprout from the comfort of your own kitchen all year round. Keep an eye out for sprouting kits and tips on how to sprout at your health food retailer.
Sprouting is a safe and nutritious way to add veggies to your diet. However, there are some important safety considerations to ensure your sprouts are free from harmful bacteria. Be sure to take precautionary measures including: buying certified “pathogen-free” seeds; using sterilized containers for sprouting; and storing your sprouts in a clean, refrigerated airtight container once they’ve sprouted. Children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems should speak with their health care practitioner before consuming fresh sprouts.
What are the Health Benefits of Eating Sprouts?
Whether you buy sprouts or germinate your own at home, there are many to choose from that provide terrific health and culinary benefits.
Generally speaking, one of the big advantages of sprouts is that they are low in calories and fats, but high in digestible protein and essential vitamins and minerals. Almost any seed or grain can be sprouted with a little moisture, resulting in a crisp root tendril and colourful leaflet. The most common seeds used for sprouting are alfalfa, broccoli, lentils and the beautiful red-tinged sprout of radish seeds.
By allowing the seed or grain to sprout, or “germinate,” nutrients naturally present in the seed are liberated. Vitamins and minerals usually locked away in the dried seed are activated during sprouting, which then allows our body to access and absorb these nutrients. In addition, sprouted foods retain a high vitamin and mineral content that many foods lose through processing.
One of our favourite sprouts is the widely studied mung bean, a tiny green bean commonly grown in India and other Asian countries. Just one cup of mung bean sprouts can provide a substantial portion of the daily iron intake required by adults for healthy red blood cells and blood pressure.
How You can Incorporate Sprouting in Your Healthy Habits
Because of the nutritional benefits and rise in popularity of sprouting, this technique is now being used in a wide variety of other products available at your health food retailer. For example, sprouted flours can add a health boost to your baking, while a vegan sprouted protein powder can help you recover after an intense workout.
On their own, sprouts can be added to salads and sandwiches or used as a garnish on soup. You can even blend them into a smoothie for a hit of protein, vitamins and minerals.
Again, if you’re going to sprout at home, make sure you do it safely. Remember to rinse the seeds, beans or grains regularly and follow these steps for an optimal sprouting experience.
The Sprouting Process
- To soak, place the seeds, beans or grains in a Mason jar with filtered water. For the top, use a sprouting lid, sprouting screen or a cheese cloth fitted snuggly around the rim with an elastic band.
- During the sprouting process you will need to drain the water and rinse the seeds, beans or grains. This process needs to be done two to three times a day until they are fully sprouted.
- Once sprouted, rinse the sprouts thoroughly, drain the excess water and place the jar in direct sunlight for about an hour. The sunshine will help them “green up” and evaporate the remaining moisture.
- Once the sprouts have savoured their time in the sun, they will need to be refrigerated and enjoyed within two to three days.
- Sprouted beans with their softened texture are great in soups and dips like hummus, while sprouted seeds and grains are delicious in wraps, salads and even smoothies.