Eating and Growing Sprouts

There’s always a defining moment in your life that changes the way you do things. For me, it was seeing that a regular sandwich could be transformed into something gourmet using sprouts. A mundane lettuce and tomato sandwich can be transformed into something delicious and different by adding interesting ingredients, like sprouts, veggie pâté, or homemade spread.

Some sprouts can be found in grocery stores, but are often quite expensive ($3.99-$4.99) for a small package. I occasionally buy sprouts and add them to a salad, a burger, a topping for a soup, add them in my granola mix, and most often, add them to my sandwiches. I can usually only find a few types of sprouts at the grocery store such as: alfalfa, mung bean, onion, radish, mustard and broccoli. I’ve never seen quinoa, amaranth or kaniwa sprouts in stores.

I decided to see if I could sprout some supergrains at home, like quinoa, amaranth, kaniwa (baby quinoa) along with more traditional ones like lentils and buckwheat. Surprisingly, it was simple and faster than expected. See sprouting chart further down.

Why Sprout These Supergrains?

Quinoa, kaniwa, and amaranth grains contain around 14-15 grams of proteins per 100 grams. The really notable thing about these three grains, though, isn’t so much the quantity of protein, but the fact that they hold all the nine essential amino acids in adequate proportions.

And amaranth grains are particularly high in lysine. This is the amino acid that’s usually found lacking in other more commercial grains like rice, corn, and wheat.

Why Sprout At All?

Sprouts are a healthy low-calorie and nutrient-dense food. Sprouting turns legumes and grains into living plants and, by weight, are the rich sources of an array of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants.

In fact, the simple process of sprouting brings out many enzymes in germinated seeds, legumes, and grains, making them easier to digest. They contain all the elements that a plant needs for life and growth.

Sprouting also helps remove the enzyme inhibitors and anti-nutrients such as phytic acid. This allows the release of nutrients, improving texture and helps make the absorption of those nutrients easier by breaking it down into its simplest components.

In other words, it increases the amounts and bioavailability of protein, vitamins and minerals, transforming them into nutrition powerhouses. Overall, sprouts provide excellent quality nutrients.

Raw Sprouts or Cooked Sprouts?

Eating sprouts raw is the best way to get all the nutritional value from them, but you have to make sure that they are well cleaned, look fresh, and smell good. The best way to ensure the quality of your sprouts is to grow them yourself.

If you want to be on the safe side, though, you should steam or cook your sprouts before consuming. Steaming or cooking your sprouts will reduce some of the vitamins and minerals from the grain, but will still be packed with more nutrients than if you hadn’t sprouted them. A couple of minutes will suffice.

Can it Be Harmful to Eat Sprouts?

You have to be careful when eating sprouts, because they can sometimes be contaminated with harmful bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella. Especially when you purchase them from the grocery store. Government of Canada’s website provides good guidelines for safely consuming sprouts.

Sprouting Chart

Variety Dry measure Yield Soak time Sprouting time
Quinoa 1 cup 3 cups 3-6 hours 24 hours
Kaniwa 1 cup 3 cups 3-6 hours 24 hours
Amaranth 1 cup 3 cups 3-6 hours 24 hours
Buckwheat 1 cup 1 ¾ cups 6 hours 2 days
Lentils ½ cup 2 cups 12 hours 3 days

10 Step Sprouting Instructions

1. Buy organic grains/legumes, and rinse them thoroughly

2. Rinse/wash mason jar

3. Measure ½ cup of grains

4. Place the washed grains in a glass mason jar

5. Add 2 cups of filtered water to the jars

6. Place a cheese cloth/muslin cloth over the top of the mason jar

7. Affix the cloth with a strong elastic band or the jar lid (without the top)

8. Let gains soak (see chart above for time) – store in a place with minimum or no direct sunlight

9. Rinse twice a day until sprouted (see chart above for time)

10. Dry sprouts and use raw or cooked in recipes (or store in glass containers in the refrigerator for up to 1 week)

How To Use Your Sprouts

After sprouting quinoa, amaranth, kaniwa, lentils and buckwheat, you can use them in different recipes. Click on the links for the recipe.