Want to ensure that your vegetables are tasty, nutritious, and void of pesticides and other chemicals? Well, the simple answer is to grow your own. Yes, you can do it—even if you live in a 500 square foot apartment in Upper Manhattan. It’s called sprouting. And I can assure you it’s not just a hobby for hippies. *grin*
You can sprout any whole grain, seed, legume or nut—so long as
they haven’t been “killed” by being stored with oxygen absorbers or processed before they get into your home. The sprouting process is SO simple, even a 4 year old can do it. In fact, I accidentally sprouted lentils in my basement last summer. (We had spilled some by the hot water heater drain and apparently didn’t get them all cleaned up. A week later I had a drain full of long lentil sprouts. Oops.) You don’t need direct sunlight. You don’t need to invest in a fancy-schmancy sprouter. You don’t need any special water, and you definitely don’t need a green thumb. All it takes is something to sprout, water, and air.
There is a huge variety of tasty sprouts available. You can put them in soups, salads, sandwiches, casseroles, baked goods, or just snack on them. A tablespoon of sprouts provides anywhere from a quarter pound to a half pound of vegetables. Sprouting dramatically enhances the nutritional makeup of the seed, grain, etc. In some instances (such as with wheat grains) the nutritional content is compounded by 500-600% when you sprout! In fact, if all you do is soak almonds for only 30 minutes in water, you will have already increased the nutritional content by another 80%! The only way you can plan on surviving off of bags of wheat, beans, and salt is if you learn how to sprout. Otherwise your body will be seriously deficient in critical vitamins and minerals. I am partial to wheat sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, mung bean sprouts, and adzuki bean sprouts. Radish sprouts also are great when you want a peppery little pick up in a salad.
OK. So here’s the 3 key steps you need to know about sprouting. Soak, rinse, and drain.
In a glass or a thick plastic container, put about 1 inch of sproutable seeds, etc. in the bottom. This can be a vase, a Mason jar, a bowl etc. Then cover seeds with at least 4 times as much water. Let it soak for 12 hours (or just overnight). Then dump out the water, rinse, and drain. While your seeds are sprouting, they will emit a bit of natural toxins. This is why you want to rinse them off once every 12 to 24 hours. If you allow them to continue to grow in the toxins for several days, they will get bitter, go rancid, or perhaps even mold. So, rinse the contents, then be sure to drain off the water well. For this purpose, some people store their containers upside down. You’ll want to cover your container with some type of fine mesh covering. This will allow the air to get in and the water to get out when your rinsing and draining. You can purchase a special sprouting lid, or you can simply attach some old pantyhose with a rubber band.
Your sprouts will take 3 to 5 days to mature. You will know they have matured when the length of the sprout is as long as the seed. If you don’t allow them to sprout completely, then they could taste a bit bitter. The same goes if you allow the seeds to over-sprout. Once your sprouts have matured you can store them in the fridge for 5 to 7 days, or you can simply make sure that you’re only sprouting enough that satisfies your family's daily consumption. You can sprout a mixture of sprouts or just one kind at a time in a container. When putting seeds together a mixture, be sure that the maturation process for each kind of seed sprout is about the same.
I have to tell you. When I first started eating sprouts I would put them on a salad at the salad bar, simply because they were there. Then one day my hubby put sprouts on a sandwich for me and I really liked it. Now I’m quite spoiled and prefer sprouts to lettuce. I love the sprouts in my salads, on top of steamed vegetables, which adds another texture and seasoning, and I also love them in soups.
Sprouts do not need to be expensive, folks. You can get an entire 50 pound bag of garbanzo beans, adzuki beans, whole wheat, oat groats, rye, amaranth, quinoa, etc. very, very affordably. One 50 pound bag will provide a family of four with nearly a year’s worth of veggies if you sprout them! Enjoy!
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