If you want to take just one step towards a healthier lifestyle, start adding more leafy green vegetables into your diet. As I've mentioned previously, greens give you energy! They also fight disease and help you lose weight.
Okay, that all sounds well and good, but not pumped about eating salads every meal? Good news: you don't have to! In fact, you never have to eat salad if you don't want to. Totally turned off by the sound of a green smoothie? That's okay. I'm here to help you find out what types of greens you DO like and how to prepare them so YOU enjoy eating them.
Over the next few weeks I am going to be shining the spotlight on some different types of greens and easy ways to enjoy these nutrient powerhouses. In case you missed it, we've already covered collard greens, kale, and arugula.
SPROUTS - What do you think about these little guys? Have you tried them before, or do you think they are just "hippie food?"
I agree, sprouts can be a little crunchy (in more ways than one), but let me tell you why I like them: they pack a ton of nutritional bang for your buck! (Read: You don't have to eat a lot!).
Why are sprouts so nutrient packed? Sprouts are the very beginnings of a plant; they are eaten at a stage in the plant's lifecycle where it is rapidly growing. Because the plant is in this period of rapid growth, there can be up to 100 times more enzymes in sprouts than in other raw fruits and veggies. Enzymes are special types of proteins that improve your body's functions (especially nutrient absorption). I like to think of it as if I'm eating a whole head of broccoli, or a whole bunch of arugula, for every little sprout I eat - pretty cool!
Now there are MANY types of sprouts out there - so how do you choose? I've provided a brief flavor profile for a few popular types of sprouts below. See what sounds good to you and what looks good at your farmer's market or grocery store, and experiment.
Keep in mind that sprouts can be a breeding ground for bacteria (because they are grown in warm, moist environments to encourage growth of the baby plant). To reduce your risk of sickness, buy only fresh sprouts that have been kept properly refrigerated, do not buy sprouts that have a musty smell or slimy appearance, and thoroughly rinse sprouts before use.
- Alfalfa sprouts - mild flavor, wispy; these are the most common sprouts that you have probably seen served on vegetarian sandwiches on in salads)
- Broccoli sprouts - slightly spicy (peppery) and slightly crunchy; my personal favorite for salads and bowls!
- Sunflower sprouts - hearty, sweet, and crunchy; bigger than your average sprout, these make a great lettuce replacement on sandwiches!
- Mung bean sprouts - crunchy, hydrating, mild flavor; these are another common variation, usually served in Asian dishes like pho and pad thai.
Ready to TRY OUT SPROUTS? Here's some recipe inspiration to get you started:
- The Veggie Sandwich - Grab your favorite bread and toast it up. Spread one side with mashed avocado, the other side with hummus. Layer the avocado side with sliced cucumbers, raw or roasted red peppers, and broccoli sprouts. Top sea salt, black pepper, and a squeeze of lemon. Add you second piece of bread with the hummus on top and enjoy! YUM!
- Roasted Baby Beet Salad with Cashew Cheese and Sunflower Sprouts - This is a super elegant, yet fairly simple recipe. Intimidating by making your own cashew cheese? That's okay! Replace with a store bought goat cheese OR avocado slices.
- Everyday Vegan Pad Thai - Your Thai take out, healthified. I like to add LOTS of mung bean sprouts to mine - they taste just like noodles when covered with any sauce.
Let me know what you try in the comments below!