No food deserves the proclamation of ‘superfood’ so much as sprouts. They are a sustainable, living food, loaded with highly bioavailable nutrients. They are easily digestible nutrition, yet they are also incredibly affordable. In this age where many of us have trouble affording or consuming all of the veggies we need in a day, sprouts are awaiting your discovery.
I had the opportunity to chat with the CEO of Sprout Brothers, Ari Meyerowitz, to learn a little more about the benefits of sprouts and sprouting. Here’s Ari had to say about why sprouts are a superfood:
“Sprouts are the most bioavailable, nutrient-dense foods on the planet. Because of their ability to be grown year-round and their incredible potency, growing your own sprouts can turn your kitchen into your very own, living ‘farm-acy’. Sprouts are living medicine.”
Because sprouts (aka baby plants) are so easily digestible and affordable, consuming them can act as preventative medicine. Many sprouts are scientifically known to contain anti-cancer properties, like broccoli sprouts, in quantities you could never ingest were the sprout fully grown into the mature plant. They are high in protein and proportionally more nutrient-dense than their mature counterparts. Oh, and you can grow them right in your kitchen!
Unlike the hoards who suggest growing your sprouts in a glass mason jar, the Sprout Brothers try to dissuade their customers from doing this. The lack of air flow can encourage the growth of mold. Instead, they recommend specially woven hemp bags, which mimic the air flow and water retention of a sprout’s cozy natural habitat—soil. What’s more is that one bag, if taken care of, can easily last a lifetime. Here’s what Ari had to say about it:
“A mason jar was never designed as a sprouting tool. Sure people have invented tops that make them workable, and sure people have mason jars laying around, but this does not make it any more ideal. Look at the environment plants grow in naturally. Soil is porous and naturally aerates. Water is held by the seedling and then dissipates. The sprout bag is designed as a sprouter. I get calls and emails daily with peoples sprouting problems. 9 times out of 10 it is either bad seed, or a bad grower. Good seeds and a good grower and sprouts will grow themselves!”
Once you begin sprouting, you’ll find it’s incredibly easy. In fact, growing sprouts make it possible for you to have fresh produce in your kitchen year-round, no last minute grocery excursions required! But what do you do with all of your sprouts? Well, you can make a delicious and highly nutritious sprout salad, toss them on top of stir frys or dehydrate them for a crispy snack.
Since there is relatively little information on dehydrating sprouts on the web, I’ve compiled a few of my favorite sprouts along with some tips for dehydrating them:
Radish sprouts. High in vitamin A, vitamin C and calcium, radish sprouts are incredibly pungent with a delightful radish intensity. Dehydrating them can extend their shelf life significantly. Once mature after 5 to 6 days of sprouting, spread your radish sprouts out in a single layer on a dehydrator tray at 115 degrees F (or, in a pinch, use a cookie sheet with the oven at its lowest setting, keeping the door slightly ajar). Let dehydrate for 2-3 hours, or until crisp.
Broccoli sprouts. Known to have potent anti-cancer properties, broccoli sprouts are a personal favorite. There is also evidence that they can help with estrogen dominance by supporting the body in processing excess estrogens. Since our environment is rampant with xenoestrogens, this can be an important food for women and men of all ages. After sprouting for 5 to 7 days, set the sprouts in a single layer on a dehydrator tray set around 115 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 to 3 hours, much like radish.
Wheatgrass. There is a lot of confusion about wheatgrass, so I am going to take a moment to clear some of it up. Unfortunately, dehydrating wheatgrass sprouts is a bit of a waste. Your body cannot digest wheatgrass—we do not have ruminant stomachs as cows do. So, to reap the incredible benefits, we juice it. Dehydrating the wheatgrass would simply leave all of the undigestible bits and take out all of the juice, rendering it fairly inedible. Wheatgrass powders are made by freeze drying the fresh juice, not by dehydrating and powdering the wheatgrass sprout itself. Also, for all those concerned, know that wheatgrass itself contains no gluten. The green stalk that we use to juice is gluten-free. Gluten in stored in the seed itself and absolutely none of it resides in the luscious green stalk.
Lentil sprouts. Move over beef! These powerful sprouts are 26 percent protein. While lentil sprouts can be eaten raw or cooked once sprouted, they actually can make a tasty dehydrated snack as well. To begin, lentils take 4 or 5 days to reach peak nutrition, so pop them into a hemp bag or automatic sprouter and just make sure that they are watered ever morning and evening. Once they are done, spread the sprouts out onto a dehydrator tray at 115 degrees Fahrenheit and dehydrate for about 4 hours, or until crisp. Store in an airtight container. Once you get the basics down, feel free to marinate the sprouts beforehand in some onion powder and tamari and ginger powder for a flavor packed, nutritious snack! If you marinate them, dehydrate them at 125 degrees Fahrenheit for 6 to 8 hours.
When cooking sprouts, it’s always best to cook low and slow to preserve their nutrient density. Dehydrating is a great way to extend your sprout harvest and get a little more creative with your snacks, crackers and breads. You’d be surprised at how easy it his to ‘cook’ with sprouts. You can even begin to experiment with sprout cookies and sprout veggie burgers to increase the bioavailability of your treats and meals:
Sprout Burgers (adapted from Sproutman’s Kitchen Garden Cookbook)
2 cups sprouted lentils
1/2 cup tahini
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
5 Tbsp. miso
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
Simmer sprouted lentils in water on low heat for an hour, or until soft.
Process in a food processor with tahini, sunflower seeds, miso, garlic, and spices.
Form into patties, using a little corn meal if the patties seem a little too wet or sticky.
Place on parchment paper and bake for 1 hour at 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Enjoy!
Sprouts are a diverse wonder food! If you are new to the sprouting game, I recommend getting started by reading Sprouts: The Miracle Food. It is a wonderful book that covers everything you’ve ever wanted to know about sprouts and sprouting: germination, mixing and matching seeds, nutrition, health benefits and so much more. Once you know the basics, begin to experiment with your own dehydrated creations. Get ready to enter a new, sproutful world of nutritious possibilities!