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How to Grow Sprouts
Raw food is nature’s way to better health and a longer life. Culturally as human beings our evolution of food and its preparation is alarmingly opposed to our genetic makeup. Our inherent nature is to be predominately alkaline. We achieve this by eating a diet in accordance to our body’s natural law which includes 80% fruits and vegetables, and of that percentage, 70% should be raw. The quality and longevity of our life depends on meeting our body’s nutritional needs on a regular basis.
We will explore the reasoning behind the above statement to include the benefits when this dietary regime is applied and the consequences of not implementing such a plan. Also, what is entailed when embracing a total raw food diet, the benefits of raw juices and a step by step process of how to grow your own sprouts.
Let’s start by taking a brief look at our physiology. By simply observing our digestive process; the way in which we chew food and our long digestive tract is primed for the slow breakdown and absorption of plant material. This by design is set up for a predominately alkaline diet of mostly fruits and vegetables. Our body requires food with the life force still intact in order for regeneration to take place and the functioning of our systems depend on many elements that are forever lost during the cooking process.
What is a raw food diet
The raw food diet is based on whole, unprocessed and uncooked fresh foods. A typical food list includes fruit, vegetables, sprouts, seeds, nuts, beans, dried fruit, coconut milk, and seaweed. The percentage of raw food required to be considered a raw diet isn’t far off the normal healthy eating regime. Generally 75% of the diet must be living or raw and there are those individuals who choose 100% raw food intake.
Health benefits of raw and alkaline foods
Osteoporosis is directly linked to the acid/alkaline balance of the body. When we eat an acid food such as protein, it causes our system to become more acidic. The parathyroid gland (regulates the body’s acid/alkaline balance) in turn robs our bones and tissues of calcium to bring the blood back to its healthy alkaline state. This gland has full control, so much so that our skeletal system will be sacrificed to maintain our inherent balance. Therefore the diet must be addressed to prevent bone loss or to reverse the Ph imbalance.
Digestive problems are common as we age primarily due to reduced enzyme activity from the age of fourty but mostly because the body’s digestive enzymes have not been supported with live plant enzymes. Incorporating raw food with each meal supports the digestive process. Cooking food above 116 degrees F destroys enzymes in food that can assist in the digestive process and absorption of food. The nutritional value is also greatly diminished.
Raw foods rejuvenate, cleanse, raise oxygen blood levels and energize our bodies. The aging process is slowed immensely and vitality is felt throughout your whole being. The body becomes light; bowel cleansing enhances, circulation is increased, mental clarity improves and a zest for life is renewed. Weight loss is virtually guaranteed as is beautiful skin and reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. Other concerns in the area of diabetes and high cholesterol/triglyceride levels are all benefited by a raw food diet.
Nutritional Benefits of Raw Food and Sprouts
Raw food and sprouts are very nutritious for our health providing us with a wide spectrum of colour which encompasses a great variety of phytochemicals and nutrients. Other benefits include fibre, enzymes, antioxidants, protein, nitrosamines, bioflavonoids, vitamins, minerals and low trans fat and saturated fat.
Sprouts are living foods that have concentrated amounts of phytochemicals and antioxidants that can protect us from disease and slow the aging process. For instance, saponins in alfalfa lower bad cholesterol and research at John Hopkins University School of Medicine, USA, have discovered that broccoli sprouts have high amounts of a natural cancer fighting compound.
How to Grow Sprouts
Jar and Cloth Sprouting Methods
- Obtain seed for sprouting and store in an insect proof container.
- Measure and inspect seed for stones, debris and broken seeds.
- Rinse seed unless the seed is too small.
- Soak seeds in either a glass jar or use a cloth method away from direct sunlight.
- (8–12 hours) for millet, lentil, rye, rice, sesame, wheat, sunflower, buckwheat, fenugreek, pumpkin, radish, cabbage, corn, mung beans and almond. (4-6 hours) for alfalfa. (2-4 hours) for amaranth, quinoa and oats.
- When sprouting seeds, keep in a dark place at room temperature.
- Sprouts that are not consumed in the same day, store in the refrigerator and rinse every 24 hours.
- For longer growing periods, the jar method is less likely to mold compared to cloth.
- Use a wide mouth jar such as a canning jar that has a special plastic screened lid or purchase plastic mesh and improvise.
- Cover seed with water; soak for the recommended time suggested.
- When finished soak, invert jar, drain and rinse the seeds once.
- Prop jar up at a 45 degree angle for the water to drain and sprout.
- Rinse seed 2 to 3 times a day.
- After 2 to 5 days sprouts will be ready.
- Soak seeds in shallow water for the recommended time.
- When finished soak, empty seeds into a strainer and rinse.
- Line the bottom of container with a wet cotton cloth and spread seed on top.
- Take a second cloth or the remainder of the same cloth and put it on top of seed.
- May add additional water.
- Later, if cloth is drying, sprinkle water on top or if very dry remove seeds, rinse and rewet cloth.
Juicing Raw Foods for Cleansing and Restoring Health
Juicing may well be a cutting edge therapy to reclaim and maintain our health. Drinking raw juices is a fast way for the body to obtain vitamins and minerals and an easy way to boost your daily intake of raw food. Cleansing and detoxifying are hot topics today. The best form of cleansing is through whole, unadulterated vegetable and fruit juices. This form of nutrition is already metabolically broken down by the fine root fibres for easy assimilation. Juicing is highly recommended for various cleansing programs because of its condensed nutritional value and live enzymatic activity. One example is a lymph system cleanse, which is of particular importance since along with our liver, it is the detoxification system of our bodies. Our lymph is often overloaded with toxic material from air pollution, food additives and poison’s sprays. In order to clean the lymph stream, specific minerals must be available. Fortunately, minerals and other beneficial nutrients such as phytochemicals are abundantly available in vegetable and fruits juices.
Raw juices are wonderful for raising the immune system, especially a vegetable formula.
An immune boosting juice formula would include above ground and below ground plants such as carrots (the main ingredient), beet, dandelion, parsley, and occasionally add black radish, celery root or potato. These foods are extremely valuable to your liver, kidney, immune system, blood and connective tissue. Typically fruits are not mixed with vegetables however for the above formula, one apple may be added. Preferably, all juices should be consumed within one hour of being made.
A breakfast fruit juice formula with protein may include the following: 2 cups freshly made fruit juice of choice such as apple, pineapple or berries; 1 tablespoon of your favourite nut or seed butter, ½ cup of fresh fruit; 1 tablespoon flax seed oil; optional 1 raw egg yolk or ½ cup of plain yogurt. If desired, sweeten with raw honey to taste.
Cooking methods of raw food
Cooking and preparation techniques enhance the variety and digestibility of an uncooked diet. Usually the following methods are employed: sprouting seeds, grains and beans; juicing fruits and vegetables; soaking nuts and reconstituting dried fruits; blending and dehydrating food.
There is a misconception of preparation time when introducing either a raw food diet or incorporating more of the same. The fact is that in many instances, less time is required to prepare a delicious, nutritionally balanced meal. The substitution of foods being palatable for non cooking is the biggest hurtle. Some common areas of adjustment are as follows: spaghetti is often replaced with spaghetti squash, thinly sliced zucchini, sprouted nut seeds such as almonds or carrot slivers; spaghetti sauce may be pesto (raw basil and olive oil), or crushed tomatoes, raw herbs, garlic and olive oil. Fats are usually replaced with cold pressed oils, coconut butter and avocado. Better cheese choices are from goats or made from nuts and seeds. Hummus with raw vegetables is a healthy snack and replacing starch wraps with a lettuce leaf are wonderful for lunch and benefits the waste line. For example, take a lettuce leaf, fill it with your favourite vegetables (try to include sprouts), spread on tahini, and a small amount of your favourite dressing.
Caution of a Raw Diet
Particular attention should be paid to ensure adequate levels of B12 and protein. Raw food, juicing and sprouts will help anyone reach their highest level of health and well being. Any initiative made to include more raw food into your daily intake is a measure taken towards better health.
Michelle Honda, PhD is a holistic doctor practicing at Renew You Holistic Health located in Ancaster, Meadowlands. In addition, to her doctorate, she holds an advanced degree in nutrition (RNCP), is a Master Herbalist and an IIPA Certified Iridologist. www.renewyou.ca