Friday, 13 June 2014

Sprouts Glorious Sprouts

I have long been a fan of sprouting and of course eating the wee baby plantlets as crispy yummy morsels. With the gift from a friend of some lentils and a 2 litre glass jar I began my sprouting adventures.

I started out with just the lentils and merrily sprouted 1/3 cup of dried lentils each time and added them madly to everything. On their own as a crisp fresh snack, as a substitute for rice, as an ingredient for soups and stews and in salads. I used them raw and when a hot meal was involved I just sterved the sauce over the lentils or stirred them in after the meal was removed from the heat.

I then spied mung beans in the dry produce section of the green grocers and invested in a bag. Upon reading up on the sprouting time for mung beans I discovooured thet they shared a similar germination period as the lentils and after a single sprout crop of 1/3 cup I simply mixed them together and enjoyed their twin delights of mixed mung and lentil sprouts.

During a sojourn in an asian grocer I managed to find dried adzuki beans and being the mad sprouter I immediately spotted the potential in their little red hearts as sprouts! again I invested in a bag and studied their sprouting times and again noted the similarities to both mung and lentils. I now had a trio of sprouts to grow and enjoy.

It wasn't long before I was enjoying a kilo of sprouts a week in so many and varied ways.

My new sprouter

It soon became time to invest in a more professional sprouting unit, but I was loath to invest in a unit of the size and space consumption as I saw on the spouting sites. With a diamtre of 45cm (approx) and the capacity that would far and above exceed even my mad ability to consume sprouts I didn't think I could justify the expense. I then found a unit half the size and cost and with the addition to my family of the delightful James who can help me eat my way through the kilos of sprouting potential I was ready to invest in this more modest unit.

I was also been gifted with organic mung beans, fenugreek and sunflower seeds by a beautiful E-sister and so my sprouting potential increased by adding fenugreek and sunflower microgreens to the menu.

Why Spouts?

pea shoot
Sprouts are the ultimate fast food, but you won't be sacrificing any nutrition. Alfalfa sprouts have more chlorophyll than spinach, kale, cabbage or parsley. Alfalfa, sunflower, clover and radish sprouts are all 4% Protein. Compare that to spinach - 3%, Romaine lettuce -1.5% and Iceberg lettuce- 0.8%, and milk -3.3%. These foods all have about 90% water. But meat and eggs are the protein foods for Americans. Meat is 19% and eggs are 13% protein (and 11% fat). But Soybean sprouts have 28% protein, and lentil and pea sprouts are 26%. Soybeans sprouts have twice the protein of eggs and only 1/10 fat the fat.

Grain and nut sprouts, such as wheat and sunflower, are rich in fats. While fats in flour and wheat germ have a reputation for going rancid quickly (stores should refrigerate them), fats in sprouts last for weeks. The valuable wheat germ oil in wheat sprouts is broken down into its essential fatty acid fractions over 50% of which is the valuable Omega 6. While sunflower oil is our finest source of omega 6, germination of the sunflower sprout micellizes the fatty acids into an easily digestible, water soluble form saving our body the trouble of breaking it down and simultaneously protecting us against the perils of rancidity. This is a great bonus for a sprout that is already popular for its crispness and nutty flavor.

Radish sprouts have 29 times more Vitamin C than milk (29mg vs 1mg) and 4 times the Vitamin A (391 IU vs 126). These spicy sprouts have 10 times more calcium than a potato (51mg vs 5mg) and contain more vitamin C than pineapple. If you examine what is happening during germination, it looks like a vitamin factory. While mature radishes contain 10 IU/100g of provitamin, the radish sprouts contain 391 IU, 39 times more! No wonder, sprout lovers say you can feel the vitamins!

Alfalfa, radish, broccoli, clover and soybean contain concentrated amounts of phytochemicals (plant compounds) that can protect us against disease. Canavanine, an amino acid analog present in alfalfa, demonstrates resistence to pancreatic, colon and leukemia cancers. Plant estrogens in these sprouts function similarly to human estrogen but without the side effects. They increase bone formation and density and prevent bone breakdown (osteoporosis). They are helpful in controlling hot flashes, menopause, PMS and fibrocystic breasts tumors.

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine researchers found substantial amounts of glucosinolates and isothiocyanates in broccoli sprouts which are very potent inducers of phase 2 enzymes that protect cells from going malignant. The sprouts contain 10-100 times higher levels of these enzymes than do the corresponding mature plants.

Alfalfa sprouts are one of our finest food sources of saponins. Saponins lower the bad cholesterol and fat but not the good HDL fats. Animal studies prove their benefit in arteriosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. Saponins also stimulate the immune system by increasing the activity of natural killer cells such as T- lymphocytes and interferon. The saponin content of alfalfa sprouts multiplies 450% over that of the unsprouted seed. Sprouts also contain an abundance of highly active antioxidants that prevent DNA destruction and protect us from the ongoing effects of aging. It wouldn't be inconceivable to find a fountain of youth here, after all, sprouts represent the miracle of birth.

Which Sprouts?

Lentil Sprouts Lentil sprouts are rich in protein, iron and vitamin C.  You can use them in salads with dulse (yum!), in sprout loaves, breads, and in green drinks.  They also go well with marinated vegetables or a super yummy lentil sprouts soup.

Fenugreek Sprouts
Fenugreek sprouts are rich in vitamins E, C, B and A, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, calcium, carotene, phytonutrients, chlorophyll, amino acids and protein.

Mung Bean Sprouts
Mung beans are rich in protein, vitamin C, folic acid or folate, iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium, copper, manganese, phosphorus & thiamine. Mung beans are also high in fibre, low in saturated fat, low in sodium, and contain no cholesterol.

Adzuki Bean Sprouts
Adzuki beans are about 25% protein and a rich source of lysine, amino acid. They contain all the amino acids except for tryptophan. Adzuki beans are also a rich source of iron, niacin and calcium.

Sunflower Sprouts
Sunflower sprouts are eaten as micro greens and snipped when small green leaflets are sprouted and these are almost 25% protein, contain vitamins A, D, E, and the B complex, provide incredible amounts of potassium, and are high in calcium, magnesium, and iron.

GREAT WAYS TO SERVE SPROUTS (and suggested varieties)

Add to tossed salads
Use in coleslaw (cabbage, clover, radish)
Try in potato salad (mung bean, lentil)
Try in wraps and roll-ups (alfalfa, sunflower, radish)
Stir-fry with other vegetables (alfalfa, clover, radish, mung bean, lentil)
Blend into fruit shakes or juices (cabbage, mung bean, lentil)
Blend with vegetable juices (cabbage, mung bean, lentil)
Replace celery in sandwich spreads (lentil, radish)
Mix with soft cheeses for a dip (mung bean, radish)
Grind up and use in sandwich spreads (lentil, radish)
Top grilled cheese sandwiches after grilling (alfalfa, clover)

Stir into soups or stews when serving (mung bean, lentil)
Mix into pancake or waffle batter (buckwheat)
Eat them fresh and uncooked in a sprout salad (salad mixes)
Top omelette or scrambled eggs (alfalfa, clover, radish)
Combine in rice dishes (fenugreek, lentil, mung bean)
Add to sushi (radish, sunflower)
Sauté with onions (mung bean, clover, radish)
Puree with peas or beans (mung bean, lentil)
Add to baked beans (lentil)
Steam and serve with butter (mung bean, lentil)
Use in sandwiches instead of lettuce (alfalfa, clover, radish)

Benefits of Sprouted Grain
Sprouted grain is fundamentally different from whole grain in three fundamental ways:
1. sprouting grain activates food enzymes;
2. sprouting grains increases vitamin content, and 3. sprouting grain neutralizes antinutrients like phytic acid which bind up minerals preventing your ability to fully absorb them.

When examining the nutrient density of sprouted wheat to unsprouted wheat on a calorie-per-calorie basis, you’ll find that sprouted wheat contains four times the amount of niacinand nearly twice the amount of vitamin B6 and folate as unsprouted wheat. Moreover, sprouted grain contains more protein and fewer starches than unsprouted grain and is lower on the glycemic index than its unsprouted counterpart.

Preparing Sprouted Grain While it may take a few days to sprout grain, it’s not as labor-intensive of a process as it might seem. All grains and seeds can be sprouted following these basic instructions. Sprouting time may vary from grain to grain. Take care to choose only organic, untreated grains as they tend to sprout more evenly. In our kitchen, we sprout several cups of seeds at a time; however, you can sprout smaller amounts depending on your needs and how you will be using the sprouted grain.

How to Sprout Grain
Start with clean grain, so take care in sorting through it to make sure all pebbles and grains with poor appearance are adequately removed.
Rinse grains thoroughly.
Add grain to a ceramic or stainless steel crock, pouring filtered water over the grain until the grain is completely submersed under several inches of water.
Soak the grains overnight.
In the morning, pour the grains into a fine mesh sieve and rinse them well.
Throughout the day, rinse the grains multiple times taking care to stir them so all grains are rinsed evenly.
Continue rinsing the grains for two to three days until the grains have sprouted to your liking.
Rinse the grains one last time, drain them and either refrigerate them or dehydrate them to grind into flour.

Care with Alfalfa
Please enjoy alfalfa sprouts in moderation. They are quite tasty, I used to eat a lot of them myself, but they contain canavanine, which is an amino acid. Our body thinks it is arginine, but can't use it. It really hinders arginine absorption. So don't eat the alfalfa sprouts every day. Clover tastes pretty much the same, and is a good substitute.

Please enjoy alfalfa responsibly.
Arginine and canavanine have similar structures. The body tries to incorporate canavanine into proteins/enzymes where arginine should go and you get a misfolded protein. Canavanine can cause lupus type systems.
Its relatively common in legumes, like alfalfa. Pigs refuse to eat foods high in canavanine. It seems human tastes do not even notice it.

Acknowledging information from Steve Meyerowitz, Sproutman®