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Sprouting - The process of germinating seeds and the health benefits of raw food

When you hear the word "sprouting," you may automatically think of, and picture, seedlings...those tiny plants you've nurtured from seed form in order to transplant them into what will be your beautiful vegetable patch.  Sprouting, however, is germinating seeds with the goal of eating the sprouts raw.  You are most likely familiar with bean sprouts used in Asian foods and alfalfa sprouts used in salads and on sandwiches.  Those are the results of sprouting.


It is widely known that cooking, or boiling, food reduces the vitamins and nutrients available, and many have turned to a raw food friendly diet, even if only in part.  On the same note, sprouting can reduce the antinutrional factors that negatively affect the availability of minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc.  Alternatively, if sprouting is not done carefully, and correctly, it can produce harmful bacteria.

 


There are a surprising number of seeds that can be used for sprouting, ones that may not normally be considered.  Obvious ones come from the legume and pea families--chickpea, soybean, alfalfa, clover, lentil, etc.--but there are so many more...


Oat, wheat, rice and barley from the cereal family


Sesame, sunflower and peanut from the oilseed family


Broccoli, cabbage, mustard and turnip


Various onions


Carrot, celery and parsley


Spinach, lettuce and lemongrass


And these are just a partial list of those actually useable.

 

 

 


Sprouting can be done using trays, jars with specially-made screen lids, colanders, or any jar with a netting secured over the top.  The first step is to rinse the seeds well to remove any contaminants.  While not necessary, it has been suggested that this be done using a bleach and water mixture or heating on the stove at a steady 140 degrees in a solution of 3% hydrogen peroxide.  Following the treatment, seeds will require rinsing under running water for approximately one minute.  This type of treatment can prove somewhat difficult in an off-grid living situation due to the possible lack of a constant, and reliable, water source.  After the initial rinsing, sprouts are soaked from 20 minutes to overnight, depending upon the type of seed, then placed inside the chosen container.  All that's left is to rinse and drain them two to four times a day until at desired growth.  They can be eaten in anywhere from two to five days, the newer the sprout the crunchier.


There are certain things that need to be monitored during the process.  Be sure the sprouts do not dry out or get left in standing water after the first soaking.  Also, whatever container is used must have proper air flow to aide in the draining of the sprouts. 


While it may seem like the process is intimidating, it's really not as difficult as it seems.  It only takes a total of a few minutes a day, and the benefits are well worth it.  Sprouts provide Vitamins A, C, and E, and B complex.  Even better, they basically digest themselves which helps the body's system greatly in terms of not needing to waste energy on the digestive process.  They help increase metabolism and even aide in the healing of cells.


The jury is still out on the effects of an all raw food diet, but with the well-known benefits, and popularity, of sprouting, this is a great way to start making a difference in what you eat.

 

Watch a video on sprouting here: Growing And Eating Sprouts At Home For A Nutritious Snack


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Danielle Reid

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