Grains represent the foundation of the food pyramid. They give us complex energy that sustains our body throughout the day. This refers to the whole, unprocessed grains that contain all the vital nutrients, vitamins and proteins. But there is a major problem with widely spread, processed grains that we consume regularly without even thinking about it.
For example, we eat refined flour daily –in the forms of crackers, cereals, breads and desserts. By consuming refined or processed grains, we actually do ourselves more harm than good. And here is why – in the refining procedure, the germ and bran that contain all the vital nutrients and dietary fiber are discarded from the grain.
The grains are then additionally mixed and bleached with harmful substances. The food industry has come up with an even more harmful way to lure us into purchasing refined products – by adding artificial minerals and vitamins to them.
Apart from the fact that synthetic nutrients can never stand up to their natural counterparts, their consumption can lead to liver problems.
If we want to eat good-quality food and be healthy, we need to consume whole grains on a regular basis. It is just their preparation method that we need to consider. And why is that?
The problem with some grains is that they can be hard to digest. In addition, the phytic acid present in them inhibits proper absorption of the nutrients in our gastrointestinal tract.
There is a simple solution to this problem: all we need to do is to sprout the grains, which immediately neutralizes the effects of the phytic acid, makes them easily digestible, and tremendously enhances the nutritional value of the grain.
What health provisions can you obtain by consuming sprouted grains?
There is a growing number of scientific studies confirming that sprouted grains are indeed nutritionally superior to their non-sprouted counterparts, regardless of the type of grain.
They offer benefits for overall health, as well as for specific organs in our body. That in itself is a reason to consume them on a regular basis. In a detailed analysis from 1989, the main researchers came to the following conclusion: “Sprouting of grains for a limited period causes increased activities of hydrolytic enzymes, improvement in the contents of certain essential amino acids, total sugars, and B-group vitamins, and a decrease in dry matter, starch, and antinutrients.
The digestibilities of storage proteins and starch are improved due to their partial hydrolysis during sprouting.” Their results were published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition.(Source)
Germinated rice also lowers the risk of cardiovascular illnesses,which was again discovered by Korean scientists.(Source)
Consuming germinated brown rice helps in fight against diabetes, which was confirmed by a Japanese study. (Source) .
It also boosts overall health in nursing mothers, improving both the mental and the physical condition of women.(Source) .
In 1994, scientists from India explored the composition of millet that was allowed to sprout for up to 7 days. They found that during the sprouting process, the levels of an essential amino-acid called lysine increased significantly, as well as the concentration of important proteins albumin, globulin, and tryptophan.
Simultaneously, the scientists noticed a decrease in the levels of protein that causes digestive problems in some people. The results of this research were published in Plant Food for Human Nutrition.(Source).
In regards to sprouting wheat grains, researchers from Alberta wanted to determine the optimal germination time that would produce the highest concentration of antioxidants and nutrients.
Their conclusion, published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, was that the levels of vitamins C, E, and beta-carotene reached their highest levels after one week of sprouting and one whole day of steeping the wheat grains. (Source)
We hope we have given you enough reasons to make sprouted grains at home. Home-made sprouting is actually more recommended that purchasing store-bought sprouted products.
Why is it safer to sprout grains at home?
“Store-bought sprouts are more likely to be contaminated with E. coli. Home sprouts have the safety advantage. Obviously you want to start with a clean jar. Another advantage to sprouting at home is that store-bought sprouts turn to slime quickly because they may already be one to two weeks old. Homemade sprouts are nice and fresh.” This statement was made by a renowned nutritionist Reinagel.
FoodSafety.gov. has also warned that “Seeds and beans need warm and humid conditions to sprout and grow. These conditions are also ideal for the growth of bacteria, including Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli.”
Here is how you can easily sprout grains
- Water – it is advisable to use filtered water.
- ½ whole grains, like buckwheat, millet, quinoa, whole oats, rice, corn, amaranth, wheat berries, barley, rye berries, spelt…the choice is entirely up to you. You can also use legumes, nuts, and seeds. It is just vital that you use whole grains, unaltered in any way.
- Cup for measuring
- Container for soaking
- 1 quart jar
- Sprouting lid and/or cheesecloth
- Rubber band or metal screw band
The sprouting method
- Put the grains in a strainer, wash them well and dry them.
- Then the soaking follows: transfer the grains in a bowl and add few inches of water. Allow them to stay for a minimum of 12 hours.
- Then it is necessary to rinse the grains well and drain them with the help of a strainer.
- Transfer them in a jar.
- Then it is needed to cover and secure the jar using a thicker layer of cheesecloth/ sprouting lid, and a rubber band/metal screw band.
- Turn the jar upside down and put it in a bowl, finding a position that will enable drainage of extra water and airflow. Do not expose it to full light. It should be kept at a temperature ranging from 68-75 degrees F.
- You should add water to the jar twice daily and rinse all the grains thoroughly, pouring off the water afterwards and repeating the Step 6.
- Observe the sprouting process, which takes from 1-5 days. You will know that the grains have sprouted when small tail-like extensions emerge from them. You can either choose to use them at this stage, or wait until the tails have grown as long as the grain itself.
- It is again necessary to wash and drain the grains and place them in a fridge, where they can stay for up to 7 days. If you notice that they have an unpleasant smell or a slimy appearance, they must not be used.
Here are some interesting ways to incorporate sprouted grains in your diet
- Add germinated wheat to salads, sauces and soups, enriching them with a nutty flavor, chewy texture, and loads of vitamins.
- Refresh and energize yourself with a delicious drink made from wheat sprouts, wheat germ, bananas, honey and milk
- Add a special twist to ordinary scrambled eggs by adding alfalfa sprouts
- Enrich the taste and nutritional value of a tomato soup by stirring in a handful of pea sprouts.
- Replace lettuce with different sprouts in a sandwich.
- Make a delicious meal low in calories by mixing tuna fish with apple slices, chopped mushrooms, and germinated seeds of your choice. Season with lemon juice, salt and pepper.
- Make an exciting cocktail spread with a peppery flavor by adding chopped lentil sprouts to cream cheese.
- Prepare hummus from sprouted chickpeas
- You can simply eat them on their own, as a super-healthy snack
- You may choose to cook them shortly, dry them in the oven, and/ or grind them into flour
And sprouting is also a fun and exciting project for children – they can observe how tiny grains produce a new life in a very short period of time! This can motivate them to eat more healthily and even to begin cooking with you!