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Q I enjoy growing herbs and would like to start sprouting but I'm not sure where to start. Any advice?

aSprouting is simply soaking seeds in water and then allowing them to germinate until the very first signs of plant growth appear. Then you eat them -- super simple and economical!

Due to the numerous enzymes, sprouts are rich in easily digestible energy. They are abundant in antioxidants, full of protein, chlorophyll, vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Chlorophyll is the ultimate blood purifier, intestinal cleanser and helps remove toxins from the body.

The beans and seeds I'd recommend for sprouting are alfalfa seeds, lentils, chick peas, moong beans and whole sesame seeds. Alfalfa sprouts are considered the best sprouts as they are exceptionally high in minerals. Sprouts are delicious in salads and sandwiches and are best eaten raw.

Here's how to get started: Wash and drain two tablespoons of whichever beans, grains or seeds you have chosen to sprout. Place in a bowl, cover with water and allow to soak for 6-8 hours. Drain thoroughly and place on a seed tray. Leave the tray in a bright, airy position and spray with water every morning and evening. The sprouting process should take 3-6 days. When the beans have fully sprouted, put them in an airtight container in the fridge and they will keep for around two weeks.

QI don't suffer with depression but I am prone to low moods. My husband reckons my eating habits don't help but I find it difficult to understand how altering my diet might help.

aThe key to understanding the connection between the food we eat and our mood lies in understanding a little about how the brain functions. The brain communicates by chemical substances passed from one nerve cell to the next. These chemicals are called neurotransmitters. One of the neurotransmitters that is most sensitive to diet and influential in affecting our mood is serotonin, also known as the 'happy hormone'. Our bodies produce serotonin from an amino acid called tryptophan which comes directly from food.

Women are three times as prone to low moods as men. Research suggests that the cause of this lies in the fact that women are more prone to low levels of serotonin. A serotonin deficiency can be brought on by many factors including hormone imbalances, stress and nutritional deficiencies.

One of the ways we can help boost our mood is by increasing our consumption of tryptophan rich foods -- turkey, nuts, eggs, fish, oats, beans and cheese.

Elsa Jones is a qualified nutritional therapist. She offers one-to-one consultations to treat your individual health concerns. www.elsajones nutrition.ie