We can even make sprouts taste nice so we get nutrients we need in a pleasant form!
When salad greens are hard to grow or expensive, sprouts can fill a gap to supply essential nutrients for our cells and bodies. We can use sprouts in salads, in stir fries and casseroles or curries, in shakes or smoothies.
Alfalfa and red clover are our favorites for salad lettuce alternatives.
We add a bunch of these sprouts to other salad greens – a few dandelion leaves, endive, parsley, rocket, Mizuna, etc. Then add a favorite dressing or put them in a sandwich with peanut butter – that works well.
My current favorite dressings are
- a balsamic dressing or
- a thicker, creamy dressing made from tahini and apple cider vinegar/lemon juice. Mix 1-2 tablesppons of tahini with a teaspoon of the juice/vinegar in a small jar. Add any seasonings you like [Salt, pepper, tamari soy sauce, garlic, etc] Add some water [2-3 tblespns about] to the jar and shake vigorously. When combined, leave to rest and thicken up and become creamy. Nice. Keeps in the fridge 2-3 days.
Lentil and mung bean sprouts are more substantial so go well in stir fries. Soybeans make soy milk for tofu and patties. Chickpeas make great hummus or can go into casseroles or curries.
How we grow sprouts:
Get fresh seeds which are not treated! Really important if we want seeds to sprout and grow. Old or treated seed is often dead and just rots instead.
Find some jars and rubber bands and a pieces of mosquito netting [or some other fabric which water will drain through].
I love the circular screw-threaded jar tops with mesh inserts. These fit onto some jars I already have and make it easy to rinse the sprouts often.
First I put 1-2 teaspoons of small seeds or 1 tablespoon of larger ones in a jar as in the photo. Cover with the mesh top. half fill the jar with cool water and leave it sit for an hour or 2. [Sprouts prefer rain water or filtered water if you have it.]
[Important extra step for sprouting mung beans: soak mung beans in hot water to get best germination rate. In cool water some mung bean seeds fail to germinate and stay as hard little balls in the sprouts – not nice to eat and hard on teeth. Hot water has been very effective for us in giving great rates of germination – easy solution!]
Drain off the soaking water and rinse again in fresh, cool water.
Rinsing removes anything which would rot or ferment and makes sprouts taste good [don’t drink the rinse water]. Our jars sit on the ledge above the sink. Yes, I know sprouts grow better in the dark but I forget them there. They grow fine by our sink and I remember to rinse then drain them into the sink at least 2 x daily.
When are sprouts ready?
When small salad sprouts grow green leaves and look ready, they either go into a meal or the jar lid is changed for a solid one [to stop moisture evaporating out from the sprouts] and put into the fridge. They will keep there for some days.
Larger sprouts are better used or refrigerated when they just start to sprout only – well before green leaves stage – or they are more likely to rot instead. Look for the tiny white rootlet which first appears.
Many recipes with dried beans, peas or other such legumes say to start by soaking the dried seeds before using them. Sprouting live seeds for a day or so will activate far more nutrients in the seeds than just soaking them – it just needs more forward planning for meal production [or some in the fridge]!
Sprouts are often added as a garnish to recipes. This is an easy way to start adding them to your meals too.
Another way is to chop small sprouts [eg alfalfa or red clover] very fine and add them to a dressing or salad. They disappear into the rest of the ingredients.
A shake or smoothie can be enhanced with these delicate sprouts added too.
$2-4 dollars buys a packet of sprouting from a reputable supplier [eg Kings Seeds]. Each 30 or 100 gram packet will grow MANY jars of sprouts. Such a small price for great nutrient supplies!
Just now lettuces are up to $7 each to buy here, so sprouts are much more cost effective. Just a few sprouts will help our bodies have the nutrients they need so it’s worth the effort.
Sometimes we take an easy option and buy a punnet of ‘ready to eat’ sprouts from the veg section of a supermarket or green grocer. Still cheap greens.
- Red clover
- Mung bean
- Lentils [assorted varieties]
- Dried beans or peas of various types when I want to experiment.
If this is a new experiment for you, start by adding a few amidst other things you enjoy in salads, shakes or veg. It can take a few different experiments to find what works for you. I wasn’t a great salad sprouts fan until I added them to a creamy dressing.
I often add a toasted seed mix – sesame and sunflower seeds gently roasted in a dry frying pan then sprinkled with tamari soy sauce – yum!
Hope you enjoy trying different options when greens are in short supply – or you just want to try something new.