Rich in essential and trace minerals, alfalfa plants - in sprouting trays or jars at home, can be your go-to energy source. Saponins in these plants help fight cancers, reduce inflammation, inhibit arterial plaque, and neutralize free radicals. Alfalfa is perfect for your weight loss diets - high in fiber and protein and low in calories. It's estrogens enhance bone density, that help prevent osteoporosis.
Sprouts are one of the planet’s most medicinal superfoods. The best part is that they can be grown indoor anywhere in the world at any time of the year. Plus, they are incredibly easy to grow — and this article will show you exactly how.
Sprouts Are Perfect For Everyone
Growing your own fruit and veggies can be extremely rewarding to your health and also save you lots of money. However, if you live in an apartment or smaller urban space, growing your own produce is most likely not going to be a realistic option, unless you have a garden.
Growing sprouts in your home is a fun and simple way to produce some of your own food, regardless of your living space or location, which makes it a realistic solution for anyone to try.
All you need is a sprouting tray, or you can even use a glass jar. They are hydroponically grown, which means they grow in a soil-less environment. All they require is water and eventually some exposure to sunlight. Oh, and also lots of vitamin L.
A Variety Of Varieties
There are many different varieties of sprouts you can grow, and I love experimenting with the wide range of flavors and medicinal properties. The popular types of sprouts that are grown include red clover, daikon radish, green lentil, broccoli, mung, wheat, and fenugreek.
I love growing many different varieties, and I encourage you to explore and experiment as well. The most popular type of seed that is sprouted and consumed is alfalfa.
The method and procedure to sprouting any seeds, beans, nuts, or legumes is practically the same. However, since alfalfa is the most popular of all varieties, this article focuses on how to grow your own batch of alfalfa sprouts.
Key point: Remember, you can apply these same instructions to growing most other types of sprouts.
The Mighty Alfalfa
Alfalfa is a unique and powerful plant. It is a flowering perennial from the pea family that has ancient origins of 6,000 years or more. Because the root system of alfalfa plants can reach depths of 50ft (15m) or more, the flowers and seeds it produces contain a very high amount of essential minerals and even trace minerals that our body needs. Those minerals are locked within the seeds, and when you sprout them, they are activated and released.
Think of the vitality and radiance from anything that comes from its source, whether a seed, an egg, an embryo, or a molecule. The offspring packs everything the source has to offer in its most powerful and bio-available form. In other words, eating food straight from its source imparts you with the energy and even wisdom of life itself.
In Persian, the word alfalfa means “horse power,” and this powerful food was given to horses during battle to improve their strength and stamina. The honey that is produced from alfalfa flowers is also incredibly medicinal.
Alfalfa Health Benefits
1. Prevention Of Cancer.
Studies show that alfalfa sprouts may fight leukemia as well as pancreatic cancer, colon cancer, and fibrocystic breast tumors.
Improved cholesterol. Alfalfa sprouts are a great source of saponins, which are believed to lower levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) while maintaining good cholesterol (HDL).
2. Healthy Heart.
Along with the heart benefits associated with lowered cholesterol levels, saponins are also said to reduce inflammation, which is believed to help prevent atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and other heart diseases.
Rich source of proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Alfalfa is a rich source of proteins; vitamins C, D, and K and vitamins of the B group; and minerals such as phosphorus, zinc, and manganese.
Saponins have anti-inflammatory properties that may help prevent stroke, reduce the painful effects of arthritis, and help with other chronic inflammatory disorders.
4. High In Antioxidants.
Alfalfa sprouts contain some of the highest level of antioxidants among all vegetables. Antioxidants are believed to boost the immune system and combat free radicals, which are often associated with lower rates of cancer, heart disease, and stroke.
5. Aid In Weight Loss.
Alfalfa sprouts are rich in fiber and protein but low in calories. They are a great alternative to fatty foods and may aid in efforts to lose weight.
6. Bone Health.
The plant estrogens found in sprouts may increase bone formation and density while helping to prevent osteoporosis.
The list of sprout benefits is expansive and endless. It also depends on the type of seed or bean you are sprouting. Sprouts, especially lentil sprouts, are the ideal food if you are vegetarian or vegan. Lentil sprouts contain some of the highest amounts of raw vegetable protein available on the planet (similar to peas)!
Okay, so now that you are aware of the reasons you should grow and eat alfalfa sprouts, are you ready to learn how to grow them?
How To Grow Alfalfa Sprouts
Here are the three things you need:
- High-quality alfalfa seeds: The first thing you want to do is find some quality organic seeds. Please don’t get cheap seeds because trust me, you will see and taste the difference in quality. Also, you risk the chance of getting seeds that are genetically modified, diseased, or contaminated with pesticides and bacteria.
- Sprouting container: whether you choose to use high-quality sprouting trays (my recommendation) or a glass jar, all you need is something to drain the water. If you use a jar, you will need a mesh strainer of some sort to separate the seeds from the water.
- A coffee cup: This will be used to soak the seeds for 8 hours.
The Simple Five-Step Procedure
1. Place the desired amount of seeds or beans in the coffee cup and fill with filtered water (please do not use tap water because you don’t want chemicals in your sprouts). Make sure to use the correct amount of seeds for the space of your sprouting container, which should be listed on the back of the seed packaging.
Let the seeds soak for at least 8 hours, 12 if possible. When seeds soak in water, the growing process is activated, and the chance of seeds not sprouting is lessened.
2. Once the seeds have soaked for at least 8 hours, pour the seeds on or into your sprouting container and drain the excess water. Make sure they are spread out evenly across the growing surface of your sprouting container. Let them sit, covered.
3. Dump a full coffee cup of filtered water on all the seeds or baby sprouts and drain the excess water two times per day (morning and evening). Spread the seeds or baby sprouts out evenly again, and cover for the first two to three days.
Growing progress over the course of the first couple days:
4. Once the sprouts are about ¾ inch (or 2cm), uncover them and expose them to the sun. This will activate the chlorophyll content in the sprouts. You will be able the see this by how dark green the tops of the sprouts become from the exposure to the sun.
The darker the green gets, the more chlorophyll content the sprouts will contain. Chlorophyll has many benefits that can help you sustain a healthy body.
Continue to water them daily, but adjust the amount of water according to how wet they appear. You don’t want to water them too much because they will rot, and if you don’t water them enough, they will be too dry and withered.
Just like humans, sprouts require balance in order to be healthy! I find they only need to be watered once per day after you uncover them. You will have to find what works for your growing environment.
This is what they look like the first day uncovered (you can start to see the greening of the tips)
This is after another day in the sun. Look at how green and vibrant they become!
5. Once they reach your desired height, harvest and store them in a glass container in the refrigerator, and enjoy. My favorite containers to use are pyrex because they are glass and are extremely durable. I have used the same pyrex containers for almost 10 years!
They seem to last about five days on average, although I have had some batches last over a week. Make sure you smell and visually inspect them before eating, to ensure they are still good.
A Word Of Caution With Sprouts
- First of all, listen to your body. If they don’t work for you, simply don’t eat them. Your body will clearly let you know if they are compatible or not. They actually do not work for some people with sensitive digestive systems as sprouts can be hard to digest since they are raw. Because sprouts have phytoestrogens (plant version of the estrogen hormone), it is important to not consume excessive amounts. Just make sure to have balance, and you will be fine with moderate consumption.
- Second, and this very important, please make sure you wash and disinfect all growing equipment between batches. The main reason sprouts become contaminated (aside from contaminated seeds or beans) is that growing equipment is not washed properly. If you properly wash and disinfect your growing equipment, there should be nothing to worry about. I use a combination of different-sized brushes, hot water, natural dish soap, and natural disinfectant (usually tea tree oil or isopropyl alcohol) to wash and sanitize my sprouting trays.