Thursday, 17 May 2012

Easy Ways to Increase Your Veg Intake

Grow Your Own For Optimum Nutrition

I've been busy planting things to eat in my garden.  So far I've got two fruit trees (plums and apples), strawberries, peas, mint, chives, sage, nasturtiums (the flowers have a light peppery taste a bit like radish and they look really pretty in a salad), rosemary, thyme, peas, tomatoes (in hanging baskets), different types of lettuce and lots more to plant this weekend.  

I only have a tiny garden so am using pots, hanging baskets and am creating a raised bed to put in carrots, beans and more peas (none of them will ever make it to a plate, I love them straight out of the pod).

I have also planted sweetpeas and lots of lavender to give the bees something to visit and so I will have sweet scented cut flowers for the house and aromatic herbs to dry at the end of the season and use to keep my drawers smelling sweet and fresh.

Saving Money and Increasing Nutrients

As well as planting to provide myself with cheap nutritious food I have also gone mad on sprouting again.  It's easy, cheap and provides very nutritious, easy to digest, very fresh ingredients to add to salads, pitta pockets etc.

What Can You Sprout

Virtually any bean, seed or grain is easy to sprout.  The only things I have failed with in the past were pumpkin seeds, which were disgusting and tasted poisonous, and hemp seeds which failed to sprout.

Try the following:

Broccolli Seeds
Fenugreek Seeds (gives a curry flavoured sprout)
Brown Rice
Chick Peas
Buckwheat Groats
Sunflower Seeds
Beans: Aduki, Mung, Broad, Kidney, Black, Haricot, Black Eye  
Poppy Seeds

What You Need to Start

A Container:  You can buy multi tiered sprouters or special jars but any large, wide necked jar will do.  Catering sized jars of pickles are good if you are wanting to sprout a large amount at once but its best to just sprout small amounts all the time.

Something to cover the top:  A piece of muslin or a section cut from a pair of tights secured in place with a rubber band.

Soaking:   As a rule of thumb, the larger and harder the thing you are sprouting the longer you will need to sprout.  So soak beans, chick peas, rice etc over night and seeds such as alfalfa for about four hours.  Soak ideally in filtered water.  Beans will expand quite a bit so make sure you have them in a big enough container.

Growing:  Once your beans, grains or seeds have been soaked, rinse them well and put into your chosen growing container.  Put the muslin or tights over the top and secure in place.  Allow them to drain well.  Then place in a dark cupboard.  I always forget them if I put them in a cupboard so I cover mine in tin foil to exclude the light and then leave them by my kitchen sink.  They need to be rinsed well and thoroughly drained two to three times per day.  Once they have all started to sprout you can put them on a sunny windowsill.  They are ready to eat when most of the bean or seed has gone.  I like to leave mine until there is some green in the tiny "leaves" to maximise nutrient content but experiment by tasting.

Once they are well sprouted you can rinse and drain them and store them in the fridge.  Eat them as fresh as possible to get maximum nutrients. is a great source of more information and for a wide variety of seeds, beans and grains to sprout, sprouting equipment and guidance.

Happy Sprouting!


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