Sprouted Lentils are legumes, like beans, but they contain different levels of nutrients that are specific to lentils themselves. As a legume, lentils are high in protein, which is what legumes are typically known for, but lentils are also high in molybdenum, folate, dietary fiber, tryptophan, manganese, iron, copper, vitamin B1, and potassium, all of which are necessary for your body to function well. The most common types in the United States are either green or brown, but lentils are also available in black, yellow, red, and orange.
History of Sprouting
Traced back for thousands of years, sprouts have been referenced in history for medical and other nutritional reasons. In 1282 B.C., Shen-Nung, the Emperor of China, reported how good he was at growing mung beans himself. Whether or not he used the term “sprouted” or even knew what this report would do for the future of sprouting in the world, this record shows that sprouting was happening domestically thousands of years ago.
Sprouts of seeds and grains have been a large part of the history in Eastern cultures and are still a main staple in certain areas of the world. Sprouts and sprouting are also mentioned a few times in the Bible. However, sprouting took much longer to take off in Western cultures and is just now hitting its stride in certain areas of the world.
The main references to sprouted grains in the Bible come from Genesis 1:29 and Ezekiel 4:9. Food for Life Baking Company, a firm that makes sprouted-grain products, offers a variety of sprouted-grain foods that use the mixes of grains mentioned in the Bible, as well as other blends, to create tasty prepared sprouted-grain foods.
Throughout history, food has been used not only as nourishment but also to heal. In early civilizations, food and plants were the only things available to people when it came to curing diseases or treating infections, headaches, and stomachaches. Many of those early people found that certain foods did have healing powers and began to use them for medicinal purposes, as well as to feed their families and keep them healthy throughout the year.
Traditional Cultures and Sprouted Grains
Throughout history, some cultures and groups have documented using seed, legume, and grain sprouts for medicinal cures and nutritional reasons, as well as recording simple things like how they grew new plants or sprouts on their own. Historically, in Chinese culture, many families were known to grow sprouts themselves because sprouts, whether from seeds, legumes, or grains, were a low-cost food to produce and provided impressive nutritional benefits.
One other historic recorded use of sprouts is from the 1770s. Captain James Cook was looking for cures and solutions for his ship’s crew because the sailors were getting sick while out at sea. When a large number of his crew were found to have scurvy caused by the extreme lack of vitamin C, Captain Cook began to use sprouts as one way to easily give his men more vitamin C to help keep them healthy while they were onboard the ship. Along with citrus fruits and other vegetables, the regular use of sprouts in the men’s diets cleared up the scurvy and solved one of the biggest health problems they were facing.
Traditional use and modern fact:
Scurvy is a human disease caused by a severe vitamin C deficiency. This lack of vitamin C can cause extreme weakness, swollen and painful joints, anemia, gum disease, and skin problems. Eating a diet high in vitamin C—which includes citrus fruits, berries, melons, peppers, tomatoes, dark greens, and some whole grains—can cure the disease.
How to sprout Lentils
Lentils have the most variety when it comes to sprouts. You can find different colors and sizes of lentils to sprout at home, giving your dishes a nice pop of color.
Steps to sprout lentils:
- Put ½ cup of Lentils in a large container.
- Pour 2–3 cups of cool water over the lentils and let them soak eight to twelve hours.
- After soaking the lentils, rinse and drain them until the water runs clear as it runs off.
- Let the lentils sit at room temperature, and repeat the rinsing and draining two to three times a day until they are where you want them.
- After a day or two, you should be able to see small sprouts starting to show.
- You can continue to let them grow if you’d like the “tail” a bit longer, or you can stop once you first see the sprouts.
- Once they’re where you want them, rinse and drain the sprouts one last time, making sure they are relatively dry before storing.
- Sprouted lentils will keep for one to two weeks in the refrigerator when stored in a container or plastic bag.
Sprouted Lentils Recipes
Lentil Pizza Salad
Lentils and pizza aren’t two words normally associated with each other. But this salad takes all the great flavors of pizza and mixes them together with heart-healthy and filling lentils.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- ½ medium red onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup sprouted lentils
- ¼ cup vegetable broth
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 4 ounces fresh mozzarella, diced
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 1 tablespoon parsley
- 1 tablespoon basil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
How to make Lentil Pizza Salad
- Heat pan over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
- Sauté the red pepper, red onion, and garlic for 3–4 minutes, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are softened and the garlic is fragrant.
- Stir the lentils and broth into the vegetables and cover the pan. Simmer for 5 minutes, covered.
- Take the pan off the heat and pour the lentils and vegetables into a large bowl. Let the lentil mixture cool for 5 minutes.
- Toss the lentils with the cherry tomatoes, diced mozzarella, oregano, parsley, basil, 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt, and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Nutritional Value per serving
- Calories: 148
- Fat: 7 g
- Protein: 5 g
- Sodium: 737 mg
- Fiber: 2 g
- Carbohydrates: 18 g
- Sugar: 4 g
Lentil Enchilada Casserole
Since lentils have a subtle flavor of their own, using them in Mexican-spiced recipes transforms them into a dish where lentils wouldn’t normally be used.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup scallions, sliced (about 4–5)
- 1½ cups sprouted red lentils
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups kale, finely chopped
- 3½ cups green enchilada sauce, divided
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 (8-ounce) jar picante sauce or salsa
- 16 corn tortillas, cut into quarters (or see homemade recipe in sidebar)
- 1 cup queso fresco, shredded
How to make Lentil Enchilada Casserole
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the scallions. Cook for 2–3 minutes until they are softened.
- Add the lentils and broth to the pan, and bring to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes.
- Stir in the chopped kale, 1 cup of the enchilada sauce, garlic, cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, salt, and picante sauce.
- Let the lentil and kale mixture simmer for another 5–10 minutes until the kale starts to wilt and most of the liquid has been absorbed.
- In the bottom of a greased 9 × 13 pan, pour ½ cup of the remaining enchilada sauce and top with ⅓ of the tortilla pieces.
- Pour ½ of the lentil mixture on top of the tortillas. Add another layer of enchilada sauce, tortillas, and the rest of the lentil mixture. Top with the remaining tortilla pieces, and pour the rest of the enchilada sauce over the top.
- Sprinkle the queso fresco on top of the casserole and bake for 30–35 minutes until the cheese is melted.
Nutritional Value per serving (filling with 2 Homemade Corn Tortillas)
- Calories: 273 Kcal
- Fat: 8 g
- Protein: 10 g
- Sodium: 2,271 mg
- iber: 3 g
- Carbohydrates: 42 g
- Sugar: 10 g
Moroccan Lentil Soup
To speed up prep time, you can use fresh raw almonds and cashews (without soaking them), and sun-dried tomatoes, available marinated in olive oil, which are ready to use when you’re ready to cook. This spicy soup is delicious served with couscous.
- ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, soaked
- ½ cup almonds, soaked
- ½ cup cashews, soaked
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup lentil sprouts
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 tablespoon miso
- 1 cup portobello or crimini mushrooms, diced
How to make Moroccan Lentil Soup
- Blend the sun-dried tomatoes, almonds, and cashews with water until smooth. Add in the lentil sprouts, lemon juice, cinnamon, cumin, salt, and turmeric and blend until smooth. As an option, you could add 1 tablespoon miso at this point.
- If you want the soup to have a chunky texture, save out ½ cup of the sprouted lentils.
- Pour soup into serving bowls and stir in the diced portobello (or reserved ½ cup whole lentil sprouts).
- Garnish with fresh cilantro or parsley.
Nutritional Value per serving
- Calories: 720
- Fat: 30 g
- Protein: 38 g
- Sodium: 930 mg
- Fiber: 36 g
- Carbohydrates: 83 g
- Sugar: 7 g