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Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

Time To Sprout: Tapping Into Seeds’ Nutrients

Springtime means new life. Sprouting seeds, beans and grains in your kitchen is an easy way to make your own food - no garden necessary!

  • Sprouting Tower with Trays

    Image 1 of 1

    Photo: Clara Moore

    This sprouting tower slowly disperses water through the trays, keeping the seeds moist but not wet.

Sprouting seems to hold an intense fascination with people today, and I completely understand why.

To me, it fulfills that human desire to create, to watch things grow. Since most of us have a million excuses not to actually grow our own vegetables, we can at least sprout some lovely shoots on our kitchen counter with little to no effort in a matter of days.

Instant gratification. Fresh Food. Micro Farming.

Separating my sprouting into two different types makes my brain a little happier — (A) sprouts that I can eat whole and raw, and (B) sprouts that have to be cooked or require me to remove the seed.

(A) group includes thing like flax, wheat and rye berries, radish, broccoli, cabbage, alfalfa, almonds and black sesame

(B) group includes things like sunflower seeds, mung beans, black beans, kidney beans, lentils and brown rice

  • Day Two sprouting Black Lentils

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    Photo: Clara Moore

    Black lentils, day two of sprouting

  • Day Three sprouting Black Lentils

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    Photo: Clara Moore

    Black lentils, day three of sprouting

Science Of Sprouting

Nuts, beans, legumes and grains are routinely eaten in their whole or ground form, but when you do this, you are actually missing out on a lot of the nutrition that is contained within these little things.

Since seeds carry around the beginnings of new life, they store huge amounts of highly concentrated nutrition to help a little sprout get started and make it into the ground – where it can then draw nutrients from the soil. This “highly concentrated nutrition” is actually protected by carbohydrates and insoluble fiber, to basically make it harder for others to access and easier for the seed to “sleep.”

By sprouting, or waking the seed from nutritional hibernation, you jump-start a reaction in the seed:

  1. Photosynthesis begins.
  2. Enzymes metabolize the carbs and fiber to gain access to the more nutritious amino acids, proteins, minerals and vitamins.
  3. The seed starts to grow.

It’s an ingenious plan of nature to make these plant babies so self-sufficient by carrying their first few days of food around with them.

  • Day Two sprouting Flax Seeds

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    Photo: Clara Moore

    Flax seeds, day two of sprouting

  • Day Three sprouting Flax Seeds

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    Photo: Clara Moore

    Flax seeds, day three of sprouting

Ready, Set, Sprout

It’s easy for us to tap into that wonderful nutrition — as easy as stealing candy from a baby!

To wake these seeds up, you need two things. (Come on, think back to fifth grade science class…) Water and light!

The correct balance between the two is the only hurdle to jump:

  • Too wet and you get moldy seeds, too dry and they won’t sprout.
  • Too much light and they fry, too little light and they won’t crack.

Generally, the light they receive on your kitchen counter is enough — assuming your kitchen isn’t in an underground bunker.

Water, on the other hand, is a bit trickier. You want your seeds moist but not wet, and certainly not soaking in a pool of water. It is best to moisten them twice a day.

To make sprouting even easier, invest in a sprout tower like this one. It takes the guesswork out of watering your seeds by siphoning water from the top tray down to the seeds below.

Now, get to sprouting!

  • Day Two sprouting Wheat Berries

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    Photo: Clara Moore

    Wheat berries, day two of sprouting

  • Day Three sprouting Wheat Berries

    Image 2 of 3

    Photo: Clara Moore

    Wheat berries, day three of sprouting

  • wheat berries sprouting

    Image 3 of 3

    Photo: Clara Moore

    These little wheat berries just wouldn't stop sprouting!

Clara Moore

Clara Moore is a chef from St. Louis finding her way in Seattle, one plate of food at a time. She lives in a cedar cabin in the woods and cooks at home a lot more now than ever before.

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