Growing Sprouts

By Corinne

I don’t remember what originally inspired me to grow my own sprouts, but it’s so easy and economical that I’m continually surprised it’s not more popular. Why should  you bother? Well, other than being simple and cheap, it’s also fun, and it seems like it would be a fun thing to do with kids. In terms of effort, its only a few seconds a day, and no matter how many times I’ve done it, I’m still amazed at the changes you see everyday. Once they are ready to eat, sprouts are a yummy addition to salads and wraps, or really anywhere where you might use lettuce.

In terms of nutritional benefits, it seems sprouts may have beneficial enzymes that are part of this early growth. If you do a little googling, there are a lot of claims about just how amazing sprouts are, however, I’m a little skeptical of some of them since few of the sites making these claims back them up with any sort of evidence, references, or studies. That being said,  a diet rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables is well established as being beneficial, and sprouts are a fun way to get a little more variation.

There are a few cautions though – it is important to source seeds that are meant for sprouting and raw consumption. Often seeds meant for planting in the garden are treated with fungicides and other things that you don’t want to be eating, or can even potentially be contaminated with salmonella. I order my seeds from Mumm’s, though there are certainly other reputable sites.  My favourite mixes of seeds I’ve tried so far are Spicy Lentil Crunch mix and Crunchy Bean mix.

Equipment

You can buy a special sprouting jar, tray or sprouting bag. But you really don’t need to. If you buy a sprouting jar it will come with a mesh top, but an elastic and piece of cheesecloth work just as well. I use a 1L jar (2 pint), you can use a smaller one, but ensure you reduce the amount of seeds you put in. A wide mouth jar would probably be a good idea, though I generally don’t have too much trouble getting them out of the one I use.

Process

The amount of time it takes to get your sprouts to edible form depends a bit on the type of seeds. Most packages will give you both instructions for sprouting and the number of days it will take to sprout. In general, many are about 5 days, though some seeds take less time, others take more. General directions and helpful hints below.

Step 1. Place 2 tbsp of sprouting seeds into a 1L jar. Cover top of jar with cheesecloth and secure with an elastic. Cover with water and allow to soak overnight or for 6-8 hours.

Step 2. Drain water and refill with cold water, swirling seeds around to rinse and drain again. If there are a lot of seeds stuck to the cheesecloth, just give them a little flick with your finger to knock them down. Sort of roll the seeds around in the jar so they aren’t all clumped up together- as seen in the middle photo below. Lay the jar on an angle and place it out of direct sunlight.

Step 3. Rinse and drain sprouts twice a day for the next 4-6 days, leaving jar at an angle between rinsing.  For the last day of sprouting you may wish to place the jar somewhere it will get sun for a few hours for the sprouts to green up.

Step 4. When your sprouts are ready for eating, take the cheese cloth off and rinse and discard the seed hulls. Depending on your jar, you may find it easier to put sprouts into a large bowl and skim the hulls off the top. You don’t need to worry about getting them all.

Step 5. Allow sprouts to dry for a few minutes on a clean cloth or piece of paper towel. They can be stored in a covered container with a piece of paper towel in the bottom. They are best if eaten sooner rather than later – I often plan to use them the day I know they will be ready, but they can be stored in the fridge for about 3 days.

As you can see in the above photo, 2 tbsp of seeds made a lot of sprouts, about 4 cups as they are really packed into that jar!  I probably could have let them grow for another day, but I wanted to use them in Harissa Chicken Wraps with Hummus.

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The photos above are all of the Spicy Lentil Crunch mix. Below are photos featuring the Crunchy Bean mix.

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Slow-Cooked Lamb Shanks with Lentils

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By Corinne

This is a hearty, healthy, and VERY easy to put together meal. The lamb is slow cooked in a simple broth until it’s mild, tender and falling apart. The lentils are cooked with it, so your side is already done!

This recipe is inspired by and lightly altered from Wholesome Kitchen by Ross Dobson- which unfortunately is no longer in print. It’s a nice cookbook with lots of recipes for beans and legumes, so if you ever happen to find a copy, pick it up!

Time: 10 min prep, 3 hours in oven, or 6-8 hours in slow cooker (crock pot) directions at the end)

Serves: 2-3

You Will Need:

  • 1/2 cup dried brown or green lentils
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 4 oz pancetta or bacon
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 28oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken or veggie stock
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 3 lamb shanks
  • flat leaf parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 325F. In a dutch oven, or other large heavy lidded pot, cook pancetta or bacon, remove from pot and then cook onion in the leftover fat until softened. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot, the shanks should be just covered by broth.  If they aren’t, ensure that at 1 1/2 hour mark you turn them over. Cook covered for 3 hours until meat on shanks pulls easily away from the bone and is very tender. Serve with a generous portion of lentils and sprinkled with fresh chopped parsley.

Crockpot- cook bacon and add to slow cooker. Chop onions (no need to pre cook) and add all ingredients to crockpot. I usually prepare everything the night before in the crock pot, throw it in the fridge overnight and then take it out and turn it on in the morning.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  If desired, reduce stock to 1/2 cup rather than one cup, as cooking in the crockpot there will be extra liquid – I usually just leave it at 1 cup and mop up the extra broth with some delicious bread!

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