Crispy Mung Beans with Seasonal Vegetables

I’m loving these crisp mung beans with warm cooked vegetables right now with this cold and rainy weather.  Once it warms up, though, I know I’ll appreciate how quickly sprouted mung beans cook and I think I’ll be coming up with ways use them in salads, maybe in dips, etc.  This particular recipe does call for sprouting, then cooking, then sauteeing the mung beans and that might seem fussy, but it’s really not a whole lot of work on your part and you can just do the first two steps at once, then saute the mung beans with vegetables when you are ready to eat them.

I’ve been asked quite a few times lately about why I would sprout something and then cook it, thus destroying the enzymes present in the sprouted food.  Many people associate sprouting with raw foods diets, but the purpose behind sprouting actually applies to both raw and cooked foods.  Imagine a seed in its raw, unprocessed state.  It’s dormant, waiting for the proper conditions to enable it to grow.  All of its nutrients and enzymes are neatly tucked away, encapsulated in its hull.  When it’s soaked in water, it begins to soften and open up.  When you create the proper conditions for sprouting, the seed actually starts to grow and its enzymes are freed to neutralize the enzyme inhibitors and anti-nutrients that were at work to keep it dormant.  In nature, a sprouted seed has everything it needs to grow into a plant.  In our diets, all of the nutrients that were bound up prior to sprouting are made available for our bodies to utilize.  When kept raw, we get the benefit of all those enzymes to help us assimilate those nutrients.  When it’s cooked, the enzymes are destroyed and we have to call upon our own enzymes to help digest it, but it still has many more nutrients available for us to digest because it’s been through that germination process.  I believe that our bodies are fully capable of digesting both raw and cooked foods, though each individual has a different optimal ratio of cooked to raw foods which might even vary by season.  I know that I personally do better with certain foods when they are cooked, though this is much more the case in Winter than in Summer.  At the same time, I want to optimize my food for my body, so I soak and/or sprout my grains, beans, nuts, and seeds even when I am going to cook them so that all of their wonderful nutrients are spilling out before my body even needs to do any work to digest them.  I tend to keep my nuts and seeds raw, lightly steam my grains, and cook my beans until soft and this is what works best for me.  Most sprouts can be eaten raw, so you can experiment and see what works best for you.

I typically like to use split mung beans for soups, veggie pancakes, etc.  Split beans won’t sprout, though, so whole mung beans are the ones to use here.  Whereas I find the hull to be sort of unappetizing in soups, I really like how it crisps up in this recipe.  FYI – you can buy pre-sprouted and dried mung beans (as well as lentils and quinoa), and that’s great to know in a pinch, on a trip, etc.  But, do keep in mind that going that route transforms a very economical food to a much pricier one.

  • 2 cups whole mung beans
  • water for soaking
  • 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 4-5 scallions or 1 large clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into matchsticks (or throw in some leftover roasted sweet potatoes)
  • 1/2 medium head of cabbage, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium head of broccoli, stems peeled and chopped, florets chopped separately (or chopped leafy greens)
  • red pepper flakes
  • salt, to taste

To sprout the mung beans: put them in a bowl large enough for them to double in size and fill the bowl with enough clean water to cover the beans by a couple inches.  Let the beans soak overnight.  Drain the beans into a large colander, rinse well, and set them aside.  Rinse and drain the beans well every 6-8 hours until they sprout.  How long this will take depends on the temperature of the room, as well as how long you want your sprouts to be, but count on a couple days.  How much they sprout it totally up to you.  I like to keep the sprouts relatively small, about 1/2 the length of the bean, but you can taste them along the way to see how you like them best.  Once sprouted, fill a medium pot with enough water to cover the beans and bring it to a boil.  Add the beans, turn the heat down, and simmer them for about 10 minutes, or until soft.  Drain the beans well.  At this point, you can store them in the fridge until you are ready to use them.

When you are ready to eat, heat a large saute pan over medium heat, then add olive oil and the sprouted beans.  Sprinkle with salt and cook for about 5-7 minutes, or until they crisp up a little on the outside.  Move them to the side of the pan and add the scallions, carrots, cabbage, and broccoli stems.  Cook the vegetables for about 4 minutes, then add the broccoli florets, sprinkle it all with salt again, and cook until the broccoli is fork tender.  Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and salt to taste.  Enjoy!

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