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Sprouts add flavor, nutrition to favorite foods

April 24, 2012
By Wendy Monro , Simply Food

This week something amazing happened. The kids and I were outside experimenting with creating a small garden in our Las Vegas back yard. I am hoping our garden will thrive like my garden does in Hanska. I am nervous that the 115 degree days and oppressive sunlight might take a toll on my tomatoes. I found a really shady spot. I am hoping for the best. With a lot of tender loving care, I imagine I will have a bountiful harvest.

While we were planting, I received a call from my neighbor, Michelle. She said she had a present for me to pick up at her house. The funny thing was that it was on her birthday. "It's not my birthday," I told her. She told me that she was aware of this and she still had a present for me. Yay! I love presents.

Later that day, I went over to Michelle's and she presented me with my gifta jar. It wasn't any ordinary jar. This was a sprouting jar. She also gave me a bag of seeds for sprouting. The bag contained a combination of sprouting seeds: alfalfa, lentil and radish.

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Vegan cheese, kale, scallions, tomatoes on a tortilla, topped off with delicious sprouts

I had never heard of any such sprouting jar. What the heck? She told me that she used to sprout all of the time and when she did, she would use three or four of these jars at a time. Wow! This was a form of gardening that I knew nothing about. Intrigued, I thanked her and went home to give it a shot.

There were directions on the jar: 1. Add 2 tablespoons seeds. 2. Soak over night. 3. Rinse and drain twice a day. 4. Keep in a dark place for five days. Seemed simple enough.

I did it. In just one day, I could see those beautiful little sprouts begin to pop out. By the second day, they had doubled in size. I was amazed. No sunlight and no soil? What an amazing food! I always enjoyed sprouts on my salads or in a sandwich. Sometimes they are spicy and sometimes they add a pepper flavor. I like the freshness and the added texture and crunch they give to a dish.

Fact Box

Sprout & Hummus Wrap

Serves: 4

Time: 15 minutes

4 tortillas or wraps

1/2 cup cheese or vegan cheese, shredded

8 tablespoons hummus (optional: blend sprouts into the hummus)

1 cup kale

4 scallions, chopped

1 cup carrots, shredded

4 cherry tomatoes, quartered

2 cups sprouts

salt and pepper to taste

On the flat tortillas, divide the above ingredients into four. First, sprinkle on the cheese. Then, add the hummus, kale, scallions, carrots, and tomatoes. Top it all off with the sprouts. Roll up the wrap and cut in half.

I didn't really know much more about them other than the flavor. So, what do you think I did? I Googled itobviously.

Turns out, sprouts are amazing! I found an article written by Dr. Clive McKay, a professor of nutrition at Cornell University during World War II. In it he writes, "Wanted! A vegetable that will grow in any climate, will rival meat in nutritive value, will mature in 3 to 5 days, may be planted any day of the year, will require neither soil nor sunshine, will rival tomatoes in Vitamin C, will be free of waste in preparation and can be cooked with little fuel and as quickly as a chop." Dr. McKay was referring to the soybean sprout. That is an awesome vegetable!

We all know that meat and eggs are the usual protein foods for Americans. So often, when someone is considering a vegetarian or vegan diet, his or her first concern is protein. Would it surprise you to know that soybean sprouts are 13 percent protein, more than the 12.5 percent found in eggs? The kicker is that soybean sprouts contain about half of the fat of an egg. Alfalfa sprouts have more chlorophyll than spinach, kale, cabbage or parsley. Radish sprouts have 29 times more Vitamin C than milk and 4 times the Vitamin A. These sprouts also have 10 times more calcium than a potato and more Vitamin C than a pineapple.

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Even if vegetarianism is not your cup of tea, sprouts are beneficial to any diet. It seems to me that sprouting is something everyone should be doing. It's so easy. The jar Michelle bought for me is just a large glass jar with a screen in the lid. You can buy one online or even make it. This is a great way to have fresh organic sprouts all of the time in your refrigerator.

Since making my first batch of sprouts, I have discovered so many uses for them. Luckily, Daphne and Claud both enjoy eating them. I don't think I could have finished all of them on my own. I can't imagine how Michelle went through four jars at a time. That's a lot of sprouts. You wouldn't believe how many you get with just two tablespoons of seeds.

I still put sprouts into my sandwiches and salads. Now, I add them each morning to my smoothies. I mix them into stir-fries and soups. For this article, I added them to my wrap and blended them into the hummus for the wrap. This added a nice nutty and spicy flavor and so many more vitamins and protein to the meal. If you don't like eating them on their own, just mix them into other things to add vitamins and protein.

I am so grateful to Michelle for introducing me to this new way of gardening. My mung bean batch just finished sprouting and is waiting in the refrigerator for me to taste them tomorrow morning. Next, I am going to give sunflower seeds a shot. You wouldn't believe all of the things you can sprout: lentils, garbanzos, wheat, barley, rye, rice, almonds, quinoa, peas, and so many more. This is too much fun. I have so much to try.



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