Perhaps one of the true miracle foods are sprouts made from seeds: beans (legumes), grains or nuts. Apart from their high nutritional value, sprouts are a true organic food as you are growing them yourself, in your own home. So no chemicals are being used in their growing, they are completely un-processed, free of packaging waste, and with zero food miles, since they are grown right inside your kitchen.
 Live nutrition factories
Sprouts are known to be among the highest nutrient dense foods in the world. This means they give you the highest amount of nutrients for the lowest amount of calories in a food. The ‘miracle factor’ in sprouts is that they are live food – and what could be fresher than that? As each seed grows it becomes a little nutrition factory – magnifying its nutritional value a thousand-fold. Within a sprouting seed are rapidly multiplying enzymes, vitamins, proteins and minerals all essential for the plant to grow – and filling you with this goodness as you eat it.
On an average, sprouting seeds triple their amount of Vitamin A, increase Vitamin C from 5 to 6 times, and grow the Vitamin Bs alone by a whopping 300% in just 3 to 6 days. Complex starches are converted into simple sugars making sprouts easy to digest raw and quick to cook.
 Protein packed
Sprouts are one of the best vegetarian sources of protein – and what’s more, they are create their own enzymes to break down these proteins – so your body doesn’t have to do that extra job during digestion. Some rough comparisons with other foods should convince you about their goodness: alfalfa, sunflower, clover and radish sprouts all have 4% protein, while iceberg lettuce has 0.8% protein (so take it off your favourite diet food!). Soya bean sprouts have 28% protein, while meat has 19% and eggs 13% - apart from being high in fat, which sprouts are not. Compare soya to milk, which has only 3.3% protein. Considering going vegetarian or vegan?
In mung sprouts maximum Vitamin C is generated during the second day of germination. At this stage the sprouts are quite small, unlike Chinese bean sprouts, but this is the way it is had in most Indian households. See some Indian sprout recipes.
 Seeds for Sprouting
You can sprout beans, lentils, grains and nuts. Some of the most popular varieties for sprouting are mung, soya, alfalfa, broccoli, red clover, radish, chick peas, garbanzo beans peas, fenugreek, mustard, sesame, sunflower, adzuki beans, wheat, rye and triticale. The seeds you sprout should have the hull or thin dry skin around it. And to be perfectly safe, buy organic, chemical-free seeds from a health food store.
Step-by-step home-made sprouts:
1. Wash and soak seeds (about 1 cup for larger seeds, ½ cup for smaller ones) in chlorine-free, filtered water overnight at room temperature.
2. Place the seeds in a ceramic bowl or wide-mouthed ceramic jar (the container should breathe). Cover with a clean folded tea towel or cheese cloth that you have soaked and wrung out. Place the container in a dark, undisturbed spot in the kitchen.
3. Each morning rinse the seeds out (so that they remain fresh) and cover with the freshly-dampened cloth again. At night sprinkle more water over the cloth and shake the container gently. Repeat this process daily.
4. Sprouting best happens at 20 to 30°C. It takes from 3 to 7 days to obtain the size of sprouts you desire, and also depending on the temperature. If the weather is colder cover your container with a tea-cosy or wrap it with a towel.
5. Once you feel that your sprouts have grown to the size you want, wash them in running water. Discard the lose seed coats (that float to the top) and dead or blackened sprouts. Some people like to keep the hull or seed coats for extra roughage and bite – so this is optional.
6. Of course sprouts are best eaten fresh, but they can also be stored in the fridge for up to seven days or so. Pack them in closed glass or plastic containers – and definitely don’t freeze them.
 Safety tips for buying ready-made sprouts
- Buy sprouts that have been stored under refrigeration; or buy them from a fresh food market.
- Fresh sprouts should look crisp and not limp. Don’t buy sprouts that look blackened or smell musty.
- If buying sprouts from display trays, use tongs or a glove to fill your plastic bag.
- Refrigerate the sprouts immediately when you get home.
- Follow the best-before date.
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