It’s a common dilemma: your brain is telling you to eat healthy but your taste buds are screaming ICK don’t eat that! We’re not going to tell you that a diet of chocolate cake, French fries and wine will get you to a healthier place, but the good news is that if you do it right, nutritious foods can be delicious as well. It’s all about choosing good-for-you ingredients and preparing them in a way that also happens to taste amazing.
Our newest healthy obsession is adding sprouts to, well, everything. Sprout, which are really sprouting seeds, come in many varieties, ranging from bean sprouts to lentil sprouts and alfalfa sprouts. And they all pack a nutritious punch, explains Registered Dietitian, Vijaya Jain MSc, MS, RD, CDN. “The simple process of sprouting brings out many enzymes in germinated seeds, legumes, and grains, making them easier to digest. It also increases the amounts and bioavailability of protein, vitamins and minerals, transforming them into nutrition powerhouses.”
Ok, so sprouts nutrition is real, but how do you make them taste good? It’s all about simple recipes with flavorful ingredients to bring out the best sprouts have to offer. Because sprouts are often crunchy they can add texture to any dish, and they work with everything from stir-fry to sandwiches. Here are 8 tasty ways to cook with sprouting seeds.
1. In a Stir-Fry
Traditional Asian stir-fries have a few key ingredients in common, and sprouts are on usually on that list (so are garlic, ginger, peanut oil…). While some stir-fry dishes include a meat or fish for protein, this recipe focuses on bean sprouts as the heart and soul, and source of nutrition. The dish is simple but loaded with flavor, and best of all it only takes about 5 minutes to cook.
2. In a Salad
We love mixing textures and temperatures when making a salad, and this Asian-inspired dish is an easy way to take your first course to the next level. The sautéed mushrooms mixed with the Chinese ham vinaigrette is salty and full of nutty flavor, and when you pour that mixture over the crunchy bean sprouts the salad basically melts in your mouth. Plus bean sprouts are way healthier for you than your typically romaine lettuce.
3. In a Summer Roll
A common dish in various Asian cuisines, summer rolls are crunchy and refreshing, easy to eat and really good for you because they aren’t fried. They are full of fresh ingredients, which you can play around with based on what looks good when you hit the market. But one item not to skip is the bean sprouts–they add extra crunch and extra vitamins (they contain high level of Vitamins C and K) plus protein and fiber, making your meal healthy and yummy.
4. In a Burger
Burgers usually elicit thoughts of greasy red meat drenched in cheese and fat, right? Not this burger. This turkey burger recipe is loaded with interesting flavors such as lemongrass, citrus, lime, ginger, and even peanut butter to add a little sweetness. The burger patties are grilled, not fried, and instead of smothering them with cheese and heavy sauce, you drizzle them with an Asian glaze and top them off with sprouts for extra crunch and extra nutrients.
5. In a Sandwich
Skip the lettuce next time you want a crunchy topping for your sandwich and opt for something more nutritious. You could use sprouts (alfalfa or bean are our favorite toppings) on top of pretty much any type of sandwich, but this veggie pesto version is the perfect blend of fresh veggies with nutty, creamy pesto sauce and crunchy sprouts, all served on fresh bread with avocado. Yeah, we know, it sounds ah-mazing…and it is.
6. In a Soup
It’s cold out, so a hot bowl of soup sounds like heaven. But as soothing as soups can be, they can also be loaded with hidden calories thanks to heavy additions such as cream, butter and cheese. This lentil soup using sprouted lentils is loaded with flavor thanks to the veggies, seasoning and bacon (yup, bacon, in your soup!), and it is satisfying without being too heavy. Plus using sprouted lentils instead of regular dried lentils increases the vitamin content and helps you better digest the ingredients without suffering the, ahem, gassy side effects usually associated with bean products.
7. In a Pasta
We like pasta, and we like dishes that are healthy without seeming like health food. This pasta salad dish hits on all levels: it is creamy and crunchy, loaded with veggies, sweet and salty, a little bit spicy and really easy to make.
8. In a Quinoa
By now we all know that quinoa is a superfood, loaded with protein, fiber and minerals, just to name a few perks of eating this tasty grain. Mix it with lentils and sunflower sprouts and you have a dish that is doubly delicious and incredibly good for you. This well-balanced quinoa salad combines sprouts nutrition with arugula, pepper, feta, herbs (think dill and chives) and walnuts, so you have a nice mix of textures and flavors; plus, most of the ingredients offer health benefits, though you won’t be thinking about that since it tastes so good.