I have been sprouting on my windowsill off and for years. During lockdown it seems to have increased, I guess as other hobbies have not been possible.

I wanted to share about this hobby because it remains at the fringes of nutrition, yet is so easy that anyone can do it and it has so many benefits. 

You might think its a bit too weird, hippy like, snake-oil.  Yet have you ever eaten beansprouts in a stir fry or Chinese?  Have you ever had cress as a garnish in a pub meal?  If so, you have eaten sprouts.

Spouts are basically seeds or beans bought to life.  This is living food, in the same way you might have lettuce growing in your garden or herbs  growing in your kitchen. Tiny baby plants.  I am no gardner, but I do love watching these transform and grow, something incredible about it.

I sprout a few different things, though not all at the same time.  And I have a few different containers.  You can use jars, seed trays, cardboard mushroom containers, seives.  

In theory spouts can all be eaten raw, (salads, sandwiches, smoothies) though I do lightly cook some and hope I don’t lose too many of the nutrient benefits in the process.  

  1. Beans & lentils – my favourites are soya beans, chickpeas, and green lentils.  I like to give them a quick roast so they become crunchy / chewy.  Also great chucked in a soup or stew just before its cooked.  Generally the smaller it is the easier it will sprout. 
  2. Grains – quinoa sprouts amazingly well.  I also like millet and buckwheat.  I lightly toast these in a large frying pan when they are sprouted, millet in my favourite as this makes it really crunchy.   I have tried oat groats, but without success (so far)
  3. Microgreens – my most frequent are broccoli, red clover, alfafa, fenugreek (great for curries).  Any salad or plants can be sprouted, though I do buy the packets that specifically for sprouting and not generic seeds from the garden centre, I am not sure if they are the same.  I eat all my microgreens raw as I am pretty sure they would not withstand cooking. 
  4. Seeds – so far I have only had success with sunflower seeds, I don’t know why I can’t get sesame and pumpkin to work.  I gave up trying with linseeds because of the gel they form, too messy!

I know others sprout nuts like almonds,  and grains like rye and wheat.  And of course there is wheatgrass.  I haven’t tried these – yet!

We all know that eating food as fresh as possible is the best.  Here are a few reasons why

  • When a seed germinates the starches and oils in them are converted to vitamins, proteins (amino acids) and enzymes.  This boosts the nutrient content enormously, for example the vitamin C in soya beans increases x 6.  In alfafa sprouts the protein content increases by up to 30% (and so  lowers the carb content).   Alfafa sprouts also contain iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, phosphorous, sodium, sulphur, and silicone – amazing!
  • The germination of beans and lentils gets rid of the need for boiling the dried varieties,  because the enzymes that are released makes them more digestible already. Though either way they still need soaking.  In addition if you have heard of some nuts and grains containing ‘anti-nutrients’ then sprouting reduces these too. 
  • This means that if beans or lentils make you gassy, you might get on better with sprouts, (they are not for everyone though). 
  • One study showed that the insoluble fibre in beans increased by over 200%, or 133% in grains, which makes them a fantastic source of pre-biotic fibre fot the gut.  This helps with the digestion of other nutrients from other foods. 
  • If you are looking to reduce gluten, research indicates that sprouting grains that contain gluten (wheat barley rye) will reduce the gluten content
  • Its one of the cheapest ways to get a constant supply of super-healthy foods into your diet (depending on what containers you might buy).   A 250g bag of organic alfafa seeds costs less than £5 on Amazon and would last me at least 6 months. 
  • Its convenient  – if you have run out of fresh veg,  1 or 2 helpings of something sprouted at home will make a lot of difference to your day’s nutrition. 
  • It’s a brilliant hobby to take up at home, espectially with young children.  Fascinating, particuarly if you don’t have green fingers or don’t have a garden – this is the easiest form of gardening. And accessible to everyone. 

There is a slight caveat to all of this – sprouting done incorrectly can cause food poisoning (though I have never had it in 20 years of sprouting).  It is important to read up on this before starting, so it is done safely.  

If you would like any further information from me, please get in touch .  I would be happy to help encourage anyone to get sprouting!

Further resources – 

Great little book – Sprouting in the UK, by Sally Holloway




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