When I was a kid, chia pets were popular — they were fun to grow. Many decades later, I look at chia pets differently — they are still fun to grow, but now I use the chia sprouts as a nutritious food.
The process of germination not only produces vitamin C but also changes the composition of grains and seeds in numerous beneficial ways. Sprouting increases vitamin B content, especially B2, B5, and B6. Carotene increases dramatically–sometimes eightfold. Even more important, sprouting neutralizes phytic acid, a substance present in the bran of all grains [and in legumes and seeds] that inhibits absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc; sprouting also neutralizes enzyme inhibitors present in all seeds. These inhibitors can neutralize our own precious enzymes in the digestive tract… Finally, numerous enzymes that help digestion are produced during the germination process…..
According to enzyme specialist Dr. Edward Howell, in the past we ate most of our grains in partially germinated form. Gain standing in sheaves and stacks in open fields often began to sprout before it was brought into storage. Modern farming technique prevent grains from germinating before they reach our tables.Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon Morell
There are also benefits we can’t measure yet such as life force (prana, chi, etc.) Sprouts have more life force energy than mature plants.
For thousands of years, cultures from East to West have included sprouts in their diet — and medicine.
With beans and lentils, sometimes you will want to simple soak them, other times you will want to sprout them. If you sprout them with a tail longer than 1/4″, you will notice a change of flavor between sprouted and unsprouted. See How to Cook with Sprouted Beans.
Typically, sprouting involves soaking the seeds for a few hours, and then rinsing and draining them a few times a day for a few days. The key is for the sprouts be kept moist, and have adequate drainage and good air circulation.
There are lots of charts on the Internet with soaking and sprouting times for various beans, seeds and nuts.
Sprouters which I used
Sprouting using a clay pot
Your beans/lentils will thrive in the breathable, nutrient rich pot and sprout more fully than in other vessels
Miriam is using the warmth of the oven and the moisture capability of clay to speed up the sprouting process. This blogger is doing something similar an Instant Pot — Instant Pot Sprouted Beans with the Yogurt Button
Miriam likes to sprout in the clay bowls — they are a nice size. The lids of the small clay pot fit the bowls – although not perfectly. When sprouting, it’s best for the seeds to be surrounded by unglazed clay on all sides.
- Rinse the beans/lentils — they are often dusty. Discard any possible pebbles.
- Soak your beans/lentils for 8 – 12 hours (small lentils, closer to 8 hours, larger beans, closer to 12 hours). Use at least 2-3 times as much water as beans/lentils. If you are soaking in a clay pot, some of the water will go into the clay, so you need a bit of extra water. If you will be using a cracked clay pot, then soak in a glass or metal bowl. Otherwise soaking in the clay pot is best. Soaking time will be slightly less in a clay pot than in a glass bowl.
- Drain the soaking water. You can use this water for your plants, it’s very beneficial for them.
- Rinse the beans/lentils again. Discard any oddities.
- Wet your MEC pot and lid thoroughly on all sides – just run water over the inside and outside, this should take about 30 seconds.
- Put the beans/lentils in your MEC pure-clay pot.
- Close the lid and place your pot where you won’t forget about it. If your pot doesn’t have a lid, just cover it with slightly damp cheesecloth or a towel. In the winter, it may be necessary for some additional warmth. I usually place my clay pot in the oven with the oven light on.
- Time to sprout will be determined by the type of legume. Mung beans sprouts are the fastest (8-12 hours), lentils take a little longer (up to 16 hours), larger beans could take a few days. Most other sprouters are made of plastic and take longer to sprout than clay.
- Miriam finds herself using the clay bowls for spouting, she says are are a nice size. The lid for the small pot will work on the bowl, although not perfectly.
- Sprouted beans can be stored in the same pot, or in a loosely covered glass jar, inside the refrigerator for 7-10 days.
Lentils, mung beans, & garbanzos
- Puree with tahini, lemon juice, etc, to make a raw hummus
- Stir-fry with diced vegetables, garlic and cumin to eat with rice
- Sprouted lentils on potato salad
- Use in baked goods recipes as you would nuts and seeds
- As a salad topping, or as a salad itself
- Add to your favorite soup
Buckwheat, sunflower, sesame & nuts
- Sunflower sprouts with avocado and salsa
- Sprouted buckwheat on waffles
- Grind and add to shakes & energy bars
Alfalfa, broccoli, radish, and other salad types
- Add to salads, sandwiches & omelets
- Top on soups and stews
- Cook with them — Cooking time may be a bit faster. Sprouted grains such as oats are usually available at the grocery store. Sometimes the convenience of already sprouted is nice.
- Use them in baking — It’s not a simple substitution. You need a recipe specific to sprouted grains.
We must warn against overconsumption of raw sprouted grains as raw sprouts contain irritating substances that keep animals from eating the tender shoots. These substances are neutralized in cooking. Sprouted grains should usually be eaten lightly steamed or added to soups and casseroles.Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon Morell