Sprouting…a how-to guide

30 May

In my previous post, Luscious Legumes, I mentioned the important source of protein that legumes provide in a vegan and vegetarian diet.  In that post I touched on the different preparation methods.  Since there is so much more to learn about this, I wanted to do more research and share my findings with you.  Soaking and sprouting has many health benefits and is easy to do, it just takes a little bit of prior thought and preparation. 

While I have used the soaking method before, this was my first time trying to sprout.  I wanted to share with you both my research and personal experience.  Of course, the internet has a wealth of information so you can do your own further research and become an expert if you choose!


Soaking

All raw nuts, seeds, grains and legumes naturally contain phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors, making them difficult to digest.  Phytic acid is produced to protect and nourish the embryo by keeping the nutrients locked inside.  The role of the enzyme inhibitors is to protect the plants from predators.  An accumulation of these inhibitors can affect your protein absorption. 

Since enzymes are the key to digestion, it is important to break down these acids and enzyme inhibitors.  Soaking these foods changes their state from dormant to live and easier to digest, allowing you to absorb the maximum amount of nutrients.

How to do this:

To begin the process, simply rinse with filtered water and then place them in a glass or ceramic container (refrain from using plastic here as you don’t want any of it to leach into the soaking water).  Fill the container with filtered water, leaving enough water at the top to allow for them to absorb some of the water.  Adding 1-2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar at this stage will aid in the breakdown of the phytic acid. 

The soaking time is going to depend on the density of the nut or seed you are using.  I used green lentils and soaked them for about 24 hours.  During that time I changed the soaking water one time as you should with anything that has a longer soaking time. 

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Here are some approximate times for other foods.  Remember that the longer you can soak them the better.

Legumes – 24 – 36 hours

Grains – 12 – 24 hours

Most nuts – 8 – 12 hours

Small seeds – 4-6 hours

After the soaking process, drain, rinse and store.  Nuts will need to be dried after which can be done either in a dehydrator or in your oven on the lowest setting.


 

Sprouting

It is soaking that brings the plant to life and sprouting completes the cycle.  Sprouting actually creates a transformation of the enzymes in the plant and it becomes the most concentrated form of nutrients.  Going through this extra process also allows you to eat the grain and legumes raw, enjoying their full nutritional benefits.

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How to do this:

When your grain, nut, bean or seed is done soaking, drain the liquid and rinse well.  Place them in a jar covered with cheesecloth, place at an angle and store in a dark place.  Rinse and drain about every 12 hours.  After the first day you should start to see small sprouts starting to grow.  In about 1-4 days they should be ready.  I began to see my lentils sprout in 2 days (pictured below), but ended up leaving them for 4 days.

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Your sprouted beans, grains or seeds should be eaten within 2-3 days.  You can enjoy them in salads and soups or on sandwiches.

Happy sprouting!

 

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