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Sprouts - Healthy Beginnings
by Carla Allen



Greetings from Nova Scotia!

Carla Allen has been gardening for the past 25 years, co-owned a nursery in southwestern Nova Scotia for 16 years.

Carla has an extensive image library and nurtures a network of horticulture in the region. She was the first president of the Yarmouth Garden Club.


January 17, 2010


 

There comes a time during these dark days of winter when a body just craves for some green stuff. You know - beet greens, Swiss chard or spinach swimming in butter with a dribbling of vinegar on top. Or how about crisp lettuce tossed with slices of radish, cucumber and tomatoes. Have you checked the price of lettuce lately? Makes you think twice about your craving for salads. The next best thing to a traditional salad this time of year are sprouts, especially if you grow them yourself. `Planting' a crop of sprouts is so easy a child could do it. Actually, this project serves as an excellent introduction to gardening for pre-schoolers.
Alfalfa seed is perhaps the most popular seed used for sprouting. It also gives very quick results. Soybeans and Mung beans are used frequently for sprouting but many others, including radish, broccoli, onion, wheat, lentils, corn, sunflower seeds, peas and garbanzo can be used. All seeds bought for the purpose of sprouting should be labeled as organic. Seed intended for planting has sometimes been treated with fungicides to help prevent rot after planting. Health food stores are also a source for seeds for sprouting.
To start sprouting your seed place a small amount in a large, clean (Mason) jar. Allow for plenty of expansion as the sprouts will take up at least 20 times the room the seeds occupied. Two teaspoons of seed is a good amount to start off with. Rinse the seed with lukewarm water and drain. A piece of cheesecloth can be laid over the mouth of the jar and secured with an elastic. This allows for aeration and makes rinsing a lot easier. The jar can be laid on its side to allow room for the seeds to spread out. Place the jar in a warm, dark place. Rinse the seeds twice daily, draining off excess liquid. Within two days you will see the seed coats starting to crack open and shortly after the sprouts will begin to emerge.
The first crop is ready to harvest in about 5-7 days. Stagger the sprouting times of your seeds to supply you with greens all winter. Store mature sprouts in a bowl in the refrigerator. They can be used instead of lettuce for sandwiches and salads. But sprouts are even more versatile than lettuce; they can be enjoyed in stir-fry dishes, wraps, pockets, omelets and soups. Some alfalfa sprouts I grew were a great addition to homemade chicken soup. Tossed in during the last few moments of cooking, they supplied colour and crunch.
Sprouts are nutritious as well as delicious. The Metropolitan Toronto Zoo raises tons every year to feed their animals. The vitamin content of seeds is increased approximately 5 times by simply encouraging them to sprout.



The International Sprout Growing Association http://www.isga-sprouts.org/ is a professional association of sprout growers and companies that supply products and services to the sprout industry. The ISGA currently has over 140 members world-wide.

This recipe is from their website:

January FRUIT SALAD

2 oranges, peeled and diced
1 cup red grapes
1 kiwi, peeled and diced
1 cup Chinese bean sprouts
One-half cup sunflower seed sprouts

Gently toss together all ingredients. This salad is so mouth-watering, it doesn't need a dressing

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