Store Cupboard Secrets: The Benefits of Soaking & Sprouting

For an extra insight why not check out my super quick video crash course, click here to watch.

soak_nutsSo as an overall point these processes are essentially mimicking nature’s germination of a seed into a plant. If you think that all the energy contained within a bean, nuts, lentil, grain of rice etc would need to fuel the growth of a whole new plant, kickstarting that process and then utilising those nutrients for ourselves is only going to be a good thing. Gram for gram sprouts are more nutrient dense than the older version of itself (i.e. the whole plant). You can eat them raw, steamed, or cooked completely, you can also dehydrate the sprouted grains to make flours (e.g. sprouted buckwheat flour).

Another thing to think about is the fact that those beautiful little morsels are as selfish as the rest of us when it comes to survival, they have coated themselves in their own little suits of armour which allow animals to eat them, take them on their travels and then be deposited elsewhere to proliferate and colonise much in the same way us humans did way back when. Because of that when we eat them, if our digestion isn’t as tip top as can be, we can get unpleasant side effects like bloating and flatulence. Not ideal!

So one of these pesky substances is phytic acid. Its found in all legumes, grains and nuts and will inhibit mineral and nutrient absorption in the body, particularly minerals such as iron, zinc, calcium and B vitamins. Soaking and sprouting decreases the phytic acid which vastly improves their digestibility, the availability of the nutrients within them AND decreases those dodgy digestive moments. Thumbs up.

Also if you don’t want to go all the way to the sprouting stage just soaking your grains, nuts, pulses and legumes will have a big impact on the nutrients you absorb so is an excellent step to take. You can buy plenty of sprouted products now as well, ranging from sprouted grain flours to fresh chickpea sprouts so if you don’t want to do them yourself you could also supplement your diet with a few different purchased ones.

A quick note on different types……

Sprouts will vary in taste and texture hugely depending on the seed they’ve grown from; some are light and soft while others are more starchy and crunchy. They can be added to salads, sandwiches, smoothies or eaten as a snack by themselves.

 

  • Sprouted seeds: such as alfalfa/broccoli/mung bean/clover sprouts are great in salads and sandwiches due to their light texture and how they mesh together well.
  • Grains: such as sprouted quinoa or buckwheat make great cereals, granolas or desserts.
  • Legumes: cook or steam after soaking/sprouting and enjoy them just as you would without the soaking/sprouting process but knowing you’re getting far more from them now.
  • Nuts/seeds: soaked these are perfect to make your own homemade nut milks, cashew cheeses, patés, in cereals and granolas or sprouted and dehydrated for a crunchy snack or salad topping.

 

HOW TO BECOME YOUR OWN SUPER SOAKER/SPROUTER

 

STEP 1: SOAK

Take a large glass jar or bowl, a portion is 1/4 cup dry per person which will expand to 1/2 cup when cooked. I tend to advise people do a bigger batch and then just have things in the fridge ready to grab. Pour your seed/grain/legume in along with enough filtered water to cover completely with a good few inches above. The measurement of water doesn’t matter here, it’s only for soaking purposes. Add a 1-2 tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar, or the juice of a lemon, cover and leave for the stated time (see table below).

 

Where to buy: If you’re looking for sprout seeds (alfalfa, broccoli, mung, etc.), check out your local health food store, or bigger ones like Whole Foods or online retailers. You always want to look for organic seeds.

 

STEP 2: RINSE

Follow the soaking process with thorough rinsing until the water becomes totally clear. 

The process can stop here for most nuts/seeds and grains as they can be used just soaked and not sprouted for making nut milk for example. Or you can cook your grains/pulses/legumes as you would normally but be aware that they may take less time and if cooking rice by the absorption method it may require less cooking liquid as the grains have already absorbed some.

 

If you’re going on to sprout……

Either use a sprouting jar or go back to your bowl. Return your soaked grain/nut/seed etc and cover the jar with its mesh lid or loosely cover your bowl with a piece of muslin cloth so things won’t fall in but air can circulate.

 

STEP 3: SPROUT

The chart below details the time this stage will take for different grains/nuts/seeds/pulses/legumes.  Essentially what you will be doing for this sprouting time is rinsing with filtered water a couple of times a day. The goal is to rinse the nut/seed/grain/legume and drain the rest of the water off to prevent any fermenting which will slow the process whilst still keeping the environment moist.

(I do this by putting my sprouting jar upside down at about a 45 degree angle in my kitchen dish drying rack, which allows all the excess water to run down the sink and gives the seeds enough air circulation to grow.)

 

STEP 4: GROW

As the nut/seed/grain/legume starts to sprout, you’ll notice tiny “tail” coming from the seed, this mean it’s growing and sprouting. Sprouting times can vary from 1-4 days, you’ll know it’s finished when the seeds have a tail or they’ve sprouted greens!

 

STEP 5: STORE

Keep sprouts fresh in the fridge by wrapping them in a mesh cheesecloth or nut milk bag and use within 3-4 days.

 

FOOD SOAK TIME (hours) SPROUT TIME (days)
Alfalfa 8 5-7
Almonds 8-12 no sprouts (small tail)
Adzuki Beans 8-12 4
Amaranth 8-12 1-3
Barley 8 2
Black Beans 8-12 3
Brazil Nuts 2-3 no sprouts
Buckwheat 6 (rinse every 30-60 minutes) 2-3
Cashews 2-8 no sprouts
Chickpeas 8-12 3-4
Flaxseed 30 minutes no sprouts
Kamut 7 2-3
Lentils 7 2-3
Millet 5-7 12 hours
Mung Beans 8-12 4
Oats 10-12 N/A eat straight away
Pistachios 8 no sprouts
Pumpkin Seeds 8 no sprouts
Radish Seeds 8-12 3-4
Sesame Seeds 8 2-3
Sunflower Seeds 8-10 2-3
Quinoa 4-8 2-3
Wheat Berries 7 3-4
Wheat Grain 10-12 3-4 Eat before green indigestible shoots come up (they’re for juicing)
Rice 9 3-4

And that’s it! You are now a sprouting pro and will have super sonically boosted your diet, hurray!

As always if you have any questions please do email me at pliebling@me.com or comment below.

With healthy wishes,

Phoebe <3

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