Even though sprouted grains have recently come back into the limelight, they have actually been around since harvesting grains first started, occurring naturally. It was believed that this was an unfortunate by product of poor storage. Through the use of modern technology used to harvest and store grains, naturally occurring ‘sprouting’ has been pretty much eradicated. But the jokes on us as we are now discovering that there is actually added nutritional benefit to be gained from consuming sprouted grains.
What is a sprouted grain?
When we eat grains, we are actually eating the seed, which could potentially create a whole new plant. The grain is made of three parts, the germ, the endosperm and the bran. All three of these parts are essential in building a new plant.
Just like an egg is an embryo for a new chicken, each ‘grain’ holds the entire DNA material required to create a whole new plant. - Kinda cool huh?
Under the right conditions the seed’s growth inhibitors will dissipate and the sprouting will begin. At this stage (the sprouted grain) is somewhere between still being a seed and a plant. It still holds all the nutritional benefits that the seed contained, with the added benefit of being more readily digestible.
How is it done?
The process of sprouting is done in one of two ways. Either the ‘wet’ or ‘dry’ approach to sprouting.
With the dry approach the grains are moistened until they sprout, then are dried at the ideal sprouted stage to lock in the goodness. From here the different grains can be milled into flour, or cooked as is and used as a side dish.
With the wet approach, once the grains reach their ideal sprouted stage they are mashed into a thick paste which can then be used to create a wide range of baked goods, such as muffins and breads, and are often sold as being ‘flourless’.
What types of grains can be sprouted?
Fortunately for us gluten intolerant people, it isn’t just wheat and gluten based seeds that are sprouted. Basically any grain we eat can be sprouted You can even sprout legumes, seeds and nuts. Here are some examples of commonly sprouted grains:
- Wheat berries
- Barley (un-hulled)
- Rye berries
Are they healthier than normal grains?
At the end of the day the difference in nutritional benefit is usually fairly minimal. Though they might contain a fraction more nutrients, including increased vitamin B’s, C, folate, fiber and lysine, the main benefit comes from the way in which our bodies can digest them.
So are sprouted grains worth a try? For sure! Give them a go and see what you think!