Sprouts are different from their full-grown counterparts. Studies have shown that sprouts support cell regeneration, offer powerful antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and enzymes, and have an alkalizing effect on your body, which may help protect against disease, including cancer. During sprouting, vitamin C levels are higher than any other point in the plant's life cycle. This is also the time when plants begin to synthesize new enzymes and some sprouts can contain up to 100 times more enzymes than raw fruits and vegetables. Still, some sprouts are negatively different from their full-grown counterparts, such as Sorghum, which is perfectly safe when full-grown, but the seed coat carries potentially toxic levels of cyanide, making eating these sprouts a gamble. Because sprouts vary so much from one variety to the next, as well as from their full-grown counterparts, it is a good idea to consult your naturopathic doctor when considering adding sprouts to your diet. While you can usually purchase sprouts through your local grocer or farmer's market, sprouting at home has definite advantages. Sprouts are delicate and need to be handled carefully and refrigerated. Most importantly, they need to be as fresh as possible to provide the most significant health benefits. Sprouting at home not only allows you to get sprouts at their peak freshness every time, but it also allows you to experiment with a wide variety.
Here are 5 tips to get you started having fun with and reaping the benefits of the healthiest possible sprouts, at home.
1. Research which varieties of sprouts you want to try. Different sprouts favor different growing conditions. Some sprouts grow best indoors, in soil, while others grow through soaking and moisture control methods. Sprouting times also vary depending on the type of sprout, the method and even personal preference. Wheat, sunflower, almond, lentil and mung sprouts are all good options if you're a beginner. Also easy for beginners are Red clover, radish mustard, adzuki, garbanzo and pumpkin.
2. Collect your tools and get started. The jar and cloth methods are two of the most common sprouting methods, but require regular rinsing and checks for mold. Still, the old-fashioned way - growing sprouts in soil - remains one of the easiest and least time consuming methods. Growing sprouts in soil also produces far more nutritious and abundant food. You can also try sprouting bags or commercial made sprouting systems available at many health or natural foods stores.
For in-depth tips on how to sprout, check out:
How to Sprout: Seeds, Beans + Grains
Ridiculously Easy Sprouting 1010
The Sprouting Guide: How to Sprout Seeds and Bean Sprouts.
3. Water makes a difference. Use bottled spring water or filtered water when sprouting. Most seeds won't sprout well in polluted tap water. There is no point to sprout with water contaminated with fluoride and chlorine.
4. Freshness is key. It's best to eat sprouts as soon as they are ready, but if you need to store them, put them in the refrigerator or in a controlled sprouting environment until you're ready to use them. Stored sprouts should be rinsed every 24 hours.
5. Get creative. There are tons of ways to enjoy sprouts. Try adding different sprouts to your salads or wraps. Use sprouts as new toppings for sandwiches and burgers. Play with food styling by creating a simple gourmet meal from your choice of lean meat on a bed of sprouts salad.
Are sprouts good for me? World's Healthiest Foods.
Balch, Phyllis A., and James F. Balch. 1992. Rx Prescription for Cooking and Dietary Wellness. Greenfield, Ind: P.A.B. Pub.
Murray, Michael T., Joseph E. Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno. 2005. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York: Atria Books.
Pitchford, Paul. 1996. Healing With Whole Foods: Oriental Traditions and Modern Nutrition. Berkeley, Calif: North Atlantic Books.
Native American cultures have known about the many uses and benefits of sunflower for centuries. Sunflower can be used as food, an oil source, and even as a dye pigment. As a food and health source, sunflower tops the list of sprouts as a protein source. They contain minerals, healthy fats, essential fatty acids, fiber and phytosterols. Their vitamin E content has been shown to have significant anti-inflammatory effects, reduce the risk of colon cancer, help control some symptoms of menopause and help cut down on diabetic complications. Sunflower sprouts are also a good source of magnesium and may help reduce the severity of asthma, lower high blood pressure, prevent migraine headaches and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. Iron and chlorophyll also can be found in sprouted sunflower seeds, the latter of which will help detoxify your blood and liver. Sprouting sunflower seeds will transform nutrient content by as much as 300 - 1,200 percent. When sprouting sunflower seeds at home, soak the seeds for 2 days before planting in soil. Once in the soil, allow your seeds to sprout. They are ready to harvest in about 3 days.
Sunflower Seeds. The World's Healthiest Foods.
Sprouts come in many shapes and textures. From leafy sprouts to bean sprouts and even grain sprouts. They all can be added to more traditional salad ingredients or combined with other sprouts for a light, nutrient and flavor packed meal. This recipe combines a mixture of sprouts with traditional salad ingredients, making it a great dish for sprout newbies. Just remember, the more sprouts the better!
Prep and cook time: 5 minutes. Serves 2.
Toss together all ingredients, raw in a salad bowl. Add dressing, toss, plate and enjoy!
Protein powder isn't just for vegetarians, vegans and intense athletes. In fact, the average American consumes far too much animal protein, and plant protein powder can be an excellent alternative. A high quality protein powder can help boost your intake of plant proteins, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, as well as support immune function and maintain and promote healthy muscle mass and body composition. Not all protein is equal however. In fact, protein quality really comes down to the whole protein package including content levels of amino acids and other nutrients, as well as the nutritional pitfalls associated with certain protein sources such as animal proteins.
Food proteins can be classified as complete or incomplete, a status determined by the types of amino acids provided by a particular protein. Complete proteins are made up of the nine essential amino acids which can only be obtained through diet. Animal sources are usually complete proteins, however they also come with added pitfalls such as high saturated fat content. Incomplete proteins on the other hand, often come from fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts. Still, combining two or more incomplete proteins may form a complete set of amino acids, therefore creating a complete protein.
When choosing a protein powder, look for these nine essential amino acids: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. It is also important to stay away from protein isolates because many are exposed to acid processing and over-processing can alter key amino acids.
If this all sounds a bit overwhelming, try looking for protein powders made from peas, hemp, chia and Golden Chlorella(TM) High Protein, as they are some of the richest proteins available. It is important to remember that the human body is not static. It changes regularly due to environmental factors, nutritional intake and even aging. And despite that adulthood has long been treated as a single period of life, our bodies actually require different nutrient balances at different stages of life, including different stages of adulthood. Still, exactly how much protein should be eaten at which stage of life remains a topic of debate. Because there are so many factors to consider, it is important to consult your naturopathic doctor before starting a new protein regimen.
Protein: Moving Closer to Center Stage. Harvard School of Public Health.
Marz, Russell B. 1999. Medical Nutrition from Marz: (A Textbook In Clinical Nutrition). Portland, Or: Omni-Press.
Gaby, Alan. 2011. Nutritional Medicine. Concord, N.H: Fritz Perlberg Publishing.
According to Greek myth, fennel was associated with Dionysus, the Greek god of food and wine. Interestingly, the ancient Greeks revered the fennel stalk as a vehicle for passing knowledge from the gods to men at Olympus. Closely related to parsley, carrots, dill and coriander, and often associated with Italian and French cooking, fennel is a crunchy and slightly sweet herb that is in season and readily available from autumn through early spring.
Fennel is packed with phytonutrients that provide strong antioxidant activity. Anethole, a phytonutrient compound found in fennel, has been proven in animal studies to reduce inflammation and even help prevent cancer. In addition, fennel bulb is an excellent source of vitamin C, which contributes to a healthy immune system and can help protect against pain and joint deterioration from conditions like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Fennel bulb is also a good source of fiber and potassium, and may help reduce bad cholesterol and protect from stroke and heart attack.
When shopping for fennel, look for whitish or pale green bulbs that are clean, firm and solid, without signs of splitting, bruising or spotting, with relatively straight and closely superimposed stalks. Both the stalks and the leaves should be green in color. Pass on fennel with signs of flowering buds as this indicates that the fennel is past maturity. Fresh fennel should be used as soon as possible, but can be stored in the refrigerator crisper for about four days. Some creative ways of using fennel, the stalks in particular, is to add them to soups, stocks and stews. The leaves can be used as an herb seasoning.
Photo credit. "Fennel Flower Heads" by user:Fir0002 - Own work. Licensed under GNU Free Documentation License 1.2 via Wikimedia Commons
Fennel. The World's Healthiest Foods.
Pitchford, Paul. 1996. Healing with Whole Foods: Oriental Traditions and Modern Nutrition. Berkeley, Calif: North Atlantic Books.
Developed in the 1930s by Dr. Edward Bach, a bacteriologist and homeopathic doctor, flower essence therapy assumes that the body is comprised of subtle energies that can be affected by the essence of botanicals. Flower essence therapy involves ingesting a substance that is physically dilute but energetically active. Prepared from a solar infusion of fresh blossoms, flower essence therapy may be helpful in treating a number of ailments and imbalances, and may even serve to expand your awareness and enthusiasm for life. To begin this therapy, a practitioner will assess your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual states and determine which of the 38 flower remedies may be most beneficial for treating your current troubles. While the remedy assignment varies from person to person and can change just as life does, the most common recommendation is a regimen of four drops of flower essence four times daily over the course of one to several months. Essences can either be added to drinking water or placed directly on the tongue. While you can explore the different flower essences and their usual uses, it is a good idea to consult your naturopathic doctor before beginning flower essence therapy.
Flower Essence Therapy in the Treatment of Major Depression: Preliminary Findings. Jeffery R. Cram, PhD
Ease Stress with Flower-Essence Therapy. Elizabeth Barker. Natural Health.
The information offered by this newsletter is presented for educational purposes. Nothing contained within should be construed as nor is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. This information should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider. Always consult with your physician or other qualified health care provider before embarking on a new treatment, diet or fitness program. You should never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of any information contained within this newsletter.