Sprouting for Health and My Enhanced Green Lentil Spread
I am here today to share with you my journey into the world of sprouting and introduce you to the amazingly healthful enhancement made to my favorite Green Lentil Spread recipes. But, before we get into the excitement that is sprouting, lets take a quick moment to review some of the benefits of sprouting.
The Benefits of Sprouting
According to the Whole Grain Council, grains like rice, wheat, corn, oat and barley can be partially digested through the sprouting process to increase nutrient bioavailability and the relative proportion of essential vitamins, minerals and protein. From a holistic perspective, this improvement in enzymatic activity is believed to awaken the life force within dormant grains so that their energy is more easily conferred to people who consume them regularly.
Sprouting also improves the breakdown of phytates and oxalates, which inhibit mineral absorption during the digestive process and contribute to the risk of nutrient deficiency. Breaking down phytates is important for vegans and vegetarians, because un-sprouted grains can interfere with the absorption of zinc, magnesium, calcium and, most importantly, iron, all minerals that are hard to obtain in adequate amounts when abstaining from animal foods. Oxalates have a similar effect as phytates in their ability to interfere with the absorption of essential vitamins and minerals with the added bonus of increasing the risk of oxalate stone formation in the kidneys that may block urine flow and cause severe pain.
Sprouted Lentils and a Healing Diet
The benefits obtained from sprouting can also be applied to other hard-to-digest food within the legume family, which includes beans and lentils. From a nutrition perspective, beans and lentils are an amazing plant source of protein, which is essential in any healing diet because of its ability to contribute to tissue repair and growth in addition to the production of neurotransmitters that help stabilize mood, hormones that signal various biological processes, and enzymes that facilitate the production of energy and the elimination of toxins.
Lentils are also loaded with fiber that slows food absorption and helps maintain positive blood glucose. This is especially important for those with a history of substance abuse because dramatic swings in blood sugar can exacerbate the symptoms associated with withdrawals and cravings (http://twelvewellness.com/neurotransmitters-and-the-chemical-effect-of-dependency/).
It’s probably worthwhile to also mention the research that shows a correlation between dietary fiber and a reduction in the risk of type II diabetes, heart disease and hypertension.
How to Sprout
Sprouting is pretty easy once we (I) overcome (overcame) the fear associated with trying something new in the kitchen. And, to demonstrate just how simple the process actually is, I photographed the various steps of my last sprout batch to help you get a better idea of what you should be looking for while on your first sprouting journey.
Another huge plus to sprouting, it startup costs are very minimal. The only pieces of equipment I have found necessary are fresh cheesecloth and a decent sized mason jar, with or without its two-piece lid, or similar receptacle, both of which can be found at your neighborhood hardware or health food store.
Without further adieu:
1. Thoroughly rinse your grains, beans or legumes and then let soak for 12 to 24 hours. Please note that grains, beans and legumes all absorb water when when soaking so it is important that your sprouting jar is only filled a quarter full so they have room to expand and breath.
2. Drain and rinse your “specimens” and return them to your sprouting receptacle. Place a clean piece of cheesecloth over the jar’s mouth and secure with a rubber band or the metal collar of the two-piece lid that came with your mason jar. Invert the jar so that water can drain out and air can circulate through the jar.
3. Re-rinse your sprouts every 12 hours, keeping them moist and rinsing off the film that accumulates during the sprouting process. Here are my sprouts on days 1, 2 and 3 of the sprouting process.
4. Once the sprouts reach a decent length, a ¼ of an inch or so, rinse them one final time and allow them to dry out. Refrigerate them and they should stay fresh for 3 to 4 days. Here is what my final product looked like:
What you do with your sprouts at this point is completely up to you, but, as mentioned, I wanted to revisit a favorite recipe of mine and use the freshly sprouted lentils to enhance the amazingly delicious Green Lentil Dip I developed last year (see above). This dip is exceptional and can easily be paired with fresh crudités or used to bulk up and increase the nutritional value of your favorite veggie sandwich. Please withhold judgment on its color until you try it for yourself. It’s really quite amazing.
Now get sprouting!!!