SPROUTING SEEDS- the why and how of it

Why sprout or soak?

Many people find it difficult to digest grains and seeds, especially when made into bread, cakes, or dishes containing these items. Some of the common side effects include flatulence, indigestion, bloating and heaviness. This is how sprouting seeds can help you.

Without getting into too much boring detail grains and seeds contain an enzyme inhibitor which is what helps them to lay dormant when they are not germinating in the soil. They also contain phytic acid (a phosphorus bound organic compound) in the outer layer and a varitey of other chemicals stopping them from being eaten by mammals. Phytic acid also reacts with other chemicals in your system like calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc and inhibits their absorption in your gut.

Simply soaking neutralises the enzyme inhibitors present in dry grains and seeds by breaking down the phytic acid. As little as seven hours soaking can do this. Soaking, fermenting and sprouting also helps break down gluten and other proteins into simpler molecules and makes it much easier to digest. those who are sensitive to these compounds can eat bread and other baked products that have been made from flour that has been treated this way. They also contain significant amounts of bio-available zinc, calcium and iron.

Sprouts are a living, enzyme rich food naturally low in calories. Their vitamin A content will usually double and various B group vitamins will be up to 5-10 times higher as will vitamin C.sprouting_seeds

Which are the best to sprout?

Any seed or grain can be sprouted. Legumes can also be sprouted but from my reading its best to avoid these if you are a novice as a lot of them retain the chemicals and will give nasty side effects. If you still want to try legumes only sprout chickpeas and make sure they are fresh.

The smaller seeds are best to start with, things like sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and quinoa and quick and easy to do. Each take a different amount of time to germinate but each producing good results. I started with quinoa and sunflower seeds and both have given terrific results.

How do I do this?

Quite simply pick through the seeds and take out anything discoloured, mouldy, broken or disfigured. Then wash them thoroughly and place them in a bowl of filtered water to soak. The time it takes to soak will depend in the seed, small ones like vegetable seeds and quinoa should only take four hours whereas bigger seeds like kidney beans need a full 12 hours.

After this, strain out the liquid but keep them damp. Place them in a sieve in a bowl and rinse them a few times a day to wash them. It won’t take long until you see lovely little shoots appearing on your seeds! They are ready when the root (not the shoot which is longer) is the length of the seed.

Several factors effect sproutability.

  • freshness of the seeds
  • whether the seeds are broken, discoloured, mouldy or chemically treated
  • the waters pH, mineral and salt content
  • the water’s temperature (cold climate grains like oats can even be sprouted in the refrigerator!

Take care!

Bacterial contamination can be hazardous in seed sprouting. The fine root structures can harbour microorganisms and some have rough surfaces which bacteria cling to. When sprouting at home, look for seeds that have been prepared for this purpose (look in the health food shop for packaged seeds marked for sprouting. Take care when preparing them and spend time sifting through the seeds looking for discoloured ones.

Why not try starting with quinoa and make my fantastic raw coconut lime quinoa salad.IMG_20130603_184901

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