Naturally, we’d all love to have the best quality, organic vegetables and fruits. To make sure it’s really that great though, it would be best to grow your own, right? But that’s not really an option for everyone (teeny tiny apartment without a balcony anyone?).
Even if you happen to own a garden, the winter months are fairly gardening unfriendly. Besides getting a few herb plants (that can even fit on my window, yay!), sprouting is a wonderful option for the colder part of the year!
Actually, when you think about it, sprouting is perfect for any time of the year. You don’t need a lot of space or time for it either.
What’s so great about sprouting?
First of all, the mere miracle of that little bean or seed coming to life and growing and growing like crazy is absolutely fascinating. Seriously, think about it – a little watercress seed grows into a 2 or even 3 inch plant in just ONE week. It’s totally awesome!
If you don’t want to get all that philosophical, you might want to focus on the nutritional and health benefits sprouts undoubtedly have. When a bean, grain or seed begins to grow, several complex processes occur inside of it transforming its nutritional qualities. That is catapulting these qualities to a whole new level.
The difference between a mung bean and a mung bean after sprouting
This graphic is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Also folate, vitamin E, thiamin, potassium, vitamin B6, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus or pantothenic acid show much higher levels in mung bean sprouts as opposed to the same amount of calories of non-sprouted beans.
On top of that, sprouted legumes are much more easily digested than cooked ones. During the sprouting process, phytic acid (hard to digest) gets broken down and several enzymes are released which further help your digestion.
Why should you be sprouting yourself?
Of course, you can buy already sprouted watercress or beans if you don’t want to take the time doing it yourself. Unfortunately, these sprouts are outrageously expensive and unless you buy organic, there can be all kinds of added chemicals.
By doing it on your own, you can get the same value for a fraction of your money and know exactly what went into the sprouts you put in your salad, sandwich or a stir fry.
No worries, you need no special equipment, just a shallow dish with an even surface, a couple paper towels and water. And whatever you want to sprout of course :) There are some sprouting dishes out there but you don’t have to buy these unless you really want to.
And the time you’ll need to grow this nutritional miracle? 5 minutes to put it all together and then 2 minutes a day, tops.
What can you sprout?
All kinds of things! Seeds such as alfalfa, watercress or even chia are the obvious choice. Then also all kinds of beans and other legumes: mung, adzuki, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils…. They just need to be whole and raw (so not precooked or halved).
Some grains or pseudograins sprout quite well too; buckwheat would be a good choice for instance. Again, the grain needs to be raw and whole.
And last but not least – nuts! Unfortunately, most nuts you can buy are not raw, so they won’t sprout per se. But even soaking nuts makes them more digestible (for recommended soaking times see this handy chart on Vegetarian Times). If you happen to find raw almonds for example, you should be able to sprout them though.
Sprouting step by step
Shown on watercress and adzuki beans
- Put your “sproutable” of choice in a bowl, cover with water and let sit overnight. Skip this step if sprouting seeds!
- Choose a shallow dish with an even surface; pick an appropriate size so that the seeds/legumes… can be spread in one layer.
- Cover the bottom of the dish with 3-5 layers of paper towels and pour water over them, so that they are wet but there is hardly any excess water above the towels.
- Drain your “sproutable” of choice (skip in case of seeds) and spread on top of these towels.
- Keep the towels wet, I sprinkle or spray them with water once or twice a day (depends on temperature and humidity, just make sure the towel don’t dry up).
- Repeat step 5 until you’re happy with the size of your sprouts, I typically sprout my seeds and beans for a week until I eat them.
- Remove the sprouts, rinse and consume right away or store in the fridge in a clean dish for up to 3 days. (In case of seeds, cut the sprouts right above the seed with scissors). You can also use up some of the sprouts during the week and let the leftover ones grow a bit more, that way you keep a more steady supply. I start munching on them from about day 5, you’ll see some sprout faster than others so I eat those up :)
See? Easy, right? So go soak those beans and get sprouting!
You can add your sprouts to salads, sandwiches, spreads or even stir fries. I love to add them into pretty much anything or even snack on them the way they are.
Note: Make sure you keep your sprouting “equipment” clean to prevent development of harmful bacteria and consume your sprouts within 2-3 days (stored in a refrigerator).
My favorite recipe with sprouts is this quinoa bowl with cashew cheese pate!
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase via these links, I earn a small commission that helps me run this blog while the price for your remains the same.