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Indoor farming at home: boosting health with sprouts

Sprouts are different from their full-grown counterparts. Studies have shown that sprouts support cell regeneration, offer powerful antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and enzymes, and have an alkalizing effect on your body, which may help protect against disease, including cancer. During sprouting, vitamin C levels are higher than any other point in the plant’s life cycle. This is also the time when plants begin to synthesize new enzymes and some sprouts can contain up to 100 times more enzymes than raw fruits and vegetables. Still, some sprouts are negatively different from their full-grown counterparts, such as Sorghum, which is perfectly safe when full-grown, but the seed coat carries potentially toxic levels of cyanide, making eating these sprouts a gamble. Because sprouts vary so much from one variety to the next, as well as from their full-grown counterparts, it is a good idea to consult your naturopathic doctor when considering adding sprouts to your diet. While you can usually purchase sprouts through your local grocer or farmer’s market, sprouting at home has definite advantages. Sprouts are delicate and need to be handled carefully and refrigerated. Most importantly, they need to be as fresh as possible to provide the most significant health benefits. Sprouting at home not only allows you to get sprouts at their peak freshness every time, but it also allows you to experiment with a wide variety. Here are 5 tips to get you started having fun with and reaping the benefits of the healthiest possible sprouts, at home.

1. Research which varieties of sprouts you want to try. Different sprouts favor different growing conditions. Some sprouts grow best indoors, in soil, while others grow through soaking and moisture control methods. Sprouting times also vary depending on the type of sprout, the method and even personal preference. Wheat, sunflower, almond, lentil and mung sprouts are all good options if you’re a beginner. Also easy for beginners are Red clover, radish mustard, adzuki, garbanzo and pumpkin.

2. Collect your tools and get started. The jar and cloth methods are two of the most common sprouting methods, but require regular rinsing and checks for mold. Still, the old-fashioned way – growing sprouts in soil – remains one of the easiest and least time consuming methods. Growing sprouts in soil also produces far more nutritious and abundant food. You can also try sprouting bags or commercial made sprouting systems available at many health or natural foods stores. For in-depth tips on how to sprout, check out:

How to Soak & Sprout Nuts, Seeds, Grains, & Beans.
The Growing Sprouts tutorial.
The Sprouting Guide: How to Sprout Seeds and Bean Sprouts.

3. Water makes a difference. Use bottled spring water or filtered water when sprouting. Most seeds won’t sprout well in polluted tap water.

4. Freshness is key. It’s best to eat sprouts as soon as they are ready, but if you need to store them, put them in the refrigerator or in a controlled sprouting environment until you’re ready to use them. Stored sprouts should be rinsed every 24 hours.

5. Get creative. There are tons of ways to enjoy sprouts. Try adding different sprouts to your salads or wraps. Use sprouts as new toppings for sandwiches and burgers. Play with food styling by creating a simple gourmet meal from your choice of lean meat on a bed of sprouts salad.

Resources

Are sprouts good for me? World’s Healthiest Foods.
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=george&dbid=166

Balch, Phyllis A., and James F. Balch. 1992. Rx prescription for cooking and
dietary wellness. Greenfield, Ind: P.A.B. Pub.

Murray, Michael T., Joseph E. Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno. 2005. The
encyclopedia of healing foods. New York: Atria Books.

Pitchford, Paul. 1996. Healing with whole foods: oriental traditions and modern nutrition. Berkeley, Calif: North Atlantic Books.

Dr. Heather Wdowin

Dr. Heather Wdowin, NMD is a licensed primary care physician in the state of Arizona, and a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor in California. She graduated with a Bachelors degree in Neurobiology from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, and her Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine is from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, AZ. She has completely circumnavigated the planet with a backpack, hiked the Grand Canyon nine times, jumped out of an airplane, sailed down the Nile and meditated in the queen’s chamber of the great pyramid. Dr. Wdowin specializes in Sports Medicine, Neuro-endocrinology, and difficult cases. She currently works with professional athletes in the NFL and UFC, optimizes their health and thereby improves their performance. She has studied with the leaders of the emerging Environmental Medicine field, and designed Human Reconstruction’s facility to be perfect for detoxification and depuration therapy and treatment. It is her philosophy to use all tools available to diagnose the cause of disease, and then treat that cause with personalized attention and whatever modality brings about results. She is an accomplished diagnostician and practitioner, as well as a certified clinical hypnotherapist to aid a patient in utilizing the mind body connection in healing.