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  • Emily Boese, BNatMed

How to grow your own sprouts

So I know my last post was all about how we are shifting into winter and we all want to eat warm cozy soups rather than salads.

However, eating your greens is still important!

In the winter, especially if we are looking to eat more seasonally and locally, then getting fresh greens can be a challenge. Personally, I would rather eat something closer to home than kale grown in California.

The solution? DIY sprouts!

Sprouting is so awesome - especially in the winter when truly fresh (like picked this week) produce is scarce.

All you need to sprout is a jar, a permeable lid, water, and some seeds.

I'm all into it at the moment as I prep for a class on DIY Sprouting next week (Tues Nov 21, 7pm) at Choices Markets. We starting to get full but you can still register here.

But first - Why should you bother?

Aside from the rad side of growing your own greens in the winter - with all the sweet side effects of reducing your carbon footprint, eating super fresh food, and being prepared for food security in case of the apocalypse - sprouts are essentially a superfood.

And I don't use that term lightly. In fact, I bloody hate it. But I bet it got your attention right? My work here is done :)

Sprouts are full of enzymes. These enzymes make the nutrients in the seed more available, so the plant has the energy it needs to grow. But then we can eat it and get the benefits instead!

Sprouts contain high amounts of nutrients such as Vitamin C, A, K, B vitamins, folate, and minerals. These nutrients are more absorbable in this form than they are in the seed, AND they are often more concentrated in their mini sprouted form than they are if we were to let the plant reach full maturity.

Sprouts also contain high levels of antioxidants and phytochemicals (literally- plant chemicals). Many of these are also hyper-concentrated in the sprout so you get a lot more bang for your buck.

One of the best examples of this is with Broccoli Sprouts

Eat your Broccoli (Sprouts)

Broccoli sprouts are probably one of the best damn foods you can eat. And seriously - you can grow them yourself for like pennies. That's right - a currency so minuscule that it doesn't even exist in circulation anymore.

Like all cruciferous veggies - including kale, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts - broccoli is full of unbelievably healthy compounds. Like not just vitamins and minerals, but phytochemicals that would blow your mind.

One of the most researched compounds found in broccoli - and found in super concentrated doses in Broccoli Sprouts - is sulforophane.

This little sulfur compound has been shown to improve liver detoxification - disabling potentially carcinogenic molecules. It seems to have an effect on our metabolism and could affect weight. Much research has been done on its possible role in cancer treatment or prevention. (Here's another article for the science-ey types among us).

And don't just run out and buy an isolated sulforophane supplement. Broccoli sprouts contain thousands of different chemicals - which likely all work together to provide a much bigger health benefit than any one alone. (Indole-3 Carbinole is another gem. And then there are the other isothiocyanates. And then there is everything that we haven't yet discovered or isolated. Just eat the whole sprout, dammit.)

OK, OK, I'll eat my sprouts! Now how do I do it?

Great, now that I have bombarded you with all the benefits and high-tech science stuff, you will be relieved to know that actually making and eating sprouts is SUPER EASY.


- 1 1L wide mouth mason jar or a fancy sprouting kit. You can buy these online, or at your local health or gardening store. Even Canadian Tire has the basic jar ones!

- A permeable lid (if you are using the jar). You can buy jars with wire mesh or plastic lids with holes in them. Or you can even use cheese cloth or muslin and just secure it around the top with a rubber band. Easy!

- Sprouting seeds. This is the fun part! Go organic - it is still super cheap. I love to get seeds through West Coast Seeds here in BC, but find a local supplier if you can. It's always nice to support a farmer near you!

- Water


- Rinse your seeds with cold water and empty (this is where the permeable lid is important)

- Soak your seeds in cold water. Soaking time depends on the size of your seed - the bigger the seed the longer the soaking time. Check the packet that you buy for exact times, but it's something like 10 min for tiny alfalfa seeds up to 8 hours for bigger seeds like chickpeas and mung beans

- Drain the water

- Rinse your seeds 2 x daily minimum, for anywhere from 4-7 days. All seeds sprout differently - alfalfas, broccoli, and radish get long stringy bits, while mung beans, chickpeas and lentils just get a smaller tail.

- Eat them! Add them to your salads, put them on top of a spicy Vietnamese soup, put them in a salad or a wrap, add them to a smoothie.

See? So easy. It's like a grade 3 science experiment. Like I really think that was the first time I grew sprouts. If 8-year old Emily can do it, then so can you.

Grew some sprouts? Post a pic on my FB page!

Have a disaster or are sprouts changing your life? Leave a comment below :)

Here is a slideshow of my own sprouting adventures. So easy! 1tbsp of alfalfa seeds = a whole container of fresh sprouts. Ta da!

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