If you’d like to make Chickpea Flour, it’s a simple as just grinding up chickpeas and storing the ‘flour’ in a dry cool place. However, for the best nutritional value, it is best to sprout the chickpeas, dry them, and then grind them.
Consider What a Sprout is
Before we go into the specifics of why sprouting is good for you, allow me to give you a visual for what is happening. A seed (or grain or legume) has many nutritional advantages to you, but many of them are locked up tight by anti-nutrients (such as phytic acid, as discussed here). It’s almost like a mini treasure chest, but you have to be able to find the right key to open it. Once you start the germinating process, that dormant seed starts to become a live plant. Anti-nutrients are cast away, it changes, inside and out, and when you eat that seed, no longer are you eating just a seed, instead you are eating a tiny little plant. The process of changing seeds into little plants is easy, but the changes that happen is huge.
Here are a few of the things that happen during that process.
Phytic Acid and Enzyme Inhibitors are Neutralized
Phytic acid binds with calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, and zinc, making it hard to impossible for you to absorb those nutrients. It’s also irritating to your digestive system. By sprouting your grains, legumes or seeds, you are neutralizing phytic acid very effectively. You will also be neutralizing enzyme inhibitors, which unfortunately not only inhibit enzymes in the actual seed, but can also inhibit your own valuable enzymes once they have been eaten.
This is one of the biggest advantages in my mind. I have started sprouting some of my legumes, since the phytic acid in some legumes are especially hard to neutralize. Your seed/grain/legume will be much easier to digest now that you have sprouted it, and you will also be able to assimilate more nutrients.
(By the way, the another method to accomplish this goal is soaking which includes sourdough.)
Sprouting Aids Digestibility
Beyond even anti-nutrients that are neutralized by sprouting, there are other changes that take place during sprouting that make it easier for us to digest our seeds/legumes/grains.
“Soaking will also help to diminish s0me of the fat content and will help convert the dense vegetable protein to simpler amino acids for easier digestion. The more complex carbohydrates in the foods will also start to break down into the simpler glucose molecules” Wendy Rudell, Raw Transformation
Have you ever had problems with legumes causing intestinal gas? Well sprouting helps break down the complex sugars responsible for that, making them easier for all of us to digest.
Sally Fallon gives us one more reason to sprout our grains as well, saying that “Sprouting inactivates aflotoxins, potent carcinogens found in grains.” Nourishing Traditions, pg 112
Finally, now that the enzyme inhibitors are neutralized, enzymes, which help you digest your food, are free to be produced during the sprouting process and then consumed.
For all of these reasons, sprouting greatly helps digestion.
Other Nutritional Advantages
“The process of germination not only produces vitamin C, but also changes the composition of grains and seeds in numerous beneficial ways. Sprouting increases vitamin B content, especially B2, B5, and B6. Carotene increases dramatically-sometimes even eightfold.” Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions, pg 112
Sally also mentions how the Chinese used to carry mung beans when on long journeys at sea. They would sprout and eat the mung beans as they contained sufficient amount of vitamin C to prevent scurvy. Who doesn’t need a little extra vitamin C in it’s natural absorb-able form? This is a great benefit for all of us.
Sprout People give this nutritional info for sprouts:
“Nutritional info: Vitamins A, B, C, D, E and K
Calcium, Carbohydrates, Chlorophyll, Iron, Magnesium, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc
All Amino Acids
Protein: up to 35%”
Sprouts Are More Alkalizing to the Body
Some food is acid forming, and some is alkalizing. We need a balance of acid to alkaline food to maintain good health. Unfortunately, we usually have too many acid forming foods in our diet (stress, and environmental stresses also make our body more acidic). Grains, legumes and meats are generally thought to be acid forming (that doesn’t mean that they are bad, just that they need to be balanced out with alkaline food), fruits and vegetables are alkalizing. By sprouting your grains and legumes, you are helping them become a more alkaline forming food. Remember that by sprouting you are starting the process of making a plant. So, in a sense, it’s more like eating a plant or vegetable so therefore more alkalizing.
In a single serving of sprouted chickpeas, you consume approximately 160 calories — 8 percent of the daily recommended intake, or DRI, of 2,000 calories. At 160 calories per serving, sprouted chickpeas are relatively diet-friendly. To include sprouted chickpeas in your diet at a lower calorie cost, halve or quarter the serving size and enjoy them as a garnish rather than the focus of a meal.
Carbohydrates and Fiber
Sprouted chickpeas are rich in carbohydrates and dietary fiber, both of which will prolong the sensation of fullness after a meal. One serving contains around 24 grams of carbohydrates, which is 11 percent of an average 225-gram DRI. It also contains 3 grams of dietary fiber, or 11 percent of a 28-gram DRI. Eating the DRI of dietary fiber keeps your digestive tract healthy, promotes heart health and helps prevent constipation.
Protein and Fat
A primary benefit of consuming sprouted chickpeas is their high protein content and low level of fat. This makes them an ideal meat replacement for vegetarians and individuals looking to make their diets healthier. In one serving of sprouted chickpeas, you consume 10 grams of protein, or 20 percent of an average 50-gram DRI. The fat content is just 4 grams, equaling 3 percent of a healthy DRI. Only 1 gram of the fat in a serving of sprouted chickpeas is saturated.
Hunger control: in addition to being very high in protein and fibre, chickpeas score very low on the glycemic index. This means that they can help control your hunger while sustaining your energy levels throughout the day, making it easier for you to reach and maintain your ideal body weight.
Vitamins A, C and E,
Calcium, Iron, Magnesium,
Amino Acids, Protein: 20%
Traditionally Used for:
• Weight loss
• Cancer prevention
• Heart health
• Digestive tract function
• Colon health
• Blood sugar/ Diabetes
The Practical Aspects of Sprouting
I think the reason most people don’t sprout is because it sounds so intimidating. Let me tell you, it’s really not hard at all. And, it takes very little time. I know that we are all busy people, really a busy nation. But sprouting will not take much time, and will give you much in return.
The method is pretty much the same for most seeds, grains, nuts, and legumes, it’s just the time that varies. Sally Fallon has a helpful section in Nourishing Traditions that gives guidelines for how long it takes to grow different seeds.
Step 1: An easy and frugal method to sprout, which I am currently using, is to place the dry chickpeas in a mason jar. Cover the jar with water and soak overnight.
Step 2: Drain the chickpeas in the morning and rinse.
Step 3: Return the peas to the CLEAN mason jar.
Step 4: If you are using a frugal quick way, cover the jar with a paper towel and screw with the mason top. This will allow the peas to breathe.
Step 5: Remove the paper towel, rinse and drain the chickpeas every 4-6 hours. This step is very necessary to keep the peas from going moldy. Replace with a fresh paper towel. Sprouts will begin to show after a few days.
Step 6: Shake them up gently. The reason why is because I noticed that the peas sprouted first on top before the ones on the bottom.
IF YOU ARE USING A SPROUTING SCREEN: On the top you place a sprouting screen screwed into the lid. In the morning you drain and rinse it (doing so right through the screen), and then you invert your jar at an angle, allowing it to drain and air to circulate within your jar. Then all you have to do is rinse 2-3 times per day, and your seeds will turn into sprouts. It’s that easy.
Eating Sprouts Raw and Safety Issues
Should We Eat Sprouts Raw?
Now raw foodists will disagree with this, but I think that not all sprouts should be eaten raw. In fact, some sprouted legumes are toxic until cooked. Other legumes are still very hard to digest when raw.
Sally Fallon recommends not only cooking sprouted legumes, but also warns against eating high amounts of raw sprouted grains.
“However, we must warn against over consumption of raw sprouted grains as raw sprouts contain irritating substances that keep animals from eating the tender shoots. These substances are neutralized in cooking. Sprouted grains should usually be eaten lightly steamed of added to soups and casseroles.” Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions, page 113
Other sprouts, such as radish, clover, or broccoli should be fine raw. And these are the most delicious ones raw anyways. My only question in regard to these (to which I don’t have an answer) is whether or not broccoli sprouts (which are extremely nutritious) contain the thyroid suppressing elements that raw broccoli contain. Regardless, it is wise not to over consume anything, and one is very unlikely to eat huge amounts of sprouts anyway.
Raw soaked or sprouted nuts and seeds, such as sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and almonds are very good for you raw as well.
Safety When Eating Raw Sprouts
It’s important when sprouting, even more so if you are consuming them raw, that you use common sense in using clean jars, being careful that the jars and sprouts aren’t contaminated. Never eat any sprouts that smell bad, or are slimy or moldy.
Sprouts are very easy to grow, and have so many benefits that they are very worth growing. I have some posts planned soon showing how to sprout individual seeds, and also have some yummy recipes to share using sprouts.