I'll backtrack. We all know that vegetables are super important in any diet. Particularly raw vegetables. Particularly raw, green, leafy vegetables. But it's not always easy to eat enough of them, especially in winter. Who wants big leafy salads loaded with cooling produce (like lettuce and cucumbers) when it's freezing outside?
This is why sprouts save the day. Did you know that one cup of lentil sprouts contains 2.5mg of iron? And almost 7 grams of protein? You'd have to eat about 7 cups of raw spinach to get that much nutrition.
And, sprouts are easy to make, even for the black-thumbed gardeners out there. Soak some seeds for 8-12 hours or overnight, and drain and rinse a couple of times a day until little tails have formed. There's plenty of step by step sprouting guides on the internets so I won't go into detail here. No fancy equipment necessary. Just a jar, seeds, water, and TLC.
Here's a terrible photo of some sprouts I made today.
The tails are about the same length as the seed, and that's when I like to eat them. Here we have a lentil sprout and a mung bean sprout - but of course you can sprout anything, like chickpeas, wheat, almonds, sunflower seeds... Any whole seed, bean, or grain.
Then what? Well, you can cook them but that will lead to some nutrient losses. Also I personally think they taste better raw. Just throw a hefty handful on top of any dish - soup, salad, stew, or mixed through rice or quinoa. As long as your food isn't piping hot when you mix the sprouts through, you'll retain the nutrients.
You can also create a side dish using the sprouts. They taste great with a sprinkle of cumin and a squeeze of lemon juice. Or, you can try my version of raw chili. You'll need:
1 cup of sprouts (I like mung bean sprouts for this)
A half cup of corn (optional, not everyone handles raw corn well)
2 large or 3 medium tomatoes
Half a red capsicum
A big handful of fresh herbs like parsley and oregano (dried is ok too)
A few squeezes of lemon
A chilli pepper (optional).
Set aside sprouts and corn in a bowl. Put the tomato, capsicum, herbs, lemon, and chilli into a food processor. This will be the sauce, so make it as smooth or as chunky as you like. Pour the sauce over the sprouts and corn, and stir through.
You can eat it just like this, or spoon it into cos lettuce leaves to make "boats". It also tastes good as a topping for a baked potato.
You could add cumin and use coriander leaves as the herb, and then put this chili in a burrito or atop nachos.
If you're so inclined, you could dice celery and capsicum into this chili and make it even more like its cooked counterpart.
Leftovers keep pretty well, although the liquid from the sauce may separate and need to be stirred through.
If you're like me and feeling a bit stodgy from all the winter comfort food, try adding some sprouts to your meals. I'm pretty excited about sprouts, and with their help I think I may just make it through another Melbourne winter :)