Happy Sprouted Grains Month!
Happy Sprouted Grains Month! That’s right everybody, sprouted grain is indeed April’s grain of the month. Here at the Whole Grains Council we get a lot of questions about sprouted grains so we thought it was high time to tell you a little more about them, where you can find them and how you can prepare them at home.
So what is a sprouted grain? Grains are the seeds of certain plants, largely cereal grains. All three edible parts of the whole grain – the germ, endosperm, and bran – are crucial to creating the new plant. The germ is the plant embryo, which, when it grows, will feed on the starchy endosperm. The bran layers provide some additional nutrients and — along with the inedible husk found on many grains – help protect the grain seed until it’s ready to start the growth cycle. Until then, the seed counts on certain built-in growth inhibitors to keep it from germinating until temperature and moisture conditions are just right. Then, once sprouting starts, enzyme activity wipes out these growth inhibitors and transforms the long-term-storage starch of the endosperm to simpler molecules that are easily digested by the growing plant embryo. What’s more, the sprouting process apparently increases the amount and bio-availability of some vitamins (notably Vitamin C) and minerals, as well as fiber, making sprouted grains a potential nutrition powerhouse.
If you’re picturing loooong sprouts like the bean sprouts in a salad, think smaller. The sprout on sprouted grains just barely peeks out of the kernel, and should always be shorter than the length of the kernel. You can see an illustration in our Sprouted Grains PowerPoint.
Once the grains are sprouted, companies use two different approaches to create sprouted grain breads, cereals and other products:
The Dry Approach. Some companies sprout the grain then dry it, to lock in this ideal stage. At this point, the sprouted grain can be stored until it’s cooked as a side dish, or it can be milled into sprouted grain flour, which is in turn used to make a wide variety of products.??
The Wet Approach. Alternately, other companies mash the wet, sprouted grains into a thick purée which is used to make breads, tortillas, muffins and other products. These products are often described as “flourless” and are frequently sold frozen.
So why should you eat sprouted grains? In addition to being packed full of vitamins, easy to digest and of course full of fiber, studies have shown several noteworthy benefits of sprouted grains. While brown rice may fight diabetes, reduce cardiovascular risk, and decrease depression and fatigue in nursing mothers, sprouted barley has been shown to decrease blood pressure and sprouted buckwheat may protect against fatty liver disease, just to name a few. A new study comparing wheat breads found that sprouted wheat bread beat out plain whole wheat, sourdough and refined white in keeping blood sugar steady, too.
As you can see, the health benefits of sprouted grains are exemplary and they can be prepared similarly to all other whole grains. You can buy packaged sprouted grains, cook sprouted grains as side dishes, or bake with sprouted grain flours. Sprouted grains have a nutty, hearty flavor that adds dimension to any dish! More and more companies are now making sprouted grain products – go to our Stamped product search engine and look for sprouted grain products today.
And check out these recipes for some sprouted grain cooking inspiration!
Sprouted Coconut Waffles
Sprouted Rice Shrimp Stir Fry
Sprouted Linguine with Tomato and Herbs
Sprouted Sandwich Bread and Rolls
How will you be celebrating this Sprouted Grain Month? Stop by the Oldways Forum. We love to hear (and see!) about your adventures in the kitchen, trying new grains and any questions you have about eating/preparing sprouted grains. (Mallory)