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What is sprouting?
Okay, so it might sound weird, but stay with me. Sprouting, contrary to what the name suggests, doesn’t involve the overcooked brussel variety, getting knee deep in soil or some kind of aesthetically displeasing ailment. Thank God. Sprouting simply involves eating the sprouted seeds of plants, rather than growing them or grinding them into a flour before munching.
And you don’t even have to go trawling the processed-food packed supermarkets to benefit from these health-boosting superfoods. You can grow your own quickly and simply, even in an apartment! The benefits of raw foods really do know no bounds.
Here’s why you should give it a grow (ha), and everything you’ll need to start sprouting like a superstar!
Learn about how to sprout, what can you sprout, the benefits of sprouting and how to use sprouts.
The health benefits of sprouts
So why do it?
Sprouts are superfoods.
Biologists say that young plants achieve maximum nutrition density in the first 5-10 days, and are jam-packed with vitamins, minerals, proteins and enzymes: everything the plant needs to grow. Raw sprouts are quite literally full of chlorophyll, the energy they take in from the sun.
Eating this energy, then, will fill your body with the energy it needs to thrive, and with heightened vitamins and minerals, you’ll be smashing the day like a boss. Just be careful about looking too energetic. ‘No, officer, I’m not high. It’s just my sprouts. Want one?’
Dr Eric Berg explains how sprouting a seed and eating it, rather than growing it or grinding it, releases way more of its nutrients. In fact, broccoli sprouts contain 285% more vitamin A, 208% more B1 and a crazy 515% more B2, as well as way more potassium and calcium. Not only that, but the protein content is 30% higher, compared with adult, grown broccoli. These proteins are converted into amino acids: the building blocks of our bodies.
Another pretty glaring health benefit is that sprouts grown at home are completely organic. Unlike supermarket veggies which, unless organic, have most likely been sprayed with a whole host of pesticides and insecticides, all you’re getting when you eat homegrown sprouts, or any fruits and veggies for that matter, is the food. No toxic chemicals in sight.
Considering that even small doses of pesticides can have detrimental effects on our health, especially during childhood, sprouting at home is a great, and super cheap, way of giving your body the goodness it’ll love. And with so many enzymes (100x more than other raw fruits and veggies, in fact) and an increased fiber content filling your cells, your digestive system will be given a well-earned break, and help it to work much more effectively.
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So not only will you be giving your body a health boost, but you’ll also be saving the environment. No harsh chemicals or transport are needed for your salad, you world-saving superhero sprouter, you! Next Marvel film, anyone?
What Can I Sprout?
Whilst there are loads of options for sprouting, here are the main ones I think you should definitely give a go. And don’t worry about them not being fully raw. As they’re living foods and haven’t been cooked, they’re completely suitable for raw vegan diets, and a must for many.
Alfalfas sprouts are packed full of minerals such as phosphorous, calcium, magnesium iron and potassium, as well as various B vitamins, vitamin C and A. They’re great in salads, (raw) sandwiches and soups!
Mung bean sprouts are an excellent source of protein and contain a whole host of awesome vitamins and minerals: vitamin C, B6, iron, riboflavin, copper and potassium.
Sunflower seed sprouts are great for fertility: they’re full of zinc, B vitamins and folic acid. They also contain high levels of vitamin E and protein.
Plenty of fiber, carbs (to fuel your body) and vitamin C are packed into these little superfoods. They’re great to eat pre-workout.
Whilst cooked lentils contain phytic acid, which can be difficult for the body to break down and digest, this acid is neutralized when lentils are sprouted. With sprouted lentils containing loads of B vitamins, vitamin C and carotene, you’re getting the max benefit of these little legume powerhouses by eating them this way.
With a lovely earthy, peppery taste, broccoli sprouts contain a high level of vitamin K, fiber and protein. They can prevent signs of ageing and they’re great for the heart and the immune system. Not bad for a seed!
Eating pea sprouts gives you a powerful mix of antioxidants, minerals, enzymes and vitamins, which have an alkalizing effect on the body. This can help fight disease. Shame this isn’t advertised on TV like all the pharmaceutical companies are, really!
How to use sprouts
One of the best things about sprouts is their versatility. They’re super easy to grow, super easy to use, and you’ll feel super after eating them. Have I mentioned that I like them?
So how do you incorporate them into your raw vegan diet?
- Munch them on their own, as stereo typically raw vegan as this might be!
- Jazz up a salad with them, like this super fresh kale and avocado dish or this textured bean sprout salad
- Whip up a sprouted chickpea hummus (I know, right – fancy!) and spread it on some delish cheesy almond rosemary crackers – certainly one for a dinner party
- And probably a more unusual use – blend up a deliciously creamy raw vegan broccoli sprout smoothie! And before you run for the hills, don’t panic. There’s only half a cup of sprouts in the smoothie, along with super sweet raw delights, like bananas, pineapple, strawberries, and the Holy Grail, medjool dates. And, relax.
How to sprout!
I hope I’ve convinced you at this point to give sprouting a go. As odd as it might sound initially, it’s incredibly satisfying to produce your own organic food so easily, and given that they’re nutritional powerhouses, you don’t even need many to access the benefits!
Here’s my guide to how to sprout!
Step 2: Choose your seeds! They’re easily accessible online.
Step 3: Soak your chosen seeds in water for 8-10 hours.
Step 4: Give the seeds a rinse through your sprouting lid twice a day.
Step 5: Drain the water after every rinse.
Step 6: After about 4 days, your sprouts should be ready to be munched!
Step 7: Marvel at how fun sprouting actually is.
Step 8: Try all of the different seeds and become the slickest sprouter in town. Which shouldn’t be difficult, because you’re probably the only one; it’s the most underrated nutrition practice out there! Do feel free to go door to door, singing sprouting’s praises and offering free samples. Cos that wouldn’t be weird…
There are also loads of videos online with great explanations on how to sprout! Take a look at raw vegan Lissa’s guide to sprouting lentils and peas!
Best Equipment for Sprouting
And to get started, you’ll need just a few bits of easy-to-get-your-hands-on equipment. Here are some of my faves:
So to sprout, you’re gonna need some seeds, and, like with all food, organic is always best. This pack of 12 certified organic sprouting seeds contains the most popular seed mixes, and about 2 ounces of each. From Rainbow Bean Mix and Hi Power Protein Mix to Wisdom Blend and Tasty Broccoli, it’s a great starter pack, and will provide hours of sprouting fun! Please refer back to step 7 of my handy guide to sprouting, if this doesn’t sound legit just yet.
This awesome Deluxe Kitchen 4 tray seed sprouter makes sprouting several varieties of bean or legume at once a doddle. It’ll ensure the seeds don’t clump, like they might do in a regular jar, and your sprouts will be ready in 3-5 days. It doesn’t get easier than this! And this nifty bit of kit will make you like a seasoned sprouting pro. Don’t worry; I won’t tell…
Okay, so I clearly lied when I said it doesn’t get easier than this. It does. This Automatic Sprouter, although more expensive, will quite literally do all the work for you. Its barrels are BPA-free, has an automatic watering system and you can even adjust the water pressure. It’s like all my birthdays have sprouted at once!
If you’re not yet ready for super fancy automatic sprouters, this sprouting jar is great for those new to sprouting, (which is starting to sound like some kind of Olympic sport). It not only comes with certified organic seeds and a BPA free lid, but it explains exactly how to grow your seeds on the side, in 3 easy steps. There’s no excuse not to give it a go!
Of course, you don’t necessarily need a sprouting jar. It’s super easy to create your own with a mason jar (like these!) and a sprouting lid, like this one. BPA free, and fitting most mason or wide mouth jars, it’s the perfect addition to the sprouting superstar’s arsenal! It even comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
As is the case with all food, just be careful with mold. Considering most food on the Standard American Diet is packed full of additives and preservatives, some veggies included, food with none of these dangerous chemicals in it is likely to go ‘off’ quicker. The same principle applies to all raw food: if it looks anything but beautiful and fresh, compost it instead!
So there we have it: how to sprout guide!
It’s clear that sprouting is super beneficial, super easy, and super awesome. If you’re still a little dubious, give it a go, and discover a whole new world of organic-veggie-growing-fun!
And if you do decide that taking them round to your neighbors to spread the seed joy is a good idea, take care to make it obvious that it’s just veggies, and not something slightly more… illegal. I can’t be held responsible for seed-based arrests, unfortunately.