Join the Boy Sprouts
Here is a little hobby we men can take up in no time at all to help ourselves and our families get a huge boost from the foods in our everyday diets: it’s called sprouting.
That is, prepare beans – like pinto, black and kidney beans – and prepare grains such as oats and barley and pulses like lentils by soaking them in a bit of water until they sprout. Then use as usual.
Wondering why it’s worth your while? Let me explain.
Many plant foods that are actually seeds – beans, grains, pulses, and nuts – contain vitamins and minerals that benefit bones. These foods are especially important for men who smoke, have more than a glass or two of wine every day, use proton pump inhibitors, are on chemotherapy, have a stressful job or home life or rarely exercise among other aspects of daily life that sap bone strength. But if you eat these nutrient-rich foods raw – nuts, for instance – or if you cook them from raw – oats or beans for instance – the nutrients aren’t available for absorption. That’s because the grain or the bean is born a seed with the potential to grow into a whole new plant. That growth relies on minerals – the very ones we want – to fuel the growth. So a compound in the seed keeps the minerals locked away until the moisture and warmth of the growing season release them.
That’s a very good design and we admire it as long as we can do a workaround to release what we need – which is where sprouting comes in. If we soak the seed for about 24 hours and then keep it moist, the plant will react as if it were spring: it will sprout, signaling the seed that it’s time to release the minerals.
To see this in action, consider almonds, which offer high levels of vitamin E, riboflavin, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium and iron.
Whilst still on the tree almonds are part of a living, growing life form. They contain active enzymes that catalyze the very vitamins and minerals within the nut that make it such a wonderful food source.
If left on the tree, in the autumn the almond will fall to the ground, take up its destiny as a seed and wait until the conditions for germination and growth are right. In most cases it – like most seeds – will germinate the following spring. But here’s the important point. While waiting, enzyme inhibitors take over, effectively shutting down all life activity to ensure that the almond doesn’t try to sprout – using up the nutrients prematurely – when conditions aren’t right for growth. This survival plan is useful to the almond but pick a nut and package it raw and it is still dormant, with the nutrients still under wraps.
Sprouting at home mimics spring. It’s all natural and the benefits are legion.
How to Sprout
To sprout any pulse, nut, seed or bean you will need a quart jar with a separate lid that can be secured by a metal ring and a small piece of muslin or a paper coffee filter.
Put 2 cups of rinsed pulses, beans, nuts or seeds – into the jar and cover with water – preferably filtered water. , preferably filtered water. Cover the jar with something breathable – a piece of muslin or coffee filter for instance – and secure. Leave overnight at room temperature. The following day drain the water, rinse, drain again and replace the breathable filter cover.
Now place the jar on its side tilted so any remaining water can drain from the jar through the filter. Repeat the rinse and drain procedure morning and evening until you see little sprouts starting to appear at the end. Sometimes this happens after only one day. When the sprouts appear, you’re done. If you are sprouting in order to eat sprouts, leave for another day or until the sprouts are as long as you want them or a recipe suggests.
Use according to cooking for the seed. You can use some, like mung or adzuki sprouts, right away. Cook most other pulses and beans to render them edible and digestible according to reliable cooking instructions. You can eat sprouted nuts but frankly they’ll be soggy so best to dehydrate them in the oven or in a dehydrator. (Yes I know, but all hobbies eventually need some kit.) Then you can dry roast or lightly oil and if you’re not watching blood pressure, sprinkle with sea salt.
Oh, and note: The sprouted seed is easier to digest too and more good news: for every measure of seed you sprout, you’ll end up to with up to double the volume. Nature’s bounty.
Check The Healthy Bones Nutrition Plan and Cookbook for detailed sprouting instructions for a variety of plant seeds. That’s in Chapter 4, “Disarm Anti-Nutrients in Plant-Based Foods” where you’ll also learn about oxalic acid which locks up nutrients in greens we eat – and all the instructions you’ll need to release the nutrients in the greens. More on that in my next post.
Recipe Idea / Sprouting Oatmeal
Some gains, oatmeal for instance, doesn’t sprout but they need soaking to free up the minerals.
To get the most out of oatmeal soak cooking oats (not instant or otherwise pre-cooked) or steel-cut oats overnight with a scant teaspoon of vinegar. (Yep, you read that right.) In the morning wash the oats in cold water and drain in a fine-mesh strainer. Not a drop of vinegar taste remains and the minerals in this grain, otherwise locked up as the grain never sprouted, will leave you flush with health.