the gift that keeps on sprouting

The following post was written by my mom, WWW. Thanks, mom!
For 30 or so years I have been making English toffee as holiday gifts for my friends. Pounds and pounds of it. That is until last year. There were several reasons for this decision. Besides the fact that I wasn't eating sugar, it seemed like the one thing that was going to put me over the edge as I prepared for our household of family coming home. (Sometimes you just have to give something up to stay sane. I gave up giving out Christmas cards years ago for the same reason.) So this year, when I sat down to write up my to-do list for the holidays, I started thinking about the toffee. Do I want to make it this year? And the answer came very quickly. NO. I’ll make a batch for the family, sure (with Archer and Fable helping, of course). But I no longer feel like standing over the hot stove, making batch after batch of candy.

The other day I was buying my sprouts at the farmer’s market from my sprout/salt lady, Jennifer, and I noticed she was selling bags of a mixture of dry lentils, mung beans and adzuki beans. For over a year I have bought a jar of her sprouted lentils and beans once a week and we eat them on our nightly salad. “Are you selling these so we can sprout at home?” I asked. “Yes,” she answered. “It’s easy.”

I have wanted to try sprouting for ages—ever since we visited David several years ago and I watched him prepare his jars of sprouted grains in preparation for making his gluten free beer. And suddenly standing there I had an instant brain wave…make homemade sprouted lentils and give them with Jennifer’s fabulous truffle salt as presents for Christmas! (I’m hoping that my lentil/salt combo might be a welcome break from the plethora of sweets that everyone gets this time of year.)

To make sprouted lentils, start with dried beans that are fresh, preferably organic. You can make your own mix from either packaged or bulk lentils and combine several types of lentils together…brown, green, and French…and add some mung beans and adzuki beans if you would like. You can get a ready made mixture from Sun Organics. Many places sell “sprouting jars” that have a screen on the top for easy draining, but you don’t need these…you can sprout in regular canning jars or simply in a bowl. Remember, the beans/lentils will grow to about three times their size when sprouted, so make sure you allow for that when you put the lentils in the jar or bowl. If you use canning jars, you can take out the lid insert and replace with a piece of clean muslin during the sprouting process so the lentils can breathe.

1. If sprouting in jars, add lentils to about a third way up the jar and then fill the jar with fresh filtered water.
2. Cover with muslin or screen. (If sprouting in a bowl, add lots of water and cover with a paper towel so dirt and bugs can’t get in.
3. Soak overnight. This “wakes up” the seeds out of their dried, dormant state.

4. Drain and rinse lentils, and drain again. Lentils should still be wet but not standing in water. Cover with muslin or paper towel. If sprouting in a jar, lay jar on its side. Make sure that the canning jar lid insert is replaced by cloth or a screen.
5. Repeat this process a couple of times a day until you see sprouts appear, usually anywhere between 24 and 48 hours.
6. If you are going to cook the lentils, a small sprout is all you need. They will be ready anywhere from 24-36 hours. For salad lentils, repeat the process until the sprout is about ¼ inch.
7. Put in jars and refrigerate.
You can cook with your lentils or use fresh. The advantages of sprouted beans and lentils are:

• The phytic acid present in beans is neutralized so more magnesium, calcium, and iron can be metabolized in our bodies
• B vitamins and carotene are increased and Vitamin C is created in the sprouting process
• Complex sugars, which contribute to the gassiness of beans, are broken down
• Enzymes are created in the sprouting process that aid in digestion


Cooking with sprouted lentils/beans: Once your lentils/beans are sprouted, they don’t need much cooking. You can use them in any lentil/bean recipe, but your cooking time will be much shorter. Steam them for about 5 minutes and add to any dish. Add them to rice or quinoa during the last 5 minutes of cooking time. Or toss with olive oil and garlic for an easy side dish. Once steamed, grind them in the food processor and use for a pate spread or lentil hummus (add salt, garlic, tahini, lemon, herbs).
lentils + gigande beans + greens, salt, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and truffle salt.

Or…eat them raw with a little lemon, garlic, salt, and olive oil, or as a topping on your salads and sandwiches. And…they are absolutely delicious simply sprinkled with Jennifer’s truffle salt, either raw or cooked.

For presents you can put lentils/beans into jars, add a festive label and voila! Easy and healthy presents! 
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