Sprouts? Disgusting! You're turning the page at
record-breaking speed and who can blame you? An image of
tasteless vegetation emerging from your sandwich springs to
mind. Your favorite fast-food restaurant has probably
attempted to give your sandwich a "healthy" appearance,
forcing you to yell "Hold the sprouts!" before they throw
it on your tray. After all, only health-food fanatics can
faithfully consume this food with any enthusiasm, right?
Maybe not. In the health-conscious and low-fat nineties,
sprouts are making a subtle comeback—and with good
reason. They're rich in essential vitamins and minerals,
low in calories and fat, and high in dietary fiber. They
are also inexpensive, especially if you decide to grow your
own. Sprouts are a "live" food, and easy to grow indoors
during the winter months. Flavorful new varieties, such as
radish and onion sprouts, are now available (fresh or in
seed form) at your local grocery or health-food store,
causing the old alfalfa sprout to take a backseat.
So how did the sprout obtain its "King of Health Foods"
status? Every seed contains the embryo of a future plant
and the nutrients needed to nourish its growth. When the
seed (or bean) germinates, it releases these nutrients into
the resulting sprout. In the course of its sprouting, the
seed uses up some of its stored carbohydrates and fat, adds
water, and manufactures some vitamins and minerals. You
wind up with a reduced-calorie food that is still rich in
protein, containing more nutrients than the original seed.
For example, the vitamin C in both soybeans and garbanzo
beans increases from a mere trace during sprouting, until
the soybean sprouts are as rich in vitamin C as tomatoes.
Wheat berries have three times more vitamin E and six times
more of some B vitamins after they've sprouted. They also
contain Super Oxide Dimutase, Dimutases are a class of
proteins having the common feature of being antioxidants,
which remove poisons from the body and aid the remission of
Beans (legumes) : Mung, adzuki, lentil, soybeans,
garbanzo beans (chick peas), and Alaskan peas are the most
popular. It's sometimes a bit difficult to sprout the
larger beans such as pinto and kidney beans because the
larger the beans, the greater the chance of the beans
fermenting. They'll need to be rinsed often and stored in a
place not exceeding 80°F. Some sprouted legumes
(soybeans, chick peas, Alaskan peas) need to be blanched in
boiling water for a few minutes before eating in order to
destroy a protein-inhibiting enzyme called trypsin. Bean
sprouts can be cooked in your food, but add them towards
the end of the cooking.
Grasses : Alfalfa, radish, red clover, and onion
seed sprouts are a few favorites. These sprouts are better
eaten raw. Add spicy radish or onion sprouts to your
favorite coleslaw or potato salad recipe.
Grains/Seeds : Wheat berries, sunflower seeds,
millet, rye, barley, and sesame seeds are a few varieties.
Add wheat sprouts to your yeast breads to produce a
lighter, higher loaf. Try toasting wheat berries or
sunflower seeds for a nuttier taste. (Find toasting
directions on page 27.) Use them in or on top of muffins or
cookies instead of high-fat nut
Your supermarket or health-food store may carry some
varieties of fresh sprouts plus seeds and beans for
sprouting. Since sprouts are highly perishable, market
sprouts are often past their peak. Don't purchase sprouts
in a produce section that's sprayed with water because wet
sprouts spoil easily. Ask the produce manager what the
delivery days are for sprouts. When you come to purchase
them on that day, you may have to ask someone to go in the
back to get them for you. (Don't expect them to love you
for this.) Sprouts should be dry, crisp, odor-free, and
without a "rusty" look.
If you decide to grow your own sprouts, don't buy garden
seeds since these are usually treated with poisonous
Growing Your Own Sprouts
As for equipment, you'll need a canning or large mayonnaise
jar, wide rubber band, and cheesecloth, or a sprouting kit
from the health food store.
Step 1 : Rinse the measured amount of seeds or
beans through a strainer. Pour into a clean jar with four
times more lukewarm water than the amount of seeds. Store
upright in a dark warm place (but not over 85°F) such
as in a cupboard or under the kitchen sink. Remember to
place a "sprouts" sign on your refrigerator so you don't
forget they're there and wind up with rotten-smelling
sprouts a month from now.
Step 2 : Drain the seeds thoroughly through the
screen by inverting the jar; when you're done, save the
water for soup or plants. Fill the jar with fresh lukewarm
water, swishing the seeds around the jar.
Repeat this process a few times, draining the water
completely. Seeds should be moist but not wet. Rotate the
jar so the seeds stick to the sides.
Step 3 : Place the jar on its side and return it
to its dark, warm spot. Repeat the rinsing process,
preferably three to four times daily (a minimum of two
times). At least four times daily are recommended for
soybeans and chick peas. Within three to five days, the
seeds will grow sprouts. If any of the sprouts grow mold or
fuzz, discard them and save the rest.
Step 4 : When sprouts are the desired length,
rinse and lay them on a dish towel in indirect sunlight for
a few hours in order to develop the green chlorophyll
(don't do this with beans and sunflower seeds).
Step 5 : Store the sprouts in a covered plastic
container in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Adzuki Bean Nut Mix
I use this mix to sprinkle on top of salads or steamed
vegetables. It also makes a good snack food.
2 cups toasted* adzuki bean sprouts
1 cup toasted* sunflower sprouts
½ cup coarsely chopped peanuts
1 clove garlic, minced or ½ teaspoon garlic
½ teaspoon celery salt
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan or
dash cayenne pepper
*To toast spouts:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread sprouts on a large cookie
sheet and bake for approximately 15 minutes (five to eight
minutes for wheat sprouts). The sprouts should be slightly
crunchy but not dried out. Sprouts good for toasting
include: adzuki beans, mung beans, sunflower seeds, wheat
berries, and chick peas.
Sprinkle cumin or paprika on top of humus and
serve with pita spread.
Sprouted Humus Spread
Humus is good for spreading on pita bread, crackers, or raw
1½ cups chick pea sprouts, blanched 2 medium
½ cup parsley
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste)
¼ cup lemon juice
½ teaspoon tamari
1 teaspoon honey or sugar
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper dash of paprika
Fill a saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Pour in
chick pea sprouts and turn off stove. Let sit for five
minutes; drain. In a food processor or blender,
purée chick peas, garlic, and parsley. Add rest of
ingredients and blend. Serve sprinkled with paprika. This
will keep, if refrigerated in a plastic container, for
about four days.
2 large whole-wheat flour tortillas
½ teaspoon oil
¾ cup grated cheese (I use low-fat ched-dar)
½ roasted poblano or red pepper, sliced thin*
¼ cup wheat berry sprouts
1 green onion, diced
1 tomato, chopped chopped cilantro (optional)
Place a non-stick 10-to-12 inch skillet containing a little
oil over medium high heat. Fry each tortilla a few seconds
on one side and remove. Place one tortilla back in the pan,
uncooked side down, and sprinkle cheese on cooked top.
Cover with other tortilla, uncooked side up. Fry 30 seconds
or so, flip over, and fry again. Remove top tortilla and
add peppers, sprouts, and green onion filling. Place second
tortilla on top again and slice quesadilla in quarters
(like a pie). Serve topped with tomatoes and cilantro, if
you have them.
*Roasted peppers: Cut peppers into quarters lengthwise and
remove seeds and stems. Arrange and flatten on a piece of
foil, with inside of pepper face down. Place in oven or
under broiler until blackened. Remove and fold foil over to
make a tight package; leave for at least 10 minutes. Peel
off blackened skin. Refrigerate in plastic container until
needed (will keep in refrigerator up to three days).
Crunchy Rice Salad
You might try using different varieties of rice. I use
1½ cups cooked brown rice and ½ cup wehani or
2 cups cooked brown rice (works best if rice is cooked
at least one day before and refrigerated)
1½ cups bean sprouts, or use a combination, such as
adzuki, mung, and lentil
½ cup water chestnuts, chopped or daikon
1 medium red or green pepper, chopped
1½ cups broccoli, chopped
1 cup green onion, finely chopped
1 large stalk celery, finely chopped
1 cup chopped parsley
¼ cup sesame seeds
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoon ginger root, peeled and minced, or ½
teaspoon ground ginger 1/3 cup frozen orange juice
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sesame or walnut oil
2 tablespoons tamari (or soy sauce)
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon sugar
Toast sesame seeds in heated non-stick skillet for a minute
on medium-high heat. Stir frequently (don't let burn).
Whisk other ingredients together or place in blender to
mix. Toss together salad ingredients, dressing, and sesame
seeds. Chill and serve.
If you want to make this a meat dish, add one cup cooked
chicken breast after you sauté garlic.
2 tablespoons peanut or walnut oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups brown rice, cooked the day before
1 tablespoon ginger root, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons tamari (soy sauce)
3 to 4 drops chili oil* or ½ teaspoon chili
2 cups broccoli or celery (steamed for five minutes),
chopped into small pieces
l½ cups mung bean or adzuki bean sprouts (or a
combination of both)
3 green onions, chopped
In non-stick skillet, sauté garlic in oil over
medium-high heat. Stir in ginger; sauté for one
minute. Add rice, tamari, and chili oil. Cook for a few
minutes. Add broccoli and sprouts; cook two minutes,
stirring often. Broccoli should still be a bit crunchy and
bright green. Stir in green onions and cook for a few more
*This is a very hot oil/sauce to be used sparingly. It can
be purchased in the oriental section of the grocery.