One of the easiest and most economical ways to make your own nutrient-rich super foods all year long is to grow sprouts in your home. Almost any seed, grain, or legume can be sprouted and by doing so you increase the vitamin, mineral, protein and enzyme-content by 100-2000%. Sprouts are an ideal food to add to your salads, sandwiches, wraps and snack foods. They can even prevent and ward of diseases and help you lose weight.
The first thing you should know about sprouts is that they are a live foods, which means that they contain oxygen and create an environment where bacteria, fungus and viruses can’t survive. They are also rich in antioxidants, high in fiber, a good source of plant protein (alfalfa sprouts are 35% protein), full of EFA’s (essential fatty acids), and contain an array of vitamins and minerals such as iron, magnesium, calcium, zinc and chlorophyll (once they turn green).
Sprouts are easily digestible due to their high enzyme content, low in calories (they actually decrease in calories as they grow) and have the ability to keep the metabolism functioning at an optimal level. Additionally, a number of studies have been done indicating their healing potential. For example, fenugreek sprouts are helpful for cold and flu relief, broccoli sprouts can help fight and prevent cancer, mung bean sprouts are great for heart disease and colon cancer, and alfalfa sprouts have been said to lower cholesterol, regulate bowel movements and reduce inflammation.
Growing your own sprouts at home is inexpensive, simple and can be done year round. There are two different ways to grow sprouts that I recommend. One is with mason jars and the other is from the earth. There are also some commercial sprouters that work great, but not necessary.
For the mason jar option, you want to soak the organic seeds, grains or legumes in filtered water for several hours. There are many sprouting charts online that provide specific soak, sprouting and harvesting times. The soaking process removes the enzyme inhibitors and allows the seeds to germinate and sprout. After soaking, you want to place your seeds in a mason jar with a mesh lid (to provide air) and spread the seeds out evenly while the jar is on its side. Next, place the jar upside down (mesh screen facing downward) at an angle. A dish rack works perfectly for this and it’s preferable that it’s placed in a fairly dark place during the initial days. Rinse the seeds while in the jar 2 times per day to keep them damp. Once you are ready to harvest them, rinse them in cool water and remove any of the remaining hulls. This can be done easily in a bowl of water, letting the hulls float to the surface. Store your finished sprouts in an airtight container or jar in the refrigerator and enjoy them over the next 2-3 days.
To grow sprouts from dirt, you can purchase some flat trays with drainage holes from a plant supply store. After soaking your seeds overnight, spread about 1-2 inches of soil on each tray and sprinkle the seeds on top and water them. It’s best to put a second tray on top of the first and place some heavy rocks or bricks on top to encourage them to put their roots down. After they begin to sprout after a few days, remove the top tray and place them in a window to receive non-direct sunlight. Water them a few times a day and after about 8 days, your sprouts will be ready to harvest.
One of the best things about sprouting is that a little goes a long way. Depending on the seed, just a few tablespoons can yield several cups of fresh sprouts. Enjoy this delicious and nutritious add-on to your healthy diet!
Published On: March 12, 2010