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Sprouting is a way of reducing the phytic acid levels in legumes, nuts, seeds and grains. Phytic acid is an enzyme inhibitor and reduces the human body's absorption of important minerals such as calcium, copper, iron, magnesium and especially zinc by binding with them in the intestinal tract. See other ways to reduce phytic acid in plant foods.

Considered a 'wonder food', sprouting greens are one of the freshest and most nutritious of all foods available to the human diet. Sprouted food easily digested and and has higher nutritional value when compared to the seed from which it develops. Sprouted foods have been part of the diet of many ancient races for thousands of years. Even to this day, the Chinese retain their fame for delicious mung bean sprouts. Sprouting is so easy and provides a micro-diet of all the essential nutrients, such as protein, vitamins and minerals without the need to consume large quantities of food. They should form a vital component of everyone's diet especially those trying to recover from any ailments and, as shown below, sprouting requires no constant care but only the daily rinsing of water.

The water used to rinse the sprouts can then be used for anything else. They could well be the answer to the problems of malnutrition, starvation and lack of water for crops in scorched dry countries like Africa.

Sprouts are good sources of protein, fibre, starch, vitamin A, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B9 (foliate), vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin K. Barley sprouts are also a good source of vitamin B12 which is unusual for plant food sources and so should be a staple part of the diet for vegetarians and vegans who often lack in this vital nutrient. They are also good sources of calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium and zinc.


What can be sprouted



Chickpea, lentil, mung beans, peas and peanuts.


Almonds and hazelnuts.



Alfalfa, amaranth, broccoli, cabbage, clover, daikon, fenugreek, flaxseeds, hemp, leek, lemon grass, lettuce, milk thistle, mizuna, mustard, onion, radish, rocket, salba, sesame, spinach, spring onions, sunflower, tatsoi, turnip and watercress.


Whole grains
Barley, buckwheat, corn, kamut, oat, rice, rye, quinoa and wheat.


Although whole oats can be sprouted, oat groats sold in food stores which are dehulled and require steaming or roasting to prevent rancidity, will not sprout. Whole oats may have an indigestible hull which makes them difficult or even unfit for human consumption.


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Grow your own sprouts

All you need is a small handful of organic seeds, legumes, grains or nuts one large jam jar, an elastic band and bit of an old stocking, pair of tights, muslin or other thin material  (enough to cover the jam jar top)

  • Place them in the jar. They should fill no more than about a tenth of the jar.

  • Cover with piece of material and secure with elastic band or a piece of string.

  •  Pour cold water through the material (enough to cover seeds) shake well then tip all of the water back out otherwise the seeds will just rot. Leave to drain at a 45 degree angle for at least an hour afterwards.

  • Repeat this once or twice a day (making sure you shake the jar so all seeds get well watered) and keep the jar on a window sill.

  • Once all of the seeds have sprouted it is ready to eat. This can take around five days or so. When they have filled the jar either eat them or place in the refrigerator to slow down growth.

To use simply take a handful of the seeds and shake off the seed hulls. It does not matter if some are left as they are not harmful and act as extra fibre but some may taste a little bitter.

If there are a lot of seeds left that do not sprout it is because they have not been drained well after rinsing. Make sure to shake the jar and rest it at a 45 degree angle for at least an hour afterwards.

NOTE: During the hot weather it may be that mould grows more quickly on the seeds so using a small canvas or muslin bag instead of a jam jar may be more useful. Place the seeds in the bag then dip it into clean water, shake gently then hang up to drip dry repeating once or twice a day depending how warm it is.

That is all there is to it, a cheap, easy, nutritious alternative to lettuce and you have grown it yourself so you know it is organic.

Many people mistake the fine root hairs on sprouts for mould but mould will not appear if:

  • the seeds are no older than 12 months and organic

  • the above is followed and they are rinsed regularly and drained well

  • the container is regularly sterilised between sowings

  • The covering is washed well or changed between sowings

  • the place they are being grown is not too humid and hot


watering sprouts

draining sprouts


Nutty Seed and Bean Salad Snack

Try out this recipe using alfalfa and a mixture of any of the above sprouts as a highly nutritious snack or accompaniment to any meal. No cooking required.


One to two handfuls of de-husked alfalfa and any other choice of sprouts (pick up a handful and shake excess seed husks lose). The husks are a good source of fibre but can be a little bitter tasting. 

Organic low fat bio culture yoghurt. Enough to cover all ingredients when mixed

Tablespoon of each of the following: (all optional according to availability)

  • Pine nuts

  • Pumpkin seeds

  • Sesame seeds

  • Poppy seeds

  • Hemp seeds

  • Oatmeal

  • Psyllium husks

A tablespoon of the following for protein cooked: (all optional according to taste)

  • Mixed pulses

  • Chick peas

  • Lentils

  • Soya beans


Two large tablespoons of each of the following: (all optional according to taste but the addition of one is required to sweeten)

  • Raisins

  • Chopped dried apricots

  • Chopped dates or figs

  • Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries

  • Grated carrot


The following are also optional, add all or as many and as much as you wish:

  • Mixed nuts either whole or chopped (alternatively one tablespoon each of preferred nuts. Almonds and walnuts are best. NOTE: some nuts are very fattening so if weight loss is important reduce the amount)

  • A handful of cress

  • Crumbled unpasteurised blue cheese

  • One eating apple peeled and chopped

  • Tangerine segments

  • Juice of a lemon or lime


Any washed and chopped raw salad ingredient can be added such as tomatoes, celery, cucumber, onion, spring onions etc.


A teaspoon of any of the following freshly chopped or dried herbs and spices according to taste:

  • Basil

  • Chilli pepper

  • Chives

  • Cinnamon

  • Coriander

  • Cumin

  • Dill

  • Nutmeg

  • Oregano

  • Paprika

  • Sage

  • Tarragon

  • Turmeric

All of the following:

  • A sprinkle of dried algae or seaweed flakes.

  • Ground black pepper to taste

  • Two teaspoons mustard (according to taste)

  • Dash of vinegar (apple cider vinegar is best)

  • Dash of cold-pressed rapeseed, olive, flaxseed or sesame seed oil

To make more of a high protein complete meal add some diced cooked chicken or turkey (no skin), hard boiled eggs, low fat cheese cubed or poached salmon, oily fish or fresh tuna. Sardines, mackerel, kippers, herring or pilchards (in brine, spring water or olive oil) make a very nutritious addition that can help to prevent heart and bone and joint disorders


Place alfalfa in a large bowl. Add all the other ingredients and mix using the live yoghurt and oils.

You can mix and match any of the above ingredients and don't have to be exact with measurements and can even add your own according to what you prefer or have in the kitchen cupboards but make sure they are unprocessed, additive free and organic.

Takes about 15 minutes to prepare. Eat as you would any other salad and enjoy. Keeps for two/three days in a sealed container in the refrigerator and is a great highly nutritious snack anytime of day or night. The more varied colours of ingredients there are, the wider the selection of nutrients which the body requires. Consume at least once a fortnight to improve your nutrient consumption.

NOTE: Seeds and nuts should be omitted if suffering from diverticulitis unless they are ground to a fine powder.


See also

"Nature cures not the physician..." Hippocrates 460 BC


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