SPROUTS AND SPROUTING: ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW TO GET STARTED.
WHERE TO GET SPROUTS: From the vegetable section of supermarkets. A variety of ready to eat sprouts, costing as little as R 3 - R5 per pack are available. Alfalfa, chick pea and mung bean sprouts take a long time to grow, so you may want to buy some in the meantime.
Seeds like fenugreek, alfalfa, mung beans or chick peas can be bought at health shops, but supermarkets sell beans, lentils, peas, wheat, barley & corn that can also be sprouted.
HOW TO GROW SPROUTS: Start with soup lentils: the brown or black ones with the skins on. They cost less than R3 per 500g pack. These grow in less than a week and are one of the most delicious, nutritious and rewarding of all sprouts to have at hand in the home. Children will enjoy watching them grow and they can make their own sprouters out of jars or plastic tubs. Soak a cup full of lentils in 500ml water for 2 days. Then rinse them in a sieve under running water and cover with a plate. Watch the "stertjies" begin to grow. You can begin to eat them, but they are at their most nutritious when the young leaves begin to appear. Rinse them daily. To make your own sprouter, cover a jar containing the lentils with a piece of lace curtain and secure with a rubber band. Leave them covered in water for the first two days. Keep the fabric over the neck of the bottle. Tip out the water, rinse again and leave standing upside down over a bowl whilst the sprouts grow. Rinse every day. Before eating the sprouts, expose them to full sunlight for a few hours to increase the chlorophyll content. This makes the leaves greener.
HOW TO EAT AND ENJOY SPROUTS: Mix with yoghurt & chopped apple or banana for a slimmer's choice. Have a thick layer of sprouts on a slice of bread or toast or a rice cake spread with cottage cheese. Season with herb salt and a sprinkling of olive oil. Also nice for in between snacks. Blend sprouts into any type of salads, soups, stews or stirfries. Also chew them on their own. For breakfast or light meals: fry a few tablespoons of sprouts in the pan before making an omelette or frying mashed potato. Top with grated cheese and finish off under the grill. Chopped onions and sprouts fried in a pan make a good filling for samoosas, a base for a curry sauce, a starting point for soups or it can be eaten as a side dish. The seasoning is up to you: use herbs, tomato puree, garlic, chilli, spices or just olive oil, herb salt and lemon juice. Sprouts can be added to the blender when making fruit and vegetable juices, especially for sick people or small children. Try alfalfa sprouts blended smooth with yoghurt, ginger and pineapple into a vitality drink. In summer make cold soups using sprouts with tomato, celery, parsley, onion, avocado pear, lemon, olive oil, dandelion leaves and herb seasoning. Blend to a smooth puree. Dare we eat sprouts for dessert? Alfalfa sprouts can "disappear" into fruit and yogurt smoothies.
THE FOOD VALUE OF SPROUTS: WHAT SPROUTS CAN DO FOR YOU Sprouts boost the nutritional value of all your meals and are very low in kilojules. Growing a regular supply of lentil sprouts will cost the average family about R2 per week for daily vitamins, minerals and fresh enzymes that are of more value to the body than expensive synthetic vitamins. For instance, half a cup of soya bean sprouts contain more vitamin C than 6 glasses of orange juice. A tablespoon of alfalfa sprouts contain all the vitamins and minerals we need for the day. Lentil sprouts are very rich in B vitamins, especially vitamin B6, so essential to control water retention. Once on a regular intake of these sprouts, there is a noticeable reduction in bloating, swelling and odema. Lentil sprouts are a cure for depression - they help us to produce the mood elevating neurotransmitter seratonin. This is due to the high niacin (vitamin B3) content and all the amino acids and enzymes as well as high levels of calcium, magnesium and potassium. Sprouts also energize us and help us to concentrate because they contain phosphorus, the ultimate brain and nerve tonic. Being rich in chlorophyll, they help to ward off infections and stimulate the immune system. The transformation that takes place once a seed begins germinate happens at a rapid rate and the vitamin C level alone, increases over 600x during the sprouting process. A single lentil expands up to ten times its original size as the fats and starches transform into vitamins, minerals and valuable enzymes. As they say:" Anything fresher is still growing!" Now is the time to tuck into sprouts, the food that grows anywhere, anytime for next to nothing.