Cooking With Sprouts

Sprouts are not only nutritious, they can be very tasty. Learn about different types of sprouts, how to grow them, and recipes for quesadillas, salads, stir fry and more.

| April/May 1993

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 aging symptoms.

Sprout Varieties

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

11/20/2007 1:00:38 PM

I just tried onion sprouts today on my salad and they are amazing, They give a subtle onion flavor throughout the salad. AMAZING!

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