Sprouting chia seeds are a fun alternative to sprouting cress that you can easily do with your toddler. A satisfying and fun activity that teaches children about growing their own food. Microgreens are apparently the thing to grow these days. I remember sprouting garden cress as a child and observing with wonder how fast they would grow from little seeds into edible plants. I haven’t however thought much about it since childhood, but it seems that it has recently become the thing to do nutrient vice. And though I didn’t see it as much more than a fun little gimick, I’m starting to get why it has become so popular. It’s very easy to do, it doesn’t require a garden, but can be done all year around in your kitchen, the sprouts are packed full with nutrients and then there’s just something pleasing about growing things.
I have been waiting a little while to sprout chia seeds, though I’ve been wanting to try it for some time. I wanted my now almost 2-year old daugther to be part of the whole proces and thus needed her to be old enough. Well, this Easter I couldn’t wait any longer, and even though she might need to be a tad bit older to really get that the seeds she helped spread out on the plate were the same seeds that later gave her those delicious sprouts, I still think she enjoyed herself getting to see, touch and taste throughout the process. And I love that I finally took the first step in introducing her to the whole concept of plants growing.
You can sprout a whole lot of different seeds other than chia seeds. Chia seeds are however something we always have in our kitchen cabinet and I knew the taste would be mild, so that’s why our first sprouting adventure have been with chia seeds. After having succesfully sprouted them, I am however planning on trying more seeds in the future, especially during the winter where fresh organic greens are difficult to find.
Since the taste is very mild and it could easily be used as toppings for a whole range of dishes or in sandwiches and salads, as the taste won’t take over the dish in any way. We’ve used them in smoothies and as a topping for a vegan broccoli soup with kale and peas. And as an added bonus, at least for us, Eva actually really likes picking and eating the sprouts. The taste is also rather tangy, which I think appeal to children.
How to sprout chia seeds – step by step instructions
Sprouting chia seeds is simple, but it requires a bit of attention for it to grow into edible microgreens. Let your children join in on the fun as a fun way to learn about growing your own food (on a micro level) and a bit about patience as you wait for it to grow.
- Organic chia seeds – just the regular kind you buy at the supermarket
- Organic unbleached cotton (I used some cotton baby wipes – unused of course)
- A plate or any flat container that’s water proof
You could use soil or something else to grow the sprouts in. Just be mindful that whatever you choose to sprout your seeds it, does not contain any harsh chemicals and remember not to let your toddler pull the sprout directly from the ground if using soil.
It is such an easy project for children that even a toddler can participate in every step of the way – and a child that’s a bit older can do it all on her own.
1. Place the cotton on the plate.
We used 1-2 layers of the organic cotton baby wipes depending on how thick they are.
2. Wet the cotton with water.
Use a water sprayer if you have one or just drip with water. This first time the cotton should be very wet, but not soaking. Let it soak in and then drain the extra water by tilting the plate.
3. Sprinkle chia seeds over the wet cotton and gently press them into the cotton.
The seeds needs to be close to each other to get a thick little lawn of chia sporuts, but still try to aim for as few layers as possible (this can be a bigger challenge than you might expect with an eager toddler helping).
4. Place the plate in the window sill or somewhere it will get some light.
Though the seeds need light make sure you choose a window that doesn’t get to much direct sunlight – otherwise you risk the seeds drying out too fast.
5. Over the next 4-8 days make sure the cotton doesn’t dry out, while patiently waiting as the seeds start to sprout.
Check on the seeds every day and if dry, sprinkle some water on top. Ideally you can use a water sprayer, which your toddler easily can help with, but otherwise just try to gently drip water on the seeds. Make sure that you don’t soak the seeds as you will risk mold growing on them. And you do not want mold.When it’s cold and the sun is not out other than a few seconds a day, it might take a while longer for the seeds to sprout than during a sunny summer week.
6. Harvest your sprouts when a few cm high (about an inch or so – give or take) and enjoy in a salad.
If you want your chia seeds higher it will take a few more days.
I did this project with my toddler, but you can of course do it with older children – or on your own. It’s a great with to get a bit of homegrown green during the winter months!