In your box this week, you may find something new. That new item is either a variety of sprout or shoot. Keith Kron, New Orleans resident and owner of Nature’s Greenhouse, has provided us with a variety of sprouts and shoots for Buyers’ Club boxes this week.  Sprouts and shoots are the results of seeds that have germinated and but are cut at a very early stage because they are tender and full of healthy nutrients. Research studies have shown that these tender ‘micro greens’ offer a high powered quickly metabolized dose of nutrients that help fight cancer and free radicals. “The nutrients found in sprouts and shoots are phytochemicals, enzymes, as well as, vitamins A, C, and D.” (International Sprout Growers Association)

Next, you might think, “Well, what I am I supposed to do with these?” or “What is the best way to consume them?”

“It is important to remember that they should be washed before using. Swish sprouts and shoots in a bowl of cold water, drain and trim as necessary. Use washed greens immediately; store others for no more than a few days, loosely wrapped, in the refrigerator.” (International Sprout Growers Association)

Since sprouts are tender ‘micro greens’ it is best not to apply any heat to them since they won’t hold up under any heat and there would be a significant if not a total loss of nutrients. However, shoots can be ‘cooked’ because they have a  heartier ‘stalk’ these are the most common varieties, but are not limited to:  pea, sunflower, and lentil. Most shoots can be quickly stir-fried, added to soups, or even sauteed with onions.

Different varieties of sprouts have varied flavors, here’s a quick shortened reference from the International Sprout Growers Association:

Alfalfa: They have a slightly nutty flavor and crunchy texture, and most commonly join salads, grilled proteins or sandwiches and wraps.

Mung bean: Most popular in Chinese cuisine, Mung bean sprouts are short, silvery white sprouts with small light yellow leaves that deliver a juicy crunch and clean, sweet, nutty taste.

Radish: radish sprouts resemble larger alfalfa sprouts: They have thin, round, linen-white stalks topped with deep-green heart-shaped leaves. Use them to lend a peppery bite.

Pea: Available in a wide variety (e.g. sprouts to shoots, and the widely used snow pea shoots and tendrils), pea shoots range 2-6-in. long with richly green, fleshy petals.

Broccoli: Fresh tasting and popular with health-conscious diners. Use in salads, bean salads and ceviches.

Onion: Delicate onion flavor; a great companion to burgers, tacos and salads. It is especially good with avocados.

Clover: Similar to alfalfa in taste and appearance.
Here are a few serving suggestions:

* Add to tossed salads

* Use in coleslaw (cabbage, clover, radish)

* Try in potato salad (mung bean, lentil)

* Try in wraps and roll-ups (alfalfa, sunflower, radish)

* Replace celery in sandwich spreads (lentil, radish)

* Top grilled cheese sandwiches after grilling (alfalfa, clover)

* Use in sandwiches instead of lettuce (alfalfa, clover, radish)

For a more comprehensive list of sprouts and shoots please check out the Fresh and Taste pages.

To read more in depth about shoots and sprouts:

International Sprout Growers Association

Shoots and Sprouts Guide