A special addition to many hot and cold foods

Grow Your Own Edible Sprouts

by Debra Karplus

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You've dined at restaurants or in the homes of friends, and spotted these innocuous little edibles in salads, sandwiches, and vegetable dishes. You didn't detect any specific flavor from them, so you didn't think too much about them. But, sprouts added to your favorite dishes deserve your attention and your respect.

Loaded with vitamins and minerals, sprouts are the perfect ingredient to spruce up many hot or cold foods. If you head to the refrigerated section of the produce aisle, you are likely to locate packages of alfalfa sprouts and mung bean sprouts. But before you toss a package or two into your shopping cart, know that you can easily grow numerous varieties of sprouts inexpensively in your own kitchen.

There are many different types of seeds and beans that grow into delicious sprouts.

Alfalfa sprouts are those tiny green wiry little sprouts that you may have seen in sandwiches and on salads. Mung sprouts typically appear in Asian dishes and stir-fried or steamed vegetable dishes. Both are easy to grow. But less familiar to you may be lentil sprouts. They are grown from those same brown-gray colored dried lentils that you use for making lentil soup.

There are other types of sprouts they you may not have experienced yet.

Adzuki beans, a hard reddish-colored bean, can be easily gown into sprouts used in cooked or raw dishes. Wheat berries, the same grain that is used to grind wheat into flour, when sprouted, have almost a sweet flavor. They are delicious atop your favorite salad, and in fact, when put in a blender can be an ingredient in a smoothie or shake to enhance the flavor and nutritional value. Look online to discover other beans and seeds that can be sprouted and used for cooking and salads and to obtain some recipe ideas.

Finding beans and seeds for sprouting may be easier than you think.

Most supermarkets will sell at least some of the beans, such as lentils (actually considered a legume, not a bean) for sprouting. But you are most likely to find what you need at a natural food or health food store. Search online, and then call before shopping. Probably the beans and seeds are sold in bulk rather than packaged. A little bit goes a long way, so you don't need to buy large quantities while you are still experimenting with growing sprouts in your kitchen. And growing your own sprouts rather than buying them reduces packaging, therefore producing less garbage. Good for you for helping to keep waste out of the landfill.

A sprout-growing container is the only supply you will need for your new sprout-growing adventure.

You can look online and purchase a variety of sprout-growing devices, costing anywhere from $15 to $100. But if you read the customer reviews on most of these "gadgets," you'll discover that the old-fashioned method for growing sprouts is still most popular, not only because it is by far the least expensive, but also because it is most effective, easiest to use, and obtains the best results.

Yes, the old jar and lid method of sprout growing appears to be the most desirable way to successfully sprout beans and seeds in your kitchen. You'll need a few wide-mouth jars. Likely you have some from empty pickles or peanut butter or jam jars that were headed to the recycling. Wash them thoroughly and use bleach, and they will serve you well when you are ready to start growing your first sprouts.

You will also need sprouting lids. They are round plastic "lids" that fit on the jars and have holes in them, not unlike a colander or strainer. Purchase them online or in a natural food store. They are amazingly cheap, about $4 for a set of three lids. Start by buying a package of three when embarking on your first sprout-growing journey.

Growing sprouts takes essentially no time!

Getting started is incredibly simple. Soak a small quantity of the beans or seeds submerged with water in the jar overnight. Rinse them the next morning. Do this same rinsing once or twice a day until the sprouts appear ready to eat. You can look online for specific quantities and measurements to get the desired amount of sprouts for eating, but truly, precision is not required to grow excellent sprouts.

Indeed, it really is that simple. It's simple enough that even a small child can be actively involved with sprout growing at home. What a fun little family project! Growing sprouts in your kitchen is worth trying. For very little expense or effort, you can embellish many meals in aesthetics and nutrition with sprouts. Do give sprout-growing a try. It may grow on you!

Debra is an occupational therapist, accountant, teacher and freelance writer. She is a writer for Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners. She also writes for Grand Magazine, has some items (fiction and non fiction) selling on Amazon.com (kindle), has written several travel articles for the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette and several articles for freelancewriting.com and volunteers as a money mentor for the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension money mentoring program. Learn more about her at DebraKarplus.blogspot.com.

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