In the "Harry Potter" books, Professor Pomona Sprout is Harry's instructor in an herbology class where he learns how to care for magic herbs and fungi. And Pomona blossoms in "Deathly Hallows," as she rises to the challenge of defending Hogwarts against an attack by the Death Eaters.
Clearly, sprouts can do a lot.
Fresh young greens from beans, peas, vegetables, nuts, grains, and seeds — also called sprouts — dish up a robust mix of nutrients including vitamins A, B, C, and K, folic acid, the beneficial phytochemical sulforaphane, and minerals such as phosphorus and magnesium.
They're great added to salads, stir-fries, cold fish dishes, and smoothies.
But there's been a lot of news about them transporting foodborne illnesses. From 1996 to July 2016, there were 46 reported outbreaks of foodborne illness in the U.S. linked to sprouts, causing 2,474 illnesses, 187 hospitalizations, and three deaths.
Is it safer to grow them at home than to buy them at a grocery store or farmers market?
According to the Cleveland Clinic, most outbreaks of sprout-related foodborne illness are associated with contaminated seeds, so home-grown sprouts aren't safer.
The surest way to avoid problems is to cook them by stir-frying, steaming, or boiling, although they do lose their texture and some nutrients that way.
Other smart moves when using sprouts in your cooking:
• Store them in your fridge at or below 40 degrees.
• Wash your hands before and after handling.
• Rinse them well before using.
• Never eat slimy, smelly, or musty sprouts; throw them out.