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Mary Lowther column: Sprouts provide excellent nutritional value

Alfalfa, mustard, the cruciferous seeds from kale, broccoli and cabbage, commonly sprouted
Sprouts growing in a jar on the window ledge will provide excellent nutrition. (Mary Lowther photo)

By Mary Lowther

When there was so much to do in the garden during the growing season, I didn’t have the need or inclination to grow sprouts. This is no longer true and I’ve turned my attention to indoor growing. The sprouts I’m referring to grow in water, using the stored food and energy within the seed, so are harvested while still in the sprouting stage before they need soil to turn into plants. Alfalfa, mustard, the cruciferous seeds from kale, broccoli and cabbage, red clover and fenugreek are commonly sprouted.

I have a stackable tray for sprouting seeds, but only two of them still have the little red siphon that drains out the tray, and since I couldn’t find any more trays or siphons in the stores, I thought I’d wrap some cheesecloth over the mouth of a jar, put seeds in the jar with some water and strain it out every day. Then I found a special lid that screws onto a mason jar and strains the seeds through tiny holes in the top, negating the need for cheesecloth that would eventually break down. A great little store in Lake Cowichan carries them as well as a dandy book on sprouts that I had to buy too.

Nutritional levels skyrocket when seeds sprout. For example, mung beans, chickpeas and lentil sprouts contain around 20 per cent protein plus vitamins A, C and E, iron, calcium and magnesium. Adzuki beans have 25 per cent protein, all of the amino acids except tryptophan, vitamins A, C and E, iron, niacin and calcium. Red clover was fed to diabetic mice and after five weeks they showed “significant lowering of blood glucose levels” (Longxin Q, et al, 2014). Alfalfa helps maintain good levels of cholesterol, decreases the severity of lupus and has anti-inflammatory activity (Hong YH, et al, Biomed Sci. 2009).

We put sprouts on our sandwiches and in salads because the best way to get nutrition from sprouts is eating them raw. Here’s a nice recipe from Harrowsmith magazine that uses alfalfa sprouts:

Carrot Sprout Salad

2 cups grated carrots

2 cups alfalfa sprouts

1/3 cup raisins

2 T. toasted sunflower seeds

½ tsp. salt

pepper to taste

1 T. vinegar

1 T. oil

Combine everything, mix well and serve immediately.


On Nov. 25 at Dinter Nursery, 2205 Phipp’s Rd. (just south of Duncan on the main highway), Christmas Open House from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., including a “Makers Market”.

Please contact with questions and suggestions since I need all the help I can get.