I usually think of sprouts as the ultimate hippie food. They always make me think of communal kitchens filled with barefoot, rosy-cheeked, hemp-wearing earth lovers, or at least California in the ’70s.
They are super-duper easy to make and if you’re thinking of buying this Williams-Sonoma sprouter kit for $16, rest assured, you very likely don’t even need to spend a dime. If you want to sprout legumes or grains and you have a plate, a colander, and a dish towel, you’re all set!
I also think making sprouts would be a fun thing to do with kids, watching them break open and grow in such a short time 🙂
Health Benefits of Sprouts
It came as a surprise when I finally learned that sprouts aren’t just a crunchy addition to vegetarian avocado sandwiches. In fact, there are tons of great reasons to eat sprouts, the least of which is that they might make you feel like wearing peace signs 🙂
One of the most significant benefits to sprouting legumes and grains is it makes them more digestible. That’s because the sprouting process neutralizes enzyme inhibitors, therefore keeping the enzymes crucial for digestibility intact.
Sprouts are a living, raw food, full of essential enzymes, protein, oxygen, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They are alkalizing, which means they help to reduce the damaging effects of an acidic diet and lifestyle. And they are loaded with chlorophyll, which helps to keep the blood strong and rich.
What Should You Sprout?
Certain beans, including kidney beans and soybeans, should not be eaten raw because they can be toxic. But if you cook them before eating ’em, you’re good to go, so sprout away!
I’ve also heard that some people have more difficulty digesting sprouted lentils… but I personally have had the opposite reaction (easier digestibility), so take that for what it’s worth.
Sally Fallon, author of Nourishing Traditions, says not to eat alfalfa sprouts because they inhibit the immune system and cause inflammatory reactions. I can’t imagine alfalfa sprouts are that terrible for you, but I’m not a food scientist and can’t prove otherwise. Still, I stay away.
My favorite beans to sprout are mung beans. I also like sprouted chickpeas (and making homemade hummus from them) and lentils of any color. I buy these all in bulk for very cheap and they last a long time ~ a small amount of beans makes a big amount of sprouts!
How to Make Sprouts
There are several guides available online to help you figure out the best soaking and sprouting times for various legumes and grains. The Dietary Seed Sprouting Guide is a good one, but I think the best resource out there is Sprout People. I’m no sprouting guru (just kind of a hippie), so if you want more solid information than what I’m giving you here, definitely check out what Sprout People have to say! Their website is extremely useful and user-friendly!
Below is my method for sprouting mung beans. It’s simple, straightforward, and easy enough for a kid to do. If you have other methods you like, please share them in the comments!
- 1 cup dry mung beans
- 3 cups water
- 1 large bowl
- 1 colander
- 1 medium-sized plate with raised edges or a bowl that the colander fits in
- a large dish towel
- Rinse the mung beans well and drain. Put the beans in the bowl and cover with the water. Allow to soak overnight.
- In the morning, pour the beans into the colander and rinse and drain them well.
- Put the colander on the plate so it can continue to drain.
- Cover the top of the colander with the dish towel. Make sure the holes on the side of the colander aren’t covered up, so the sprouts can “breathe.”
- Keep the covered colander in a cool, dark spot. Don’t refrigerate it. A dark corner of your kitchen is good. Make sure you put it away from where curious pets can get into it! 🙂
- At lunchtime, or after work, rinse and drain the beans again. Do this once more before bed.
- With mung beans, you’ll be able to see them cracking open by the next morning.
- Continue the drain-and-rinse cycle 3 times a day for the next few days. Depending how long you want your sprout tails, they’ll be ready in 3-5 days!
- When the sprouts are ready, rinse them a final time and then keep them in a covered container in the refrigerator. They’ll last a few days and are an excellent addition to salads and sandwiches for the rest of the week! Enjoy!
Do you ever make sprouts?
If so, what’s your favorite food to sprout?