Wake it up: the benefits of sprouting


Do you sprinkle pumpkin seeds onto your morning oats, chow down a superfood quinoa salad for lunch and tuck into a warming bowl of dahl come dinner time, all the while giving yourself a pat on the back for being so virtuous?

What if we were to tell you that, with one simple step, you could bring your healthy eating regime up to the next level?

Grains, nuts and beans/legumes are all seeds (as well as commonly eaten seeds like pumpkin and sunflower) and are everyday superfoods that we should be eating in abundance. But, did you know that so much of their goodness is locked deep within the dormant seed?

In order to get the full benefits of these amazing foods, we need to wake them up. This is where sprouting comes in.

What is sprouting?

To put it simply, sprouting is the process of unlocking the potential of certain foods, revealing them to be a powerhouse of nutrition that can benefit our bodies.

Each tiny grain, nut or pulse all begin as a dormant seed, waiting to be germinated. We can eat them as they are but, as they are inactive, we will not be able to reap their rewards quite so well.

Soaking these foods at the right temperature, over the course of a few days, begins the process of germination (from seed to plant), causing the outer layer of the seed to split and a shoot to blossom, awakening the seed and giving it life.

Why bother?

For such an easy process, the benefits of sprouting are quite incredible and undoubtedly worth the (very little) effort required.

As mentioned, the nutrients in these foods are stored away and well protected. Unfortunately, with our relatively simple digestive systems, we find it hard to digest these foods in their dormant state.

In addition, whilst dormant, these foods contain anti-nutrients that can be damaging to our bodies. Phytic acid is an anti-nutrient that can inhibit the absorption of certain minerals and vitamins and Raffinose is another, which produces gas in the lower intestine.

Sprouting can help with all these problems. The enzyme activity that occurs during sprouting breaks down the growth inhibitors and alters the nutritional content of the seed.

The starches that were present in the dormant seeds are converted into simple sugars that our bodies can digest much more easily. The reduction of starch also means that the proportion of protein and fibre are increased which, in turn, lowers the GI content of the food, meaning our blood sugar levels are kept at a steady rate when we eat them.

And if that weren’t enough, sprouting also multiplies the levels of vitamins and minerals in the foods, as well as neutralising the counterproductive anti-nutrients, meaning our bodies can really begin to feel the effects of these amazing wholefoods.

Sprouting benefits everyone, but especially those on a restricted diet e.g. vegetarians, vegans and raw foodies. Increasing nutrients like iron, zinc and protein (which are harder to find in a plant-based diet) and making them easy for the body to absorb can make the world of difference to their general wellbeing. Sprouted foods are also great for those who enjoy an active lifestyle where protein, fibre and low GI foods are a vital part of a sustaining and energy-rich diet.

Sign me up!

Sprouting is beginning to sounds like a pretty good idea right?

What may seem like a recent trend to you and us, is, in fact, a long held tradition that has been practiced all over the world for years. Chinese seafarers used to carry sacks of mung beans with them, which they would sprout and eat to increase their vitamin intake and ward off scurvy. We still see soaked, sprouted and fermented foods used regularly in Asian cooking, which is supposed to be one of the healthiest cuisines in the world for its benefits on digestion and gut health.

Don’t be intimidated by sprouting at home, it really couldn’t be simpler. The method of soaking, draining and rinsing is pretty much the same for most nuts, seeds, grains and legumes, it’s just the timings that differ. Of course, as with anything, attention to good hygiene is important while sprouting to avoid contamination. Buying organic is best too as it is good for the environment, restricting the use of artificial fertilizers and pesticides.

Once you see the little sprouts appear you can go wild. Many sprouts can be eaten raw, though some are better off steamed lightly, cooked or dehydrated and ground into flour. Sprinkle them on salads, soups and pasta, stuff them in sandwiches and burgers or use them in your favourite recipes (like hummus, nut butter or banana bread) for a brighter, fresher flavour.

Oh, and that’s the other part we can’t forget to mention. Sprouted food tastes amazing. The flavours of the original seed are intensified, richer and deeply satisfying

But I’m busy and don’t have time…

With a little planning, sprouting is a simple and time efficient job, but we understand that our lives can often get in the way. That’s where we come in.

Our range of organic sprouted spelt pasta is the answer to your last-minute midweek meal emergencies. Made from 50% sprouted whole wheat spelt flour, these pastas won’t leave you feeling bloated or sluggish. Packed full of vitamins, minerals and amino acids, this really is powerful pasta. And if you pair them with one of our delicious sprouted hemp pesto’s you’ve got yourself a seriously nutritious supper that’s ready in under 10 minutes.

Who’s hungry?