I love the term “Kitchen Gardening,” which was coined by Steve Meyerowitz in his book “Sproutman’s Kitchen Garden Cookbook.”
Steve is a living example of change. He started kitchen gardens early in his life in his apartment in New York City, striving to grow the freshest, most nutritious edible plants possible.
Steve got interested in sprouting after a 20-year illness with chronic allergies and asthma. He decided to change his diet to plant-based foods and added the best live food possible — microgreens and sprouts. His symptoms vanished in two months. He started a business, which became his life’s work and was pronounced “Sproutman” in 1979 by the Vegetarian Times Magazine.
I borrowed this recipe from Steve’s book to start you on your sprouting journey.
For best results when sprouting, recite “The Sprout Oath”:
Each day I will:
Stand up tall
Always follow the sun
Think green thoughts
Drink plenty of water
Bathe at least twice each day
Listen to classical music
Keep my head high
Stick to my roots
Go to bed at dusk
Serve and be served
Be sproutful and multiply.
Sprouting is a dynamic world of texture and flavor. From simply soaking nuts and seeds to sprouting delicate alfalfa sprouts and hearty beans and grains, sprouting will open another level of nutrition.
Sprouts, along with microgreens (see my May 7 article in the Sunday Gazette-Mail) are some of the most nutritious foods available to us through kitchen gardening. You can grow fresh food, just like going to a garden outside.
Sprouting is as simple as getting a few large sprouting jars, a sprout bag or a large tray. A dish rack near the sink will work to drain the sprouts. A few minutes a day of soaking and rinsing will create a new level of vitality in your diet. It is one of the most nutritious, economical foods we can eat.
Sprouts are an easy way to get fresh produce in your diet. They are a “live” food, meaning they contain everything necessary to grow a full-grown plant and will provide you with energy that lasts.
Sprouts are full of enzymes, which help with digestion. They are filled with antioxidants, which are our bodies’ first line of defense against free radicals. These natural substances neutralize free radicals by combining with them chemically to render them harmless.
Some antioxidants are vitamins, others are minerals or trace elements, still others are enzymes and plant pigments. All of them, to one degree or another, can protect us from toxic buildup. All of these elements occur abundantly in various sprouted seeds, beans and grains.
Paul Talalay, a scientist and director of the Laboratory for Molecular Pharmacology at John Hopkins Medical Center, discovered the cancer-preventive effects of sulforaphane. Sulforaphane is found in brassica vegetables and is multiplied 20 to 50 times in broccoli sprouts. As broccoli becomes more mature, the sulforaphane diminishes.
This is just one example of the power of nutrients in the young-leaf stage of microgreens and sprouts. Enzymes become more active, proteins are converted to amino acids, starches change into simple sugar plants, minerals chelate and vitamins increase from three to 12 times. Chlorophyll and carotene content increase when they are exposed to sunlight.
Here are some simple sprouts for you to try:
n Alfalfa: One of the most popular and delicious of all sprouting seeds. It is very tasty, with a sweet, nut-like flavor. High in protein; amino acids; digestive enzymes; vitamins A, C, B complex, D, E; iron; phosphorous; calcium; magnesium; and potassium. When exposed to light, it is high in chlorophyll.
n Broccoli: Broccoli sprouts taste very much like the broccoli plant. They provide vitamins A, B and C; potassium; sulforaphane; indole; and isothiocyanate. Research shows these phytochemicals have cancer-preventative qualities.
n Chinese cabbage: Chinese cabbage sprouts taste like cabbage and are excellent when chopped in coleslaw. These provide lots of vitamin A and C, minerals, and chlorophyll when exposed to light. Do not sprout too long, or they will taste bitter.
n Fenugreek: Spicy and a major component of curry powder, these sprouts are best used sparingly in salads, soups, sandwiches, curries and rice dishes. They contain choline (a fat controller) and are rich in protein; iron; and vitamins A, D and B2. The are also helpful for digestive problems.
n Garbanzo: Rich in carbohydrates, fiber, calcium and protein as well as magnesium; potassium; and vitamins A and C, use sprouted garbanzo beans in salads and hummus. Do not expose to sunlight.
n Green pea: Rich in chlorophyll, protein, enzymes and minerals, do not expose them to sunlight.
n Lentil: Their flavor raw is a bit peppery. When cooked, the flavor is more sweet and nut-like. High in fiber; protein; amino acids; vitamins A, C, B complex, E; iron; calcium; and phosphorous, use lentil sprouts in salads, soups and vegetable combinations.
n Mung bean: Mung bean sprouts have a crisp, crunchy texture and a flavor similar to fresh-picked garden peas. High in choline; protein; amino acid methionine; vitamins A, B complex, C and E; calcium; magnesium; potassium; phosphorous; chromium; and iron. They are tasty in salads, vegetable dishes and oriental main dishes.
Never eat potato or tomato sprouts. These sprouts are poisonous.
Once you gather your supplies and decide what you would like to sprout, you will find it is easy and fun to add these colorful and tasty young plants to your recipes.
Caution: When choosing your seeds and beans to sprout, be aware seeds used for planting are treated with chemical pesticides, fungicides and mercury coatings to prevent infestation and mold. This treatment is highly toxic. Imported seeds are required by law to be dyed for identification.
For your own protection, never sprout seeds, grains, or beans that have been chemically treated or dyed. Look for sprouting products that have been explicitly certified as edible.
Never sprout for eating any seeds that have even the tiniest amount of mold. Growing molds can produce mycotoxins, which can cause food poisoning. For this reason, you should thoroughly clean all sprouting containers after each use with hot soapy water, bleach and a scrub brush.
Sally Miller is the owner and operator of Eats of Eden, a Charleston-based nutrition education business that offers an alternative choice for healing the body through nutrition. She attended Carnegie Mellon University and in 2009 graduated from Bauman Holistic Nutrition College, specializing in holistic nutrition education. She has recently become certified as a Gluten Free Practitioner. For more information on classes and consultations, visit her website at www.eatsofeden.com.
6 rules of sprouting
1. Rinse often.
2. Keep them moist, not wet.
3. Keep them at room temperature.
4. Give them plenty of room to breathe.
5. Don’t put too many in any one container.
6. Keep them covered — no direct light until the greening stage (not all sprouts are greened).
Soak seeds in pure water for various lengths of time:
n Alfalfa: 1 ½ tablespoon for six to eight hours, rinse two to three times per day, harvest in four to six days.
n Bean combo: Garbanzo, lentil, green pea, mung, adjuki, ¼ cup each for 10 to 12 hours, rinse two to three times per day, harvest in two to five days.
n Broccoli: 2 tablespoons for six to eight hours, rinse two to three times per day, harvest in four to six days.
n Fenugreek: ¼ cup for eight to 12 hours, rinse two times, harvest in three to six days.
n Chinese cabbage: 2 tablespoons for six to eight hours, rinse two to three times per day, harvest in three to five hours.
Spiced Sprouted Beans in Mustard Sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon mustard seed
1 teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ginger (minced or ¼ teaspoon powdered)
1 teaspoon honey or coconut sugar
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups mixed bean sprouts
¼ cup prepared mustard
3 tablespoons vegetable broth
salt to taste
Heat the pan for 1 minute on high. Add the oil and heat until smoking.
Add mustard seeds. Cover the pan. The seeds will pop.
Uncover the pan once seeds start popping and add cumin powder, cayenne pepper, ginger, salt and honey.
Add chopped onion and stir fry for 2-3 minutes.
Add the sprouts and stock or broth.
Simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the prepared mustard and cook for 1 more minute.
Serve over rice or noodles.
Add more broth if you want more sauce. If you can, also make the sauce and pour over the raw sprouts, if you prefer.
California Easy Pita
1 pita bread
4 slices avocado
2 tablespoons mixed broccoli and alfalfa sprouts
2 slices cucumber
1 tablespoon veganise
Fill pita bread half with avocado, sprouts, tomato and cucumber.
Drizzle with dressing.