One of my favorite things in the world of food is sprouting grains and beans. It is so utterly magical to see dry dusty nuggets from the bulk bins of your favorite food co-op magically transform into living beautiful plants. It’s a way to increase the vitality of our food and connect to the bounty the earth gives us year round.
Sprouting is an amazing biological process that does many things that benefit us nutritionally. Soaking and then sprouting grains and beans helps to neutralize phytic acid, an enzyme found in many plant based foods that interferes with the absorption of some vitamins and minerals. It helps to predigest our food, and thus make the nutrients present more available for assimilation by our digestive tracts. It also makes food less likely to trigger any negative reactions through increasing overall digestibility, and creates beneficial enzymes. Increased nutrition and digestibility is a win-win!
Sprouting your food can make you feel like a mad scientist, a cultivator of life, and an awesome nurturer of yourself and your family when you eat food that’s been so lovingly prepared. Plus, it’s easy, and honestly requires more forgetfulness than remembering.
The most common grains and beans I sprout are black beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), orca beans, mung beans, lentils, millet, and buckwheat, though pretty much any grain or bean can be sprouted.
Here’s my easy peasy way to accomplish this delightful task:
Take a cup or two of your grains or beans of choice. Soak overnight or for 8 hours in plenty of water in a roomy bowl, because they’ll expand as they absorb the water. Drain and rinse thoroughly, place in a colander and sit over a bowl. Rinse 2-3 times a day, whenever you have the time or remember to do it, always letting them drain so they don’t sit in water. You’ll see little sprouts start to emerge, and then keep rinsing occasionally until they’ve sprouted more thoroughly, usually for 1-2 days. This happens faster when it’s warm out and slower when it’s cool. Millet makes tiny sprouts, so I don’t let them get that long. Mung beans make big fat sprouts, so I’ll let them get a bit longer. Some of this is personal preference, or if you need them that night to make dinner! Enjoy the process and give blessings for the abundance you receive.
Once you have your awakened living plants, you can do many things with them. One of my favorite foods is kasha, which I make using sprouted buckwheat (which is a member of the rhubarb family containing no wheat/gluten, and only contains the word wheat in it as a mark of how delicious it tastes). Place your sprouted buckwheat on a sheet pan and toast in the oven on its lowest temperature, my oven is from the 1970’s and runs hot so that temp is probably 200 degrees, until toasted, dried, and fragrant. Cover in plenty of water in a pot and then simmer to make porridge. Once you have your delicious buckwheat porridge you can go in a sweet or savory direction. For sweet I often add toasted walnuts, raisins or other fruit, cinnamon, and some yoghurt as a delectable meal any time of day or night. For savory applications, you can add the buckwheat to soups to thicken them and add bulk, or serve with some roasted vegetables, fresh chopped herbs, goat cheese, and a pan-fried egg.
Having an abundance of sprouted and cooked grains and beans ready to go in the fridge makes it easy to create simple home cooked meals with whatever vegetables, fruits, and nuts you have around (and meat if you eat it). Remember to be creative and have fun with your living food!
Victoria is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, and Oriental medicine practitioner in Beaverton, Oregon. She specializes in pain relief, digestive disorders, women's health, insomnia, and stress relief. Victoria loves to empower patients to heal themselves using meditation, tai ji, qi gong, nutrition, visualization, and affirmations. When not learning more about medicine and healing, you can find Victoria on adventures with her husband and dog, playing in nature, cooking, gardening, meditating, and getting suckered into giving her dog more food.