A Shout-Out to Sprouts!
Is there anything more nutritionally dense than a sprout? I don’t think so…and that’s why I want you to have this primer to learn how to make them yourself at home.
When you take seeds and soak them in water, they will start to germinate, grow a plant, and that first step in the process creates a sprout. Sprouts consist of the seed base, a stem, and finally the beginning of a leaf structure.
Since seeds contain a lot of energy and germination-fueling food to create a new plant, they are rich in nutrients and a wonderful food source. Also, since they are germinated in water and not in soil, they can easily be eaten whole, though you still want to rinse them under running water. When eaten raw, you can benefit from all of their vitality, including water-soluble vitamins and enzymes that may otherwise be lost if they are cooked.
Cruciferous vegetables are an amazing group of plants that include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, watercress, bok choy, radish, and wasabi, among others. They contain phytochemicals, which produce mycotoxins to protect themselves when the plant feels it is being attacked, like when we eat them. In the case of broccoli, there is a chemical called glucoraphanin that sits in the plant, along with an enzyme called myrosinase.
When the plant is attacked, or in our case, eaten, it combines the two and creates something called sulforaphane. At that point, our bodies react to those toxins through an amazing process called hormesis, an immune response that releases very potent antioxidants that are naturally produced and stored in our bodies.
Sprouts contain around 100X the glucoraphanin of mature broccoli, so with sprouts you get a lot of nutritional bang for your buck, they are easily grown, taste unique, and are a wonderful superfood.
What are some of the benefits of sulforaphane?
Easy Way to Sprout:
- Put 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons of seeds in a quart mason jar and add a few cups of water, then place in a dark space for at least 6-8 hours. Use a large mouth jar and cap it off with a screened cap, not a sealed cover. The seeds need air as they sprout. If you don’t have the screened screw-on caps you can use a rubber band with cheesecloth or a piece of window screening, but Amazon has a variety of screened caps.
- For the next 4 days, you need to rinse the seeds at least 1-2 times a day. Drain them completely and return to the dark, usually storing the jar tilted upside down (at a 45-degree angle) to keep any water drained. They need to be in a humid environment, but not damp. Shake the seeds around so they are not clumped together and have space to breathe around the jar. Around day 2 or 3 you should see the seeds breaking open and growing small tails. Continue with the rinse and well-drained process.
- On day 4 or 5 you can rinse and leave them in indirect sunlight so they can start turning from yellow to green. You should see leaves starting to form and the sunlight will activate the chlorophyll forming process.
- On day 5 you can rinse again and place in a well-lit area.
- When you are ready to harvest, place the sprouts in a large bowl, and fill it with water, rinsing them thoroughly to separate the seed husks from the sprouts. Some will float to be skimmed off and others will settle at the bottom, so do this rinsing process 2 or 3 times. The sprouts can then be bagged and refrigerated for up to 5 days when they will then be losing a significant amount of their nutrients and need to be thrown away. Otherwise, you can bag and freeze them for future use.
Another method is to use sprouting trays–this is what I use.
They are basically circular and stackable trays with slots to drain the water while holding the seeds, a portion of them in each tray. Water them at least twice a day for 4 days. On day 5 you should have some pretty good growth and then rinse them out in a bowl as before to separate out the hulls. Sprouting trays are easily found in stores or on Amazon and probably have their own directions for use.
The flavor of the sprouts can be a bit spicy for some but have a wonderful flavor on their own for many. Eat them fresh in salads or on sandwiches instead of lettuce, or you can also freeze them and they will retain all their nutrients if you won’t be eating them within 3-4 days. Add them in your smoothie for a wonderful nutrient boost, but do not make your smoothie with milk! Cow milk contains casein which binds with the sulforaphane and hinders the absorption of that vital nutrient.
Use almond milk, coconut milk or water and enjoy!
Looking for a way to kick up the health factor in your smoothies? Consider one of our Perfect Paleo Protein flavors.