Pulses (dried beans, dried peas, chickpeas, and lentils) are great cooked and served alone with a little salt. Pulses that are sprouted are even better, nutritionally, and a variety of pulses sprouted as a medley are the best of culinary appeal and nutritional benefit.
Inside dried pulses, nutrients are stored in complex units. Upon soaking, water permeates the hard, protective coating and sends phytohormones (plant hormones) into coordinating seedling development. Such signalling activates enzymes, many of which act on complex proteins, fats, and carbohydrates to free up nutrients for plant growth. For humans who eat sprouts, this translates into huge nutritional benefits. Nutrients are easier to digest and absorb, and, often, the concentration of nutrients is far superior to unsprouted cooked pulses. As seedlings germinate (develop into a mature sprout), vitamin levels increase and minerals and trace minerals also become more available for absorption. Simply stated, people looking for nutrient dense food can stop the search. Sprouts take the prize, hands down. Sprouted pulses, more specifically, win for having the highest digestible protein amino acids.
Unfortunately, sprouts are not a regular part of North American cuisine. As stated above, pulses, once cooked, are great – and that’s where it stops for most people. Asian cultures, however, regularly use sprouted brown rice and mung beans in their diet. Increasing the usage of sprouts in North America may only take a little nutritional awareness and some culinary inspiration (I have an on-line sprouting course in development of those who want to learn more about safe sprouting).
To contribute, I’ve made a very simple sprouted pulse salad that offers all the benefits of cooked unsprouted pulses – lowering cholesterol, feeding good intestinal microbes, supporting colon health – while also cashing in on increased digestible protein (amino acids), vitamin concentration, and enhanced mineral availability gained through sprouting. Many non-nutrient compounds such as those known for antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects also increase with sprouting.
There is one very, very important fact to note before you dive into sprouting pulses. Legumes (pulses plus soybeans and fresh peas and beans) contain antinutritional proteins such as lectins and enzyme inhibitors. Other plants contain antinutrients as well, but legumes, especially raw legumes, contain higher, potentially toxic, amounts of antinutrients. In large amounts, lectins can cause red blood cells to clump together or irritate the intestinal lining. This may be harmful for people with autoimmune issues, in which the integrity of intestinal lining is paramount in recovery.
Fortunately, cooking reduces the activity of antinutrients, which provides a helpful antidote to consuming sprouted pulses. Some nutrients are lost and enzymes deactivated by cooking. For generally healthy people, the benefits of sprouted pulses outweigh completely removing them from the diet, as is the case for many people following a low-lectin diet.
Provided your diet contains diverse sources of whole foods, including unpasteurized fermented foods and bone broth, and provided you are cooking sprouted pulses before eating, there should be amble benefit to include sprouted pulses into your weekly diet. Repeat after me: “Sprouted pulses need to be cooked before eating.” A few raw mung or adzuki beans on a salad likely won’t harm anyone, but I wouldn’t make it a habit.
Okay, for the recipe…The ingredient that makes this salad awesome is MCT oil. It is coconut-based. As you could imagine (or taste) it contributes a sweet, nutty flavour, while the white wine vinegar gives the salad a punch. MCT oil is not common in small-town grocery stores. Health-food stores or a whole-foods grocery store will likely stock it. Truly, it is worth the money and wait. If you don’t have MCT oil on hand, use olive oil as a substitute.
Sprouted Five Pulse Salad
Prep time: 20 mins | Total time: 25 mins | Yield: 4 cups, 8 servings | Author: Sarah Campbell
- 2 cups sprouted mixed beans
- 1/2 cup julienned carrot (~ 1 medium carrot)
- 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen greened beans
- 2 green onion springs, sliced diagonally
- 2 tablespoons MCT oil
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- In a 1-quart, wide-mouth jar with a sprouting lid or mesh and rubber band, soak 2 tablespoons each of organic mung beans, organic chickpeas, organic adzuki beans, and organic lentils for 12 hours in filtered water. Rinse the pulses with fresh water, drain, then place upside-down in a bowl. Keep out of direct sunlight. Rinse 3X per day, draining and returning the jar to the inverted position. After three days of sprouting, wash the sprouts in a bowl of fresh water. Skim off any hulls that rise to the surface. Strain beans in a colander.
- In a medium saucepan, cover the sprouted pulses with filtered water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, lid ajar, and cook for 20 minutes. Hulls from the beans may rise to the surface. If so, skim these and any foam with a large metal skimmer spoon.
- Meanwhile, julienne the carrots, slice the onions, and prepare the dressing.
- Once the beans are finished cooking, strain in a colander placed in a sink. Using the same saucepan, steam the green beans for 5-7 minutes, until they are bright green and tender. Avoid overcooking.
- In a medium serving bowl, combine all the ingredients. Mix, and serve warm or cold. This salad keeps for 2 days, stored in the refrigerator.