Posts Tagged ‘sprouts’

Are you leery about having a slice of bread, or bowl of pasta? With all the hype of the role of gains in weight gain, it is easy to see why. However, there is a lot we need to understand before ditching those dinner treats.

In order to bake your bread and eat it too, we must understanding the difference between whole grain and refined grain is a good starting point. The truth is, the grains that make up the typical American diet are highly refined. Many people think that whole wheat is a much “heavier” grain and contains more crabs, therefore turning to the “refined” grains. This is where grains get their bad wrap. Health problems such as Obesity, Diabetes, Hypoglycemia, Heart Disease, Bowel Cancer and Tooth Decay are just some of the major diseases on the rise since the introduction of white flour in the 1900’s. Many nutritionists agree that white flour and other refined foods are largely responsible.

Refined vs. Whole Grain

 Refined, processed grains are stripped of most of their nutrients, as the bran and the germ are removed.  This is done in order to be able to preserve the grain for longer.  When commercially making white flour, over half of the vitamins B1, B2, B3, E, folic acid, calcium phosphorus, zinc, copper, iron, and fiber are lost. Modern milling of whole cereal grains puts the kernel through a high-heat milling process that removes the germ and bran (which contain 90 percent of the nutritional content of the kernel), leaving only the endosperm (starch). The result is “refined” flour. Although this results in an easier flour for cooking, it strips it of all the good stuff. So you’re basically eating gluten and starch when you eat products off the shelf.  For PR purposes, you’ll see breads and cereals claiming to be “enriched with vitamins and minerals!” Meaning that some of the nutrients such as niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, and iron, are added back. However, Usually only 2-4 of the missing vitamins and minerals can be replaced and enrichment does not restore insoluble fiber and other nutrients that are lost during the milling process.

Whole grains contain the bran, the endosperm, and the germ. Because they have not gone through the refining process, they are good sources of fiber, B vitamins, iron, zinc, magnesium, vitamin E, and selenium. They also contain the plant chemicals called phytochemicals, which are believed to have many health-promoting effects.

Now that we have determined the difference in refined and whole grains, we can take it a step further with sprouted grains! Sprouted grains, unlike processed grains, are extremely nutritious and provide a valuable part of any healthy diet.

Sprouted Grains

Sprouted grain differs from whole grain in three fundamental aspects: 1) sprouting activates food enzymes; 2) sprouting increases vitamin content, and 3) sprouting neutralizes antinutrients like phytic acid which bind up minerals preventing your ability to fully absorb them.

When grains, seeds and nuts are germinated, their nutritional content changes and, as they are generally not cooked, they retain their natural plant enzymes. As well as retaining the enzymes, they also retain the nutrients that would otherwise be destroyed by cooking.  Sprouted grains, seeds and nuts also encourage the growth of good bacteria, help to keep the colon clean, and are high in protective antioxidants. (Check our our post on sprouting seeds for more information on how to sprout your own.)

Sprouted wheat is highly nutritious and surprisingly sweet. It is much easier for the body to digest since much of the starch is changed into vegetable sugars. They are also low GI, so they are digested more slowly by the body, keeping the blood sugar levels stable for longer, making people feel more satisfied.  (Leading to less snacking)  It is interesting to note that the more highly processed a food is, the higher GI it is.  A loaf of white bread is significantly higher GI than a loaf of sprouted grain bread.

What is GI?

If you are like me, I had only heard of the words Glycemic Index and thought it only related to diabetics. The fact of the matter is, it relates to everyone. The glycemic index or GI describes this difference by ranking carbohydrates according to their effect on our blood glucose levels. Choosing low GI carbs – the ones that produce only small fluctuations in our blood glucose and insulin levels – is the secret to long-term health reducing your risk of heart disease and diabetes and is the key to sustainable weight loss.

Visit the GI website for more information

Moral of the story:

You can Sprout your grains, and Mill them too!
Take your health into your own hands. The more we rely on grocery store shelf products, the more fat we add to our diets. Once we slow down and get the facts, we can start replenishing our body of all the good stuff it’s missing. Even if milling and sprouting are not up your alley, know what you put into your body. Read the labels of the stuff you are buying.

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Sprouting Seeds

Sprouting is easy and fun. You do not have to have a “green thumb” to get started. It is as simple as water and beans and the rewards are well worth the effort.

Sprouting takes a seed or nut in the dormant state and brings it to life. During the sprouting process new and higher quality proteins and other nutrients are produced. Tests have shown that the nutrients in seeds and nuts are anywhere from 50% to 400% greater after sprouting or soaking. Because sprouts are living, growing food sources, they have a rich supply of enzymes.

Why eat sprouts? There are many reasons. In addition to providing the highest amount of vitamins, minerals, proteins and enzymes of any food per unit of calorie, sprouts deliver them in a form which is easily assimilated and digested. In fact, sprouts improve the efficiency of digestion.

With the current economic crisis, not to mention the fact that so much of our food supply is contaminated with pesticides and pollutants, it’s nice to know you can grow your own sprouts in your home and become more self-sufficient.

Sprouting at home takes only a few moments a day and can produce a good portion of your daily requirements of the nutrients you need from fresh produce. The hassles are minor, the costs are low, and the freshness is wonderful. Growing sprouts is economic. Seeds can multiply 8-15 times their weight. Depending on what you grow, you can get away with spending 25 cents for a pound of fresh sprouted indoor-grown organic greens

Sold! Now, how do I begin?

There are many places you can buy your sprouters and seeds from. The Sprout People have a wide variety of starter kits, sprouters, seeds, videos and all sorts of info to get your started. You can also buy a starter kit at your local garden, or sometimes hardware store. I purchased mine from a True Value. It came with a basic two tier sprouter and three packets of seeds.

You can also make a sprouter  yourself using a Jar or plastic containters-

The Jar Sprouter

Step 1

Wash and dry a glass quart jar thoroughly. If you do not have a glass jar, clear plastic will work. Perfect to re-purpose your big yogurt or butter dishes.

Step 2

Place enough sprouting seeds into the jar to completely cover the bottom.

Step 3

Fill the jar half full with cool, clear water.

Step 4

Cover the top of the jar with a large square of cheesecloth and attach it to the top using a rubber band. If you are sprouting very small seeds, such as alfalfa, use a double layer of cheesecloth so the seeds cannot escape the jar.

Step 5

Set the soaking seeds on the tabletop or countertop for at least 12 hours. Tip the jar over the sink to drain the soaking water from the jar. Refill with fresh water, swirl the seeds around in the fresh water and drain. Repeat this process twice daily until the sprouts are the desired size.

I’ve Sprouted! What can I do with my sprouts?

Ideas for using the sprouted seeds:

  • Steamed vegetables – Add whole alfalfa, chia, clover, corn, garbanzo, lentil, mung, pea, radish, or wheat sprouts during the final 2 min. steaming time.
  • Soups – For flavor or thickening, add chopped or whole sprouts––corn, garbanzo, lentil, mung, pea, radish, or wheat.
  • Rice – Add whole or chopped alfalfa, barley, chia, pea, radish, or watercress, to rice dishes and to steamed rice after cooking—but just before serving.
  • Stir Fry – Add any of these sprouts to your usual stir-fry vegetables – alfalfa, clover, mung, or radish sprouts.
  • Vegetable Juices – Make your own “V8” juice with sprouts. Start with tomato juice, add ground chia, barley, cabbage, clover, lettuce, radish, and/or watercress. Add one sprout at a time so the flavor won’t be too strong until you get the taste you like.
  • Mashed Potatoes – Grind or chop very fine either alfalfa, chia, or clover sprouts to give potatoes a good flavor plus a little color.
  • Baked Beans – Add any sprouted bean with short sprout. Use bean sprouts when it has just barely split open with a short sprout. Try lentil, mung, lima, pinto, or navy bean sprouts.
  • Home-Baked Foods – Enhance the flavor of any baked goods by adding whole or chopped sprouts.
  • Breakfast – Add some clover, alfalfa, or radish sprouts to your omelet or scrambled eggs. Add finely chopped buckwheat sprouts to your pancakes and waffles.
  • Casseroles – Sprouts add a zesty flavor to casseroles, but only add them just before serving. Try cabbage, corn, lentil, mung, spinach, or wheat.
  • Salads – Salads are the most logical place to use sprouts. Use them instead of lettuce or add to your lettuce salad. Use sprouts in coleslaw or substitute sprouts for the cabbage. Adding some radish sprouts will give it some zing!
  • Sandwiches – Add alfalfa sprouts to chicken or tuna salad sandwich. Liven up that grilled cheese by adding alfalfa, clover, lettuce, or watercress sprouts for a more nutrition.

My all time Favorite:

  • Sprouted Eggs– Add alfalfa or broccoli sprouts to your scrambled eggs. Fold them in as they are finishing up on the stove, or add them on top as a garnish. (I like to add a little hot sauce as well)

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