Something about sprouts just screams health food. As public awareness of nutrition exploded in the 1970s, sprouts popped up seemingly everywhere—suddenly everything from garden salads to tuna sandwiches featured a tangle of nutty, earthy alfalfa sprouts.
The fad for sprouted nuts hasn’t gone anywhere. Why? Because besides being full of flavor, sprouting makes almost any nut, seed, or grain much more nutritious. To understand what the fuss is about, you need understand exactly what a sprout is. Grains and nuts are actually the dormant seeds of a plant. (A grain of wheat, for example, is really the berry of the wheat plant.) When you add water to a grain or seed, it will begin to germinate—that is, attempt to grow into a plant. Stopping this process soon after it begins creates a sprout, and you’re left with sprouted nuts.
These are living foods—up until the day they’re harvested, sprouts are growing a new plant. They contain higher levels of amino acids, vitamins, and minerals than their dormant grain cousins. The process of sprouting changes the composition of the grain, often producing more vitamin C and B along the way. The sprouted nut will also use up some of its starch as it grows, giving it a higher concentration of protein than a grain. Some people find this makes sprouted grains more easily digestible. Even more important, sprouting produces the enzyme phytase, which helps the body absorb a larger amount of vitamins and minerals from food.
Sprouting is a simple process, and with just a little practice, you can sprout your own nuts, seeds, and grains. Beginners might consider cooking all of their sprouts before eating them—the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends this as the best way to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.
Most nuts grains and seeds will benefit from an easy overnight soak, around 12 hours, though soaking times vary between 3 to 12 hours depending on what you’re working with. Simply place the seeds, nuts, or grain in a mason jar or stainless steel bowl, then fill with 2 to 3 times as much filtered water to cover. Soak, jar covered with a mash cap to keep bacteria out.
After you’ve thoroughly soaked your nuts or seeds, drain the water and rinse everything well with warm water. This time, cover the bowl or jar with a dark cloth. If you’re using a jar, tilt the lid facing down to help the water drain. You can also transfer the soaked sprouting nuts into a sprouting bag.
Whatever you’re sprouting should be rinsed twice a day until sprouts appear—usually between one to four days. A good rule of thumb is rinsing them when you get up in the morning and in the evening before going to bed.
Certain sprouts benefit from greening in the final stage of sprouting. Greening just means allowing sprouts to soak in indirect sunlight—This causes them to produce chlorophyll and turn green. To green your sprouts, place the jar or sprouting bag in strong indirect sunlight for 12 hours to a full day at the end of sprouting time.
Harvest times vary by each plant. Do some research to find approximate times for soaking, sprouting, and harvesting various nuts, seeds and grains.
Here are the answers to all your burning questions about sprouting nuts at home:
When sprouting nuts, you stop the germination process soon after your nut or seed begins to germinate. Seedlings are essentially the same as sprouted nuts, except they are generally transferred to soil in this phase to grow into a plant, while sprouted nuts are eaten. Microgreens are typically grown in soil, not water, and are given a little longer to grow than sprouts. Usually, microgreens will also have more leaves.
Almost all of the most popular nuts and seeds can be sprouted! If you’re looking for somewhere to start, try almonds, cashews, walnuts, alfalfa seeds, or sunflower seeds.
You can opt for organic nuts and seeds if you prefer to limit your exposure to pesticides. Learn more about what it means for food to be Certified Organic here.
Soak time can range from 3-12 hours for most seeds. Most nuts, grains, and seeds will benefit from an overnight soak of about 12 hours.
The process can take between 2-5 days, so be sure to check on your sprouting nuts daily.
Sprouted nuts and seeds are a great, healthful addition to tons of your favorite recipes. Toss them in with your salads, use them as a topper to sandwiches & avocado toasts, or add your sprouts to fresh spring rolls with all your favorite veggies.
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before changing your diet or healthcare regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.
Photo credit: Paul Delmont
Magda Freedom Rod is a certified yoga instructor, health & lifestyle guide and founder of Visionary Lifestyle and Conscious Eating 101. She helps people activate their highest potential through conscious eating, yoga and sustainable lifestyle guidance. Visit www.Visionary-Lifestyle.com today to join her mailing list and receive recipes and healthy lifestyle tips!
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