Sprouts like alfalfa, radish, broccoli, clover and soybean contain concentrated amounts of phytochemicals [plant compounds, or nutraceuticals] that can protect us against illness. Sprouts also contain large amounts of plant oestrogen. They increase bone formation and density and prevent bone breakdown, or osteoporosis. They are also helpful in controlling hot flashes, menopause symptoms, PMS and fibrocystic breast tumours.
Sprouting is the practice of soaking, draining and then rinsing seeds at regular intervals until they germinate, or sprout.Other seeds that can be sprouted are Goa beans [alsande], Bengal gram [white chana and red chana], black gram [urad], cow pea [chawli, or lobia], field bean [avare], green gram [moong], dehydrated green peas [vatana], horse gram [kuleeth], kidney beans [rajma], lentil [masur], moth bean [matki], pigeon pea or red gram [tur or arhar], soybean and dals, or split pulses like chana dal.
All whole pulses — moong, matki, chana, chole, chawli, rajma, vatana, masur etc., can be easily sprouted. Even grains and groundnuts when sprouted are easy to digest; they are more easily available as "energy" for the body. You can use all these sprouts to make wholesome, economic, regionally satisfying, one-dish-meals like khichdi, upma, ussal, bhel, poha, and so on.
Sprouts contain an abundance of highly active anti-oxidants that prevent cell destruction and protect us from the ongoing effects of aging. It may not be conceivable to find the fountain of youth, but sprouts or sprouting, to use a figure of speech, represent the miracle of birth.
When a proper diet of greens, seeds, nuts, vegetables, and fruit, is followed, a proper balance of acid versus alkaline foods is maintained. When the diet is heavy on the protein side, it results in acidity. Hence, it is necessary to eliminate as many acid-forming foods as possible. Sprouting helps to reduce the acid-alkaline imbalance which might occur when grains, legumes, and other proteins are used.
- Moong beans, apart from being a good source of protein also contain useful amounts of fibre, potassium, and B-vitamins. They contain low levels of fat, cholesterol and sodium. It is useful for those of us who want to increase their alertness and mental abilities. Phosphorous is also necessary for healthy bones and teeth, a fact which makes sprouted seeds desirable for babies and children
- Alfalfa, probably the most popular sprouted seed, contains much chlorophyll, as well as vitamins A, B complex, C, D, E, G. K, and U. It also has large amounts of iron, calcium, phosphorous, and sulphur.
- Sprouted wheat contains vitamins C, E, B complex, magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, sodium, potassium, protein, enzymes, chlorophyll, and possibly B-17. In its cooked form, wheat is unacceptable to some individuals. It causes mucous congestion, allergic reaction, and constipation. In its sprouted form, a large portion of starch is converted to simple sugars, making it a wholesome food that is acceptable to many who would, otherwise, need to eliminate wheat as a food source.
Sprouts in diet
For most people, sprouts would be an excellent addition to their diet. However, no set dietary rules can be established to encompass the case of every individual.
Sprouts are best when eaten raw, because cooking always destroys a large part of their nutritional content.
The entire sprout is eaten, including leaves and roots. Sprouts are good eaten by themselves, but they can also be added to salads, sandwiches, or soups. They can be blended for baby food, sauces, and dressings. They can be stored in the refrigerator in a jar or plastic bag for up to two weeks. It is preferable, however, to make small amounts at frequent intervals since seeds and sprouts tend to become rancid when held for too long a time.
Sprouts probably contain the largest amount of nutrients per unit of any food known. Enzymes that initiate and control most chemical reactions in our body are activated in the sprouting process. This helps convert proteins into amino acids and starch into glucose. It also increases the value of vitamins. For example, vitamin B increases by 1,000 per cent and vitamin C by 600 per cent in sprouted wheat.
It is best to eat sprouts fresh. However, the nourishment which develops as the sprouts grow is very stable and can be frozen, or dried, for future use. Sprouts can be mixed with other foods and dressings such as lemon juice and rock salt.
This live food rejuvenates body cells and tissues and provides energy. It also retards the aging process. Alfalfa and moong-bean sprouts are, on the other hand, excellent, soft food: they contain every known vitamin necessary for the human body in perfect balance.
What Can I Sprout?
This is primarily a pulse crop grown in India. The sprout is tender and delicious and is ready to eat when the root is between 1 1/2 and 2 inches long. Sprouts grown from chickpeas have nutty flavour and a crunchy texture. They add substance to baked dishes and casseroles.
This legume is used in medicine, food and teas. It is a spicy seed that is excellent for making curry. These sprouts have a crunchy texture and is a general tonic for activeness and diabetes. They can be consumed raw.
When lentils are sprouted, they become sweeter with a delicate flavour. These sprouts have a pleasant, slightly spicy, peppery flavour and thin, white shoots. Use only whole lentils for sprouting; split ones will not sprout!
Moong beans [Green gram]
These are the easiest to sprout for beginners. These are the most widely available type of bean sprouts. They have a fresh flavour and are very nutritious. They are used in soups, salads and stir-fries. They are fairly large, with crunchy texture and a delicate flavour. Some people find them indigestible and may prefer to blanch them briefly in boiling water before using them.
Sprouting peas increase their sugar content, giving pea sprouts a sweet vegetable flavour. Wrinkled or smooth varieties work equally well. When the root is two inches long, they are ready to eat raw. They need only 5 minutes for cooking.
These are the most nutritious of all sprouts. The small soy bean that is yellow in colour is excellent for sprouting. They are ready to eat when the root is 2 inches long. Soy bean sprouts require approximately 10 minutes for cooking. These sprouts are higher in protein content than any other bean. It is the most complete protein food. It is a great source of lecithin, which is known to disperse deposits of fatty materials in certain vital organs.
A rich source of protein, groundnut contains more protein than meat, about two-and-half times more than eggs and far more than any other vegetable food, except soybean and yeast. It is best to eat groundnuts after they has been soaked overnight.
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