There are many different foods that we think of when we hear the words “Super Food” – berries, salmon, teas, acai and spinach… the list goes on. But do you ever think of sprouts?
There are many different types of sprouts – alfalfa, broccoli, radish, bean, mustard, clover, soybean, green-leaf, and wheat to name a few. Sprouts grow from vegetables, seeds and grains and are the first edible shoot; they are a seed that germinated. All sprouts contain health-boosting nutrients, many of these nutrients at abundant levels.
Sprouts contain proteins, antioxidants, chlorophyll, amino acids, vitamins and minerals (including vitamins A,B,C,E and K, calcium, potassium, iron, and phosphorous) and enzymes. Broccoli sprouts, for example, are believed to contain 50 times more sulfurophane (an antioxidant) than mature broccoli. The total caloric content of a sprouted seed is also less than that of a dried seed, meaning you get more nutrients for fewer calories (love that!). Sprouts are believed to increase bone formation and reduce bone breakdown (osteoporosis), stimulate the immune system, control menopause and PMS. The list of benefits goes on and on.
You can make your own sprouts or buy them at the grocery store. Many companies have even begun adding sprouts to food products (for example, if you’ve been seeing a lot of labels that read “sprouted grain”, such as on breads, this is what the foods contain).
We love to add sprouts to many different foods, from sandwiches and salads to homemade breads to stir-fries and soups. Some sprouts are better cooked, while some are better raw. For example, robust sprouts such as bean sprouts will hold up better when heated and are great to add to stir-fries and soups; pumpkin sprouts can be lightly toasted and are delicious in homemade bread; and alfalfa sprouts are best raw and are great on to top salads and sandwiches.
Try this delicious sandwich idea:
Take a whole wheat pita pocket, stuff it with carrots, squash, broccoli, alfalfa sprouts*, sliced apples, a few sprinkles of shredded nonfat or low-fat mozzarella cheese and some nonfat Italian dressing. Throw it in the microwave or toaster oven to warm it. Delish!
*You could use another sprout in the recipe above. Decide which you’d like to use by reading about their flavor below.
Each sprout also has its own unique flavor. Bean sprouts and alfalfa sprouts are just a hint nutty. Radish sprouts have the same spicy zest as radishes. Lentil sprouts taste a bit peppery and sunflower sprouts are mild but slightly sweet. Broccoli sprouts taste just like mature broccoli and mustard sprouts taste tangy with a nutty crunch. Experiment with different types of sprouts to find out which ones you like best with your favorite meals.
Have you ever tried sprouts? If so, how do you eat them? And which ones are you favorites?