Springing into Green!
In our recent series about vitamins and minerals, we saw a common theme. PLANTS are amazing sources of vitamins and minerals. This is not a new message but important to refocus on as we come into Spring. My new passion in vegetables is microgreens and sprouts. I like the idea that the energy to grow the whole plant is condensed into a mini-version which makes them so nutritious. Some popular options are sunflower sprouts, pea shoots, alfalfa sprouts and broccoli sprouts. These are all very high in natural chlorophyll and contain a powerhouse of nutrition. I have also found some newer options like snow pea tendrils, red amaranth, red cabbage and cilantro microgreens. They make a wonderful salad and are very light when added to other foods as a garnish. The good news is that you can even grow some of these in your own home (see the recipe below).
Simply Easy Tip:
Add sprouts to your salads and rotate the variety. You can find a variety in most stores and you can even make your own.
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Simply Delicious: Sprouting at Home!
Wide-mouthed jars; you can use canning jars or reuse jars you have, making sure they’ve been cleaned and sanitized.
Mesh or cheesecloth and something to secure it to the jar (as in, a rubber band). If you use a canning jar, you can place the mesh on top and secure it by screwing on just the ring part of the lid.
Seeds. There are the usual suspects – alfalfa and mung beans (from which common bean sprouts come) – but there are many other options. Try radish, lentils, mustard, soybeans, beets, peas, broccoli, sunflower and wheat berries, to name just a few. The important thing here is that you purchase seeds that are specifically for sprouting; they will be labeled. (Good sources for such include Burpee Seed and Sprout People.) Sanitize your jars and prepare the seeds in a very clean area … not amidst a dirty kitchen or near pets and high household traffic.
Wash the seeds or beans. Place one or two tablespoons of seeds in the jar (make sure they don’t take up more than a quarter of the jar; they will expand a great deal) and cover with a few inches of water and secure the mesh or cheesecloth on top. Let soak for 8 to 12 hours at room temperature.
Drain the seeds and rinse them, then drain again. Find an area out of direct sunlight and place the jars upside-down, but at an angle to allow drainage and air-circulation through the mesh. You can get a custom sprouting rack or try a dish rack or just a bowl.
Rinse and drain the seeds between two and four times a day, making sure that they never dry out completely.
As soon as they are big enough, harvest! This generally takes from three to seven days – and as little as one day – depending on what you’re sprouting. Lentils and mung beans, for instance, may just take a day or two. Sprouts are at their best when they’re still on the relatively small side and just starting to turn green.
Give them a final rinse and allow them to drain very well in a colander, removing any unsprouted seeds. Once they are dry, store them in a covered bowl and use within a week. All sprouts can be eaten raw, and all but the most delicate (like alfalfa) can be gently cooked as well.