Sprouting is the greatest thing! It’s so lovely to see the food that you eat growing before your eyes. Not only growing, but becoming richer in nutrients and more digestible. The starch is converted to simple sugars, protein to amino acids, and the fat into individual fatty acids1. How fabulous! This helps to explain why those with allergies or intolerances to certain grains can tolerate them if they are sprouted. Sprouts represent the moment of greatest vitality in the life cycle of a plant, are a specific remedy for stagnant liver qi 1, or a ‘sluggish’ liver.
You can sprout pretty much any whole grain or seed. however they do take varying amounts of time to sprout.
Here’s what to do.
1. Use 1 part seed/grain to at least 3 parts water. Place grain/seeds in a jar or bowl, cover with muslin/cheesecloth and an elastic band (or use a sprouting jar if you have one) and soak for 12 hours.
2. Drain and rinse. Leave the drained seeds in a room temperature, dark place (or cover with a cloth) and rinse twice a day, morning and night until sprouted. It doesn’t have to be super warm but the cold and light will inhibit the sprouting a little and encourage the seeds to mould instead of sprouting.
Quinoa is a quick sprouter. I had these beautiful babies in 24 hours, but some other grains/seeds/legumes such as alfalfa, mung beans, aduki, chickpeas and lentils take 3 – 5 days. Buckwheat is another great sprouter!
What to do with your new little friends? Salads are an obvious choice. Try mixing them through with any of your grain dishes, or as a garnish for soups or stews.
The sudden cold snap in Melbourne today was perfect for the sprouted quinoa baguettes I made. This was another great food matters project choice (original recipe was Mostly Wholewheat Baguettes and can be found here and other fabulous renditions here).
As an ode to ancient grains, I have used spelt flour, amaranth flour and sprouted quinoa in mine just for fun.
Here’s what I did.
2 1/2 cups unbleached spelt flour
1 cup amaranth flour (or brown rice/quinoa/extra spelt flour)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp yeast
1/2 cup sprouted quinoa
A sprinkling of black sesame seeds (optional, or use white sesame seeds/poppy seeds)
Combine the flours, salt, sugar, yeast and add about 1 1/2 cups water. Mix until the dough forms a ball that is fairly wet but well defined (adjust with extra flour or water if needs be).
Place dough in a large bowl and let it rise at room temperature for at least an hour.
Fold the sprouted quinoa into the mix. Lightly knead the dough on a floured surface and split into two larger or 4 smaller pieces, depending on how large you would like your baguettes. Roll out to a baguette-ish shape, place on baking paper, cover with a towel and let rise until loaves are about double the size (around half an hour).
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius at this point.
Cut slashes with a knife into the baguette to look pretty if you like, brush a little water on top and decorate with the sesame seeds.
Pop the loaves into the oven for 20-25 minutes, until they are a nice golden colour and they sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
Delish! You can see the little quinoa sprouts through the bread, next time I will try adding more I think. To taste test I whacked on a smear of coconut oil, some unpasteurised miso paste, and garnished with some extra sprouts. Yum. A sturdy but light bread with a lovely flavour and packed full of goodness to boot!
A quick note on Miso. Miso is a wonderful salt and seasoning substitute and can be substituted into any recipe. Unpasteurised miso is bursting with live cultures that assist digestion, assimilation and gut health. It is also alkalising in nature and is traditionally said to promote long life, good health, prevent radiation sickness and to help neutralise the effects of pollution and smoking1. Unpasteurised miso is a great ‘vegemite/marmite’ substitute, giving you the salty flavour but with the bonus added extras. Heat destroys the microorganisms, so it’s best to add to your cooking after removing it from the heat to avoid this.
To use up the rest of my quinoa sprouts, I fashioned a quick breakfast salad from some beetroot leaves, avocado, toasted pumpkin seeds, coriander, grated raw beetroot, eggs and a dressing based on the one I used for the quinoa tabbouleh but a quick olive oil and lemon juice number with a sprinkle of sea salt, harissa or some chili/pepper combo would be great too.
1 Pitchford, P., 2002, Healing With Whole Foods, North Atlantic Books, California.