I’ve always loved the taste of alfalfa sprouts in a sandwich, or bean sprouts in my stir fry, but it was only recently that I realized two awesome things about sprouts:
- they are super healthy, and
- they are super easy to grow at home.
I also recently learned that sprouts can be grown from so many things – alfalfa, mung bean, radish, pea, chickpea, fenugreek, sunflower, lentil, broccoli, chia, wheat grass, barley grass…the list goes on.
Sprouts are a super food — they’re incredibly nutrient-dense, containing all the nutrients of the mature plant all in that little sprout!. They’re also low in calories, but high in flavour. For someone like me whose tastes are changing and is struggling to enjoy vegetables, or for those folks who just can’t seem to eat the amount of vegetables we should daily…
THIS IS EXCELLENT NEWS!
(I keep thinking about how great it would have been for me to have known about this nutrient powerhouse when I was pregnant and couldn’t stand the smell or taste of vegetables for much of my pregnancies!)
Some of the many benefits of eating sprouts include:
- Vitamins: sprouts contain more vitamins than the mature plant of any fruit or vegetable, including vitamins A, B-complex, C and E. In some cases, this can be more than 20 times greater!
- Minerals: during the sprouting process, minerals bind to protein which makes them more usable to the body;
- Enzymes: sprouts contain up to 100 times more enzymes than fresh fruits and vegetables. Enzymes are proteins that improve digestion by breaking down our food so that our body can better absorb and assimilate nutrients from what we eat, which makes them an integral part of a healthy diet;
- Protein: when seeds sprout, the protein in the seeds is altered and provides more and better quality proteins for your body than just the seed itself. This is especially good when sprouting things often eaten as just the seed, such as sunflower, or chia;
Fiber: fiber is one of the most important components of a healthy diet and many people don’t consume enough of it. Sprouts are an excellent source of fiber;
- Essential Fatty Acids: Sprouts are a good source of essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6 which our body cannot produce on its own; and
- Chlorophyll: a substance found only in plants, chlorophyll is detoxifying and cleansing to the body, especially the liver. It’s also useful for treating skin disorders and provides cancer-fighting properties. Sprouts are an excellent source of chlorophyll for the body.
Now that I have you all jazzed up about how healthy sprouts are for the body and why you need to be eating them regularly, I have more good news:
SPROUTS ARE SUPER EASY TO GROW ON YOUR OWN!
I’m in love with the idea of growing my own vegetables, but it’s not always practical, depending on how much space you have available, where your house/yard is positioned relative to the sun, the climate and conditions of where you live, etc. Growing sprouts requires very little equipment and/or space, can be done inside your house (year round!), and doesn’t depend on where your house is situated. It’s such a great way to get into growing some of what you eat (and therefore knowing exactly what you’re getting) and super economical, too!
All you need to sprout your own seeds is a wide-mouth mason jar for each seed type you plan to sprout, sprouting seeds (organic is best, of course), and mesh or screen (for draining water). You can also buy a sprouting kit, with several different mesh-size covers (these are the lids I used, courtesy of my kids for mother’s day). This kit is even better because it also has a draining rack to catch the water, so it doesn’t end up all over your counter. Another option is to sprout seeds in soil (referred to as shoots), but I find it less messy and time consuming to sprout without soil.
Follow these simple steps to sprout your seeds:
- Put 1-2 tablespoons of sprouting seeds in a wide mouth mason jar. Fill the jar about half full with cool water and let soak in for 6-8 hours.
- Drain the seeds and rinse by swirling water in the jar, to ensure all of the seeds get rinsed well. Turn the jar to drain the water and keep jar inverted to ensure proper drainage – this is where a rack comes in handy. Do this 2-3 times a day, for 3-5 days. Just make sure the opening in the mesh is small enough to keep your seeds inside while they’re still small before they’ve started to sprout. The seeds will likely start to sprout after the first day. It’s very important to keep the jars leaning upside down to allow all of the water to drain and avoid them growing mold.
- If you’re using covers with different hole sizes, as the sprouts start to get bigger, you can change to a cover with larger openings to allow the hulls to flow out when you are rinsing and draining. If using a screen in the cover, once the sprouts are finished growing (about an inch in length), put the sprouts in a bowl and cover them with fresh water. Use your hand to push the sprouts down in the bowl and the hull of the seeds will rise to the top. Pour off the water to discard of the hulls.
- Thoroughly drain the sprouts and store them in the jar lined with paper towel (to absorb moisture). Replace the mesh on the jar lid with the cover with the smallest holes and store in the fridge for up to a week.
That’s it! You can have a fridge full of nutritional powerhouses in less than a week! It doesn’t get much easier than that. It’s also a great thing to do with your kids to help get them involved in growing things.
You can keep changing it up, trying different seeds to figure out which ones are your favourites, share them with your friends and keep them growing year-round. My favourites to sprout are alfalfa and broccoli. I’ve tried mung several times, but haven’t had much luck getting them to sprout/grow large enough…if you have any tips for successful sprouting, I’d love to hear them!