"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Friday, 16 September 2011

A simple year round source of nutrition

I was watching an episode of "Jamie at Home" on TV the other day, and this time sprouts was on the menu.  Not brussel sprouts, but seed sprouts.  Now, this has to be one of the most eco-friendly foodstuffs out there as their highly nutritious preparation requires no power from the grid :)

Yes, I know there are / have been scares regarding sprouts and salmonella or Escherichia coli.  Those bacterial infestations are more prevalent in commercially grown sprouts.  Providing you carefully wash the seeds before sprouting them there is no reason why you cannot grow sprouts at home.

Also, apparently some sprouts can contain harmful toxins and should thus be reserved for stir frying prior to eating.  Any any sprouts of the solanaceae family (tomato, potato, paprika, aubergine or eggplant) or the rhubarb should definitely be avoided, as they are poisonous.

Providing that you purchase your seeds from a store (a health store is probably the best) in which they are packaged as food, there should be no problem in sprouting them.  Seeds sold for crops / planting should not be used, as they may contain toxic chemicals.
Seeds for sprouting
Some of the type of seeds which may be sprouted are:

Pulses (pea family) : alfalfa, chickpea, fenugeek,  lentil, mung bean,  pea, soyabean*.
Cereals: oats, maize (corn) wheat, rice, barley, rye, quinoa, and buckwheat.
Oily seeds: sesame, sunflower, almond and linseed
Vegetables and herbs: broccoli, cabbage, carrot, celery, lettuce, mizuna, mustard, onion, rocket and tatsoi.

* Important update:  Apparently Soyabean is one of the harmful beans, and, if sprouted, should be added to a stir-fry.

The seeds can expand to eight times their size and will germinate within 2 - 4 days from the start of soaking.  If you soak for longer than the necessary time you run the danger of making the seeds ferment or rot.

Once they are to the required state of growth, sprouts will keep in the fridge for at least a week.

Sprouts are an excellent source of protein and vitamin C.  They have established that the sprout retain their B complex vitamins, and, further, sprouting increases the amount of Vit. C and Vit. A they contain. Sprouting also causes starches to be converted to simple sugars, which allow sprouts to be more easily digested. And sprouted beans do not contain the gas making properties of cooked beans :)

They are quite simple to sprout.  I have a fancy sprouting tower, but they may just as easily be sprouted in a plain glass jar with holes pierced in the lid.
My sprouting tower
On the first morning rinse the seeds well.

Place them on the sprouting tray / in a glass jar.  Sprinkle a small amount of water over the seeds, and cover.

At the end of the day, rinse the seeds again.  This not only cleans them, but also replenishes the water they require in order to sprout.

Sprouts at the beginning of day 2
Repeat rinsing the seeds morning and evening until you notice your seeds are beginning to sprout.
Sprouts on the morning of day 3 -
the mustard seeds are beginning to pop open
The flavour of sprouted seeds / pulses is completely different to the cooked versions.  And the taste of each seed / sprout is different.  Almost sweet, definitely crunchy, and completely, addictively, more-ish...

Toss a selection of sprouts with crumbed feta and fresh croutons and dress with your favourite salad dressing, add them to your salads / stir fries, fill half an avocado with sprouts, add them to an egg mayonnaise sandwich or use them as a garnish.  I even enjoy a sandwich of plain sprouts.  They could probably also be blitzed in your favourite smoothie.  Or eaten as a non-fattening snack.
Day 4 - there are less than I started out with,
as I can't resist fresh sprouts, and I couldn't wait
for them to finish sprouting...
It is so easy to forget this important source of nutrition in the winter months. The sprouts are so easy to grow and the seeds are easy to store.  Even my menfolk, who aren't mad about quiche, will eat sprouts.  Maybe, not as vociferously as I do, but they will eat enough to keep me happy...  (And it's a sneaky way to get them to eat the dreaded lentils now and then LOL)

Remember - as with everything - everything in moderation!  Don't overdo the eating of sprouts.  Use them as an extra source of nutrition, not as a replacement.

And sprouts are a good reason to allow some of your organic vegetable plants to go to seed for reasons other than next season's crop.


Tanya @ Lovely Greens said...

It sounds like a great way to grow your own fresh food during winter! I wonder if my ordinary store-bought lentils will sprout?

Jane said...

I love sprouting all through the winter. And what is great about it is anyone can do it. Even if you live in an apartment. Great post.

Mr. H. said...

Sprouting letils sounds interesting, might have to try that myself.

tffnguy said...

I hope to try this later on.

Dani said...

Tanya - As long as they're whole lentils and sold as food, as opposed to planting seeds, there is no reason why they shouldn't.

Jane - Thanks - yup, anyone can grow their own sprouts :)

Mr H - They're delicious - mine are almost all finished...

David - What's wrong with now...?

Leigh said...

I used to do a bit of sprouting, mostly alfalfa, but I've been reading how sprouting wheat helps neutralize the phytic acid. Your post is very timely and very encouraging, thanks!

Just Me said...

Tanya - I sprout lentils I buy at Walmart for 67 cents a pound. Most red lentils will sprout, yellow ones have the seed-coat removed and generally won't sprout.

Don't overlook feed stores as a source of sprouting seeds. Wheatberries are over a dollar a pound in the health food store, but I bought a 50 lb bag of wheat for $12 sold as horse feed and it sprouts just the same as the health food stuff.

Dani said...

Leigh - You're welcome. Glad to have been of some help :)

Just Me - Thanks - hope Tanya checks back to get your info :)

Anonymous said...

I tend to sprout throughout the winter months. They go well with the salad greens that are growing at the time. I just use a plain old mason jar (see another reason I bought all those canning jars recently - haha). This is a great post with great information. The sprouting seeds are so beautiful. Emily

Dani said...

Emily - Thanks. LOL - sprout in summer too :)

Mrs. Mac said...

I'll have to study this a bit. Looks interesting .. and very handy if you're out of town.

Mrs. Mac said...

I saved a gazillion mustard and radish seeds from the garden for this purpose. Great quick food source in the cold months.

Elephant's Eye said...

I'm a little bit wary of using seeds that are not clearly marked as For Sprouting. The others are probably treated, with fungicide, or growth inhibitor or ... that would explain the price difference. Much cheaper with extra chemicals ;~)

Dani said...

Mrs Mac - Now there's a good idea - raddish sprouts! Are they as peppery as the bulb? I used mustard seeds too - but didn't notice any particular flavour. And the mustard seeds took a lot longer than the mung bean and chickpea seeds.

Diana - As long as they are purchased as dried seeds in the grocery section of your supermarket, there is no danger of them containing any chemicals.