Sprout healthy, nutritious veggies in the kitchen
The sudden thaw really has me yearning to grow something from seed, but aside from a couple of early bearing tomato plants, it's way too soon to start seeds for my garden. So it's time to crank up my kitchen garden and start sprouting.
Sprouting seeds is a great way to grow a fresh and nutritious vegetable crop indoors, with no fuss and no muss.
Sprouts are high in fiber, low in calories, easy to digest, contain no fat and they're very filling. They also contain protein, minerals, amino acids and a passel of vitamins -- a dieter's dream come true.
Although alfalfa and mung beans are the most popular seeds for sprouting, there is an impressive array of vegetables, legumes, and grains to choose from including broccoli, radish, chickpeas, soybeans, lentils and sunflowers. Look for options at your local health food store or check out the Internet. Gardens Alive, www.gardensalive.com, (513) 354-1482, is offering 25 percent off all organic sprouting seeds through Feb. 28. Use offer key code 147507.
But the best part of sprouting is the ability to grow these healthful little morsels with a minimum of expense. All you need to get started is a one-quart wide-mouth glass jar, some cheesecloth, a large rubber band and some seeds.
Begin by soaking the seeds overnight in cold water in the glass jar. Next drain off the water and inspect the seeds, removing any that are broken or have failed to swell after soaking overnight. Then return the seeds to the glass jar, fill it with fresh water, cover with the cheesecloth secured by a rubber band, swish the seeds around and drain.
Daily rinsing is key to successful and healthful sprouting. Most books recommend a minimum of twice a day while the sprouts are growing and every other day while stored in the refrigerator.
To sprout the seeds store the glass jar in an inverted position out of direct sunlight. You can prop the jar at a 45-degree angle in a bowl. The mouth of the jar must remain open so air can circulate over the sprouts
When the sprouts are ready to eat -- usually about five days, give them a final rinse, drain well and store them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Fresh sprouts may be used in a variety of ways including stir-fry, soups, salads and sandwiches.
Nancy Szerlag is a master gardener and MetroDetroit freelance writer. Her column appears Saturdays in Homestyle. E-mail her at Szerlag@earthlink.net.