Sprout Salad and Smoky Guacamole
October 20, 2009


Hello, friends!

I’m glad you all enjoyed yesterday’s extemporanea!

With regards to the numerous questions about the incongruous belly ring: yes, it was a silly teenage decision, but the age was eighteen, not sixteen (so, Theresa, it’s slightly more embarrassing than if I’d been sixteen). And no, Shel, it didn’t hurt at all, though I was holding it in comparison to the extreme pain of piercing my ear cartilage a while earlier, which hurt like holy hell. So.

I’m proud to announce that I had a guest post up today at my good friend Gina the Fitnessista’s blog. For those of you who don’t know Gina’s site, this is a nice excuse for you to check it out! And for those of you that do, I hope you caught the post.

The topic was one I’ve hoped to write about for some time: fueling for fitness on a raw diet. Many new clients (and blog readers) are dubious about whether or not raw foods provide adequate energy and sustenance to athletes in training. And who can blame them? The mainstream nutritional model offered athletes is, all too often, one in which synthetic protein powders, cardboard-like energy bars, and vats of spaghetti play a starring role. While I allow that all athletes need to figure out their own nutritional needs as they train, I hope that my post—no matter how brief—offers you all a glimpse of an alternative model of nutrition for athletic training and recovery. If this issue is important to you–and I know it’s important to all of my readers in marathon training right now–I really encourage you to go and read the post!

In it, I discuss the foods that I consider most crucial for athletic support, along with five recipes to keep you motivated. And of course, I address that ever-popular question: what are lean sources of protein in a raw diet?

Among the sources I highlight are a favorite food of mine: sprouts. They may be a far cry from myoplex bars or steamed chicken breasts, friends, but those scrawny looking little green shoots can be up to 35% protein. They’re also packed with other vital nutrients, and they’re highly digestible. (If you have a hard time digesting seeds or beans, try sprouting them: sprouting converts the starches in seeds and beans to simple sugars, rendering them far easier to digest.)

Not all sprouts are created equal. The sprouts that most immediately come to mind are alfalfa sprouts—the whisper thin bunches you find at any deli or salad bar. These contain some nutrients, but they’re not the highest protein option. For athletes, I recommend pea shoots, sunflower sprouts (my personal favorite!), lentil sprouts, broccoli sprouts, and red clover sprouts, all of which are high protein. If you don’t like the way sprouts taste—or you’re just shy about being seen in public munching on them!—blend them into soups, stuff them into savory wraps, or even throw them in your green monster. You’ll never know the difference!

Or, you could make the following salad. This salad was born of my own struggle to get used to sprouts: at first, they struck me as less than appetizing. I eat them by the bushel now, but it took me some time. What was my trick, you ask? Well it should come as no surprise that there’s no better way to make me eat something than to smother it in guacamole. And so I did. I mixed sprouts with other shredded veggies, hid them under a bed of guacamole, and mixed and mashed the lot into a creamy, delicious salad.

This salad is not only great for the lean protein it provides, but also for the healthy fats (which help with cell repair after athletic exertion) and the many vitamins and minerals it provides. I love to recommend it to athletic clients, and to eat it myself before or after a workout.

Any guacamole will be delicious here, but for those of you who have tired of my standard, this is a smoky, more authentically Mexican variety that uses cumin and chilis for flavoring. No matter how married I am to the sweetness of my original, I must confess that this is a great variant, and I’ve been eating it plenty this week. The recipe follows:

Gena’s Sprout Salad (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 (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 smokey 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!



I am in love with this stuff, and the salad it so perfectly compliments. I hope you’ll all try the recipe soon!

And speaking of recipes, tomorrow is raw Wednesday! I hope you guys have fun things planned for your kitchens. I’m not sure if uncooking will be an option tomorrow—it’s that kind of week—but I have fingers and toes crossed. As always, report back on your rawventures!


Categories: Small Plates, Raw, Salads

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  1. […] going raw actually means as well as loads of lovely recipes, including this brilliant recipe for Sprout Salad with Smoky Guacomole.  Seriously, so, so, so good.  Using Choosing Raw made this the only enjoyable detox diet […]

  2. I’m seeking to get a multivitamin. I am looking to have a liquid vitamin. Is there a good product or far better location to buy them from. Any assist would be greatly appreciated.

  3. Hi Gena,
    I just researched an article by Gabriel Cousens (for those who may not know…a prominent raw foodist, MD and raw food author… who has created the Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center..a living food retreat ).

    In responding to Dr. Weils comments on legume sprouts, Cousens says that, although sprouts in the legume family, which include red clover and alfalfa, do contain minute amounts of toxins, overall they are a positive food source for people who are in good health because of their high nutritive value and enzymes…but should be eaten in moderation.

    Here is a quote from the article:

    The major toxins in legumes are hemagluttins which line the intestine and block protein and fat absorption and anti-trypsin factors which disrupt protein digestion, causing putrefaction and gas. Neither of these toxins are cancer producing. It is misleading and alarmist thinking to imply that all toxins are cancer producing. However, because the hemagluttins and anti-trypsin factors commonly found in legumes do disrupt the digestive process, I do not recommend eating raw legumes and immature sprouted legumes. Sprouting and rinsing some of the legumes seems to greatly reduce these digestive inhibitors so that some of them can be eaten in modest amounts, especially sprouted garbanzo beans (chick peas) and Chinese (Mung) bean sprouts, as well as alfalfa and clover sprouts. I have observed the digestibility of garbanzo and mung bean spouts, if eaten in small amounts, in hundreds of people.

    Here is the ‘address’ for the whole article:http://www.newfrontier.com/asheville/sprouts.htm

  4. Gena, I posted the info on Susun weed and sprouts..and not bothering to proof my post…sent it as ‘Robert’..instead of Roberta

  5. Gena, Dr. Weil says that all legume sprouts contain toxins. Red clover is a legume, and he does specifically mention them among the sprouts he says contain toxins.

    I just discovered this today and am trying to research more about this on the internet.

    Susun Weed, a well-known wise woman herbalist, also points out that no animal in nature will eat a plant until it grows it’s first leaves (which sprouts, of course, don’t)…I also just discovered this today.

    I’ve been eating living raw food since 1980…so this info is unsttling to me..but compellling (although i disagree with Susun Weed on some points..her understanding of the natueal world and it’s ways is deep and potent to me.

    Anyway, i’m off to do more research…on the internet..and ‘inner-net’ as welll!

  6. btw, i keep forgetting to respond to your post on gina’s site. i just wanted to say, that as a runner and vegan, the most common question i get is “how you get enough protein?” – AHHHHH

    oh, and fyi, the night before my half marathon, i went to a raw vegan restaurant with my sis. it was AMAZING. so poo-poo to those who think you cant adequately fuel yourself – and kick ass – without protein powders, supplements, etc.
    the place is called alive, its in SF, and its so freakin good. maybe there is reason for you to travel west of chi-town after all??

  7. that recipe looks incredible and i’m all over that smoky guac 😀
    thank you again for such an incredible guest post on my blog. it was so fascinating to read and had information that’s going to be very useful to many blog-reading athletes out there
    hope you’re having a wonderful week!

  8. Hi Gena – The recipe looks delicious! I am new to sprouts, but have enjoyed what I’ve tried so far. I’d like to start sprouting myself. Where can you get beans and seeds to sprout? Is it sufficient to buy a bag of lentils or raw sunflower seeds from the grocery store and spout them, or are there special “sprouting” beans and seeds of a different quality?

    Thanks for all your insightful posts!

  9. Sunflower sprouts are my favorite of the sprouts. I often just munch on them plain and really enjoy doing so. I’m definitely going to have to try the sprout salad with the smoky guac- although I’ve never seen that paprika so mine might not be so smoky.

    And I was wondering, I also buy sprouted peas from my sprout guy at the Farmer’s Market, but I’m not sure where they stand on the “nutrient” scale of sprouts. Are they related to pea shoots? Or are they, like the alfalfa, a less protein rich sprout. I’m confused because they are unlike other leafy sprouts, but, well, I’m just confused (obviously).

    • Teresa,

      Again, I have to admit my non-expertise with all things sprout: I don’t actually know if sprouted peas are high-protein, though I *believe* that they are.



  10. Hi Gena, sunflower sprouts are one of my favorites, too. I also like daikon radish sprouts, but they likely aren’t high in protein. I’ve recently started growing my own sprouts–do you grow yours or buy them? If you grow them, do you have any tips? Your recipe looks delicious!

  11. Gena – have you read anything from Dr. Weil and his take on bean sprouts? I enjoy sprouts and have just recently begun sprouting my own (fun!) but was bummed to read what Dr. Weil had to say on bean sprouts and that they contain toxins, and the only way to break down those toxins is to cook them. Have you heard this and what do you think? He says that he never eats bean sprouts and sticks to sunflower, broccoli and other non-legume sprouts. What have you come across in your reading about this? I’m not sure what to think!

    • Hey Alison!

      I’m actually not sure! I dismiss much of what Dr. Weil says (only because we come from slightly different places), and this doesn’t ring true to me, but I don’t want to say for sure. I don’t tend to love bean sprouts and don’t eat a ton of them, so I am no expert. If another reader knows, please chime in!


  12. Sprouts are sooo fantastic. I actually used to do exactly the same thing Gena! I’d mix the sprouts into a big bowl of guac and then slather onto salad leaves. Yum, still love it! Xx

  13. I love avocados and sprouts – and this post is just yummy yummy Thank you
    I am healing myself with eating vegan raw…I may be eating too many avacados as I am not loosing weight after 3 months….and I have a long way to go…

    So I am hanging around and reading as many of your posts and friend’s posts as I can…Thank you for all your good writing and explaining.

    I would like to include some vegan recipes in my Harvest Potluck e-book fundraiser for UNICEF…and pictures….Would you share?
    Would some of your friend’s share? I am hoping

  14. All this time I thought I was the only one putting smoked paprika in my guac 😉 It’s soooo good!!! I swear I could put that stuff in anything.

    Gena, I feel silly admitting this but I don’t really get this whole “sprouting” thing in the way that I don’t understand if you eat the sprouts that grow off the beans you sprouts? I’m familiar with beans… and with bean sprouts.. but never the beans with sprouts growing out of them. I can’t be the only one who is confused about this……

  15. You’re brilliant, Gena! I LOVE guacamole, and cannot wait to try this smokey variation. I know it will be incredible.

    And I am setting up some sprouting jars tonight! 🙂

  16. Happy Raw Wednesday to you! I rocked a tasty all-raw juice this morning and soaked in all the wonderful enzyme-y goodness all AM. Dinner won’t be raw, but it will certainly be vegan.

  17. Oooh, good stuff. I’m probably where you were pre-sproutlove. I love the idea of them but am not sure I’m ready to eat them by the bunchful (and after last night’s parsnip incident, I’m sadly not feeling the food curiosity with reckless abandon like I’m accustomed to). This’ll be a great salad to start with. I’m also ready for more salads/raw to be back in my life after quite a long-feeling stint with cooked (though clean) food, even with the chilly weather.

    My raw Wednesday contribution, you’ve already seen it, and it’s about to be busted out for lunch. The baked sweet potato is a cheat on the raw factor, but I’m sure you won’t begrudge me that. 😉 And if you do begrudge me that, then b’fast was all fruit and juice. So there. B!tch.

  18. G, I am literally obsessed with sprouts! Both alfalfa and broccoli! And not just because they’re so good for you nor because you said they’re so great 😉 I will be making this salad as soon as I get back in my kitchen. Filing it away for Thanksgiving!

  19. Yep yep, I have never cared for alfalfa sprouts. I do love the flavor of sunflower sprouts and they are my favs. I just found these little gems of powerhouse nutrition this summer at a farmers market and am addicted.

  20. Hello again Gena!
    I loved your post on Gina’s blog – I sent the link through to Andy for him to read, though by and large I think he is already convinced. After we started moving to a high raw diet, his performance on the hockey field actually improved! The only thing he’s kinda nervous about is the weight just keeps falling off…
    I am also taken by this smokey guac recipe! Yum, yum, yum. I failed to make it to Whole Foods last night (I opted for Gossip Girl instead, not sure what that says about me, other than the need for some relaxation, ha ha) but I do believe you have inspired me to get myself down there tonight and whip this up!
    Have a great day,

  21. great idea! i certainly don’t eat enough sprouts, but this could work for me. question: i tried sprouting lentils and really hated the taste. i cooked them with curry and stuff and loved them. should i just give up on sprouted lentils?

  22. Loved your post on Gina’s, it was so chock full of info that never hurts the world’s ears. Esp that protein and calcium chatter. Well said Miss Gena!

    Can you tell me where you find sunflower sprouts? Oh wait, you probably sprout at home. I need to get on that. I just havent. Been too busy creating my own raw vegan (chocolate) desserts nearly daily 🙂 I admit it’s more fun than sprouting, but sprouting would be a bit more beneficial 🙂

    Anyway I guess I should research this, huh. If you wanna post idea, not that you need any!, but sprouting 101 could be a good post topic.


  23. I’m with ya — sprouts by the bushel! I seriously eat these (particularly the crunchy ones) like I used to eat M&Ms. And, if you would have even suggested such a thing to me 16 short months ago, I would have thought you were wackadoodle! 😀

    Hmmm, clever clever girl…paprika in the guac! Now, why didn’t this Hungarian think of that? (hangs her head in shame)

  24. This looks awesome! Can’t wait to try it (maybe next raw Wednesday?). Tomorrow’s my first raw day (I’ll try to do as much of the day as possible). I even tried kombucha today in preparation 🙂 Thanks for all the great, innovative recipes.