The new year often comes with resolutions to eat healthier. One way to do that is to grow your own sprouts. Sprouts are packed with nutrition and easy and inexpensive to grow.

Sprouting a seed unlocks the nutrients it contains and makes it easier to digest, and growing sprouts doesn’t require special lights or any soil to grow.

All you need are sprouting seeds, a growing container, access to fresh water for rinsing, and a small space on your kitchen counter.

First, decide which type of growing container your want to use. You can purchase sprouting trays, or just use a glass jar with a screened lid.

Whichever container you use, make sure it is clean and sterilized before adding your sprouting seeds. Sprouts grow in a moist environment, which can also grow bacteria. You can cut down on the bacterial risk by making sure your equipment is very clean.

Once your containers are ready, it is time to decide what to sprout. You can sprout a wide variety of legumes, beans, grains, and vegetables. There are a few plants that should not be consumed in sprout form, such as kidney beans, tomatoes, and peppers.

When in doubt, stick to seeds sold specifically for sprouting, or do a quick internet search to verify that your sprouts are safe to eat. Just as your equipment needs to be clean, so do your seeds. Seeds sold for sprouting are cleaned and processed differently by the seed company to cut down on any contamination.

To begin the sprouting process, cover your seeds with water and let them soak overnight. Then, drain the water and rinse your seeds with fresh water. Let them drain completely and rinse and drain them 2-3 times a day until your sprouts have grown the desired amount.

If using jars, keep them upside-down in a bowl to let them fully drain between rinsing. How long to sprout your seeds depends on how much you want them to grow, and what type of seed you are using. A tablespoon of alfalfa seeds will fill a pint sized jar in about three days.

When you want your sprouts to stop growing, store them in the refrigerator and consume them within a few days.

A word of warning about sprouts: as stated above, raw sprouts carry some risk of harboring and growing bacteria.

Always make sure to use clean equipment and seeds; rinse your seeds 2-3 times per day with fresh, clean water; and if your sprouts develop an unpleasant smell, discard them and start over with sterilized equipment.

Raw sprouts are not recommended for pregnant women or those with a compromised immune system, but cooking your sprouts will eliminate the contamination risk.

Now that you know how easy it is to grow your own sprouts, get started today! Happy sprouting!