By Dr. Michael Kane
Growing up in a family with eight children, one-on-one time with my father was rare and mostly centered around working in the garden.
The spring planting was one of my most enjoyable memories.
Being Irish, my dad had a ritual of planting the snow peas right on St. Patrick’s day. If the ground was not frozen solid snow and clear of, the two of us would be out there with our seeds and the hopes of a long spring.
In the weeks to follow, we would watch with much excitement and anticipation for the first seedlings to sprout. As they grew, we would provide the net of support for them to climb higher and higher. Our first harvest was always celebrated with a shared sense of pride.
While it’s been over a decade since dad passed, I still faithfully follow this tradition each year. It was an important learning experience that helped my relationship with my father and nurtured a love of gardening and freshly grown food. Learning more about where our food comes from and how it grows is extremely important. I highly recommend the activity for both adults and children.
If you can’t grow your own, frequent your local farmers markets or actually buy shares in a harvest (Community Supported Agriculture or CSA) for a growing season to receive weekly or monthly boxes of fresh produce. For more information check out the website: https://guide.ctnofa.org/
If you don’t have space you can get creative by planting herbs in a window box or by growing your own sprouts indoors. Sprouts are full of enzymes and are powerhouses of nutrition. In only takes a few days so it is perfect for young children. Besides, when children have a hand in growing things, they are more likely to eat them!
How to Sprout:
Make sure you use organic seeds. Others may have been treated
Large mouth glass jars
Put 2-3 tablespoons of seeds in a jar and cover with water and soak overnight. Attach a swath of cheesecloth to the jar lid with a rubber band and drain sprouts. Store in a dark place. Rinse and drain once or twice daily until the seeds sprout, then place in indirect sun light. Let them grow until a few inches long and then feast on them. Put them in salads, on sandwiches or you can put the bean sprouts (lentils and mung) in a stir fry.
Recommended seeds to sprout:
Broccoli – full of anti-cancer compounds and a mild pepper flavor
Sunflower seeds – shelled, raw seeds are a rich source of lecithin and vitamin d
Lentils – these are 26% protein. Add to salad for an extra boost of crunch
Mung beans – good protein source and high in vitamin c. Try lightly sautéing them and toss them into stir fries, omelets or other dishes.
Alfalfa seeds – contain great phytoestrogens that can help with menopause symptoms and support heart health.