by Randy Lee, N.D.
Recently, we have seen a resurgence of a popular food source that has been used for hundreds of years. Simply, it is the method of sprouting seeds and eating the young sprouts before the plants can grow to maturity. It is an easy process to do in the home kitchen, and enthusiasts point out that all the nutrients that will ever be found in these plants are stored in the seeds and available from the sprouts.
Ann Wigmore has written one of the most popular books on the subject, simply called The Sprouting Book. The first paragraph from the preface of her book states: “Sprouts, while inexpensive and easy to grow, afford one of the most concentrated but truly natural sources of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and amino acids (protein) known. They are also biogenic—alive— and capable of transferring their life energy to your body.”
Many commercial sprouting containers are available for purchase, such as sprouting jars, tray-type sprouters and sprouting bags, but one of the simplest ways to get started is to use an ordinary wide-mouthed, glass quart canning jar with a nylon screen mesh (such as a piece of pantyhose) over the opening. Fill the jar half full with water and soak the seeds for several hours. Then turn the jar up at a 45-degree angle with the opening at the bottom and allow the seeds to drain. Rinse the seeds a couple of times each day and return the jar to the partially inverted position and watch them sprout. In a day or two (or slightly more, depending on the type of seeds), the sprouts will be ready to eat.
What kinds of seeds work best for sprouting? Some of the more popular seeds are mung beans, sunflower, sesame, alfalfa, radish, clover, broccoli, wheat berries, lentils, and even almonds. Most health food stores will also have commercial combinations with exotic names, like “sprouting spree” or “five-bean mix,” which will have instructions printed on them with an average time needed to get the sprouts ready for the table.
Once the sprouts are table-ready, they can be used in many ways. Try adding bean sprouts to a stir-fry or a Mongolian barbecue. They are also tasty uncooked on a sandwich. One can find sprouts already prepared in many grocery stores, with names like “sandwich mix,” indicating that the blend of seeds sprouted were selected for a “deli-icious” treat.
But those that really get into sprouting also use sprouts to make their own cheeses; concoct healthy beverages, juices and smoothies; prepare delicious breads, soups and salads; and create main entrees and desserts. The healthful uses of sprouts are endless, and they are even beneficial for pets.
Books on the subject of sprouting point out many of the health benefits of eating sprouts, from controlling diseases to aiding in dieting to improving one’s sex life to slowing the aging process. It’s a quick and easy (as well as tasty) way to add vital vitamins, minerals, enzymes and other nutrients to the diet.
Sprouting can also be a fun and educational family activity. Because the seeds sprout quickly, kids don’t have to wait long to watch them grow. Some of the growth takes place so quickly that the sprouts will “jump” in the containers and become a joy to watch. Add to this the fact that sprouting is an inexpensive way to feed the family, and you have a winning combination.
Wigmore concludes her preface with these words: “In more ways than one, sprouts are food for a new generation. Aren’t you ready for economic savings, renewed health and vigor, and the variety and great taste of sprouts—the unique, life-giving food?” Sprouts are a great addition to a healthier diet plan for a summer bounty—and all year long.
Randy Lee is a naturopathic doctor and owner of The Health Patch, located at 1024 S. Douglas Blvd., Midwest City. For more information, call 405-736-1030, email PawPaw@TheHealthPatch.com or visit PromoteYourHealth.com.