I remember when "health food" sandwiches started "making the scene" in California when I was a kid. How did we know it was health food? It was made with whole wheat bread and alfalfa sprouts - that's how! I get a kick out of how things can change so radically over time, and then again, not change much at all. Take sprouts, for instance. They're a really great addition to a healthy diet with lots of choices and many great ways to enjoy them. Still, there are plenty of people who narrowly define sprouts as 1) bean sprouts that come in some Asian dishes, or 2) alfalfa sprouts, the classic topping for "heath-food-store" sandwiches.
I say broaden your horizons! Sprouts are the very young shoots of germinated edible seeds from vegetables, beans or grains. Remember that just about every seed, nut, bean and grain can be sprouted, and doing so increases its nutritional value. While I happen to like both alfalfa and mung bean sprouts, I am just as enthused about other varieties as well, especially during the summer when I love to add them to my salads and sandwiches. I'm talking about broccoli sprouts, sunflower sprouts, clover and radish sprouts, too. If you've never been a sprout kind of a person, I hope to change your mind! Not only will you be enjoying a crunchy, cooling, tasty treat, you'll also be getting:
- Vitamin C
- Folic Acid
- Improved digestibility
Here are some delicious ways to put sprouts on your menu:
- Yes, they cuddle up well in sandwiches and wraps - stuff them into pita bread, too!
- Salads are a go, as you know, but not just the leafy-green type. Try them on crunchy vegetable salads, steamed vegetable salads as well as bean and grain salads. I like them as a garnish to egg, potato, chicken and shrimp salad, too. To spice up your sprouts, try this idea for Firecracker Chicken Salad with Pineapple and Mango.
- Try them rolled up in sushi.
- Mung beans are super popular with Asian salads and noodle dishes. Here's a great recipe for Asian Tofu and Sprout Salad and here's a favorite for a Quick Noodle Salad with Tofu and Vegetables.
- Juice them with other veggies or fresh fruits.
- Add them to coleslaw - they are delicious that way!
- If you love Thai food, then you will love the sprouts that garnish our Pad Thai Tofu.
- Throw them into stir-fries.
- Make a summery soup and stir them in.
- Mix them into cottage cheese, cream cheese or goat cheese and spread on sandwiches or crackers.
- Mix and match your sprouts depending on your recipe. Here's a blend of sunflower and mung bean sprouts in a delicious Beet Salad with Arugula.
- Carrots join sunflower sprouts in this refreshing Carrot and Sunflower Sprout Salad with Basil and Green Peppercorn Oil.
- Eat them fresh, as is, with a bit of your favorite salad dressing.
- Serve them over rice pilaf and other hot cooked grain (or bean) dishes.
- Toss them with a lovely dressing and use them as a bed for skewered meats, tempeh, tofu or fish and vegetables -kabobs on a bed of sprouts!
Sprouts should be kept cold at no higher than 40°F at all times as both temperature and humidity can increase
the potential for bacterial growth. If sprouts are well cooked, this is not an issue, but when consuming them raw, improper handling could potentially be problematic. Be sure to keep them cold and eat them quickly, within a day or two if possible. Remember that each passing day brings a reduction in nutrient levels as well. The fresher the better!
Do you love cold, crunchy sprouts, too? I'd love to hear your ideas and favorite recipes!