All About Sprouts, Part 2. Recipes and Nutrition.

This is part 2 of a piece of work about all things sprouting. Part 1 takes you through the basics of what you can sprout and how to sprout it. There are also guidelines for specific sprouts. Finally, Part 1 is also where you will find a list of sprouting resources and literature. Part 2 focuses on how to eat and cook with sprouts as well as many of the nutritional benefits of them.


How to Eat Sprouts

Most sprouts may be eaten raw. Sprouts from legumes are generally more digestible when cooked. Mung bean sprouts are often eaten raw and are also cooked as is common in many Asian cuisines. Sprouts from grains are excellent in breads and crackers. If you would like to prepare crackers without destroying the enzymes in sprouted grains, you may use a dehydrator. Many of the books listed in the resource section provide delicious recipes. I will offer a few of my own recipes in this article. 


Once you begin sprouting and get into a good habit, you will find yourself having a pinch of fresh sprouts with everything.




Sprout Sandwich 




Choice of Sliced Apples, Red Peppers, Tomatoes, or Avocadoes

Sunflower Seed Sprouts

Broccoli Sprouts

Radish Sprouts

Alfalfa Sprouts

Make a sandwich…adorn with many sprouts. Make your own mustard thanks to a couple of SGT articles. Click here and/or here.


Sweet Sprout Salad

Grated Beets

Grated Carrots

Tangerine Slices

Radish Sprouts

Broccoli Sprouts

Sunflower Seed Sprouts


Lemon Juice

Olive Oil






Toss vegetables, tangerine slices, and sprouts in a bowl. Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, honey, miso, and spices. Pour dressing over salad and toss again. Garnish with toasted cashews. You can soak the cashews for several hours prior to toasting them in order to improve their digestibility. 


Lentil Sprout and Coconut Curry

Olive Oil





Red Pepper

Lentil Sprouts

Dried Coconut Flakes




Black Mustard Seeds

Fresh Ginger







Chop vegetables. Sauté vegetables in olive oil in the order given. Meanwhile, toast the cashews and black mustard seeds in a frying pan over low heat. Stir both pans frequently. Grind coconut flakes into a paste. A coffee grinder works well for this purpose. But be sure to take frequent breaks so as not to burn out the motor. You could also try a mortar and pestle. Mix the coconut flakes with miso and water to form a fairly thick paste. When the vegetables are finished, fold in the cashews, spices, and coconut paste. 


Chocolate and Sprouted Almond Cake

Use your favorite Chocolate cake recipe!

Sprout the almonds according to the directions in the “How to Sprout” section in part 1. After sprouting almonds, place them in an oven or a food dehydrator with the temperature set below 150 degrees. Remove them when all moisture has evaporated. Chop, slice, or grind them up and use them in your favorite recipes!


Nutritional Attributes of Sprouts


One compelling reason to sprout seeds is that germination neutralizes or deactivates substances that interfere with the absorption of some nutrients. Many grains, legumes, seeds, and nuts contain phytic acid. This substance chelates (bonds with) iron and zinc. It also chelates calcium and magnesium to a lesser extent. Hence, even if these minerals are abundant in seeds we cannot absorb them properly. According to Nagal Ramiel: “phytic acid not only grabs on to or "chelates" important minerals, but also inhibits enzymes that we need to digest our food, including pepsin, needed for the breakdown of proteins in the stomach, and amylase, needed for the breakdown of starch into sugar. Trypsin, needed for protein digestion in the small intestine, is also inhibited by phytates.” What can we do to outsmart phytic acid and obtain most of the precious nutrients contained in seeds? We can soak, ferment, or sprout seeds. All of these processes reduce the amount of phytic acid contained in seeds. Some phytic acid generally remains after soaking, fermenting, or sprouting. Therefore it is even more beneficial to employ multiple methods. One can sprout and subsequently ferment seeds for example. See Wild Fermentation (listed in the reference section of Part 1) for a sourdough bread recipe that utilizes sprouted grains and a fermented beverage recipe based on sprouted grains.


Sprouting also deactivates enzyme inhibitors. Prior to germination, all seeds (including grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds) contain enzyme inhibiters. Enzymes are proteins which act as catalysts in many biochemical reactions in the body. The digestion of food is facilitated by the action of digestive enzymes, most of which are produced by the pancreas. Foods that contain potent enzyme inhibitors can interfere with the digestive process. Eating such foods for prolonged periods of time may cause damage to the pancreas. See Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and “Nutritional and Toxicological Significance of Enzyme Inhibitors in Foods.”


In addition to deactivating enzyme inhibitors, germination generates enzymes. Sprouted seeds are extremely rich sources of enzymes. Some researchers have suggested that enzymes found in food can enhance the body’s ability to digest and obtain nutrients from food. See Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook, Traditional Foods are Your Best Medicine and “Enzymes: The Difference Between Raw and Cooked Foods.”


Practitioners of modern conventional medicine generally maintain that enzymes are denatured (which means that they loose structure and biological activity) during the process of digestion. Research conducted in Wales indicates that this may not always be the case. The study in question involved the feeding of radioisotope labeled animal protein to rats. The researchers found that about half of the ingested protein freely passed as intact protein and large identifiable fragments into the bloodstream. These proteins went to tissues throughout an animal’s body and were broken down over a period of days or weeks. The researchers believe a similar process occurs in humans, indicating that different raw foods each have unique and potentially significant biological effects. (Schmid, 1997, p. 72) 


Even if the results of this study cannot be extrapolated to humans, there may be compelling reasons to suppose that the enzymes found in foods or supplements do enhance digestion. As observed by Michael Jansen:


Food sits in the upper portion of the stomach for as long as an hour before gastric secretions begin their action. Several studies have shown that the enzymes in saliva continue their digestive activity in the upper stomach and can digest up to 30% of the ingested protein, 60% of ingested starch and 10% of ingested fat during the 30 to 60 minutes after consumption. Although salivary enzymes accomplish a significant amount of digestion, their activity is limited to a pH level above 5.0. Supplemental microbial enzymes, and some plant enzymes, are active in the pH range of 3.0 to 9.0 and can facilitate the hydrolysis of a much larger amount of protein, carbohydrates and fat before Hydrochloric Acid is secreted in sufficient amounts to neutralize their activity. Obviously, these enzymes can contribute significantly in improving food nutrient utilization.


Regardless of whether or not food enzymes work in concert with our digestive enzymes, sprouts are very easy to digest. During germination some complex carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugars. Germination also activates metabolic enzymes, such as proteinases….As a result of this process, some amino acids and peptides can be released, and the synthesis or utilization of others, to form new proteins, can occur. As a consequence, the nutritional quality of proteins can be enhanced, which is why…germination is suggested as a technological procedure for improving the nutritional quality of legumes and other seeds. (Gulewicz et al., 2008 in Tarasevičiene, Danilčenko, Jariene, Paulauskiene, and Gajewski, 2009)


Still it should be noted that, while protein quality may increase, the quantity of protein present in seeds does not necessarily increase. In small seeds such as broccoli and radish, which contain very little protein to begin with, protein content does increase during sprouting. However, in legumes such as lentil and mung bean, overall protein content decreases during germination. 


Some vitamins are more abundant in sprouted seeds than in their dried counterparts. Vitamin C content frequently increases dramatically during sprouting. According to the International Sprout Growers Association, the vitamin C content of seeds increases 500 to 600 percent on average when seeds are germinated. This fact is considerably less impressive than it may sound. Dried seeds generally contain little or no vitamin C. Nevertheless, some sprouts, including lentil sprouts, radish sprouts, broccoli sprouts, and mung bean sprouts, are excellent sources of vitamin C. Still, excellent is relative so keep eating your rosehips. Rosehips are beyond superb in terms of vitamin C content. Here are some figures for the vitamin C found in 100 g of selected foods: 

Rosehips 426mg

Oranges 53.6 mg

Lemons 53 mg

Cantaloupes 36.7 mg

Radish Sprouts 28.9 mg

Lentil Sprouts 16.5 mg

Mung Bean Sprouts 13.2 mg


Another vitamin which often accumulates during sprouting is vitamin K. Seeds that have not been sprouted generally contain very little vitamin K. Many sprouted seeds contain impressive amounts of Vitamin K. Vitamin K is needed for blood clotting and bone formation. So, for most of us, vitamin K is a necessary and beneficial component of a healthy diet. This is not necessarily the case for people who take medications to prevent the formation of blood clots. Such individuals need to regulate the amount of vitamin K that is ingested and so should exercise caution when consuming sprouts and mature plants in the genus brassica (which includes broccoli, radish, mustard, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, and other plants). The vitamin K content of sprouts grown from seeds of other genera is often lower than that of brassica sprouts. Some plants which do not belong to the genus brassica, including beet greens and dandelions, do contain substantial amounts of vitamin K. I have never heard of beets or dandelions being grown as sprouts. Still the vitamin K content of some common sprouts, while not comparable to that of brassica sprouts, is not negligible. In 100 g of mung bean sprouts there are 33 mcg of vitamin K. In 100 g of alfalfa sprouts there are 30.5 mcg of vitamin K. The USDA Dietary Reference Intakes for vitamin K are 120 mcg for adult males and 90 mcg for adult females.  


Sprouts can be good sources of vitamins and minerals that are already present in the seeds from which they are grown. Lentil sprouts, like lentils, are good sources of many nutrients including potassium, protein, folate, iron, and zinc. It is interesting to note that lentils that are not sprouted actually contain larger quantities of all of these nutrients. However, as explained above, lentils that are not sprouted also contain phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors, substances that interfere with the absorption of some nutrients. Therefore, while lentil sprouts contain smaller quantities of some nutrients than do lentils, we can assimilate and utilize a greater percentage of the nutrients that are found in lentil sprouts. In case you are curious about the nutrient content of particular seeds, I have included a chart in the reference section. This chart compares, seeds, sprouts, and other nutrient dense foods.


Some sprouts contain compounds that reduce the risk of cancer, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and other ailments. Researchers have long known that members of the brassica genus (broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, mustard, radish, etc.) contain compounds that can protect against cancer. Most of these compounds are glucosinolate precursors of “isothiocyanates… some of which (e.g., sulforaphane or 4-methylsulfinylbutyl isothiocyanate) are very potent inducers of phase 2 enzymes.” Through the induction of such enzymes, the body can be protected from the effects of substances that cause cancer. Researchers at John’s Hopkins University found that: “there are 20 times more methylsulfinylalkyl glucosinolates (glucoraphanin and glucoerucin) in the [broccoli] sprouts compared with the mature broccoli.” This finding resulted in the conspicuous consumption of copious quantities of broccoli sprouts. 


Ahhh....sprouts. Yes, I could go on and on...and encourage you all to keep the conversation going. Add your comments and questions below!


Bernadette Miller is a student of silences, wild places, and children. Those sages teach that savoring the substance of existence is a serious frivolity. So she aspires to spend more time mucking about in gardens and streams, sunsets and impossible dreams. She has a masters degree in Health Arts and Sciences. She loves gardening, cooking, playing music, playing with children, playing with words, and watching sunsets. She hopes, some day, to find the foreign land where opinions lose themselves in the original passions and stories that birthed them. Her last series for us was: Fermentation: Living With Wild Things.