Sprouts are the only living food â€“ they are still growing when we eat them. This is an incredible thought because it means that the life force is transmitted to our bodies, with astounding benefits. I recently went to a Transition SA talk on sprouting by Joseph Fiegelson. He is passionate and informed, and living his path. Not many people showed up for the talk â€“ which seems amazing considering not only the health benefits of sprouts, but also their potential to provide high-quality nutrition for a few cents a day to poor communities. They are an immediate answer to malnutrition.
A beauty of sprouting is that it is so simple. No time, skill or soil is required to set it up, and maintaining the process is just as easy. It can be done in a flat or one-roomed home. What is required are glass jars with mesh or cloth tops secured with rubber bands, and water. The seeds are put in a jar, soaked overnight, drained, and then rinsed twice a day until they are sprouted. They should be kept out of direct light and well ventilated. Harvesting will take place within 3 – 7 days.
Small but mighty
Sprouts have the highest nutritional value per calorie of any food group. They are the released potential of the seed. They are rich in enzymes, amino acids (protein), vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, anti-oxidants and chlorophyll. Very importantly, they are alkaline in the blood, which counters the largely acidic diet of modern city dwellers. They can be grown 360 days a year, which is valuable when fresh produce is scarce. Ideally they should be eaten raw, as like any food the nutritional value drops with cooking, but it is better to eat them cooked than not at all.
Here are the main benefits.
- Enzymes. Perhaps the greatest thing about sprouts is their extremely high enzyme level. Enzymes are catalysts, which break down the food we eat and release energy. While all raw foods contain enzymes, sprouts are the most powerful of all. As we age our ability to produce enzymes diminishes, which accelerates the ageing process. The higher the level of enzyme activity, therefore, the healthier and biologically younger we are going to be.
- Vitamins. During germination the seed becomes a vitamin factory and vitamin levels rocket. For instance vitamin C levels rise 500-600%. Unlike any other food, sprouts also continue to produce vitamins after you harvest them.
- Protein. Sprouts provide protein without the fat that comes with animal protein. Consider that while meat is 19% protein and eggs 13%, lentil and pea sprouts have 26% protein!
- Phytochemicals. Alfalfa, radish, clover and broccoli contain phytochemicals (plant compounds) that protect us against disease. Plants oestrogens in these sprouts are helpful in controlling osteoporosis, menopause and PMS, while broccoli sprouts have been found to have potent cancer-protective properties, and alfalfa sprouts lower cholesterol.
- Anti-oxidants. Sprouts contain highly active anti-oxidants that prevent DNA destruction and protect us from the effects of ageing.
Organic fast food
Some of the easiest sprouts to grow are lentils, mung beans, alfalfa, radish, broccoli, onion and chickpeas. What can you do with them? Put them into any type of vegetable dish â€“ raw in salads and as a snack is ideal; but also in stir-fries, soups, stews and sandwiches. They will increase the nutritional value of any food. Sprouts are a far better way of boosting your mineral and vitamin intake than buying artificial supplements. Three to four cupfuls a day will radically improve your health â€“ and take only a few minutes a day to cultivate. Joseph is at the Porter’s Market in Tokai each Saturday, and is a treasure trove of information. He sells 73 different types of seeds for sprouting.
Read more on his website www.kitchengarden.com.