February 17, 2011

Why of course I eat local, fresh, produce, in the winter...in Canada! Easy peasy!

It's all about sprouts, baby!

You are about to get hit with the best kept secret to eating fresh all year round.  It's easy.  It's cheap.  It's healthier than healthy.
Recently I've tried sprouting my own grains, seeds and beans.  It's something I've wanted to do for a few years actually, but to be honest, I was a little intimidated by the process.  You know...you see all the special kits you have to buy...and the trays...what do I do with those?  Well, it's not at all that complicated.  And for the little effort you put in, your return is extremely great.  And no, you don't have to buy the trays.  A few mason jars and some cheese cloth (or other breathable fabric) will do.

I started with wheat berries.  They are just several dollars a pound at the bulk food store and they are sometimes called hard wheat, soft wheat, wheat kernels, or wheat berries.  They look like this:  

(This photo was taken after I had soaked the berries overnight.  My index finger is pointing to the level at which the dried berries were when I first put them in the jar.  I used about a cup.  See how much they swelled up from the soaking?  And they hadn't even started sprouting.)

After you've soaked them overnight, drain the water off and rinse them again, and drain them again.  This is where I added the piece of cheesecloth to the top (with a jar ring) for easy draining and to allow the sprouts to breathe.

*It's very important to make sure your jar has good circulation of air.  If there isn't enough air, the berries will start to ferment and go bad.

Place your jar somewhere out of the sun, on it's side or at an angle (to let excess water drain off) and wait for your sprouts to grow!

Rinse your berries twice a day, making sure the excess water is drained off.

In a day or so, your berries will begin to show little white sprouts like the photo to the right!

I actually had to transfer my wheat to an bigger jar because they were outgrowing the original one!

Keep rinsing, draining and airing out your seeds for a

couple of days.

You'll see them grow cute little tails like this:

Then, before your sprouts get too big, you can harvest them.  The nutrient value has grown exponentially once the seeds have begun to sprout!  I'm not even joking!  Sprouts are some of the most nutritiously dense foods on the planet!  (I'm going to give you some facts about this in a future post.)  And the best part is, you can have access to these fresh foods all year long!

At this point, you can use your sprouts for snacking, salads, sandwiches, or any number of creative dishes you can come up with!  Just don't cook them - they are the most healthy when they're raw.

Another interesting fact: when you soak beans and seeds before eating them, they release alot of the hard-to-digest starches and phytic acid (this substance makes it hard for your body to absorb minerals), making the beans/seeds/grains easy to digest!
So, don't drink the rinse water from your soaked beans/seeds/grains - save that water for your plants.

I chose to use my wheat sprouts to make raw sprouted bread.
You basically just dump the sprouts into your food processor (with nothing else), pulse it until it becomes dough.  Form it into a loaf-shape (see photos) and place it on a greased or non-stick baking sheet.

Bake your bread just the way it is (or add currants and salt for flavour) at 225 degrees for about 3 hours.  This is basically dehydrating the dough.

When your bread is done, it will look something like the photo to the right.  It will be a little dry on the outside and moist on the inside.
This is considered a raw bread because it's cooked at such a low temperature so alot of the nutrients are intact when you eat it.

The flavour is pretty sweet and the texture is slightly chewy and soft...kinda like a bran muffin!  I LOVE this stuff and I'm going to try different variations with different grains and seeds added.

So, why don't you try sprouting your own grains, seeds or beans.  They are an excellent addition to your diet and you'll love having fresh food on hand anytime.

Try sprouting these:

chia seeds (the process for sprouting chia is a bit different than other seeds)
sunflower seeds
mung beans
red clover

And basically any other seed or grain that still has the entire seed in tact!  Isn't this fun?

Please, please share your sprouting experiences with me!  I am brand new to this and so excited to find this great source of nutrition!


Sprout said...

I can sprout all of those? Nice! I had no idea! Thanks Estelle... I've got myself a project, I am sure the kids will love it too since it's such a quick process. Do you have any idea where I could find broccoli or alfalfa to sprout?

Estelle said...

You definitely can sprout these! The chia has to be done a little differently though.

I know for sure you can get broccoli seeds and alfalfa from Well Well Well (on Ontario street) and I believe from the Bulk Barn as well.

Lukrisi said...

Hey, Moni brought me over here (again) to look at your jar sprouts. Do you think you could sprout quinoa? It's supposed to be the best food out there... I can only imagine it's better sprouted.

Thanks for the idea!