Michael Pollan said it so well when he summed up his book In Defense of Food: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants. I believe it really is that simple. I think by now, most people would agree that plant-derived foods should play a leading role in our meals. They are for the most part, easily digestible and act as a huge source of soluble and insoluble fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, healthy fats and proteins and beneficial enzymes when eaten raw. Vegetables are usually the main focus of my meals, particularly this time of year when the fresh vegetables are plentiful and local.
But one way to get the benefits of plants all year round is by sprouting seeds. In the past, I had frequently purchased sprouts (alfalfa, broccoli, pea shoots), until several years ago, my daughter turned me onto to seed sprouting at home. It is a simple process that requires a few basic tools:
- seeds of choice,
- a glass jar
- a porous cover (screen, cheesecloth, or piece of stocking)
- a rubber band
- clean water and
- a warm, sunny window.
Alfalfa sprouts are abundant in nutrients and have a number of vitamins, particularly C and K, minerals, amino acids, and essential fatty acids.*
I demonstrate the sprouting process using alfalfa seeds in the following video and describe it below.
1. Fill bottom of jar with a thin layer of seeds.
2. Add water to jar to reach ½ to ¾ full.
3. Place cover over mouth of jar. Secure with a rubberband or if using a mason jar, screw on outer lid without the insert.
4. Soak seeds for several hours or overnight.
5. Drain jar by slowly pouring water out.
6. Refill jar with water to give seeds another quick rinse.
7. Drain slowly, allowing seeds to adhere to sides of jar.
8. Prop inverted jar at ~45 degree slope into a bowl to catch drips.
9. Place in a sunny, warm window.
10. Rinse seeds twice per day with cool, clean water.
By day four or five, sprouts should have expanded to fill the jar and should be a nice green color as they are now producing chlorophyll. Remove sprouts from jar. Soak them in lots of water to remove the unsprouted seeds or residual seed coats, then allow them to drain. They can then be stored in the refrigerator for a few days. I’ve eaten them in salads or on sandwiches or added them to soups (in fact, Dr. Weil suggests that they should be cooked due to the presence of canavanine).
*Like many legumes, alfalfa sprouts also contain phytoestrogens, however, whether or not this is a good thing is still unclear to me.