If you're not consuming enough fresh fruits and vegetables each day, you're far from alone. Around 87 percent of Americans don't eat enough vegetables. Getting into the habit of sprouting—or growing your own sprouts at home—can make fresh vegetables significantly more accessible for just a few dollars each week. Getting started is simple: All you need is about $10 worth of supplies to begin sprouting your own seeds, legumes, and grains in less than a week.
Many health experts praise the benefits of sprouts. The sprouting process helps the body absorb critical nutrients like vitamin C and iron, according to WebMD. Sprouts also contain antioxidants, which can defend against the free radicals that cause cancer. Vegetables of all kinds can protect against other deadly diseases, including kidney stones, osteoporosis, and digestive problems.
Sprouts are considered a raw or living food, because they contain enzymes that can be destroyed during the cooking process. If eaten as a component of a healthy, balanced diet that includes plenty of protein and carbohydrates, you will enjoy many health benefits. Around 35 percent of sprouts is protein, plus sprouts are packed with fiber. These powerful little veggies can also contribute to healthy weight loss.
Finally, it's really hard to beat the cost and convenience of sprouts. You can grow them in your kitchen or bedroom all-year-round, even when it's dark and gloomy outside. Unlike a traditional garden or window bed, you don't need a green thumb or extensive skills to get started growing sprouts.
DIY Sprouting: Required Supplies
To get started with a few of the most common sprout types, you'll need the following supplies:
- Mung beans, alfalfa seeds, or broccoli seeds
- A wide-mouthed canning jar
- A strainer jar lid for sprouting
It is likely you will find beans and seeds for sprouting at your local health foods store or online—the company Sprout People sells sprouting seeds and supplies, plus it offers how-to guides on sprouting almost any type of seed. widemouthed canning jars can be found at your local thrift store, and you can find specially designed jar lids for a few bucks at your health foods store or on Amazon.
While these basic supplies are one way to approach the art of sprouting, remember that it's actually kind of hard to mess this process up. Feel free to improvise slightly based on your budget or access to items. Plastic sprouting lids can easily be replaced with cheesecloth and a rubber band or circles of metal mesh. If you're feeling extra innovative, DIY your own sprouting gear, as the blogger behind Sparkling Adventures did by drilling holes in magnetic IKEA spice jars. Hardcore sprout enthusiasts may opt for sprouting trays
The Sprouting Process
1. Before your sprouts can begin to grow, you'll need to perform an all-day or overnight soak on your beans or seeds. Simply cover the bottom of your sprouting jar with seeds or beans, and fill the jar about halfway with room-temperature water. Allow the seeds or beans to soak overnight, and rinse well. The soaking process is crucial to hydrating the seeds in order to replicate the germination process you'd achieve if you planted them in the ground.
2. After your initial soak and rinse, place the jar on its side on a clean towel or at a 45-degree angle in a bowl. This maximizes the air flow necessary to prevent the seeds from molding in their damp environment.
3. Twice daily, rinse the seeds carefully with room temperature water and drain the jar before placing your sprouts back on their side to continue growing. It's really easy to work this into your daily routine by rinsing once in the morning and once before you go to bed. Rinsing works to keep the seeds hydrated and prevent mold.
4. After about three to seven days, your sprouts will be ready to consume. Eating sprouts is simply a matter of preference. If you prefer your sprouts long and crunchy, a longer growing period may be necessary. If you're too impatient to wait, you can consume your little veggies as soon as the sprout is longer than the seed.
How to Eat Sprouts
Sprouts are very susceptible to contamination from E. coli, salmonella, and other bacteria. It's critical to rinse your sprouts carefully before eating. Some people even opt to routinely cook their sprouts—for example, in a stir fry or in sprouted bread—to ensure that bacteria is killed during the cooking process. Children, the elderly, and pregnant women are typically advised against eating sprouts due to contamination risks. If you're seriously considering getting started with sprouts at home, read these guidelines to educate yourself on safety and to reduce risks.
If you choose to consume raw sprouts, they make a delicious topping or base for salads. Turn your sprouts into a meal by adding cooked protein, such as hard-boiled eggs, grilled chicken, or salmon, to your salads, and top with a vinaigrette for a light and satisfying meal. Sprouts can also make a delectable addition to veggie or meat sandwiches, smoothies, and wraps. You can also add sprouts to the top of hot soup or stew for a healthy alternative to croutons, says Chef Tess Masters on the site Vegetarian Times.
Do you grow sprouts at home? What are your favorite seeds, legumes, or grains to sprout?