The Easy Sprout - The Sprout People's Most Popular Sprouter
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I've let too much time go by without giving any updates on some of the new additions to my household and daily routine. I promise this is going to be a quick post (yeah right!) because I have some very interesting medical topics I want to get to--and this is one of the few mornings I have some time in which to do it.
We're Making Our Own Sprouts Now!Thanks to a wonderful reader, Kim, who wrote after I posted "Straight from the Experts at Ohio State University, Johns Hopkins University, & Canyon Ranch: Three "New-to-Me" Super Foods: Black Raspberries, Broccoli Sprouts, & Chicory-Family Leafy Greens", we have started making our own sprouts at home.
"Why buy Brocco-Sprouts for $4.99 a container when you can make them yourself? It's much cheaper to do your own & it's really easy. Check out Sprout People!, " Kim said.
My husband took off running with Kim's suggestion. Soon we had 10 white plastic sprouters on top of our kitchen counter, and all kinds of seeds to sprout. He is now a huge fan of the Sprout People.
Sprouting is like having an indoor mini-fresh-garden in the winter.
He's now THE sprout-maven-indoor-farmer, and I just sit back and enjoy the harvest. Broccoli and alfalfa sprouts are our favorites--and you can't compare the cost & freshness of sprouting your own to buying them at Whole Foods.
He has broccoli sprouts ready to eat in 3-6 days and they last from 2-6 weeks in the refrigerator--although we eat up a batch in a week--adding them to sandwiches and salads.
He's experimented with all kinds of seeds, including sprouting up a batch of "Madison Market Mix" which is a combo of peanuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and almonds. The Sprout People say this is "more of a soak than a sprout", but it's delicious on a salad.
Wondering what the big deal is with sprouts?
"Sprouts are one of the most complete and nutritional foods on the planet. They're rich with enzymes and vitamins and amino acids. And perhaps most important of all, sprouts like alfalfa, broccoli, clover, mung bean, and the like contain concentrated amounts of phytochemicals that can have strong protective effects against disease.
When you eat a sprout, you're actually eating a very, very young version of the whole plant. You're eating the root, stem, and head.
Different glucosinolates--phytochemicals that convert to very healthy metabolites in the body--are concentrated in different parts of the plant. Some are still in the root, others are in the leaves that are thrown away, still others are in the stem.According to Sonja Pettersen, N.D., "Sprouts are one of the most concentrated sources of nutrition. They're loaded with phytonutrients."
-Jonny Bowden, PhD, C.N.S., author of The 150 Healthiest Foods of Earth-
Storing Sprouts and Vegetables in PEAKfresh Produce Bags
OK, I admit it. When my husband said he was going to order PEAKfresh bags to store our sprouts, because that's what the "Sprout People" recommend, I rolled my eyes, and thought, "Uh oh! Now he's listening to some weird "Sprout People" on an internet site. What next?"
I had tried those Debbie Meyer Green Bags (thanks to SIL Lis) and was disappointed. These sounded like more of the same.
But according to "The Sprout People": These bags are amazing! We have tested sprouts, fruits and veggies. We had Cilantro in one of these bags for a month! Plastic bags will still do for storing your sprouts, but if you want the best - for every sprout, fruit and vegetable - try these!
You know us, we don't sell stuff just to sell it - these really are awesome. The bags are widely reviewed (positively), and like we said above - our personal experience is great, so we think it is a good bet you'll be happy with them.
Read more about these bags ($5.85 for 10 re-usable bags) here.
These bags really are superior to just storing produce in regular plastic bags! Really. I didn't expect them to perform at all. I stored a cut ripe avocado in a bag--following the directions to press out the air in the bag & seal with a twist tie. It stayed green and fresh for 10 days--and I had fresh avocado to spread on my sandwiches. Far superior to a regular bag or container.
Then I decided to try cilantro, which always ends up rotting in the bag after I use it once for a recipe. Not this time! The same for the lacinato kale. They are as fresh as the first day I bought them, after 10 days. I wish I could report that they lasted longer--but I used them up.
My light bulb discovery!
- I followed the PEAKfresh directions. Pre-cool warm fruit and vegetables in refrigerator before storing in bag. Check!
- Use a separate bag for each type of produce. Check!
- Produce should be fresh, dry, and undamaged. Easier said than done. But a key step!
DRY! Wetness is what rots produce quicker than you can blink an eye. And with all those grocery store sprinklers drenching the greens & herbs getting them dry is tough. I've tried blotting them with towels - but when I wanted to test out the PEAKfresh bags the "towel dry" method was not doing the job.
I thought about laying the greens out to dry on the kitchen counter, but I didn't want to take the time to do it.
Then it dawned on me! Use a hair dryer. I laid out the greens, zapped them with the hair dryer, and in 2 minutes they were dry enough to get bagged. Yes, it's an extra step, but produce is expensive. It beats having to throw out rotted veggies. Don't laugh. It worked.
My Step Counter Experience
This is my new toy. Last week I mentioned that as part of my workplace's incentive to lower our health insurance rates I have to report how many hours I exercise a week and how many cups of vegetables & fruit I eat.
I could have opted to report how many steps I walked a day if I had wanted. Everyone received a free Omron Hip Pedometer and after writing the post about Dr. Sharon Alger-Mayer's tips on keeping weight off--people who successfully kept their weight off put in 11,000 steps a day (5.5 miles)--I decided to clip that pedometer to my hip & see how much walking I was doing throughout the day.
OK--I admit it. Exercise is not a problem for me. I can easily exercise 6-7 hours a week, because I just like to exercise. But, honestly, my weight just stays the same--it doesn't budge. Maybe the pedometer will help me knock off a few pounds.
Here's what I'm finding out:
- Wearing a step-counter is fun and motivating. Who would have thought?
- Throughout a regular workday--I don't use the counter while I exercise--I manage around 6,000-6,500 steps a day--between 2.84-3.00 miles just doing my regular routine. It's a far cry from 11,000 steps a day. I guess I need to kick it up a notch.
- My basic plain-Jane Omron step-counter/pedometer is as easy-as-pie to use. This is the pedometer my very large medical center has chosen to use, probably because it's easy, reliable, long-lasting, and low cost. There are more sophisticated pedometers out there, but this one is a no-brainer-which is a good thing. Just clip it on in the morning and go. It records a week's worth of steps.
- The urge to do more. It's human nature to want to challenge yourself, and increase your steps. I find I want excuses to get up and walk around at work. Normally, I never take breaks, but next week I'm going to start--and see how many extra miles I can add up with speed walking for 15 minutes.
- My friend Mary Pat told me that she takes every extra opportunity she can to pump up her daily step totals. Instead of sitting down for 30 minutes while she waited for a doctor's appointment, she just walked back & forth--boosting her steps. When she arrived at a movie theater an hour early--to be sure to get a ticket--she didn't go into the theater and sit down--she just walked around the theater.
- Want to check out the best pedometers? Click here and here
Switching Up My Exercise Routine & Changing My Work Schedule
Since November I've tweaked my usual work & exercise schedule to maximize my time and energy. Hey, a little experimenting is always a good idea!
I am a true-believer in my post: Maximize Your Energy-Match Your Tasks To Your Daily Energy Levels, and it was high time to stop wasting my peak "9-11 am: Brain work-Creativity-Analytical work" time slot on housework, errands, or exercise on the days when I'm not at work. It really helps to pay attention to what your best times for brain work are, and make the most of those hours. I definitely lose motivation for "hard thinking work" if I don't do it early.
By carefully rejiggering my schedule, I was also able to get to a yoga class 3 times week, instead of maybe once every other week. And instead of doing my same-old same-old Nautilus weight-machine work-out, I added a killer old-fashioned weight-training class to kick things up a notch. And I still get to a Spinning class 3 times a week.
Why was I skipping out on yoga? I always planned to go to a yoga class after work--never happened. And the less I went, the harder it was. And the harder it was, the less I wanted to go. Guess what? Once I started going 3 times a week those planks & Chatarangas (the yoga push-up) started getting easier, and I started to really reap the benefits of a regular yoga practice.
Here's what I did:
- On non-work days, I write or research in the morning when I'm fresh--the best time for brain work. Errands, housework, and everything else come later in the day. If I do decide to exercise I do it in the late afternoon, instead of exercising first thing in the morning.
- I volunteered to work late every Thursday night, but I leave the house at 9:00 am. I go straight to the gym and take a tough old-fashioned weight-training class, and follow it up with a yoga class. Then I head on to work. Before this switch I never exercised on Thursday.
- Early Monday morning I head to a yoga class before starting work. No need for a shower after class--I save time by changing into work clothes once I get to work.
- Switching from weight machines to a weight-training class has upped my strength. It's so easy to stick to the same-old-same-old routine because it's comfortable and a no-brainer. But, Ann Esselstyn (Who is she? Click here.) convinced me to try this class, and what a challenge it is! She's over 12 years older than I am, and if she can do it--I can do it! There is no way I would do push-ups, squats, lunges, planks, and free-weights on my own. No way. This is like having a knowledgeable personal trainer without the cost. It's definitely a killer, but every week it just gets easier and easier. Thank goodness. Added benefit: This class keeps my heart rate in an aerobic range for most of the hour! A 2-fer! I never even budged into the aerobic range with the Nautilus machines.
- Take away point: Look at your schedule. Are you doing your brain work when you are at your sharpest, or are you wasting your best hours on activities that don't need brain power? And look carefully at your schedule, and see where you can squeeze in some exercise. I'd rather stay at work later, and get my exercise in early. By evening time I'm just ready to chill out.