Sprouts will be discussed next, but I shall just mention here that soybean sprouts, as any of the legume sprouts, are very nutritious, vital foods. The vitamin C content, chlorophyll level, and protein level are all fairly good. The general protein concentration may go down when soybeans are sprouted, but protein is still found in good quantity, and the fiber content goes up. Anybody, anywhere can make and use these important sprouts as a healthful adjunct to their diet.
Overall, the legumes are a very important class of foods. They are especially important to the American diet, where we need to find lower-fat, lower-sodium, and lower-calorie (and lower cost) protein foods to substitute in the diets that are currently too high in meat, sodium, and fat and contribute so much to disease. The legumes are one of the best substitutes we have.
Aduki, alfalfa, buckwheat, clover, fenugreek, garbanzo, lentil, mung, radish, soybean, sunflower, wheat?these are only some of the protein- and vitamin-rich sprouts of many possible seeds, grains, and beans. Barley, corn, oats, green peas, and lima beans are a few others. Really, any ?seed? that is endowed with the potential for the next generation of the plant life is sproutable. When a seed is sprouted into the first beginnings of the new plant, much of the stored nutrient potential bursts forth into the seedling, and these little sprouts, including the seed, grain, or bean with its shoot and greenery, become very wealthy with nutrients. Protein content increases by somewhere between 15 and 30 percent, depending on the plant, as the carbohydrate food source gets converted. Chlorophyll and fiber content also increase. The chlorophyll content can be very high when the sprout becomes green, as in sprouted wheat berries (wheat grass). Chlorophyll itself is rich in nutrients and has many health-giving properties. Also, sprouts are living foods that contain active enzymes which help our digestion and assimilation. With sprouting, most of the B vitamins are greatly increased, some over tenfold. Niacin and riboflavin are in particularly good amounts. The vitamin C level is greatly enhanced in sprouts compared to the dry seeds. Beta-carotene, the vitamin A precursor, increases with sprouting, as do vitamin E, K, calcium, phosphorus, and iron, though mineral content is not as greatly affected as that of the vitamins.
Many sprouts can now be purchased in grocery stores. Alfalfa sprouts, by far the most common, are used in salads or sandwiches. They are very tasty but should be eaten fresh so that they do not ferment. Clover sprouts are bigger and have a fuller flavor than alfalfa; they are now more available in stores and can also be used fresh in salads or sandwiches. Mung bean sprouts have been used since ancient China, and are still popular in Oriental cooking. Mixed bean sprouts, with lentils, peas, and garbanzo beans, for example, are now more commonly available in little plastic bags. These can be eaten raw in salads or cooked in vegetable, grain, or even meat dishes or in soups. More and more people are coming to realize that the nutrient value and economical price of sprouts make them an ideal food.
Sprouting at home is very simple with a large glass jar or flat tray filled with soil. Most seeds, grains, or beans can be placed in a jar, rinsed, then covered with water for approximately 24 hours, being rinsed once or twice, then kept in the jar out of direct sunlight and rinsed two or three times a Day , pouring off the water and letting the moist sprouts sit. I suggest using purified, chlorine-free water for soaking and rinsing sprouts. When they have sprouted, they can be placed in more light over the next Day or two, again being rinsed two or three times daily to keep them clean and fresh. By this time, the amount of sprouts will have increased several times over the original volume. The sprouts and/or greenery are usually edible after a Day or two in the light. Many types of sprouts, such as lentils, garbanzos, or alfalfa, can be eaten earlier than this and are very tasty along with being at peak protein levels at this time, Day two or three.
Sunflower, wheat berry, and buckwheat sprouts all tend to grow better and healthier in a bed of soil. They are placed on top of the soil, watered well, covered with dark plastic or cloth, and left in a dark place for two to three Day s. Then they are uncovered and placed in the light, being watered or sprayed as needed. The tall shoots with green tops can be trimmed and eaten fresh in salads, or they may continue to grow even further.
Lentils and garbanzos are very easy to sprout, may take only a couple of Day s, and are very rich in protein. Sprouted mung beans, the common ?bean sprouts? used in Oriental cooking, can be used in salads or cooked into vegetable dishes. Fenugreek sprouts have a licorice flavor, while radish sprouts are more spicy. Soybean sprouting takes a little more care, as they must be rinsed more often to prevent fermentation.
Some practitioners feel that sprouts as the basic part of our diet can be very healthy and can, in fact, help heal a lot of medical problems. When the Hippocrates Health Institutes or the Optimum Health Institutes take people in for health care, they feed them mainly sprouts of various kinds, raw foods, and juices. These centers have been inspired by the work of Dr. Ann Wigmore, a well-known naturopathic doctor. Author Viktoras Kulvinskas, best known for his book
Survival into the Twenty-First Century
(Omango D?Press, 1975), has also published an entire book on sprouts,
Sprouts for the Love of Every Body
. These people feel, and I agree, that sprouts are likely the most vitally alive and nourishing foods we can eat. They are a great survival food, too. We can sprout these seeds, beans, and grains all year round. I believe that eating high amounts of sprouted foods, along with other vegetables and fruits, will promote health and vitality. Also, for overweight people, sprouts provide low-calorie, high-nutrient foods that also tend to support improved metabolism. Sprouts are also a good source of nutrients in the wintertime when there are less leafy greens and other vegetables available. And the amount of nourishment per dollar surpasses most any other food.