by Grier Cooper
We all know we’re supposed to eat green stuff. It’s good for us, full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, all the things that keep us healthy and disease-free. Adults know this already, but trying to get kids to cooperate and actually eat this kind of stuff is another story.
I once read a theory that the reason kids refuse to eat anything green is actually a latent Paleolithic-era survival instinct – if something is green in nature, that means it isn’t ripe and is unfit for consumption. Any kid under five will certainly agree with the “unfit for consumption” part, but that still leaves the problem unsolved. What if there was a reliably simple way to get them involved, on the same page, and enthusiastic? I’ve got one (magic) word for you: sprouts.
Growing sprouts, or “sprouting” isn’t just for hippies, although the hippy era may have made the technique more popular. In just minutes per day, with a minimal amount of effort, you’ve got a science experiment, gardening project, and a fool-proof method to get your kids emotionally invested in green stuff! The materials required are minimal – good quality seeds and a container to rinse them in that drains well. Kids don’t even need to get dirty to do this; they simply rinse the seeds twice daily and leave them to grow happily by the kitchen sink. The hardest part is remembering to get the seeds wet twice a day.
Before your kids get started, you’ll need to acquire the seeds to sprout, and it’s important to begin with the best seeds you can find, either at your local health food store, or online from a reliable retailer, such as Sprout People in San Francisco.
Many different types of seeds can sprouted, from alfalfa to sunflower, even some peas, beans, and peanuts or almonds (!) which add a great, crunchy texture to salads.
It’s best to start off with something mild that your kids will enjoy, such as red clover, alfalfa, adzuki beans, even raw peanuts. A container to rinse the seeds completes the list of materials. A colander, strainer, or sprouting tray are all good choices, so water can easily drain away as the seeds are rinsed.
Most seeds will need to be soaked overnight first (8-12 hours), so before bedtime, have the kids fill a bowl with water (cool temperature, 60-70 degrees), and add a few teaspoons of seeds.
The following morning, the seeds should be poured into whatever sprouting container you’ve chosen, and then rinsed again thoroughly, and left somewhere near the kitchen sink, but out of direct sunlight.
Continue to follow this procedure for several days, rinsing once in the morning and once in the evening, draining thoroughly.
It’s exciting to watch as the seeds crack open and the tiny plants begin to become luscious, green sprouts. For many types of seeds, this will happen within two to three days; others, such as alfalfa and alliums, may take longer, even up to six days or more.
Once the sprouts are green, they are ready for consumption. If you wish to remove the hulls from your sprouts, do so during the final rinse by breaking up the mass of sprouts, placing the sprouts in a bowl filled with water, and removing the hulls by hand as the sprouts float. Always end by giving the sprouts one final, good rinse, and allow them to dry fully (about twelve hours), before refrigerating them in a sealed plastic container.
You might be amazed at how enthusiastically your children will eat this green stuffthey have grown themselves. When our first crop of sprouts was ready, my (then two-year-old) daughter couldn’t get enough of them, and stuffed them into her mouth by the handful. This was nothing short of miraculous because she had been on a vegetable embargo for quite some time. As I watched her happily munching away, I knew we were onto something good. I have to admit the process was so easy and satisfying that I became a bit of a sprouting junkie myself. I went online and ordered stackable sprouting trays (so convenient), and the most exotic mixes of seeds I could find. As I write this, I still have yet to try one I don’t like. From what I can tell, in this era of the green revolution, it begins at home, right next to the kitchen sink.
To find Sprout People online, visit: http://www.sproutpeople.com/