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1.See Brussel Sprouts.
2.Young shoots from recently-germinated seeds - in Chinese cooking these are mainly soybean's, but alfalfa, black-eye, chickpeas and mung are also popular 'sprouted' for use in salads etc.
Bean sprouts have been described as 'the most living food in the world' since, unlike most plants, they're eaten at the peak of their freshness.
Certainly almost miraculous things happen when grain or legume seeds begin to germinate - the starches and oils contained in the seeds are converted to vitamins, proteins, enzymes and simple sugars. For example, vitamin C increases six-fold so that a 100g serving of soybean sprouts will contain 120mg of vitamin C, which is double the recommended daily amount. While the protein content of alfalfa sprouts rises to between 16 and 30 per cent, and their carotene content equals that of carrots.
The roots of the alfalfa plant can penetrate as deeply as 30 metres (nearly 100 feet), where access to minerals is highest, and thus the sprout can contain concentrated amounts of calcium, chlorine, cobalt, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, silicon, sodium and sulphur. See our Recipe Section 'Beans, to sprout'