Windowsill sprouts are easy and nutritious
Sprouts are turning up everywhere - from wheat grass shots in our smoothies, to micro greens on posh servings at upscale restaurants, and in Essene bread in our local grocer’s freezer. Once the domain of bohemians and hippies, these nutrient packed gems are no longer limited to “bean sprouts” or “alfalfa sprouts” in health food stores; packaged varieties ranging from mustard to radish and clover are now commonplace in the average grocery produce mart.
It is no wonder sprouts are so popular - they contain high levels of disease-preventing phytochemicals, as well as significant amounts of vitamins A, C and D. They are recognized by nutrition conscious consumers and health care professionals as a “super food,” and major organizations - including the National Institute of Health, American Cancer Society and Johns Hopkins University - have reinforced the benefits of sprouts with studies to validate these claims. The greatest reason to enjoy sprouts as a regular treat in salads or side dishes, on pizzas, or in breads is simple though: they are delicious!
Sprouts are best served absolutely fresh, and the easiest (and most economical) way to guarantee the very freshest of ingredients is to grow your own. When winter nights are long and days are cold, and you find yourself craving some healthy homegrown 'crunch', make a simple sprouter from an old canning jar and some screen; add seeds, rinse, then eat! You can order seeds to sprout (pick organic and/or untreated) such as alfalfa, mustard, broccoli, radish or cress, or start with whole grains or legumes found in the bulk section of a natural foods store: mung beans, lentils, peas, wheat, spelt or quinoa are all easy to start.
You will need:
A one quart canning jar with a ring
Scraps of clean screen material
Seeds to start: between 1 Tablespoon and 1/8 cup per jar (rule of thumb: the smaller the seed, the fewer you need)
Trace the lid of a canning jar onto a scrap of clean screen and cut to fit inside the ring. Add a conservative amount of seeds to the jar (they expand with water and grow!), then secure the screen and ring by tightening it firmly over the opening. Fill the jar half way with water and allow the seeds to soak at least four hours, then drain and rinse. Keep the jar on your kitchen windowsill and rinse the seeds frequently, even after they begin to geminate. Be sure to drain the jar well after each rinse. In a few days you will see signs of sprouting. For greener sprouts, allow more sun exposure; for juicy, pale sprouts, keep the sprouter someplace dark.
Experiment with eating your sprouts at different stages of development, or try them baked into breads. Sprouts are also wonderful in stir fry recipes or in soups. Our family's favorite: breakfast burritos with both spicy mustard and crunchy mung bean sprouts! Enjoy this healthy revolution: your body – and taste buds – are sure to thank you for joining in!