As I rode the elevator with my girlfriend, her stomach grumbled and I questioned what she ate for lunch. Her response surprised me, “I know! Everytime I eat my black bean and quinoa burger I get the rumbles!” It lead me to wonder what is it about beans and other good stuff like quinoa that makes our digestive system unhappy. What I found was a whole new world of food options, and ones that will make your tummy happy all while taking in a VERY healthy dose of vitaminC!
Sprouts. Yes, that’s right, all of those delicious foods that will grow a tail when you care for them. And sprouts aren’t just limited to your summertime subs and salads with your go to (at least for me) alfalfa sprouts. You can sprout beans (so many kinds), quinoa, corn, almonds, oats, radishes, lentils, sunflowers and believe it or not, things like wheat, and rye (we’ll get to those in a bit) and more.
Sprouting is so easy. It just takes a little routine and time (10 minutes twice daily), and you reap the health benefits of this natural process. When sprouted, oats increase in folic acid, B2, and B6, and we’re not talking small amounts either, by 600, 1300 and 500 percent respectively. Remember that friend I was talking about? Sprouting will help her, too.
Sprouting quinoa and beans prior to cooking them will help take care of the starches that cause bellies to rum- ble. Sprouting will also aid in reduction of phytic acid (antinutrient), an acid that can cause digestive issues as well as limits the body’s absorption of minerals such as zinc, iron and calcium. And for converts to the veggie side, sprouted beans can help make up for that lost meaty taste.
Sprouting brown rice can be a big benefit to mothers. According to WholeGrainsCouncil.org, “Forty-one breastfeeding Japanese motherswere randomly divided into two groups, one eating white rice and the other sprouted brown rice, for two weeks. When psychological and immune tests were administered to both groups, the sprouted brown rice group was found to have decreased scores of depression, anger, hostility, and fatigue, and a significant increase in sigA levels, indicating better immune system function.” It seems that the health benefits of sprouting go on and on!
The best part about sprouting is it’s easy! Don’t let trying to find a place to keep sprouts keep you away from trying to sprout your own food. You don’t have to have a cellar or room in a dark pantry either! Keeping sprouts in the dark isn’t necessary and it may only lead to you forgetting about them! Keep them in a place where you’ll remember them, and if your kids are old enough, where they can help you,too.
You’ll want some sort of food grade container, (jars with lids, or even bowls with a plate as a cover can be used), a few pounds of seeds (untreated and organic if available), and filtered water. Put ¼ cup of seeds in your container, fill it with water, and cover (2-3 parts water to 1 part seed). Letting this sit overnight or all day is the first step in the process. The next step is rinsing and this is the step you will repeat twice daily. Make it easy and repeatable. I have a stainless steel strainer that I use. I put my sprouts in the strainer and run water over them for a goodrinse.
Once this is done I put them back in the container, without water, and cover. I will rinse these new little plants twice daily (once in the morning and once in the evening) for three days.
After the third day move the container to your refrigerator and use them within a week. Remember that not all seeds will grow a tail. Nuts like al- monds need a short time to“come alive” and would need to be cracked open to see the sprout. Flax and Chia are mucilaginous and will gel up after getting wet. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be used for sprouting, it just means the use for them is different.
Now remember I said we’d get to those wonderful grains that make flour? Listen up, gluten free gals, it’s possible sprouting could change your life! Sprouting grains like wheat, barley, and rye can help break down the proteins, like gluten, which can make it easier for our bodies to digest. (If you’re completely gluten free due to a high intolerance this probably won’t take care of your intolerance.) Due to how grains are grown, milled, and stored for long periods of time, they tend to become rancid quickly, which lessens the nutritional value and makes them harder to digest.
Grains also contain phytic acid, the antinutrient, which in the case of grains (as well as seeds, beans and nuts) interferes with the enzymes that help digest our foods. So when we sprout our whole grains and dry them at a very low temperature the food we make with them will be less prone to rancidity. The pro- cess is the same as sprouting seeds in the initial steps. And don’t forget you can taste your sprouts (any of them) at any time during the sprouting pro- cess. They’re alive and will change in taste and texture but because the sprouts are without their enzyme inhibitors they’ll digest themselves.
When you’ve completed the rinse on your third day, you’ll want to let it drain completely and then move your grains to a food dehydrator on the lowest setting until completely dry. If you don’t have a dehydrator you’ll want to set the grains on screens and dry them using a fan. After the grain is completely dry you can grind it into flour in a food processor. You can also use the grains wet by creating a puree and modifying your bread recipes, but you’ll want to shorten the sprouting process to just the first soak and first day of rinsing.
If this process for making your own sprouted flour seems a little intense you can purchase sprouted flours from Shiloh Farms. And if you want to skip the baking process altogether Silver Hills Bakery sells sprouted flour breads.
Whether you want to get rid of those belly aches and grumbles you get af- ter eating foods like quinoa, or you’re looking to add nutritional value to some of the least expensive foods available, becoming a kitchen sink farmer by sprouting your own food is easy and so very good for you!