ALFALFA This has only recently been discovered to be excellent for sprouting. Alfalfa comes from North Africa where it is used as a crop for animals and green manure. Some believe alfalfa sprouts to be the most nutritious food in the world. They are high in protein, chlorophyll, calcium, potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin K. When the root is 1½ inches long, it will begin to develop tiny green leaves. At this stage it needs to be eaten immediately so the plant will not switch to photosynthesis that exhausts the stored food in the seed. Raw alfalfa is delicious in stuffing pitas, nori sheets or sandwiches, using an avocado dressing. It would seem a grievous act to cook these delicate threads of life.
BARLEY Barley converts the largest amount of starch to sugar which is why it is widely used in producing beer. It has therefore been studied more thoroughly than any other seed. Again as with many grains, the roots should be no longer than the seed size.
CHICKPEAS Commonly known as garbanzo beans. Primarily a pulse crop grown in India. The sprout is tender and delicious and is ready to eat when the root is between 1 1/2 and 2 inches long. Cooking requires only 5 minutes.
CORN Finding corn for sprouting is a real trick because the germ is rarely intact because of how the kernels are removed from the cob. The root should be allowed to grow for only 1 inch in length. Cooking time is approximately 8 minutes.
FENUGREEK This legume is still used in medicine, food and teas. It is a spicy seed that is excellent for making curry. Use when the sprout has grown to 1½ inches long. Fenugreek is often sold where the seeds are broken for making fenugreek tea. Make sure you buy whole fenugreek seed.
LENTILS When lentils are sprouted, they become sweeter with a delicate flavor. They need only 5 minutes of cooking compared to 30 minutes for dried lentils. But we love them raw! Lentil sprouts are ready to be eaten when the root is 1 inch long.
MUNG BEANS These are the easiest to sprout for beginners. Mung bean sprouts are common in Chinese restaurants and grocery stores. They have a delightful fresh raw flavor. When the bright white root grows from 1½ to 2 inches long, they are ready to eat. Cook no more than 3 minutes.
PEAS Sprouting peas increase their sugar content, giving pea sprouts a sweet vegetable flavor. Wrinkled or smooth varieties work equally well. When root is 2 inches long, they are ready to eat raw, or need only 5 minutes for cooking.
SOYA BEANS These are the most nutritious of all sprouts and are commonly used in China. The small soy bean that is yellow in color is excellent for sprouting. Soya beans are considered fairly difficult for the inexperienced sportiest because they are prone to fermentation, especially during the warm weather. To overcome this problem, rinse sprouts often and remove discolored and unsprouted seeds. They are ready to eat when the root is 2 inches long. Soya bean sprouts require approximately 10 minutes for cooking. These sprouts are higher in protein than any other bean.
SPROUTED BREAD This delicious cake-like bread has been enjoyed for thousands of years. Sprouting grains and baking at low temperatures allows the wheat to be less mucus-forming and more digestible. This is a better quality bread because it is closer to a living food. Sprouted bread can be bought at your local health food store.
VARIOUS LEGUMES Other legumes that can be sprouted successfully are lima, maro, pinto, kidney, harlot, navy, aduki and broad beans. You can also sprout black-eyed, cowgram, pigeon and redgram peas. Some of these may be difficult to find but are fast becoming more available.
WHEAT A light delicious flavor resembling fresh, picked corn. The sprouts should not be longer than inch or less. Grain sprouts grow faster than legumes and refrigerating them does not seem to slow them down. Do not confuse wheat grass and wheat sprouts. As wheat sprouts become wheat grass, they take on completely different nutritional properties. Wheat sprouts cook within 8 minutes or less. Wheat can be bought in health food stores.
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