Brooke’s Post: Super Sprouts

img_5743It wasn’t until last weeks farmers’ market that I discovered the amazing world of sprouts. In the past I would always order alfalfa sprouts on my sandwiches at delis, but never knew exactly what those sprouts were or what the benefits of them are, they simply just tasted yummy. At the farmers market I was able to try an array of sprouts that I didn’t even know existed. After talking to the farmer about each sprout I learned that the sprouts themselves are more nutrient dense than the actual plant they form into. The sprout is the base of the plant where all the vitamins and nutrients are compacted into one little stem, containing the most nutrients.
This power house nutrient source is one you are going to want to try. One thing to keep in mind is that sprouts tend to lose the majority of their nutrient content when heated, so make sure you consume them in their raw form. Sprouts are a great addition to salads, smoothies or even just eating raw. They’re a great food to add into your diet if you are looking to lose weight. Due to their high protein and fiber and low calorie content, sprouts reduce overeating and snacking, while providing essential nutrients for the body.  
 
Benefits of sprouts compared to fresh fruits and veggies include:
·      A higher vitamin content
·      Higher enzyme content
·      Increased essential fatty acids and fiber content
·      Increased bio-availability of minerals and protein
 
My personal favorite are sunflower sprouts. Being a vegetarian, these sprouts are a great source of plant based protein, but are still great for non-vegetarians. These sprouts provide a complete protein, meaning they contain all 9 essential amino acids. One cup of these sprouts contain about 24 grams of protein along with 8 grams of fiber, and 24 grams of monounsaturated fat (healthy fat). Eggs and meat are also complete proteins, but have a much higher calorie content. These are a great addition to any meal to up your protein intake while not over consuming calories. Along with protein, sprouts are plentiful in iron, an essential element for blood production. People who are anemic would especially benefit from sprouts to boost their RBC (red blood cell) production.
 
Now you many be thinking, where do I find these? Sprouts are actually really easy to find and even easier to grow (if you’re looking for a fun project). They can be found at most grocery stores, especially health food stores, but if you have a local farmers’ market near you I recommend checking there first. Buying your sprouts at the local farmers’ market will be more beneficial because they will be fresher and will support a local farm. Sprouts tend to have their highest nutrient content 1-2 weeks after they sprout. So buying them at a grocery store may not be as beneficial as buying local.
At our winter farmers’ markets, you may find sprouts for purchase from several vendors, including: Stout Oak Farm, Andy’s Edible Gardens, The Herbal FARMacy and Meadow’s Mirth.
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