How to Grow your own Sprouts on your kitchen bench

Sprouts have many health benefits: they are full of nutrients, antioxidants, vitamins such as Vit. D, A, zinc, biotin and iron, fibre which aids digestion, and omega-3 fatty acids. The process of sprouting enhances the nutrient value of grains, legumes and beans. They are easier to digest when sprouted, allowing our body to utilise the nutrients easily. While they are full of nutrients, they are low in calories so you can eat a lot of them without worrying about the calorie intake.

To buy them from the supermarket is relatively expensive and they have to be used within a couple of days. I usually end up throwing most of them out because they deteriorate too quickly. By growing my own, I can have sprouts at various stages of growth so that I have a steady supply. They are very easy to grow – you don’t need a garden for these! They can grow on your kitchen bench in a jar and only take about 3 days to grow.

Equipment Required

  • Clean glass jar. You can use any jar for this but a medium sized jar is best
  • A sprouting lid which has wire mesh to allow air to circulate, and water to drain off the sprouts. I have made do with the foot end of a pair of pantyhose stretched over the mouth of the jar. A piece of muslin or cheesecloth and a rubber band would work as well.
  • Sprouting seeds e.g. alfalfa, red clover, mung beans, chia seeds, broccoli, wheat, radish, soybean, mustard, lentil, sunflower seeds and pea shoots. Anywhere that supplies seeds should have them, and they will say sprouting seeds on the packet. Health food stores usually supply them too, and you can buy them in bulk online. It’s best to buy special sprouting seeds because they are free of bacteria and are packaged in a controlled environment. Using lentils or other seeds from the grocery store is not as safe because they are meant to be cooked, meaning that they may not be free of the bacteria that causes salmonella or e. coli gastroenteritis.
  • I use a tea strainer to strain the water off as some of the seeds are very small. The rinsing and draining process is important as you don’t want them to sit in stagnant water.
Equipment used to grow sprouts and sprout seeds

Steps

  1. Place 1 or 2 tablespoons of seeds in the jar. Cover with warm water and leave overnight – 8 to 12 hours
  2. Drain water off (I use the tea strainer to drain it through). Rinse a couple of times until the water runs clear. Do this morning and night. Leave them pointing downwards so that the water drains well.
  3. After a few days the sprouts will be ready to eat. Put them into an air-tight container in the fridge and eat within a few days.
Sprouts growing – day 2 to day 5

You start a new batch of sprouts every couple of days to ensure a continuous supply.

Enjoy them in salad, sandwiches, wraps or stir fries.

Using sprouts in a salad

How to Make a Healthy Burrito

Burritos are easy to take to work, can be as healthy as you want, and always go down well in my household. I usually serve them with all the ingredients in individual bowls, then everyone can just make them with their favourite ingredients.

To take them to work, I roll the wrap and cover it with Glad wrap. In a separate container, I take the filling. Then I can assemble the burrito at work. We have a sandwich press in my lunch room at work so I can toast the wrap as well.

This burrito uses the Super Spinach Salad, lean ham, shredded low fat cheese and corn kernels in a white wrap

How to Make a Burrito

Put a wrap on to a dinner sized plate. Assemble the filling on the wrap as shown in the photo. Don’t overfill it

Step 1: how to make a burrito

Fold the bottom half up

Step 2: how to make a burrito

Fold sides in

Step 3: how to make a burrito
Step 4: How to make a burrito

Pick it up and enjoy! Use a sandwich press if you want it toasted

Step 5: How to make a burrito

Ideas for fillings

  • lean meat or chicken
  • omelette
  • any salad ingredients – see my recipe for Super Spinach Salad for ideas https://midlifestylist.com/2020/01/10/super-spinach-salad/
  • sauces and salsas
  • shredded cheese
  • chili con carne
  • beans e.g. kidney beans, nachos-style re-fried beans
  • Asian stir-fried greens and vermicelli

Total Calories for Burrito as shown in photos: 289KCal, Carbs 30.8g, Fat 11.4g, Protein 16g

Super Spinach Salad

This is the salad recipe that I have used many times over. It is delicious, versatile and healthy. The basis for it is just three ingredients, then you can customise it to suit your taste.

Basic recipe

  • 60g baby spinach ( or approx. 2 cups, or half a bag of spinach from the supermarket
  • 250g cherry tomatoes (or two large tomatoes cut up)
  • 1/2 continental cucumber (or 1 Lebanese cucumber)

Method

Rinse spinach in a colander. Break off stems and remove leaves that are blemished. Wash tomatoes and add to spinach. Cut up the cucumber and add to spinach. Place in an airtight container in the fridge. It will last about 4 days.

30 kCalories per serving, total recipe 90 kCalories. Serves 3 for mains, 5 for side dish. 2g Protein, 6g Carbohydrate, 0g fat

Super Spinach Salad: the basic recipe is baby spinach, tomatoes and cucumber

Now Customise!

Optional extras

  • olives
  • feta cheese or shredded low fat tasty cheese (see note at bottom of recipe)
  • red onion
  • avocado
  • roast baby beetroot, skinned and diced
  • celery
  • corn kernels
  • snow peas
  • carrot
  • red capsicum
  • cos lettuce
  • radishes
  • sprouts
  • nuts, e.g. pine nuts, sliced almonds, pistachios
  • seeds, e.g. quinoa, flax seed, sunflower seeds
  • dressings, e.g. vinaigrette, Greek or Italian salad dressing, low fat mayonnaise
  • lean protein – grilled chicken breast, low fat ham or bacon (grilled), tin of tuna in low fat sauce, boiled egg
  • fruit, e.g. mango, apple, pear, dried fruit such as apricots or cranberries
  • herbs, e.g. parsley, chives, mint

My favourite combinations

Basic recipe plus:

  • olives, feta cheese and Greek dressing
  • chicken breast, avocado, snow peas
  • Feta cheese, baby beetroot, celery
  • cos lettuce, boiled egg, low fat mayonnaise
  • small can of tuna in sun-dried tomato and onion (John West brand, 99% fat free)
Super Spinach Salad with Fetta Cheese, Olives and Greek Salad Dressing

Meal Prep Idea

Make the basic salad, divide into 3 portions. Each portion is your lunch. Take the extras to work separately and add just before you eat it, then the salad won’t go limp and soggy.

Alternative way of serving: take a wrap to work, and combine all ingredients as a burrito https://midlifestylist.com/2020/01/10/how-to-make-a-healthy-burrito/

A healthy burrito using the Super Spinach Salad, ham, corn kernels and shredded cheese in a wrap

Note: a serving size of feta cheese is 20g, or a piece the same size as your first finger. This equals 53 calories. 2 Tablespoons of shredded cheese = 74 calories

My favourite apps for a healthy lifestyle

I’m one of those people who needs to keep a track of everything. I like to be organised and plan things in advance. When it comes to living a healthy lifestyle, I use a few apps to help me and give me incentive. I would recommend them to anyone who wants to keep a track of their exercise, weight, and dietary intake amongst other health goals.

Fitbit

This is an obvious first choice for me because I wear my Fitbit all day and night apart from showering and charging it up. It counts my steps, number of floors I’ve climbed, how many calories I’ve used, my heartrate and how many hours I sleep per night. I also use mine to track my calorie intake and my weight and water intake. Every week it sends me a summary of everything and gives me incentive to continue with my goals. I do challenges every week with a group of other people and am in a few support groups such as Healthy Eating which is like a forum. The most helpful aspect of the app is the calories in vs. calories out section. As long as my calorie intake is less than what I burn off every day with exercise, I’m on track to maintain a healthy weight. I also like the weight tracker where I can see graphs of my weight and fat percentage over time.

fitbit weight graph

Fitbit macros graph and calories in vs calories out

Samsung Health

I have a Samsung mobile phone which came with a free health tracker called Samsung Health. It is very much like the Fitbit App where it can track steps and exercise sessions, weight and sleep, but the reason I like it is that the calorie intake section is better than the Fitbit App. While the Fitbit is more accurate in counting steps and sleep, the Samsung App. has an easier calorie counter to use. It is possible to save numerous types of food in the data bank which makes it easier to track your diet as you go along. I generally eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch so it’s very easy to save a whole meal in the favourites section, or to work out how many calories are in a meal. Calorie counting is very tedious for most people but I find this App. makes it really easy for me to keep control of my eating. Keeping to 1500 – 1800 kCalories per day has been the way I’ve lost 17kg and been able to keep it off. The breakdown of my diet into macros (percentages of carbs, protein and fat) is very useful, and it goes into further detail by telling me how my diet is in relation to vitamins and minerals.

Samsung Macros graph and Vitamins and Minerals

Smiling Mind

I have been an insomniac for as long as I can remember. Doing shift work doesn’t help because I feel permanently jet lagged. Even with pretty strong sleeping pills I still have a lot of trouble sleeping. The Smiling Mind App. has been a Godsend to me because I’m usually lulled into sleep within minutes of listening to one of the sleep meditations. There are programs for Mindfulness, Stress reduction and improving relationships amongst other things. There are other Apps designed for meditation but this is the one I return to time and time again.

Apps that I use every day for tracking, insiration and ideas

Clever Guts

If you’re a fan of Michael Mosley then this is the App. for you. My brother and I have both lost weight using his programs, my brother with Intermittent Fasting and me with The Clever Guts diet and Mediterranean Diet. There are recipes, videos and podcasts on this App.

Health Calculator

I use this App. to work out my BMI ( body mass index) and there are also calculators for body fat, ideal weight and basal metabolic rate. I find that the body fat and ideal weight calculators aren’t very accurate but the BMI is easy to calculate using your weight and height. I use a website called calculator.net to calculate my body fat percentage, as I find this much more accurate. To compare, my body fat percentage is calculated as 35.55% on the App, and 28.5% on the website. The website uses gender, age, weight, height, neck size, waist size and hip size while the App only uses waist size and weight so that is why I prefer the website. It’s a handy App to use but I’d recommend only using the BMI calculator.

Pinterest

While not strictly a health App, Pinterest is a great source of information. I can look up thousands of recipes, ideas on food prep, motivation for exercise and self care, and links to bloggers around the world who talk about a myriad of different topics from plant sources of protein to growing vegetables. I follow many different Pinterest boards focused on living a healthy lifestyle. They have opened my mind up to many different ways of thinking, especially about diet and self care. I doubt if I’ll ever buy another recipe book because I can find exactly the recipes I need on Pinterest.

Pinterest search for healthy recipes

Allrecipes Dinner Spinner

Recipes have been created by many different contributors so there is a huge range of great recipes on this App. I can collate favourites and create a collection under different headings. I can also create a shopping list for the ingredients. It’s a handy App to use on the go, for example while I’m out shopping I can quickly look up the ingredients I need to make a particular recipe.

In summary, these are my favourite Apps that I use to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I would love to hear from you if you find any of these Apps useful, or any suggestions of Apps that you use.

We use our phone continuously throughout the day so try using Apps to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle

My Top Posts of 2019

My healthy lifestyle blog has been my biggest achievement this year (apart from losing 17kg!). I’ve really enjoyed writing about a topic that I’m passionate about. The hardest part is the self promotion which goes against my introverted nature but it’s vital to gain followers if I want people to read my articles.

MY TOP 9 POSTS 2019 – Read them now to gain some inspiration! Live your healthiest year in 2020.
In order, they were:
1 How to make goals that will stick, https://midlifestylist.com/2019/12/18/how-to-make-goals-that-will-stick/
2 Why waist measurement matters, https://midlifestylist.com/2019/11/07/why-waist-measurement-matters/
3 My Weight-loss Journey, https://midlifestylist.com/2019/12/02/my-weight-loss-journey/
4 Slow and Steady wins the race, https://midlifestylist.com/2019/10/29/slow-and-steady-wins-the-race/
5 13+ ways to get more colour in your diet, https://midlifestylist.com/2019/11/13/13-plus-ways-to-get-more-colour-in-your-diet/
6 Gifts that Inspire a Healthy Lifestyle, https://midlifestylist.com/2019/12/03/gifts-that-inspire-a-healthy-lifestyle/
7 How to keep on track with your health goals during the holiday season, https://midlifestylist.com/2019/11/26/how-to-keep-on-track-with-your-health-goals-during-holiday-season/
8 Just change one thing https://midlifestylist.com/2019/10/21/just-change-one-thing/ and
9 Losing weight is a marathon not a sprint. https://midlifestylist.com/2019/10/21/losing-weight-is-a-marathon-not-a-sprint/


Thanks to everyone who has read, followed, liked and shared my posts across WordPress, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter! I really appreciate your support and all the comments, likes and shares. It keeps me motivated to write more.

The top posts on Midlifestylist.com for 2019

How to Make Goals that Will Stick

This time of year is commonly used to set some New Years’ Resolutions. We start the new year afresh with lofty plans to lose weight, get fit and give up smoking or other vices. But often these plans go out the window by the end of January, leaving us feeling defeated and a failure. How do we avoid this?

Set Goals that are Attainable

Many goals and resolutions fail because they are unrealistic, too broad, and unattainable. Let’s look at the goal “to lose weight” for example. Lose how much weight? By when – next week, next month, next year? How will you achieve it? None of those questions are answered in the broad statement “I will lose weight”. You need a plan, and to set a goal that is realistic.

An unrealistic goal would be to lose 20kg by March. You would be likely to start with enthusiasm, go on a fad diet and starve yourself. It will fail because diet regimes that lose weight quickly are too restrictive, cutting out important nutrients and are unable to be sustained long term. You’ll feel deprived, have cravings, and will want to “cheat” on your diet. As soon as you stop dieting, the weight will pile back on because your body has slowed its metabolism down to cope with the reduced number of calories. As soon as you plateau or fail to lose weight you’ll give up because it’s setting you up for failure by being too hard to stick to. This can be avoided if you set realistic goals.

Unattainable vs. Attainable

Unattainable goalAttainable goalHow I will achieve it
lose 20 kg by Marchlose 3kg by March then reassess goalUse a smaller plate, cut out sugar in drinks, eat fruit instead of a muffin at morning tea
Get fit by walking 5km every dayStart by walking 2km daily and build it up to 5km by MarchWalk on my lunch break, park my car further away
Lose 20cm off my waistLose 3cm off my waist by Easter then reassess goalEat a salad at lunch instead of pasta, use the stairs at work instead of the lift
Join a gymSign up for a trial at a gym with no ongoing commitmentGo to a gym at least 3 times to see if it’s the right one for me before committing to it
Give up smokingCut down over 2 weeks then give up smokingUse nicotine replacement therapy, sign up to a Quit support service
Unattainable Goals vs Attainable Goals

The difference between unattainable goals and attainable goals is that you are cutting the goals down to achievable amounts, setting time frames, and planning out exactly how you will achieve them. You are setting yourself up to succeed by not biting off more than you can chew.

When I first started on the Get Healthy Program the amount of weight I needed to lose seemed like an unachievable goal. I was doubtful of being able to not only lose 10 or more kilograms, but also lose 10cm or more off my waist. My confidence was low, and I was skeptical of the program because I hadn’t succeeded on any program in the past. I could usually lose the weight easily but I always felt restricted on a diet and as soon as I went off it I packed the weight back on. My coach helped me to set small, realistic goals to achieve and as I reached each milestone, my confidence grew. I kept moving the goal posts and slowly I lost 5kg, 10kg, 15kg … eventually 17kg and it’s stayed off for over 6 months now.

More important to me was the goal of losing centimeters off my waist. My waist circumference was 105cm when I started which would predispose me to diabetes, heart disease and cancer. This concerned me more than anything. My goal was to get down to 88cm which would put me in a much healthier range but I was eventually to lose 20cm! By changing my diet to include more vegetables and less red meat and sugary food, I was able to achieve my goal.

Realistic goals are ones you break down into smaller components. Start with small goals and as you reach them, set bigger goals. Your confidence will grow with each milestone, setting you up for success. Because you’re starting with small changes to your habits, you’re likely to incorporate them into your daily lifestyle. For example, parking further away and taking the stairs are easy ways to increase your step count whereas running 5km per day or joining a gym would be harder to incorporate into your life and your enthusiasm may soon die out with the sudden burst of energy when they cause muscle aches and pains.

Define your success. What is the end goal and how will you know when you are there? My success was getting down to the weight that I am, and maintaining that weightloss for 6 months or more. I will stay within 3 kg of this weight and not go up in size in my clothes. What is your definition of success and how will you achieve it in 2020? It’s a new decade and a great starting point to setting some goals for yourself that are achievable.

Happy New Year!

Festive Chocolate Chia Pudding

This is a special occasion chia pudding that will fit in with your health goals and is easy to make. Chia is a grain that is healthy and nutritious. They are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, fiber, iron and calcium. The recipe includes cacao powder, the unsweetened form of chocolate which is very nutritious. Without all the nasties like sugar and fat that are added to it to make milk chocolate, it has many health benefits. It can improve your memory, reduce heart disease, increase immunity and is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. You can find chia seeds and cacao powder in the health food section at the supermarket. I use almond milk for this recipe but you can substitute it for cows milk, soy milk or whichever milk you prefer.

vegetarian, vegan skill level: easy

Prep. time 15 mins. Resting time 4 hours Calories: 191kcal

  • INGREDIENTS [PER PERSON]
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 tbsp cacao powder
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Mix the chia seeds and milk together in a bowl
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well
  3. Let the chia seed mixture sit for 15 minutes until it thickens. Stir again.
  4. Pour into decorative glasses, e.g. parfait glasses
  5. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving
  6. Top with your favourite berries, cherries or fruit.

NUTRITION INFORMATION

  • Calories 191kcal
  • Carbohydrates 16g
  • Protein 8g
  • Fat 11g
  • Saturated fat 3g
  • Cholesterol 12mg
  • Sodium 56mg
  • Potassium 259mg
  • Fiber 8g
  • Sugar 6g
  • Vitamin A 4%
  • Calcium 28.9%
  • Iron 10.3%

IDEAS FOR TOPPINGS:

  • Cherries
  • Berries
  • Mango
  • Pineapple
  • Peaches
  • Nectarines
  • Apricots
  • Kiwifruit
  • Passionfruit
  • Purees or sauces made from fruit and/or berries
  • Nut butters
  • Dried fruit
  • Cacao nibs or a sprinkling of cacao powder
  • Spices
  • Shredded coconut
  • Candied ginger
  • Muesli or granola
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Creme Fraiche or whipped cream
  • chocolate nibs, sauce or flakes
Healthy Chocolate Chia Puddings

Images: Left – Christina Henry; Right Bottom – David Disponett, Pexels; Right Top – Pixabay, Pexels