It’s Alive! Sprouted Chickpea Hummus

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The first job I landed after moving to Copenhagen, was working as a chef in a little cafe. After a few weeks of consistently not burning lasagna and under seasoning everything, I was asked if I was interested in cooking on a few episodes on a local, public TV station. The producers suggested I choose a few dishes that I love, and filmed me in a friend’s kitchen, since mine was too small. My husband gently warned me beforehand that Danes don’t respond well to overly-enthusiastic, hyperbolic Americans, so I faked it and was awkwardly not myself as I spoke lukewarmly about whole grains and beans, fermented things and dark leafy greens. The first recipe I made on the show was sprouted hummus, and although the recipe turned out well, I felt like a fraud. Because above all things, sprouts were, and still are, my true love.

The show was on at 2 or 3 in the morning, and because I didn’t have a television, I never actually saw it on air. Instead, I watched it on my computer on a borrowed CD, long after it had been on TV. Much to my dismay, the producers titled the show “Cooking with Sareh”, which still baffles me considering the fact that my name is spelled the exact same way in Danish. The program was poorly edited, badly lit, awkward in every sense, and in my attempts to come off as cool and nonchalant, I seemed utterly bored as I fondled chickpea sprouts – something that otherwise would get me pretty riled up. On the whole, this experience was totally mortifying, except for one small, redeeming factor. I was suddenly being recognized at work in the café, and on the bike paths of Christiania: “hey sprout girl!” they’d call at me. “It’s you! I didn’t make your hummus, but your show is great, sprout girl”, they’d say. If there was any consolation, this was it. I was Sprout Girl.

So in case you missed my break out performance on Cooking with Sareh, and my reined-in, lackluster pitch about sprouts, here it is again. Because I am Sprout Girl forever and always.

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Sprouting is like any other kitchen endeavour: it seems pretty daunting until you actually do it, then you’re left wondering what took you so long to try – a real facepalm moment. With simple equipment that you most likely have in your cupboard, and seeds that you already have in your pantry, it’s a fun and empowering practice that brings you one step closer to your food.

Sprouts are so nutritious because they are life potential, ignited. When we soak a seed, we end its dormancy, and awaken the nutrition inside it needed to grow a plant which will in turn make more seeds and more plants. When we eat a sprout, we eat this potential! Pound for pound, sprouts have the largest amount of nutrients of any food. Did you get that? This is a big deal! And it’s all because sprouting increases vitamin content significantly, especially vitamin A, B’s, C and E, along with boosting calcium, iron, selenium, and zinc. The quality of protein and carbohydrates improves, as the sprouting process begins to break down the complex proteins and starches into amino acids, peptides, and simple carbohydrates needed by the seed to grow. At the same time, anti-nutrients such as phytic acid, protease and amylase inhibitors are neutralized. This makes a sprout very easy to digest with highly absorbable nutrients.

Who is responsible for this influx of awesomeness? It’s enzymes! Enzymes are compounds found in raw plants that are needed for nearly every biochemical process that takes place in our body, and something many of our modern diets are lacking. Sprouts are virtually loaded with them. There are up to 100 times more enzymes in sprouts than uncooked fruits and veggies! Enzymes are also what sets living food apart from raw food. Yes, raw foods still offer us enzymes, but eating a food that is alive guantees more enzymes, and in fact more nutrients altogether. As soon as a food is picked, it begins losing its nutrients. Imagine how much vitamin C is left in that orange, which has traveled hundreds, if not thousands of kilometers to get to your plate, and spent weeks, if not months in a storage facility before being dropped off at your local grocer. Sprouts are the remedy to this, pulsating with life and life-giving nutrients, and pretty much the freshest food you can eat outside of a garden.

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Sprouts are also incredibly low in calories, yet deliciously filling due to their high fiber and water content. A fantastic food to binge on, especially if you’re trying to elbow out some of the other stuff from your diet. I love the versatility of sprouts, not only are there so many varieties, but they can be used in so many ways. Like this hummus for example! You can also go classic and top your sandwiches with sprouts, or fold them into grain salads, puree them into soups and even smoothies. I also love freshening up cooked dishes, like stir-fries, curries and pizzas with sprouts. Their crunch and earthy brightness are a welcoming balance to heavier, richer meals.

If you’re on a budget, sprouts are a sweet deal. Because the amount of food you sprout triples or quadruples in size, you’ll end up with way more to eat than you started with for the same price. It’s kind of magical. What’s more, is that properly stored sprouts can last over a month, and some varieties up to 70 days. If you’re prone to tossing away spoiled produce, sprouts will save you money, big time.

Sprouting can take place anywhere you have access to fresh, clean water twice a day. I’ve sprouted on road trips, beach holidays, visiting the in-laws…all over the place! And the groovy thing about taking your show on the road is that you can convince other people to get sprouting too.

And sprouts are not just great for our health, but also the planet. Consider the fact that you’re growing a garden right in your kitchen, using your own energy to make the magic happen. It’s hyper-local food at its best! No chemicals or pesticides during the growing process, or fossil fuels for transportation. Could sprouts be the perfect food?! The answer is yes. But I may be a little biased. I am the Sprout Girl, after all.

If you are concerned about mold or bacteria contamination, please understand that commercially-grown sprouts are propagated in an ideal environment for pathogens to proliferate. Just one more reason to grow your own sprouts at home where you can be sure of proper hygiene and care. Make sure that your jar or sprouting container is thoroughly clean, that you’re rinsing your sprouts with cool water twice daily, and that your sprouts have plenty of airflow. After I drain my sprouts, I make sure that the seeds / sprouts aren’t blocking the entire opening of the jar (see photo). If you follow these tips, you shouldn’t have any problems.

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Scoring Seeds
You can sprout just about anything, but the cheapest and easiest things are found in the bulk bin of your health food store! Lentils, beans, chickpeas, rice, buckwheat, wheat are all widely available and inexpensive. It’s imperative that you choose organically-grown ingredients, as conventionally grown seeds are often irradiated, making them difficult, or even impossible to germinate. You can also purchase seeds online, especially the more specialty ones, like alfalfa, radish, onion, broccoli etc.

Finding Equipment
There are plenty of sprouting apparatuses that you can buy, but if you’re just starting out, use a jar! I bet you already have one.

– 1 sterilized, large-mouth, quart-sized glass jar with an airtight lid
– small piece of cheesecloth
– rubber band
– a bowl or dish rack

How to Sprout
There are countless resources on this topic online, and even whole books written about sprouting, so I am presenting you with a very simple, yet rather foolproof technique. If you want to learn more (which I encourage you to do!) here’s a great place to learn about different methods, applications, as well as help and advice: Sprout People


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I hope that this process seems simple enough for you to try. I promise that once you start sprouting, you won’t be able to stop! It’s so easy, fun, and connecting – not to mention delicious. Good luck and happy sprouting, dear friends!

xo, Sarah B

*   *   *   *   *   *

Hey Copenhagen! I am thrilled to announce my first two cookbook events in CPH this Spring. The first will be an intimate talk and demonstration at SLOW Copenhagen, and the second will be a magical, celebratory dinner in collaboration with the local, organic grocer and kitchen, Kost. Click on the images for more info and tickets! Can’t wait to see you there. 

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47 comments

  1. Ania

    Wow, I love your hummus! It’s a great inspiration for me. I’ve never thought about sprouting chickpea. Now I found gorgeous taste and so healthy idea!

  2. Rebecca

    Thanks for a great recipe and clear instructions.
    How can I extend the shelf life of hummus in the refrigerator?, Are there any health supplements preservatives in order to solve this issue?
    Thanks, Rebecca

  3. Aleksandra

    Very inspiring article! Definitely inspired me to try different recipes and inspire myself to venture with food! And an individual can be very inspired to eat healthy, be healthy and live healthy! Hope you wont mind me addig your web/blog to share it with my bloggers and allow them to inspire themselves via your blogs!

  4. gail metcalfe

    I soaked my chickpeas about 10 days ago preparing to make hummus. I didn’t get at them right away so put them in a container in the fridge until I had an opportunity to get at them. They got pushed to the back of the fridge and forgotten about…. until this morning when I was cleaning out the fridge. Opened the container and discovered that my chickpeas had sprouted.. about 1/4 inch sprouts. I rinsed them as they were beginning to develop a bit of a greasy feel. Are these chickpeas still safe to consume. ?

  5. Marilyn

    I’ve been sprouting since 1970, I use a small piece of nylon stocking as my jar cover with a rubber band. I know that sounds terrible, but I would never buy something to do the job that my own ingenuity couldn’t come up with, I never heard of keeping the jar at a 45° angle…we just put the jar on its side. I’ve grown alfalfa, mung, broccoli, garbanzo and everything else…not a problem, just rinse and keep out of sunlight, until you are ready for the chlorophyll magic.

  6. Kay

    Thank you for the wonderful information on sprouting! I just recently started with broccoli sprouts and love the process. I hadn’t thought about sprouting chickpeas so I made this recipe and it was awesome! Can you tell me what type of sprouts the green ones are on the side of the hummus dish? Just curious. They make a pretty presentation. Thanks to you I’m now soaking all of my beans and grains, and I’m trying all kinds of new sprouts! I love your new book! My daughters and I had a Cookbook Club and tried many of the recipes. All delicious!

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  11. Maria

    Hi Sarah, Thank you for your great recipes! You banana bread and pancakes are a stapl,e at my place. I have the same question as above, the chickpeas are just soaked and sprouted and not cooked before making hummus? I Always use the uncooked but soaked variety for falaffel but I cook them normally when making hummus.

    • Lenka

      Yes, hummus also works with the sprouted chickpeas, they will be softer than after only soaking as sprouting takes a while longer. It’s different from using cooked chickpeas, but I like the rather fresh and spicy taste of using sprouted.

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    • Laura ~ Raise Your Garden

      Agreed. I haven’t sprouted in a couple of years and I love sprouts too for their high fiber and low calories. And I didn’t know you lived in Copenhagen!!!! Not that I’ve been there or anything like that, but I did watch a 30 minute Rick Steves video on PBS about it.

  13. May Posse

    My arab friend taught me to first mix the lemon or lime juice with the tajine and the mixture turns pure white and hardens. It’s like magic!! Then you loosen it with some of the water in which you cooked the chickpeas, ir liuid from can if using tinned chick peas, but remember it’s salty!! and then you add the rest of the ingredients just the same way.

  14. nettelie

    Okay, so, great post as always. I, too, love the idea of sprouts. I only have one teeny-tiny little problem: their effing taste. I really hate how sprouts taste. They’re so… undercooked. Bland. Hard. Also, they upset my tummy, contrary to their being easier to digest. Weird, huh. So, no. Not a fan. Of sprouts, that is. I will always be your fan 😉

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  16. Jessie Snyder

    You are the queen of sprouting girl! It was from your first book that I was first encouraged to do so, and I love how you’ve made a hummus from your little chickpea sprouts here. This snack platter looks like such a FEAST. Happy weekend-ing Sarah! xx

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  19. Lenka

    Hi Sarah,

    I love sprouting all kinds of different seeds and legumes, but I’ve read that during pregnancy also homegrown sprouts are not recommended as due to the constant humidity and warm environment they are a perfect host for pathogens. Do you think that with your recommendations (that’s how I do it anyway) there should be no concern?

    Thanks for sharing!

  20. Elin

    Our bodies make the enzymes that it needs in our cells. Our cells doesn’t have/need the same enzymes (mostly) as a chickpea does. We can’t absorbe enzymes from our food in our intestines, the molecules are too big, if they were to survive the gastric acid (which purpose is to break down enzymes/proteins).

    Nonetheless, I bet the hummus is delicious and sprouts are still a healthy food.

  21. Stef

    Thanks a lot for the reminder, Sarah, I will be definitely going there! May I curiously ask why you recommend filtered water? I suppose the Danish water is of quite a good quality already? Don’t you lose important minerals by filtering? Would love to hear your opinion in this! Thanks once more for all the wonderful inspirations you give! :-)))

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