Why should I bother sprouting chickpeas?
Chickpeas, aka garbanzo beans, along with other seeds, nuts, grains and legumes all contain phytates which can cause problems when us humans try to digest them. These anti-nutrients are nature's way of protecting the seeds so that they can go on to reproduce.
One day a few years ago I was working away at my desk and I didn't have time to step out for lunch but I did have a big bag of raw almonds in my handbag. Yay! I wasn't going to have a hangry attack as I was stocked up! Anyone who knows me, knows to steer clear when I get hungry. So during the afternoon I munched on, not mindfully mind you, slowly snacking away at that big bag of almonds whilst my mind was focused on my work. By the end of the day I had the worst stomach cramps I have ever experienced. I was doubling over in pain and I couldn't move. I thought to myself.. but all I've eaten is raw almonds?! How could I be feeling this way?
Cut to: years later and I learned about the importance of activating and it all made sense. I read the chapter in Nourishing Traditions "Sprouted Grains, Nuts and Seeds" and as I read, my mind flashed back to that incidence with the almonds. It was the almonds' natural protectants saving them so that hungry Janneke wouldn't eat them all and they could live on to reproduce more almond trees! Phytates can also bind to all those important minerals in your digestive tract and can contribute to potential nutrient deficiencies. You're making sure you're putting all the good things in, better make sure your phytates aren't taking them out!
Here's an excerpt from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon: ‘The process of germination not only produces vitamin C but also changes the composition of grain and seeds in numerous beneficial ways. Sprouting increases vitamin B content, especially B2, B5, and B6. Carotene increases dramatically – sometimes eightfold. Even more important, sprouting neutralizes phytic acid, a substance present in the bran of all grains that inhibits absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, and zinc; sprouting also neutralizes enzyme inhibitors present in all seeds. These inhibitors can neutralize our own precious enzymes in the digestive tract. Complex sugars responsible for intestinal gas are broken down during sprouting, and a portion of the starch in grain is transformed into sugar. Sprouting inactivates aflatoxins, potent carcinogens found in grains. Finally, numerous enzymes that help digestion are produced during the sprouting process.’
We would still all be preparing our legumes with the traditional methods today if we weren't clever enough to invent canning machines and refrigerators, but unfortunately when we did make these incredible devices, many traditional preparation methods from generations and generations went out the window.
Now that you have been privy to this information, do a little experiment and compare how you feel after you eat nuts, seeds grains and legumes that haven't been activated to when you eat those that have.
So let's sprout some chickpeas then shall we?
Pop your dried chickpeas in a mason jar or bowl and cover with 3 parts filtered water and a teaspoon of sea salt. If you have some fresh whey then that's also a great addition to soaking to help reduce the anti-nutrient content even more. Not the protein powder kind of whey, the fresh kind of whey. For instructions on how to make whey click here.
One cup of dry chickpeas is equivalent to approx 4 cups of sprouted chickpeas.
Soak the chickpeas for 12-24 hours.
Drain the fluid and rinse thoroughly with filtered water. Let the chickpeas sit on the bench for 2-4 days while they sprout. Make sure they are covered and well drained in a sieve or in an upside down mason jar with a mesh piece in the end so the water can drain out. You can buy sprouting kits from most health food stores or eBay which make this process a bit easier but you don't need one. A bowl and sieve or mason jar with some mesh or muslin cloth will suffice.
Rinse them a few times a day to keep them moist and to also ward off any unwanted bacteria. On that note, always take special care using clean utensils etc and if something doesn't smell right then it's probably not right. Use your best judgement.
Once the chickpeas have little tails on them you are ready to cook them. Boil them in water until soft and tender. Skim off any foam that comes to the surface.
Now your chickpeas are ready to add to salads, make into hummus or sprouted chickpea falafel. Have fun experimenting and let me know in the comments below your experiences with soaking, activating and sprouting!
Side note: If you are in a hurry and don't want to sprout the chickpeas, you can jump straight into cooking them after they have soaked although you will need to cook them longer. Using a pressure cooker will greatly reduce cooking time for chickpeas.
Here's a great article on the Weston A Price website going into great detail about phytic acid. http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/living-with-phytic-acid/