Alfalfa sprouts were the rage in the U.S. in the 1970’s, but with a new millennium comes new options for nutritious early leaves and shoots. Sprouts are the first growth from the seeds of vegetables, grains and beans and are higher in protein per ounce than their full-grown counterparts. While these tiny whole-food powerhouses may be in the back row of your grocer’s produce section, they are at the forefront of nutrition. Here is a guide to what they are, what nutrients they contain, and how to use them.

Sprout: Alfafa

  • Nutrients: 35% protein, 1.3 g Protein/Cup, Vitamins A, B, C, E, K, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Iron, Zinc
  • Comments: Delicate flavor. Great with egg dishes.

Sprout: Adzuki

  • Nutrients: 25% protein, Vitamins A, C, E, Iron, Niacin, Calcium
  • Comments:Use in wraps and salads, or slightly heated in soups or casseroles.

Sprout: Broccoli

  • Nutrients: anti-cancer Sulphorophane
  • Comments: Mild peppery flavor. Include in green juices and smoothies.

Sprout: Buckwheat

  • Nutrients: Carbohydrates, 15% protein, Vitamins A, C, E, Calcium, Lecithin
  • Comments: Fold into pancake and waffle batter. Use to make energy bars with dates, coconut oil, cocoa and ground nuts.

Sprout: Clover

  • Nutrients: 30% protein, Vitamins A, B, C, E, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Iron, Zinc, anti-cancer Isoflavones
  • Comments: Top grilled cheese sandwiches. Add to coleslaw.

Sprout: Fenugreek

  • Nutrients: 30% protein, Vitamin A, Iron, Niacin, Calcium, Digestive aid
  • Comments: Compliments rice dishes.

Sprout: Garbanzo (chickpea)

  • Nutrients: Carbohydrates, 20% protein, Vitamins A, C, E, Iron, Calcium, Magnesium
  • Comments: Use in Mediterranean salads or to extend burger patties. Roast and season for a snack.

Sprout: Lentil

  • Nutrients: 25% protein, 6.9 g protein/Cup, Vitamins A, B, C, E, Iron, Calcium, Phosphorus
  • Comments: Peppery flavor. Enjoy in baked beans, potato salad, soups or with steamed veggies. Can be eaten raw.

Sprout: Mung Bean

  • Nutrients: 20% protein, 3.2 g protein/Cup, Vitamins A, C, E, Iron, Potassium, Fiber
  • Comments: Hardy for light cooking and stir-fry. Great with Asian dishes.

Sprout: Mustard

  • Nutrients: 2.5 g protein/Cup
  • Comments: Spicy flavor similar to horseradish. Delicate sprout. Nice on eggs.

Sprout: Onion

  • Nutrients: Vitamins A, C, D
  • Comments: Spicy flavor.

Sprout: Pea

  • Nutrients: 20% protein, Vitamins A, B, C
  • Comments: Great sautéed with garlic.

Sprout: Radish

  • Nutrients: 1.4 g protein/Cup, Vitamin C, Potassium
  • Comments: Spicy flavor. Add to coleslaw. Use with soft cheese dips.

Sprout: Soybean

  • Nutrients: 9.0 g protein/Cup, Vitamin C, folate Fiber
  • Comments: Complements casseroles and stews.

Sprout: Sunflower

  • Nutrients: Vitamins B complex, D, E, Calcium, Iron, Phosphorus, Potassium, Magnesium, Lecithin
  • Comments: Use in green juices and smoothies. Add to wraps and sushi.

Sprout: Wheat

  • Nutrients: Carbohydrates, 15% protein, 8 g protein/Cup, Vitamins B complex, C, E, Pantothenic acid, Magnesium, Phosphorus
  • Comments: (seed = sprouted wheat, long green shoots = wheatgrass) Use wheatgrass in green juices and smoothies. Cook sprouted wheat and use in place of rice or eat as porridge.

TIPS:

  • Use in sandwiches and salads to add texture and moistness.
  • Buy only fresh sprouts – those that are crisp with moist white roots.
  • Farmers markets typically have more varieties of sprouts than supermarkets.
  • Sprouts last from 3-7 days if kept in a plastic bag in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer.
  • Grown your own sprouts, with or without soil, and harvest in less than 2 weeks!

– Debbie J., MS, RD

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This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Sources: 

  • International Sprout Growers Association
  • USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, release 28
  • Vegetarian Nutrition dietetic practice group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

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