The Gourmet Healer, Angie King discusses sprouting this month. Looking for a healthy way to detox for spring, here is her February blog entry in case you missed it. Angie has also provided posts on healthy oil and spice choices on this blog.
The Gourmet Healer, aka: Angie King, MS, RD, LD, lives, works and plays in Albuquerque and the surrounding area. The focus of her private practice, Gourmet Healer, is to empower individuals and families to take part in their own healing process by using Food As Medicine together with lifestyle and other therapies. Angie earned her Master of Science in Nutrition as well as the credentials of Registered Dietitian and Licensed Dietitian from the University of New Mexico. She also works part time for the UNM School of Medicine Nephrology Division as an outpatient Pediatric Clinical Nutritionist. Her blog link is The Gourmet Healer and is also listed in the right-hand menu in BLOGROLL for more information throughout the month.
When we’re truly committed to expanding our knowledge and deepening the meaning and outcome of our actions, we periodically realize that change is again necessary. Growth involves constant re-evaluation of established patterns. Such is the case with me lately, “coincidentally” with the onset of Spring. For years, I have been on the whole grain bandwagon, spending countless hours in bread aisles scrutinizing ingredient lists and comparing fiber contents. Now, that’s what I call fun! I am continually trying to find new ways to incorporate whole grains and other beneficial foods into my own diet, so that I may teach others to do the same.
Just when I thought I had the whole grain thing all figured out, I found out that it’s not enough to just eat them. If we really want to get the most out of them, we should be eating them in sprouted form on a regular basis. One easy way to get your sprouts is to eat sprouted grain bread and buy bean and broccoli sprouts. But home sprouting is easy, too, as I finally decided to find out last weekend.
Sprouting grains causes them to undergo an enzymatic reaction that breaks down the outer protective barrier of not only grains, but seeds and nuts, too. That protective barrier is meant to keep pests away as well as to safeguard the unborn plant until conditions are right for germination. Germination produces many enzymes, which can be very beneficial to our digestive systems, reducing the need to make so many enzymes of our own. The enzymes produced also break down phytic acid, an “anti-nutrient” which is known to inhibit the absorption of calcium, magnesium, copper and zinc from un-germinated whole grains, seeds and legumes (including soy). Vitamin and mineral content increase dramatically with sprouting, especially that of B Vitamins, carotenes (pro-Vitamin A) and Vitamin C. In fact, sprouting seeds on long voyages is how the ancient Chinese sailors kept themselves from getting scurvy.
Sprouting whole grains and seeds may seem like one more thing to add to your perpetually expanding list of things to do, but for those of us whose priority is optimal nourishment, this is an undertaking worth our time and effort. The hardest part is gathering your materials, which is not hard at all. All that is needed are quart-sized Mason jars with a round of cut aluminum window screen to replace the solid insert.
I was able to get the screen material for free from scraps at my local hardware store.
Fill 1/3 of the jar with a seed/grain and cover the seeds with water. Let them sit over night. In the morning, with the screened lid on, pour off the water and rinse well. Invert the jar and let it sit at an angle to drain and allow air to circulate.
Rinse the seeds every few hours, or at least twice daily. In one to four days, the sprouts will be ready. Rinse well, shake out excess moisture and replace the screen insert with the solid insert. Store in the fridge, and steam lightly before adding to salads. Add raw sprouted seeds/grains to soups and casseroles, since this will expose them to enough heat to neutralize irritating substances, which in nature keep grazing animals from eating the tender shoots. This is a very clever way for plants to continue their species. We must also be clever about consuming our foods if we want to optimally continue our species.
Most seeds and grains sprout easily—wheat, barley, dried beans, radish seeds, onion seeds, chia seeds, chickpeas, shelled peanuts and almonds. To shell almonds, soak them overnight. The next day, squeeze them individually between the index finger and thumb, and they pop right out of the skin. Or, just buy them raw and skinless. Hulled pumpkin and sunflower seeds sprout nicely as well. According to Sally Fallon, author of Nourishing Traditions, eating alfalfa sprouts is to be avoided, due to a harmful substance metabolized during sprouting, which diminishes with plant maturity.
Sprouting is definitely worth the little time and effort that it takes. It’s a sure fire way to increase the nutrient value of absorption from our foods. It is also a great way to involve kids with food preparation and simultaneously teach them about nature and nutrition. Try it and let me know how it goes. Happy Spring and Happy Sprouting!
Blessings and Good Health,
The Gourmet Healer
Angie King, MS, RD, LD
Fallon, Sally and Enig, Mary. Nourishing Traditions. Washington, DC. 2001.