Silly for Sprouts! Sprout Salad with Smoky Guacamole, Revisited; Going Sprout-Wild at the Union Square Farmer’s Market

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On Friday morning, I rose early for my standard NYC yoga class: “sun celebrations” at Laughing Lotus. This class starts at the perfect time (7:30 am), is the perfect length (1 hr and 15 min), and is the perfect balance of powerful and elegant. Plus, Justin is just really awesome at Shavasana assist.

When I left, I decided to take a stroll through the wonderful Union Square Farmers’ Market and pick up some produce.

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When I worked at FSG, it was literally right under my nose three times a week, at which point I did nearly all of my shopping there. I love strolling through and sampling fresh berries, ciders, apples, and veggies. Friday was no exception, and I spent a few moments meandering before I picked up some kale, onions, and apples:

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I was about to hop on the N/R when I saw a sight for sore eyes:

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Sunflower sprouts!!! Tall, plump, and absolutely beautiful, peeking out from the Union Square Grassman’s tent.


Stuart, the Union Square Grassman, is an iconic figure to healthy New Yorkers. For years, he’s been arriving to the market with fresh wheatgrass (which he’ll gladly turn into a shot for you) and sunflower spouts and pea shoots galore. For the sprout fanatics among us, this is a tremendous gift. He’s also kind, knowledgeable, and he never forgets a face: although it’s been almost a year since I’ve been able to visit his stand, he immediately recognized me (and my yoga mat).

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As you can see, Stuart’s wheatgrass is pretty gorgeous. Naughty raw foodie that I am, I cannot stand the taste of the stuff! The closest I get is Navitas Naturals wheatgrass powder (which is great in smoothies). So when I visit Stuart, I am immediately drawn to his pea shoots and sunflower sprouts, which are also stunning. I cannot find sunflower sprouts anywhere in DC; pea shoots abound, but the sunflower sprouts are rarer. If anyone in DC knows where they can be easily procured, let me know! If not, my friend Elizabeth Petty, owner of Elizabeth’s Gone Raw, has kindly offered to share hers with me! She features them in her sumptuous salads at the restaurant.

Why are sunflower sprouts so good? Well, they’re marginally higher in protein than other sprouts. Moreover, they’re denser and—to use a word I dislike—”meatier,” by which I only mean to say that they provide satisfaction and chew. I highly recommend them if you can find them. And if not, sprouting isn’t too hard: check out resources for homegrown sprouts here and here. As soon as the dang post-bacc is done, I’m all over homegrown sprouts.

I put sunflower sprouts on top of all sorts of salads and meals. One of my favorite recipes is a CR oldie but goodie: smoky sprout salad with guacamole. It’s been a while, so I’m reproducing it here:


Choosing Raw Smoky Sprout Salad (raw, vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Serves 1


2 cups sunflower and broccoli sprouts and pea shoots, chopped
1 cup red cabbage, shredded
1 cup carrots or romaine lettuce (or both), shredded
½ cup cilantro, chopped
¾ cup smoky guacamole, below (or guac of choice)


Mix all of the sprouts and veggies and cilantro together. Pile the guacamole on top, and mash it into the salad. Sprinkle with generous amounts of lemon juice (and anything else you’d like as a topper), and dig in!

Smoky Guacamole (raw, vegan, gluten free, soy free)

(Yields 1 ½-2 cups)

2 large avocados
¼ cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
¼ cup bell pepper, chopped
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
¼ cup red onion, finely chopped (if desired)
2-3 tbsps lime juice
½ tsp (or more) sea salt
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp cumin
Sprinkle cayenne pepper


Mash avocado, lemon, and salt together. Add remaining ingredients and mix till well combined. Enjoy with your sprouts—or by the spoonful!

The guacamole in this recipe is worth making alone—so delicious and unique. But I encourage you to try the whole salad, which is fresh and delicious. In honor of it, I was tempted to make lunch with the sprouts I had procured, and came up with the following nutrient dense mix:

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  • spinach (2 cups or so)
  • 1 cup shredded red cabbage
  • 1 heaping cup sunflower sprouts
  • 5 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2/3 cup chickpeas
  • guacamole (about 1/3 cup)

Along with some raw crackers (unpictured, but purchased at Organic Avenue uptown for while I’m home), it was a perfect high raw lunch!

Tomorrow, I’ll return with some thoughts on making healthy fare at home with (and for) my Mom. Have a great Saturday and—for those of you who observe it—Easter morning.


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Categories: Salads, Side Dishes
Dietary Preferences: Vegan

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  1. I love sunflower sprouts too! One place in NY that has them is Free Foods – which has amazing vegan options. It’s a bit pricey (about $11 for a pretty small salad and I only ate there all the time because my old job used to buy me lunch in exchange for working through lunch).

  2. I’ve always wanted to go to that Farmers Market! Looooove guac on anything! Nom, nom!

  3. I buy sunflower sprouts from my local health food store. They are still growing in their tray and you can actually trim some off and keep them growing for a bit. I bought all the supplies to grow my own, but it’s the one sprout I’ve had trouble growing…
    My kids love them, as they are a little sweeter than alfalfa etc…
    Love your pics of Union Square Market–it’s my favorite place to go when in the city!

  4. Yummy! I guess, I should try to grow sunflower spouts at home, ’cause I couldn’t find any at the local farmers’ market 🙁

  5. Wow, I just found your blog and what did I see? Sprouts! I am a sprout-addict and I am in heaven! Lovely post and perfect pictures, sets me in the spring mode. Smoky guacamole? Oh yes, please!

    • Hooray! Thanks Sarah. Do you know if they’re easily accessible if one doesn’t have a car? It’s hard to get outside the city by public transport sometimes, but I’d be willing if it’s not too far 🙂


  6. I adore sprouts, but rarely buy them because they’re so expensive and never seem to last long. I try to grow them instead, but time has been a problem lately! 🙂 The salad look fabulous!

  7. I get sunflower sprouts (organic) at Trader Joe’s. Wouldn’t be without them. I top my salads with them and I juice them as well. Thanks for the great blog!

  8. Hi Gena, i have been reading your blog for about a month when i stumble on it. You are so cute and adorable and really enjoy reading your blog since i have a family member who lives in DC due to work and misses home in the south very much! Thank you for taking the time for written in your blog and you have awesome recipes and pictures. Happy Easter!

  9. NYC! NYC!! NYC!!! Are you sure you’re not moving back sometime soon? It’s seems every other post is about how wonderful NYC is for all their vegetable / vegan / yoga resources and how mediocre everything is in DC. I hope for your sake you never move to the south or heaven forbid out of the country where you’d have to survive without sunflower sprouts and many other staples. I appreciate all the information on health benefits you provide in every post, but it’s disheartening to read post after post of yet another aspect being compared to NYC.

    • Hi Long Time Reader,

      Happy Easter (if you observe). I appreciate your criticism and apologize that you feel disheartened, but I also don’t think this is entirely fair. I never have once set out to say that DC is mediocre, because I don’t feel that way. DC is physically beautiful, full of resources for those who love nature (hiking, which I’ve done a few times now, is very close; I’m not very outdoorsy, but I do recognize that DC is hard to beat in that dept), possessed of lots of interesting people, and it is a veritable fountain of great yoga resources. I’m not sure if you’ve seen it or not, but the most glowing and gushy yoga review I’ve ever written is of a DC studio, Down Dog, which I have frequently called “home.” I have also, in the last few weeks, written a very enthusiastic review of a DC (omni) restaurant, and I’ve done my best to write in detail and with huge praise about every DC vegan-ish eatery; Elizabeth’s Gone Raw, which is awesome, got a huge, dedicated post. And I went out of my way to write a very enthusiastic round up of DC’s vegan friendly dining for Kris Carr’s site.

      In this post, I wasn’t saying that NYC is the only city with a farmers’ market (that would be absurd; San Fran and Seattle arguably have NYC beat many times over), nor that DC is bereft of markets of its own (I routinely go to two farmer’s markets in the District). Just that sunflower sprouts, which are admittedly really tough to find, aren’t around. I also made a point of cheerfully asking my local readers if they know of a good resource, and pointing out that there is a wonderful raw restaurateur in the city who grows her own. DC’s lack of sprouts doesn’t make it mediocre at all; it’s just a statement of fact, not unlike how some of my readers who live in France have pointed out that kale can’t be found there.

      It’s no great secret that I adore NYC. I always will, and I’ll always write about it with enthusiasm. It’s also no secret that I’m homesick in DC and find some aspects of the city challenging (for example, it’s a little hard for people who don’t have cars). But I try never to say anything outwardly negative. The one time I did, and made a dumb generalization about there not being hipsters in DC, a reader called me out on it, and I actually responded profusely for speaking in broad strokes, and won’t do it again.

      The rest of the time, I do my best to highlight DC dining establishments, to praise the awesome yoga, to talk about how much I love Hobbit House, and even to write a post on things I learned since moving there (which I’ll do again on the second anniversary of my moving this year). DC is great, and NYC is not objectively better or worse; it’s simply where I seem to come alive more. I’m doing my best to feel at home in a city in which I have not been very happy for reasons I don’t always share on my blog. There’s a lot I didn’t take into consideration before I moved last year, and wish I had, but I’m doing my best to just stay focused on school and on enjoying the upsides of life there. You can be sure I’ll share every great meal and experience with all of you.


  10. Ah, you almost brought tears to my eyes with those farmers market pics–months away here yet!

    I love sunflower sprouts–really should grow some of my own when things ease up a bit. They have such a satisfying texture! I like them way better than sunflower seeds…

  11. Oh, even if you have no time, sunflower sprouts are very easy to make at home! I am a PhD student, always studying, always on the move, and I make sure to have homegrown sprouts everyday on my menu – and sunflower sprouts at least every one or two weeks: they’re sooo good! 🙂

      • I will second that. Sprouts are super easy to grow, especially sunflower ones, which can be grown from both hulled and unhulled sunflower seeds. pea shoots are easy too.
        It is a lovely looking salad!

  12. Great farmer’s market pics and ooooh, smoky guac. That sounds perfect right about now!

  13. I am totally and utterly addicted to sprouts and especially sunflower! I top my salad with them all the time.

    This looks delicious, as always, Gena x

  14. Love the salad! I just picked up a bag of sunflower sprouts from my local farmers’ market today, on opening day, no less! I almost always see them here, in WA at my markets, wonder why that is? I also picked up some jerusalem artichokes and some red kale that will make a delicious dinner!

    • Kami, I bet you get those delicious sprouts from Alm Hill, which consistently sells them at multiple markets in Seattle (and probably other nearby towns). I’ve never seen them from another vendor, but it’s hard to resist buying some whenever I pass an Alm Hill booth! They’re the only type of sprout I ever actually crave.

  15. yum! that salad looks great. wish a local farmer around here did sprouts 🙁

  16. Your lovely post fills my heart with joy. I lived in Union Square (NYU’s Carlyle Court) when I did a summer semester at NYU, and I absolutely loved the market. Your photos are beautiful and your yoga/Farmers’ morning sounds absolutely divine. Thank you, Gena!

  17. Sprouts are on my shopping list the next time I go to the market that sells them. I just recently read how nutrient-rich they are; I can’t wait to pick some up! I see them in a new light now and not just plain ole broc or alfalfa sprouts to add for good measure.

  18. Beautiful pics of the farmers’ market!

    That guac sounds delicious! I’ll definitely have to try it soon! 🙂