Sprouts and Greens
by Tom Billings
January 15, 1996
As there is some confusion regarding terminology, it is best
to begin by specifying sunflower sprouts as hulled sunflower seeds that have been soaked
and sprouted for a day or so. Sunflower greens are the baby plants that result when
unhulled seeds are grown in soil, generally for 7-8 days.
One can think of the sprouts as pre-digested seeds.
Unsprouted sunflower seeds are high in fat and protein. However, sprouting activates the
seed, with many changes as it sprouts: dramatic increase in enzyme levels, seed fats are
converted to essential fatty acids and carbohydrates, proteins are converted to essential
amino acids and/or sugars, and vitamin levels (on a dry basis) increase substantially. Due
to their activate enzymes, sprouts are much easier to digest than dry seeds. Further, as
the seed sprouts its flavor is enhanced - sunflower sprouts have an earthy flavor and are
While the sprouts are pre-digested seeds, the greens are a
tender baby vegetable, high in chlorophyll, and a substitute for lettuce. Sunflower greens
have a slightly salty taste that some compare to watercress. They are rich in chlorophyll,
enzymes, vitamins, proteins, and the most important "nutrient", the life force.
Some writers report the greens are a rich source of lecithin and Vitamin D. Additionally,
unlike most expensive freeze-dried supplements such as spirulina and algae, sunflower
greens that you grow are alive up to the time you eat them (most freeze-dried items are
Sunflower greens are a delicious addition to salads.
Additionally, they can be juiced and used in green drinks or added to carrot juice. If you
find the juice too strong by itself, you can mix it with celery juice or fennel juice (can
juice green fennel tops).
Information on producing sunflower sprouts and greens is in
Part 2, next issue. If you have never tried sunflower sprouts or greens, I suggest you try
them - you might like them!
Sunflower Sprouts and Greens - Part 2
by Tom Billings
January 15, 1996
Part 1 of this article provided general information on
sunflower sprouts and greens. This part will focus on how to produce these living foods.
Sunflower sprouts are produced using the methods one would
use for most seeds. Begin with hulled seeds, soak overnight in water. Then drain off the
loose inner hulls (important!), and put the soaked seed in the sprouting environment -
jars, cloth, or commercial sprouter, for about 1 day. Removing the inner hulls is very
important, as if left in, they will spoil and ruin your batch of sprouts. The sprouting
environment can be glass jars with plastic screen lids (propped up at 45 degree angle), or
the seed can be placed between damp cotton washcloths, on flat-bottomed bowls or saucers.
Sunflower greens can be grown indoors, without soil (in jars
or trays). However for highest nutrient/life force content, it is suggested that they be
grown in soil, and in natural sunlight (or full spectrum grow lights). They can be grown
in soil on cafeteria trays, non-aluminum baking trays, or better still, the plastic trays
used by plant nurseries for growing seedlings. For soil, most people use commercial soil
or soil/peat mixes. It is suggested that you add a small amount of rock dust (including
lime), and/or kelp powder, to the soil to enhance mineral content.
Now to plant the greens: starting with unhulled sunflower
seeds grown for human consumption (not for bird feed), soak the seed overnight, then put
them in the sprouting environment for 2 days, or until the roots just start to emerge from
the hulls. Then transfer the seeds to a soil-filled flat. Spread seeds evenly on top of
soil; do not cover with soil. Water flat, cover with an empty flat, leave for 2 days. Then
uncover seedlings and expose to light. Water daily; the greens will be ready generally on
day 7 or 8 (where soaking of seed is day 1). Be sure to harvest before the 2nd set of
leaves emerges, as they get very bitter and unpalatable after that. To harvest, cut greens
from tray with scissors, and remove any hard hulls that remain on the greens.
Sunflower seed sprouts and greens can be a nutritious and
delicious part of a raw/living foods diet. Enjoy!