Why You Should Be Eating Sprouted FoodsFebruary 17th, 2021
What if we told you there was an easy way to make staple ingredients even healthier—with very little effort? Say hello to sprouting, a simple method that takes your beans, legumes, and grains to the next level of nutrition.
What Is Sprouting?
A sprouted food has been germinated, which means it transforms from its dormant state into a living organism. It’s basically plant magic, and you’ll know the process is working when you see a little tail pop out of a grain or bean. To learn more, we reached out to Peggy Sutton, founder and president of the To Your Health Sprouted Flour Co., who shares that “during the transformation, you have dormant vitamins and minerals in that seed come alive and they start multiplying.” The result? Nutrient-dense ingredients.
Benefits of Sprouting
Adding a few servings of sprouted ingredients to your weekly meal plan can go a long way to support your overall health. Here are four reasons to make the switch.
- See ya, starch. Kristina Secinaro, a registered dietitian at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center explains that the germination process helps break down starch, which increases nutrients like folate, iron, and vitamin C. “It also breaks down phytate, a form of phytic acid that normally decreases absorption of vitamins and minerals in the body,” she says.
- Stomach support. To better understand how sprouted foods might aid digestion, Sutton likes to use a sandwich analogy. Unsprouted bread contains antinutrients (aka the phytic acid we just talked about that makes nutrients less bioavailable). “Even though that grain has been ground into flour and made into bread, the antinutrients are still there because they haven’t been removed in the milling process,” she explains. That means all the other healthy ingredients on your sandwich might be more difficult for your body to absorb. “The antinutrients keep your body from assimilating those vitamins and minerals because the phytic acid is still available there. Sprouting basically eliminates that.”
- Flavor upgrade. It’s not all about nutrition—sprouting also enhances the flavor of foods. “When you sprout, you get a wonderfully mild sweet taste from most of the grains and in some of them it brings out specific taste characteristics,” Sutton says. Spelt enjoys an added nuttiness, corn lends sweetness, and kamut gets buttery. “Whatever you bake from it tastes so much better,” she says.
- No need to knead. If you bake your own bread, using sprouted flour can transform the process. Sutton explains that if you’re making sourdough bread or using yeast to make a leavened bread, “because of all of the amylase enzymes that are produced in sprouting, you don’t have to knead the bread. If you’re a home baker, instead of having to knead it two or three times every couple of hours before it goes into the oven, you could just stretch and fold it a couple of times, put it in your bread pan, let it rise once and pop it in the oven. It’s a great time saver.”
How to Make Sprouted Foods at Home
If you’re in the mood for a DIY project, sprouting is easy to try at home with our no fuss four-step process.
- Soak: Before going to bed, get those ingredients soaking (quinoa or lentils are great choices for beginners). Grab a mason jar; add your grains, nuts, or seeds; cover them with filtered water; secure a lid; and walk away.
- Germinate: Drain your future sprouts and rinse under warm water, then place them in a jar or bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. Keep an eye on everything—whatever you’re sprouting will need to be rinsed twice a day until sprouts appear, which could take between one and three days.
- Green: If you have a good window for it, lend your sprouts a hand by letting them soak up indirect sunlight, which helps them produce chlorophyll.
- Harvest: All that’s left is to enjoy your sprouts!
Best Sprouted Products From Thrive Market
If you’re short on time (or home sprouting just doesn’t pique your interest) there’s good news: our line of sprouted products has done all the work for you.
With stores of protein (6g), iron, and dietary fiber in each serving, quinoa is a nutritional powerhouse you can add to salads, serve in place of rice pilaf, or even coat fish or chicken before baking.
Recipe ideas: Ground sprouted quinoa in the blender to make flour for fluffy pancakes, or think ahead with an easy granola made with only six ingredients. And don’t miss tri-colored quinoa salad—it’s an ideal vegetarian recipe for practically any occasion.
What our members say: Lorraine from Rhode Island eats quinoa for breakfast in lieu of oatmeal, Ciara from Washington adds a scoop to soups (so smart!), and Nicole from Utah tells it to us straight: “I’ve tried sprouting quinoa myself and struggle to get the timing just right to where it doesn’t go bad. I love that this has the health benefits I’m looking for and love that it saves me time.”
When it comes to ancient grains, spelt flour behaves most similarly to all-purpose and can often be swapped in 1:1 in your baking recipes. This bag delivers 6g of protein and 5g of dietary fiber per serving.
What our members say: Marquise from North Carolina is all about the waffles and Bailee from New Jersey appreciates the added nutrients: “It makes baked goods more substantial and hearty. I love the flavor and feel better eating something that has fiber.”
When cooked, our sprouted brown rice adds a nutty flavor to your dishes, along with nutrients like dietary fiber, protein, and iron.
Recipe ideas: Serve brown rice as a side for chicken tikka masala, or make it the star ingredient in brown rice porridge to rev up your morning, or brown rice and lentil salad for a hearty, nutritious lunch.
What our members say: Jessica from Louisiana uses the cooked rice as the base for her macro bowls and Rachel from Minnesota is always thinking ahead for easy meal prep: “I love having this on hand. I cook a big batch and keep it in the fridge.”
Our sprouted kernels are gluten-free and cook up with the crunch you’re looking for. Bonus: Each serving offers 4g of dietary fiber, 3g of protein, and some iron.
Recipe ideas: Two words: popcorn night. There are so many flavor combinations and you can bet we’ve tried our hand at a few in the test kitchen, like cacio e pepe popcorn made with rich duck fat, seaweed-dusted kernels, and make-ahead popcorn bars with chocolate chips, pecans, and cranberries.
What our members say: When Bill from Florida makes popcorn, he uses ghee instead of butter, and Shannon from Tennessee echoes all of us in the test kitchen: “This is basically our favorite snack.”
Enjoy the nutritional benefits of whole-wheat flour with a milder taste. For baking, start with substituting half of the all-purpose flour in a recipe and adjust the ratio from there.
What our members say: Elizabeth from Washington perfectly sums up how we feel about this flour: “Felt so good adding it to all my baked goods. Subs perfectly but just a little better for you!”