Most of my major life decisions have been based on something to do with food or wine. For example, when it came time to choose a thesis topic for my food science degree, I decided to look at the bacterial populations in Blue Vein and Camembert cheese.
Why cheese? Part of the study happened to included a ‘sensory evaluation’. Hello cheese tasting.
During that long honours year, I spent lots of quality time in the food micro lab. So I became good friends with Colette who was studying bacteria in bean sprouts. Yep bean sprouts. And no I didn’t volunteer to help with any ‘sensory evaluations’.
Colette taught me a lot about the bacteria in sprouts. Let’s just say there was a lot of activity – not necessarily the ‘probiotic’ or friendly bacteria kind. So neither of us were very keen to eat sprouts.
And that’s pretty much how things were for me and sprouts over the years, until recently when I read a book called ‘Essential Eating, The Digestible Diet’ by Janie Quinn.
The thing that really piqued my interest was Quinn’s comments on the nutritional benefits of sprouting. Her theory is that after sprouting grains and legumes are recognised in our bodies as vegetables rather than starches.
Essentially, the sprouting process turns grains and legumes into living plants with more nutrients available for our bodies to use. Plus they’re easier to digest.
I’ve been getting into sprouting quite a bit lately. It’s heaps of fun and no where near as tricky or time consuming as it sounds at first.
So today I wanted to get you excited about the sprouting possibilities and share with you a few things you should know about sprouting – including my super easy step-by-step (video) guide to sprouting at home.
Plus there’s a recipe for a favourite sprouted salad of quinoa, peas and goats cheese, although if I can’t convince you to try sprouting, you can just use dried quinoa and cook it a little longer.
5 things you should know about sprouting legumes & grains
1. Sprouting is fun!
Seriously, I can’t tell you how much I enjoy checking in on my sprouts each day as they come to life.
2. Sprouts contain more available nutrients
As I mentioned above, sprouting turns legumes and grains into living plants with more vitamins, such as Vitamin C, B and carotene. It also helps the absorption of minerals.
3. Sprouts are easier to digest
The sprouting process reduces the presence of ‘anti-nutrients’ such as phytates which cause problems with digestion. It breaks down complex starches that can cause the ‘gas’ associated with beans and legumes. Sprouting also produces enzymes which aid digestion.
4. Sprouts cook quicker
The soaking and sprouting softens grains and legumes so they cook in a fraction of the time of their dried counterparts.
5. Sprouts are best if cooked
Two reasons for this. Sprouting encourages bacteria to grow so it’s best if sprouts are cooked to kill the bacteria. Secondly, raw sprouts contain irritating substances which are deactivated by cooking.
Just steam or boil them in water until tender.
Step-by-step guide to sprouting at home
It may seem like a lot of work, but when you try it you’ll see it’s literally 1-2 minutes of activity each day. And it’s so much fun seeing your little sprout ‘pets’ come to life.
1. Day 1.
Wash grains / legumes. Place in a jar or bowl and cover generously with cold water.
2. Day 2. morning
Drain the water. Place a piece of cloth over the neck of the jar and secure with a rubber band. Place jar in a bowl with the cloth covered side down so the excess water will drain out. OR place your legumes / grains on a tea towel inside a strainer or colander, again so the excess water can drain away.
3. Day 2. evening
Rinse your legumes / grain well then return to their draining position.
4. Day 3. morning
Repeat the rinsing step from last evening.
Continue to rinse and drain your legumes twice a day (or there abouts, it won’t be the end of the world if you skip a few sessions). The sprouts are ready when you can see little tails that are about the same length as the original grain / legume.
Video version of sprouting instructions
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warm sprouted quinoa salad
I love the texture of sprouted quinoa. They are the cutest looking sprouts as well. Although, my Irishman mentioned that they look like little sperms when we were having this salad for lunch recently. For some reason I feel compelled to share that tidbit. Please don’t let that put you off!
200g (7oz) sprouted quinoa
1 tablespoon sherry or rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 bag frozen peas (250g / 9oz)
small handful goats cheese
1. Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil. Add quinoa and cook for 3 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, combine vinegar, soy sauce and 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a bowl.
3. After 3 minutes add peas to the quinoa pot. Cook for another minute or until peas are defrosted.
4. Drain quinoa and peas. Toss in the dressing and divide between 2 plates. Top with goats cheese.
short on time? – use regular (unsprouted) quinoa (100g / 3.5oz) and simmer it for 10 minutes before adding the peas.
pea-free – I love this salad with steamed broccoli instead of the peas. You could boil the broccoli in the water first then add the quinoa for the last 3 or so minutes of cooking.
dairy-free / vegan – replace goats cheese with roasted almonds.
soy-free – skip the soy sauce and season the dressing with salt instead.
can’t find quinoa? – use sprouted or unsprouted brown rice or barley instead. Adjust the cooking time.
video version of the recipe
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