Sprouting peas, beans or grains can improve the nutritional content of your food. Here are a few benefits in short:
- Sprouting increases bio-available nutrients.
- Sprouting decreases carbohydrate content from starches, therefore reduces calorie content.
- Sprouting makes the legume/grain easier to digest and less likely in most cases to cause gas.
- Sprouting grains can deactivate potent carcinogens.
- Sprouting can reduce the amount of fat.
There are lots of articles highlighting how the biological processes that happen during sprouting lead to these facts. Rather than repeat the information, check out these articles from The Nourishing Gourmet and Kitchen Stewardship, where you can read about how phytase released in soaking and sprouting leads to the changes we can benefit from.
It is important to research which grains and legumes aren’t good for sprouting, and which should always be cooked thoroughly after sprouting to avoid stomach aches and gas. It’s also good to be aware of safety guidelines for sprouting, as it is very easy to create toxic mould in the damp, dark conditions of sprouting. Here’s more info. on Sprout Safety. Suffice to say, rinse often. Do not consume if your sprouts are slimy or smell weird, or have anything other than shoots growing out of them. Wash thoroughly and follow FDA safety guidelines.
I prefer to sprout my peas quickly, as the benefits begin as soon as the shoots appear. A lot of articles recommend sprouting for a few days to maximise the benefits, but for me, the longer I wait, the more chance there is that I’ll ruin the batch with some kind of mould. So my sprouting process is about 1.5 days.
Here’s How I Sprout My Peas:
- Rinse then soak a cup of dried peas in water for about 8 hrs.
- Rinse the soaked peas and place in a clean linen/muslin bag. Hang the bag in a dry, dark cupboard for about 24 hrs.
- During the 24 hrs, regularly check on the peas, rinsing the bag to avoid mould formation every few hours.
- When shoots begin to form, you can remove the peas and wash thoroughly.
- You can use the sprouts right away, allow them to sprout for longer, or put them in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Here’s a link to my Sprouted Pea Soup recipe. I hope you found this information concise and helpful. Enjoy!
That is the question!
And the answer continues to remain controversial. There is a wealth of conflicting information online regarding this subject.
As a cancer survivor, British asian, fitness professional and someone who does not consume animal meat or poultry, the subject of soy in food continues to come up. So let me break it down into as short a piece as I can to give you a general sense of it all in plain English from my perspective.
Some studies promote its health benefits with statements like: Soy’s anti-estrogen properties prevent breast cancer, its fiber content can lower colorectal cancer, and in various stages of prostate cancer soy lowered PSA levels. Here’s one such study: MDAndersonorg
Other pluses for soy include its low fat content and high protein content, making it an efficient nutrient, especially in a vegetarian diet.
Many western articles point to asians having lower occurrences of certain types of cancer, reasoning that asians eat a high amount of soy. They use statistics to prove that the two facts are related. Here’s a WebMD article detailing an example of this theory.
Books like the China Study link an asian diet heavy in soy with health benefits.
Some studies show that soy consumption switches on cancer-forming genes, increasing the rate of cancer cell growth; like this one on breastcancer.org
Others provide studies linking soy to miscarriages, hormonal disruptions, infertility, loss of libido and erectile dysfunction; like this one from Dr. Mercola.
Some studies claim too much soy causes dementia and other brain issues, as well as hair loss.
The Middle Ground:
What’s clear is that the jury is out. This information sounds all too familiar: Wine is good for you, then it’s bad. Fat causes heart attacks, so we must eat nothing but carbs. Oh wait, oops, carbs are bad, now fat is back in fashion! Heard this before?
There are easy guidelines to follow here that can also be mirrored when deciding on your fat, sugar, carbs or alcohol consumption too. The rules are quite simple. In fact, there’s really only one:
DON’T EAT TOO MUCH OF IT!
I knew a middle aged woman in Oklahoma some years ago who was overweight and tried every fad diet possible to lose a few pounds. The only thing she didn’t try was sensible portions and moderation. She ended up doing crazy things like downing an entire bottle of olive oil because she read it was “good for your heart”. True story. Not long after this, she had a heart attack.
As with everything, too much of something is bad. But with soy, this statement rings even more profoundly. In an attempt to give us westerners a miracle low fat, non-meat protein substitute that’s easy to produce, the soy industry has given us a soy mutant monster. Soy protein isolate is a component of soy, literally isolated and multiplied to hulk like levels.
Enthusiastic believers in the asian diet ignore the fact that asians also eat a lot of meats, vegetables, fungi, legumes, fruits……. The point really is to look at the amounts and the ratios. They aren’t knocking back pints of soy milk like it’s going out of fashion.
Additionally, if that soy isn’t organic it may be genetically modified for hardiness to be sprayed with Round Up. This means it has probably also been sprayed with said toxic chemicals you’d never want to set foot near, much less consume.
Even if it’s organic, if it isn’t fermented, it contains high levels of phytic acid, an anti-nutrient that leaches vital nutrients from your body, and blocks the uptake of others. Dr. Mercola’s article details this well, but you can find this information in many forms if you google it. Here’s an article from foodforbreastcancer.com that suggests eliminating soy protein isolate from your diet if you are fighting breast cancer.
With all the back and forth, what is one supposed to believe? Conclusive findings don’t appear to be anywhere near in sight. So for myself, I choose to logic my way around the situation. Here is my deductive reasoning:
- Soy clearly doesn’t actually cure cancer. If it did, we’d all be miraculously cured by now. So there’s no need to start consuming it heavily for its proclaimed health benefits, when I can get my protein from many sources, even if I’m a vegan.
- Asians traditionally don’t eat unfermented soy products without also consuming some form of seafood or seaweed, which neutralized the phytic acid in the soy, making it safe to eat. So probably eating soy protein isolates and other unfermented soy products doesn’t mimic the Asian miracle diet anyway.
- If numerous studies tell you something causes cancer, perhaps it is worth listening to that information and investigating it before jumping under the bus and regretting it later.
I choose to eat organic soy and fermented soy products in moderation. I avoid any foods containing soy protein isolates like the plague; like soy milk and soy burgers. I don’t go near soy beans aka Edamame either. This crop was originally used in between usable crop seasons on fallow land to re-nourish the soil and wasn’t consumed in its bean form. Asians knew it to be poisonous to consume as is. Hence, they developed a way to ferment the bean and make it edible. Here’s an article that I quickly googled referencing this at authorityNutrition.com. Edemame is not fermented! It doesn’t make the cut!
Here is a list of soy based products I personally deem safe:
- Organic Tofu – but I try to make sure I consume some form of seaweed or seafood along with it. It doesn’t have to be much. And I don’t eat it very often, perhaps once a month as my source of protein. I happen to LOVE tofu, so it’s hard not to eat too much of it to be honest!
- Organic Miso – fermented soy paste soup, sometimes with seaweed and tofu.
- Organic Tempeh – Health food stores have a lot of Tempeh burgers/patties to choose from, in various flavors.
- Organic Soy Sauce – a fermented sauce.
- Natto is also a fermented soy product that makes the cut, but I don’t personally like it.
Moderation, moderation, moderation!
Be sensible, read articles, make your own decisions based on more than one source.
This is one of my favorite leftovers recipes. In this case, left over steamed broccoli and mash potatoes from a holiday dinner.
- Parmesan Cheese grated
Make sure your leftover mashed potatoes are stiff. If they are too creamy, your cakes will not stay together. You can add bread crumbs, or bread to the mix to make it more stiff if necessary. You can also try other healthier filler options, like oat bran flakes also.
Mash the steamed broccoli into the mashed potatoes. Season with salt and pepper, add Parmesan cheese to taste and bind with an egg. Add more egg if you have a large amount or if the mixture seems too dry to bind.
Form into patties. Make them quite thin so they cook through easily and more crust forms, which always makes it more tasty. Saute on medium heat with ghee, flip until brown on both sides. Serve.
We’ve all been told to supplement with Folic Acid by a doctor, nutritionist or other health professional, especially if you’re female and trying to start a family. As a woman doing just that, my fertility specialist as well as my general practitioner both recommended I start supplementing. Both recommended Folic Acid as an 800mg per day supplement, in addition to fortified foods and natural sources.
However, it doesn’t take much digging to realize that Folic Acid isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. So here’s the quick down low on what’s really going on, and why you probably should throw away those Folic Acid pills and multivitamins.
Folic Acid was first synthesized in 1943 and became mandatory in food fortification in 1998 in the USA, after being believed to prevent neural defects (NTDs) in newborns. It has since become a staple supplement for all women of child baring age providing support for red blood cell development, reducing levels of homocysteine in the blood, and supporting the nervous system. Instances of NTDs have indeed gone down as a result of all this Folic Acid making the rounds. Other signs of Folate deficiency are:
- Soreness/ulcers on the tongue
- Skin pigment changes
However, when you ingest Folic Acid, it undergoes a process of reduction and methylation in the liver. Taking in too much of this supplement leaves unprocessed levels of it in your system that may cause harm. Studies from countries that do not fortify food with Folic Acid conclude a link to Folic Acid and numerous cancers, including prostate and colon cancer. Additionally, excess unprocessed Folic Acid in the system appears to mask vitamin B12 deficiency. In studies, combined B12 deficiency and Folic Acid overdosing has led to diagnosis of cognitive decline and anemia. Check out this article by Chris Kresser for more details:
So what’s a girl to do? It turns out that Folic Acid is the synthetic version of Folate. Folate is the term for a group of water soluble b-vitamins otherwise known as B9. It is the natural tetrahydrofolate derivative of the supplement Folic Acid, and is found naturally occurring in food, unlike Folic Acid, which is an oxidised synthetic compound. Am I hammering that point home yet? Folate is naturally occurring and bio-available when ingested, Folic Acid is neither.
This article from Paleo for Women, claims that Folic acid cannot cross the placenta to the fetus, the way natural folate can. So a Folate supplement would benefit your unborn child too.
Natural Sources of Folate:
Romaine lettuce, broccoli, asparagus, spinach, turnips, cauliflower, beets, lentils, chickpeas, all types of animal liver, greens, parsley, okra, mushrooms, lima beans, papaya, oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, raspberries, squash, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, avocado.
…and here’s a nice article on Foods high in Folate on healthline.com.
If you can’t get enough from your natural diet, you can still supplement with Folate. There are many brands making a Folate dietary supplement. My favorite is Solgar’s Folate 800 MCG (as Metafolin). I use this product as it is suitable for vegetarians. Here’s a link to get it on amazon.com .
Look for the terms “5-methyltetrahydrofolate” or “5-MTHF” on the bottle. Avoid labels that just read Folic Acid, and avoid multivitamins that contain Folic Acid too.