Sunday, 12 April 2009

Sprouts

I’ve grown up eating sprouted beans regularly, usually the green mung bean sprouts. Recently I came across organic mixed sprouts in our local supermarket which my friend B cooks regularly for her vegetarian family. Having a vague idea that sprouts were good for you I thought I’d found out more about sprouts nutrition, cooking and eating.

Apparently sprouts are a powerhouse of valuable bioavailable nutrition. Sprouts are considered to be living foods full of vitamins, enzymes and phytochemicals all highly beneficial to human health. Sprouted greens, beans and legumes are pre-digested foods which means more of their nutritional value is available to the body than if you were to consume the same sprouts in their dry unsprouted form. The nutrients in the dry seeds/beans/legumes can double or even treble during the sprouting process. The sprouting process also produces Vitamin C which is not present in the dry state.

Sprouts are considered rejuvenating as they provide large amounts of enzymes which protect and maintain the life processes in the body’s cells. Decreased enzyme levels resulting from aging lead to a decrease in cell reproduction and make the cells vulnerable to free radical damage.

Before you rush into a heavy sprout diet, a word of caution. While many green sprouts [from seeds] can be eaten raw, some bean sprouts are best eaten cooked as they contain toxins or antinutritonal properties which is eliminated through cooking [e.g. kidney beans]. So do first check out which are the edible sprouts and then which can be eaten raw and which need to be cooked.

Sprouts Recipe
This sprouts recipe is for mixed sprouts containing mung beans, aduki beans, chickpeas and green and brown lentils. Recipe idea is courtesy of my friend B – I have modified it a little.

You will need:
230g Mixed sprouts
2 tbspn desiccated coconut
2-3 tbsp. vegetable oil
Dry red chilli flakes or a small chopped green chilli
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp chopped onions [optional]

Warm the oil in a non-stick pan.
If using onions, add them to the hot oil them let them cook until light brown and then add in the rinsed sprouts.
If you are not using onions then simply add in the rinsed mixed sprouts to the hot oil.
Stir fry for 3-4 minutes to dry out any excess water.
Add in the coconut, the chilli, salt and pepper and cook for another 3-4 minutes stirring occasionally to ensure even cooking and browning.
Serve with a sprinkle of lemon juice and parsley/coriander either as a side dish or in a pitta-pocket as a sandwich alternative.

The coconut in this recipe gives it a lovely mild sweetness balanced out by the chilli and black pepper. Very tasty!

Sprouting seeds and beans at home is obviously the best way of accessing all that valuable nutrition in sprouts. Supermarket and shop-bought sprouts can often be treated with mould inhibitors which can reduce its nutritional values. A home sprouter can be invaluable. There are a number of reasonably priced sprouters in the market worth exploring and investing in to make your own delicious sprouts.