I remember the first time I saw a sprout poke its head up out of a seed. We were in first grade, and each student was given a little clay pot full of soil with a seed planted in the middle. I have no idea what kind of plant it was or what happened to it after it sprouted, but let me tell you, for a kid that had no pets or little siblings at that point, it was pretty mind blowing. As a chef, things growing out of your food is usually a pretty bad thing. Recently however, sprouting grains, nuts and beans have been gaining popularity in not just home kitchens, but restaurants alike.
Healthy Being Juicery is at the forefront of offering sprouted options. “My favorite thing that we sprout has to be our almond milk,” saidJessica Marlo, owner of the Jackson restaurant and juice bar. They offer many sprouted products in addition to their nut milks including bread and their delicious homemade crackers. “Sprouting is all about living food and releasing the goodness in the seed.”
While watching the seed sprout is fun, the nutritional benefits are also measurable. I asked Poa Jacobsen owner of Daily Roots and digestion expert, why sprouting is better and she put it quite simply, “they are way easier to digest.” As the seed sprouts it breaks down some of the elements that are harder for the body to assimilate including phytic acid (the culprit behind beans sometimes musical reputation). In addition to this, protein and vitamin content increases giving you a nutritionally superior legume. While the sprouting process takes time, the whole process is pretty easy. I asked both Marlo and Jacobsen the best advice for the chef at home wanting to experiment with sprouting and both agreed that it is so simple to do there is no reason not to try. Whether it is sprouted nuts for milk or seeds for a salad (sunflower sprouts are a favorite of Marlo), the sprouting process only requires a little patience for a delicious result.
If you are ready to embark on your sprouted adventure, make your way to the Jackson Whole Grocer’s bulk section to start. You can experiment with just about any grain or seed but things like chickpeas, kamut, barley and quinoa and all good places to start. While you can find sprouting jars online that work well, a mason jar, cheesecloth, and rubber band does the trick. Soak the grains for 18 to 24 hours, drain and rinse throughly. Place them in the mason jar with the cheese cloth tightly secured and rinse twice daily for 48 hours or until the sprouts appear. As the whole process happens on your counter over the course of a couple days, there is a higher chance of unwanted things growing in your sprouting jar. Rinsing and draining throughly before placing back in the sprouting jar reduces the chances of that significantly. If You are looking to cut a few corners you can also find a local fully sprouted product courtesy of Vertical Harvest’s sunflower sprouts sold at Aspens Market, the Whole Grocer, and currently on the menu at the Q Roadhouse. Lotus Cafe also offers a fully sprouted option with locally sourced mung beans on a few of their dishes.
Over the past three years of making more pints of hummus than I care to remember, I decided to revisit an old favorite recipe using sprouted instead of just soaked beans. I was pleasantly surprised to find when sharing it with my friends, the majority actually preferred the sprouted raw hummus to the original recipe. Here is a revamped version of Teton Hummus’s Bacon and Date hummus using sprouted chick peas.