SPROUTING: What are the Benefits, and HOW do you do it?

I find the longer I do this blog, and the increasing time of veganism, the closer I get to the 'weirder' things I vowed I would never do. Sprouting is one of those things that I thought was a bit 'hippy dippy' for me, until I researched all of the benefits, and realized how easy, fun, and healthy it is to sprout. The purpose of those post is to introduce you to (if you haven't yet heard about it), teach you about, and show you how to sprout in your own home. 

WHAT IS SPROUTING? (Think alfalfa sprouts)

Sprouting is where you allow seeds, lentils/ beans and nuts to 'germinate' through various processes, in order to reap the increased nutritional benefits. The practice involves soaking, draining and rinsing seeds, lentils or nuts until they begin to grow slightly.


There is tons of research out there that suggests sprouting is an excellent way to obtain all of the nutrients available in various seeds, lentils/ beans and nuts. In a 'nut shell' (pardon the pun), sprouting allows you to 'wake' a seed or nut from its dormant state, bringing it to life and heightening the nutrients. Various tests have proven that sprouting can increase the nutrient content of seeds and nuts from 50%, to as high as 400%  more than their original content. Furthermore, many seeds, nuts and lentils/ beans can be, initially, difficult for the body to fully digest, but sprouting does most of the energetic work that the body does not have to do. Sprouts are highly digestible, and the increased nutrients and enzymes are easily absorbed by the body. For those who suffer from gastrointestinal, or digestive issues when eating seeds, nuts or lentils/ beans, sprouting is an excellent way to make them safer for digestion. All un-sprouted seeds or nuts contain enzyme inhibitors (chemicals designed to preserve the seed or nuts energy, keeping them dormant until ready to grow). Sprouting rids the seed or nut of these inhibitors, which can be harmful to the human body. Another nice bonus is that sprouting allows for the optimal flavor of the nut, seed, or lentil/ bean, making it a more satisfying and delicious option for home cooks.

There are many websites which offer complete sprouting kits and seeds. A great one is called "Mumm's Sprouting Seeds", offering all of the necessary tools, and information need to sprout seeds effectively. You can also do it cheaply, and easily at home, with only a few pieces of equipment.

Equipment Needed:
1 large glass jar
1 scrap of cloth, or paper towel (wide enough for the opening of the jar; I like to use cheesecloth)
Elastic band
Seeds, lentils/beans, nuts, etc. (Below is a list of things that can be sprouted, and the time it takes to do it)

Rinse seeds, lentils/ beans, or nuts under water, sorting them to ensure their are no broken portions, or any rocks or dirt.

Pour the rinsed seed, lentils/ beans or nuts into the glass jar. Keep in mind that they will 'grow' so start with a small amount until you have a good idea about how many you need, based on how large they grow. Cover them with water, about 2 inches above the seeds, lentils or nuts themselves. Ensure that the water you are using is safe and clean to use (I use filtered water).

Cover the jar with cloth or paper towel, and fasten with the elastic band. Let the seeds, lentils/ beans or nuts soak overnight (some will take less). In the morning, turn the jar upside down, and allow the water to drain out through the cloth. Rinse the seeds, nuts, or lentils/ beans to help remove any of the skin that may be releasing, ridding of excess water. Place them back into the jar, continuing the rinsing process, and covering them with just enough water to keep them moist, until growth begins (you will begin to see small vines, and, or green leaves). You'll find that sprouting time varies, but most reach their peek nutrition at about 4-5 days or sprouting. You will also need to keep in mind that many nuts, seeds, lentils/ beans have a skin on them, which will need to be taken off through rinsing, or by picking them out. The skin should not be left in the jar because it will often spoil. Store the jar at room temperature.

* The soaking time varies for many nuts, seeds, and lentils/ beans. A great website to find out how long popular sprouts will take can be found at the following: "Living and Raw Foods". 


My personal favorites for sprouting (and the allotted times to do it) are as follows:

Almonds: Soak 10-14 hours, sprout 1, or more days. Almonds will release an obvious skin, so you may need to pick it off, alongside rinsing. 

Sunflower Seeds: Soak 8-14 hours, sprout 18 hours. Sunflower seeds also have a skin that you will need to remove.

Brown Rice: Soak 12-18 hours, sprout 1 or more days. I often sprout rice rather than cooking it, which increases both nutrition and flavor.

Quinoa: Soak 2-4 hours, sprout a minimum of 12 hours. Quinoa has a very strong flavor, so make sure you rinse it really well during the process.

You can sprout virtually any nut, seed, lentil or bean (there are only a few exceptions, so research ahead of time). It takes some playing around, but even soaking them in water for a matter of hours significantly boosts the nutrient content.

There are many ways to consume the sprouts. Here are just a few of the ways you can enjoy the fruits of your labor:

- In smoothies
- In salads
- In sandwiches and wraps
- Sprinkle on pizzas, or virtually any dish for an added nutrition boost
- Just eat them as is, many of them taste great on their own!

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