By: Suzanne Brett, RHN – Victoria, BC
Many of you may be questioning my knowledge about seasonal foods about now. Sprouts? Gardens aren’t sprouting yet!? It’s still cold outside! You’re correct. Most soil in N America is NOT pushing out little green shoots at this point in the year, what I’m referring to are sprouting sprouts and microgreens, from sprouting seeds.
As mentioned in last month’s article, these cooler months do not provide us with many fresh fruits or veggies. Sprouts are an easy and efficient way to ensure we are still getting enzymatic and nutrient dense foods that still taste crispy and fresh through the winter. The best part is, we can make this happen in our own homes no matter what the temperature is outside AND kids love it. Yay! There are 2 simple methods to sprouting that I will include at the end of this post, so stay tuned.
Most of you may be familiar with the more common sprouts that we buy already sprouted, these are usually alfalfa, clover and bean sprouts. Although, specific sprouting seeds come in many varieties, any beans, nuts and seeds can and SHOULD also be soaked and sprouted for proper digestion and nutrient absorption. Sprouting seeds, in particular, are available in many health food and garden supply stores. Daikon and white radish, mung beans, lentils, quinoa, broccoli, mizuna and kohlrabi are just some of the options available.
Sprouting is a great way to ensure that we get the most out of our foods. Sprouts contain an amazingly high nutrient content, especially if eaten raw. They are known for being cleansing (particularly for the liver and colon), hydrating, and full of essential vitamins and minerals, as well as amino acids and Omegas 3 and 6. Sprouts have a great cancer fighting ability (especially radish sprouts), they are great for supporting weight-loss and for increasing the body’s fat-burning ability. They are also very supportive for the cardiovascular system due to the high folate and B6 content. Sprouts are a great supporter for neurological support due to the high levels of thiamine (B1) and fatty acids. They are amazing throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding by ensuring a high nutrient content for energy production and supporting a balanced hormonal system. The more pungent sprouts, like daikon radish, kohlrabi and mizuna, are great for moving stagnant energy (qi) and for clearing the lungs and mucous. Almost all sprouts are very high in Vitamin C, iron, and protein, making them an excellent immune strengthening food. Some sprouts are high in Vit K and, with the combination of the rich water content and high Vit C, these sprouts are excellent for improving the function of the eyes, hair, nails and skin – especially for improving elasticity and development of collagen.
Just as an example, lentil sprouts alone are very high in protein, iron, Vit C, manganese, phosphorus , copper, flolate (B6), thiamine (B1), Fiber, Omega 6 and 3 and amino acids. Add mung bean sprouts to the mix and you have more folate, Vit C, manganese, Omega’s AND Vit K. If you add in some cleansing and clearing radish sprouts you have yourself a beautifully supportive and yummy salad, that is fresh and hydrating.
To try sprouting at home…first, if you have kids, get them involved. They tend to get super excited about planting and especially sprouting, thus are more likely to EAT the delicious sprouts if they’re involved in the process.
There are 2 methods:
1. Rinse and soak 2 tsp of seeds in a 1 L mason jar for aprox 6-8 hours, in about 1 cup of cool water, to begin the germination process. Cover the jar with a sprouting lid. If you don’t have one you can use a steel screen or mesh and an elastic band to secure it. Drain.
2. Continue rinsing and refilling 2x a day for 3-6 days. Place the jar on an angle, lid facing into a bowl or sink.
3. Watch them grow! Once sprouts have fully formed and the jar is full of tails, drain well and place them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4-5 days.
THE SPROUTING TRAY:
A proper sprouting tray is great, but if you don’t have one, a garden starter pan with a cookie sheet underneath will also work, so long as it has proper drainage holes on the bottom.
- Rinse and soak ½ cup of seeds in a bowl for 6-8 hours. Drain. Sprinkle seeds onto the bottom of the tray and cover with a sprouting tray lid, plastic bag/wrap or cheesecloth.
- Rinse the seeds 2x a day for 3-6 days under the tap or with a mister, draining them properly and replacing the cover.
- Once sprouts have fully formed and the tray is full of tails, drain well and place them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4-5 days.
Note: For micro greens, use the tray method and sow seeds into a veggie soil as if making starter plants but sprinkling seeds much more freely. Water 1x/day for 8-12 days. Once sprouted, use small kitchen scissors to trim greens directly from the tray.
For maximum nutritional value, I recommend eating sprouts raw – although many can be cooked. Raw sprouts can be made into sandwiches, wraps, spreads/pates, placed on top of stirfrys, soups, curries, crackers, stews or made into fresh salads. Get creative and share your sprouting experiences with us here anytime! We love to hear how you enjoy your healthy foods!