Lentil sprouts

Whether you are looking for a mini-project to do with the kids this summer, looking to do some simple gardening in your kitchen or you are just looking for an easy way to integrate fresh nutrient-packed foods into your diet, sprouting is for you!

What are sprouts and why eat them?

Sprouts are seeds (legumes, seeds, and nuts) and there are many advantages to eating them. They have a fresh and delicious taste and a high nutritional content.  Because they are the beginning of a plant, sprouts contain an incredible amount of vitamins and minerals, enough to make a plant grow.  In fact, these little things contain even more nutrients than fruits and vegetables; they contain an abundance of highly active antioxidants that among other things prevent cancer and the ongoing effects of aging.  Sprouts are also rich in enzymes therefore help our system better digest the foods we eat them with.  Lastly, they are a good source of fiber and vegetable protein and free of pesticides and harsh chemicals.

People always tell me how expensive it is to buy organic, and my answer is always the same: sprouting!  Seeds and grains are inexpensive (even organic ones) and since they double or triple in size when they are sprouted, you are really getting your money’s worth while eating a chemical-free food grown straight out of your own kitchen.  Talk about eating local!  Lastly, they are easy to prepare: no chopping, grating or peeling, just toss them in a dish!

Let me show you how simple sprouting is.  First of all, these are the materials you will need, and then follow the 8 simple steps.

Material needed

  • Glass jar (with a wide neck)
  • ‘Screen’ material, nylon tights or cheese cloth
  • Seeds* bought from a grocery store or a health food store for the purpose of consumption and not planting
  • Dark area or a dish cloth (to cover the glass container)

*What type of seeds can I use?  See table below for other easy-peasy sprout suggestions

How to Sprout

  1. Throw out any rocks or broken seeds (these will rot if they are not removed)
  2. Rinse seeds in a strainer
  3. Place your seeds in a glass container (no more than 1/4 full)
  4. Fill the container with water and let soak for 6-12 hours (see seed specific soaking time in table below)
  5. Rinse (very important as this removes anti-nutrients such as phytic acid that could impair proper absorption of certain minerals)
  6. Place the screen, nylon or cheese cloth on the bottle neck and fasten with an elastic band
  7. Inverse the jar and place at a 45 degree angle (i.e. on a dish rack) in order to slowly let the water drain
  8. Cover with a dish cloth so it stays in the dark

There are many other ways to sprout, which can also depend on the type of seed you choose.   This is an easy technique that does not require you to buy any special material and that allows you to experiment with many different seeds.  For more info on special sprouters or sprouting mucilagionous seeds such as flax or chia – Google!

For good quality sprouts make sure…

  • to buy fresh grains that are not too broken or discolored and that are from a store that has a high turnover
  • store your seeds in a dark area, in a sealed glass container.  Seeds keep about 1 year after you buy them.
  • to rinse them morning and evening to prevent them from drying
  • air can circulate in your jar (i.e. there is nothing obstructing the opening )
  • wash your glass container and material thoroughly with hot water and soap after usage in order to prevent bacteria outbreaks on your next sprouting batch

Contra-indications

The importance of keeping sprouting instruments clean and properly draining your sprouts are to prevent bacterial growth which pregnant women are more sensitive to.  Raw sprouts are therefore not recommended for pregnant women, but well-cooked sprouts are okay.

How to eat them

It is best to eat sprouts when they are a few days old and only have a small stem.  At this point, they are the most rich in nutrients.  See table for specifics on each seed.   Some people may find digesting sprouted legumes difficult. A light steam or other form of cooking will help in this case.  Once they have sufficiently sprouted, you can conserve them in the fridge for 3 to 14 days, depending on the sprout.

Sprouts are eaten in the same way vegetables are eaten: as a snack, in salads, in sandwiches, in yogurt, in omelettes, on soups, in smoothies, and as veggie spreads (i.e. hummus with sprouted chick peas).   Look out for upcoming sprout recipes on my blog!

  Soaking time  Eat after…of sprouting Advice / Suggestions
Alfalfa  4-6h 5 to 7 days Place in day light after 1-2   days
Almond              12h 1 day/0 cm Does not sprout- swells
Wheat  10-12 h 2 to 5 days/½ cm Eat raw or steamed
Pumpkin seeds  8 h 1 day/0 cm Does not sprout- swells
Mung beans  12 -16 h 3 to 6 days /1 à 3 cm Better taste when raw
Green and brown lentils 12 h 1 to 3 days/½ to 2 cm Can eat long or short
Chick pea  12 h 2 to 5 days/0.3 to 2 cm To augment their   digestibility, steam lightly
Yellow and green pea 12 h 3 to 5 days/1 cm Use full peas (not split   peas)
Sunflower seeds  Shelled : 6-8 hUnshelled : 12 h Shelled : 1 to 2 daysUnshelled : 6 to 8 days

½ cm

Are easy to grow and   taste great when marinated
Red clover 4-6 h 4 – 5 days Place in day light after 1-2   days