I think I must have earned the equivalent of a “black belt” in sprouting, because for 15 years I was co-owner of a health food store and sprouting operation. I lived and breathed sprouts. In this month’s Kitchen Nutrition, I hope to share some of that expertise with you so you can have Spring in your house all year long. Here is a thumbnail sketch about sprouts.
Sprouts are the tiny plants of germinated seeds, beans, and grains that are grown indoors and harvested at their nutritional peak. Sprouts are ecological (Think Earth Day) because there is little or no processing involved. They are economical, with a four-to-one yield from seed to sprout. They are easy to grow. Just a jar, netting, and a sturdy rubber band are all you need. They are nutritious, because locked in the tiny seed is the power to produce an entire plant, and the sprouting process increases the nutritional content as well as digestibility. Finally, they are fun to grow! (For detailed instructions, email me at email@example.com or leave a comment below and I will mail you the instructions from my cookbook, The Johnny Alfalfa Sprout Handbook or my files. Basic instructions for sprouting are given in the last recipe below.)
Whether you sprout your own or buy from the store, be sure to check for freshness. If they look slimy, do not buy. Transfer to a glass jar for longer shelf life.
Here are some ideas for using them in your daily menus.
1. Use in sandwiches in place of lettuce: crunchy and flavorful.
2. Add bean sprouts (mung, soy, lentil) to stir fries for extra
3. Use as croutons in soup.
4. Mix alfalfa, radish, or clover into your favorite dip for a
zestier taste and crunchier consistency.
5. Sprout a “salad blend” and add to your garden salad after
dressing it. They tend to droop with dressing. (See recipe below)
6. Add bean sprouts to omelettes and potato pancakes
7. Add sprouted wheat to tabouli (See recipe below).
8. Add sprouted grains to breakfast pancakes, breads, and other
BE creative! Actually sprouts are as versatile as your imagination. Sprout for joy, taste, nutrition, and fun! (A great project for grandchildren.)
Below are three recipes to get you started. If you don’t want to sprout, then purchase sprouts at your local market. But try them at least once. You will be pleasantly surprised as well as nutritionally savvy. (Use organic ingredients whenever possible.)
Sproutinâ€™ Spring Salad (Amounts can be more or less to your taste)
One half head of Romaine lettuce
One half package of Spring Greens
One carrot, grated
3-4 radishes, grated
1 cup sprouts (Mixture of alfalfa, radish, and clover is nice)
1 cup or 1 package sunflower sprouts (Available in health
Optional: sliced black olives and artichoke hearts
Dressing: olive oil and lemon juice with herbs or
your favorite dressing
1. Wash and dry the greens; tear Romaine into bite sized pieces,
Place in a large bowl.
2. Add grated carrots and radishes and optional black olives and
3. Toss with 2-3 tablespoons olive oil and juice of half a lemon.
Sprinkle on herbs of choice (oregano, garlic, thyme, etc.) and
4. Line a bowl with the sprout mixture and top salad with
sunflower greens.* (Tossing sprouts with oils makes them
wilt more quickly. Serve chilled.
Stir Fry Side Dish with Bean Sprouts*
(Amounts can be adjusted to your likes; these amounts are merely suggestions)
5-6 broccoli heads, cut lengthwise into bite-sized pieces
One garlic clove, minced
1/2 yellow summer squash, washed and sliced into Â½â€ rings
1/2 zucchini, washed and sliced into Â½â€ rings
One leek, washed and sliced (white part)
Â½ – 1 cup snow peas, washed
Â½- 1 cup (mung+) bean sprouts, rinsed
Â½-1 cup spring mix salad greens
Tamari soy sauce
1. In a small amount of water, cook broccoli pieces for 4-5
minutes, until tender, but still crunchy and bright green.
(You can also steam them.)
2. In the meantime, place Â½-1 inch of water or broth in the
bottom of a large, flat pan and place minced garlic, sliced
yellow squash, and zucchini slices in the pan and cook 3-4
minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Remove almost cooked broccoli into larger pan. (Water
should almost be gone)
4. Add snow peas and cook one minute. Add bean sprouts and
spring mix and shut off heat. (Residual heat from other
ingredients will soften the spring mix and sprouts slightly.)
Serve immediately with sesame oil and tamari. For extra zest,
use Hot Sesame Oil, made with hot peppers.
+ Bean Sprouts can be mung bean sprouts or soy bean sprouts. Mung beans are more common inlocal markets. Store in cold water in a covered bowl in the refrigerator to keep from turning brown.
Sprouted Wheat Tabouli for Spring
Tabouli is a Mediterranean salad dish using bulghur, which is parboiled wheat that has been coasely ground. (This is a variation on the basic dish, which uses tomatoes, onions, and mint leaves.)
one cup wheat berries for sprouting
one cup bulghur wheat
one-two cups boiling water
one cup English peas, barely cooked
one cup grated carrots or a combination
of grated carrots & grated yellow beets
2 cups chopped parsley, washed well first
Olive Oil and Lemon Juice
Salt & Pepper to taste
Directionsfor Sprouting Wheat Berries
1. Sprout the wheat berries. Place in a glass jar and cover with
a net. Rinse and drain; then add water more than enough to
2. Rinse and drain morning and evenings for 2 days, until the
“tails” are the same length as the berry. If not using right away,
place in a colander and pour boiling water over them to blanch.
(Otherwise, they will continue to grow long hairy tails that make
them unattractive and hard to separate.)
Directions for Preparing the Dish
3. Place bulghur and unblanched wheat berries in a large bowl and
add 1 1/2 cups boiling water. Allow water to be absorbed, adding
another 1/2 cup if grains are still hard. (Bulghur comes in
different sized grains; larger pieces require longer soaking.) If
you are using blanched sprouted wheat berries, soak only the
bulghur in about one cup boiling water and add blanched berries
when bulghur has absorbed all the water.
3. While berries and bulghur are soaking, cook peas until barely
tender, grate carrots (and beets). Add to grains after all the
water has been absorbed. (Any leftover water can be drained
off, if there is any.)
4. Add about 3 tablespoons olive oil and juice of one lemon and
salt and pepper to taste.
5. Fold in chopped parsley, combining all ingredients well. Serve
in a bowl surrounded by sprouted alfalfa or salad mix and
garnish with sunflower greens.*
* Sunflower greens are grown in soil. An article on growing “baby
greens” will be the topic of another article. (Available in health