What Is Sprouted Food?
Sprouted food basically means anything that can be germinated, for instance, any seed, nut, or grain that can grow in the ground. If you left a seed from a fruit out in water for a few days, it would likely start to grow a little green tail, meaning it’s germinated and ready to grow. This is called “sprouting”, and it’s a phenomenon that has recently taken off in the raw and health food circles.
The question is whether sprouting your food before eating it has any health benefits to eating un-germinated seeds, nuts, or grains you can buy at the store. Does germinating your food really make that much of a difference to the nutritional benefits? It seems like there may be evidence to suggest this is true.
Why Sprouted Foods May Be Healthier For You
It appears that regular nuts, seeds, and grains have some impressive nutritional benefits when they are soaked in water and germinated, rather than eating them raw. For instance, when a nut is germinated and starts growing a sprout, it causes the outer layers to split open allowing the young shoot to grow and consume some of the nut’s starch for food. This process of sprouting causes a change in the nutritional content of the original nut, making it healthier to eat.
Because the sprouting process results in less starch, the protein and fiber in each nut becomes higher resulting in a lower glycemic index than a non-sprouted nut. It also increases the the levels of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D and folate, as one study shows that sprouted rye can increase folate by up to 3.8-fold.
Soaking seeds, nuts, and grains also reduces the amount of anti-nutrients like phytic acid, which can inhibit the absorption of minerals including zinc and iron. Another benefit of soaking seeds is breaking down the anti-nutrient raffinose in grains and legumes, which can cause gastrointestinal issues in some people after eating.
How To Sprout Your Food At Home
Sprouting at home is incredibly easy to do, but there are a few things to note before attempting the process. Any nuts, seeds, or grains that have been pasteurized and irradiated, even if they say “raw” on them, will not sprout. Even though you may have some food that won’t sprout, they will still benefit from a good soak.
Word Of Caution Before Sprouting:
Due to the warm and humid conditions needed to germinate, sprouted foods are susceptible to growing bacteria, including salmonella, listeria and E. coli, Because of this, eating sprouted seeds raw may cause illness, as with any raw and uncooked food. Even though illness is rare, it’s better to stay on the safe side and practice good sanitary techniques when sprouting, which I’ve included for you below.
Sprouting At Home: What You’ll Need
- Seeds, nuts, or grains of choice – Great options include raw almonds, black beans, buckwheat, lentils, quinoa, wild rice, wheat berries, millet, barley, radish seeds, alfalfa, and chickpeas.
- Glass jars – I use Wide Mouth Mason Jars because they’re big and easy to sanitize, but you can use any glass jar of your choice.
- 3% Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide – This is specifically for sanitation purposes to prohibit the growth of bacteria. Refrain from using the drugstore hydrogen peroxide as they contain stabilizers that are not good for food items.
- Cheese cloth
- Kitchen thermometer
Sprouting At Home: Instructions
- Sanitize the glass jars by boiling in water for 10 minutes. Set on cooling rack to dry.
- Heat your seeds in a pot of 3% food grade hydrogen peroxide to no more than 140 degrees for 5 minutes. Use your kitchen thermometer to keep a level temp.
- Rinse seeds under tap water for about a minute.
- Fill sanitized glass jar about 1/3 full of seeds and top off with water. Cover the opening with cheesecloth and secure with outer metal lid ring (if using a Mason jar).
- Set jar in an area where it won’t be disturbed for at least 12 hours.
- Drain water after 12 hours and refill with fresh water. Repeat this process until seeds start to sprout in 1-4 days.
- When ready, rinse and drain sprouts completely and store in the fridge.
- Enjoy sprouted nuts, seeds, and grains within 2-3 days of sprouting.
Notes: Cooking them will kill off any remaining bacteria, but eating them raw after this process should pose no health issues. As always, pick the best option for you and your family.
Don’t Want To Sprout Your Own?
Sprouting at home can be very fun and rewarding, but sometimes you just don’t want to wait around for those seeds and nuts to germinate. I purchase my sprouted nuts and seeds from Living Intentions, as they have a wonderful selection of products ranging from raw ingredients, sprouted grains, nuts, seeds, snacks, and much more.
Have you tried sprouting at home? How did it go? Share below!